Boeing secures lifeline for F-15 and F/A-18 spare parts production

In a crucial deal for Boeing, the aerospace giant has joined forces with GKN Aerospace. This agreement resolves their previous legal disputes and ensures the continuation of fighter production for Boeing. The essential components for their F-15 and F/A-18 fighter jets will come from GKN’s facility in Hazelwood, a suburb in the St. Louis area. 

'Environmental audit' would authorize F-15SG deployment to Guam
Photo credit: Defense News

The change in ownership of GKN’s F-15 and F/A-18 operations to Boeing, as stated in a Boeing press release, is about more than just property. It also involves employing skilled labor, with Boeing agreeing to take on 550 of GKN’s staff members. These individuals make up a significant portion of the workforce currently operating at the Hazelwood site. 

Steve Parker, the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, expressed his satisfaction with the deal in a company press release. He pointed out how Boeing’s operations are expanding in the area, fueled by ongoing projects and the search for future opportunities. He also emphasized the triple-win nature of the agreement—it meets customer expectations, optimizes the use of GKN’s skilled team, and contributes significantly to the growth of the defense and aerospace field in the St. Louis community.

Boeing secures lifeline for F-15 and F/A-18 spare parts production
Photo by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz

In simpler terms, UK company Melrose Industries and its subsidiary, GKN, had plans to shut down the Hazelwood facility because it wasn’t generating enough revenue. This decision led to legal action from Boeing in December 2022. Boeing argued that GKN wasn’t fulfilling its obligation to provide parts for the F-15 and F/A-18, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

A spokesperson from Boeing stated that by purchasing the factory, the ongoing legal issues between the two companies would be resolved. They also told Breaking Defense that the Hazelwood facility employs about 600 workers. Some of these individuals have already retired or found jobs elsewhere. While GKN provides services to several of Boeing’s competitors, the Hazelwood plant is solely dedicated to Boeing. It plays a key role in the production of the F-15 and the F/A-18 and will continue to fulfill this role. 

Boeing’s combat aircraft programs, all located in St. Louis, were in jeopardy due to the potential shutdown of the Hazelwood factory. The F-15EX is a vital offering by Boeing. It’s the latest version of the F-15 fighter, equipped with advanced radar and a state-of-the-art electronic warfare system. Countries like Israel have shown interest in this aircraft and might purchase up to 50 units, leading to a multi-billion-dollar deal with the US. Moreover, a revised agreement with the US Navy will keep Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet line operational until 2027.

Sukhoi failure in Asia - to be replaced by two dozen F-15EXs
Photo by Samuel King Jr.

In a brief statement, GKN mentioned, “We started talks last year to see if we could hand the site back to Boeing to prevent its closure. These talks led to a finalized deal, meaning the site is now under Boeing’s management again. This move secures the future of the facility and its staff, to whom we wish the best.” 

Boeing has come full circle by buying back the factory it originally sold to GKN in 2001. Close on the heels of this move, Boeing also announced plans to reacquire Spirit Aerosystems, an aerostructures manufacturer. 

These strategic buybacks could be Boeing’s secret weapon as it fights to stabilize its defense business operations and realign its fixed-price development programs. Despite grappling with losses of $222 million from the KC-46A tanker and T-7A trainer programs, Boeing announced a profit of $151 million in the first quarter earnings of 2024. 

Despite a new safety issue in its commercial department and losing a significant Air Force drone contract recently, Boeing remains undeterred. The aerospace giant continues to focus on its plans for a major expansion in the St. Louis region with its sights firmly set on upcoming aircraft opportunities.


Follow us everywhere and at any time. has responsive design and you can open the page from any computer, mobile devices or web browsers. For more up-to-date news, follow our Google News, YouTube, Reddit, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages. Our standards: Manifesto & ethical principles.