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Boeing to close F/A-18 Super Hornet production line in 2025

An F/A-18E on final approach to landing. (Guy Toremans)

Boeing is scheduled to close the F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler production line in 2025 following the last deliveries to the US Navy (USN), the company said on 23 February, although a new export order may keep the line open until 2027.

The USN holds the last Super Hornet orders, which Boeing will fulfil at a rate of two aircraft per month, the company told Janes. Deliveries to customers abroad – Australia and Kuwait operate the aircraft – have been completed. Boeing's final ongoing Super Hornet sales campaign is the Indian Navy's multirole carrier-borne fighter requirement for 57 fighter-bombers to equip its two aircraft carriers, competing against the Dassault Rafale.

The production line in St Louis, Missouri, employs approximately 1,500 people, Boeing told Janes. Resources and people currently devoted to F/A-18 production will be sent to other programmes, including the T-7 Red Hawk trainer, MQ-25 Stingray, and F-15EX Eagle, as well as wing components for the commercial 777X – all built in the former McDonnell Douglas factory at St Louis Lambert International Airport.

Although Super Hornet and Growler production could come to an end, the USN, as well as Australian and Kuwaiti air forces, will likely fly them for decades more. The USN is upgrading its older Super Hornets from Block II to Block III, adding new capabilities and sensors, while the Growler is set to receive new jamming pods.

The Super Hornet began production in 1997 and deliveries to the USN commenced in 1998. As of December 2022, the USN operates 710 F/A-18E/Fs and EA-18G Growlers.

The F/A-18 is planned to be replaced in the USN service by the F/A-XX, an as-yet-undefined fighter scheduled to enter service in the 2030s.

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