An F/A-18 Super Hornet recently completed a take-off from a ski jump ramp during a demonstration at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland. The Indian Navy has expressed interest in potentially purchasing Super Hornets and the demonstration was completed to ensure the jets could launch from the Indians’ aircraft carriers, configured with Short Take-Off but Arrested Recovery (STOBAR), commonly referred to as a ski jump. The extensive planning and day-to-day coordination between the F/A-18 & EA-18G Program Office International Business and Test and Evaluation (T&E) teams, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, and aircraft manufacturer, The Boeing Company, resulted in a series of test events late this summer demonstrating the capability in a variety of load configurations.
The program office T&E Lead, Jackie Dvorak, credited the Navy-Boeing collaboration and the expertise of the supporting test team for continually adjusting to make the demo successful. “The India ski jump demonstration is exactly what we do in developmental flight test with mitigating risk through extensive and detailed test planning and safe execution,” she said.
As part of Boeing’s proposed “By India, for India” sustainment program, the Block III Super Hornets can be serviced in partnership with the Indian Navy as well as India and U.S. based partners throughout the lifecycle of the aircraft. Boeing is on schedule to deliver next-generation Block III capabilities to the U.S. Navy in 2021 and by 2024, one squadron per carrier air wing will consist of Block III Super Hornets. Making the platform the U.S. Navy’s dominant force in the skies, the Super Hornet provides the most weapons at range in the U.S. Navy’s fighter inventory, including five times more air-to-ground and twice the air-to-air weapons capacity.
The supporting team worked with Boeing’s simulation data and information gleaned from previous ski jumps conducted with the F/A-18 Hornet and F-35B Lightning II to develop an Interim Flight Test Clearance. They identified a suitable test jet and instrumented it to capture data in real-time and completed multiple test events. The team also hosted Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for International Program Rear Adm. Frank Morley and representatives from the Indian Embassy, who watched a ski jump launch flight test in-person, toured the aircraft and were briefed on the potential sale of Super Hornets to the Indian Navy. India’s fighter jet procurement decision is anticipated as early as next year.