It is Beijing’s worst nightmare.
The Indian Navy, brandishing brand new, state-of-the-art F/A-18 fighter jets, on their Indo-Pacific doorstep.
You wanted a fight, China? Well, you got one.
A Hornet that can sting.
You might have some good fighter jets in the PLAAF, but you don’t have F/A-18s.
According to respected military publication, The National Interest, and top notch writer Peter Suciu — one of the best in the business — it is increasingly looking like the Indian Navy could soon be flying the F/A-18.
During the recent US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, the United States signed a Basic Exchange and Agreement (BECA) for geo-spatial cooperation, and US officials have offered to sell India an advanced version of Boeing-made aircraft along with the unmanned Sea Guardian aircraft, National Interest reported.
Make no mistake — this is an unprecedented offer. One that could alter the balance in the Indo-China domain.
Given this looming threat from Xi Jinping’s China, which is getting more unhinged with every passing day, it is likely India will reconsider the F/A-18 – despite previous concerns from New Delhi, that potential US sanctions could derail the entire thing.
Let’s be honest, the entire US military and political system is a fool’s game at present — a pathological liar as president, and a challenger with a vague foreign policy.
However, the Indian Navy clearly likes what it sees in the latest Block III version of the American fighter jet. Who wouldn’t!
The F/A-18s would meet India’s need to have a fighter that can operate from aircraft carriers, Naval-Technology reported.
The Indian Navy has been evaluating if the F/A-18 as well as the French-made Rafale naval fighters to determine if either will meet its current and future needs.
India has already announced its intentions to phase out its existing fleet of jet fighters, which include the Russian-built MiG-29K, National Interest reported.
This past summer Boeing utilized a ground-based ski jump at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland to demonstrate the capabilities of the Super Hornet on a short take-off but arrested recovery configured (STOBAR) aircraft carrier, such as the ones currently in service with the Indian Navy.
According to the Eurasian Times, Dan Gillian, VP of the Super Hornet program, said: “We’ve done a lot of simulation work with the Indian Navy to better understand their requirements and we fill comfortable that the Super Hornet can operate from all their carriers, both the ones fielded today and the ones in the future.
“We think we can move around the deck, be very mission capable with a relevant weapons load-out and fuel load-out to give the Navy what they need. The Super Hornet as built today can operate from Indian carriers.”
The Indian Navy operates one such carrier already, the INS Vikramaditya, a modified Kiev-class carrier that was originally built as the Baku and entered service with the Soviet Navy before being decommissioned and sold to India in 2004, National Interest reported.
The refurbished carrier entered service with the Indian Navy in 2013 and currently serves as its flagship. Additionally, India is constructing its first domestically-built carrier INS Vikrant, and it is expected to enter service in 2023.
McDonnell Douglas, which developed the original F/A-18 Hornet and was subsequently acquired by Boeing, had also previously conducted ski jump tests with that aircraft at the tail end of the Cold War, National Interest reported.
That testing showed that with as little as a nine-degree incline, the total required takeoff roll for the Hornet could be cut in half, though it’s unclear what the jet’s gross weight had to be to achieve this performance.
Ski jumps generally increase the takeoff performance of combat jets in the absence of catapults and also provide an added margin of safety, National Interest reported.
India has expressed interest in acquiring some 57 naval fighter aircraft from operations from the carriers, and earlier this month Boeing touted the capabilities of F/A-18 when responding to the Indian Navy’s Request for Information (RFI) for its Multi-role Carrier Borne Fighter program.
In its response, the American defense contractor noted that the jet has earned a reputation of being among the most lethal, advanced, combat-proven, multi-role frontline fighters in service today.
The company’s pitch, which was made by Boeing Defense India (BDI), also highlighted the fact that the Block III variant can perform in virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum including air superiority, day/night strike with precision guided-weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defense, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control, and buddy refueling.
All factors, that will make Beijing wake up and take notice.