March 26, 2018

NOW YOU SEE ME…: Boeing’s Next-Gen Super Hornet Will Be (Sort Of) Stealthy.

Boeing is about to kick off an exhaustive effort to transition the U.S. Navy’s carrier air wing to the “Block III” Super Hornet, a next-generation version of the strike fighter complete with new sensors, extended range, a more powerful computer and, yes, enhanced stealth coating.

These changes will allow the Super Hornet to fly alongside the Lockheed Martin F-35C carrier variant as the backbone of the Navy’s carrier air wing into the 2040s and beyond, says Dan Gillian, Boeing F/A-18 and EA-18 program manager.

Gillian confirms that an improved low-observable (LO) coating will be one of five key characteristics of the Block III Super Hornet. The fighter is already “a very stealth airplane today”—he says, declining to elaborate—but there are new coatings engineers can apply on different surfaces of the aircraft to make it even more survivable, he says.

It’s a helluva high/low aircraft mix when the low end is a souped-up semi-stealthy Super Hornet.

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