Monday, March 4, 2024

Boeing announces closure of F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet assembly line in 2025

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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 1990s to replace the F-14 Tomcat, but also the A-6 Intruder bomber and the EA-6 Growler electronic warfare aircraft. However, as is often the case in the United States, local political and economic considerations led Congress to keep the Boeing production line in Saint Louis on respirator 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 for the 2023 fiscal year, and 8 additional aircraft in 2022.

In fact, Boeing had little choice other than to announce for 2025 the end of production of this aircraft which today represents the main embarked fighter of the US Navy, and which has only been ordered for the international scene than by Australia and Kuwait , when the last aircraft ordered this year by Congress for the US Navy will have been delivered. Even if the Super Hornet officially remains in competition against the Rafale M in India for 26 aircraft intended to board the new aircraft carrier Vikrant, and despite reservations on this subject by Boeing spokesperson Deborah VanNierop according to which the closure of the line would be postponed for 2 years if New Delhi came to choose the American plane, there is no doubt now that Boeing has abandoned all hope around this contract, the announcement of the closure of the production line for 2025 being a very poor commercial argument to convince a future customer of the sustainability of his investment.

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A quarter of the Super Hornet produced were in the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare version

It is true that today, the US Navy intends to concentrate its investments on new capabilities that could potentially give it the means to confront China if necessary, such as the hypersonic missiles which will soon arm the Zuwalt class destroyers. , the new SSN(x) class of nuclear attack submarines and the new DD(x) class of heavy destroyers . In the field of onboard hunting, it is continuing the acquisition of F-35C, but is mainly focusing its efforts on the entry into service of the MQ-25 Stingray onboard refueling drone and on the development of the new new generation onboard fighter F/ A-XX of the Next Generation Air Dominance program, Navy version, capabilities considered essential in the relatively near future to maintain naval aviation ascendancy over the oceans .

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