Military Aviation

300th F/A-18E single-seat Super Hornet delivered to the U.S. Navy

“The 300th F/A-18E Super Hornet will serve in the Navy for the next 15 to 25 years and it will reach an extended service life of 9,000 flight hours before it is retired,” U.S. Navy Capt. Paul Filardi, DCMA Boeing St. Louis commander

A Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) Boeing St. Louis pilot recently delivered the 300th F/A-18E single-seat variant Super Hornet to the U.S. Navy.

As explained by Thomas Perry, DCMA Public Affairs, in the article DCMA Boeing St. Louis lands key milestone, while just one person sat in the cockpit, leadership credits this delivery milestone to a collective effort, which was accomplished by an integrated team of flight operations, contracting, manufacturing, engineering, quality assurance, finance, information technology, program management and other support functions.

“Our warfighter support team is composed of more than 200 personnel including 15 Navy and Air Force service members. It took every single one of them to deliver this aircraft,” said Navy Capt. Paul Filardi, DCMA Boeing St. Louis commander. “This group is completely dedicated to providing our military with the best, most capable warfighting products. The 300th F/A-18E Super Hornet will serve in the Navy for the next 15 to 25 years, operating off aircraft carriers to implement our foreign policy needs. It will reach an extended service life of 9,000 flight hours before it is retired.”

A few of its first flight hours were spent en route to Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, Virginia, where it was accepted by the Pukin’ Dogs of Strike Fighter Squadron 143 (VFA-143). According to its website, NAS Oceana is the Navy’s East Coast master jet base, home to F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets. The station’s primary mission is to serve as a shore-based readiness integrator, providing the facilities, equipment and personnel to support shored-based readiness, total force readiness and maintain operational access of Oceana-based forces.

“The men and women who fly and maintain these aircraft trust DCMA to ensure they are ready for fleet introduction and ready to carry out the thousands of missions these aircraft will be called upon to complete,” said Filardi. “These F/A-18’s that DCMA delivers are the backbone of naval aviation and will be for decades to come.”

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Bellinghausen, who piloted the 300th Super Hornet to Oceana, is one of those trusted DCMA professionals.

“It is an honor to know I was the person who took the last step in providing the Navy fleet with a much needed aircraft that is immediately capable to going into combat,” said Bellinghausen, a DCMA Boeing St. Louis alternate government flight representative.

The Super Hornet has served a front-line role since it entered Navy service in 1999. According to the Naval Air Systems Command, the multi-role strike fighter was built on the nation’s first strike fighter, the F/A-18 Hornet. Today’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is an attack aircraft as well as a fighter through selected use of external equipment and advanced networking capabilities to accomplish specific missions.

“The Navy has been employing the Super Hornet in combat for the entire life of the airframe,” said Filardi. “Any new aircraft brings with it the ‘new jet smell and a more capable weapon system than the previous one.’ It also affords the squadron the ability to rotate it into the cycle and provide relief of the workload from airframes that have been carrying the brunt of the combat load. While some deliverables from DCMA come as new parts and components, a single Super Hornet represents the hard work of thousands of people from the government and industry team.”

This most recent milestone comes just a few months after DCMA Boeing St. Louis delivered its 150th EA-18G Growler to similar warriors at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California.

The Growler is a variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet Block II. It is considered a carrier-based, electronic warfare aircraft. This variant is less than 10 years old, but it and the Super Hornet are derivatives of the original F/A-18 Hornet.

“This November marks the 40th anniversary of the first F/A-18 Hornet having made its maiden flight in 1978,” said Filardi. “That is quite a milestone for what was originally a simple fighter aircraft with a basic mission. It continues to evolve today as a world-renowned, multi-mission, premier strike fighter operated by the Navy and America’s foreign partners. Throughout its entire history, the government team, we know today as DCMA, has been there the whole way.”

For the Naval warfighter, this delivery adds a “capable and lethal aircraft” to its fleet.

For DCMA Boeing St. Louis, new challenges lie ahead as work on the Block III Super Hornet is expected to begin in 2019.

And for Bellinghausen, the 300th delivery ended unceremoniously. He went from cockpit to coach in less than 24 hours.

“My travel home is the least exciting portion of my delivery, I organize it through the Defense Travel System and book a flight via commercial air,” he said.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F/A-18E Super Hornet VFA-31 Tomcatters, AJ100 / 166776. CVW-8, USS George H. W. Bush CVN-77, 2014

Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Travis Alston and Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dale Miller / U.S. Navy

Artwork courtesy of

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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