The McDonnell Douglas YF 17 was the first defining aircraft of this family taking design experiences from F 5E. The YF 17 lost to YF 16 in the light fighter competition. But failures are stepping stones of success and here is the proof. The YF 17 airframe was bulked into a bigger F 18 A/B as a mid range complement to the bigger F 14 Tomcat. After the cancellation of Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter NATF program. The US Navy wanted a heavy class combat aircraft that could replace all it's F 14s and F/A 18 C/D Hornet aircrafts. A heavily upgraded F 14 was supposed to do the job but US congress went ahead with a more cheaper alternative of developing a bigger F 18 with powerful engines. Certainly they later found F 35 C as a fitting contender but, still their was a need of a twin engine fighter that has better range and electronic attack capability. This requirement was fulfilled by the F/A 18 Super Hornets and E/A 18 Growlers. The F/A 18 Super Hornets are the Growlers are 25% bigger in size than the original hornets. They have square cross section intakes with partial serpentine intakes, that partially hides the engine fan blades. They are powered with a more powerful engine. The E/A 18 Growler is an Electronic Attack variant based on Super Hornet airframe.
Their are unique leading edge root extensions on the Super Hornet airframe. They provide a substantial lift to the heavy body. The Super Hornet is whole lot a new aircraft that apart from maintenance procedures and ejection seat thier is rarely any old thing taken. The Super Hornets later received heavy upgrades like an AESA radar , avionics from the cancelled X 32 and various other podded mission specific sensors.
The F / A 18 Advanced Super Hornet is an upgrade program initiated to add more capabilities to the current existing fleet of Super Hornets and Growlers. As well as possible procurement of more F / A 18s to complement the F 35 C.
Unlike popular belief the Advanced Super Hornet isn't a secondary option or competition for F 35 C but it is here to complement it.
Their are many improvements over the Super Hornet airframe and shall be discussed below.
The Advanced Super Hornet is believed to have measures that reduces 50% of the frontal radar cross section than the F /A 18 Super Hornet. Their aren't any indications of the nose being faceted for deflecting radio waves. The conformal fuel tanks are shaped as such that they does not increase the frontal radar cross section. Thier are next generation jammers that jam enemy radar's waves mostly those which would possibly expose engine fan blades to enemy radars. Their is a stealth optimised external weapons pod. Weapons are carried inside this pod and hence they turn out to be safer for mission needing stealth capability.
Their is no indication but it is highly likely that the surface must be painted with Radar Absorbant Paints. This would be a major boost to stealth feature. The cockpit canopy also looks like being treated with special tint just the same as F 35.
Conformal Fuel Tanks
The conformal fuel tanks of F/A 18 Advanced Super Hornet are fitted just above the fuselage and are supposed to increase internal fuel. Thus increasing the airplane's range and endurance. The most notable thing is that they have facilitated the usage of two pods for jamming purpose which were otherwise used for external fuel tanks.
The two conformal fuel tanks, fitted atop the fuselage, hold 3,500 pounds of useable fuel, adding either 260 nautical miles in range or 130 nautical miles of combat radius, an impressive boost in capability for an aircraft this size. Range is an ever more important topic in U.S. military, especially in the Pacific theater, given the large distances to cover. Adding only 870 pounds of structural weight, the wing-top fuel tanks create no additional drag at subsonic speeds.
Tests have shown the CFTs installed on the upper fuselage increase the Super Hornet’s mission radius by up to 130 nm, for a total radius exceeding 700 nm. The CFTs add no drag to the aircraft at subsonic speed; at transonic or supersonic speeds they produce less drag than a centerline fuel tank, Boeing said. Enhancements to the aircraft’s radar cross section, including the EWP, produced a 50-percent improvement in its frontal low-observable (LO) signature. “We have worked very hard to make sure that the CFTs were not a negative contributor to the [radar] signature,” said Paul Summers, Boeing Super Hornet and Growler director.
1 AN / APG 79 AESA radar
The APG-79 AESA radar system represents a significant advance in radar technology – from the front-end array to the back-end processor and operational software. This combat-proven AESA radar system substantially increases the power of the U.S. Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, making it less vulnerable than ever before.
With its active electronic beam scanning — which allows the radar beam to be steered at nearly the speed of light — the APG-79 optimizes situational awareness and provides superior air-to-air and air-to-surface capability. The agile beam enables the multimode radar to interleave in near-real time, so that pilot and crew can use both modes simultaneously.
Now in full rate production for the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Air Force, the APG-79 demonstrates reliability, image resolution, and targeting and tracking range significantly greater than that of the previous mechanically scanned array F/A-18 radar. With its open systems architecture and compact, commercial-off-the-shelf parts, it delivers dramatically increased capability in a smaller, lighter package. The array is composed of numerous solid-state transmit and receive modules to virtually eliminate mechanical breakdown. Other system components include an advanced receiver/exciter, ruggedized COTS processor, and power supplies.
( range vs target RCS of various radars )
The APG-79 AESA uses transmit/receive (TR) modules populated with Gallium arsenide Monolithic microwave integrated circuits. In the F/A-18E/F, the radar is installed in a slide-out nose rack to facilitate maintenance. The APG-79 features an entirely solid-state antenna construction, which improves reliability and lowers the cost compared to a traditional system. The radome of the APG-79 for the F/A-18E/F slides forward instead of hinging to the right, which saves space in aircraft carrier hangars.
The APG-79 is compatible with current F/A-18 weapon loads and enables aircrew to fire the AIM-120 AMRAAM, simultaneously guiding several missiles to several targets widely spaced in azimuth, elevation or range. The APG-79 radar completed formal operational evaluation (OPEVAL) testing in December 2006. As of January 2007 the radar was installed in 28 aircraft; some were experiencing software problems but that issue was expected to be resolved by the end of fiscal year 2007. As of July 2008, Raytheon had delivered 100 APG-79 sets to the Navy; on 3 June 2008, the Navy received the first APG-79-equipped Boeing EA-18G Growler. The Navy expects to order approximately 400 production radars.
In January 2013, the Director of Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) disclosed a long history of problems for the APG-79 radar in initial operational testing.
• DOT&E reported on APG-79 radar IOT&E [initial operational test and evaluation] in FY07, assessing it as not operationally effective or suitable due to significant deficiencies in tactical performance, reliability, and BIT functionality.
• The Navy conducted APG-79 radar FOT&E [follow-on test and evaluation] in FY09 in conjunction with SCS H4E SQT. The Navy’s Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force subsequently reported that significant deficiencies remained for both APG-79 AESA performance and suitability; DOT&E concurred with this assessment.
• The APG-79 AESA radar demonstrated marginal improvements since the previous FOT&E period and provides improved performance relative to the legacy APG-73 radar. However, operational testing does not demonstrate a statistically significant difference in mission accomplishment between F/A-18E/F aircraft equipped with AESA and those equipped with the legacy radar.
2 Internal Infrared Search & Track
It is an inbuilt infrared search and track device. The last American fighter to sport a builtin IRST was the Grumman F 14 Tomcat. After that F 15 and F 16 did not have it. They chose to carry podded sensors capable of IRST functions. But now while making F 35 and Advanced Super Hornet they finally realised importance of such passive detection systems. The built in IRST 21 can also act as a targeting pod.
It is capable of long-range infrared scan and detection of airborne threats, as it works on passive detection and ranging.
It has a large field of regard and being passive makes it is immune to electronic deception. The programmable scan modes relives much of the pilot's workload. Low false-alarm rate is the cherry on cake. The automatic target detection algorithms are very helpful. Even if the picture obtained isn't clear. These algorithms identify as to which weapon has been deployed but the enemy. It can differentiate between a tank and an APC and can even tell which particular model that tank is. It displays the NATO name of that weapon system and then suggests an action to eliminate it.
Image of F 22 Raptor taken from IRST
3 Raytheon next generation jammer
Raytheon's Next Generation Jammer solution was selected by the U.S. Navy in 2013 to replace the legacy ALQ-99 systems used on the EA-18G airborne electronic attack aircraft. In 2016, the U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon a $1B Next Generation Jammer Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract.
Raytheon's NGJ solution will provide innovative airborne electronic attack and jamming capabilities.
Increasingly complex threats require airborne electronic attack to be more sophisticated than ever, providing greater precision, power, reactive speed and directivity. Raytheon's NGJ will integrate the most advanced electronic attack technology into the EA-18G to ensure superior mission performance.
Built with a combination of high-powered, agile beam-jamming techniques, and cutting-edge solid-state electronics, our NGJ systems will meet the U.S. Navy's current mission needs while providing a cost-effective open systems architecture for future upgrades. The proven expertise we bring to the NGJ effort will yield a low-risk, highly reliable baseline solution with opportunities for growth on additional manned and unmanned platforms.
Building on a strong history of creating and integrating advanced solutions for the warfighter, Raytheon's NGJ effort will produce the most reliable, dependable and affordable system to deny, degrade and disrupt threats while protecting U.S. and coalition forces.
The Next-Generation Jammer consists of two 15-foot long PODs beneath the EA-18G Growler aircraft designed to emit radar-jamming electronic signals; one jammer goes on each side of the aircraft. Radar technology sends an electromagnetic ping forward, bouncing it off objects before analyzing the return signal to determine a target's location, size, shape and speed...etc. However, if the electromagnetic signal is interfered with, thwarted or "jammed" in some way, the system is then unable to detect the objects, or target, in the same way.
NGJ, slated to be operational by 2021, is intended to replace the existing ALQ 99 electronic warfare jammer currently on Navy Growler aircraft. The new jammer is designed to interfere with ground-and-air based threats such as enemy fighter jets trying to get a missile "lock" on a target. One of the drawbacks to ALQ 99 is that it was initially designed 40-years ago and is challenged to keep up with modern threats and digital threats with phased array radars, increased power, increased processing and more advanced wave forms. The Next-Generation Jammer is being engineered with what’s called “open architecture,” meaning it is built with open computing software and hardware standards such that it can quickly integrate new technologies as threats emerge. For example, threat libraries or data-bases incorporated into a radar warning receiver can inform pilots of specific threats such as enemy fighter aircraft or air defenses. If new adversary aircraft become operational, the system can be upgraded to incorporate that information.
“We use threat libraries in our receivers as well as our jammers to be able to jam the new threat radars. As new threats emerge, we will be able to devise new jamming techniques. Those are programmable through the mission planning system through the mission planning system of the EA-18G Growler, With surface-to-air missile systems, we want to deny that track an engagement opportunity. We try to work with the aircraft to jam enemy radar signals,” - Winston explained.
While radar warning receivers are purely defensive technologies, the NGJ is configured with offensive jamming capabilities in support of strike aircraft such as an F/A-18 Super Hornet or F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The jammer is intended to preemptively jam enemy radars and protect aircraft by preventing air defenses from engaging. The NGJ could be particularly helpful when it comes to protecting fighter aircraft and stealth platforms like the B-2 bomber, now-in-development Long Range Strike-Bomber and the F-35 multi-role stealth fighter. The technology is designed to block, jam, thwart or “blind” enemy radar systems such as ground-based integrated air defenses – so as to allow attack aircraft to enter a target area, conduct strikes and then safely exit.
This is useful in today’s modern environment because radar-evading stealth configurations, by themselves, are no longer as dominant or effective against current and emerging air-defense technologies.
Today’s modern air defenses, such as the Russian-made S-300 and multi-function S-400 surface-to-air missiles, will increasingly be able to detect stealth aircraft at longer distances and on a wider range of frequencies. Today’s most cutting edge systems, and those being engineered for the future, use much faster computer processors, use more digital technology and network more to one another.
“Multi-function radars become much more difficult because you have a single radar source that is doing almost everything with phased array capability. However, with the increased power of the next-generation jammer we can go after those, It is a constant cat and mouse game between the shooter and the strike aircraft. We develop stealth and they develop counter-stealth technologies. We then counter it with increased jamming capabilities, The target engagement radar or control radar has a very narrow scope, so enemy defenses are trying to search the sky. We are making enemies search the sky looking through a soda straw. When the only aperture of the world is through a soda straw, we can force them into a very narrow scope so they will never see aircraft going in to deliver ordnance,” Winston said.
The NGJ is engineered to jam and defeat both surveillance radar technology which can alert defenses that an enemy aircraft is in the area as well as higher-frequency “engagement” radar which allow air defenses to target, track and destroy attacking aircraft.
Winston would not elaborate on whether the NGJ’s offensive strike capabilities would allow it to offensively attack enemy radio communications, antennas or other kinds of electronic signals.
“It can jam anything that emits or receives and RF frequency in the frequency range of NGJ -- it could jam anything that is RF capable,” he explained. The U.S. Navy recently awarded Raytheon Company a $1 billion sole source contract for Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) for Increment 1 of the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ), the advanced electronic attack technology that combines high-powered, agile, beam-jamming techniques with cutting-edge, solid-state electronics,” a Raytheon statement said.
Raytheon will deliver 15 Engineering Development Model pods for mission systems testing and qualification, and 14 aeromechanical pods for airworthiness certification. The NGJ contract also covers designing and delivering simulators and prime hardware to government labs and support for flight testing and government system integration, Raytheon officials said. Overall, the Navy plans to buy as many as 135 sets of NGJs for the Growler. At the same time, Winston did say it is possible that the NGJ will be integrated onto other aircraft in the future.
"This is a significant milestone for electronic warfare," said Rick Yuse, president of Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. "NGJ is a smart pod that provides today's most advanced electronic attack technology, one that can easily be adapted to changing threat environments. That level of sophistication provides our warfighters with the technological advantage required to successfully prosecute their mission and return home safely."
The new cockpit backed by its advanced increased computing power would be "near fifth generation". The cockpit includes an 11- by 19-inch touch screen. The screen shows all the battlefield scenario in 3D format which helps pilot in decion support. The HAL of India and Elbit systems have formed a JV named HALBIT which would be making next generation cockpit displays for India's HAL AMCA. That would be modelled on Adcanved Super Hornet's cockpit. It is rugged enough to sustain battlefield roughness. The backlights efficiently deliver high brightness for direct sun viewability while allowing extreme dimmability for night operation in excess of 20,000:1
ANVIS compatibility with both Class A and Class B requirements, wide-viewing angles, and preservation of the red color system. Powerful real-time and non real-time processors backed with our high-performance and high visual quality graphics accelerators and generators.
It has optimized video processing for image clarity and resolution, Multiple picture-in-picture windowing with a comprehensive interface suite, System software with powerful applications including: primary flight display, situational awareness, digital real-time moving map, fusion of sensor video with digital maps, digital terrain elevation, threat intervisibility, data sharing, messaging, and EFB.
All of this packaged in the smallest volume possible with the lowest power consumption and weight.
Meanwhile, the robust high-definition touch screen monitor replaces four separate cathode ray tube (CRT) displays, providing more area for presenting information and giving pilots more choices in the data they want to see. That minimizes the need to look around the panel or seek data on underlying pages during flight and combat operations. The consolidated displays also reduce the number of line replaceable units (LRUs) that have to be kept in inventory.
In the future, the Advanced Super Hornet also may incorporate an enhanced version of its current GE F414-400 engines. General Electric Aircraft Engines has introduced modular upgrades to the motor that boost its power to 22,000 pounds of thrust and reduce fuel consumption from 3 to 5 percent. For combat missions, the enhanced engine could be operated at higher temperatures than previously allowed, providing an additional 20 percent thrust, a critical improvement for its air combat role.
General Electric F414 turbo-fan engines
Manufacturer: General Electric Co.
Thrust: 22,000 pounds
Overall Pressure Ratio at Maximum Power: 30
Thrust-to-Weight Ratio: 9
Compressor: Two-spool, axial flow, three-stage fan
LP-HP Compressor Stages: 0-7
HP-LP Turbine Stages: 1-1
Combustor Type: Annular
Engine Control: FADEC
Length: 154 in (3.91 m)
Diameter: 35 in (88.9 cm)
Dry Weight: 2,445 lbs (1,109 kg)
Platforms: F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; EA-18G Growler
The enhanced powerplant is also more durable and maintainable. Technology changes extend the time between overhaul from 2,000 to 4,000 hours for the hot section, and from 4,000 to 6,000 hours for the turbine fan.
Currently, flyaway cost of an F/A-18 E/F for the U.S. Navy is about $52 million, while the EA-18G Growler costs about $62 million. The Advanced Super Hornet capabilities would add about 10 to 15 percent to the cost of the aircraft. Meanwhile, estimates for the true costs of the F-35C range from about $85 million per aircraft to almost $300 million.
The next step is a multi-ship, multi-spectral fusion demonstration, referred to as Fleet Exercise (FLEX) ’15, scheduled for next spring. That will involve multiple Super Hornets and Growlers using data link, which provides us with broadband Internet in the sky and a distributed targeting network that allows us to trade sensor information among all the airplanes in a strike package.
The U.S. Navy has a Program of Record for 563 Super Hornets and 138 Growlers, for a total of more than 700 retrofittable platforms. Boeing will continue to deliver Super Hornets and Growlers to the U.S. Navy, as well as the Royal Australian Air Force, through 2016 based on the current Program of Record.
20mm M61A1 Vulcan
The M61A1 Vulcan cannon is a six-barrel 20mm gun capable offiring 6,600 rounds per minute. Its operation is based upon the principle used in the rapid-firing gun invented byRichard J. Gatling in the 1860s. The six rotating barrels,firing one at a time, permit a high rate of fire while at thesame time reducing the problem of barrel wear and heat generation.The gun can be driven electrically, hydraulically, or by a ram-air turbine. The Vulcan has equipped such USAF aircraft as the F-104, F-105, F-15, F-16, F/A-18, A-7D,F-111A, F-4E, B-58, and B-52H.
Type : Cannon Gatling
Contractor : General Electric
Range : 1 mile / 1.6 km
Caliber : 0.79 in / 20mm
Weight : 255 lb / 102 kg Mounted Internally
Muzzle velocity : 3,400 ft/s, 3,730 km/h
Rate of fire : 6,600 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity : 515
Air to Air missiles
1 AIM 120 AMRAAM
The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM (pronounced "am-ram"), is a modern beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) capable of all-weather day-and-night operations. Designed with 7-inch diameter instead of 8-inch diameter form-and-fit factors, and employing active transmit-receive radar guidance instead of semi-active receive-only radar guidance, it is a fire-and-forget upgrade to the previous generation Sparrow missiles. When an AMRAAM missile is being launched, NATO pilots use the brevity code Fox Three.
AMRAAM has an all-weather, beyond-visual-range (BVR) capability. It improves the aerial combat capabilities of US and allied aircraft to meet the threat of enemy air-to-air weapons as they existed in 1991. AMRAAM serves as a follow-on to the AIM-7 Sparrow missile series. The new missile is faster, smaller, and lighter, and has improved capabilities against low-altitude targets. It also incorporates a datalink to guide the missile to a point where its active radar turns on and makes terminal intercept of the target. An inertial reference unit and micro-computer system makes the missile less dependent upon the fire-control system of the aircraft.
Once the missile closes in on the target, its active radar guides it to intercept. This feature, known as "fire-and-forget", frees the aircrew from the need to further provide guidance, enabling the aircrew to aim and fire several missiles simultaneously at multiple targets and perform evasive maneuvers while the missiles guide themselves to the targets. The missile also features the ability to "Home on Jamming," giving it the ability to switch over from active radar homing to passive homing – homing on jamming signals from the target aircraft. Software on board the missile allows it to detect if it is being jammed, and guide on its target using the proper guidance system.
Air to Ground weapons
1 Small Diameter bombs
Since stealth aircraft have a restricted size of weapon bays. It needs a bomb that has smaller cross section. Without compromising lethality. The solution is Small Diameter Bomb.
The GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) is a 250 lb (110 kg) precision-guided glide bomb that is intended to provide aircraft with the ability to carry a higher number of more accurate bombs. Most US Air Force aircraft will be able to carry (using the BRU-61/A rack) a pack of four SDBs in place of a single 2,000 lb (907 kg) bomb. The Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB-II) / GBU-53/B, adds a tri-mode seeker (radar, infrared homing, and semiactive laser guidance) to the INS and GPS guidance of the original SDB. The original SDB is equipped with a GPS-aided inertial navigation system to attack fixed/stationary targets such as fuel depots, bunkers, etc. The second variant (Raytheon's GBU-53 SDB II) will include a thermal seeker and radar with automatic target recognition features for striking mobile targets such as tanks, vehicles, and mobile command posts.
The small size of the bomb allows a single strike aircraft to carry more of the munitions than is possible using currently available bomb units. The SDB carries approximately 38 lb (17 kg) of AFX-757 high explosive. It also has integrated "DiamondBack" type wings which deploy after release, increasing the glide time and therefore the maximum range. Its size and accuracy allow for an effective munition with less collateral damage. Warhead penetration is 3 feet (0.91 m) of steel reinforced concrete and the fuze has electronic safe and fire (ESAF) cockpit selectable functions, including air burst and delayed options.
2 JDAM Joint Direct Attack Munitions
The JDAM is an improvement over Laser Guided Bombs which are susceptible to failed targeting due to bad weather. It is a guidance kit that converts unguided bombs, or "dumb bombs", into all-weather "smart" munitions. JDAM-equipped bombs are guided by an integrated inertial guidance system coupled to a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, giving them a published range of up to 28 km. JDAM-equipped bombs range from 227 kg to 907 kg.
The term GBU Guided Bomb Unit is attached when JDAM kit is attached to a bomb. Their ate many GBUs , but the particular one used in F 22 is GBU 32. Its length is 303.5 cm. Weight is 460 kgs and wingspan of 49.8 cm.
JDAM is a guided air-to-surface weapon that uses either the 2,000-pound BLU-109/MK 84, the 1,000-pound BLU-110/MK 83 or the 500-pound BLU-111/MK 82 warhead as the payload. JDAM enables employment of accurate air-to-surface weapons against high priority fixed and relocatable targets from fighter and bomber aircraft. Guidance is facilitated through a tail control system and a GPS-aided INS. The navigation system is initialized by transfer alignment from the aircraft that provides position and velocity vectors from the aircraft systems.
Once released from the aircraft, the JDAM autonomously navigates to the designated target coordinates. Target coordinates can be loaded into the aircraft before takeoff, manually altered by the aircrew before weapon release, or automatically entered through target designation with onboard aircraft sensors. In its most accurate mode, the JDAM system will provide a weapon circular error probable of 5 meters or less during free flight when GPS data is available. If GPS data is denied, the JDAM will achieve a 30-meter CEP or less for free flight times up to 100 seconds with a GPS quality handoff from the aircraft. JDAM can be launched from very low to very high altitudes in a dive, toss or loft and in straight and level flight with an on-axis or off-axis delivery. JDAM enables multiple weapons to be directed against single or multiple targets on a single pass.
3 BLU 109 ER
The BLU-109/B is a hardened penetration bomb used by the United States Air Force (BLU is an acronym for Bomb Live Unit). As with other "bunker busters", it is intended to smash through concrete shelters and other hardened structures before exploding. The BLU-109/B has a steel casing about 1 inch (25.4 mm) thick, filled with 530 lb (240 kg) of Tritonal. It has a delayed-action tail-fuze. The BLU-109 entered service in 1985. It is also used as the warhead of some marks of the GBU-15 electro-optically guided bomb, the GBU-27 Paveway III laser-guided bomb, and the AGM-130 rocket-boosted weapon. This weapon can penetrate 4–6 feet of reinforced concrete, which is greater than the 3 foot capability of the Small Diameter Bomb.
Sources : Official websites of Boeing, Raytheon,aionline.com, airforcetechnology.com , wikipedia, GE Aviation, Air Power Australia, defencesystems.com
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