Combat aircraft designers at the Boeing Co. will build 78 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block III carrier-based jet fighter-bombers for the U.S. Navy under terms of a $4 billion contract announced in mid-March. 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 61 single-seat F/A-18E and 17 two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornets under terms of this five-year contract. The twin-engine carrier-capable multirole fighter and light-attack F/A-18E/F combat jets and their avionics are based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, which entered U.S. Navy squadrons in 1983, but are larger and more advanced derivatives. The F/A-18E/F has a larger wing and a longer fuselage to carry more fuel and more powerful engines. The Block III configuration adds enhanced network capability, longer range, reduced radar signature, an advanced cockpit system, and enhanced communications system. Boeing will begin converting existing Block II Super Hornets to Block III early in the next decade. The fighter’s life also will be extended from 6,000 hours to 10,000 hours, Boeing officials say. For more information contact Boeing Defense, Space & Security online at www.boeing.com/company/about-bds, or Naval Air Systems Command at www.navair.navy.mil.