Combat Aircraft – March 2023
English | 102 pages | pdf | 18.65 MB


There is a tremendous amount of modernization going on at the sharp end of US Navy aviation – the Carrier Air Wings – as you will see on page 80- 89. The aircraft and the carriers are seeing their capabilities considerably enhanced in a bid to fight a modern war that could break out anytime in the
Indo-Pacific region. Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets are being upgraded to the Block III version, bringing a lot of improvements, while the E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft will also be considerably enhanced. Deliveries of the fifth-gen F-35C Lightnings are also being ramped up, as are the improved E-2D Hawkeyes, which can now be refuelled in the air. The new MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial vehicles will have the ability to do just that by 2025 and will alleviate the pressure on the fivetank Super Hornet buddy-buddy refuellers that are suffering badly from fatigue. Most of these will work in the ‘kill-web’, as its dubbed by the US Navy, to enhance their ability to work together to defeat an adversary. Aircraft carriers are such great assets when air power needs to get closer to a foe, especially a region that needs support – like the Indo Pacific.
The ability to work seamlessly with allies is always a consideration and on p28-37 we show you how that works. In our F-35s Take On China feature, you get a grasp of how the US Navy and US Air Force is working with other nations in the region, notably fellow F-35 operators such as Australia, South Korea and Japan, to increase their understanding of each other’s operational routines. It’s all about interoperability, because if China does need putting down, working with its friends will ease the burden.
Also in this magazine issue are two features on overseas ops by the Dassault Rafale. Last October, the French Air and Space Force sent five jets to India for a major exercise with Indian Air Force Rafales (see page 70-74). While the IAF wouldn’t disclose anything about the arrival of the impressive Meteor BVRAAMs, they will undoubtedly want to be trained on how to use it for any future confrontations with China or Pakistan. Perhaps they were during the drills at Jodhpur, but it didn’t happen when our correspondent was there. Meanwhile, FASF Rafales have been on detachment in Lithuania (page 40-45) since December 1 on Baltic air policing duties for four months, to keep an eye on what the Russians are doing.
Of course, Russia and China are allies, but there is unlikely to be much interoperability between the two, despite some major exercises together. Regardless, the US and its allies will not be taking either for granted, which is why US Navy modernization has been so rapid.
Alan Warnes
Group Editor at Large

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