Boeing expects to complete new-build production of the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft in late 2025 following delivery of the final US Navy fighters.
However, the line could remain open till 2027 if the Indian Navy selects the Super Hornet for its aircraft carriers.
To meet demand for defense products and services, Boeing plans to continue hiring year-over-year for the next five at its St. Louis site. More than 900 people were hired in the region last year.
“We are planning for our future, and building fighter aircraft is in our DNA,” said Steve Nordlund, Boeing Air Dominance vice president and St. Louis site leader, in Company News Release. “As we invest in and develop the next era of capability, we are applying the same innovation and expertise that made the F/A-18 a workhorse for the U.S. Navy and air forces around the world for nearly 40 years.”
The F/A-18 production decision allows Boeing to:
• Redirect resources to future military aircraft programs: To support work on the next generation of advanced crewed and uncrewed aircraft, Boeing plans to build three new, state-of-the-art facilities in St. Louis. These facilities, as well as the new Advanced Composite Fabrication Center in Arizona, and the new MQ-25 production facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, represent more than a $1 billion investment.
• Ramp up production of critical new defense programs: Boeing St. Louis will increase production of the world’s first all-digital training system, the T-7A Red Hawk, and the world’s first carrier-deployed autonomous refueling aircraft, the MQ-25 Stingray, along with ongoing production of new F-15EX Eagle IIs and 777X wing components.
• Focus on modernization and upgrade efforts: Boeing will continue to develop advanced capabilities and upgrades for the global F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleet. Throughout the next decade, all Block II Super Hornets in Service Life Modification will receive the Block III capability suite. Boeing will also continue to add advanced electronic attack capability as part of ongoing Growler modifications.
Since the F/A-18 debuted in 1983, Boeing has delivered more than 2,000 Hornets, Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers to customers around the world including the US Navy, US Marine Corps (USMC), Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland.
The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet was designed for aircraft carrier duty and was the first tactical aircraft designed to carry out both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The USMC ordered it as an F-18 fighter and the Navy as an A-18 attack aircraft. It can switch roles easily and can also be adapted for photoreconnaissance and electronic countermeasure missions.
Hornets entered active duty in January 1983. In 1986, Hornets on the USS Coral Sea flew their first combat missions. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, while performing an air-to-ground mission, Hornets switched to fighter mode and destroyed two Iraqi MiG-21s in air-to-air combat, then switched back to attack mode and successfully completed their air-to-ground mission. During 2001, Hornets provided around-the-clock battlefield coverage in the Afghanistan Theater of operations.
The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet made its first flight in November 1995. The Super Hornet performs multiple missions, including air superiority, day-and-night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, and close air support.
The Super Hornet is produced in the single-seat E model and the two-seat F model. The F/A-18E/F is 25 percent larger than the original Hornet and has increased maneuverability, range, and payload, and more powerful engines. It entered operational service with the US Navy in 1999, after Boeing had merged with McDonnell Douglas, won the Collier Trophy for that year and flew its first combat missions in 2002.
In 2008, the EA-18G Growler joined the Navy’s aircraft fleet. A Super Hornet derivative, the EA-18G provides tactical jamming and electronic protection for US and allied forces, delivering full-spectrum airborne electronic attack capability along with the targeting and self-defense capabilities of the Super Hornet.
H/T: Christian Nentwig
Photo credit: U.S. Navy
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