US Navy Greenlights Advanced Electronic Warfare Prototype for Hornets and Super Hornets

World Defense

US Navy Greenlights Advanced Electronic Warfare Prototype for Hornets and Super Hornets

The US Navy has given the green light to a groundbreaking prototype design for an electronic warfare (EW) modernization initiative aimed at enhancing the capabilities of its F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet fighters. This ambitious project, led by L3Harris Technologies, seeks to equip these aircraft with next-generation electronic warfare systems capable of countering modern radar and countermeasure threats.

The $80 million contract for the prototyping effort was awarded to L3Harris in November 2023. This effort is part of a broader strategy to ensure that the Navy's fleet remains at the cutting edge of aerial warfare technology. The development and production phases of this project are expected to continue until 2026.

One of the standout features of this initiative is the use of an open modular systems design. This innovative approach allows for the integration of additional compatible technologies in the future, making the system highly adaptable and future-proof. The new EW solution is designed to scan threats across all relevant radio frequency bands, incorporating both support measures and an attack system.

L3Harris is not new to such high-stakes projects. The company is already working on equipping the Navy's existing F/A-18s with a self-protection jammer, another critical component of modern electronic warfare.

The F/A-18 Hornet and its advanced counterpart, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, are among the most formidable aircraft in the Navy's arsenal. The Hornet measures 17.1 meters (56.1 feet) in length with a wingspan of 12.3 meters (40.4 feet). It boasts a top speed of Mach 1.8 (2,222 kilometers or 1,381 miles per hour) and can reach altitudes of up to 15,000 meters (50,000 feet). The Super Hornet, slightly larger at 18.31 meters (69.1 feet) in length and with a wingspan of 4.88 meters (16 feet), can reach Mach 1.6 (1,975 kilometers or 1,227 miles per hour) and has a service ceiling of 15,940 meters (52,300 feet).

Both aircraft are armed with a variety of weapons, including rotary cannons, air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, anti-ship warheads, explosives, guided bombs, and decoy systems, making them versatile and deadly in combat.

This approval for the new EW prototype comes on the heels of a significant contract signed in March 2023, in which Boeing was tasked with supplying additional Hornets and Super Hornets to the Navy. This $1.1 billion deal includes not only the aircraft but also a comprehensive technical data package and sustainment services, ensuring the fleet's operational readiness for years to come.

In December 2023, Raytheon was awarded a separate $80 million contract to develop another EW prototype for the Navy's fleet, further emphasizing the importance of advanced electronic warfare capabilities in modern naval operations.

The Navy's commitment to maintaining and enhancing its strike fighter capabilities through these sophisticated EW systems underscores the ongoing evolution of aerial combat and the critical role of electronic warfare in achieving air superiority.

Leave a Comment:
No comments available for this post.