The US Navy plans modify 45 more Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets in the next two years to increase the aircraft’s service life and capabilities, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced on 27 March.
The potential contract will cover modifications to up to 15 aircraft in fiscal 2019 and up to 30 aircraft in FY2020, NAVAIR says. The modifications are designed to extend the fighter’s airframe life from 6,000h to 9,000h, adding up to 10 years of service life.
Boeing will also convert existing Block II Super Hornets to a new Block III configuration starting in the early 2020s. The Block III conversion will include an enhanced network capability, a longer range with internal conformal fuel tanks, an advanced cockpit system, a reduced radar signature and an enhanced communication system. Such upgrades are designed to make the Super Hornet effective in combat until at least into the early 2030s. Super Hornet
Boeing was contracted to perform work on an initial four aircraft earlier on 28 February, a contract valued at $73.2 million, with work due to conclude by April 2020. The award to modify 45 additional aircraft was an expected follow-on to that initial contract and is part of an upgrade programme expected to last a decade.
Boeing plans to modify eight to 12 aircraft at its St. Louis, Missouri site this year, then open a second modification line in San Antonio, Texas next year.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows the Navy has an active fleet of 541 F/A-18E/Fs. In addition to modifying its existing fleet, the Navy is buying 24 new Super Hornets for a sum of $1.8 billion in fiscal 2018.