Boeing is confident that it will continue to deliver F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat aircraft to the US Navy (USN), despite the service disclosing that it is seeking to prematurely curtail production to focus on developing its future aviation requirements.
Speaking to Jane's on 12 February, a company representative said that the USN still has a need for more Super Hornet aircraft and that it is likely to reinstate production beyond the final batch disclosed in the Department of Defense's (DoD) fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget documents released on 10 February.
"We believe the US Navy needs more Super Hornets to meet its mission needs; we are confident that more Block 3 Super Hornets will be added into the Future Years Defense Plan [FYDP] to meet those requirements," the representative said. Boeing's optimism was somewhat reflected by the USN itself, which noted shortly after the release of its budget documents that the FYDP was not yet 'set in stone', and that it could well change.
According to the DoD FY 2021 budget documents, the USN will fund manufacture of the final 24 Super Hornets in FY 2021 to conclude the current USD4 billion three-year multi-year procurement award from March 2019. After this time, funding will be redirected to accelerate development of Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) and other key aviation investments.
"The decision to cease F/A-18 procurement after FY 2021 ensures the Carrier Air Wing will maintain capable strike fighter capacity to pace the most stressing threat through the 2030s," the service said. According to the documents, USD4.5 billion will be saved over the five years of the Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) included in the budget.
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