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U.S. Navy Air Power Can’t Survive Without the F/A-18 Super Hornet

By National interest

Policymakers are currently deciding the future of America’s aerial defense capabilities. As military leaders and members of Congress chart a path forward, they’re faced with challenging decisions about which capabilities to invest in considering the limited resources available to be allocated to air power. The U.S. Navy, in particular, is in need of capable, battle-ready aircraft.

That’s why as our leaders weigh aircraft options that satisfy current and future needs, they must include the F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet.

The F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet is a highly capable fighter with several important upgrades that complement the Navy’s newer fighter, the F-35C, but without excessive production, procurement, and maintenance costs. It comes with increased computing power and communications systems that will allow it to speak with future manned and unmanned aircraft along with a digitized advanced cockpit system.

The new Block III Super Hornet also comes with a passive detection and tracking system with the ability to track stealthy targets at longer distances and a service life that will be extended by 40 percent.

One of the major advantages that the F/A-18 provides to the Navy is its dual engines. It’s a safety feature that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s not unheard of for an engine to be lost in combat. In 1991, a Marine F/A-18D successfully completed its mission and made an uneventful landing on a single engine after having to shut the second one down when it was hit by an Iraqi surface-to-air missile. The dual-engine capability is a lifesaver.

The uncertain landscape of future battlegrounds must be taken into account when investing in defense programs. Another practical one is diversity. No winning basketball team starts five shooting guards and no football team starts 11 quarterbacks. The reason is obvious.

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