Super Hornet begins ski-jump launch tests in India

Super Hornet ski jump India
Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet demonstrates ski-jump launch capability.

Two Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet combat aircraft arrived in India late last week to showcase their operational capability at the Indian Navy facility in Goa. They will perform launches from the mock-up of the 283-meter flight deck of the Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

The tests will allow the Indian Navy to assess whether the US aerospace giant's aircraft is suitable to operate from its new indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant which is expected to be commissioned in August. The demonstration of the aircraft began yesterday at the shore-based test facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa in Goa and will last over a week.

The Super Hornet test takes place a few months after that of the Dassault Rafale M which was carried out in the same facility earlier this year.

Both aircraft are competing for India's order for 26 carrier-based multi-role fighters. Eight of them will be purchased in the double seat variant for training tasks.

Although the choice of the Rafale may seem the most advantageous as it was also purchased by the Indian Air Force, rumors say that the Super Hornet is on top thanks to the less space it needs for parking. Compared to the F/A-18, the Rafale lacks the ability to fold its wings.

In addition, the Super Hornet's powerful F414 engines allow it to compensate for payload limits caused by STOBAR technology and perform better than the Rafale M. According to their manufacturers, the Super Hornet's engine has a thrust of 97.9kN versus the 70kN of the Rafale's (values ​​for a single engine with afterburner). The F414 engine will also be fitted to India's upcoming LCA MK-2 fighter. However, as history has shown, political considerations and the trustworthiness of defense partners can make or break Indian defense deals.

Boeing had also previously offered the opportunity to manufacture Super Hornets in India should its aircraft be chosen.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Image: Boeing

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