Extending production into the early 2020’s
Boeing’s (Booth 1939 at the US Navy League Sea-Air-Space Expo at Gaylord National Convention Center, National Harbor, MA, USA) F/A-18 and EA-18G portfolios remain active and the production lines “warm.” The USN has shown interest in Boeing’s F/A-18 Super HORNET Block III upgrades, which includes: Enhanced network capability with improved computing power and networking, longer range with low drag Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs), long-range counter stealth sensing with Infrared Search and Track (IRST), a new Advanced Cockpit system that takes advantage of the IRST and the improved computing power and networking to provide the pilot enhanced situational awareness, an improved low observable signature, all in a 9,000-plus hour airframe. “In addition to new production Block III Super HORNETs, all Block II Super Hornets can be upgraded to Block III capabilities as part of a service life modification plan,” Bob Kornegay, F/A-18E/F & EA-18G Domestic Global Sales & Marketing, emphasised.
The HORNET industry team is comprised of The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman Corporation, General Electric Company, and Raytheon and 600-plus additional suppliers. The entire HORNET Industry team, plus suppliers, will be heavily involved in Block III upgrades. With respect to recent developments on the international side of this aircraft family’s ledger the Boeing executive added: “24 Super HORNETs have been delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and so have four EA-18G GROWLERs, with the remaining eight being delivered to the US Navy as part of the foreign military sale process.”
The next four GROWLERs were expected to transit to Australia no later than early this month. Kornegay added: “We are exploring opportunities with Canada, Kuwait, India and other international opportunities.”
Indeed, this March 14 the Government of Canada took another important step toward the potential acquisition of F/A-18 Super HORNETs, submitting a Letter of Request to the US government, outlining its requirements on capabilities, schedule and economic benefits for 18 Super HORNETs. Kornegay continued: “We’re [also] working with the government of Kuwait and US Navy to secure their order for 28 Super HORNETs.” And beyond that, “we have about 28 GROWLERs and five Super HORNETs on contract left to deliver through the middle of 2018. We expect the international orders above and the US Navy’s acquisition in FY17 and FY18 to extend production into the early 20’s. Ongoing discussions with the US Navy and international campaigns like Finland and India leave us confident that we’ll be building airplanes well into the next decade,” the Boeing executive concluded.