Super Hornet vs. F-35 – Amerikas Analyse

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U.S. Air Force Captain Kristin Wolfe, F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team Commander, flies during a demonstration practice near Hill Air Force Base, Utah, April 20, 2020.

  • Die USNI News erweisen am 9. Oktober 2020 Finnland und der Schweiz die Ehre. Mit einem Nachtrag vom 12. Oktober analysiert das Sprachrohr des “United States Naval Institute” (USNI) die Beschaffung neuer Kampfjets in den beiden neutralen Nicht-NATO-Staaten.
  • Der Autor, der Aviatik-Experte Mallory Shelbourne, vergleicht die Offerten von Boeing (Super Hornet + Growler) und Lockheed Martin (F-35). Die Amerikaner stünden in direkter Konkurrenz zu Europäern: Airbus mit dem Eurofighter Typhoon,  Dassault mit dem Rafale und – nur in Finnland – Saab mit dem JAS 39 Gripen E/F.
  • Zu den Triebwerken nennt Shelbourne: F-135 für den F-35 und F414-GE-400 für den Super Hornet.
  • Die US Navy beobachtet die Evaluationen in Europa mit wachem Auge. Der Super Hornet bildet das Rückgrat ihrer Trägerflotten und wird allmählich durch die Navy-Version von Lockheed Martin, durch den F-35C, ergänzt und später einmal abgelöst. Mit besonderem Interesse verfolgt die amerikanische Marine, die stärkste der Welt, den Kontext zwischen den Wettbewerben in Europa und der Zukunft der Super-Hornet-Produktion.

Europäische Evaluationen und Boeing-Produktion

  • Die USNI News schreiben: “Sollte der F/A-18 E/F in der Schweiz oder in Finnland als Sieger hervorgehen, würde das Boeing helfen, die Super-Hornet-Herstellung fortzusetzen. Während die US Navy in ihrem neuesten Budget die Super-Hornet-Käufe im Fiskaljahr 2021 beenden will, nennt Boeing die laufenden internationalen Wettbewerbe einen Weg, die Produktionslinie aufrechtzuerhalten.”
  • Zuversichtlich äusserte sich der für das internationale Militärgeschäft zuständige Boeing-Manager Thom Breckenridge: “Wir sind sehr optimistisch. Auch wegen der signifikanten Investition in den Block III gibt es viel Interesse für den F-18 und offensichtlich den Growler.” Der EA-18G Growler ist die EKF-Variante vom Super Hornet.
  • Abschliessend erwähnt der USNI-News-Fachmann das Interesse zweier reicher Golfstaaten am F-35. Qatar habe offiziell um den Kauf von F-35 nachgesucht, und die Trump Administration prüfe den Verkauf von F-35 an die VAE. Der Autor verschweigt, dass in Israel die Luftwaffe und die Armeeführung schwere Bedenken gegen F-35 in arabischer Hand anmeldeten. Israel selber setzt schon zwei F-35I-Adir-Staffeln ein.
  • Die Redaktion dankt Oberst i Gst Kürsener für den Hinweis auf die Analyse in den USNI News. Der Text folgt im englischen Original; mit Bildern der US Air Force und der US Navy.

Finland, Switzerland Considering F-35 and Super Hornets in Upcoming Fighter Contests

By: Mallory Shelbourne

An F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the Diamondbacks of Strike Fighter Squadron 102 launches from the flight deck of the Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

Two non-NATO European countries are considering the purchase of American fighters, as part of two separate international competitions are underway.

The U.S. State Department has authorized the potential sales of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet to both Finland and Switzerland.

On Friday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the department had authorized the two prospective sales to Finland and that DSCA informed lawmakers about the potential foreign military sales.

The total projected cost of the F-35 sale to Finland — which would include 64 jets, 66 F-135 engines, spare parts and equipment like air-to-ground guided weapons and air-to-air missiles — is $12.5 billion, according to a DSCA news release.

Notably, the prospective F-35 sale to Finland includes the Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN), while the potential Swiss sale includes the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS). The Pentagon earlier this year said it would move to the ODIN system after ongoing issues with ALIS plagued the F-35 program.

In the other potential sale, Finland would seek 14 EA-18G Growlers, eight F/A-18F Super Hornets, 50 F/A-18E Super Hornets and 166 F414-GE-400 engines, a DSCA release said. The Super Hornet and Growler sale, should it go through, is projected to be $14.7 billion, including the jets, equipment and other weapons like the Small Diameter Bomb II.

“The proposed sale of F/A-18E/Fs and EA-18Gs and associated weapons will provide Finland with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with U.S. Forces,” the DSCA release reads. “The proposed sale will replace Finland’s retiring F/A-18C/Ds and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability. Finland will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.”

The two American fighters are among several programs in an international competition that includes Airbus’ Eurofighter, the Saab-built JAS 39 Gripen and the French Dassault Rafale.

“If the F/A-18 E/F emerges as the winner …”

Finland’s Air Force: F/A-18C.

The Friday announcement about the potential sales to Finland comes after the State Department late last month also sanctioned two potential fighter jet sales to Switzerland. Neither Switzerland nor Finland are NATO partners, and both nations are trying to replace older fighter fleets.

Switzerland would seek 36 F/A-18E Super Hornets and four F/A-18F Super Hornets in a potential sale that includes the fighters, engines and weapons for approximately $7.5 billion, according to DSCA. The Swiss F-35 deal – valued at approximately $6.58 billion – would include 40 jets, 46 F-135 engines and accompanying weapons.

Airbus’ Eurofighter and the French Dassault Rafale are also in contention in the Swiss competition.

If the F/A-18 E/F emerges as the winner for either Switzerland or Finland, it would help manufacturer Boeing continue the Super Hornet production line. While the U.S. Navy in its most recent budget submission sought to end its Super Hornet purchases in Fiscal Year 2021, Boeing has pointed to the ongoing international competitions as a way the company could maintain the production line.

In addition to Switzerland and Finland, Canada, India and Germany also have competitions in which Boeing’s Super Hornet is a candidate.

“We’re likewise very optimistic. Partly because of the significant investment in the Block III evolution, there is a lot of interest in the F-18 and obviously the Growler,” Boeing vice president of international sales for strike Thom Breckenridge told USNI News earlier this year. “The five big competitions that I mentioned represent an opportunity for quantities over 400 aircraft, which is obviously very sizeable – and those, again, are just the public competitions that are underway. So we feel very optimistic also on the international front in terms of the Super Hornet’s ability to win sales and contribute to the production.”

Lockheed’s F-35 is also seeing international interest. Reuters this week reported that Qatar officially appealed to the U.S. to purchase the F-35. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is also assessing the possibility of selling the F-35 to the United Arab Emirates.