TWO F/A-18D HORNETS were flown from Si Louis to Israel on March 8 for a 2½-week evaluation — scheduled to run from March 15 to April 2. Israel is considering purchase of 40-48 aircraft to fulfil its requirement for a multi-role, all-weather fighter with night attack capability. A budget of $2 billion is being allowed for the purchase with procurement planned for between 1995 and 1997.
The Hornets will be flown on several types of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions by Israeli pilots during their visit. If the IDFAF purchases Hornets it is expected that an upgraded version of the Hughes APG-65 radar would be incorporated and powerplant would be an enhanced performance version of the General Electric F404. Israeli pilots will also use two flights to assess an Elbit-developed helmet-mounted targeting and display system. The helmet visor displays over a 20 field of vision and includes cues for altitude, angle of attack, heading, Mach number, target distance and weapons selected. It has been developed jointly with McDonnell Douglas over the last six months and was recently tested in the USA by a MDC test pilot in a Hornet to help clear the system for its evaluation in Israel. Both evaluation aircraft were carrying basic toned-down USMC colours, although only one is destined for delivery to that service. They have been leased back to the manufacturers from the Navy and were ferried by company pilots supported by one of MDC’s company-owned Learjet 35As, N8281. A US Navy pilot is also accompanying the deployment and will fly as a back-seater in any evaluations requiring the use of NVG
Consideration is also being given to purchase of LANTlRN-equipped F-16s and it is planned that two aircraft will be ferried to Israel during May for similar evaluations.