Tag Archives: F/A-18F Super Hornet

Combat Training System

The Naval Aviation Training System and Ranges program office (PMA-205) recently completed the first flight test of its next-generation air combat training system, the Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II), on an F/A-18F Super Hornet at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland. The second flight test, the first for this system involving two aircraft, followed in quick succession using two F/A-18E Super Hornet aircraft.

The Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II) pod successfully completed its first single aircraft flight test at Patuxent River December 11, followed by its first two aircraft flight test on December 15

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 conducted the test flights and the PMA-205 test team collected and analyzed the data in real time with its industry partner, Collins Aerospace Systems, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Collins).

«Our team faced software, COVID, and platform challenges but worked with urgency to stay on track for low rate initial production decision in April. The fact that the date has not changed since contract award in 2017 speaks volumes of not only our team but also the level of support from the Navy to field this capability», said Captain Lisa Sullivan, PMA-205 program manager.

The TCTS II system, developed by Collins, is an open architecture system enabling highly secure air combat training between aircraft, replacing and advancing the existing range training infrastructure. The TCTS II system is the first certified encrypted, multi-level security training pod that communicates with both airborne and ground equipment.

«This is the first time the team has been able to see the system in use in a real-world environment using an operational platform. These tests provide valuable insight into system performance, including pod-to-pod and pod-to-ground datalink performance, positional accuracy, and weapon simulations», said Jake Kiehlmeier, PMA-205 TCTS II lead test engineer.

The U.S. Air Force joined the Navy’s TCTS II program, leveraging investments made by the Navy and delivering training capabilities sooner and at a lower cost. The services are working together to develop and use this system to train against real-world threats.

«This is just the beginning of how this system and integration of additional Live, Virtual, Constructive capabilities in the portfolio will revolutionize training for the U.S Air Force and the Navy alike», said Sullivan.

PMA-205 provides full life cycle acquisition of naval aviation platform and general training systems, training range instrumentation systems, and distributed mission training centers to provide U.S. Navy and Marine Corps pilots, naval flight officers, aircrew, and maintainers with the training equipment required to provide lethal capability and operational readiness.

Training devices include flight simulators, part-task trainers, maintenance trainers, airborne and underwater training range instrumentation, threat systems, and associated curricula to ensure optimum performance for naval aviation. Responsibilities include execution of naval aviation’s Live, Virtual, and Constructive training strategy, execution of the Navy Aviation Simulator Master Plan, commonality and interoperability across training systems, procurement and sustainment of training products and services to include equipment overhaul and/or replacement, engineering changes, modernization and technology refreshes, and future technology advancements for training systems and training ranges.

First major upgrade

Australia’s Super Hornets have undergone their first major upgrade. The job was finished on budget and two weeks ahead of schedule by the Electronic Attack Enterprise team, consisting of Air Force, Defence’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, Boeing Defence Australia and Raytheon Australia.

The Royal Australian Air Force’s entire fleet of F/A-18F Super Hornet fighters have cow completed their first upgrade, as part of the Spiral Upgrade Program under which the fleet will receive incremental capability upgrades (RAAF photo)
The Royal Australian Air Force’s entire fleet of F/A-18F Super Hornet fighters have cow completed their first upgrade, as part of the Spiral Upgrade Program under which the fleet will receive incremental capability upgrades (RAAF photo)

The work was the first stage of the Super Hornet Spiral Upgrade Program under which the fleet will receive incremental capability upgrades.

The program is being conducted in parallel with the US Navy F/A-18F upgrade program to ensure the technology remains in line with the world’s largest and only other Super Hornet operator.

The 12-month Increment 1 program delivered updates to the aircraft training system, as well as to software and hardware.

These included the installation of Navigation Warfare to provide GPS navigation protection, a Distributed Targeting System to enable precision targeting, and an upgraded Solid State Recorder for the cockpit.

Five separate structural modifications to improve fatigue life and eliminate hazards were incorporated with the hardware upgrades.

OC Air Combat and Electronic Attack System Program Office Group Captain (GPCAPT) Jason Agius said the program’s success demonstrated a mature and integrated support capability.

«The completion of Increment 1 was essentially a coming-of-age for the Super Hornet support system», he said.

«It was the first time we brought together every element of the support system, from program management, logistics and engineering through to training and deeper maintenance. The project’s completion on budget and ahead of schedule is a testament to how well it worked. As prime contractor, Boeing Defence Australia exhibited ingenuity and innovation in foreseeing and addressing challenges. They used their knowledge to add value and insight at every stage and worked in close partnership with both Air Force and training system services provider Raytheon to guarantee the program’s success. The project’s completion ahead of schedule is a strategically important achievement for Air Force and one of which all involved should be proud».

Boeing Defence Australia’s Super Hornet Program Manager, Chris Gray said the program demonstrated the value of Air Force and industry working as one team.