MRCA: Boeing Plans to Keep Super Hornet Line Open

SHAH ALAM: Boeing is taking steps to keep its F-18 production line open for future Navy and international sales based on positive signs from multiple sources, the company told USNI News.

The report dateline July 22 stated that Boeing company builds both its F/A-18F Super Hornets and F-18G Growlers on the same production line, and the last planes the company had sold were 15 Growlers in Fiscal Year 2015 – enough work to keep the line open through the end of 2017, after the Navy and Boeing agreed to a production slowdown to allow more time for a decision on the future of the production line.

Advanced Super Hornet. Boeing photo
Advanced Super Hornet. Boeing photo

The report further stated that “Today, Gillian said “we’re doing everything we need to be able to continue production to meet U.S. Navy and international fighter needs.”

“Based on positive marks from all four defense committees and continued discussions on near-term‎ international sales, we’re moving forward with decisions to keep the line open and preserve future options,” the company added in a statement to USNI News.

RAAF Super Hornet. RAAF photo.
RAAF Super Hornet. RAAF photo.

Denmark is expected to make a decision in the next few months about what fighter it will buy, USNI News understands. And an unnamed Middle Eastern country is interested specifically in the Super Hornet and is working with the U.S. Navy to purchase the planes through the Foreign Military Sales programme.

For more on the story go here.

The report above is interesting even as we already know that the MRCA programme is not going to be funded during RMK11. However as the Fulcrum is also going to retire in the near future, RMAF also need to look to fill the gap left by the retirement.

Storm Shadow EMC trials at BAE Systems Warton facility. The first set of ground trials saw Italian Instrumented Production Aircraft 2 (IPA2) and UK production Typhoon aircraft BS111, fitted with two of MBDA’s Storm Shadow cruise missiles undergo Electro Magnetic Compatibility (EMC) tests.  EMC testing ensures the integrity of the electrical systems onboard the aircraft and the missile.  Following these tests, the missiles have been prepared for flight by positioning a series of laser tracking points which allow engineers to accurately analyse the trajectory of the weapon when released from the aircraft.
Storm Shadow EMC trials at BAE Systems Warton facility. The first set of ground trials saw Italian Instrumented Production Aircraft 2 (IPA2) and UK production Typhoon aircraft BS111, fitted with two of MBDA’s Storm Shadow cruise missiles undergo Electro Magnetic Compatibility (EMC) tests. EMC testing ensures the integrity of the electrical systems onboard the aircraft and the missile. Following these tests, the missiles have been prepared for flight by positioning a series of laser tracking points which allow engineers to accurately analyse the trajectory of the weapon when released from the aircraft.

The unnamed Middle Eastern country in the story is obviously Kuwait. If and when Kuwait decides on its new fighters it is also looking into the Typhoon – there is a chance for us to buy the legacy Hornets its air force is operating to add to our own small Hornet fleet to tie us over to 2030 beyond.

RMAF F/A-18D Hornet
RMAF F/A-18D Hornet

Apart from the Kuwaiti Hornets, as a stop gap measure, as I had written previously, we could also opt to lease Tranche 1 Typhoons of the Royal Air Force as the service is slated the 53-strong fleet in in 2019.

The lease and buy option of the Typhoon was the offer for the MRCA programme. As the funding for the MRCA programme is not available, we could opt to lease the Tranche 1s instead. As such we will only be paying for the maintenance of the aircraft and the other things to keep them flying of course.

Eurofighter Typhoon. Eurofighter photo.
Eurofighter Typhoon. Eurofighter photo.

By all accounts the Tranche 1 Typhoons are superb air-to-air fighters although it could be armed a limited number of precision guided munitions like LGBs and such. No Storm Shadows or such!

Yes the legacy Hornets are much better as RMAF will be able to consolidate its fighter fleet to two types but this option will incur higher cost as we need to upgrade them to the same standard as our D models, apart from the money to operate them of course.

— Malaysian Defence

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