Boeing has been awarded a contract by the US Navy for the delivery of 116 distributed targeting processor-networked (DTP-N) kits to the Us Navy and RAAF for installation on F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters and EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.
Built by L3Harris, the DTP-N is an open architecture high-performance data and signal processing computer that forms a key element of the US Navy’s Super Hornet Block III and Growler Block II upgrade path currently being rolled out for the US Navy. The RAAF has not yet committed to an upgrade of its 24 F/A-18Fs, but the 2020 Force Posture Review did flag an upgrade to the 11 EA-18Gs in order to keep them operationally relevant until 2040.
The value of the contract is US$33.1m (A$42.8m), about one-third of which the contract notification says is allocated to foreign military sales (FMS). Based on a total of 116 units, this would roughly align with the RAAF’s total fleet of 35 Super Hornets and Growlers, allowing for variances with additional FMS and other fees.
The RAAF has always determined that it would retain commonality with the US Navy’s Super Hornets and Growlers in order to maximise capability and sustainment, but is yet to decide on whether to retain the Super Hornets or replace them with additional F-35As or another type later this decade.
Super Hornet Block III and Growler Block II enhancements also include the installation of plumbing and mounts for upper fuselage conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) – development of which was funded in February 2018, optical fibre wiring to support new generation sensors and weapons, and a new Tactical Targeting Networking Technology (TTNT) datalink.
Also included is the integration of the AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (IDECM) Block IV EW suite, new 10 x 19in large screen cockpit displays, enhancements to the AN/APG-79 AESA radar, and further detail improvements to the aircraft’s radar cross section.