US defence major Boeing is planning an operational demonstration of F-18 Super Hornet carrier-based fighter at the shore-based test facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa in Goa in April-May this year as a possible contender for Indian Navy’s sole aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and soon to be commissioned INS Vikrant. Both the Indian aircraft carriers use ski-jump to launch the fighters with arrested recovery through the net.
According to officials in knowledge of the matter in Washington and in New Delhi, the US Navy conducted ski-jump trials of F-18 fighter at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland in US or Pax river in December 2020 but the Indian Navy team could not attend the demonstration due to travel restrictions on account of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the US Navy shared extensive data of the ski jump trials with the Indian Navy. A year later in December 2021, both the US Navy and the aircraft manufacturer did a site inspection of SBTF at INS Hansa in the presence of Indian Navy officials.
While presently the operational demonstration of Rafale-Marine is on at the INS Hansa as the other option for Indian aircraft carriers, both the twin engine aircraft are virtually of the same later 1990s vintage and of the same 4.5 generation.