Navy Orders 18 F/A-18 Super Hornets
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va.— The Navy has ordered 18 Super Hornet strike fighters from Boeing as part of the fiscal 2018 budget execution.
According to a June 8 Defense Department announcement, Naval Air Systems Command awarded an $862.2 million contract modification for fiscal 2018 for 15 single-seat F/A-18E and three two-seat F/A-18F strike fighters in Lot 42 of the program.
The Super Hornet orders will provide aircraft to the Navy as it moves along the transition of the Navy’s remaining F/A-18C Hornet strike fighter squadrons (VFAs) to the Super Hornet. VFA-34 was that last legacy Hornet to make a deployment and, after participation in the summer 2018 Rim-of-the-Pacific Exercise, will begin transition to the F/A-18E. VFA-131 has made the transition, to be followed by VFA-83 by mid-summer, VFA-37 by the end of 2018 and VFA-34 by the summer of 2019.
The fiscal 2019 plans call for the production to switch to the Block III configuration, beginning with the last six Super Hornets of the 2019 orders, said Dan Gillian, Boeing’s vice president of F/A-18 and EA-18 Programs for Strike, Surveillance and Mobility, speaking to reporters May 23 in Arlington, Virginia.
Other Block III versions will be made by upgrading existing Block II versions beginning in 2022.
The Block III features structural and mission system improvements that will increase range, improve situational awareness and increase net-enabled warfighting, making the Super Hornet more lethal and able to increase the lethality of other platforms in a carrier air wing and a carrier strike group.
“Our requirement is to deliver one squadron of Block III Super Hornets to each carrier air wing by 2024, with a second squadron per carrier air wing by 2027,” he said. “The Navy’s future force structure has all Block III Super Hornets and F-35s.”
Boeing plans to build two Super Hornets per month through 2025.