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F/A-18s to demonstrate ability to operate from Indian aircraft carriers

A US Navy F/A-18E takes off from a mock-up of a UK aircraft carrier ramp at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland in August 2020. Two F/A-18Es are set to conduct ski jumps from India's Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF), which has a slightly steeper ramp, from May to June 2022. (US Navy/Erik Hildebrandt)

Boeing, which will demonstrate the ability of the F/A-18E Super Hornet to operate from Indian aircraft carriers, expressed confidence that the aircraft will exceed the requirements for India's multi-role carrier-borne fighters (MRCBF) procurement.

Two F/A-18E fighters will demonstrate the aircraft's capabilities at the Indian Navy's Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa in Goa, India, in the latter part of May. The tests are expected to last for a few weeks, going into June.

The MRCBF programme intends to acquire 57 naval fighters to partly equip India's first indigenious aircraft carrier (IAC), the 40,000-tonne INS Vikrant. The carrier is scheduled to be commissioned in August.

Alain Garcia, vice-president of India Business Development, Boeing Defense, Space and Securityand Global Services told Janes that the aircraft will conduct jobs requested by the Indian Navy, and in different configurations.

A crucial objective will be to demonstrate the capability of the F/A-18E to integrate with the short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) gear equipped aboard Indian aircraft carriers. The aircraft will conduct a series of take-offs, touch-and-go flights and landings on the SBTF's 283 m ski jump. The mock-up mirrors ski ramps found on Indian aircraft carriers.

Garcia said that the F/A-18E has been subject to comprehensive modelling and testing to validate its performance from aircraft carriers equipped with a STOBAR system.

“We did over 150 computer simulations prior to doing testing to validate the performance,” Garcia said.

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