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F/A-18 demonstrates ability to launch from Indian carriers with ‘upsized' loadout

A US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet seen here during a demonstration flight at the Farnborough International Air Show. Boeing recently concluded a trial of the aircraft type at the Indian Navy's Shore Based Test Facility. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

Boeing has concluded a demonstration of the F/A-18 Super Hornet's ability to launch from Indian aircraft carriers with two Boeing AGM-84 Harpoon missiles, which exceeds New Delhi's requirement for its multirole carrier-borne fighters (MRCBF) programme.

The capability was demonstrated at the Indian Navy's Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa in Goa, India, between late-May and early-June 2022, said Alain Garcia, vice-president International Business Development at Boeing India, in an interview with Janes . The demonstrations were done as part of trials to validate the F/A-18's ability to operate from Indian carriers.

Under the MRCBF, the Indian Navy is planning to acquire 57 carrier-borne fighter aircraft that will operate from its Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC), which will be in service as INS Vikrant once it is commissioned. The 37,000-tonne vessel completed its final sea trials in early-July 2022 and is scheduled to be commissioned in August 2022.

As part of its bid for the approximately USD6 billion programme, Boeing dispatched two F/A-18 airframes to the SBTF to demonstrate the aircraft's ability to operate from Indian ships, said Garcia. The SBTF features a flight deck and a ski-jump slope that have been modelled closely after Indian carriers and are equipped with similar short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) equipment found on the future INS Vikrant .

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