Not sure if there is significant difference in F-18E/F and Rafale-M T2W ratio but as posted above, the block III Rhino program is pursuing the Enhanced Engine which should provide between 15-20% improvement in wet thrust compared to the engines currently flying. This will have an impact on flight performance and energy but also on STOBAR operations. Since going forward the Block III will form the production standard, engine thrust growth will likely factor into the IN's evaluation of the Boeing proposal.
Included in Block 3 are upgrades to the Raytheon AN/APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar; an Elbit Systems large area display (LAD) 'glass' cockpit and next-generation avionics; an infrared search and track (IRST); 'shoulder-mounted' conformal fuel tanks (CFTs); Integrated Defensive Electronic Counter Measures (IDECM); and new General Electric F-414-400 enhanced engines.
Burt said that Boeing expects to see USN budgeting to be allocated shortly to enable the company to begin the work needed for Block 3, though development of some aspects such as advanced datalinks has already commenced. "Production of Block 3 should begin in fiscal year [FY] 2019, with deliveries in FY 2020," he said. The plan is that all future Super Hornets will be built to this standard, while those aircraft already fielded by the USN will be retrofitted.
Further to the Super Hornet Block 3 enhancement, Burt noted that the company's Growler is also set for a major enhancement package dubbed Advanced EA-18G. Following the same timeline as the Block 3, Advanced EA-18G will comprise AESA upgrades; open architecture advanced computing; advanced cockpit; CFTs; Next-Generation Jammer; AN/ALQ-218 electronic support measures upgrades; Advanced Tactical Datalink; and the enhanced engines. Boeing is currently under contract to begin work on a service life extension programme (SLEP) for the US Navy to increase the airframe hours of the Super Hornet from the current 6,000 to 9,000.
The earliest aircraft to have been delivered to the USN are now reaching the end of their current service lives, which is two years ahead of the planned declaration of initial operating capability for the carrier variant Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft.
As well as the SLEP, the Pentagon's FY 2017 budget proposal will request up to 28 additional Super Hornets to try to offset any shortfall in the number of strike fighters available on the navy's aircraft carriers, and more are expected in the FY 2018 budget.
A quick and dirty calculation -
F-18E/F Block II ; Empty Weight (32,081 lb) + 50% Fuel(7200 lb) + 5000 lb of Weapons = T2W 0.99
Rafale-M ; Empty Weight (23,400 lb) + 50% Fuel (5,200 lb) + 5000 lb of Weapons = T2W 1.00
Block III Guesstimate based on known and available data and some assumptions:
Empty Weight (33,685 [32,081 +5% growth (assumption)]) + 50% Fuel (7200 lb) + 5000 lb of Weapons and 18% Increase in Wet Thrust (GE Data on Enhanced F414) = T2W 1.13
If you load up those Block III's with additional 3000 lb of fuel (10,200 lb of fuel) in the CFTs you still get a T2W ratio of 1.