Tag Archives: F-18E

Rhino Feed: $1B Gets 784 GE F414 Engines

DOD Contracts posted this the other day:

General Electric, Lynn, Massachusetts, is awarded a not-to-exceed $1,085,106,892 indefinite-delivery, performance-based logistics requirements contract for repair, replacement, and program support of 784 F414 engine components in support of F/A-18 aircraft. This contract includes a five-year base with no options. Work will be performed in various continental U.S. contractor locations that cannot be determined at this time (99%), and in Jacksonville, Florida (1%). Work is expected to be completed by October 2027. Working capital (Navy) funds in the amount of $81,383,017 will initially be issued for delivery order N00383-23-F-0DM0 as an undefinitized contract action at time of award, and funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. Individual delivery orders will be subsequently funded with appropriate fiscal year appropriations at the time of their issuance. One company was solicited for this non-competitive requirement pursuant to the authority set forth in 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(1), with one offer received. Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the contracting activity (N00383-23-D-DM01).

The General Electric F414, which had its first run in 1993, is an afterburning turbofan engine in the 22,000-pounds-of-thrust range (in afterburn, “just” 13,000 lbf without) that was developed from the old F412 non-afterburning turbofan planned for the Cold War A-12 Avenger II, the A-6E Intruder replacement that was never ordered.

Some 2,400 pounds (dry weight) it is just under 13 feet long and was planned first to be the engine on the navalized F-117 Nighthawk (that also was never ordered) then twin-packed on the downright chunky F-18 Super Hornet.

For reference, the smaller F-18C/D was powered by two 11,000 lbf thrust F404-GE-402s (which the F412, in turn, was based on!) giving you an idea of just how much more powerful the Rhino engines are. Of course, the maximum take-off weight of the F-18C is around 50,000 lbs while the F-18E runs over 65,000, so the extra thrust is both needed and appreciated.

In all, over 5,600 F404/F414 engines have been built, and a combined 18 million engine flight hours run through them, with the 1,600 F414s delivered since 1999 accounting for about 5 million of those hours. It is expected the influx of new and rebuilt engines will give the Navy/Marines’ 777-aircraft F-18/EA-18 program a stockpile of engines for about the next 25 years– in peacetime op tempos.

Besides the Rhino and Growler, the F414 powers some types that you may not be familiar with:

Of old Hornets and Frenchies

The Royal Australian Air Force this week bade farewell to the F-18A/B, early Hornet models they have flown since the mid-1980s.

Via the RAAF:

After more than 30 years, and nearly 408,000 total fleet flying hours, the F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet flew over Australia for the last time. Up to 12 aircraft departed RAAF Base Tindal on a final sortie over Darwin and the Northern Territory; before proceeding to Queensland.

The remaining aircraft arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown, their final destination, where Air Force held an end of era event on November 29. Since 1985, Air Force operated 71 F/A-18A/B Hornets at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal with the fleet now being retired and replaced with the F-35A Lightning II aircraft.

The RAAF also released an excellent “jet only” raw footage reel of the Hornet at work, sans any overdub or background music, which is great!

In other “F-35 as Hornet replacement” news

The Finnish Defense Force seems to have downselected the F-35 over the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Aviation Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Saab Gripen E to replace their early generation C/D model Hornets.

Switzerland made a similar choice earlier this year.

In the past, Finnish Hornet drivers on exchange tours with the U.S. Navy have even pulled down carrier quals.

180317-N-FK070-0120 ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 17, 2018) Finnish Air Force Capt. Juha Jarvinen lands an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Sharpshooters of Marine Strike Fighter Training Squadron (VMFAT) 101 on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). This marks the first time a Finnish pilot has performed an arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur/Released)


Rafale finally gets some love

Meanwhile, the French Navy is celebrating 20 years of operating the only nuclear-powered CATOBAR carrier in history that wasn’t on the U.S. Naval List. The 45,000-ton Charles de Gaulle (R91) is the flagship of the Marine Nationale and, while ordered in 1986 to replace the smaller, conventionally-powered Clemenceau and Foch, was not commissioned until 2001, with her first deployment being to Afghanistan as part of Operation Heracles in December.

Originally intended to fly F-8E (FN) Crusaders– the only other country to use the American “gunfighter” from a flattop- and Falklands-proven Super Étendards, De Gaulle soon switched to an all-Rafale M airwing augmented by E-2C Hawkeye AEWs and a few Panther/Caiman helicopters for CSAR/ASW work. The French Navy currently runs four squadrons of Rafale M F3-Rs, totaling around 40 active airframes. The Royal Navy cries over that one, for sure, as they will likely never operate that many British F-35s at any one time from their carriers.

Interestingly, De Gaulle can also accommodate F-18s, as the U.S. Navy has often done cross-decking with both Hornets and C-2 Greyhounds, the COD version of the Hawkeyes sans frisbee. In goose and gander terms, both USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS George H.W. Bush have embarked Rafale dets in 2008 and 2018, respectively, and the French strike fighter is the only foreign type currently cleared to operate on U.S. cats and traps.

Speaking of Rafales

In related news, the United Arab Emirates Air Force just placed a big $18 billion order for 80 Rafale F4 fighters, making them the largest non-French customer. Smaller orders have been placed by Croatia, Egypt, Greece, India, and Qatar in the past decade, but the UAE tender is the biggest to date. Canada, Indonesia, Iraq, Ukraine, and Spain, among others, are still looking at the plane.

Santa’s keeping that list

With “the Season” now underway, this seemed relevant.


Official caption:

SOUTH CHINA SEA (Dec. 24, 2019) A Sailor dressed as Santa Claus directs the launch of an F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to the Pukin’ Dogs of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed strike group assets include staffs and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7. U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeremiah Bartelt (Released)

And away we go

Click to big up

Click to big up

An F/A-18E Super Hornet from the “Royal Maces” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 launches from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) during the Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 fly-off. George Washington and its embarked air wing, CVW 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paolo Bayas (Released) 141121-N-TE278-334

A relatively new squadron, the Maces were only stood up in 1967. Originally flying the A-7 Corsair II as VA-27, the Maces conducted over 4,000 combat sorties dropping it like its hot on the North Vietnamese while flying from Constellation and Enterprise on Yankee Station in the 1960s and 70s. Transitioning to the F/A-18A/C in 1991, they picked up the Strike Fighter monicker and used that early Hornet well over Iraq in OIF. They have been flying the much bigger E-model “Rhinos” since 2004.

Iranian P-3F intercepted by US F-18 near USS Abraham Lincoln

An Islamic Republic of Iran Navy reconnaissance aircraft approaches a US Navy aircraft carrier and is escorted by US fighter jets over the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. Pictures are all taken by Iranian crew.

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Captain John Eden Commander of Air Group on USS Abraham Lincoln  flying his FA-18E Super Hornet while intercepting Iranian P3F

Captain John Eden Commander of Air Group on USS Abraham Lincoln flying his FA-18E Super Hornet while intercepting Iranian P3F