FA-18E/F vs. A-6E comparison From: hornet265@aol.com (HORNET265) I recently posted performance data on the new Hornet with respect to the Intruder. Probably like many of you I read only selected topics on this newsgroup because the volume is so high, and frankly, many of the subjects are pretty inane. So I don't expect my posts to be widely read. However I did think my information would catch the eye of most of the Hornet bashers out there. Guess not. Still a lot of folks making unsupported statements on this subject that are incorrect. If it's a qualitative opinion I shall respect it. I won't tell people what to like or dislike. Quantitative statements should be supported with relevant data. Now, to review the facts. Payload: The A-6E has five stores stations. The Aero-7A bombrack can carry 3600 lbs. The Intruder has 4. The Aero-7B rack can carry 3700 lbs. There's one on the centerline station. Add these up and you get 18,100 lbs. Nice number. Makes good PR. Won't work. Why? It exceeds max gross weight. Max cat gw is 58,600 lbs. Empty weight is about 28,000 lbs (FLIR/SWIP/ECM/composite wing all add to this number). Internal fuel is 16,000 lbs (9K fuselage and 7K wing). The Intruder cannot take a cat shot with partial fuel in the wing, so it's either full or empty. We just don't launch with empty wings unless it's a CQ evolution. So add the 28K and the 16K and you get 44K. Subtract the 44K from 58.6K and you get the max payload: less than 15,000 lbs. For recovery the max trap weight is 36K. This leaves a maximum of 8K for bringback, including fuel. The F/A-18E has five stores stations like the A-6, but with BRU-32 bombracks attached to the pylons. Same max weight capability. BUT...the new Hornet has 2 more wing stores stations, each with 1100 lbs capacity. AND...it has 4 more stores stations for weapons/sensors (2 wingtip AIM-9 and 2 fuselage AIM-7/AIM-120/Nav-Tgt FLIR). Total stores stations equal 11, giving MUCH greater flexibility. The F/A-18E max cat weight is 66,000 lbs. The weight of the F/A-18E with pilot, 400 rnds of 20mm, & full chaff load is 32,000 lbs (actually it's 31,983 for a 205 lb pilot). Full internal fuel is 14,460 lbs (and likely to be 15K due to some design optimizing). Planned max external load is 17,750 lbs. Better number. And it works. If you do the math, you come up to about 64.2K on the cat, well within the 66K limit. The difference, about 1800 lbs, is for planned growth, so we can add new systems for years to come and not reduce the max payload. The carrier bringback is specified at 9,000 lbs at 42.9K max trap weight. Notice again the math works in the Hornet's favor: 42.9 minus 32.0 gives us 10.9K bringback. Factor in recovery fuel (4K day & 5K night) and there's plenty left to recover with expensive weapons. By the way the F/A-18F has the same numbers, except internal fuel is reduced by 215 lbs. Comparative Loadout Example: 4 Mk 84 LGB A-6E: Weapons on parent racks stations 1,2,4 & 5 300 g fuel tank on station 3 (18K total fuel) 54 to 55K launch weight F/A-18E: Weapons on parent racks stations 3,4,8 & 9 480 g fuel tank on station 6 (17.7K total fuel) 2 AIM-9M (stations 1 & 11) Targeting FLIR on station 5 plus the flexibility of adding: Choice of AIM-7M, AIM-120C, or AGM-88 on stations 2 & 10 Choice of AIM-7M, AIM-120C, or NAVFLIR on station 7 63 to 65K launch weight Fuel: A-6 max fuel is 26K (5 300 g tanks). No weapons! At 24K fuel one weapons station is available. F/A-18E max fuel is 24.3K (3 480 g tanks). 8 weapons stations available! The wing is structurally provisioned to accommodate 2 additional 480 g tanks (bringing total fuel to 30.8K with 6 stations still available for weapons), but we are not testing this configuration in the first flight test program. The A-6 could carry the larger fuel tanks, but there are no plans to invest in an integration and flight test program for them. Now both jets have similar fuel flows at cruise. The Hornet's optimum altitude is 5-10K higher, and speed is .11-.13 Mach faster. In most scenarios this means the F/A-18E will go farther. Reliability: Mean Flight Hours between Failure (MFHBF), a measure of the average number of hours the airplane will fly before something breaks. A-6E: 0.5 Hrs F/A-18C: 1.5 Hrs The F/A-18E will have even better performance because several of the new subsystems have demonstrated improved MTBF. Very likely the new Hornet will be in the 2.6 Hrs range. Direct Maintenance Man-Hours per Flight Hour (DMMH/FH), a measure of how many man hours of scheduled and unscheduled maintenance are required for each hour the jet flies. A-6E: 51.9 Man hours F/A-18C 19.1 Man hours A lot of the A-6 maintenance is scheduled, which means compliance with airframe and powerplant bulletins where mechanics have to conduct recurring fatigue inspections...very indicative of an older aircraft. The F/A-18E will see reduced maintenance time because we have better access to systems, better diagnostics and fault isolation. We can also change an engine in 30 minutes. Ask an Intruder Mech how many hours it takes to change out a J-52! Safety: Class A mishap rate (Flight Mishaps per 100,000 flight hours) Cum Hours Rate A-6 3,401,461 7.53 F/A-18 1,037,496 4.03 Data through 28 February 1995 Survivability: The new Hornet goes faster, is less detectable, has better ECM & more expendables, has better sensor integration, and a formidable air to air capability. I put out a detailed post on this and won't waste bandwidth by repeating it here. Email me if want the data. The Intruder has served the navy well. It's an ugly, noisy bomb truck. I loved flying it for 20 years. I used to bash Hornets all the time. I know better now. Now you do too. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Bill DuBois {wdubois@opnav-emh.navy.mil} ) ) CAPT, U.S. Navy {HORNET265@aol.com} )) ))\ Deputy Program Manager )) ) ))))\__ for F/A-18E/F \=*=*=*=*=*=/ Naval Air Systems Team "Anyone can hold the helm Washington DC when the sea is calm." ----------------------------------------------------------------------

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