In 2013, the US Navy announced, as part of the preparation of the 2014 budget, that it no longer intended to order new F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighters, the evolution of the F/A-18 Hornet developed in the early 90s to replace the F-14 Tomcat, but also the A-6 Intruder bomber and the EA-6 Growler electronic warfare aircraft. However, as often in the United States, local political and economic considerations led Congress to keep the Boeing production line in Saint Louis on a ventilator for more than a decade, ordering between 12 and 20 additional aircraft each year against the opinion of the US Navy itself. Unfortunately, this respite did not allow Boeing to find new export outlets for its fighter, and while tensions with Russia, China, but also Iran and North Korea now take precedence over considerations local authorities, the US Navy and Congress announced, as part of the preparation of the 2022 budget, that this would be the last order for the aircraft with 12 aircraft in fiscal year 2023, and 8 additional aircraft in 2022.
In fact, Boeing had little choice but toannounce for 2025 the end of the production of this device which today represents the main ship-borne fighter of the US Navy, and which has been ordered on the international scene only by Australia and Kuwait, when the last aircraft ordered this year by Congress for the US Navy has been delivered. Even if the Super Hornet remains officially in competition against the Rafale M in India for 26 aircraft intended to board the new aircraft carrier Vikrant, and despite the reservations taken on this subject by Boeing spokeswoman Deborah VanNierop that the closure of the line would be postponed for 2 years if New Delhi had just chosen the American plane, there is no doubt now that Boeing has given up all hope around this contract, the announcement of the closure due to the production line for 2025 being a very bad commercial argument to convince a future customer of the sustainability of its investment.
It is true that today, the US Navy intends to focus its investments on new capabilities that could potentially give it the means to face China if necessary, such as the hypersonic missiles that will soon arm the Zuwalt-class destroyers , the new class of nuclear attack submarines SSN(x) and the new class of heavy destroyers DD(x). In the field of on-board fighters, it is continuing to acquire the F-35C, but is mainly concentrating its efforts on the entry into service of the MQ-25 Stingray on-board tanker drone and on the development of the new new generation on-board fighter F/ A-XX of the Next Generation Air Dominance program Navy version, capabilities deemed essential in the relatively near future to maintain naval air power over the oceans.
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