Boeing will start upgrading its F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets under a sole-source contract that the Navy plans to award soon, Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) reported.
The work is part of a larger effort to refresh the Super Hornet fleet with new Block 3 versions coming off the production line in coming years as well as upgrades to existing Block 2 versions. Starting the fiscal year 2019, Boeing will get funding to begin modifications on the first of 45 existing Super Hornets.
Eventually, the upgrades will include a stealthy new coating that reduces its radar observability, long-range infrared search and track system, an upgraded Raytheon radar, a deeper munitions magazine, and General Electric F-414-400 enhanced engines.
The service life of the existing Super Hornet jet will also be extended by about 10 years. Altogether, the Navy plans for the upgrades to be more complementary with the Navy's upcoming Lockheed Martin F-35C variant, which is supposed to be declared combat ready by the end of this year.
On 23 March, President Trump signed a fiscal 2018 budget into law that provides for 24 new Super Hornets, 10 more than the Navy requested.
During a visit to Boeing’s facility in St. Louis early March, President Trump said the F/A-18 was his favorite plane and that the Pentagon would buy more jets, with the “latest and the greatest stealth and a lot of things on that plane that people don’t even know about.”