Two Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft and one EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft arrived at Pirkkala Air Base in Finland on Feb. 18 to participate in Finnish Air Force’s HX flight evaluation.
The next #HX candidates to take part in the #HXChallenge are Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler. Two Super Hornets and a Growler arrived at Pirkkala Air Base on 18 February. #ilmavoimat #finaf #comcamfi pic.twitter.com/ynhiQTjm4x
— Ilmavoimat (@FinnishAirForce) February 18, 2020
The flight evaluation is part of the capability assessment in the on-going HX fighter program for the procurement of new fighter aircraft to replace the operational capability of the Finnish Air Force’s F-18C Hornet (the predecessor of the Super Hornet) fleet that is to be phased out from service from 2025.
The evaluation is being carried out in Finland with tests performed under Finnish winter conditions, with the purpose to verify the data previously reported by the fighter manufacturers.
The other contenders participating in the HX competition are Dassault Rafale (France), Eurofighter Typhoon (Europe), Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (USA) and Saab Gripen (Sweden). Saab is also offering its GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft as part of the package. These aircraft have already completed their evaluation.
According to the current schedule, a procurement decision on the HX program is anticipated in 2021.
Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a twin-engine, carrier-capable, multirole fighter aircraft developed by McDonnell Douglas (now produced by Boeing) based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.
The F/A-18E is the single-seat variant and F/A-18F is the twin tandem-seat variant. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm M61 rotary cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons.
The Super Hornet entered service with the U.S. Navy in 2001, replacing the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, and serving alongside the original Hornet. The Super Hornet is also operated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the Kuwait Air Force has the aircraft on order.
Boeing EA-18G Growler
The Boeing EA-18G Growler, a specialized version of the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet, is an American carrier-based electronic warfare (EW) aircraft. The Growler’s EW capability is primarily provided by Northrop Grumman.
The EA-18G began production in 2007 and entered operational service with the U.S. Navy in late 2009 replacing its Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler aircraft. Australia has also purchased twelve EA-18Gs, which entered service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 2017.