US aerospace giant Boeing has reiterated its ”attractive offer’ to the Indian Navy for a twin-engine deck-based fighter program and has yet again offered its F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and direct pitch against French Rafales.
In a statement given to an Indian news agency BusinessLine, the company said “We have responded to the Indian Navy’s Request for Information (RFI) for the Multi-role Carrier Borne Fighters program. The F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet, the frontline fighter of the US Navy, is on offer to the Indian Navy.”
Recently, Boeing confirmed that it’s testing the Super Hornet’s capabilities to take off from a ski-jump from a STOBAR-configured aircraft carrier, The EurAsian Times reported.
The Indian Navy will have two STOBAR aircraft carriers by 2025, one being the INS Vikramaditya (currently in service), and the other INS Vikrant (will be operational in few years). “It will offer the most contemporary war-fighting capabilities to the Indian Navy while enhancing cooperation between the Indian Navy and US Navy,” it added.
Not only for the Indian Navy, but the F-18 Super Hornet is also competing for Indian Air Force’s another fighter jet competition informally known as “MMRCA 2.0”, for which other contenders include Dassault’s Rafale, Lockheed Martin’s F-21, Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab’s Gripen, and Mikoyan’s MiG-35.
However, in the earlier MMRCA competition, the Dassault Rafale was declared the winner over Europhyter Typhoons, while the F-18s were not even shortlisted.
While there have been speculations about the F-18’s operational capabilities from a STOBAR-configured aircraft carrier, Dan Gillian, VP of the Super Hornet program had said –
“We’ve done a lot of simulation work with the Indian Navy to better understand their requirements and we fill comfortable that the Super Hornet can operate from all their carriers, both the ones fielded today and the ones in the future… We think we can move around the deck, be very mission capable with a relevant weapons load-out and fuel load-out to give the Navy what they need… The Super Hornet as built today can operate from Indian carriers.”
India’s partnership with Boeing
“Today, India has 11 C-17 Globemaster IIIs, eight P-8Is (with four more on order), 22 AH-64E Apaches (with six more on order), and 15 CH-47F(I) Chinooks, all Boeing platforms.
In 2020, Boeing also signed an agreement with New Delhi for the acquisition of six AH-64E Apache helicopters for the Indian Army,” the company added, in the statement given to BusinessLine.
Also telling about the Super Hornet’s capabilities, Boeing said that the aircraft can perform virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum including air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defense, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control, and buddy refueling.
“More than 700 F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets are in operation today. F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet will offer superior economics in the form of the low acquisition cost, operations, and high mission readiness.
The Super Hornets will be sustained in India, in partnership with the Indian armed forces as well as India and US-based partners throughout the lifecycle of the aircraft,” the company added.