Boeing to Offer F/A-18 CFTs to Intl’ Customers Block III Super Hornet Conformal Fuel Tanks Will Be Available to International Customers Even After the U.S. Navy Passed on the Extra Earlier This Year

 In Sea, Forces & Capabilities, U.S. Navy
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F/A-18 Super Hornets, with and without Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs) | Image: Boeing

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F/A-18 Super Hornets, with and without Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs) | Image: Boeing

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F/A-18 Super Hornets, with and without Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs) | Image: Boeing

Boeing confirmed last week that it would offer Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs) on the Block III F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter to international customers even though the U.S. Navy has declined the option for their order of the aircraft.

F/A-18 program manager and vice president Jennifer Splaingard told media in the run-up to the Dubai Air Show next month that the company would continue to offer the capability to international customers.

“Yeah they will be (available to international customers). All of the Block III Super Hornets that we’re producing are plumbed for Conformal Fuel Tanks and we’re working with the navy still on the decision of how we go forward or not with building tanks, but I guess the short answer is yes, they will be available for international (customers),” confirmed Splaingard.

The U.S. Navy had evidently asked Boeing to stop work on CFTs for Block III Super Hornets under order, earlier this year.

News media had earlier reported that this could be due to current unsuitability with carrier operations, given that the Super Hornet with CFTs continued to be on offer to countries like Canada and Finland, which do not operate aircraft carriers.

The U.S. Navy had placed a USD 4 Billion order for 78 F/A-18 Super Hornets in 2019, the first of which was delivered last month. In addition to extending the service life of many of its Block II aircraft from 6,000 hours to 7,500 hours, the U.S. Navy also intends to upgrade them to full Block III standard. The U.S. Navy operates over 500 Super Hornets.

“Most of the design work has been done on the tank and all of the design work has been done to put it inside the jet — the plumbing inside the jet. So, yeah, we’ll work with any country that has an operational need for Conformal Fuel Tanks — on how to integrate that into the platform,” said Splaingard.

Besides CFTs, the Block III variant includes Block II IRST (Infra Red Search and Track), a 10×19 inch large area touchscreen display as part of an Advanced Cockpit System, a new computer called DTP-N (Distributed Targetting Processor Network), which ‘has 17 times the computing power,(…) open architecture and multi-level secure processor to be able to pull in data from the battle space’, a network throughput TTNT (Tactical Targetting Network Technology) that offers ‘low latency and high bandwidth’ for transmitting data and an increased service life of 10,000 flight hours.

It would be pertinent to note that Boeing is developing the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial refueller for the U.S. Navy. Earlier this year, Boeing and the U.S. Navy carried out three separate missions with the carrier-capable MQ-25, successfully refuelling an F/A-18EF Super Hornet, an E-2D command and control aircraft and an F-35C in flight.

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