The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a “stealth” platform, asserts Chris Chadwick, Boeing Military Airplanes president. In a Tuesday telecon with reporters, Chadwick said the Air Force and Navy have a “different philosophy” about stealth. The Navy, he said, relies on both reduced radar cross-section as well as jamming to achieve survivability. The sea service plans to operate the Super Hornet and F-35 “side by side,” and the F/A-18E/F is a “day one” aircraft, said Chadwick. He was rebutting claims by Lockheed Martin that the F-35 is a “fifth generation” aircraft and will be survivable longer into the future even though it will cost about the same as the Super Hornet. “In my opinion,” Chadwick said, the generational discussion is “absolutely irrelevant.” He said the Navy is counting on the F/A-18E/F to be survivable out to about 2035 despite the aircraft’s external carriage of radar-reflective weapons. Boeing challenged Lockheed because it “can’t allow” its competitor’s assertions to “hang out there,” especially with the Paris Air Show coming up later this month, said Chadwick. Boeing has had a surge of interest in the F/A-18E/F as the F-35 has gone through a very public restructuring due to cost increases, he noted.
Adm. Christopher Grady, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and head of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, is pushing a “portfolio” approach to requirements and wants his position to have “more teeth” so he can enforce it.