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Sat, Mar 23, 2024

Navy Places Another Super Hornet Order

Despite the Lightning's New Production Readiness, Navy Orders More Super Hornets

The United States Navy placed an order for $1.3 billion worth of F/A-18 Super Hornets in Block III configuration, with the deal including the Technical Data Package that will be "vital to the sustainment of the program".

It's funny to see, since expectations in many branches are subverted time and time again - The Lightning, ostensibly good to go and ready for duty, keeps getting shown up by new orders for decades-old legacy aircraft. This new Navy order will see the delivery of 17 aircraft in Super Hornet spec, and reactions are similar to those seen by a recent Air Force order for 144 F-15EX Eagles. Legacy platforms are proven performers, and despite their underpinnings being decades old at this point, there are still decades of service left on the table. Though the mention of the TDP is somewhat fleeting, the delivery of a Block III specification with the contract would make more sense given the $1.3 billion price tag. If padding out some inflation-realistic unit pricing for an F/A-18 to a rough 75 million (up from an estimated $67 million price tag in 2021), then the numbers come in real close to the $1.3 billion contract. Whatever the variation in unit cost actually is makes some sense considering the USN will get Boeing to do some Block III homework to lay out the next iteration of the Hornet platform.

Naval Air Systems Command is content to get the order in, anyways. The award is an "Undefinitized Contract Action with the intent to definitize within the next few months", which should act as a booster shot to the Navy's strike fighter fleet. Delivery of the new Super Hornets is expected to begin in the winter of 2026, with final delivery taking place no later than spring of 2027.

"I am very proud of our team; their mission-focused mindset, data-driven approach and persistence resulted in an agreement that will greatly benefit the sustainment of the Super Hornet and Growler aircraft well into the future," said Michael Burks, Program Manager for the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office. "It is our job to ensure our warfighters have all the necessary resources to defend our nation and return home safely."



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