Boeing is currently hard at work developing the Block III Super Hornet — a low cost alternative to the F-35C variant that while not as stealthy as the Joint Strike Fighter is stealthy enough to engage in stand-off clashes or support the F-35 when it must call upon its low observable profile to complete its mission. The thinking behind the Block III Super Hornet is as follows: why call upon a second flight of F-35s to protect a stealth attack when larger more capable aircraft loitering in friendly air space can do the job at a fraction of the cost?
Anyway, despite what the current White House administration might have thought before the election, it will still be awhile before the Block III Super Hornet is fully fleshed out, tested and ready to carry out such a mission in the near future. In the meantime, the F-35C, lagging behind schedule due to software issues, is still struggling to become carrier qualified and meet the Navy’s deadline to join the fleet later this year. In the interim, it would be nice to see someone attempt to replicate the Block III Super Hornet now rather than later, as tensions rise in the Far East and models of would-be adversaries should be available to study their respective characteristics.
For more information on the Block III Super Hornet, take a stroll over to the Boeing web site: Boeing