The US Navy officials have reaffirmed plans to procure an additional 24 to 36 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets through fiscal year 2018 while also boosting F/A-18C life-extension rates, primarily due to delays in fielding the carrier-based Lockheed Martin F-35C.
Boeing has been trying desperately to shore up Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler production in St Louis, Missouri, but the company’s difficulty in securing international sales has raised doubts.
However, comments by navy officials at a congressional hearing this week suggest more F/A-18 orders in fiscal 2017 and 2018. That’s in addition to the dozen aircraft that are likely to be funded in the current fiscal 2016 budget.
“We have a strike fighter inventory management challenge,” says navy air warfare director Rear Adm Michael Manazir. “If you look at the demands in the strike fighters into 2030, we have a shortfall. The shortfall in the early part of the 2020s is about 138 airplanes.”