WASHINGTON, D.C. --- The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) warned Congress of an upcoming Navy fighter shortfall just as Boeing is trying to determine whether to keep its Super Hornet and Growler production line open, setting the stage for intense talks between the service and company in the coming months about whether the Navy should and can afford to invest in additional legacy fighters.
Adm. Jonathan Greenert explained the problem as a multifaceted one: the Navy is working to extend the life of its legacy Hornets, the Boeing F/A-18 A-D Hornet frames. “We’re finding that’s it’s very complicated and it’s harder than we imagined,” he said. So as the Navy depots keep the legacy Hornets out of commission for longer, the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets are picking up the slack and eating through flying hours faster than planned.
“So we’re taking life out of them, if you will, sooner than we wanted to,” Greenert said, even though the Navy needs the Super Hornets to stay in its airwings alongside the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter through 2040. (…/…)
The situation has created a problem for the Navy, the extent of which is still not understood.
Greenert told reporters Tuesday that by this summer he would have the depots fully staffed and studying the ability to extend the legacy Hornets’ lives from 6,000 flight hours to 9,000 hours. After a year of this work – 15 months from now – the depots should be able to tell Greenert whether the majority of the legacy fleet could reach 9,000 hours or not. (…/…)
“If they can be extended, that really suppresses the problem. If they can’t be extended, that exacerbates the problem,” Greenert said. (end of excerpt)
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