F/A-18E/F demonstrates ski-jump launch for Indian carrier requirement

by Richard Scott

An F/A-18E Super Hornet successfully completes a first ski-jump launch demonstration on 13 August.  (US Navy)

An F/A-18E Super Hornet successfully completes a first ski-jump launch demonstration on 13 August. (US Navy)

The US Navy and Boeing have disclosed details of testing designed to show that the F/A-18E/F Hornet strikefighter can operate from a short takeoff but arrested recovery (STOBAR) configured aircraft carrier.

Undertaken using the ski-jump facility at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River in Maryland, the test campaign was performed by an F/A-18E (BuNo 165167/SD-213) to demonstrate the F/A-18E/F’s suitability for operation from the Indian Navy’s STOBAR carriers. The testing validated earlier simulation studies, said Boeing.

The Indian Navy currently operates a single STOBAR carrier, in the form of INS Vikramaditya (ex- Admiral Gorshkov ), operating MiG-29K fighters as part of its air group. A second STOBAR ship, the indigenously designed and built INS Vikrant , has recently completed basin trials and is expected to begin sea trials in early 2021.

India in January 2018 released a request for information for its Multi-role Carrier Borne Fighter programme, which calls for the acquisition of up to 57 twin-engine carrier-borne fighters. The F/A-18E/F Block III Super Hornet and the French Dassault Rafale M are seen as the leading contenders for this requirement.

According to the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), a series of test events was undertaken at NAS Patuxent River in August 2020 to demonstrate F/A-18E/F ski-jump launches in a variety of load configurations. The test programme was coordinated by the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office (International Business and Test and Evaluation), Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX 23), and Boeing.

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The US Navy and Boeing have disclosed details of testing designed to show that the F/A-18E/F Hornet ...

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