Super Hornet Completes Indian Carrier Trials

 - July 21, 2022, 8:31 AM
One of the U.S. Navy F/A-18Es snags an arrester wire during trials on INAS Hansa’s dummy deck. Goa’s Dabolim airfield is the main fighter base for the Indian Navy, and also serves as the international airport. (Photo: Boeing)

The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet has completed a series of demonstration and trial flights at Indian Naval Air Station (INAS) Hansa in Goa. The trials were undertaken by two F/A-18E single-seaters from the U.S. Navy and included numerous launches from, and recoveries to, the Indian Navy’s shore-based dummy deck facility, which features a ski-jump and represents the short take-off but arrested recovery configuration of India’s carriers.

Arrested recoveries were conducted from both roll-in and fly-in wire engagements. The aircraft were flown at various weights and in various operational configurations covering different air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons loadouts. The Indian campaign follows a series of eight ski-jump launches conducted in late 2020 at the U.S. Navy’s test facility at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland.

“The Boeing team was privileged to showcase the F/A-18 Super Hornet’s compatibility with Indian carriers in Goa,” said Alain Garcia, VP India business development. “As the most advanced frontline multi-role naval fighter, the F/A-18 Super Hornet continues to evolve with the development of the next-generation Block III capability, which will be game-changing for India.”

Having been dissatisfied with the MiG-29K/KUB fighters that it had acquired from Russia to serve aboard the modified Soviet-era Kiev-class carrier INS Vikramaditya, the Indian Navy is seeking to buy 26 carrierborne fighters to equip the new INS Vikrant, also known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1. The 40,000-tonne vessel was launched in August 2013 and is expected to be commissioned into the Indian Navy in August this year.

The navy is also considering the Dassault Rafale M, which undertook compatibility trials at INAS Hansa in January. Boeing is spotlighting the advantages of drawing experience from U.S. Navy use of the Super Hornet, while Dassault highlights the Rafale M’s commonality with the land-based Rafales operated by the Indian Air Force.