On Monday, American aircraft manufacturer Boeing announced that its F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter successfully completed ski-jump trials, effectively paving the way for its use by the Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers.
Boeing has been testing its Super Hornet fighter using a ground-based ski-jump at the Naval Air Sation near Patuxent River in Maryland so as to provide assurances to the Indian Navy that it will be suitable for induction onto the INS Vikramaditya, the INS Vikrant expected to be commissioned by 2022, and the INS Vishal which currently remains at the drawing board stage.
The Navy was scheduled to send a team to visit the Naval Air Station earlier this year but the trip had to be deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant have been built using the Short Take-Of But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) where fighter aircraft go airborne via a ski-jump slope at the end of the flight deck. However, US Navy aircraft carriers that already have fleets of the Super Hornets use Catapult Assisted Take-Off Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) platforms where aircraft are accelerated through steam or electromagnetic catapults.
Boeing is hopeful that, in displaying that its Super Hornet can take to the skies from India’s aircraft carriers, it will become the front-runner to win the Navy’s procurement tender that Dassault, with its Rafale aircraft, is also competing for.