Boeing to build 14 new F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat aircraft in $676.6 million deal

Sept. 25, 2017
PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. Combat aircraft designers at the Boeing Co. are building 14 new F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jet fighter-bombers for the U.S. Navy under terms of a $676.6 million U.S. Navy order announced earlier this month.
PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. Combat aircraft designers at the Boeing Co. are building 14 new F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jet fighter-bombers for the U.S. Navy under terms of a $676.6 million U.S. Navy order announced earlier this month.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking the Boeing Defense, Space & Security segment in St. Louis to build six single-seat F/A-18E jets and eight two-seat F/A-18F jets.

The twin-engine carrier-capable multirole fighter and light-attack F/A-18E/F combat jets are based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, which entered Navy squadrons in 1983, but are larger and more advanced derivatives. Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas in 1997; it has a larger wing and a longer fuselage to carry more fuel and more powerful engines.

The newest versions of the F/A-18 first flew in 1995, and entered Navy service in 1999. These aircraft replaced variants of the Navy's F-14 Tomcat jet fighters, A-6 Intruder medium-attack bombers, and S-3 Viking carrier-based maritime patrol jet.

The Super Hornet has an internal 20-millimeter M61 rotary cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. The planes can carry additional fuel in as many as five external fuel tanks. These plans also can function as airborne tankers with external air refueling systems.

Related: Navy asks BAE Systems to build F/A-18 aircraft antennas that cut through enemy GPS jamming

The new aircraft have improved active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, large displays, the joint helmet mounted cuing system, and several other avionics replacements. New-build aircraft received the APG-79 AESA radar in 2005.

The Super Hornet aircraft has a modern mission computer, and infrared search and track (IRST) electro-optical passive surveillance and targeting system.

The F/A-18E/F avionics suite features an up-front touchscreen control display; a large multipurpose color liquid-crystal display; and a fuel display. It has a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire system, and digital flight-control system that detects and corrects for battle damage.

The aircraft has the AN/APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system for search, track, and attack, as well as the AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) electro-optical sensor and laser designator pod.

Related: Navy Blue Angels flight-demonstration team to trade-in old jets for new F/A-18E/F Super Hornets

The Super Hornet's communications equipment includes AN/ARC-210 VHF/UHF radio and a MIDS-JTRS low volume terminal for HAVE QUICK, SINCGARS, and Link 16 RF communications and tactical networking. Its defensive avionics have the AN/ALR-67(V)3 radar warning receiver, the AN/ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser, the AN/ALE-55 towed decoy, and the AN/ALQ-214 integrated defensive countermeasures (IDECM) system with internally mounted threat receivers and optional self-protection jammers.

The Super Hornet's Shared Reconnaissance Pod (SHARP) is a high-resolution, digital tactical aerial reconnaissance system with advanced day, nighttime, and all-weather capability.

The future Block III configuration of the Super Hornet, which will enter service in 2019, will have improved heads-up display and computer, called the Distributed Targeting Processor Network (DTPN), as well as a large display in the cockpit to help pilots monitor information. Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) will enable the aircraft to transmit and receive more data.

Related: Navy calls for urgent maintenance and upgrades for F/A-18 and AV-8B avionics flight computers from General Dynamics

On this order Boeing will do the work in El Segundo, Torrance, Irvine, and Santa Clarita, Calif.; St. Louis; Fort Worth, Texas; Mesa, Ariz.; Vandalia, Ohio; Bohemia and Greenlawn, N.Y., and other U.S. locations, and should be finished by February 2019.

For more information contact Boeing Defense, Space & Security online at, or Naval Air Systems Command at

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