With a planned purchase of 126 Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) valued at more than USD 7 billion still undecided, the Aero India in Bangalore this Bangalore is expected to attract major players. Officials say that Lockheed Martin’s US Air Force staple F-16, Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornets, C-17 transport carrier, P-8A armed maritime surveillance planes, mid-air
refueling tankers, and T-45 Goshawk trainer jets, and Chinook heavy-lift helicopter, Sweden's Grippen, and Russian advanced MiGs are expected to be featured. It is unclear if France will feature Rafael or Indian Navy’s favorite Mirage for the show.
Some suspect that the Indian Air Force (IAF) is delaying the Request for Proposal (RFP) to ensure that all vendors feature their planes for this air show.
All eyes are expected to be on Boeing’s Super Hornet, a plane that is available only with the US Navy. With US President George Bush agreeing to allow the sale of this prestigious plane to India, Boeing is expected to feature it on this show for the first time outside the US. The Super Hornet has been collaborative effort with airframe from Boeing IDS and Northrup Grumman, the engine by General Electric, and the radar by Hughes which is not unusual for US companies typically collaborate as in the F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter was developed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin together.
The Super Hornet is a highly evolved fighter jet borrowing from many older aircraft such as the F-5 Freedom Fighter and YF-17 Cobra lightweight fighter. It weighs 7000 pounds heavier at empty and 15,000 at maximum weight than the original Hornet aircraft. It carries more fuel and weighs less than the long-range strike aircraft F-15 Tomcat. With a much larger wing capable of carrying more precision-guided weapons, an extended fuselage capable of carrying 5 1,700 liter external fuel tanks, and a “buddy share” feature allowing one Super Hornet to fuel another, the Super Hornets presents a powerful case. Besides, upgraded avionics capable of carrying AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) systems and ability to play a tactical airborne tanker role are all compelling features of the aircraft. However, the involvement of so many companies in the manufacture of the aircraft, dependence on mid-air refueling because of its non-efficient wing, and specialization to work off an aircraft carrier may major hits against this aircraft for its role in India.