Just to keep this kicking along.
piece for Boeing http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au...-31477,00.html
RAAF Super Hornet buy excites interest
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Mark Dodd | August 17, 2007
AUSTRALIA'S $6 billion purchase of 24 F/A-18F Block 2 Super Hornets was open and transparent, and senior Boeing officials said yesterday they had a clear corporate conscience over the deal.
The Howard Government's controversial decision to buy what its makers describe as the world's best multi-mission warplane has prompted renewed interest in the Super Hornet from other countries, according to Hornet program vice-president Bob Gower.
The deal was covered by a government-to-government foreign military sale agreement, the first involving the Super Hornet, and Australia paid the same price for the advanced aircraft as its main operator, the US Navy, Mr Gower said yesterday.
"Australia is not actually buying from Boeing. It is buying this warplane from the US Navy, so Australia is getting the US Navy's pricing.
"From Boeing's perspective, the information provided to Australia about the F/A-18F was unprecedented."
The RAAF "had as much visibility into this platform as the US Navy".
Other nations were increasingly watching what Australia was buying for its defence force and how equipment was being used, Boeing integrated business development 's vice-president Mark Kronenberg said. "Australia is a bellwether customer. It's transparent. It's a model of how we like to do business internationally. Our customers look at what Australia does," he said.
The Australian aircraft - the first four of which will be delivered to Amberley in January 2010 - is a carbon copy of the US Navy's Super Hornet except for an automated aircraft carrier landing system.
US analysts said the decision to purchase the Block 2 Super Hornet with fifth-generation fighter technology should enable Australian to get better terms for its $14 billion purchase of the F-35 joint strike fighter (JSF).
They said the Super Hornet's advanced technology, including its radar, would mean Australia wouldn't have to buy early production versions of the F-35, allowing later delivery of the more fully developed Block 3 version of the plane at a more favourable price.
At the heart of the Super Hornet is its Active Electronically Scanned Array radar system - the world's most advanced - a fifth-generation system transplanted from Boeing's failed JSF bid, Mr Gower said.
The Block 2 aircraft also has an extended range similar to the F-111, low-observability, or stealth, qualities and extra space for weapons and ordnance.
Boeing first proposed the Super Hornet as a replacement for the ageing F-111 fleet in 1997, but by the time the Howard Government committed to buying the warplane a 33 per cent price reduction had been achieved through efficiency gains and US Navy sales. The RAAF aquired the Super Hornet to plug the capability gap between the retirement of the F-111 strike aircraft in 2010 and the arrival of the first JSF.
Delays in the JSF program underscored the need for acquiring a modern multi-role platform, Defence Minister Dr Brendan Nelson said.
The decision to buy the Super Hornet has led to renewed interest in the F/A-18F Block 2 aircraft by Canada, Switzerland and even the US Air Force, which would have preferred Australia to choose the F-15E Strike Eagle, Mr Gower said.
Australian industries could make huge gains as a result of the Super Hornet sale, including involvement in lucrative support for USN Super Hornets, he said.
"You will soon see heavy influence in two primary areas - the support package worth tens of millions of dollars both domestically (RAAF service needs) and for support of the US fleet (air arm) which is much larger."
Boeing Australia is second only in size to Boeing US and employs more than 4000 people.
"The F/A-18F is the world's best multi-role fighter.
"The avionics in that fighter are the same as Boeing was going to put into its JSF equivalent.
"The platform Australia is buying has world-class stealth capabilities, low visibility, great range and great survivability," Mr Gower said.
I was of the understanding that the block 2 had some LO features compared to the classic hornets. "World class stealth capabilities" - as opposed to "features" suggests to me something 'active', that or it's just fluff.
The idea that the block 2 has a similar range to the F-111 might not be go down well in some circles