THE PENTAGON --- The Navy wants to truncate production of the legacy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in favor of pumping money into accelerating the development of its long-gestating next-generation carrier-based fighter program, the service revealed in its Fiscal Year 2021 budget request.
Next year’s order of two dozen F/A-18E/F Super Hornets would be the last on the books for the Navy under this plan. In 2019, Super Hornet maker Boeing won a $4-billion multi-year contract to buy 78 Super Hornets through FY 2021.
According to the justification in the documents, the money the Navy for planned a subsequent multiyear buy of 36 Super Hornets from FY 2022 to 2024 would be rerouted to “accelerated development of Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) and other key aviation wholeness investments,” read the documents.
The cut of the Super Hornets past FY 2021 is estimated to route $4.5 billion over the five-year horizon of the Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) to the new aviation effort.
“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 threats through the 2030s,” read the Navy documents.
The NGAD program, previously known as F/A-XX, has sought to replace the payload capacity of the Super Hornets on carrier decks as the incoming F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter brings a stealthy fighter to the air wing. The program has had fits and starts over the last decade as the service has grappled with shaping the future of the air wing. (end of excerpt)
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