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Boeing builds Super Hornet digital displays for possible 2015 upgrade

by Mike Hoffman on September 17, 2012

SAINT LOUIS — Boeing has designed a digital, 11 x 19-inch moving map display to install into the cockpits of its F/A-18 Super Hornets as part of the larger round of upgrades planned for the navy fighter jet.

Boeing Military Aircraft President Christopher Chadwick said Boeing expects U.S. and coalition navies involved with the F-35 program to seek F/A-18 upgrades to back fill against delays in the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Installing the Large Area Display that looks like a large, touch screen iPad is part of that upgrade package Boeing is developing. The first displays could be installed in 2015, said Philip Carder, a Boeing spokesman.

Boeing officials boast that a pilot can puncture the display’s screen with a screwdriver and expect it to keep working. Pilots can view six different screens that they can move around on the screen with a touch of their finger.

Radar screens can be manipulated to give a 3-D view of surface-to-air missile threats to account for altitude and terrain. If a pilot wants a better view of SAM threats, he can point and drag the screen to make it bigger.

Engineers have taken into account that pilots will be wearing gloves. Boeing leaders are working on streaming the feed from drones in the region directly into the cockpit, much like the Army does with its attack helicopters.

The U.S. Navy’s Super Hornet program manager did throw a bucket of cold water on potential F/A-18 upgrades at the Farnborough International Airshow this summer when he backed away a commitment from the Navy.

“The U.S. Navy has not committed to any of those yet from a domestic standpoint,” said Capt. Frank Morley in July.

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