Boeing Receives Second US Navy Contract for F/A-18 Service Life Modification

Funding covers modernisation of 10 aircraft; option for FY20 would cover up to 35 aircraft

Defence Industry
The F/A-18 Service Life Modification programme has received its second contract to induct 12 jets. The programme extends the life of existing Super Hornets from 6,000 to 10,000 flight hours. In 2023 the program will begin converting the jets into the new Block III configuration. (Boeing photo)

ST LOUIS. Boeing has received a one-year contract, which also includes a one-year option for 2020, to continue modernising the US Navy’s F/A-18 fleet under the Service Life Modification (SLM) programme, a company press statement said on May 17.

The $164 million contract for FY19 funds the standup of a second SLM line in San Antonio, Texas, complementary to the line established last year in St Louis.

“The Service Life Modification program is making great strides as we’ve already inducted seven Super Hornets into the program, and will deliver the first jet back to the Navy later this year,” said Dave Sallenbach, Programme Director. “This programme is crucial in helping the Navy with its readiness challenges, and will continue to grow each year with the number of jets we induct.”

The San Antonio SLM line is scheduled to receive its first Super Hornet in June, and a total of 23 Super Hornets over the course of this contract. The US Navy fleet consists of more than 550 Super Hornets.

The SLM programme extends the life of existing Super Hornets from 6,000 to 10,000 flight hours.

In the early 2020s, Boeing is scheduled to begin installing initial updates to the aircraft that will convert existing Block II Super Hornets to a new Block III configuration.

The Block III conversion will include enhanced network capability, longer range with conformal fuel tanks, an advanced cockpit system, signature improvements and an enhanced communication system. The updates are expected to keep the F/A-18 in active service for decades to come.