Enough is enough. The US Navy no longer wants ‘super hornets’

WASHINGTON, BM – The fiscal year 2021 is set to be the last time the U.S. Navy will pay for brand-new Boeing F / A18E / F Super Hornet Block III maritime attack aircraft, Defence24 reports. At least, this is what this military formation, which is, however, under pressure in Congress, would like to order another dozen or so machines also in the next year, and probably also in the following years. Meanwhile, the saved funds, the fleet would like to allocate to the program of the future F / A-XX fighter based on the current NGAD (Next Generation Air Dominance) program.

Rear Admiral Andrew Loiselle, chairman of the directorate for aviation activities in naval operations, enumerates directly that if brand new Super Hornets are ordered in the coming years, then they will be used even in the 1950s, and therefore long after their usefulness has run out. on the modern battlefield. This is due to the service life of these aircraft, which is 10 thousand. hours in flight or 30 years. Meanwhile, the Super Hornets are among the 4th generation aircraft and, despite the parameters that are still satisfactory to date, they do not have stealth features and will not be able to be integrated with the future types of weapons, electronic warfare systems, and on-board sensors.

The problem, according to current calculations, will be even a parameter that has so far been the value of the Super Hornet. It is about its operational radius and range. While compared to many land-based aircraft they are large and with a significant payload, the operational radius will probably be insufficient in the future battlefield. Effective use of aircraft carriers with F / A-18E / F based on them will require their entry into areas threatened by Chinese hypersonic weapons, ballistic and cruise missiles. The range of all these weapons is increasing, and so should the firing range of aircraft carriers. And for that, you need a new type of plane, not “everlasting” Super Hornets.

In this situation, according to the counter-agent. Loiselle buying brand new aircraft of this type is pointless, especially since for each new F / A-18E / F, three currently used F / A-18E / Fs can be upgraded to a similar level. Existing planes will last for a shorter time due to their age and wear and tear, but within a dozen or so years they will no longer be useful. Hence, the US Navy would like to allocate part of the money today to the modernization of existing aircraft, and the rest to the new generation platform program, i.e. the aforementioned F / A-XX program. Already, seafarers are declaring that they would like to contribute to the promising – apparently – Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program. The US Navy emphasizes that it has at least four programs that it prefers to spend money on. The new Colombia-type submarines armed with ballistic missiles are the top priority.

Brand new Super Hornets, however, have their defenders in Congress. They are mainly senators from the state of Missouri, where there are plants in which these machines are made. They argue that the US Navy once wanted to finish ordering the F / A-18E / F and invest the savings in the F-35C. Problems with the program of the latter machine, in their opinion, could have significantly reduced the combat readiness of the US Navy, but “fortunately” the F / A-18 production line was maintained.

However, seafarers argue that their budgets are currently very tight and that buying more old-generation aircraft will run out of funds for new programs. This will bring positive effects only in the short term, and in the long term, it will contribute to losing the advantage over a potential opponent, i.e. China. Therefore, in their opinion, it is necessary to invest in prospective technologies that guarantee to maintain or even increase the advantage.

The fight is actually about the budgets for the fiscal years 2022-2024, because according to the previous plans, the new F / A-18E / F were to be ordered back then. Despite the plans to break with this production, the Senate Committee nevertheless added the US Navy12 Super Hornets to the budget project for 2022. Such a number would allow the production line of these aircraft to be maintained for another year, and thus jobs and industrial capacity. This is not without significance, considering that it would allow, for example, to continue offering these aircraft on export markets, and in the event of a conflict, to quickly start their mass production as a proven and reliable solution. The decision on the future of these aircraft will be decided in the coming weeks when the Pentagon’s budget for the fiscal year 2022 will be specified in detail.

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