defence connect logo



Boeing completes Super Hornet upgrade ahead of schedule

Boeing has successfully completed the upgrade and life extension of the first two service life modification F/A-18 Block III Super Hornets, delivering them to the US Navy ahead of schedule.

Boeing has successfully completed the upgrade and life extension of the first two service life modification F/A-18 Block III Super Hornets, delivering them to the US Navy ahead of schedule.

The upgraded jets delivered from St Louis and San Antonio have the same capabilities as Super Hornets being delivered from Boeing’s new-build production line.

In partnership with the Navy, Boeing has improved productivity and is completing Block III upgrades ahead of the 15-month contract requirement. This was made possible by:

  • Establishing a baseline for the condition of Block II F/A-18s received at Boeing and the Navy’s work to prepare the jets in advance.
  • Sharing information and best practices across multiple service life modification (SLM) sites to improve efficiency, manage workload distribution, and optimise resource allocations.

Faye Dixon, Boeing SLM director, welcomed the early delivery of the combat aircraft saying, “Our success in meeting the accelerated timeline is proof our service life modification game plan is working.”

Block III upgrades include a large area display and more powerful computing through Tactical Targeting Network Technology and a Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked open mission systems processor.

“Thanks to our years of learning on the program and our partnership with the Navy, the F/A-18 Super Hornet remains at the forefront of defence technology with renewed years of service to support the fleet,” Dixon said.

Boeing’s upgrade work is being done at Boeing sites in St Louis and San Antonio and at the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center Southwest in San Diego.

Mark Sears, Boeing Fighters vice-president, said, “Great measures were taken by the Boeing and Navy teams to ensure these are the safest and most capable Block III F/A-18s we can give our warfighters. These are just the first of many deliveries, with around 15 years of SLM deliveries to go. Our warfighters are counting on us to get this right every time.”

Boeing and the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest signed a public-private partnership agreement in March to expand the work scope at the command, paving the way for the readiness centre to now perform the same Block III SLM work done in St Louis and San Antonio.

Captain Michael Burks, program manager for the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office added, “These first deliveries of Block III SLM jets are a major milestone in our continued efforts to ensure capability, reliability, availability, and maintainability of the Super Hornet aircraft.

“We look forward to our continued partnership with Boeing to deliver this critical warfighting capability to the fleet,” Capt Burks added.

Australia’s own fleet of Super Hornets are expected to undergo similar through-life upgrades to extend their operational life, lethality and survivability into the 2040s as identified by the government in the 2024 Integrated Investment Program.

The twin seat F/A-18F Super Hornet is larger than the F/A-18A/B Hornet. The aircraft’s increased wing area allows it to carry more stores (mounted devices) on its additional hardpoints, with the aircraft able to undertake a variety of missions, including:

  • air interception and air combat
  • close air support of ground troops
  • interception of enemy supply lines including shipping

Australia currently operates a fleet of 24 F-18 E/F Super Hornet with 12 E/A-18G Growler aircraft, originally acquired to prevent a capability gap between the retirement of the RAAF’s legacy F-18 A/B Hornets and the introduction of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member for free today!