Boeing may soon no longer be able to produce F-15EX and F/A-18 E/F in St. Louis

In recent years, the commercial failures of Boeing's fighter division have posed a real threat to the future of the production lines of its factory in Saint-Louis, Missouri, which notably produces the F/A-18 E /F Super Hornet and the F-15EX.

While the American aircraft manufacturer had seen its horizon brighten, with the announcement of a future order for 50 F-15EX for the Israeli air force, it is the turn of its subcontracting network to weigh an existential threat to this activity.

Indeed, the company GKN Aerospace, based in Hazelwood, in the northern suburbs of Saint-Louis, which produces key elements for the construction of the two Boeing fighter planes, announced that it intended to close its industrial site, the house British parent, Melrose Industries, believing that it is no longer financially viable.

Boeing's fighter jet division under pressure in recent years

Update of 27/04/24: Boeing announced, as anticipated, the acquisition of GKN, with the transfer of 550 of the 600 staff members. The amount of the transaction was not revealed, which suggests that it is significant, certainly above the company's market price.

For Boeing, this announcement has the effect of a bomb, perhaps even blackmail, as the American aircraft manufacturer has been going through a difficult period for around fifteen years. Indeed, Boeing has been struggling, since the beginning of the 2010s, to maintain activity at its Saint-Louis factory, which employs 16.000 people, to produce the aircraft manufacturer's fighter planes.

Boeing Missouri Line
The Super Hornet and Eagle production line in St. Louis, Missouri, employs nearly 16 people.

The successive selections of Lockheed Martin for the F-22, then for the F-35, followed by that of Northrop Grumman, for the B-21, have, in fact, eroded its order book, once the American and Saudi aircraft , Qataris, Kuwait and Australians, delivered.

Worse still, the US Navy has announced, for several years, that it wants to put an end to the Super Hornet order, which only survives through the intervention of Congress, while the F-15EX order for the US Air Force, has continued to decline, going from more than 200 aircraft initially envisaged, to 144, then 98 aircraft, today.

In this context, the Israeli announcement of a future order of 50 F-15EX, in a total order of $18 billion, constituted a breath of fresh air for the aircraft manufacturer, pending decisions on the NGAD program of the US Air Force, and the US Navy, even if the latter recently announced its intention to postpone it for a few years.

The GKN Aerospace threat could cause Boeing's Saint-Louis factory to cease operations as early as 2025.

We can well imagine, in this context, that the announcement made by Melrose Industries, concerning the cessation of activity, from 2025, of GKN Aerospace, constitutes a threat that Boeing would have happily done without today.

GKN Aerospace
GKN Aerospace manufactures superplastics essential for the construction and maintenance of the F-15 and F/A-18.

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