The twin seater Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet helicopter being offered to the Indian Navy can receive information from drones, MH-60R Maritime Helicopter besides the P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft to increase the lethality of the carrier based fighter jet.
Ankur Kanaglekar, Vice President, India fighter sales told Defenseworld.net at the Aero India 2021 show that the F/A-18 Super Hornet being offered to India is the Block III version, which brings various improvements over the Block II, making it a formidable carrier-based fighter jet.
Kanaglekar clarified that connecting with Indian drones and other airborne assets is a possibility and putting it into action will require conversation between the India and U.S. governments.
The aircraft has been tested on a shore-based ski jump to mimic the launch system of Indian aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya and the upcoming Indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) currently being developed by Cochin shipyard, India.
The Super Hornet comes with a GE 414 engine which shares commonality with the proposed Indian Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mark II). The engine can be serviced to a certain extent on the carrier itself minimizing aircraft down time.
The Indian MoD is expected to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for 57 deck-based fighters comprising both single and twin seat versions. Primary contenders are Boeing Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale and Russia's MiG-29K.
The Indian Navy's current deck based aircraft, the MiG-29K has received a lot of flak for maintenance issues.
According to Boeing information, the Block III Super Hornet has many modern additions including an advanced cockpit, Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked (DTP-N) mission computer and its Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) data link, lower radar cross section (compared to Block II) and an airframe service life of 10,000 flight hours (compared to the Block II's 6000 hours).