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Boeing Super Hornet Completes Sea Trials

ST. LOUIS, March 17, 1999 -- The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet completed its second round of sea trials three days ahead of schedule. Both of the F models, or two-seat versions of the aircraft, ferried from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman off the coast of Florida to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., March 14.

Sea trials began March 3 as Lt. Cdr. Mike Wallace landed aboard the nation's newest aircraft carrier in the Navy's newest strike fighter. Wallace is one of three test pilots, two weapon system officers and two landing safety officers who were involved in testing all aspects of the Super Hornet's carrier suitability.

"I'll fight any aircraft in the world in this aircraft," said Wallace. "This is the premier strike fighter in the world."

During sea trials the Super Hornets were put through a series of rigorous carrier suitability tests that pushed the aircraft to limits far beyond those expected during normal operations. Tests conducted aboard the Truman include asymmetric weapons carriage, stores separation, single-engine landings, crosswind takeoffs and landings, and automatic carrier landing system approaches.

Test pilot Lt. Cdr. Tim Baker described landing the Super Hornet with one engine idling as a "non-event." "This aircraft has performed superbly," said Baker. "I come from the [F-14] Tomcat community, and these pilots are going to have it comparatively easy."

Sea trials are the final development test for the Super Hornet before the aircraft is turned over to the U.S. Navy for Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL). The Super Hornet is scheduled to enter OPEVAL with Navy test squadron VX-9 at Naval Air Station China Lake, Calif., in May. OPEVAL will consist of more than 800 flights in a six-month period. The aircraft will be tested in all mission areas, in various climates and again at sea aboard an aircraft carrier.

Initial sea trials of the Super Hornet were conducted in January 1997. Those tests demonstrated a reduction in final landing approach speed, 8 knots slower than the F/A-18C/D, which increases the safety margin and handling characteristics for the pilot.

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