One of the two Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter aircraft, which arrived in India to showcase their operational capability at a naval facility, was spotted flying over Goa on Tuesday. A picture of the F-18 taking a sortie over Goa is being shared on social media. The two jets arrived in India on May 20.

The flight trials are expected to last over a week. The US craft is one of the contenders for 26 fighters onboard soon to be commissioned INS Vikrant indigenous aircraft carrier.

HT had earlier reported that the Indian Navy will start the flight trials of Boeing Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet carrier-based multi-role fighters at the shore-based test facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa in Goa.

A picture of the F-18 taking a sortie over Goa is being shared on social media
In January, the navy had carried out flight trials of the Rafale maritime fighter aircraft. It plans to procure a batch of fighter jets for IAC Vikrant that is likely to be commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15. Over four years back, the Indian Navy had initiated the process to acquire 57 multi-role combat aircraft for its aircraft carrier.

India has already bought 36 Rafale multi-role fighters for the Indian Air Force with two major maintenance bases in Ambala in the north and Hashimara in West Bengal.

Four planes were in contention for the deal which included Rafale (Dassault, France), F-18 Super Hornet (Boeing, US), MIG-29K (Russia) and Gripen (Saab, Sweden).

Currently, the navy operates Russian-origin MiG-29K fighters from its sole aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

The navy is expected to buy 26 carrier-based multi-role fighters for INS Vikrant with eight of these aircraft two-seaters to be used both for flight training and operations.

The Super Hornet is a proven weapon platform with an internal rotary cannon with 11 hardpoints to carry air to air missiles and air to surface missiles as well as laser-guided bunker-busting bombs.

In case Indian Navy goes for Super Hornet, this aircraft will deepen cooperation with the US, by far the largest operator of carrier-based fighters in the world as well as a QUAD partner and close Indo-Pacific ally. The US has the largest original equipment manufacturing in India and the Super Hornet has inter-operability with Boeing P8I and Lockheed Martin MH-60 R anti-submarine warfare helicopters purchased by India for the navy. India’s other partners in QUAD also operate MH-60R helicopters and P8I aircraft with the Australian Navy also using the F/A-18E Super Hornet.

Both the Super Hornet and Rafale-M can be used in either INS Vikrant or INS Vikramaditya, which use short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) technology for the launch and landing of aircraft from an aircraft carrier. This technology is also used by Russian and Chinese aircraft carriers.