Thursday, October 23, 2008

Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center Receives Unit's First F/A-18F Super Hornet

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Jeffrey Wells, Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center Public Affairs

FALLON, Nev (NNS) -- The commander of Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) landed the unit's first F/A-18F Super Hornet at it's new home at Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon, Nev. Oct. 21.

Rear Admiral Mark T. Emerson took custody of the two-seat Super Hornet from the "Flying Eagles" of Strike Fighter Squadron 122 (VFA 122) at NAS Lemoore, Calif., and flew the aircraft back to its new home.

NSAWC currently has 23 A-D series F/A-18s, but this is the unit's first F-series Super Hornet. In addition to a training center, NSAWC is responsible for tactics and weapons development for the fleet.

"This Super Hornet acquisition brings our flight line into the 21st century and facilitates the advanced tactics development efforts by NSAWC staff," said Emerson.

NSAWC has also received two E-2C Hawkeye's and transitioned from their SH-60F Seahawks to the MH-60S helicopters. The addition of these aircraft to the flight line required the maintenance department to make some adjustments.

"The whole process took about eight months, and there were a lot of obstacles that had to be overcome. We had to ensure our folks were properly trained to repair the different types of equipment associated with the F/A-18F. This consisted of attending 'difference' training held at NAS Lemoore or NAS Oceana," said
Lt. Cmdr. Scot Husa, NSAWC maintenance officer.

"Additionally, we had to obtain the many different tools and special test equipment required for supporting this platform."

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, which made their maiden voyage aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in July 2002, may look similar to the smaller A-D Hornets, but have been fitted with new mission computers, fiber-optic networks, targeting pods, joint helmet-mounted cueing systems and next-generation sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

The Super Hornet's two F414-GE-400 engines are larger and provide 22,000 of thrust, with afterburner giving the aircraft a maximum speed in excess of Mach 1.8.

"NSAWC performs a significant amount of tactics development and evaluation in order to support the fleet. Having the Super Hornet increases the accuracy and credibility of NSAWC's tactics and implementations of tactics and development into the fleet," said Lt. Cmdr. Don Bowker, NSAWC assistant operations officer.

In the coming months NSAWC is scheduled to receive a total of six F/A-18F's from various squadrons.