Australia will purchase 12 new EA-18G Growlers from Boeing in order to fill a stop gap that is left from the F-35 program. Their defense ministry confirmed the purchase earlier this week. Earlier plans called for a conversion of 12 already delivered F/A-18F Super Hornets into the Growler configuration, for which they paid extra for in 2010. Analysts had speculated that the country would order an additional 24 Super Hornets this year, but it appears that plans changed somewhere down the line. The purchase will make the RAAF the first air force in the world to use the Growler, behind the United States Navy.
No word on cost or planned delivery dates.
Boeing will finally begin initial testing of conformal weapon bay’s and a stealthy weapons pod for it’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet this summer. The company is funding the testing along with Northrop Grumman and the United States Navy. These components are just part of the proposed Block III Super Hornet which includes the above plus upgraded engines and cockpit displays; the later two will not be tested.
Testing will begin in St. Louis this summer before moving to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in the fall. No word on how much money the USN will actually use to field (if they field) these upgrades.
The U.S. Navy wants a replacement for the Super Hornet by the 2030’s. Below is Boeing’s concept:
Read more here.
Congress has approved a potential foreign sale for 60 F-35A aircraft, or 60 F-15 Silent Eagle aircraft for South Koreas F/X-III requirement. Both are competing with each other, along with the Eurofighter Typhoon for the deal. A final decision is expected this June.
In other news, the USN has announced that it expects the RAAF to purchase 12-24 additional F/A-18F Super Hornets this summer. They also have high expectations for sales with Brazil, Malaysia, and Kuwait. Boeing Co. recently gave a demonstration of the fighter at Malaysia’s annual airshow in March. The Navy will be sending information regarding the F-18 family to Canada shortly, but a formal competition is not expected to be implemented for aircraft selection. Although Canada had committed to the F-35 in 2010, the country was recently forced to re-evaluate its options from the general auditor because of price increases and delays with the JSF.
In my opinion, the sickest looking legacy hornets ever built. Malaysia received eight of them in 1997… pretty rare in the grand scheme of things.
The F/A-18E/F would get an additional 3,500 gallons of fuel, addressing a long standing issue for the Super Hornet… its range. Could this be the start of a Block III upgrade? The article goes into details about that too! Testing is expected to take place this summer by Boeing, no word on adapting this to the G models.
Built in 1996:
Built in 2013:
Saudi F-15SA First Flight Video.
I can finally write this!
The USAF has confirmed before Boeing that the first F-15SA for Saudi Arabia made it’s first flight on February 20th, 2013 just before noon. Flown by veteran Boeing pilot Joe Felock, the flight lasted around 45 minutes before returning to the production facility. I was lucky enough to watch this historic moment as he slowly took the bird up; followed along by F-15E1 as it’s chase. This is the first fly-by-wire F-15 and also includes newly activated weapon stations and a fully colored cockpit display. F-15SA 12-1002 is the first of three F-15SA’s that will take part in a testing program at St. Louis and Palmdale, California (the second SA has already gone up over the last few weeks). Production airframes will begin flight testing in 2014 with deliveries planned from 2015 until early 2019. The Kingdom of Suadi Arabia has thus far ordered 84 F-15SA airframes, along with upgrades to it’s entire original F-15S fleet.
The F-15SA’s first flight comes less than a year after the initial start of the program. Congrats to Boeing!
Singapore is interested in buying more fighters. Over the past few months they have ‘low key’ been evaluating the F-35 and F-15SE… the South Korean F/X-III decision is expected to be a strong influence on the final decision. It is not known how many fighters they are seeking, or what timetable they are wanting delivery’s… not that we would know anyways as Singapore usually like’s to keep defense matters private.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has delayed the buy of thirty six new fighter jets for a third time. All bidding contractors were asked to re-submit their applications after March 30th, the delay will extend the negotiation time another six months. Brazil is unhappy with the amount of money needing to be spent and could be using the continued delays to negotiate a better overall price. Boeing is offering a Block II Super Hornet, Dassault its Rafale fighter and the Gripen from Swedish manufacture Saab. Boeing is seen as the front liner in the contract because of a competitive price, and recent agreements with Brazilian based Ebarer. Although first deliveries were initially set to start in 2014, the earliest as of now would be early 2016 because of the ongoing delay.
Brazil is just one out of many countries currently considering the Super Hornet, which also includes an additional buy from Australia and considerations from Canada and Malaysia.