The US Navy will start a service life extension program of F/A-18 E and Super Hornets in 2017 due to delays in fielding the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
"Our first Super Hornets are getting to 6,000 hours probably at the end of next year so that's the place where we'll start opening them up and we'll do what we call a service life assessment program," said Navy Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, the commander of naval air forces in National Defense Maganzine Wednesday.
The assessment will determine what needs to be repaired so fixes can be standardized as best as possible across the fleet, Shoemaker added.
The delays in fielding the Navy’s F-35 variant have led to increased flight hours for the service's legacy jet fighters.
"We're in this situation for a number of reasons," Shoemaker said during a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"We've delayed the initial introduction of the F-35C from the Navy side — in fact, it's about almost seven years from when we planned an initial operating capability and so that forced us to keep our classic" Hornets in the fleet longer.
However, refurbishing the Hornets has proven more difficult than officials first imagined, and while they are out of commission, the service's Super Hornets are taking up the slack and exhausting their flight hours at an accelerated pace, he said.