Lynn, USA: Australia has announced its decision to procure 24 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, becoming the upgraded fighter's first international customer in the process. Twin F414-GE-400 turbofan engines will power the Super Hornets. Currently, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flies 71 F404-powered F/A-18A/B Hornets, which were first inducted into the force in 1984.
According to current plans, the first Super Hornet is to be delivered to Australia in 2010, with a fully operational RAAF Super Hornet squadron to be based at Amberley in Queensland by 2012.
Meanwhile, GE Aviation has announced that engine deliveries for this order will begin in 2009. The total value of the engine programme, including support, is estimated at US$428 million. The engine agreement includes plans for a two-year support package and a 10-year Performance Based Logistics (PBL) programme.
The F414 engine for the F/A-18E/F is rated at 22,000 pounds (98 kN) thrust and is in the 9:1 thrust-to-weight ratio class. According to GE Aviation, the US Navy has already taken delivery of over 700 F414 engines with over 700,000 engine flight-hours accumulated to date.
It may be interesting to note that the F414 is also a potential power plant for growth versions of the Saab Gripen, India's Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, KAI/LMTAS A-50 light fighter (a derivative of the T-50 advanced trainer) and other combat aircraft under development.
GE Aviation says that it continues to collaborate with the US Navy on an F414-based technology demonstrator programme that could lead to future upgrades of the engine, which would increase thrust and/or extend time on wing for significant life cycle cost benefits.
GE Aviation, an operating unit of General Electric Company, is one of the world's leading manufacturers of jet engines for civil and military aircraft. GE also is a global provider of maintenance and support services for operators of GE jet engines.