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SH-3 Sea King

Military-Today.com - Wed, 10/06/2015 - 00:00

American SH-3 Sea King Anti-Submarine Warfare Helicopter
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

SENER Group Grows Again in 2014

Naval Technology - Tue, 09/06/2015 - 15:40
The engineering and technology group SENER ended 2014 with a turnover of 1,315.7 billion Euros; an increase of 8.02% over the previous year.
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

@BritishPolice: Research, Policy and Community on the Frontiers of Social Media

Kings of War - Tue, 09/06/2015 - 14:25

On Sunday I had the opportunity to chat, via direct message on Twitter, with a Chief Inspector from West Midlands Police. He had tweeted pictures and comments from his course on Public Order Policing, and I had some follow up questions for him. Over several exchanges he happily discussed with me official tactics and approaches, as well as a bit of his experience. For a variety of reasons I value this sort of first hand, practitioner based material in my research. This was not the first time I have used Twitter to further my understanding or sustain my interpretations, but the fact that I can do so speaks to something much more important.

Policing in the United Kingdom is in the midst of a quiet but revolutionary experiment to make itself proactively available to the public by way of social media, and particularly Twitter, in unprecedented numbers and across the chain of command, to include senior leadership. The prospects for this, for its influence on society and policing, are momentous. While its ramifications cannot yet be known, there are three areas in which this phenomenon highlight important opportunities across research, policy and community relations: the human element which emerges, the self-narrative or portrait of the institution and its character, and the engagement philosophy.

First, to the human element. Many of the police accounts, corporate and informal, are associated with an individual. Not just a role, but a particular character and human emerges from the communications. I am a memoir, experiential based military historian by training, and within that as well I value the quotidian and the little things that are said and done for the wisdom it conveys. Happiness, Limeade on Guadalcanal… was written in earnest, as it must be accepted that while seemingly irrelevant on the surface, from these details of the personal experience often emerge profound insights. [1] And the material in public and on social media is just the tip of the iceberg. The human element has a practical story to tell about the work, in general and in detail, and deserves more attention in the course of police research.

Turning to a more meta perspective, taken together this messaging creates the self-image of British policing. From both its personal and corporate accounts, in words and images, the characters of the forces and their constituent parts, as well as the broader national service, are created. Assessing this, in its grand vista and detail deserves attention as well for its influence in policy, practice or communications. At the practical level, for example, to understand that how the police conceive themselves in a particular situation or issue differs from how they are viewed by the public will help to identify areas for redress.

Finally, the matter of engagement and Police-Community Relations (PCR) has particular resonance in this discussion. Timely to do so, as BBC’s “The Met” has people talking. Having seen it, I would say the work is very interesting, definitely worth a watch. [2] Throughout, the participants confronted a host of hard issues about community relations, particularly those relating to race and policing. And they are discussing it today. Many of the individuals mentioned above are on Twitter answering questions and comments regarding the documentary. And as individuals it is clear that many of them are compassionately engaged with their work. On a purely social media front, thinking back to the disorders, it is a long way since the Met was overwhelmed by mass BBM’s, and one wonders how the police would use their new presence in similar circumstances today. More importantly, the documentary identifies the clear rift still to mend. Improving identification between police and disaffected members of the community will require effort across many fronts and over time. Nevertheless, what the Twitter activity of policing suggests, both online and in the metropolis (and the UK at large), is that the police themselves are open to, if not actively interested in, expanding and improving their conversation with the public they serve. It will be interesting to track how this philosophy of engagement will be taken up in and by the challenged communities.

Perhaps the recourse to social media is natural. Gregarious by nature, the British Bobby has simply taken up a new beat. What has changed is that this activity is now visible to a greater percentage and cross section of society. Subtly, 140 characters at a time, over the course of thousands of tweets, this will affect the shape of policing and consent, as well as the understanding of both.

 

 

 

Notes:

1 Funny to discuss that blog in this one on social media and Twitter as its title was too long to tweet in its entirety. Sigh.

2 One point I would make, as it focused on the Duggan shooting, the riots, and the influence of the Inquest verdict, it was strange not to include something on the vigil the following Saturday. Its peaceful terms deserved highlighting.

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Hungary hosts personnel recovery course

EDA News - Tue, 09/06/2015 - 09:27

The fourth edition of the Personnel Recovery Controller and Planner Course (PRCPC), a project initiated by the European Defence Agency, took place from 25 May to 5 June 2015 in Veszprém, Hungary. Organised and hosted by the Hungarian Defence Forces at the Air Command and Control Centre (ACCC), the exercise gathered 20 students from 8 countries.


Students from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom benefitted from the knowledge and experience of a cadre of instructors from Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, and the United States. Personnel recovery (PR) is usually defined as the sum of military, diplomatic and civil efforts needed to ensure the recovery and reintegration of isolated civilian or military personnel.

During the course, the newly-developed EDA’s Personnel Recovery Functional Area Service Advanced Technology Demonstrator (PR FAS ATD) was successfully tested and evaluated. This system is designed to provide headquarters-level PR staff with a planning tool to manage PR missions. It has been developed as part of EDA’s work to improve interoperability amongst European armed forces in the field of personnel recovery.

The next EU PRCPC will take place from 23 November to 4 December 2015 in Italy (Poggio, Renatico) and will be organised by the European Personnel Recovery Centre (EPRC). During the course, the final test of the PR FAS ATD will take place and should then allow the system to be available to all EDA participating Member States.


More information

The EDA PRCPC project was established on 30 May 2013 as an EDA Category B project, under the lead of Sweden. As of today, it gathers six contributing EU Member States (cMS): Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden. On 31st May 2015 the cMS agreed to extend the PRCPC Cat B project until 30 May 2017. EPRC is a potential candidate for the continuation of the project.

 

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

F-35 Engine Incident Cost About $50 Million | Super Hornets Too to Get SDB II Integration | Kuwait Kicks Wheels of both Super Hornets and Eurofighters

Defense Industry Daily - Tue, 09/06/2015 - 05:42
Americas

Europe

  • As the British Army’s Thales WK450 Watchkeeper UAV heads toward Full Operating Capability, the responsibility for personnel training on the system is being transitioned from contractor services to the Army’s own program. The first course run by British Army personnel will take place in October, with the Watchkeeper deployed to Afghanistan last year, equipped with new synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indication capabilities.

  • Airbus is reportedly planning to resume test flights of its A400M transport aircraft, following the crash of one aircraft during a test flight on 9th May. The aircraft saw three engines freeze as a result of a software problem, with the resulting crash killing four crew members.

  • As part of the British government’s push for privatization in the nation’s defense apparatus, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has invited bids from industry as it seeks to privatize the British Armed Forces’ fire and rescue services. The Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation is the organization in question, with industry teams competing against an internal MoD bid. The publicly-owned Defence Support Group was sold to Babcock International in December last year, whilst the Government Pipeline and Storage System was sold to a Spanish company earlier this year.The government is also mulling the sale of some of its Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) arm, the multi-billion dollar procurement agency which it attempted to partially privatize in a 2013. That effort failed and has subsequently been heavily criticized.

  • Work has begun on the second of three Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), with BAE Systems cutting steel at the firm’s Glasgow shipyard. The first OPV has been under construction since October, with the River-Class Batch II vessels an important bridge-buy prior to the introduction of the Royal Navy’s future Type 26 Frigates, with the $560 million construction contract sustaining industry capability in the interim.

Middle East

Asia

Today’s Video

  • Iraq’s first batch of Mi-28NEs…

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Airborne troops to form backbone of future Russian rapid reaction forces

Jane's Defense News - Tue, 09/06/2015 - 03:00
Airborne troops will be used to form the backbone of new Russian rapid reaction forces in the coming years, according to Russian airborne forces (VDV) commander Colonel General Vladimir Shamanov. "There is a plan to create Russian rapid reaction forces based on the VDV. The new forces are
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Pentagon releases official accident report on 2014 F-35 engine failure

Jane's Defense News - Tue, 09/06/2015 - 03:00
Key Points The USAF's Air Education and Training Command released its official accident report on a 2014 F-35 engine fire Total mishap damage is estimated to be in excess of USD50 million, the report said The US Air Force (USAF) on 5 June said an engine failure that led to a fleetwide grounding
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Russia grounds 'Bear' bombers following accident and fire

Jane's Defense News - Tue, 09/06/2015 - 03:00
Russia has grounded its fleet of Tupolev Tu-95 'Bear' strategic bomber aircraft following a runway excursion and engine fire on take-off that occurred on 8 June, state media has reported. The suspension of flight activities covers all 71 Tu-95MS6/16 bombers currently in service with the Russian Air
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Super Hornet Fighter Family MYP-III: 2010-2015 Contracts

Defense Industry Daily - Tue, 09/06/2015 - 02:30
Breakthrough…
(click to view full)

The US Navy flies the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighters, and has begun operating the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare & strike aircraft. Many of these buys have been managed out of common multi-year procurement (MYP) contracts, which aim to reduce overall costs by offering longer-term production commitments, so contractors can negotiate better deals with their suppliers.

The MYP-II contract ran from 2005-2009, and was not renewed because the Pentagon intended to focus on the F-35 fighter program. When it became clear that the F-35 program was going to be late, and had serious program and budgetary issues, pressure built to abandon year-by-year contracting, and negotiate another multi-year deal for the current Super Hornet family. That deal is now final. This entry covers the program as a whole, with a focus on 2010-2015 Super Hornet family purchases. It has been updated to include all announced contracts and events connected with MYP-III, including engines and other separate “government-furnished equipment” that figures prominently in the final price.

Hornet MYP: Aircraft Types Hornet vs. Super Hornet
(click to view full)

Super Hornets are flown by the US Navy, replacing the service’s retired F-14 Tomcat fighters, and by Australia’s RAAF. The US Marines fly smaller, earlier-generation F/A-18 C/D Hornets that are no longer in production, and will replace them with F-35B STOVL (Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing) Lightning IIs when the time comes. While both F/A-18A-D and F/A-18E/F fighters are referred to as Hornet family planes, the Super Hornets have less than 40% commonality with previous F/A-18A-D versions. The F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets have been enlarged in all dimensions and fitted with 2 extra weapons pylons. The new design created pylon vibration problems early on, which explains the new “dogtooth” design on the wings’ leading edge. Super Hornets also have more powerful GE F414 engines, instead of the F404s that equipped the Hornets. The air intakes have been modified to accommodate the new engine’s demands and lower the plane’s radar signature, and other “signature shaping” measures have been employed around the plane.

The F/A-18E is a single-seat Super Hornet. The 2-seat F/A-18F sacrifices some range, carrying only 13,350 pounds of fuel – 900 fewer pounds than the F/A-18E. In exchange for this reduced range, it adds a 2nd crewman with an advanced attack station cockpit to assist in strike roles.

In addition to its strike role, both versions of the Super Hornet are also taking over the tactical refueling role from the retired S-3 Viking sea control aircraft. Any F/A-18E/F can do this, as long as they have the specially-equipped drop tanks that can extend refueling hoses. This isn’t an operationally efficient option, compared to the retired S-3s or A-6s, as the Super Hornet’s capacity is very limited. Nevertheless, there are situations where it is helpful and effective.

Super Hornet Block II F/A-18E & F-14:
passing gas
(click to view full)

Beginning with Lot 26 (FY 2003), Boeing began building Block II Super Hornets, with a re-designed forward fuselage and a number of electronic enhancements. The most important upgrade involves the AN/APG-79 AESA radar which can perform simultaneous air and surface scans, and is likely to offer advanced improved reconnaissance, jamming, and even communications capabilities. Plus other capabilities the government may wish to add. Electronic Countermeasures are upgraded by replacing the AM/ALQ-165 with the AN/ALQ-214 IDECM jammer, which can work with ALE-50 or ALE-55 towed decoys.

Block II also includes the Advanced Crew Station (ACS), complete with Advanced Mission Computers and Displays (AMC&D) that offer more screen area (8″x10″ Display), and upgrade the mission computers from an assembly language to an open architecture higher order language (Lot 25+). A Fiber Channel Network Switch and Digital Video Map Computer round out the ACS improvements.

The EA-18G: Electronic Attacker EA-18G: key systems
(click to view full)

The EA-18G Growler is based on the F/A-18F. It removes the 20mm cannon in the nose, adds new electronics, and mounts special electronic warfare pods on the aircraft’s underwing (AN/ALQ-99) and wingtip (AN/ALQ-218) pylons. Typically, the EA-18G retains 2 fuselage slots and 2 underwing slots for weapons carriage, though the wing pylons can also be used to hold extra fuel. Typical weapon loads will include anti-radar missiles like the AGM-88 HARM/AARGM family on the 2 free underwing pylons, plus 2 AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles on the fuselage slots for aerial self-defense.

The EA-18G Growler will replace the old EA-6B Prowler aircraft, whose airframes date from the Vietnam era. With the retirement of the USAF’s EF-111 Ravens, the Prowlers are now the only dedicated jamming aircraft in America’s inventory that can accompany tactical strike missions. They are also called upon for a wide variety of other missions, including missions over Iraq to cover convoys and jam remotely-triggered IED land-mines. See “EA-18G Program: The USA’s Electronic Growler” for full in-depth coverage.

Can the Super Hornet Keep Up? Chinese J-20
(click to view full)

At present, Super Hornets are multi-role fighters that can compete against contemporary designs, albeit with some drawbacks. The key question for the US Navy, which intends to keep them in service to 2030 and beyond, is how long they can remain competitive.

Despite a switch to higher-thrust F414-GE-400 engines, the Super Hornet family’s added size and weight gives it poorer acceleration than the older F/A-18 C/D Hornet, which was already middle of the pack in that category. One compensation is that Hornet family designs have traditionally excelled in “low and slow” dogfights, but that edge is being eroded or reversed by external competition from 4+ generation opponents like the thrust-vectoring Russian SU-30MKI/A/M, SU-35, and MiG-35; from agile European opponents like the Eurofighter Typhoon, France’s Rafale, and Sweden’s JAS-39 Gripen; and from the next generation of full-stealth planes like the super-maneuverable Russian PAK-FA/ “SU-50? and China’s J-20.

For now, the Super Hornets can rely on next-generation AESA radars, JHMCS helmet-mounted displays (HMDs), and pilot-friendly controls and software, in order to maintain their status as air superiority fighters. Issues with APG-79 AESA radar reliability, and lack of testing for multi-shot engagements using medium-range missiles, thin their margin of error. Even if those issues are fixed someday, the Super Hornet’s overall electronic advantages are beginning to erode as rivals field AESA radars, HMDs, and other advanced electronics of their own. Expected and fielded upgrades to existing rivals, and new designs like the Russian-Indian PAK-FA/ “SU-50?, and China’s J-20, will reach electronic parity well within the Super Hornet’s operational lifetime.

Malaysian SU-30MKM
(click to view larger)

Most rivals were also were designed with IRST (InfraRed Search and Tracking) to allow no-warning passive targeting, an area where the Super Hornet is just starting to catch up. As aerodynamically better fighters gain similar electronic suites, and exports make those fighters more common, it’s logical to be concerned that the Super Hornet will be pushed away from air superiority roles against advanced opponents.

If so, the Super Hornet would be forced into a more limited strike fighter role, only to be challenged by very dangerous modern long-range air defense systems. Which is why the EA-18G is so important to the fleet.

What’s Next for the Super Hornet? CBC: Boeing’s pitch
click for video

In the immediate term, a special centerline fuel tank with an embedded IRST sensor pod is being developed to give the Super Hornet some parity with peer fighters, albeit at the cost of extra drag.

Immediate improvements are also being made to ground attack, via a Distributed Targeting System (DTS) that brings together data feeds from different sensors, and adds a pre-loaded, high-resolution imagery database to overlay on top of the sensor data. The idea is to be able to fire ground attack weapons with more certainty about the target, and less delay from navigating through multiple screens, handing off coordinates, etc.

F/A-18F Advanced
(click to view full)

In order to compete farther into the future, Boeing invested in private development alongside its partners, and created a Super Hornet Roadmap centered around 3 areas: (1) doubling down on electronic advances, (2) trying to improve flight performance in strike or air superiority roles, and (3) improving the design’s radar signature (RCS).

Electronics. A new cockpit based on large touch-screen technology and more advanced computers is designed to bring the Super Hornets closer to sensor fusion parity with the F-35, without relying on a helmet-mounted-display as their single point of failure. An internal IRST will detect infrared emissions from enemy aircraft, replacing the current drag-inducing IRST/fuel centerline tank option, and addressing a disadvantage vs. the F-35 and contemporary European and Russian fighters. Full spherical laser and missile warning systems would be added to improve survivability.

The EA-18G, which is built around and for electronics, will receive special upgrades of its own if the USA’s Next Generation Jammer goes into production.

Performance.On the performance side, improved engines would offer the Super Hornet family either better fuel use and range (F414 EDE), or more power (F414 EPE).

Up top, new dorsal Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFT) are shaped to add lift, adding 3,500 pounds of fuel for strike and EW missions, but creating almost zero net drag at sub-sonic cruising speeds. Boeing engineers are quite proud of the CFTs, which are actually a Northrop Grumman product. The net extension is some combination of up to 130 nautical miles of combat radius (+260 nmi range), or 30 minutes of extra station time. That gives the “Advanced Super Hornet” a maximum base combat radius of 700 nautical miles with unmodified F414-GE-400 engines.

In an era where the Navy is emphasizing the Pacific theater and its vast distances, while inheriting carrier-based fighters with a shrunken strike reach, upgrades to add the CFTs could represent a huge return on investment. The EA-18G will appreciate this range boost the most, because the fighter’s canted pylons mean that each of its 3 required drop tanks generates a lot of drag.

On the flip side, the CFTs do add weight and some transonic drag, hurting already-marginal transonic acceleration. Missions like Combat Air Patrol would probably accept the extra cruising drag inherent in multiple droppable tanks, in order to make full use of a cleaner configuration and improved engines in dogfights.

“Stealth” F/A-18E
(click to view full)

Stealth. The final set of upgrades involve stealth. The Super Hornet will never be as stealthy as an F-35, but it has a notably smaller Radar Cross Section than earlier F/A-18s, even though it’s a bigger plane. Advanced Super Hornets can widen that advantage by adjusting the design a bit, adding special RCS-reducing coatings, and carrying up to 3 enclosed and specially-shaped weapon pods. Each pod could carry up to 4 x AMRAAM missiles, or 2 x 500 pound/ 1 x 2,000 pound bomb each.

Combat radius with the CFTs and a centerline weapon pod, but no external ordnance, rises by 130 nautical miles to around 700 nmi. If the plane stays within the existing 570 nmi circle, it adds 30 minutes of station time instead.

Testing also showed that a “clean” F/A-18F Advanced with CFTs and a single centerline weapons pod dropped radar cross-section by 50%, compared to a Super Hornet whose external pylons had to be loaded with fuel tanks and the same weapons.

Will that be enough?

Boeing and Northrop Grumman have been funding the testing, and investing along with Hornet Industry Team partners GE Aviation and Raytheon. As of August 2013, Boeing says that these enhancements are ready for inclusion as new-build options, or as retrofits to existing fighters. That’s an attractive proposition.

Boeing’s customers will decide if it’s enough. The US Navy would like to keep buying Super Hornet family planes beyond 2014, but the most likely path for upgrades is some kind of retrofit program. Australia has ordered 12 more EA-18Gs soon, which could keep the line running at reduced output into early 2016. After that, Canada, Denmark, Malaysia, and the Gulf Cooperation nations Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar are seen as the most likely export prospects.

The USA’s Super Hornet Family Program (click to view full) Excel
download

The EA-18G Growler is bought under the same multi-year contract, and uses the F/A-18F Block II’s base airframe and equipment. As noted above, some equipment is swapped out, and other internal equipment is added for the conversion. Then jamming pods, fuel tanks, and weapons are hung on the fighter’s hardpoints to create a fully mission-ready plane. Australia was initially going to buy just the basic EA-18G with internal equipment, but decided to buy the full array of specialty stores. That pushed their costs up by about $1.25 billion for 12 fighters.

Fortunately for the US Navy, it can re-use existing AN/ALQ-99 underwing jamming pods from its EA-6B Prowler fighters. Unfortunately for the US Navy, those pods are wearing out fast, have reliability issues, and use technology that will have trouble coping with mid-band threats beyond 2018. A separate program called the Next Generation Jammer will have to survive, and start delivering gear, in order to fix that; its totals are not listed here.

The MYP-III Buy F/A-18E, Parked
(click to view full)

Unlike countries like France, the USA sets its defense budget on a year-by-year basis. Multi-year contracts are not a new concept in American defense procurement, however, and they are often used to save money. Contractors get the predictability of production and deliveries over 4-5 years, which allows them to negotiate with their sub-contractors for quantity discounts, make longer term investments, and pass some of the savings along. The down-side from the government’s point of view is that if requirements change, or circumstances intervene, these contracts are much more expensive to cancel or restructure. Most of the Super Hornet program has been made up of multi-year contracts:

After the first 62 Super Hornets were bought under Low Rate Initial Production, the first multi-year Full Rate Production contract bought 210 Super Hornet fighters from FY 2000-2004 inclusive. MYP-II bought 230 Super Hornet family fighters from FY 2005-2009 inclusive, and deliveries from those contracts will continue into 2011. Boeing claims that these 2 multi-year contracts saved the US Navy about $1.7 billion.

Initially, the plan was to replace MYP-II with single year procurements in 2010, 2011 and 2012, in order to finish up the program. Congress was less certain. Concerns about the F-35 program’s timing, and the Navy’s fighter gap as older aircraft retire, led to pressure for another multi-year contract. In order to qualify for a multi-year deal, however, any proposed buy must first meet several legislative criteria. In My 2010, the Pentagon certified that a Super Hornet family MYP-III would meet those criteria, paving the way for the current MYP-III contract. It covers FY 2010-2014 buys, with deliveries through to August 2015.

MYP-II and MYP-III have produced the entire planned program of EA-18G electronic warfare fighters, with MYP-III having a very slight edge at 50.9% of those aircraft. MYP-III comprises a much smaller percentage of overall F/A-18E/F Super Hornet production for the USA, and its percentage would be even lower if delays to the F-35C program hadn’t forced emergency Super Hornet buys.

Sharp-eyed readers will note a big difference between these budgets, and the announced MYP-III multi-year contract figure with Boeing. Once a multi-year contract is signed, it’s important to understand how fighters are bought, in order to understand the difference. The $5.3 billion MYP-III contract, like its $8.56 billion MYP-II predecessor, covered only the airframes, which are used by the Super Hornet and Growler programs alike. Engines, radars, jamming devices, and other equipment are installed under these MYP contracts, but they are usually specified, designed, and paid for under separate contracts, as “government furnished equipment.” This drives the final cost of fielding operational fighters much higher than any initial MYP contract would suggest, though reports seem to settle around a $60 million flyaway cost for the F/A-18E/F.

To highlight GFE’s range and importance, a section below tracks items that are directly traceable to F/A-18E/F family purchases in general, which is inevitably just a subset of the real total.

Contracts & Key Events, FY 2010-2015 F/A-18F, landing
(click to view full)

The EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft has a history and role that extend beyond this MYP contract. It’s covered separately in its own FOCUS article, though its base airframes come from this contract.

Unless otherwise specified, The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in Patuxent River, MD, USA manages these contracts, and Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. in St. Louis, MO is the contractor. Northrop Grumman is the original creator of the YF-17 that spawned the F/A-18 series, and manufactures about 40% of each Super Hornet (center & aft fuselage, vertical tails) or 50% of each EA-18G (above plus Electronic Attack systems). All work performed in “El Segundo, CA” is almost certainly NGC’s work.

Finally, note that any links in this section are not updated if their owners allow them to lapse.

June 9/15: Raytheon has been awarded a $10.6 million contract to provide testing equipment for assessing the Small Diameter Bomb II on the FA-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft, including jettison test vehicles and instrumented measurement vehicles, with these presumably to assess the future viability of using the SDBII with Super Hornets. The SDBII recently passed Milestone C, facilitating its progression to low rate initial production by manufacturer Raytheon.

FY 2014

USN debates its future options; Loss in Brazil, Preliminary work to integrate Kongsberg’s new JSM naval strike missile; Australian ANAO report cites platform issues – US DOT&E report explains them; Advanced Super Hornet prototype flies. F/A-18E
(click to view full)

Aug 7/14: Iraq. With thousands of Yezidis trapped on Mt. Sinjar, and The Islamic State threatening the Kurdish capital of Erbil with captured heavy equipment from the Iraqi army, the US President orders USAF relief airdrops and limited airstrikes from American carriers.

The aircraft use Paveway laser-guided bombs, but this is exactly the kind of environment and situation that’s well suited to MBDA’s Brimstone missiles (q.v. July 20/14) under analysis by the Navy. Sources: White House, “President Obama Makes a Statement on the Crisis in Iraq”.

July 20/14: Weapons. Navy Recognition reports that the US Navy is “beginning environmental and integration analysis” of the dual-mode laser/MMW radar Brimstone 2 missile, as a potential option for Navy Super Hornets. Brimstone was originally developed as a close air support weapon, but MBDA has also been touting Brimstone 2’s naval capabilities, including demonstrations against fast boat swarms.

Adding Brimstones would give the Super Hornet a comparable capability to the AGM-65 Maverick carried by Navy F/A-18C/D Hornets, plus more weapons on station. Unlike Lockheed Martin’s Hellfires or Raytheon’s SeaGriffin, Brimstone is designed and qualified for use from fast jets, offering a strike missile that can replace the AGM-65 Maverick on a 3-for-1 basis at each hardpoint. Laser-guided rockets like APKWS could one-up that to 7-for-1 replacement, but only the shelved Navy LOGIR program’s imaging infrared guidance mode would match Brimstone’s fire-and-forget targeting/ salvo firing capabilities.

Positive reports from Congressional committees that want to “counter high-speed, erratically maneuvering targets on land and at sea” may give the Navy another $10 million in FY 2015 to pursue the idea. Sources: Navy Recognition, “U.S. Navy is evaluating MBDA’s Dual Mode Brimstone for its F/A-18 Super Hornet jets”.

July 16/14: Industrial. Super Hornet program manager Capt. Frank Morley says that the U.S. Navy might agree to accept slower deliveries than 2 planes per month to help extend the company’s production line by a year to the end of 2017. On the other hand, “my marching orders are not to do that at any additional cost to us.”

He adds that Boeing has already used some of its own funds to pay early procurement costs for another 12 EA-18G jets, which does seem to be the way things are working out in Congress. Sources: Reuters, “AIRSHOW-U.S. open to slower Boeing deliveries, but no extra cost”.

June 30/14: +11. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $1.939 billion fixed-price-incentive-fee contract for full rate production of 11 FRP Lot 38 F/A-18E aircraft for the US Navy, and 33 EA-18G aircraft for the US Navy (21) and the government of Australia (12 for $533.4 million, which is 27.3% of the total). The USN’s total is $1.406 billion, using USN FY 2013 (F/A-18E) and 2014 (EA-18G) aircraft budgets (72.7%).

The extra F/A-18Es come from a $605 million Congressional markup in FY 2013. Which is why FY 2014 may not be the very last Super Hornet family order, if Congressional mark-ups of the 2015 National Defense Authorization bill or defense appropriations bill survive the budget process. The House Armed Services Committee has approved 5 Growlers, and the House Appropriations Committee has approved funds for 12 Growlers.

Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (46%); St. Louis, MO (30%); Fort Worth, TX (2%); East Aurora, NY (1.5%); Irvine, CA (1percent); Ajax, Ontario, Canada (1%), and various locations within the United States (18.5%), and is expected to be complete in December 2016. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 USC. 2304(c)(1). US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contracts for the US Navy, and acts as Australia’s agent (N00019-14-C-0032). See also US NAVAIR, “Contract awarded to produce F/A-18 Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers” | Seapower, “Boeing Awarded to $1.94 Billion Contract for F/A-18 Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers”.

44 bought: 11 F/A-18Es, 33 EA-18Gs

May 22/14: Support. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $9.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order modification to an existing performance based logistics contract, covering F/A-18E/F supply chain management of spares and repairs. All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (40%), and Jacksonville, FL (60%); and is expected to be complete by December 2015. US NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA manages the contract (N00383-06-D-001J-0014).

May 6/14: Politics. House Armed Services Committee (HASC) chair Buck McKeon [R-CA] is proposing to add $450 million to fund 5 EA-18Gs and their equipment in the FY 2015 budget, instead of the 22 on the unfunded priorities list. The committee’s proposed changes would also preserve all F-35 funding, while cutting the Navy’s unmanned UCLASS R&D budget in half to $200 million.

Meanwhile, Missouri Lawmakers say that they’ve already gathered over 80 signatures from Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives, and the International Association of Machinists will be weighing in. The HASC markup will make the lobbying job more challenging, and they’ll need to more than triple that number of allies in order to get the full 22 planes. As the saying goes – show me. Sources: Flightglobal, “House bill promotes EA-18G and U-2S, but hits UCLASS” | Reuters, “Boeing, backers to fight for funding for 22 Boeing jets”.

May 5/14: Sharp-eyed readers might note that the last full contract for Super Hornet family jets was in FY 2012. That isn’t an accident. Boeing program manager Mike Gibbons says that they’ve finally hammered out a contract for 47 planes: 11 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets (FY 2013) + 21 EA-18G Growlers (FY 2014) + 3 EA-18Gs included in a legal settlement with the US government + 12 EA-18G Growlers for Australia. If so, there should be an announcement shortly.

It’s worth emphasizing that all of these planes are long-planned buys, it just took a while to come to terms on this batch. If the FY 2015 budget funds another 22 EA-18Gs, they would be the subject of a separate contract negotiation. Sources: Reuters, “Boeing sees contract soon for 47 more F/A-18, EA-18G fighters”.

May 5/14: EA-18G #100. Boeing [NYSE: BA] delivers the 100th EA-18G Growler to the US Navy, and the ceremony was turned into one more element of Boeing’s push to increase the Navy’s buy from 114 to 136. Sources: US Navy, “Navy’s Newest Electronic Attack Aircraft Reaches Centennial Milestone” | Boeing, “Boeing Delivers 100th EA-18G Growler to US Navy”.

100th EA-18G

March 11/14: Budgets. CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert has confirmed that the Navy has placed 22 more EA-18Gs on their FY15 unfunded request submission. The Pentagon’s FY14 budget already contains a $75 million option for advance procurement, as a result of Congressional additions. If the Navy’s FY15 suggestion is approved for inclusion by the Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff, the $2.14 billion request would receive more momentum toward a possible Congressional insert in FY15.

The unfunded requests list has a number of items on it. If Congress does decide to fund 22 EA-18Gs as one of their choices, the US Navy would use it to raise some squadron rosters to 7 jets, while Boeing would use it to extend the Super Hornet production line by a year or more. Sources: Reuters, “UPDATE 1-U.S. Navy confirms Boeing jets on ‘unfunded’ priority list”.

March 4/14: FY15 Budget. The Navy unveils a preliminary budget request briefing. It doesn’t break down individual programs into dollars, but it does offer planned purchase numbers for the Navy’s biggest programs from FY 2014 – 2019. Short answer: no plans to buy any more Super Hornets or EA-18Gs, but that doesn’t mean that Congress couldn’t add some later. This interesting tidbit came from the US Navy’s detailed RDT&E justifications for PE 0204136N:

“Delays in the schedule for IRST [pod] are due to technical challenges with the Fuel Tank which led to additional flight test requirements.”

Source: US Dept. of the Navy, PB15 Press Briefing [PDF] | US Navy, detailed budget justification.

Feb 28/14: Support. A $22.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for supplies and services to support follow-on test and evaluation of the F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft.

All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 Navy aircraft budgets. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD (76%), St. Louis, MO (22%), El Segundo, CA (1%), and Bethpage, N.Y. (1%) and is expected to be complete in January 2015 (N00019-11-G-0001, 0166).

Jan 31/14: Support. A $38.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order for F/A-18E/F logistics support and associated material requirements.

All funds are committed immediately, using USN FY 2014 budgets. Work will be performed at St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/15. The contract was not competitively procured in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 2304 (c)(1) by US Naval Supply Systems Command’s Weapon Systems Support group in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-06-D-001J, 0017).

Jan 28/14: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2013 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The Super Hornet family is included, and as is often the case these days, software at various levels is the main issue.

Quick background: All F/A-18E/F Block II Super Hornets and EA-18Gs use high-order language or “H-series” software, and will carry the APG-79 AESA radar. Their current “OS version” (System Configuration Set, or SCS) is H8E Phase I, and Phase II is in testing. F/A-18A-D Hornets and F/A-18E/F Block I Super Hornets (to Lot 26) use “X-series” software, currently SCS 23X, with SCS 25X in testing. These USN aircraft use the APG-73 radar.

SCS 25X has been delayed for a year, with system qualification testing only beginning in FY 2014. SCS H8E has also hit delays, to the point where 6 of its 14 new capabilities were stripped out: AESA electronic warfare capability, integrated ESM and high-gain ESM to detect emitters using only onboard sensors, the ability to identify specific emitters, single-ship geolocation, integration of the ALQ-214(V)4 defensive jammer, and RNAV (Area Navigation) for GPS civil airspace navigation instead of using TACAN. They’ll presumably be pushed back to SCS H9, along with AGM-154C-1 JSOW integration (q.v. Nov 17/13). Testing for the remaining 8 H8E enhancements is expected to end in March 2014.

The biggest news for the Super Hornet family, however, is the 2 major weaknesses that H8E will not correct. One is the APG-79 AESA radar, whose software instability has been a problem for 7 years. That wasn’t even on the agenda for SCS H8E. Neither was “an end-to-end multi-AIM-120 missile shot” to take on multiple opponents, which has never been successfully operationally tested. That isn’t a good statement to make about a nation’s core naval fighter, and the Navy doesn’t plan to fix that until SCS H12 in FY 2016-2017. Those situations, and these statements from DOT&E, are legitimately concerning:

“…operational testing has yet to demonstrate a statistically significant difference in mission accomplishment between F/A-18E/F aircraft equipped with AESA and those equipped with the legacy radar…. Overall, the F/A-18E/F/G is not operationally effective for use in certain threat environments, the details of which are addressed in DOT&E’s classified report….”

Jan 22/14: SLEP. Boeing in Jacksonville, FL receives a $17.8 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity delivery order under the F/A-18 A-F Depot Level Service Life Extension Program, for remanufacturing activities and associated maintenance and sustainment.

$249,399 in FY 2014 USN aircraft budgets is committed immediately. Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL (92%) and St. Louis, MO (8%), and is expected to be complete in September 2014. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-14-D-0001).

Jan 22/14: Support. Boeing in Jacksonville, FL receives a $17.8 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity delivery order contract to support the F/A-18 A-F Depot Level Service Life Extension Program, including both maintenance and remanufacturing work.

Around $250,000 in FY 2014 USN aircraft budgets is committed immediately. Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL (92%) and St. Louis, MO (8%), and is expected to be complete in September 2014. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-14-D-0001).

Dec 30/13: Support. A $22.2 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for Super Hornet Family automated maintenance environment integrated software. Your car dealer has these for your machine, and the US Navy has them for its machines. The difference is that new software capabilities can also deliver enough maintenance savings to justify development, and the military’s fighters change more than your car does. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($19.25M / 86.6%) and the government of Australia ($3M / 13.4%).

All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 US Navy aircraft budgets and FMS funding from Australia. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2015 (N00019-11-G-0001, DO 0140).

Dec 30/13: Support. A $46.7 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for integrated logistics support and sustaining engineering for F/A-18A-D, F/A-18E/F, and EA-18G aircraft for the U.S. Navy ($36.6M / 78.3%) and Australia ($7M / 15.1%); plus $501,289 / 1.1% each from Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, and Switzerland. Support will include logistics, engineering, provisioning, information systems, technical data updates, support equipment engineering, training and software integration support.

All funds are committed immediately. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (70%); El Segundo, CA (15%); Oklahoma City, OK (6%); Bethpage, NY (5%); and San Diego, CA (4%), and is expected to be complete in December 2014 (N00019-11-G-0001, 0110).

Nov 25/13: ECP. A $37.3 million delivery order modification to a delivery order for F/A-18E/F and EA-18G Trailing Edge Flap engineering change proposal retrofit kits. They’re buying 48 Trailing Edge Flap Redesign kits, 48 left hand units, and 48 right hand units.

All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 USN aircraft budgets. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in July 2017. Fiscal 2014 aircraft procurement, Navy contract funds in the amount $37,338,608 will be obligated at time of award; none of which expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-G-0001, DO 007302).

Nov 17/13: ANAO Report. Australia’s National Audit Office releases their 2012-13 Major Projects Report, which includes some interesting notes concerning the JSOW-C1/ Block III. Australia to place an interim buy of AGM-154Cs in time for the F/A-18F’s planned December 2010 Initial Operating Capability, and they did. But the AGM-154C-1s that are effective against ships and moving targets won’t be done until at least February 2016, because software and integration issues forced the US Navy to delay adding JSOW-C1 until the next core software release. The USN also canceled the planned September 2014 tests. Other issues and notes:

“The Super Hornet is meeting its capability objectives. Identified anomalies, limitations and improvements of the USN common aircraft software, radar, electronic warfare, mission planning, and training devices are being fed back into the USN spiral development program as part of Super Hornet sustainment, and RAAF/DMO are accessing opportunities to influence USN decision makers on the priority for addressing these areas under a RAAF/USN common paradigm.

….Spares availability has been affected by late delivery of spares because of Original Equipment Manufacturer delays and USN delays in award of Supplier contracts leading to an impact on performance, supportability and schedule.

….There is a possibility that the Forward Looking Infra Red performance will be degraded. This was identified as an emergent risk in the 2011-12 MPR and has now been realised. Engineering Change Proposal No 35 will introduce an Electronic Image Stabilisation Card. This issue has been transferred to Air Combat and Electronic Attack Systems Program Office Risk and Issues Log for management.”

Dec 18/13: Brazil. Saab picks Saab’s Gripen NG as their future fighter in a surprise announcement, shortly after reports that a deal for Super Hornets was killed by public revelations that the NSA had spied on Brazil’s presidency and government (q.v. Aug 12/13). The 36 plane contract will be worth about $4.5 billion, which is about 29% less than Boeing’s reported $5.8 billion bid. A final contract and financing deal is expected in December 2014, along with a long-term maintenance deal estimated at around $1.5 billion. Deliveries are expected to begin 4 years later.

The Brazilian Air Force has a dedicated website to explain its choice. Dassault issued a terse statement pointing out the presence of US parts on Gripens, and positioning the Rafale in a different league. Which may or may not be true, but it’s indisputably true that global fighter buys have historically been heavily weighted toward a less-expensive league. Gripen and the Super Hornet are just within that low to mid price range. Rafale isn’t. Indeed, its reported $10.2 billion purchase + maintenance costs would have been 70% more expensive than the Gripen. Sources: Brazil MdD, “FX-2: Amorim anuncia vencedor de programa para compra de novos cacas” | MdD, “Perguntas & Respostas sobre a definição do Programa F-X2″ (Q&A) | Dassault, “FX2 contest – 2013/12/18″ | Folha de Sao Paulo, “Dilma agradece Hollande por apoio contra espionagem dos EUA”.

NSA spying loses Brazil deal

Dec 9/13: Industrial. Boeing’s VP in charge of the Super Hornet family, Mike Gibbons, sees USN fleet upgrade funds to add Advanced Super Hornet features as “a given.” He says that Boeing is “extremely bullish about how much of a future we think we have on Super Hornet and Growler production,” and cites recent multi-million dollar investments in their St. Louis production line as proof of the firm’s belief that local and export orders can keep it open to 2020 and beyond. USN Program Director Capt. Frank Morley says the Navy has taken delivery of 490/ 563 planned Super Hornets, and 90/ 135 planned EA-18G Growlers.

Barring further orders, Gibbons says that March 2014 is the industrial deadline for Boeing to decide whether it will invest its own funds to keep supplier orders coming. The firm has studied C-17 program lessons on how to cut production rates in half, leaving Super Hornet capacity at 24/year without increasing costs. Gibbons gives Boeing a $37 million share of the flyaway cost for a ~$50 million F/A-18E/F, while placing EA-18G flyaway cost at ~$60 million.

On the other hand, Gibbons concedes that Boeing was waiting until the US Navy’s FY 2015 budget request comes out before buying long-lead items, and another set of mandated across-the-board cuts would likely cement the program’s termination. One option to keep the plane as an option beyond 2016 would involve combining the adjacent F/A-18 and F-15 production lines into a single flexible line. That would require serious investment, but it would extend the production life of both planes. Aviation Week, “Boeing Faces March Funding Decision On Super Hornet, Growler” | Reuters, “Boeing must decide on F/A-18 production in March 2014: executive”

Dec 5/13: Politics. House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chair Rep. Randy Forbes [R-VA-04] sends a letter urging the Pentagon to buy more Super Hornets beyond 2014, or find other ways to keep the line open (q.v. upgrade option Nov 4/13) past 2016. His argument is fairly straightforward:

“With future carrier-based aircraft still in development until 2019, I strongly believe that creating a single U.S. tactical aircraft supply chain at this time is too great a risk…. will eliminate vital competition that could result in spiraling costs…. also eliminate competition among aircraft radar and engine producers. In other instances, the Department has taken steps to appropriately ensure multiple manufacturers in the shipbuilding and submarine industries. The Navy and the Department should nurture its tactical aviation manufacturing in the same way.”

Despite Rep. Forbes’ title, he’s going to have a very hard time prevailing amidst current budget cuts. Reuters offers some hope, saying that the USN is very interested in buying more, but had no funding available. In other words, “let’s see if rumblings among some Republicans are followed by actions that ease the sequester’s disproportionate effect on defense.” If not, the US Navy’s proposal to deal with further sequestration cuts by pausing F-35C production and pushing its IOC to 2021 creates strong pressure in the Pentagon to end Super Hornet buys now, lest continued production begin eating into F-35 purchases and encourage further F-35B/C cuts. Sources: J. Randy Forbes letter, “Forbes: Continuation of F/A-18 Production Line Crucial for Strength of Tactical Aircraft Industrial Base” | Reuters, “U.S. lawmaker urges continuation of Boeing F/A-18 fighter line”.

Nov 6/13: Weapons. Boeing and Kongsberg take the 1st step toward Joint Strike Missile integration with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter family. All they did was ensure that the weapons fit on the aircraft’s external pylons. Next, they have to conduct wind tunnel tests in early 2014, to assess the effect of the missiles on the plane’s aerodynamics, and likely stress on the pylons. That has to be followed by live captive carry testing to verify their conclusions, and of course full integration with the aircraft’s electronics will be its own separate effort.

Norway doesn’t fly Super Hornets, but potential JSM partner Australia does (q.v. May 16/13), and so does the US Navy. F-35 integration won’t be ready until 2021-2022, but successful F/A-18 integration would give the JSM an early deployment option with any future Super Hornet customers, such as Kuwait, Brazil, or Denmark. It would also provide an incentive for Australia to commit to JSM early and deploy the missiles well before 2025, by offering them a much more immediate fleet upgrade. Finally, Super Hornet integration would provide an opening to put JSM forward as an AGM-84 Harpoon missile replacement for the US Navy, if the higher-end LRASM program falls to coming budget cuts. Sources: Boeing, Nov 6/13 release.

Nov 4/13: USN Upgrades? US Navy F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Manager, Capt. Frank Morley, discusses the Advanced Super Hornet with Defense Tech:

“We’re getting good performance numbers on it and good signature measurements. These are items the Navy is considering…. We reduced the signature of the aircraft by over 50-percent. We added low-signature treatments to specific areas of the airplane and then when we designed the conformal fuel tanks and enclosed weapons pod….”

Oct 31/13: Trick, or Treat? An FBO.gov Pre-solicitation notice for up to 36 Super Hornet family fighters in FY 2015 is cancelled. This effectively terminates media speculation concerning the potential for additional US Navy orders, in light of added F-35 delays resulting from R&D budget cuts.

On the other hand, FY 2014 may not be the Super Hornet family’s last order year. Australia has confirmed plans to buy another 12 EA-18Gs, and the official request to negotiate that deal is already cleared. Denmark intends to make a decision concerning 24-32 fighters in mid-2015; the Super Hornet is competing against Lockheed Martin’s much more expensive F-35A, and Saab’s JAS-39E/F Gripen. Brazil was reportedly ready to buy 36 Super Hornets in 2013; NSA spying scandals torpedoed negotiations, but the competition hasn’t been closed. In the Middle East, Kuwait and Qatar are both evaluating future fighters, and preparing to order new planes.

Australia’s 12-plane order is very likely to arrive before supplier shutdowns begin; after that, timing will begin to matter to Boeing. FBO.gov | Breaking Defense | Flight Global.

FY 2013

Another 15 extra bought; 2014 budget switches final production to EA-18Gs from Super Hornets. F/A-18F & EA-18G
(click to view full)

Sept 23/13: ECP. A $38.2 million award for fixed-price, incentive-fee delivery order for F/A-18E/F and EA-18G trailing edge flap retrofit kits. The flaps were redesigned as part of an engineering change proposal, and the order includes 48 trailing edge flap kits, 48 left hand units, and 48 right hand units. All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be completed in July 2017 (N00019-11-G-0001, 0073).

Aug 12/13: Brazil – NSA fallout. Reuters reports that revelations of NSA spying may have damaged the Boeing Super Hornet’s chances in Brazil. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s October meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff won’t discuss the deal, and the unnamed political source was blunt: “We cannot talk about the fighters now… You cannot give such a contract to a country that you do not trust.”

In July, the O Globo newspaper published documents leaked by Edward Snowden that revealed U.S. surveillance of Internet communications in Brazil and other Latin American countries. Nobody who has been paying attention can possibly be surprised, given concerns regarding transnational drug cartels, Brazil’s close relationship with Iran, and the growth of Islamist activities in the “triple border” junction area of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. Brazilian senators may not have been paying attention, or may just have been playing their expected role when they questioned President Rousseff’s visit to Washington in toto.

Brazil could just go ahead and pick another plane, but fighters seem to be dropping down the government’s priority list. Huge protests against corruption and misuse of public money have left the government skittish about big outlays, and another government source tells Reuters that they no longer expect a decision in 2013. With 2014 as an election year, that means 2015 for any fighter decision. The Brazilian government isn’t exactly responding with denials following the Reuters report, and for Boeing, later is better than sooner. Reuters, “Spying scandal sets back U.S. chances for fighter jet sale to Brazil”.

May 24/13: SAR. The Pentagon finally releases its Dec 31/12 Selected Acquisitions Report [PDF]. The EA-18G is included, thanks to the 2014 budget switch that shifted the final Super Hornet buy and added a few more:

“EA-18G Growler Aircraft – Program costs increased $2,023.9 million (+18.3%) from $11,060.3 million to $13,084.2 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of 21 aircraft from 114 to 135 aircraft (+$1,752.1 million) and associated schedule and estimating allocations (-$60.7 million). There were also increases in support costs for integrated logistics support/reliability demonstration, production engineering, and developmental testing) (+$306.6 million).”

SAR – Super Hornet switch

May 9/13: Testing. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives an $18.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery to support Follow-On Test and Evaluation of the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft.

Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, MD (78%); St. Louis, (21%); El Segundo, CA (0.5%); and Bethpage, NY (0.5%), and is expected to be complete in February 2014. All contract funds are committed immediately by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-11-G-0001).

April 10/13: FY 2014 budget. The Obama administration finally releases its budget proposals, including the Pentagon’s FY 2014 requests. One of the most notable changes in the Navy’s “Procurement by Weapon” file is the addition of 21 more EA-18Gs, with a $2 billion budget. At the same time, plans to buy 13 F/A-18E/F fighters for around $1.14 billion were canceled. The $274 million in FY 2014 involves spares, and shared costs related to the EA-18G. In effect, the Super Hornet order was transmuted into Growlers, raised pro rata by about $375 million total for that switch, then had 8 more planes added to it.

The shift into an all-Growler buy was helped by the Australian purchase of 12 Airborne Electronic Attack kits, which lowered costs for added US orders. Strike while the iron is hot, and all that. The other story associated with this shift involves the F-35B/C. The F-35 program is improving, but it has basically stood still or even gone backwards over the last 5 years. That means late introduction, and even later Initial Operating Capability. Especially given the poor progress of software development, and the additional progress required to create a combat-ready F-35. Not having stealth-enhanced F-35s is more than a fighter gap – it’s also a strike gap against improving air defenses. The most obvious way to close that gap is to add to the EA-18G fleet, in order to help existing naval fighters get through enemy defenses before F-35s start contributing sometime in the early 2020s. Even after F-35s arrive, EA-18Gs will remain invaluable to coalition warfare for a long time, and have real utility in small wars that feature remotely-detonated bombs.

FY 2014 is expected to end Super Hornet family orders, barring exports outside the USA. That leaves the USN’s Super Hornet program finishing with 552 fighters bought (though DID’s records show 549), and the EA-18G program finishing with a higher-than-expected 135 planes. Recall that at one time, the planned buy of EA-18Gs was just 80.

April 3/13: Embraer. Embraer’s CEO Luiz Carlos Aguiar talks to Defense News about F-X2 and other subjects. Regarding the fighters:

“I think [the decision is] going to be in the next months, this year, I would say. Our role in that depends… on who is going to win. We have a memorandum of understanding with all three of the contenders. Each of them offers an offset program, but we prefer not declaring publicly our preference…. Whatever they choose, we’re going to be in the process. They need to make this decision because Brazil needs that…. With the F-X, we can even go further in terms of technology, and even some new products could come up with one of these three contenders. That’s what I can tell you, I can’t go further than that.”

Given Embraer’s dominant position in the Brazilian aerospace industry, it would be shocking if any of the contenders had chosen not to sign industrial partnership MoUs with Embraer. In light of the April and August 2012 agreements, the “new products” comment suggests that Boeing may have replaced Saab as Embraer’s preferred choice. That isn’t at all certain, however – as Aguliar surely intended. Defense News.

March 13/13: Denmark. The Danes pick up their fighter competition as promised, following their announced hiatus in April 2010. Invited bidders include the same set of Lockheed Martin (F-35A), Boeing (Super Hornet), and Saab (JAS-39E/F) – plus EADS (Eurofighter), who had withdrawn from the Danish competition in 2007. The goal of a 2014 F-16 replacement decision has been moved a bit farther back, and now involves a recommendation by the end of 2014, and a selection by June 2015.

The Flyvevabnet are reported to have 30 operational F-16s, with 15 more in reserve, out of an original order of 58. Past statements indicate that they’re looking to buy around 25 fighters as replacements, but there are reports of a range from 24-32, depending on price. Danish Forsvarsministeriet [in Danish] | Eurofighter GmbH | Saab | JSF Nieuws.

March 8/13: Brazil. Brazil has asked the 3 F-X2 finalists to extend their bids for another 6 months from the March 30/13 deadline, as the Brazilian commodity economy remains mired in a 2-year slump. The competitors had hoped for a decision by the time the LAAD 2013 expo opened in April.

The length of the cumulative delays could create changes for the bids, and it effectively squashes any faint hopes that the new jets would be able to fly in time for the 2014 World Cup. Reuters.

Dec 28/12: Support. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives an $81.75 million firm-fixed-price delivery order covering integrated logistics support and sustaining engineering services for the F/A-18 A-D Hornet and F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighters, and EA-18G Growler tactical jamming aircraft. They’ll provide in-service engineering, information systems, automated maintenance environment, technical data updates, support equipment engineering, training, and software integration support for the US Navy ($69.5M / 85%); and the Governments of Australia ($9.0M / 10.98%); Canada ($544,992 / .67%); Finland ($544,992 / 0.67%); Kuwait ($544,992 / 0.67%); Malaysia ($544,992 / 0.67%); Spain ($544,992 / 0.67%); and Switzerland ($544,992 / 0.67%)

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (70%); El Segundo, CA (15%); Oklahoma City, OK (6%); Bethpage, NY (5%); and San Diego, CA (4%), and is expected to be complete in December 2013. This contract combines purchases under the Foreign Military Sales Program. All contract funds are committed immediately, and only $342,372 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00383-06-D-001J).

Nov 30/12: +15. A $687.6 million ceiling-priced fixed-price-incentive-fee contract modification for 15 Production Lot 37 (FY 2013) F/A-18E Super Hornet airframes “in accordance with the aircraft variation in quantity clause.” Which is to say, beyond planned multi-year orders. This follows a similar Jan 25/12 order from Production Lot 36.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (45.2%); El Segundo, CA (44.6%); Hazelwood, MO (3.4%); Cleveland, OH (1.7%); Torrance, CA (1.4%); Vandalia, OH (1.0%); Ajax, Canada (1.0%), and various other sites within the continental USA (1.7%), and is expected to be complete in July 2015. $645.5 million is committed on award (N00019-09-C-0019).

FY 2012

Japan loss; 15 extra bought; MYP-II deliveries done; Boeing lobbying to extend MYP-III. Australian F/A-18Fs
(click to view full)

Sept 10/12: A $12 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order, to perform requirements planning and analysis “necessary to identify Production Transition Support for the F/A-18 E/F and E/A-18G aircraft programs”. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be completed in May 2013 (N00019-11-G-0001).

Aug 23/12: Australia. Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare announce their decision to proceed with the conversion of 12 Super Hornets into Growlers for about $1.5 billion, with availability expected for 2018.

This doesn’t affect MYP-III, since all 24 of Australia’s F/A-18F Block II Hornets were bought under MYP-II (vid. Feb 22/12 entry), and all of them have already been delivered. This conversion order takes the 12 Australian F/A-18Fs that were pre-wired for EA-18G conversion, and adds the internal electronics and pods. Australia DoD.

Australia EA-18G conversion

April 1/12: Raytheon in El Segundo, CA receives a $7 million order for 13 ECP-6279 retrofit kits in support of F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft. ECP = Engineering Change Proposal, a design alternation. Work will be performed in Forest, MS (80%), and El Segundo, CA (20%), and is expected to be complete in December 2013 (N00019-10-G-0006).

March 30/12: Extend MYP-III? That’s what Boeing is lobbying for. The $2.5 billion add-on would extend production by as many as 37 Super Hornet family fighters, beginning with a $60 million increase in the Navy’s FY 2013 budget for advance purchases.

Boeing’s document claims that the Super Hornet program supports 100,000 direct and indirect jobs and has 1,900 suppliers across the US. Additional orders beyond 2014 would keep the line open past 2015. In return, they’d keep the Navy from suffering a fighter shortfall due to the F-35B/C program’s extended delays. The F-35s aren’t likely to see Initial Operational Capability before 2018, and could run later than that. Bloomberg | DoD Buzz.

Feb 22/12: MYP-II done. Final delivery of all orders under the previous MYP-II contract, which Boeing says covered 233 aircraft for the USA (210 + 23 added options), and another 24 F/A-18Fs for Australia. Boeing.

MYP-II final delivery

Jan 31/12: Support. A $48.1 million firm-fixed-price delivery order contract modification for integrated logistics support and sustaining engineering services in support of US Navy F/A-18 A-D, F/A-18 E/F, and EA-18 G aircraft. This includes in-service engineering, information systems work, technical data updates, support equipment engineering, training and software integration support.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (70%); El Segundo, CA (15%); Oklahoma City, OK (6%); Bethpage, NY (5%); and San Diego, CA (4%); and is expected to be complete in December 2012 (N00383-06-D-001J).

Jan 25/12: +15. A $687.5 million ceiling-priced modification to the MYP-III fixed-price-incentive-fee multi-year procurement contract buys another 15 FY 2012 Super Hornets in Full-Rate Production Lot 36, using the variation in quantity clause: another 14 single-seat F/A-18Es, and an F/A-18F.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (45.2%); El Segundo, CA (44.6%); Hazelwood, MO (3.4%); Cleveland, OH (1.7%); Torrance, CA (1.4%); Vandalia, OH (1%); Ajax, Canada (1%); Irvine, CA (0.7%); Johnson City, N.Y. (0.5%); and Grand Rapids, MI (0.5%); and is expected to be complete in October 2014 (N00019-09-C-0019).

15 more added

Dec 20/11: Japan loss. Japan’s F-X competition picks Lockheed Martin’s F-35 over Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet International, and EADS’ Eurofighter.

Japan

FY 2011

More for USN; More for Australia?; #500 delivered; USN’s long-term maintenance planning. F/A-18Es over Afghanistan
(click to view full)

Sept 30/11: Support. A $22 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to provide non-recurring engineering in support of the F/A18E/F and EA-18G multi-year procurement. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in October 2014 (N00019-09-C-0019).

Sept 29/11: Support. A $298.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order for logistics support and associated material requirements for the F/A-18E/F aircraft. This effort also includes the government of Australia (3%, $8.96M) under the Foreign Military Sale Program.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is to be complete by December 2014. US Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA manages this contract (N00383-06-D-001J, #0014).

Sept 12/11: Australia. During a joint press conference with Canada’s defense minister Peter MacKay, Australian Minister for Defence Stephen Smith says that they might buy more Super Hornets – but no decision has been taken. The window is closing, however, unless the USA extends production beyond MYP-III. So:

“Our position on Joint Strike Fighters I’ll restate. We’ve committed ourselves to 14. The White Paper or the Defence Capability Plan talks in terms of ultimately a number up to or around 100, but we’ve committed to 14… we’ll do an exhaustive risk assessment in the course of next year and make a judgment next year about whether we need any transition capability… The last thing I will allow will be a gap in our capability for our air combat capability. And if I am concerned or worried or not persuaded there won’t be a gap in terms of delivery of the Joint Strike Fighters, then an obvious option for us is more Super Hornets. We’ve made no decision to that effect.”

July 12/11: Former USAF F-16 pilot Mike Gerzanics pens “Testing the new-generation Super Hornet“, documenting his experience flying an F/A-18F Block II simulator. Overall, he was impressed by the radar and liked the aircraft, but said:

“My overall feel for the pilot/vehicle interface, while it is effective and combat proven, was that it lags newer aircraft. Tactical information, for the most part, is presented on separate displays, forcing the pilot to do much of the fusion. This federated arrangement is no different from what I experienced when I flew a Block 60 F-16 simulator… [In contrast,] The F-35’s level of integration and sensor fusion was a generation ahead of what I experienced in the Block II Super Hornet and Block 60 F-16 simulator sessions… A next-generation [Super Hornet] cockpit is also under development and has a very large 19in x 11in touch-sensitive display. I was able to fly a cockpit built around this display and can confirm that it provides an ideal palette to display fused tactical information.”

June 13/11: +9. A $408.8 million ceiling-priced fixed-price-incentive-fee contract modification for 9 single-seat F/A-18Es from Full-Rate Production Lot 35, in accordance with clauses that let the US Navy add aircraft above baseline FY 2011 purchases.

As usual, note that these contracts are for airframes and integration, leaving out purchases of minor accouterments like radar, engines, etc. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2013 (N00019-09-C-0019).

9 more added

April 20/11: #500. Boeing and the U.S. Navy celebrate the induction of the 500th Super Hornet family fighter (F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers) into the US Navy. Boeing.

#500

April 15/11: SAR – more planes. The Pentagon’s Selected Acquisitions Report ending Dec 30/10 includes the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. While EA-18G plans rise to 114 aircraft:

“F/A-18 E/F – Program costs increased $2,888.8 million (+6.0 percent) from $48,091.4 million to $50,980.2 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of 41 aircraft from 515 to 556 aircraft (+$3,105.4 million) and associated schedule, engineering, and estimating allocations

  • (+$208.6 million), the application of revised escalation indices (+$392.2 million), and an increase in initial spares for the additional 41 aircraft (+$94.1 million). These increases are partially offset by a reduction due to multi-year procurement contract award (-$390.4 million), adjustments for current and prior escalation (-$397.8 million), and decreases in other support costs (-$56.5 million).

  • Note: Quantity changes are estimated based on the original SAR baseline cost-quantity relationship. Cost changes since the original baseline are separately categorized as schedule, engineering, or estimating “allocations.” The total impact of a quantity change is the identified “quantity” change plus all associated “allocations.”

See also April 1/10 entry.

SAR – more planes

March 3/11: Support. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives an $8.8 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for integrated logistics support; in-service engineering; information systems; technical data; support equipment engineering; automated maintenance environment; training/software integration support; provisioning; and A-D sustaining engineering services in support of the F/A-18 A-D Hornet, F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, and EA-18G Growler aircraft.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (70%); El Segundo, CA (15%); Oklahoma City, OK (6%); Bethpage, NY (5%); and San Diego, CA (4%), and is expected to be complete in December 2011. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00383-06-D-001J).

Feb 14/11: FY 2012 request. The Pentagon releases its FY 2012 budget request: $2.662 billion for 28 Super Hornets ($153 million RDT&E, $77.2 million spares, $2.432 billion procurement), and $1.125 billion for 12 more EA-18Gs ($1.108 billion procurement, $17.1 million RDT&E).

Note that this funding also provides the advance procurement resources for 28 FY 2013 aircraft, continues research into planned spiral upgrades of F/A-18E/F onboard systems, and funds common shared cost between the EA-18G and F/A-E/F programs out of the F/A-E/F budget. The EA-18G buy is very much in line with the FY 2011 request, while the Super Hornet order rises sharply from the FY 2011 request of $1.976 billion for 22 aircraft ($148.4 million RDT&E, $41.2 million spares, $1.787 billion procurement). The F-35 program’s lateness is making itself felt here, otherwise the Super Hornet buy would actually have fallen from FY 2011 – 2012.

Jan 18/11: Support. US NAVAIR discusses its efforts to create a 6-year Planned Maintenance Interval (PMI) site for Super Hornet aircraft. With large numbers of Navy Super Hornets near their scheduled deep inspections and maintenance, they plan to use the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) hangar at Cecil Commerce Center, near Jacksonville, FL, as an overflow and companion facility for NAS Oceana, VA.

This is a boring sort of detail that ensures the continued viability of a fighter fleet intended for operations, not just for show. FRCSE has to tow the aircraft over in NAS Oceana, but the Florida facility will be fly-in/fly-out. Airplanes progress through 4 work cells: disassembly and inspection, repair, final assembly and operations, and flightline preparation for the Functional Check Flight. FRCSE is working on 4 prototypes in FY 2011, with a goal of 16 planes per year.

Jan 6/11: More F/A-18s. The Pentagon announces a number of changes, instead to take $150 billion from administration and weapons programs, and shift them into higher priority weapon programs. The F-35B goes on probation, and F-35 production is cut by over 100 planes during the 2012-2016 period.

In exchange, the Navy will order 41 more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, using MYP-III options. That means another 15 in FY 2012 & 2013, and another 11 in FY 2014, on top of existing order plans. Pentagon release re: overall plan | Full Gates speech and Gates/Mullen Q&A transcript | F-35 briefing hand-out [PDF] || Atlanta Journal Constitution | The Atlantic | The libertarian Cato Institute | Defense Update | Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Sky Talk blog | The Hill | NY Times | Politico | Stars and Stripes || Agence France Presse | BBC | Reuters | UK’s Telegraph | China’s Xinhua.

More Super Hornets

Dec 30/10: FIRST. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $69.1 million delivery order under the F/A-18 Integrated Readiness Support Team (FIRST) Program for continued support of F/A-18 A-D Hornet, F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, and EA-18G Growler fleets of the U.S. Navy ($64.6M/ 93.6%); and the governments of Australia ($1.7M/ 2.5%), Canada ($513,996; 0.7%), Spain ($513,996/ 0.7%), Finland ($513,966/ 0.7%), Switzerland ($513,996; 0.7%), Kuwait ($513,996; 0.7%), and Malaysia ($256,998/ 0.4%).

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (70%); El Segundo, CA (15%); Oklahoma City, OK (6%); Bethpage, NY (5%); and San Diego, CA (4%). Work is expected to be complete in December 2011. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00383-06-D-001J). See also Jan 3/06 entry, in this section.

Dec 22/10: Support. An $11.7 million fixed-price-incentive-fee contract modification for one-time engineering in support of the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G Multi-Year III buy. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in February 2012 (N00019-09-C-0019).

Dec 6/10: Support. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $17.6 million modification to a delivery order, for supplies and services in support of the follow-on test and evaluation of the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft.

Work will be performed in Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD (77%); St. Louis, MO (21%); El Segundo, CA (1%); and Bethpage, NY (1%), and is expected to be complete in October 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year (N00019-11-G-0001).

FY 2010

Program expands; MYP-III contract; FY 2010 budget adds more; Super Hornet International. F/A-18F over CV-63
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Sept 28/10: A $5.297 billion modification, converting a previous advance acquisition contract (N00019-09-C-0019) to a fixed-price-incentive-fee multi-year contract. Over its lifetime to May 2015, MYP-III will supply 124 base airframes: 46 single-seat F/A-18Es, 20 two-seat F/A-18Fs, and 58 of the EA-18G electronic attack airframes for the US Navy. Deliveries will begin in 2012. Boeing F/A-18 and EA-18 Programs Vice President Kory Mathews:

“Procurement of these 124 aircraft through a multi-year contract… will generate more than $600 million in cost savings for U.S. taxpayers… Boeing and its Hornet Industry Team suppliers have delivered every Super Hornet and Growler on schedule to the warfighter and on budget for the taxpayer from the first Super Hornet delivery… The first two F/A-18E/F multi-year contracts generated more than $1.7 billion in savings for the United States.”

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (45.2%); El Segundo, CA (44.6%); Hazelwood, MO (3.4%); Cleveland, OH (1.7%); Torrance, CA (1.4%); Vandalia, OH (1%); Ajax, Ontario, Canada (1%); Irvine, CA (0.7%); Johnson City, NY (0.5%); and Grand Rapids, MI (0.5%). Work is expected to be complete in May 2015. See also Boeing.

MYP-III

Sept 28/10: Support. A $249 million delivery order under a firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract covers logistics support and associated materials for F/A-18E/F aircraft. Work will be performed in St Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete by September 2011.

This effort combines purchases for the US Navy (99%) and the government of Australia (1%), and was not competitively awarded. The Naval Inventory Control Point in Philadelphia, PA manages this contract (N00383-06-D-001J, #0010).

Sept 24/10: Support. A $21.6 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for integrated logistics support, in-service engineering, information systems, technical data, support equipment engineering, automated maintenance environment, training/software integration support, provisioning and sustaining engineering in support of F/A-18 A-D, E/F, and EA-18G aircraft. This modification combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($18.5 million; 85.7%) and the governments of Australia ($2.5 million, 11.5%); Canada ($212,300, 1%); Spain ($147,700, 0.7%); Finland ($98,500, 0.5%); Kuwait ($61,500, 0.3%), Switzerland ($52,300, 0.2%), and Malaysia ($12,300; 0.1%), under the Foreign Military Sales program.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (70%); El Segundo, CA (15%); Oklahoma City, OK (6%); Bethpage, NY (5%); and San Diego, CA (4%); and is expected to be complete in December 2010. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00383-06-D-001J).

Aug 10/11: Support. A $9.3 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for organizational level peculiar support equipment in support of 4 emerging F/A-18E/F aircraft squadron stand-ups (VFA-25, VFA-146, VFA-192, and VFA-151). Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in July 2013. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ manages the contract (N68335-10-G-0012).

July 20/10: Super Hornet International. Boeing’s VP and General Manager of Global Strike Systems, Shelley Lavender, announces a “Super Hornet International Road Map” at Farnborough 2010. Technology modifications would include internal IRST to detect infrared emissions from enemy aircraft (instead of the US Navy’s current retrofit approach using a modified centerline fuel tank), an enclosed weapon pod to lower radar signature, full spherical laser and missile warning systems, a new cockpit based on large touch-screen technology, improved F414 engines (EDE/EPE), and conformal fuel tanks mounted up top to boost range.

These enhancements are described as an “international road map,” reflecting ongoing competitions in Brazil, Denmark, India, and elsewhere. These same modifications also have the potential to become part of a US Navy multi-year buy agreement with Boeing, if the Navy is willing. Presentation [PDF] | See also “Future Hornets?” section, below.

June 17/10: Exec change. Boeing announces that 26-year veteran Kory Mathews will serve as program vice president of F/A-18 and EA-18 Programs within Boeing’s Global Strike Systems division. The VP is responsible for customer satisfaction and the quality, cost, and schedule performance of every facet of the F/A-18A-F and the EA-18G family, and leads all activities associated with program development, production, and support.

Mathews moves from his role as VP and Chief Engineer for Boeing Military Aircraft. He succeeds Bob Gower, who has been named to the new position of VP Boeing Military Aircraft (BMA) India.

May 19/10: MYP? As part of its revisions to the FY 2011 defense budget, the House Armed Services Committee’s summary is vocal and insistent about their request for another multi-year buy program:

“…the Committee is extremely concerned by the Navy and Marine Corps managing and accepting an unprecedented level of operational risk within their tactical air force structure while waiting for the completion of the F-35B and F-35C. The Committee estimates that by FY 2017, the Navy and Marine Corps inventory could be at least 250 aircraft short of requirements – the equivalent of five carrier air wings. This is an unacceptable outcome, and the Committee will not support future budget requests [emphasis DID’s] that fail to address the factual realities of a naval strike fighter shortfall. Barring a complete reversal of the development and performance failures in the Joint Strike Fighter program, the Committee expects future budget submissions to continue the production of F-18s to prevent our naval airpower from losing significance in our nation’s arsenal. Because of the Navy’s inability to meet required reporting dates, the bill makes technical corrections to the multi-year authority provided in the FY10 NDAA and requires the Secretary of the Navy to use the savings garnered from the multi-year procurement contract for 124 aircraft, over the previously planned annual procurement contracts, to procure additional F/A-18E or F/A-18F aircraft up to the quantity that the savings would enable.”

See House Armed Service Committee: Chairman’s statement | Summary [PDF] | Tables [PDF].

May 14/10: MYP? The Pentagon takes a big step closer to a multi-year contract for Super Hornet family fighters:

“[Ashton Carter] certified to Congress that the proposed F/A-18 multiyear procurement met statutory requirements, including substantial savings, for 124 F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft. The proposed agreement will run for four years, from fiscal 2010 through 2013… the Department of the Navy will continue to work with Congress to gain necessary legislative authorities required before the Navy may enter into a multiyear contract… [to] acquire the remaining program of record for the 515 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 114 EA-18G Growlers.

The Navy’s fiscal 2011 budget request, sent to Congress Feb. 1, includes $1.9 billion to buy 22 Super Hornets and $1.1 billion for 12 Growlers. In fiscal 2012, the Navy plans to buy 24 more Growlers and one Super Hornet, with 25 more Super Hornets in fiscal 2013.”

See: US DoD | Rep. Todd Akin [R-MO-2] | Sen. Kit Bond [R-MO] statement and Letter to SecDef Gates [PDF] | DoD Buzz.

May 1/10: MYP? Two months after its 1st request, the Pentagon asks for a second extension of 5 months, in order to negotiate a 3rd multi-year procurement deal for Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet family fighters. Tough sledding, or just bureaucrats stalling? The Hill.

April 6/10: Support. FBO Pre-solicitation #N0001905G0026Phase4ModLine

“The Naval Air Systems Command intends to issue a cost plus fixed fee order under existing basic ordering agreement N00019-05-G-0026 with The Boeing Company in St. Louis, Mo for the procurement of over and above support during the Phase 4 mod line on a sole source basis. Boeing will be installing multiple engineering change proposal kits into F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft during the phase 4 mod line. The Boeing Company is the sole designer, developer, manufacturer ad integrator of the F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft and is the only source with the knowledge, expertise and on-site personnel base necessary to accomplish this effort.”

AMRAAM from F/A-18F
(click to view larger)

April 1/10: SAR – more planes. The Pentagon releases its April 2010 Selected Acquisitions Report, covering major program cost changes up to December 2009. All Super Hornet family aircraft are included, because the Pentagon plans to buy more of them:

EA-18G – Program costs increased $2,901.0 million (+33.5%) from $8,649.1 million to $11,550.1 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of 29 aircraft from 85 to 114 aircraft (+$2,342.5 million) and associated schedule and estimating allocations

  • (+$7.8 million), and an increase in support costs for 26 expeditionary aircraft associated with the quantity increase (+$547.6 million).

F/A-18 E/F – Program costs increased $1,746.6 million (+3.8%) from $46,344.8 million to $48,091.4 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of 22 aircraft from 493 to 515 aircraft (+$1,872.9 million), and increases in other support costs and initial spares associated with the quantity increase (+$427.9 million). These increases were partially offset by a reduction in the estimate for foreign military sales (-$198.3 million) [DID: which would have helped defray some American costs] and the estimate for actual contract costs and efficiencies (-$208.6 million), and the application of revised escalation indices (-$131.9 million).”

SAR – more planes

March 1/10: MYP? Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn asks for an extension on the deadline to notify Congress of a new multiyear Super Hornet family deal. Lynn reportedly told the congressional defense committees that the Pentagon had recently received “a viable offer” from Boeing for 124 of the fighters, but would need more time to evaluate the contract offer. The Hill.

July 30/09: The US House of Representatives passes its defense budget (H.R. 3326) by a crushing 400-30 vote. The FY 2010 Super hornet buy had been cut to 9 fighters in the Pentagon request, in order to fund the F-35 program. Both the House and the Senate promptly added $560 million and 9 more Super Hornets to their bills, bringing the FY 2010 total to 40 planes: 18 Super Hornets and 22 EA-18G electronic warfare aircraft.

This is in line with past years, and avoids a production line slowdown at Boeing. It also addresses expressed concerns about a naval fighter numbers gap created by the retirement of older fighters, and the uncertainty of the F-35C’s on-time arrival. The House also appears to be gearing up for another 5-year procurement contract for 150 more Super Hornet family planes, instead of reverting to year-by-year buys.

Reconciliation eventually took place with the Senate’s counterpart S. 1390 bill, and the final total of 40 Super Hornet family planes remained.

June 23/09: MYP? Government Executive magazine reports that Boeing has submitted an unsolicited offer to the US Navy for an MYP-III program that would build 149 Super Hornet family aircraft over the next 5 years for $50 million each base cost, instead of the planned Navy buys of 89 aircraft over the next 3 years. As always, key government-furnished equipment like engines, radars, the EA-18G’s electronic warfare equipment, etc. would fall under their own separate contracts, so actual cost per operational plane will be higher.

Present studies indicate that age and retirement, coupled with the F-35C program’s long lead time, will leave the Navy below its planned number of operational carrier-based fighters, rising to a maximum of 69 planes in 2017.

Feb 3/10: MYP? Ranking House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee Rep. Todd Akin [R-MO] publicly supports building more Super Hornet family aircraft, and advocates a multi-year buy approach for the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G, similar to the 2005-2009 contract. In Rep. Arkin’s release, he says that:

“I remain concerned that the Department of Defense is not taking the Navy’s strike fighter shortfall seriously… The Super Hornet is an active production line, and is dramatically cheaper than the JSF, which may not deliver anywhere close to on time… In this case, a multi-year procurement could save hundreds of millions of dollars, but the DoD seems to have their head in the sand. Secretary Gates mentioned that he thinks we need to have a 10% savings before we use a multi-year agreement. However, the Congress already gave DoD the authority to use a multiyear in this situation, even if the savings is less than 10%… A multiyear procurement could save nearly half a billion dollars over the next few years. To not pursue that savings is just irresponsible.”

FY 2009 and earlier

FY 2010 order raised; F-35 issues; FIRST support contract. F/A-18E, armed
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June 2/09: Budget battles. US Navy CNO Adm. Roughead defends the FY 2010 budget decision to request only 9 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets instead of 18 ($1.19 billion, incl. $127.7 million RDT&E), alongside the planned 22 EA-18G Growlers ($1.69 billion, incl. 55.4 million RDT&E). The decision was made in order to speed up F-35 fielding and procurement, though the F-35C carrier model isn’t scheduled for fielding until 2015. The US Marines’ F-35B STOVL(Short Takeoff, Vertical Landing) variant still hopes to begin fielding in 2012. Current FY 2010 plans call for 30 F-35s: 10 USAF F-35As, 16 USMC F-35Bs, and 4 USN F-35C test aircraft.

Gannett’s Navy Times quotes Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway re: Future plans:

“The initial vertical flight has slid right six or seven months… going to happen this fall… But the most recent information we have out of Fort Worth is that the engine is developing even more power than we thought it might for vertical lift, so we’re encouraged… We reach initial operating capability in 2012… We are the first of the services… We’re anxious to put it aboard ship and see how it performs there. Then we will make a joint Navy-Marine Corps decision in terms of what the resulting numbers of our buy needs to look like. But we’re fairly encouraged by what we see.”

They weren’t successful. Both the House and Senate defense bills went on to add $560 million for 9 more F/A-18 E/F aircraft, raising the FY 2010 buy to 18. There is also talk of a follow-on MYP-III contract.

FIRST: the goal
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Sept 26/07: FIRST prize. The F/A-18 Integrated Readiness Support Teaming (FIRST) program receives the system-level award for excellence in the field of performance-based logistics from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). Under FIRST, the US Navy pays for a set level of aircraft readiness, not individual spare parts or services. Industry has the incentive to make parts and systems more reliable, while the customer enjoys increased readiness at a lower cost of ownership.

FIRST has improved the Super Hornet’s mission capable rate from a problematic 57% in 2000 to 73% thus far in 2007, while providing significant cost savings. In Boeing’s press release, FIRST program manager Larry Sellman is quoted as saying something the British already knew, which is that:

“We continue to prove that streamlining the support for a major weapons system through a public/private partnership is the best solution for everyone.”

Jan 3/06: Boeing announces a long-term, $995 million performance-based logistics contract from the US Navy for the F/A-18E/F Integrated Readiness Support Teaming (FIRST) program. FIRST consolidates a number of existing Naval Inventory Control Point (NAVICP) contracts into one, and adds new services including an automated maintenance environment with an integrated software program that improves maintenance data, fault diagnosis and decisions; as well as integrated electronic technical manuals for F/A-18A-D Hornet models.

Under FIRST, Boeing will manage and forecast spares and repairs, oversee spares inventories, make supportability improvements within the budget in order to meet its availability targets, and handle obsolescence management and technology insertion. Like the British “contracting for availability” agreements, the objective is to improve fleet support and aircraft readiness while reducing costs. Boeing will be rewarded for having the aircraft meet in-service readiness targets, rather than getting paid for spare parts or hours worked.

Boeing currently provides field service representatives on site at aircraft bases in California and Virginia under the Hornet support network concept, and this infrastructure will be leveraged for the new contract. Several original equipment manufacturer suppliers, along with Navy depots in California, North Carolina and Florida, will also be used to perform FIRST repairs.

FIRST began in 2001 with annual contracts, and the program is projected to provide approximately $1.0 billion in cost avoidances and savings over the 30-plus-year life cycle of the Super Hornet. FIRST was nominated for the Department of Defense awards program for excellence in performance based logistics by the Navy’s Program Executive Office for Tactical Aircraft in Patuxent River Naval Air Station, MD, USA.

FIRST support contract

GFE: Ancillary Contracts & Developments

As noted above, multi-year procurement buys don’t extend to all Super Hornet and Growler components, many of which are provided as “Government Furnished Equipment.” Nor do they cover many fixes and changes to the fighter family’s design. This section includes some of those ancillary items, from FY 2010 onward. It isn’t 100% comprehensive, but may help readers understand the scope involved.

Additional GFE coverage can be found in DID’s separate Spotlight article covering the AN/APG-79 AESA radar, and an effort to develop long-range Infrared Scan & Track capabilities as a bolt-on addition; those contracts are not included here. Nor are specific items unique to the EA-18G, like jamming equipment, which is covered in the Growler’s own FOCUS article.

FY 2014

AIM-120C7 onto LAU-116
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Sept 19/14: Support. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $9.4 million delivery order for engineering and logistics support services to improve F/A-18A-F and E/A-18G readiness, expand Interactive Electronic Technical Manual/Structural Repair Manual work packages, and perform maintenance planning. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy O&M funds.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be complete in September 2015 (N00019-11-G-0001, 0211).

Sept 19/14: Support. Boeing in Jacksonville, FL receives an $8.8 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract modification, exercising an option for depot-level service life extension and remanufacturing activities, including associated maintenance support and sustainment in support of the F/A-18E/F aircraft. Funds will be committed as needed.

Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL (92%), and St. Louis, MO (8%), and is expected to be complete in September 2015 (N00019-14-D-0001).

Aug 28/14: HARM computers. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives $24.6 million for a firm-fixed-price delivery order to provide 158 High Speed Anti-Radiation Command Launch Computers for the U.S. Navy (121) and the government of Australia (37) for F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft. These CLCs work with AGM-88 HARM and AARGM missiles, which are designed to destroy enemy air defense radars. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2012 – 2013 US Navy ($20.5M / 83.5%) and Australian ($4.1M / 16.5%) budgets.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete in February 2018. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-10-G-0006, DO 0060).

Aug 18/14: AMC. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Minneapolis, MN receives a $16.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for the full-rate Lot 38 production of 60 Advanced Mission Computer Type 3s for E/A-18Gs ordered by the US Navy (48 AMCs / $9.8 million / 60%) and the government of Australia (12 AMCs / $6.5 million / 40%). All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy aircraft budgets and Australian FMS funds.

Work will be performed in Bloomington, MN and is expected to be complete in August 2016. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 USC 2304 (c)(1) by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-14-C-0068).

Aug 11/14: Engines. General Electric Co. in Lynn, MA receives a $311.5 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 75 F414-GE-400 engines and associated devices: 48 production installs for the US Navy ($194.9 million / 63% / all production installs), and 27 for Australia ($116.6 million / 37% / 24 EA-18G production installs and 3 spares), under Production Lot 14. In addition, this modification provides for spare after burner modules, fan modules, high pressure combustor modules, combustor modules, and high and low pressure turbine modules for the US Navy and the government of Australia. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013-14 US Navy aircraft budgets, and Australian funds.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (59%); Hooksett, NH (18%); Rutland, VT (12%); and Madisonville, KY (11%), and is expected to be complete in September 2016. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contracts (N00019-11-C-0045).

July 23/14: Training. L-3 Communications Corp. in Arlington, TX, receives a $14.1 million firm-fixed-price delivery order modification to improve F/A-18E/F and EA-18G Tactical Operational Flight Trainers (TOFT). The update reduces host/instructor operator station hardware, centralizes software storage in a SAN and provides expandable software storage for future TOFT enhancements, allows for multiple software configurations, and updates all analog Mission Management System (MMS) video output to digital. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy aircraft budgets.

Work will be performed in Lemoore, CA (20%); Miramar, CA (20%); Whidbey, WA (15%); Oceana, VA (15%); China Lake, CA (10%); Arlington, TX (10%); and Atsugi, Japan (10%), and is expected to be complete in June 2016. The Us Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, FL manages the contract (N61340-12-G-0001).

July 23/14: Support. Boeing in Jacksonville, FL receives a $7.7 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract modification for additional FY 2014 F/A-18A-F depot-level service life extension and remanufacturing activities, including associated maintenance support and sustainment. Funds will be committed as individual delivery orders are issued.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri (61%), and Jacksonville, FL (39%), and is expected to be complete in July 2015. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity (N00019-14-D-0001).

July 14/14: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $6.9 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to a previously awarded for aircraft armament equipment items: SUU-789A/A centerline pylons for the US Navy (35) and Royal Australian Government (15); and ALE-50 well covers for the U.S. Navy (11). All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (95%); Irvine, CA (4%); and St. Louis, MO (1%), and is expected to be complete in May 2017. This contract combines purchase for the U.S. Navy ($4.9 million / 70%) and the government of Australia ($2 million / 30%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity (N00019-14-C-0032).

May 14/14: Ejection seats. Martin Baker Aircraft Co., Ltd. in Higher Denham nar Uxbridge, Middlesex, England receives a $26.4 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to exercise an option for the procurement of 89 Navy aircrew common ejection seats for F/A-18 series and EA-18G aircraft for the U.S. Navy (65) and the government of Australia (24). In addition, this option provides for associated hardware, equipment, technical data, and production support services for the US Navy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the governments of Australia, Switzerland, Malaysia, and Canada. All funds are committed immediately, using a variety of FY 2013 and 2014 budgets.

Work will be performed in Johnstown, PA (60%) and Higher Denham, England (40%), and is expected to be complete in May 2016. This contract combines purchase for the US Navy and Marine Corps ($18.8 million, 71%), NASA ($4,985; 0.2%) and the governments of Australia ($6.9 million, 26%); Canada ($538,347; 2%); Switzerland ($154,525; 0.6%); and Malaysia ($39,878; 0.2%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-12-C-0066).

Feb 3/14: A $42.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for F/A-18E/F and EA-18G jumper bundles, pylons, and bomb racks.

All funds are committed immediately, using USN FY 2013 aircraft budgets. Work will be performed in Meza, AZ (71%) and St. Louis, MO (29%), and is expected to be complete in May 2018 (N00019-09-C-0019).

Jan 29/14: Raytheon Technical Services Co. LLC in Indianapolis, IN receives a $17.3 million firm-fixed-price delivery order from Australia and the USN for missile launchers. The government of Australia ordered for 28 LAU-115D/A and 30 LAU-116-B/A launchers ($11.4 million / 66%), while the USN ordered 34 LAU-116-B/A missile launchers ($5.8 million / 34%). LAU-115s are used carry air-ti-air missiles like AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder. LAU-116s are mounted on the undersize of the aircraft, and allow it to carry AIM-120 AMRAAMs there.

All funds are committed immediately, using USN 2013-2014 aircraft budgets and funds from Australia. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN, and is expected to be complete in September 2016 (N00019-10-G-0006).

Jan 28/14: Marvin Engineering Co., Inc. in Inglewood, CA receives a $7.4 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 156 BRU-32 Ejector Bomb Racks in support of the F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft.

All funds are committed immediately, using USN aircraft budgets. Work will be performed in Inglewood, CA, and is expected to be complete in July 2016 (N00421-13-C-0002).

Nov 6/13: F414. General Electric in Lynn, MA receives an $8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, for F414-GE-400 engine long-lead materials.

All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 budget dollars. Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (59%); Hooksett, NH (18%); Rutland, VT (12%); and Madisonville, KY (11%), and is expected to be complete in October 2015 (N00019-11-C-0045).

Nov 5/13: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $13.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for Super Hornet family equipment: 270 station control units, 13 aerial refueling stores (ARS) air probes, 13 ARS fuel probes, 26 ARS suspension lugs, 168 chaff dispenser cover, 26 ALE-50 towed decoy dispensers, 26 ALE-50 decoy protectors, 26 ALE-50 decoy chassis, 26 ALE-67 Radar Warning Receiver mounting bases, 26 mounting retainers, and 12 centerline feed-thru plates.

All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 budget dollars. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in August 2015 (N00019-09-C-0019).

FY 2013

China Lake TOFT
(click to view full)

Sept 23/13: Avionics. A $12.9 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for 114 Super Hornet advanced navigation system retrofit kits. $2.8 million is committed immediately. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in May 2017 (N00019-11-G-0001, 0164).

Sept 23/13: ECP – DTS. A $24.6 million for firm-fixed-price delivery order for Distributed Targeting System B kits (modification kits), bulk data cartridge units and mass storage units. It’s part of the F/A-18E/F Full Rate Production I aircraft Distributed Targeting System engineering change proposal. The DTS is discussed in the “Future Hornets” section.

This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($17.75M/ 72%) and the Government of Australia ($6.83M/ 28%). All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL (75%); St. Louis, MO (21%); North Reading, MA (1.6%); and various other locations in the United States (2.4%); and is expected to be completed in August 2015 (N00019-11-G-0001, 0161).

July 18/13: F414. General Electric in Lynn, MA receives an $87 million firm-fixed-price contract modifications, exercising an option for 22 Full Rate Production Lot 17 F414-GE-400 install engines to equip 11 F/A-18E/F aircraft. Other Lot 17 engine buys have included 18 engines (EA-18Gs, Dec 28/12) and 52 engines (Nov 30/12). All funds are committed immediately from Navy FY 2013 procurement budgets. A Sept 26/12 contract set the maximum at 83 engines, and they’ve now ordered 82 engines for 41 planes.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (59%); Hooksett, NH (18%); Rutland, VT (12%); and Madisonville, KY (11%), and is expected to be complete in October 2015. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-C-0045).

July 17/13: ECP. Boeing in St. Louis, MO, is being receives an $8.1 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for 84 F/A-18E/F retrofit kits (ECP 6282, AYC 1439 A1). All funds are committed immediately.

Engineering Change Proposals are long-term modifications to the aircraft, involving very specific parts of the plane. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (80%), and St. Charles, MO (20%), and is expected to be complete in February 2016. T US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-G-0001, #0141).

June 13/13: Radar. Raytheon in El Segundo, CA receives a $22.4 million order, covering 53 ECP-6279 retrofit kits for F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft. ECPs involve aircraft or component modifications, and the announcement doesn’t explain which one, but our coverage elsewhere shows that it involves improvements to the APG-79 AESA radar. All funds are committed.

Work will be performed in Forest, MS (80%), and El Segundo, CA (20%), and is expected to be completed in July 2015. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-10-G-0006; delivery order 0036).

June 13/13: Radar. Boeing St. Louis, MO receives a $9 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for 30 ECP-6038 R2/R3 retrofit kits for the F/A-18 E/F aircraft, including radomes for the AN/APG-79 active electronically scanned array radar. A fighter’s radome nose cone is very specialized. It needs to allow the right radiation wavelengths to pass in and out easily, while remaining durable enough to handle the shocks and stresses of flight.

Work will be performed in Marion, VA (57%) and St. Louis, Mo. (43%), and is expected to be completed in January 2016. Fiscal 2013 Aircraft Procurement Navy contract funds in the amount of $8,996,280 are being obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-G-0001).

May 29/13: Avionics. Honeywell Aerospace Defense & Space in Albuquerque, NM receives a $9 million firm-fixed-price contract for 121 F/A-18E/F and EA-18G advanced multi-purpose displays. All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Albuquerque, NM, and is expected to be complete in January 2015. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-13-C-0048).

May 9/13: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $6.9 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for F/A-18E/F and EA-18G armament equipment, including SUU-78A/A Pylons and well covers. All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (85%); St. Louis, MO (9%); and Irvine, CA (6%), and is expected to be complete in January 2016. US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD, is the contracting activity (N00019-09-C-0019).

May 9/13: F414. General Electric Co. in Lynn, MA receives a $22.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 6 F414-GE-400 engines, pre-installed in 3 EA-18Gs.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (59%); Hooksett, NH (18%); Rutland, VT (12%); and Madisonville, KY (11%), and is expected to be complete in March 2015. Contract funds in the amount of $22,237,386 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD, is the contracting activity (N00019-11-C-0045).

May 6/13: F414. General Electric Co. in Lynn, MA receives a $45.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 7 F414-GE-400 spare engines, 1 fan module, 13 high pressure compressor modules, 9 high pressure turbine modules, and 8 low pressure turbine modules.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (59%); Hooksett, NH (18%); Rutland, VT (12%); and Madisonville, KY (11%), and is expected to be complete in November 2015. Fiscal 2013 Aircraft Procurement Navy funds in the amount of $45,156,940 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD, is the contracting activity (N00019-11-C-0045).

May 6/13: Seats. Martin Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd. in Upper Denham, Middlesex, England receives a $25.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 100 Hornet/ Super Hornet family Navy Aircrew Common Ejection Seats (NACES), on behalf of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. In addition, this contract provides for NACES hardware, equipment, technical data, and production support services for the US Navy, US Marine Corps, NASA, and the government of Finland. The contract breakdown is: US Navy and Marine Corps ($25M / 99%); NASA ($4,389 / 0.3%, F/A-18 Hornet only); and the government of Finland ($184,379 / 0.7%, F/A-18C/D Hornets only).

Work will be performed in Johnstown, PA (60%), and Upper Denham, Near Uxbridge, Middlesex, England (40%), and is expected to be complete in April 2015. All funds are committed immediately, with $2.9 million expiring at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. It’s managed by US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD (N00019-12-C-0066).

April 26/13: Weapons. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $12.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order to integrate the new AGM-154C-1 JSOW into the F/A-18E/F aircraft’s H10E Operational Flight Program (core operating system) software. This JSOW variant can hit moving naval targets, turning the stealthy glide bomb into a short range anti-ship missile.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete in February 2015. $7.7 million in FY 2013 Navy Weapons Procurement funds are committed immediately, with the rest available as needed. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD, is the contracting activity (N00019-10-G-0006, #2002).

April 19/13: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a maximum $14.8 million contract for airframe structural support components. The award is a firm-fixed-price, sole-source, definite quantity type contract with no quantity options for the USAF.

Work will be performed until Aug 31/18. The contract is managed by the US Defense Logistics Agency Aviation in Richmond, VA, (SPM4A1-09-G-0004-865W).

March 22/13: Gun. General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products in Williston, VT receives a $7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 19 M61A2 Lightweight 20mm Gatling Gun Systems in support of FY 2013 F/A-18 E/F aircraft. EA-18Gs don’t carry the cannon.

Work will be performed in Williston, VT and is expected to be complete in March 2015. All funds are committed immediately, from the FY 2013 Aircraft Procurement, Navy budget line. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD (N00421-10-C-0024).

Feb 27/13: AMC. Harris Corp. in Palm Bay, FL receives a $10.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the obsolescence upgrade to the Fibre Channel Network Switch (FCNS) used in the Advanced Mission Computer & Displays (AMC&D) system on board US Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.

Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL and is expected to be complete in September 2015. The USN is using funds from its FY 2012 Aircraft Procurement and FY 2013 Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation accounts, and all funds are committed immediately. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to the FAR 6.302-1. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-13-C-0039).

Jan 10/13: AMC. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Minneapolis, MN receives a $19.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 76 forward fit Type 3 Advanced Mission Computers for the F/A-18E/F and E/A-18G aircraft. All contract funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Bloomington, MN (80%) and Albuquerque, NM (20%), and is expected to be complete in December 2014. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-10-C-0014).

Dec 28/12: F414. General Electric Co., Lynn, MA receives a $67.1 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 18 F414-GE-400 Production Lot 17 install engines, and 24 “devices”. They’ll be used in EA-18Gs.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (59%); Hooksett, NH (18%); Rutland, VT (12%); and Madisonville, KY (11%), and is expected to be complete in March 2015. Contract funds in the amount of $67,141,518 will be obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-C-0045).

Dec 19/12: Avionics. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives an $8.9 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement for 285 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) retrofit kits in support of F/A-18C and F/A-18F aircraft.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (56%); Meza, AZ (37%); and El Paso, TX (7%), and is expected to be complete in June 2015. All contract funds are committed immediately, of which $1.35 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract.

Dec 19/12: F414 ECIP. General Electric Aviation in Lynn, MA receives a $17.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order for engineering and engine system improvement services, as part of the F414 and F404 Engine Component Improvement Programs. $10.8 million are committed immediately, of which $6 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 13/13 (N00019-11-G-0001).

This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($13.3M / 75.6%) and the Governments of Sweden ($1.3M / 7.4%); Australia ($832,277 / 4.8%); Canada ($516,877 / 3.0%); Spain ($514,156 / 2.9%); Finland ($380,856 / 2.2%); Korea ($225,793 / 1.3%); Kuwait ($233,955 / 1.3%); Switzerland ($204,030 / 1.2%), and Malaysia ($48,967 / 0.3%), under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Lynn, MA, and is expected to be complete in December 2013. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-G-0009).

Dec 18/12: Raytheon Technical Services Co. LLC in Indianapolis, IN receives a $17.3 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for 102 LAU-115B/A missile launchers to equip US Navy F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft (86 / $15.1M), and Australian F/A-18Fs (16 / $2.2M). These launchers are used with various adapters for air-to-air missiles: short range AIM-9 Sidewinder/ AIM-132 ASRAAM, or medium range AIM-7 Sparrow/ AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles.

Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN in and is expected to be complete in October 2015. All contract funds are committed (N00019-10-G-0006).

Nov 30/12: F414. General Electric in Lynn, MA receives a $197.5 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract, exercising an option for the procurement of 52 Production Lot 17 F414-GE-400 install engines and devices, used in F/A-18E/F family fighters. That many installed engines would equip 26 planes.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (59%); Hooksett, NH (18%); Rutland, VT (12%); and Madisonville, KY (11%), and is expected to be complete in March 2015. All contract funds are committed with this award, which is managed by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-11-C-0045).

Nov 15/12: Marvin Engineering Co. Inc. in Inglewood, CA receives a $17.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for 420 BRU-32 B/A Ejector Racks. These racks can be positioned on the Super Hornet family’s centerline or wing hardpoints, and are used as the base for many stores fittings. BRU-32s have 14- and 30-inch suspension hooks, and can hold single stores or BRU-33/A vertical ejector racks (VER). The 14-inch hooks add compatibility with LAU-115/A, LAU-117/A, and LAU-118/A missile launchers. Operation is via gas pressure, with a safety interlock and sway bracing. Sensing switches are incorporated to provide status information to the cockpit.

Work will be performed in Inglewood, CA, and is expected to be complete in December 2015. All contract funds are now committed. This contract was competitively procured via an electronic request for proposals, with 2 offers received by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD (N00421-13-C-0002).

Nov 14/12: Training. Boeing discusses an ongoing project to allow flying Super Hornets and F-15E Strike Eagle fighters to interact with virtual opponents flown in simulators, as well as “constructive” threats created wholly by a computer. This will reduce the number of opposing “red” aircraft that have to fly real missions alongside the F/A-18E/Fs or F-15Es.

Boeing began developing this modeling and simulation technology on its own in 2007, and a series of demonstrations with an F-15E through November 2009 verified key components. A Super Hornet recently completed its 1st flight tests with these new technologies, and the most recent flight tests, involved 2 F/A-18Es and 2 F-15Es simulating air combat against 2 live F-16s and 12 virtual aircraft, as well as multiple ground threats. A constructive E-3C Block 40/45 AWACS surrogate provided command and control.

Under the current 3-year, $6.3 million contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, the pilot project will culminate with a capstone demonstration at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in late 2013. Boeing.

Nov 13/12: IFF. The US Naval Air Traffic Management Systems (PMA-213) program office plans to begin Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Mode 5 testing aboard an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet this winter, as part of its effort to field the civil-military signal on nearly every surface, subsurface and airborne platform in the fleet.

Compared to NATO’s Mode 4, it adds better encryption, spread spectrum modulation, time of day authentication, and a unique aircraft identifier. IFF Mode 5 level 2 adds aircraft GPS position information and other attributes, which can help IFF systems when aircraft are grouped closely together. Once fielded, Mode 5 IFF is expected to achieve Joint Initial Operational Capability in FY 2014. US NAVAIR.

Nov 7/12: Training. L-3 Link Simulation & Training (L-3 Link) announces a contract from the US Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division to integrate SimuSphere HD-9 high-definition displays on 13 F/A-18E/F Tactical Operational Flight Trainers (TOFTs) at NAS Lemoore, CA; NAS Oceana, VA; and Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. The Atsugi TOFTs will be new, and the others will be upgrades. This will be followed by upgrades to 4 existing EA-18G TOFTs at NAS Whidbey Island, WA.

This award follows L-3 Link’s successful fielding of SimuSphere HD-9 systems on 4 existing F/A-18C TOFTs at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, VA in April 2012. The changes will help the TOFTs take full advantage of L-3’s HD World simulation product line, which combines high-definition databases, image generation systems, physics-based processing and visual system display technologies. The upgraded TOFTs will support a full range of tactical training capabilities, including the ability to use their actual flight night vision goggles, and experience real-world performance over a 360-degree field-of-regard.

FY 2012 F414-GE-400 engine
(click to see in sections)

Sept 26/12: F414. General Electric Co. in Lynn, MA receives a $327.5 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 80 Production Lot 16 F414-GE-400 engines, 2 F414-GE-400 spare engines, 1 high pressure turbine module, and long-lead materials for the FY 2013/ Lot 17 order of 83 F414-GE-400 engines.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (59%); Hooksett, NH (18%); Rutland, VT (12%); and Madisonville, KY (11%), and is expected to be complete in June 2014. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-C-0045).

Sept 26/12: TOFTs. L-3 Link Simulation & Training Division in Arlington, TX receives a $46 million firm-fixed-price delivery order covering high definition visual systems for 23 F/A-18 and EA-18G Tactical Operational Flight Trainers (TOFTs), and installation of 2 government-owned F/A-18E/F TOFTs at the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, in Japan. Looks like the USN’s stock of government-owned TOFTs just hit 3 (q.v. March 1/12 entry).

Work will be performed in Arlington, TX (92%), and Atsugi, Japan (8%), and is expected to be complete in May 2015. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, FL manages this contract (N61340-12-G-0001).

Sept 6/12: AMC-4. Boeing successfully flight tests General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems’ new Type 4 Advanced Mission Computer during a 90-minute flight at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, CA. Additional testing is planned, and Boeing is set to deliver Super Hornets and Growlers with the new computer in 2014.

The AMC increases Super Hornet family computing power and accelerates image and mission processing functions, in order to support new functions like the Distributed Targeting System, Infrared Search and Track pod, and a new high-definition touch-screen display.Boeing.

Sept 6/12: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $21.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft armament equipment. It includes station control units, ALE-50 towed decoy protectors, dispensers and chassis, air probes, fuel probes, suspension lugs, mounting bases, mounting retainers and centerline feed thru plates.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO and is expected to be complete in October 2014. The US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-C-0019).

Aug 29/12: Memory. A $10.6 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for engineering services required to retrofit a new Digital Memory Device in Production Lot 26-29 F/A-18E/F aircraft.

Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL (78%); St. Louis, MO (19%); and Oklahoma, City, OK (3%), and is expected to be complete in December 2014. $1.2 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-G-0001).

July 12/12: F414. General Electric in Lynn, MA receives a $13.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for F414-GE-400 engine support.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (90%) and Evendale, OH (10%), and is expected to be complete in December 2012. $274,986 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-C-0045).

May 23-30/2012: SATCOM. Boeing and the US Navy’s VX-31 Squadron have successfully completed an in-flight satellite communications (SATCOM) system demonstration using an EA-18G. If the system is added to fleet F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as well, it would allow their aircrews to conduct 2-way, secure voice and data communications that reach around the globe.

The test took place at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division’s Advanced Weapons Lab at China Lake, CA, less than 90 days after the initial request. The secure voice & data transmissions were received by ground personnel at China Lake, and across the country at NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD.

Boeing says they have delivered more than 480 F/A-18E/Fs to the U.S. Navy, adding that the fighters have logged more than 166,000 combat flight hours supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Boeing.

May 29/12: ECM. Raytheon in Goleta, CA receives a $9.4 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for the digital conversion and testing of 56 AN/ALR-67v3 radar warning receivers.

Work will be performed in Forest, MS (48%), San Diego, CA (38%), and Goleta, CA (14%). Work is expected to be complete in September 2014, and US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract.

May 7/12: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $16.3 million firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive-fee contract modification for F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft armament, including jumper bundles, pylon attach fittings, sensor well covers, adaptors, and pylons.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be completed in May 2015. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-C-0019).

May 1/12: Seats. Martin Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd. in Higher Denham near Uxbridge, Middlesex, England receives a $22 million firm-fixed-price contract for 88 Navy aircrew common ejection seats and associated hardware, equipment, technical data, and production support services for the US Navy ($21.9M / 99.69% / 12 F/A-18A+, 22 F/A-18E; 12 F/A-18F; and 24 E/A-18G) and the government of Kuwait ($69,121 / 0.31% / 18 F/A-18C).

Work will be performed in Johnstown, PA (60%), and Upper Denham, Near Uxbridge, Middlesex, England (40%), and is expected to be complete in March 2014. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304c1. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-12-C-0066).

April 4/12: F414 ECIP. General Electric Aviation in Lynn, MA receives an $8.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for the F414 Engine Component Improvement Program, to include engineering and engine system improvement support. Work will be performed in Lynn, MA, and is expected to be complete in December 2012.

This contract combines purchases for the US Navy ($8.3M / 93%) and the government of Australia ($578,616 / 7%). US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-G-0009).

March 6/12: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives an $8 million firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive-fee contract modification for 57 SUU-78 A/A pylons, and 40 ALE-50 towed decoy well covers.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2014. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-C-0019).

March 5/12: Gun. General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products in Williston, VT receives awarded a $7.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to exercise an option for 21 M61A2 20mm Lightweight Gatling Gun Systems in support of FY 2012 F/A-18 E/F aircraft.

Work will be performed in Williston, VT, and is expected to be complete in February 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00421-10-C-0024).

March 1/12: TOFT. The US Navy has installed its only government owned and operated Super Hornet Tactical Operational Flight Trainer (TOFT) at its China Lake, CA facility, in order to save millions of dollars by avoiding shuttle flights to NAS Lemoore, CA.

The TOFT takes up 1,800 square feet, and requires 30 tons of extra air conditioners, but it offers local VX-9 and VX-31 pilots an alternative for qualification training and mission rehearsal. It also allows Navy PMA-205 to conduct software upgrade tests locally, shortening turnaround times. China Lake’s TOFT is identical to those located at NAS Lemoore and NAS Oceana, except that the 9-panel Simusphere visual-display dome has been replaced by a 5 foot flat panel screen. If you try this at home, we want to see the pictures! Boeing.

Feb 29/12: ECM. Raytheon Co., Space and Airborne Systems, Goleta, CA receives a $77.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for Full Rate Production Lot 14: 89 AN/ALR-67v3 radar warning receivers, and 9 countermeasure signal processor weapons replacement assemblies.

The AN/ALR-67v3 is the standard RWR system for Super Hornet family fighters, and also equips some F/A-18 Hornets – Canada and Switzerland both operate earlier-generation F/A-18 Hornets, and Australia operates both Hornets and Super Hornets. This Radar Warning Receiver is more like mission central for defensive systems. It doesn’t just alert the pilot(s) that enemy radars are targeting their fighter; it provides accurate identification, lethality, and azimuth displays of both hostile and friendly emitters. In its spare time, it controls the electronic warfare data bus, and interfaces with electronic warfare systems, the onboard radar, the airborne mission computer, and the F/A-18 weapon systems. It’s the first deployed radar warning receiver to combine a fully channelized digital receiver architecture with the power of dual processors.

Work will be performed in Forest, MS (34%); Lansdale, PA (18%); Goleta, CA (17%); Chatsworth, CA (11%); San Diego, CA (10%); Sydney, Australia (4%); Milwaukie, OR (3%); and McKinney, TX (3%). Work is expected to be complete in December 2014. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-C-0052).

Feb 17/12: Boeing receives a $22 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order for F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G follow-on test and evaluation supplies and services (N00019-11-G-0001).

Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Md. (77%); St. Louis, MO (21%); El Segundo, CA (1%); and Bethpage, NY (1%), and is expected to be completed in February 2013. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-G-0001).

Feb 16/12: Displays. Honeywell International Defense & Space Electronic Systems in Albuquerque, NM receives an $8.1 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 124 full rate production advanced multi-purpose displays (70 5″x5″ forward displays; 36 5″x5″ aft displays; and 18 8″x10″ displays) for Lot 35 F/A-18F and EA-18G aircraft.

Work will be performed in Albuquerque, N.M., and is expected to be completed in December 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. manages the contract (N00019-10-C-0061).

Feb 10/12: Raytheon in Goleta, CA receives an $11.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for 56,488 hours of sensor system software and hardware support in order to update, improve, and enhance F/A-18 Hornet & Super Hornet family aircraft, including the EA-18G.

Work will be performed in Goleta, CA (59%), and El Segundo, CA (41%), and is expected to be complete in February 2015. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($7.4M/ 64%); and, under the Foreign Military Sales Program, the governments of Malaysia ($1.3M/ 12%), Finland ($961,391/ 8%), Switzerland ($877,792/ 8%), Australia ($501,595/ 4%), and Kuwait ($501,595/ 4%). This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1, by the US Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division in China Lake, CA (N68936-12-D-0001).

Feb 2/12: F414. General Electric Aviation in Lynn, MA receives a $7.5 million performance-based logistics requirements contract modification to supply repair & replacement consumables for 879 US Navy F414 engines, which equip its F/A-18 Super Hornet family planes.

Work will be performed at Lynn, MA (90%), and Jacksonville, FL (10%), and will run until Dec 31/12. This was a sole source requirement by NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-11-D-002M).

Jan 27/12: Avionics. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Bloomington, MN received awarded a $20.6 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for the full-rate production of 80 Type 3 Advanced Mission Computers (AMC) for the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F and E/A-18G aircraft ($19.9M/ 96%), and 3 more Type-3 AMC spares for Australia ($0.7M/ 4%).

Work will be performed in Bloomington, MN (80%), and Albuquerque, NM (20%), and is expected to be complete in December 2012. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-10-C-0014).

Jan 12/12: A 5-year, $80.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for maintenance, manufacturing of parts, instrumentation and engineering support for all models of the F/A-18 & EA-18G aircraft including future variants for both domestic and Foreign Military Sales, to pay for ground and flight test programs at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD. Funds will be obligated on individual task orders as they are issued, between now and January 2017.

Work will be performed in Patuxent River, MD (97%), and St. Louis, MO (3%). This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD (N00421-12-D-0003).

Dec 8/11: AMC-4. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $6.7 million firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive-fee contract modification for the Delta phase of the Advanced Mission Computer (AMC) Type 4 system, which finalizes development and prepares AMC Type 4 for production. See Sept 15/11 entry for background.

Work will be performed in Bloomington, MN (71%); St. Louis, MO (24%); and Linthicum, MD (5%), and is expected to be complete in December 2013. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-C-0019).

Nov 18/11: Launchers. Raytheon Technical Services Co., LLC in Indianapolis, IN receives a $55.9 million delivery order modification, exercising an option for 237 LAU-116B/A and 213 LAU-115D/A launchers, for use on Super Hornet family aircraft. LAU-115 launchers sit under the wings, and mount 2 AIM-9 or AIM-120 air-to-air missiles each, if LAU-7 or LAU-127 launchers are bolted to its sides. They could also carry one past-generation AIM-7P Sparrow missile directly, but don’t. LAU-116 launchers are the ones that sit flush with the plane’s side body, and hold AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles.

Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN, and is expected to be complete in August 2015. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-10-G-0006).

Nov 18/11: Maintenance Tech. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives an $11.2 million firm-fixed-price delivery order modification for the automated maintenance environment, data-at-rest, and similar automated maintenance environment in support of the F/A-18 A-D, F/A-18 E/F, and EA-18G aircraft. Your car’s mechanic uses this technology, and the people who maintain $60+ million fighter jets need it, too. It’s one of those “small ticket price, big difference” items.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2012. $263,864 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00383-06-D-001J).

Nov 9/11: Australia. Boeing had been working with Australia’s Production Parts to provide Super Hornet rudder pedal kits, but the firm entered receivership in August 2011. Managing these kinds of minor shifts and contingencies is one of the headaches of running a global supply chain, and foreign suppliers add an extra layer of difficulty, even as their presence helps firms retain international customers.

Over 2 months later, Boeing has signed a contract with Ferra Engineering in Brisbane, Australia. Ferra will produce the rest of Production Parts’ order, as well as 123 additional kits for the global Super Hornet program. The switch has helped by the Australian government’s Global Supply Chain Program, which funded Boeing’s specialist team in its search for an alternative. Boeing works on a number of projects in Australia, and from 2007-2011, 24 Australian companies have won 101 Boeing sub-contracts worth A$ 256 million. Australian DoD.

Oct 3/11: A Boeing video details changes made to the Super Hornet family’s “outer” wing frame design, which converted it from an assembly of many parts from different vendors, into a machined 1-piece frame with far fewer additions. Labor assembly time savings alone were about $16,000 per plane.

Note that despite the name, the outer wing frame sits inside the visible wing. The flip side of this effort is that any cracks or serious damage to that now-larger part, involve replacing a larger and more expensive item, which also needs more storage room. Even there, however, faster replacement time and more certain quality may offer offsetting benefits.

FY 2011 AN/ALR-67 V3
(click to view full)

Sept 29/11: DTS. A $12 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for the low rate initial production of 26 Distributed Targeting Systems and supporting equipment/documentation for the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft. Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL (85%), and St. Louis, MO (15%), and is expected to be complete in December 2013 (N00019-11-G-0001).

The Distributed Targeting System improves onboard hardware and software processing, in order to produce precise ground targeting solutions. It’s part of the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F Network Centric Warfare Upgrades program, and is slated for operational testing in late 2011, and deployment in operational fighters in 2012.

Sept 27/11: DTS. A $7 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for the design, development, and first article production of Operational Test Program sets 824, 825, and 560, in support of the F/A-18E/F Aircraft Distributing Targeting System.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2014. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ manages the contract (N68335-10-G-0012).

Sept 15/11: ECM. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $7.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft armament equipment, to include a number of systems. 174 station control units comprise the first set of capabilities.

F/A-18E/F Super Hornets with tanks can act as low-capacity hose-and-drogue aerial tankers, and this order covers 22 aerial refueling store (ARS) suspension lugs; 12 centerline feed-through plates; 11 ARS air probes; and 11 ARS fuel probes.

Self-protection items include 6 ALE-50 dispensers for those towed active missile decoys; 6 ALE-50 chassis towed decoys; and 6 ALE-50 protector towed decoys. They’re also ordering 4 sets of mounting bases and retainers for the plane’s ALR-67 radar warning receivers.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2013. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-09-C-0019).

Sept 15/11: AMC-4. Boeing in St. Louis, MO received a $7.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to continue development of the new Advanced Mission Computer (AMC) Type 4 System for the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft. This modification will also begin the necessary customization of the AMC for use in existing Navy F-18s.

Tom Mantia is Boeing’s AMC Type 4 program manager, and a production contract is expected in 2012. Boeing later adds that the new computers will “increase aircraft performance, address obsolescence issues, and improve image- and mission-processing functions.”

Work will be performed in Bloomington, MN (66.5%); St. Louis, MO (25%); and Linthicum, MD (8.5%), and is expected to be complete in October 2012. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00019-09-C-0019).

Sept 13/11: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $46.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order 0014 for new spare parts to support the USA’s F/A-18E/F aircraft.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be completed in Dec 30/13. This was a non-competitive requirement, and one offer was received in response to the solicitation by NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-06-D-001J, #0014).

Sept 13/11: F414. General Electric Aircraft Engines in Lynn, MA receives a $38.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 3 F414-GE-400 spare engines; 15 combuster modules; 20 high pressure turbine modules; 15 high pressure compressor modules; and 10 low pressure turbine modules. All will support American Super hornet family aircraft.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (51.9%); Madisonville, KY (20.9%); Hooksett, NH (12%); Rutland, VT (4.6%); Dayton, OH (2.5%); Jacksonville, FL (1.8%); Muskegon, MI (1.6%); Terre Haute, IN (1.6%); Bromont, PQ, Canada (1.3%); Asheville, NC (1.2%); and Evendale, OH (0.6%), and is expected to be completed in March 2013. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-06-C-0088).

Aug 30/11: ECP. A $16.9 million firm-fixed-price, fixed-price -incentive contract modification for non-recurring and recurring engineering in support of Engineering Change Proposal 6213R2, “Trailing Edge Flap Honeycomb Redesign” for the F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in May 2015.

The “honeycomb” is the flap’s internal structure. The April 27/10 entry documents structural issues discovered in long-term fatigue testing, which have led to this redesign. When combined with the $25 million in the June 17/11 entry, this ECP has reached $41.9 million (N00019-09-C-0019).

Aug 1/11: F414. General Electric Aircraft Engines in Lynn, MA is being awarded a $71.5 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for supplemental engine purchases of 18 F414-GE-400 engines and associated device kits. That would equip 9 Super Hornet family planes, which are seeing more orders due to the F-35C Lightning II’s development delays.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (44.8%); Madisonville, KY (18.1%); Evandale, OH (14.1%); Hooksett, NH (10.4%); Rutland, VT (3.9%); Dayton, OH (2.2%); Jacksonville, FL (1.5%); Muskegon, MI (1.4%); Terre Haute, IN (1.4%); Bromont, Canada (1.2%); and Asheville, NC (1%). Work is expected to be complete in July 2013 (N00019-06-C-0088).

July 13/11: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $53.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for Super Hornet family “armament equipment,” including jumper bundles, pylon attach fittings, sensor well covers, adaptors, pylons, and tooling.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in February 2015. $19.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract.

June 30/11: F414. GE Aviation Engines in Lynn, MA receives a 3.5 year, performance based logistics contract to support the F414 engine components used on the F/A-18E/F, and EA-18G aircraft. The contract is worth up to $414.6 million, and GE will be responsible for engine repair, engine replacement, consumables support, and program support as required.

Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL, and is expected to be complete by December 2014. This contract was not awarded through full and open competition, but only 1 firm (the engine manufacturer) was solicited, and 1 offer was received by the US Naval Inventory Control Point in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-11-D-002M).

May 12/11: F414. General Electric Aircraft Engines Business Group in Lynn, MA receives a $9.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 1 spare F414-GE-400 engine; 8 combustion modules, 7 fan modules, and 1 high pressure turbine module.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (51.8%); Madisonville, KY (20.9%); Hooksett, NH (12%); Rutland, VT (4.6%); Dayton, OH (2.5%); Jacksonville, FL (1.8%); Muskegon, MI. (1.6%); Terre Haute, IN (1.6%); Bromont, QB, Canada (1.4%); Asheville, NC. (1.2%); and Evandale, OH (0.6%), and is expected to be complete in December 2012. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-06-C-0088).

April 21/11: ECM. Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in Goleta, CA receives an $84.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 87 Full Rate Production Lot 13 AN/ALR-67v3 radar warning receivers for the U.S. Navy (77/ $72.1M/ 85%) and the government of Switzerland (10/ $9.4M/ 11%). In addition, this option provides for the procurement of ALR-67 weapons replaceable assemblies for the governments of Canada ($2.5M/ 3%) and Australia ($762,842/ 1%).

Work will be performed in Goleta, CA (41%); Lansdale, PA (18%); Forest, MS (12%); Chatsworth, CA (11%); San Diego, CA (10%); Sydney, Australia (4%); Milwaukie, OR (2%); and McKinney, TX (2%). Work is expected to be complete in December 2013. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract. See also Raytheon release.

April 8/11: Boeing receives a $7.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order for supplies and services to support the F/A-18 E/F Structures Service Life Assessment Program. It’s very important to have a baseline for that, and to test for unexpected early fatigue spots within the fleet.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (82.8%); El Segundo, CA (14.6%); Bethlehem, PA (2.5%); and Lynwood, CA (0.1%); and is expected to be complete in December 2013. $101,924 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-G-0001).

March 30/11: A $40 million awarded fixed-price-incentive-fee contract modification for one-time engineering services in support of the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G’s next generation advanced mission computer system.

Work was performed in Bloomington, MN (53.7%), Baltimore, MD (33.3%), and St. Louis, MO (13%). This is a retroactive contract, with the Pentagon noting that “Work was completed in December 2010″ (N00019-09-C-0019).

March 25/11: Avionics. Boeing receives a $10.6 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for 741 Honeywell model GG1320 ring laser gyros, to be installed in F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft for the U.S. Navy (714) and the government of Australia (27 spares).

Work will be performed in Clearwater, FL (87%), and St. Louis, MO (13%), and is expected to be complete in April 2013. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-G-0001).

March 22/11: F414. General Electric Aircraft Engines in Lynn, MA receives a $246.5 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 68 F414-GE-400 engines and device kits from Production Lot 15, to equip F/A-18E/F aircraft. That would equip 34 planes, without spares.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (44.8%); Madisonville, KY (18.1%); Evandale, OH (14.1%); Hooksett, NH (10.4%); Rutland, VT (3.9%); Dayton, OH (2.2%); Jacksonville, FL (1.5%); Muskegon, MI (1.4%); Terre Haute, IN (1.4%); Bromont, Quebec, Canada (1.2%); and Asheville, NC (1%); and is expected to be complete in April 2013. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00019-06-C-0088). See also The Daily of Lynn.

On the same day, GEAE also received a $453.1 million firm-fixed-price, sole-source, requirements-type contract for engine parts, from the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. This Defense Logistics Agency contract runs until March 31/12, and is almost certain to include some F414 related parts, but also includes engine types equipping other aircraft and helicopters: F/A-18 A-D Hornets, F-16s Falcons, large aircraft like the C-5 Galaxy and VC-25 Air Force One, and helicopters like the UH/AH-1, AH-64, H-60 family, etc. (SPM400-03-D-9404).

March 7/11: Gun. General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products in Williston, VT received a $7.8 million firm-fixed price contract modification, exercising an option to buy 22 M61A2 lightweight 20mm Gatling gun systems in support of the F/A-18 E/F program. Note that EA-18Gs never mount the nose cannon, as the space is taken by electronics.

Work will be performed in Burlington, VT (50%), and Saco, ME (50%), and is expected to be complete in April 2013. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00421-10-C-0024).

March 4/11: Seats. Martin-Baker Aircraft Co., Ltd. in Middlesex, England receives an $18.3 million firm-fixed price contract modification to exercise an option for 65 Navy Aircrew Common Ejection Seats (NACES). They will equip F/A-18 A+/C+ Hornets and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft flown by the U.S. Navy ($18.2M/ 99.4%), and the air forces of Australia (F/A-18A+ and F/A-18F; $51,920/ 0.27%) and Kuwait (F/A-18C+; $61,730; 0.33%). This option also buys associated hardware, equipment, technical data, and production support services.

Work will be performed in Johnstown, PA (60%), and Middlesex, England (40%), and is expected to be complete in December 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-07-C-0011).

March 4/11: Avionics. Honeywell International Defense & Space Electronic Systems in Albuquerque, NM receives an $8.3 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-10-C-0061) to exercise an option for the procurement of 131 Advanced Multi-purpose Displays (68 of their 5″x5″ forward displays; 42 of their 5″x5″ aft displays; and 21 of their 8″x10″ displays) for Lot 35 F/A-18F and EA-18G aircraft.

Work will be performed in Albuquerque, NM, and is expected to be complete in December 2011. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-10-C-0061).

Feb 28/11: Boeing in St. Louis, MO, receives a $29.5 million fixed-price-incentive-fee contract modification for F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft armament equipment, including jumper bundles, pylon attach fittings, sensor well covers, adaptors, and pylons.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2014. $27.2 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-C-0019).

Feb 16/11: ECM. ITT Corp. Electronic Warfare Systems in Clifton, NJ receives a $14.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for 6 full rate production Lot 8 AN/ALQ-214v3 onboard jammer systems for installation on the F/A-18E/F aircraft. The AN/ALQ-214 is a major subsystem of the Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (IDECM) Radio Frequency Countermeasures (RFCM) Program, a self-protection electronic countermeasures suite designed for use against radar guided missiles. It’s integrated with ALE-50 and ALE-55 towed decoy systems.

Work will be performed in Clifton, NJ, and is expected to be complete in November 2013. This contract was not competitively procured by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-11-C-0002). See also ITT on ALQ-214 | BAE on ALQ-214.

Jan 7/11: F414. General Electric Aviation in Lynn, MA receives a 3-year, $576 million performance-based logistics contract for repair, replacement, and program support for F414 engine components used on F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft. This multi-year procurement arrangement is an availability-based contract, and works through the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center – Southeast in Jacksonville, FL.

Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL (62%), and Lynn, MA (38%), and is expected to be complete by December 2013. Funding is provided by Navy Working Capital Funds, and this contract was not competitively awarded by the Naval Inventory Control Point in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-11-D-001M). The Jan 6-7/11 contracts build on the success of a series of previous F414 PBL contracts dating back to 2002. See also GE release.

Jan 6/11: F414. General Electric Aviation in Lynn, MA receives a $58.4M, 6-month extension of its existing performance-based logistics contract for repair, replacement, consumables support, and program support for the F414 engine used on F/A-18 E/F, and EA-18G aircraft.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (96%), and Jacksonville, FL (4%), and is expected to be complete by June 2011. Funding is provided by Navy Working Capital Funds, and this contract was not competitively awarded by the Naval Inventory Control Point in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-08-D-002M).

Dec 29/10: ECM. Raytheon in Goleta, CA receives a $7.8 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for the retrofit and testing of 33 digital [electronic] countermeasure receivers, in support of the F/A-18 E/F. ECM receivers capture opposing signals for analysis and subsequent jamming.

Work will be performed in Forest, MS (65%), and Goleta, CA (35%), and is expected to be complete in February 2013. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-10-G-0006).

FY 2010 F/A-18F w. tanks
(click to view full)

Sept 24/10: Tanks. GE Aviation Systems, LLC in Santa Ana, CA received a $21.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for 241 FPU-12/A 480 gallon external fuel tanks for the F/A-18 E/F (136) and the EA-18G (105) aircraft, including related program support. Work will be performed in Santa Ana, CA, and is expected to be complete in February 2012. This contract was not competitively procured by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-10-C-0076).

Sept 24/10: A $28 million firm-fixed-priced delivery order against a previously issued order basic ordering agreement for Super Hornet and EA-18G aircraft armament equipment including pylons, well and chaff dispenser covers, station control units, protector and dispenser magazines, dispenser chassis, probes, lugs, plates, and mounting bases and retainers.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be completed in June 2013. $3.55 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-05-G-0026).

Sept 23/10: Avionics. Honeywell International Defense and Space Electronic Systems in Albuquerque, NM received a $10.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for 185 advanced multi-purpose displays – 116 of the 5″ x 5″ forward displays; 46 of the 5″ x 5″ aft displays; and 23 of the 8″ x 10″ displays – for F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft.

Work will be performed in Albuquerque, NM, and is expected to be complete in December 2011. This contract was not competitively procured by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-10-C-0061).

Aug 19/10: F414. GE Aviation in Lynn, MA receives a $6.3 million order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-09-G-0009) to work on the F414 Component Improvement Program. Work will be performed in Lynn, MA, and is expected to be complete in June 2011.

July 28/10: F414. General Electric Aircraft Engines Business Group in Lynn, MA receives a $28.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for the procurement of 6 F414-GE-400 engines; 4 F414-GE-400 engine fan modules; 14 F414-GE-400 engine high pressure combustion modules; and 5 F414-GE-400 combuster modules, for installation in F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (49%); Madisonville, KY (21%); Hooksett, NH (12%); Albuquerque, NM (7%); Rutland, VT (5%); Dayton, OH (2%); Wilmington, NC (2%); Evendale, OH (1%); and Bromont, Canada (1%), and is expected to be complete in December 2011 (N00019-06-C-0088)

July 8/10: IFF. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $43.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to integrate IFF(Identification Friend or Foe) Mode 5 capability into the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G’s AN/APX-111 combined interrogator transponder (CIT), including upgrades to 3 Mode 5 CITs, buying 14 Mode CITs for test, and implementation of Mode 5 into automated test equipment.

Identification friend or foe (IFF) systems aren’t foolproof, but they can reduce friendly fire dangers. IFF Mode 3/A is also required for flight in many regions of civilian airspace. BAE’s AN/APX-118 CITs provide both IFF coded query and IFF coded response. The new Mode 5 is a NATO IFF standard. Compared to NATO’s Mode 4, it adds better encryption, spread spectrum modulation, time of day authentication, and a unique aircraft identifier. IFF Mode 5 level 2 adds aircraft GPS position information and other attributes, which can help IFF systems when aircraft are grouped closely together. In this respect, Mode 5 shares some characteristics with the new civilian IFF Mode-S.

Work will be performed in Greenlawn, NY (75%), and St. Louis, MO (25%), and is expected to be complete in September 2014. This contract was not competitively procured (N00019-10-C-0078).

June 17/10: ECP. Boeing announces a $25 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-04-C-0014) to incorporate engineering change proposal 6213R2SOW, “trailing edge flap honeycomb redesign” into the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft. The “honeycomb” is the flap’s internal structure. Hints of why that might be underway can be found in the April 27/10 entry.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in October 2013. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10 (N00019-04-C-0014).

May 27/10: ECP. Boeing in St. Louis, MO received a $6.4 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for 144 kits in support of F/A-18E/F engineering change proposal #6282, “Fatigue Test Article 50/Fatigue Test Article 77 Post-Cost Reduction Initiative Inner Wing Retrofit Out of Warranty Kits.”

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in January 2015. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract.

May 21/10: Gun. General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products in Burlington, VT receives a $9.8 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for 30 M61A2 20mm lightweight gatling gun systems for the F/A-18E/F.

Work will be performed in Burlington, VT (50%), and Saco, Maine (50%), and is expected to be complete in September 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year, and this contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD (N00421-10-C-0024).

May 5/10: F414 Improvements. GE describes 3 of the programs underway to improve its F414 engine, which powers all Super Hornet family fighters.

The US Navy wants the F414 EDE (Enhanced Durability Engine), which uses an advanced high pressure turbine and 6-stage high pressure compressor (HPC) that offers a 2-3x hot-section durability gain, and reduced fuel consumption.

The F414 EPE (Enhanced Performance Engine) is based on the EDE, but it has a new fan to increase airflow, and aims to increase thrust by 20%. It is explicitly “targeted for potential international customers,” but may also have applications in future Super Hornets. F414 EPE longevity and fuel gains will not be the same as the EDE on which it’s based, owing to its design differences.

The 3rd program is a retrofittable F414 noise reduction kit project, with serrated nozzle edges where each “lobe” penetrates into or out of the primary airflow and generates a secondary flow, reducing jet noise by 2-3-decibels. The USN has identified funding for a program to further test and mature the technology to prepare it for incorporation in the USN F414 engine fleet, with work scheduled to continue through 2011. GE Aviation.

April 27/10: ECP. FedBizOpps solicitation #20058-10:

“The Naval Air Systems Command intends to place a Firm Fixed Price order under an existing Basic Ordering Agreement, N00019-05-G-0026 with The Boeing Company of St. Louis, Missouri 63166, for the procurement of 4 sets of Production Tooling and 4 sets of Retrofit Tooling associated with Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) 6213R2C1, “Trailing Edge Flap (TEF) Redesign” for the F/A-18 E/F and E/A-18G aircraft. ECP 6213R2 shall correct the deficiencies found during testing and teardown analysis: Cocure rib 1 shear clip failure, cracks in the inboard hinge area, cracks in the front spar, cracks in the splice rib, numerous fastener failures, cocure skin stability and rib pull off, micro cracking in the cocure rabbet. This ECP should result in an increase of the Safety Flight Hours on the TEF. This synopsis/solicitation is for the Non-recurring portion only. A new pre-award synopsis/solicitation shall be done for the recurring portion of this effort at a later date. Boeing is the sole designer, developer, manufacturer and integrator of the F/A-18 E/F and EA-18 G aircraft in its various configurations and is the only source with the knowledge, expertise and on-site personnel base necessary to accomplish this effort.”

March 11/10: F414. General Electric Aircraft Engines in Lynn, MA received a $326.1 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-06-C-0088), exercising a US Navy option for 80 F414-GE-400 engines and modules, 2 spare engines, 1 engine fan module; 8 engine high pressure turbine modules; 33 combuster modules; and 80 engine device kits. The contract also includes advance procurement funding to buy long-lead material for future F414-GE-400 engines.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (49%); Madisonville, KY (21%); Hooksett, NH (12%); Albuquerque, NM (7%); Rutland, VT (5%); Dayton, OH (2%); Wilmington, NC (2%); Evendale, OH (1%); and Bromont, Quebec, Canada (1%), and is expected to be completed in May 2012. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract.

March 30/10: ECP. Boeing Co. in St. Louis, MO received a $6.4 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) under Engineering Change Proposal 6240R1, “FT 50 18K Main Landing Gear Sidebrace Fitting Failure – Revision for Retrofit”, covering 144 kits for the F/A-18E/F aircraft.

Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA, and is expected to be complete in October 2014. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract.

March 26/10: Avionics. Rockwell Collins, Inc. in Cedar Rapids, IA receives a $5.9 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-priced contract (N00019-09-C-0069), exercising an option for 124 ARC-210 RT-1824C radio receiver transmitters for the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft.

Work will be performed in Cedar Rapids, IA, and is expected to be complete in December 2010. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD.

Feb 16/10: F414 Improvements. General Electric Aircraft Engines in Lynn, MA received a $7.3 million modification to a previously issued order under a basic ordering agreement. This money funds the demonstration of new technologies, with the goal of reducing the specific fuel consumption of the F414-GE-400 engine by 3%. This effort is in support of the “Near Term Energy Efficiency Technology Demonstration and Research Project,” under the USA’s 2009 economic stimulus funding.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (89%), and Evendale, OH (11%), and is expected to be completed in December 2010. $7.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00019-09-G-0009).

Dec 4/09: F414. General Electric Aircraft Engines in Lynn, MA receives $28.1 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract, for engineering and integrated logistics services in support of the F/A-18E/F fighters’ F414-GE-400 engines.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (78%); Evendale, OH (13%); Lemoore, CA (5%); and Jacksonville, FL (4%). Work is expected to be complete in December 2010, but $1 million in contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract (N00019-06-C-0088).

Future Hornets?

This section will cover efforts that could make significant changes to the Super Hornet family as a whole. Unless otherwise noted, these efforts are not part of any multi-year buy contract.

Super Hornet
International tour
click for video

Aug 28/13: Advanced Super Hornet. Boeing and Northrop Grumman announce that initial flight tests of their “Advanced Super Hornet” have validated the Conformal Fuel Tanks, RCS (stealth) shaping, and Weapons Pod. Combat radius with the CFTs and pod, but no external ordnance, rises by 130 nautical miles to around 700 nmi. Meanwhile, radar cross-section vs. a Super Hornet carrying the fuel and weapons externally drops by 50%.

Northrop Grumman designed and built the conformal tanks ahead of schedule, in less than 10 months, using rapid prototyping. The tanks can be used on all Super Hornet variants, and hold up to 3,500 pounds of additional fuel. That means a combat radius boost of up to 130 nautical miles, 30 minutes more station time, or some combination. The EA-18G will find the tanks especially helpful, as they reduce both overall weight and drag compared with the 2-3 external fuel tanks they’d otherwise carry.

Best of all, from a business standpoint, these capabilities can be retrofitted to existing fighters. Orders from the USA or Australia would give the modifications a big boost, and improve Boeing’s standing in a number of international competitions. A similar F-15SE solution may be about to provide more validation by winning a big tender in South Korea, and competitions are afoot in Brazil, Denmark, Malaysia, several Mideastern countries, and possibly Canada. Boeing’s timing is good. Sources: Boeing feature, incl. video | Boeing Aug 28/13 release | Northrop Grumman Aug 28/13 release.

Advanced Super Hornet

March 26/13: F/A-18i. Malaysia’s Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition includes many of the aircraft vying to replace its MiG-29Ns. The F/A-18 Super Hornet exhibit is especially interesting, as the mock-up includes Boeing’s conformal fuel tanks to extend its range. That’s a feature from the Super Hornet International concept, and Boeing is looking to take the tanks into flight tests by summer time. If all goes well, they hope to interest the US Navy in buying some, while offering the tanks to international customers.

Boeing engineers are quite proud of the tanks. Their shaping is said to add lift, creating almost zero net drag at cruising speeds. If tests bear that out, it means that almost all 3,000 pounds of extra fuel could be used to extend range. With that said, nothing in physics comes without cost. The conformal tanks add weight and some transonic drag, reducing the Super Hornet’s already marginal transonic acceleration during missions that add them. This isn’t a fatal problem if the goal is long-range strike, but it could be an issue for air superiority missions like Combat Air Patrol. The logical solution would be to remove the conformal tanks for those kinds of missions, and accept the extra cruising drag inherent in multiple drop tanks. Flight International | DEW Line.

July 10/12: Cockpit. Boeing and its partner Elbit Systems have been working to add wide screen touch displays for its next-generation fighters. The 11″ x 19″ displays themselves are almost as big as the F-35’s, without sacrificing the Head-Up-Display as the F-35 did. The display technology itself is conventional. Making sure that the display can work smoothly with all of a plane’s on-board system is the challenge. Once that’s done, pilots can tap to bring up displays, use fingers to zoom in, even customize which displays to show, how big they should be, and where they go. Sources: Boeing feature, incl. video.

Feb 1/12: Distributed Targeting System. Boeing announces that it has started production of the Super Hornet family’s new DTS. The Navy granted approval for Low Rate Initial Production, following successful initial operational assessments at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, CA, and Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD. DTS is part of the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F Flight Plan, and Network Centric Warfare Upgrades program.

DTS upgrades involve a module with its own advanced processor that brings together data feeds from different sensors, and a pre-loaded, high-resolution imagery database to help with geo-registration. The idea is to be able to fire ground attack weapons with more certainty about the target, and less delay from navigating through multiple screens, handing off coordinates, etc. DTS can be retrofitted during scheduled maintenance periods, or see a more aggressive rollout to front line squadrons if required. That will be up to the US Navy.

Boeing representatives would not directly specify exactly which sensors would be integrated by DTS, beyond the APG-79 AESA radar and ATFLR targeting pod. It’s reasonable to believe that DTS will also include input from the plane’s threat monitoring and electronic warfare sensors, in order to backtrack those dangerous threats and quickly target them; the EA-18G already does some of that. Boeing representatives declined to discuss the exact difference in pilot response times enabled by DTS, aside to say that it was “significant” in tests, and noting that pilots seemed to like using the DTS’ pre-loaded high-detail map in the display next to their primary sensor feed. They wouldn’t say exactly why, but it’s certainly easy to see how that might help in any crowded targeting situation. In an urban battle, for example, where you want to make sure you have the right building in your geo-registered crosshairs.

Nov 4/11: Super Hornet International. Boeing continues to discuss Super Hornet International designs. Not much has changed beyond earlier releases, though they do mention that the dorsal conformal fuel tanks will have a similar center of gravity to the aircraft, and that up to 3 weapon pods would be able to carry up to 4 x AMRAAM/ 2 x 500 pound/ 1 x 2,000 pound bomb each. That’s in line with earlier reports, which touted 2 x AMRAAMs and 2 x 500 pound JDAMs per pod, but the 2,000 pound JDAM option is new. So, too, is confirmation that the new design would have additional radar shaping to lower its cross section further.

With the Super Hornet out of contention in India, Japan appears to be the main target, though the Super Hornet is also being marketed to Brazil, Greece, Denmark, Kuwait, and Qatar, among others. Aviation Week.

F/A-18E/F International
(click to view larger)

July 20/10: Super Hornet International. Boeing’s VP and General Manager of Global Strike Systems, Shelley Lavender, announces a “Super Hornet International Road Map” at Farnborough 2010. Technology modifications would include internal IRST to detect infrared emissions from enemy aircraft (instead of the US Navy’s current retrofit approach using a modified centerline fuel tank), an enclosed weapons pod to lower radar signature that can carry up to 2 AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles and 2 JDAM 500 pound smart bombs, full spherical laser and missile warning systems, a new cockpit based on large touch-screen technology, improved F414 engines (EDE/EPE), and conformal fuel tanks mounted up top to boost range.

These enhancements are described as an “international road map,” reflecting ongoing competitions in Brazil, Denmark, India, and elsewhere. These same modifications also have the potential to become part of a US Navy multi-year buy agreement with Boeing, if the Navy is willing. Presentation [PDF]

May 6/10: Aviation Week’s Bill Sweetman details a number of proposed Super Hornet family improvements, unveiled by Boeing at the Navy League show in Washington DC. They include a big-screen cockpit like the F-35’s, but of one single screen; GE’s F414 engine programs; the Navy’s Next Generation Jammer program focused on the EA-18G; and potential integration of either MBDA’s long-range Meteor air-air missile or its own developmental Joint Dual Role Air Dominance Missile (JDRADM).

April 22/10: Green Hornet. The US Navy’s F/A-18F “Green Hornet” test aircraft becomes the first plane to achieve supersonic flight using a biofuel blend fuel that combines 50% conventional JP-5 with 50% renewable additives. “Green Hornet” is actually a range of efforts ranging from test flights like this, to more energy efficient aircraft refueling policies at the Navy’s master jet bases, to ongoing research and development efforts by NAVAIR and General Electric to reduce Specific Fuel Consumption (SFC) for the F414 jet engine.

The biofuel blend used in this Earth Day flight is derived from the camelina sativa plant, which is U.S.-grown, and not used for food. The objective was a flight showing no difference in performance between the biofuel blend and standard JP-5, with an ultimate goal to develop protocols to certify alternative fuels for naval use.

The Navy Fuels Lab at NAVAIR Patuxent River, MD will develop those certification requirements for a variety of biofuel sources, while the USA’s Defense Energy Support Center awarded the $2.7 million contract to Sustainable Oils of Seattle and Bozeman, Mont. for 40,000 gallons of the camelina-based fuel. NAVAIR pre-release | NAVAIR release | Boeing.

June 9/07: More Stealth? Defense Technology International claims that new computing capabilities may allow a stealthier “Block III” version of the Super Hornet, since it’s now possible to accurately model the radar cross section and aerodynamics of an aircraft when it’s loaded with external weapons etc. Boeing’s president for advanced systems, George Muellner, says. “It’s not the bombs and missiles – it’s the interactions between them and the airframe. Ten years ago, it would have taken you six months of Cray time to model it. Now you can do it on a distributed network of PCs.”

Jane’s has also talked about the idea of a stealthier Super Hornet under development by Boeing’s Phantom Works, noting that the basic Super Hornet already incorporates some edge alignments, swept inlets, treated blocker vanes in front of the engines, and other stealth (“low observable”) features. Stealthier external weapons would definitely offer an important next step, since the F/A-18 E/F lacks the internal weapons bays found modern stealth fighters like the F-35 Lightning II and F-22A Raptor.

Additional Readings

These links are kept current by Defense Industry Daily, as they offer especially useful background and research resources. Readers with corrections, comments, or information to contribute are encouraged to contact DID’s Founding Editor, Joe Katzman. We understand the industry – you will only be publicly recognized if you tell us that it’s OK to do so.

Background: Aircraft

Background: Program

Background: Aircraft Ancillaries

News and Views

  • Aviation Week (Nov 4/11) – Boeing Reveals Details Of International F-18 [dead link]. Not much change beyond earlier releases re: Super Hornet International: conformal fuel tanks, up to 3 weapon pods with 4 x AMRAAM/ 2 x 500 pound/ 1 x 2,000 pound bomb each, plus F414 EPE engines, and better radar shaping. Japan is seen as the main target.

  • Boeing (Oct 3/11) – Wings of change for F/A-18, EA-18G programs. Wing frame redesign project. Includes an embedded video.

  • Flight International (July 12/11) – Testing the new-generation Super Hornet. An F/A-18F Block II simulator, to be precise.

  • Aviation Week (April 22/11) – Rhino’s Revenge (Super Hornet upgrades). Dead link. At the time, it was the Super Hornet International Roadmap.

  • Boeing (Dec 13/10) – Ramping up for delivery. A video feature that looks at the final stages of integration and delivery for EA-18G Growler and Super Hornet jets.

  • Boeing (Sept 28/10) – A fighter jet rain check. “When it comes to the F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing engineers in St. Louis use a special process called the Water Check Test to rule out areas where moisture could seep into the aircraft and its electronics suite…”

  • Boeing Frontiers (July 2008) – Their ‘Flight Plan’ [PDF]. How to modernize the Super Hornet and keep it relevant. At this point, the focus is on the Block II model and new AESA radar, plus an undetermined IRST implementation and the ROVER datalink.

  • Flight International (March 13/07) – Ultra Hornet. Describes the updates to create the Hornet Block 30/Block II+; the performance enhancements are all electronic rather than aerodynamic. Interestingly, among future Flightplan enhancements is a limited electronic attack function for all APG-79 AESA radars.

  • DID (Oct 22/05) – Supersonic SIGINT: Will F-35, F-22 Also Play EW Role?

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