F/A-18 E Super Hornet is the premier naval fighter of the US Navy, and it will be getting Block III upgrades. The jet is a 4th generation fighter with upgrades improving its performance over the Block II type.

F/A-18 E Super Hornet naval specialist

Block III, dubbed the Advanced Super Hornet, was test flown successfully in August 2013. To allow it to be competitive with newer planes, several equipment changes were devised by engineers are Boeing to bring them up to specifications to lower Block IIs, reported Airforce Technology.

Significant changes in the Block III aircraft will be an enclosed weapons pod, conformal fuel tanks, and signature enhancements. The plane's maximum speed is Mach 1.8 with a total of 44,000 pounds of thrust from its dual turbofan engines, and it has increase fuel for a greater range.

By March 2018, Boeing was given the contract to improve the total fleet of Navy F/A-18s made up of 568 planes. The objective is to convert Block II F-18s to the higher-spec types.

Continuing the upgrade of all F-18 Block IIs was resumed in March 2019, including the further advancement of Block IIIs (78 jets) via the Service Life Modification (SLM) program. Under the SLM, all the F-18s like one delivered in February 2020, next the second and third SLM F-18 Hornets had in April 2020.

Weapons equipped on Block III

The F/A-18 E Super Hornet has 11 hardpoints or weapon stations where missiles or bombs can be carried. These include air-to-air homing missiles like the AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow, and AIM-120 AMRAAM for medium to long-distance attacks.

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The plane is also made for all-weather tactical strikes with these air-to-ground bombs or missiles that are guided or unguided weapons. Special weapons are the JDAM Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), joint stand-off weapon (JSOW), and joint air-to-surface stand-off missile (JASSM) that is part of its weapons loadout.

Use of the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) that manages missiles and bombs during an attack can be used for Block II or Block I F-18s too. Still true to the dogfighting tactics is the M61A2 20mm Gatling gun that has 6000 rounds for close air combat.

The US Navy used the Block III Hornet in the Iraqi Freedom Operation, and all the systems were initially delivered in 2005.

Avionics and controls

Inside the plane's cockpit is the controlled display touch-sensitive, with colored displays for the pilot to see better. It shows strategic information, a dual monochrome display with a fuel indicator.

These instruments give the pilot the status of the plane's systems for better systems management. Pilots have colored digital map, and for night flying are standard for night flights.

Countermeasures and Sensors of the Hornet

Keeping the plane from harm's way is the AN/ALQ-124, which controls decoys and measures to fool missiles, including electronic systems to prevent it from getting locked on by the enemy. Using flare dispensers, a towed decoy, and radar warning alarm if the F-18 has been detected.

It is equipped with the Raytheon APG-73 radar that has improved speed and memory systems better than the older APG-65 in earlier versions of the F/A-18 E Super Hornet Block III.

Capable of air to ground, air to air search mode when in scanning and tracking of targets. A new AN/APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) has more updated functions than the AN/APG 73.

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