The U.S. Navy placed a three-year contract with Boeing Defense, Space & Security for 78 F/A-18 Block III Super Hornets, the current generation of the twin-engine, supersonic fighter aircraft. According to Boeing, the contract is worth approximately $4 billion.
However, the OEM noted the multi-year model for the contract will save "a minimum of $395 million" for the Navy, while it allows Boeing to schedule future production plans.
“This multiyear contract will provide significant savings for taxpayers and the U.S. Navy while providing the capacity it needs to help improve readiness,” stated Dan Gillian, Boeing Defense vice president for F/A-18 and EA-18G programs. “A multiyear contract helps the F/A-18 team seek out suppliers with a guaranteed three years of production, instead of negotiating year to year. It helps both sides with planning, and we applaud the U.S. Navy on taking the appropriate steps needed to help solve its readiness challenges.”
The F/A-18F Super Hornet is twin-engine, carrier-capable jet, one of the current variants based on the original McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. It is armed with a 20-mm M61 rotary cannon and can carry and launch air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons.
Boeing has been the developer and manufacturer since its merger with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. The F/A-18 Block III configuration incorporates new capabilities for data networking, longer range, a reduced radar signature, an advanced cockpit system, and an enhanced communication system. Boeing will begin converting existing Block II Super Hornets to Block III early in the 2020s.
Boeing also noted the new version of the aircraft will have a service life extended from 6,000 hours to 10,000 hours.