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US Navy looking at buying "several squadrons" of Super Hornets

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posted on Dec, 4 2016 @ 07:45 PM
Sources close to the US Navy have told the media that the Navy is looking at getting rid of their F-18A-D airframes, and replacing them with E/F Super Hornets. There are currently 91 Hornet airframes, of all types, that are backlogged in the depot system, with 539 engines/modules backlogged. The depot isn't set up to deal with high hour airframes (the average airframe going in is over 6,000 hours), and requires a 3 year lead time for parts and spares to outfit those aircraft. The airframes have been extended to over 10,000 hours in some cases, while the depot was only set up to keep them flying through their normal life cycle.

Higher than expected use in combat zones, as well as the huge backlog in the Depot is leading to a significant shortfall coming. Some reports have them using up time on as many as 40 airframes every couple of months, even with the radically reduced flight time they are seeing. In addition, the Navy isn't planning to declare IOC with the F-35 until the final software version is certified and installed on their aircraft, which means between 2019 and 2020. It would take them 6-12 months to come up with a reserve air wing, when even a few years ago it would take no more than 90 days.

The U.S. Navy plans to divest its older model Boeing Co (BA.N) F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets in coming years and hopes to buy dozens of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to deal with a shortfall of strike fighters aboard its carriers, a Navy official said.

The plan, which is still being finalized, could be implemented as early as part of the fiscal 2018 budget, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

"To decrease the strike fighter shortfall and to best prepare future air wings for likely threats we will soon divest from legacy Hornets, look to buy several squadrons worth of Super Hornets and continue with efforts to bring on the F-35 carrier variant," said the official.

The Hornet and Super Hornet community are overextended for three prime reasons, officials outlined:

Demand for strike fighters to support missions in U.S. Central Command that has driven hours up for the deployed fleets.
” We’re chewing up about 40 aircraft worth of hours a month and if we’re not buying that much or putting that much through the depot – we’re falling behind,” Stearns said.
A delay in deploying expected F-35C squadrons that prompted the Navy to extend the life of five squadrons of legacy Hornets the service anticipated it would retire. The Hornet extension, creating a maintenance backlog at the service’s aviation depots. That in turn, will push back the availabilities of Super Hornets in line to start their 6,000 hours maintenance periods.
“The depots were never set up to do high flight hour, which means essentially we’re extending them past the [6,000 to 10,000] hour life they were ever expected to fly just to meet the operational demand,’ Stearn said.
“Now they’re forced to have a three-year lead time to get the parts they need to get them in there – and it’s all a capacity problem.”
Funding challenges from the 2011 BCA to fully fund and man the depots.

posted on Dec, 4 2016 @ 10:06 PM
Makes you wonder if this isn't a consolation prize.

For not winning the LRSB bid.

posted on Dec, 4 2016 @ 10:31 PM
a reply to: grey580

If military aviation in general wasn't in such piss poor condition, I'd say it was. But it's worse than people realize, just from reading media articles.

posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 12:01 AM
Nothing wrong with SuperBugs..Its a wonder they havent sold off all the older Bugs and standardized on the F models.That way current spares can be stocked till they come up with the FX program and the tech and manufacturing from the LRSB gets cheaper and industry standard..

posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 07:24 AM
a reply to: Zaphod58

From a far perspective, it seems to me to be the beginning of the side-lining of the F-35.
Economies the world over are in bad shape and expensive tools such as it will be the first to go.

posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 08:54 AM
So all of the Boeing sycophants bad mouthing the F-35 is going to payoff.

posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 09:15 AM
a reply to: JIMC5499

Did you expect different with the naval leadership that's been in place the last ten years?

posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 02:36 PM
a reply to: Zaphod58

No, but you can always hope.

posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 04:17 PM
Don't you think its the time to go with FA/XX instead of invest in old plane like the F/18 ? F-18 will be surely unable to fight with the J-20 in the Pacific I can't understand the loving of US Navy for the super Hornet.

posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 04:26 PM
a reply to: darksidius

They're buying more Hornets to avoid an aircraft shortage. By the time F/A-XX even gets to the RFP stage the first part of that shortage will be here, and what they're looking at now will be far worse. By the time it gets selected and even starts building the Navy won't have a single Hornet flying, and their F-35s will just be reaching FOC.

posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 04:40 PM
a reply to: Zaphod58
Ok I understand , for sure for the new administration it will be the time to accelerate the FA/XX for Navy and the F/X for USAF.

posted on Dec, 14 2016 @ 10:54 PM
I kind of picked through the article I wonder what the actual MRO cost for the A-D models are?

The navy may be able to also make a case that simply buying new instead of repairing the legacy Hornets would save money long term. Boeing may be willing to deal simply to keep the line open in the near term and given the increase in capability/range they may be able to do more with less (its not ideal but may be a budget reality). The carriers should be able to handle the size difference (20% bigger) given that they carried more aircraft during the cold war.

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 12:16 AM
a reply to: Zaphod58

Zaphod58 there was an article on Yahoo news not to many days ago about Trump and the F-35.. I started to post it but figured I would not waste my time. The gist of the article was Trump was not happy with the delays and the cost of the program and plans on doing something about it; what he plans is unknown.. I for one hopes he does clean up the mess..

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 01:30 AM
a reply to: 727Sky

It's a ploy. He said the same thing about the Air Force One replacement, then said he's going to renegotiate the cost. Funny thing is he said that about Air Force One right after someone from Boeing made a comment about the election and free trade.

There's not a lot he can do with the F-35 at this point. Two of the three versions have reached operational status, and if he cuts the numbers there's either going to have to be something waiting that can be put into service quickly, or he's going to make things a lot worse for our pilots.

posted on Dec, 16 2016 @ 12:09 AM
a reply to: Zaphod58

If they want enough of them they'll have to turn up production past 2 air frames a month. It could have some good effects on the economy in St. Louis. The Super Hornet is really the only viable option and with a current and future need it makes sense to buy more of them. Honestly the whole fleet probably should have been switched over when the Tomcats were retired. It was during the war on terror and there was plenty of money for it. Squandered on pump projects in the deserts and mountains of the middle east.

The newest advanced hornets and the like are quite formidable aircraft. With a little help they should have no trouble finding the J-20; especially after the J-20 uses it's F-117 style weapon bays. It's still a top-notch dog fighter. Is versatile, can tank, be converted to Growler, is getting IRST, one could go on and on. As long as it doesn't cut into the planned 20/year buy of F-35C to start then it isn't a bad idea. If I'm right the money would be saved by not having to pay for the high cost and lead time of Legacy SLEP.

posted on Oct, 20 2017 @ 04:26 AM
The US Senate finally passed the FY18 Budget yesterday and based on the latest P-1 documents i can find, the Navy will get 14 new Super Hornets in 2018.

According to this report, they'll plan to buy 80 in total until 2022:
(if anyone knows where you can get the 2016 Future Years Defense Program please share)

Anyway, does anybody know if they plan to switch production to Block 3 Super Hornets in 2019?
There was reporting that Block 3 development had been put in the budget but i can find any direct reference in the P-1 or R-1 budget requests.

In other related news, Boeing pushes for including Block 3 upgrades in the upcoming service life modification program for the existing Super Hornet fleet:

Any chance of this happening? The Anti-F35 crowd would rejoice...

edit on 20-10-2017 by mightmight because: (no reason given)

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