On Tuesday, one of the two Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft that arrived in India to demonstrate their operational capability at a naval station flew over Goa. A photo of an F-18 taking off over Goa has gone viral on social media. On May 20, the two planes arrived in India. The flight tests will last for around a week.
The US aircraft is one of the finalists for 26 fighters onboard the INS Vikrant indigenous aircraft carrier, which will be commissioned soon. The Indian Navy will begin flight testing of Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet carrier-based multi-role fighters at the INS Hansa test station in Goa. The navy conducted flight tests of the Rafale maritime fighter aircraft in January. It intends to buy a batch of fighter jets for the INS Vikrant, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to commission on August 15.
The Indian Navy began the process of acquiring 57 multi-role combat aircraft for its aircraft carrier more than four years ago. The Indian Air Force has already purchased 36 Rafale multi-role jets, with two large maintenance depots in Ambala, in the north, and Hashimara, in West Bengal. The Rafale, F-18 Super Hornet, Mig-29K, and Gripen were among the four planes competing for the contract.
INS Vikramaditya, the navy’s sole aircraft carrier, now employs Russian-made Mig-29K fighters. The navy is slated to purchase 26 multi-role fighters for INS Vikrant, with eight of these planes being two-seaters that will be used for both flying training and operations. The Super Hornet is a tried-and-true weapon platform with an internal rotating cannon and 11 hardpoints for air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, as well as laser-guided bunker busting bombs.
If the Indian Navy opts for the Super Hornet, it will strengthen ties with the United States, which is the world’s largest operator of carrier-based fighters as well as a QUAD partner and close Indo-Pacific ally. The Super Hornet has interoperability with the Boeing P8I and Lockheed Martin MH-60R anti-submarine warfare helicopters that India ordered for its navy.
Both the Super Hornet and the Rafale-M may be utilised on the INS Vikrant and the INS Vikramaditya, which use STOBAR technology to launch and land aircraft from aircraft carriers. Russian and Chinese aircraft carriers also use this technology.