The U.S. is creating an interlinked network of weapons that will fight smartly. It is possible to guide missiles in asymmetrical attack patterns that is beyond visual range.
As China and other threats are upping their presence, the U.S. Navy has the F-35 and Super Hornet as its front-liners that will synch in the Navy's connected battle network.
The 4thgeneration F-18 Super Hornet will now have sensors and networks that will link with the F-35 Lightning in connected combat. Conversion of the 500 Super Hornet and 116 new Block III Super Hornets will be on U.S. flat tops soon. For the F-35C, it might be a light carrier, or the bigger one, for F-18 it will be the catapult equipped carriers, reported Breaking Defense.
Once considered the F-35C alternative, now both are liked in beyond visual range attack spheres. Both complement each other in a wartime situation that needed multiple systems that works synergistically.
How the two combat systems complement each other
The F-35C is the tip of the spear into hostile territory, which spots airborne enemies with tracking data linked to E-2D Hawkeye command plane safe in CAP patrol radius and enemy fire. Keeping the Hawkeye safe from enemy detection is the EA-18G Growler radar-jamming planes. Data is linked and sent over the network to F/A-18 Super Hornets, with improved cockpit equipment.
Radar may not be enough, so the Hornets use Infra-Red Search & Track sensors to see the jet exhaust. Next two F-18 will use the data and center the target and fire beyond visual range. Underslung on the fuselage are missiles up to eight in all. The oncoming bogeys are shot down in this scenario.
Initially, it was a toss-up of what to get, the F-35C or the F-18 but it was resolved that both systems are ready to complement each other in an interlinked network.
The Super Hornet is not just a brawler
This is not the same as the current F-18 in service with the U.S. Navy, not only does it have offensive capacity but it has 10% less radar cross-section in this iteration.
Dan Gillian, the Boeing program manager, said the Navy needs more offensive strength than stealth. The Block III Super Hornet is for fighting
This ain't just any F-18, it's SUPER
Modernized systems are important as well as avionics, inside an F-18, is the Lockheed Martin MUOS (Mobile User Objective System) satellite communications link that interlinks with the network beyond sight.
Add-ons like the Rockwell Collins, Tactical Targeting Network Technology that is installed on the Growler and E-2G Hawkeye links data to all these combat systems in interdicting Chinese fighter planes. The TTNT is part of the Naval Integrated Fire Control - Counter-Air, an umbrella that commands these three systems at the hands of naval commanders.
Several systems like the Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked that manages data on the Hornets, with Infrared Search and Track sensor that combines on the TTNT. This cobweb of systems will allow more asymmetrical attacks that will confound all adversaries.
More extras to give the Hornet advantages is the Advanced Cockpit System that drop tanks with less radar visibility, adding 120 nautical miles to the range, plus a 10% less visible redesign that will be useful.
Between the F-35 Lightning and Super Hornet enemy sorties, they hardly put to score attacks on ships or planes.
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