Navy asks for more F/A-18 fighter jets due to F-35 delays

To deal with higher-than-expected operational demands and past delays in the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet program, the U.S. Navy on Tuesday underscored its desire to buy more Boeing Co F/A-18E/F Super Hornets in coming years. Screen shot from video.

The director of air warfare for the U.S. chief of naval operations, told Congress the Navy will need more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets — due to “higher-than-expected” operational demands and past delays in the F-35 fighter jet program.

Rear Admiral Michael Manazir testified before the readiness subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, on Tuesday.  He told lawmakers the Navy was working to “speed up” maintenance of older-model F/A-18s, but would also need to buy more new F/A-18E/F jets to “avert a shortfall” in strike fighters.

Earlier this year, the former Chief of Naval Operations said the Navy would need two to three more squadrons of Super Hornets — or 24 to 36 more aircraft– to meet its needs in the coming years.

U.S. lawmakers are expected to approve the purchase of 12 F/A-18E/Fs in fiscal 2016. If Congress finalizes the order of those jets, the Boeing F/A-18 production line will extend through mid-2018. But, an expected order of 28 more jets from Kuwait could push production out until 2019 or beyond, Yahoo News reported.

Several years ago, the Navy was forced to extend the service life of its older F/A-18C Hornets from 6,000 hours to 10,000 hours, due to F-35 delays. That project has taken much longer than expected.

Manazir said problems could be avoided if the Navy bought more Super Hornets in both fiscal 2017 and 2018. He also said it wouldn’t make sense for the Navy to “accelerate its purchases” of F-35 C-model jets, since work had not been completed on the required “Block 3F” software needed for the jets to carry all of the required weapons.

The F-35C aircraft that the Navy is buying should be delivered in 2018 with the needed software package, said Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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