From the looks of it the Advanced Super Hornet will be a very different animal performance-wise compared to the E/F model. Getting 20+% more thrust with the new GE motors, getting rid of those canted pylons which added up to an always open speed brake and essentially flying the wing clean with the weapons canoe for stores, may give the Super Hornet the thing it has always lacked- decent top-end performance. Additionally, with the jet now capable of carrying more fuel than ever before, even in the clean configuration, aside from the attached stealthy weapons canoe, it can also carry a relevant weapons load much more efficiently than its predecessor. Simply put, I find this aircraft very exciting. Taking one of the most successful and battle-proven multi-role fighters (the Super Hornet probably has the best and most proven systems integration in the world right now by a substantial margin) and fixing its clear flaws while balancing new signature reduction applications against cost may be a honey hive too sweet for the Navy and other air arms not to taste.

I really hope Boeing full evolves the Advanced Super Hornet demonstrator to include the new advanced cockpit, spherical optical awareness system, IRST, and more, so that the full synergy of all these additional capabilities can be seen as a whole. Otherwise they can be seen as just individual upgrades, yet together they are greater than the sum of their parts and may just give the F-35 a run for its money on the cost-benefit analysis side of the equation.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I am almost done with the UAV/UCAV/Stealth big picture piece that I have talked about for so long and my full commentary on Syria will be posted tomorrow! I also have a really fun piece that ranges from the Space Program to Marines in Afghanistan and my recommendations for summer reading and viewing that should post by Friday. Breaking news changes everything of-course!


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  1. Angad says:

    Ty, what about drag from the canoe and CFTs? I understand that subsonic performance (which, admittedly, is where 99% of the action happens) on the Adv Rhino is similar to the basic Rhino, but what about transonic and supersonic drag, which are also massive problem areas for the F-35?

    Also, the canoe intrigues me – it seems a better solution for a light loadout than the canted pylons, but surely it can’t fit everything the base Rhino can carry when it is, say, configured for strike? Doesn’t that suggest that it will be of limited utility?

  2. Jeff says:

    I can just hear the F-35 boosters chant, “F-35: grievous lethacality, performance kineticiaty, and situational awareality re-definitized. Go F-35!”

  3. CharleyA says:

    You can probably buy the ASH for 1/2 to 1/3 of the WSC of the F-35C. Furthermore, existing airframes could easily be converted to a subset of ASH features, if not all. It is a “good enough” solution to constrained procurement budgets. I once mused that the Navy would only buy enough F-35Cs to to fill out one squadron per airwing, now I am certain that that will happen…

  4. esmoore5 says:

    Boeing is also working on improvements to the F-15:

    Boeing Mulling F-15 Plans Beyond Silent Eagle:

  5. Glen Towler says:

    I sure hope you are right it amazing aircraft the F18 just keeps getting better been in service such a long time and I am sure is a much more cost effective than F35 lets hope they sell plenty of hornets looks like Boeing have done a great job.

  6. Captain Quint says:

    Anyone know where Boeing is working on this? The St. Louis facility?

  7. AspenTwoZero says:

    A mix of ASH, F-35C and the UCLASS X-47B successor on future carrier decks would be awesome.

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