New Delhi: In what is being widely seen as a massive boost for the ‘Make in India’ campaign, Boeing has announced that it will partner with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Mahindra Defence Systems to manufacture F18 Super Hornet fighter jets in the country.
While the American aviation giant is eying a contract for 110 fighter jets and that could have influenced its decision to manufacture locally, the decision is a shot in the arm for the government which is looking to reduce its dependence on arms imports. More crucially, manufacturing a fighter jet like Super Hornet could mean lesser buying costs and quicker additions.
Here is all you need to know about the Super Hornet fighter jets:
* The Super Hornet was first flight tested in 1995 and introduced in the United States in 1999.
* It replaced US Navy’s primary fighter – Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The US Navy had already placed an order in 1992 and was satisfied with the planes after 3,100 test flights for over 4,600 flight hours, sea trials and test landings on aircraft carriers.
* The plane has since had three variants – called Block I, Block II and the current Block III.
* The Block III Super Hornet is one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world. A multi-role jet with strike fighting abilities, it is capable of fulfilling day/night combat needs with precision-guided weapons, deployed for air escorts, has precision-guided weapons system, reconnaissance abilities, air-to-air, air-to-sea and air-to-land target capabilities.
* Called F18 when referred to in the US Air Force and F/A-18 in the US Navy, the jet is extremely well-suited for use in certain kinds of aircraft carriers. The same aircraft is the platform for the EA-18 Growler which specialises in electronic warfare.
* The plane can carry air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. Some variants can also double up as air refuelling systems with five external tankers capable of supplying fuel.
* It is also long-range detection and infrared search systems – crucial in tactically sensitive operations. In addition, it can receive target information from a plethora of platforms and can carry 3000 pounds of fuel.
* The cockpit of the latest Super Hornet comes with a 10×19-inch touchscreen that allows pilots to seek, see and target enemy aircraft with ease and with precision.
* Boeing says the Super Hornet is the most cost-effective aircraft in the US tactical aviation fleet. This means, according to the company, that it costs less per flight hour than any other aircraft in the fleet.
* Apart from the US, Australia operates 24 Super Hornets that were delivered to it in October of 2011.