December 16, 2013
As the U.S. Navy ponders future purchases of the F/A-18, it is showing growing interest in the comprehensive structures, systems and propulsion upgrade package proposed by industry earlier this year that would extend the combat life of the current fleet.
One element of Boeing's Advanced Super Hornet plan receiving close attention is large conformal fuel tanks (CFT). In flight tests, they have shown the potential for marginal drag reduction and other benefits over the unmodified aircraft, despite their size and capacity. With the ability to hold 3,500 lb. of fuel, the tanks could add 260-nm combat range to the Super Hornet and, in the case of the EA-18G Growler electronic-attack version, would extend time on station and bring-back weight.