The US Navy took the delivery of its final Block II F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jet and announced that tests of Block III jets will begin in two months from now.
“The service took delivery of the final Block II Super Hornet, closing out a run of 322 one-seater F/A-18Es and 286 two-seated F/A-18Fs, on April 17,” the Navy said in a statement Friday.
Aircraft E322 will leave Boeing’s production line and head straight to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 based in [Naval Air Station] Oceana,” explained Cmdr. Tyler Tennille, of Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), who oversees Acceptance Testing.
The Block II Super Hornet fighter features Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar as well as larger displays, upgraded sensors and avionics, and increased range. It supports the Navy’s air superiority, fighter escort, reconnaissance, aerial refueling, close air support, air defense suppression, and day/night precision strike missions.
The Super Hornet is roughly 7,000 pounds heavier and offers 50% higher range than its predecessor, the Hornet.
The Navy awarded a multi-year procurement contract for Block III Super Hornets to Boeing in March 2019, totaling approximately $4 billion. The service will procure 72 Block III Super Hornet aircraft between fiscal years 2019 and 2021.
Boeing is expected to deliver the Block III test jets to the Navy as early as late spring, where subsequent testing will commence at both NAS Patuxent River and Naval Air Weapons System (NAWS) China Lake. This latest version of the Super Hornet includes an advanced cockpit system; advanced network infrastructure; reduced radar cross-section; and a 10,000-flight hour lifespan.
“Block III delivery is just steps behind and the production lines won’t miss a beat, with the first two US Navy Block III test jets delivering in the next two months, followed by delivery of 24 E/F aircraft over the next year for our international customer, Kuwait,” said Capt. Jason Denney, Program Manager of the F/A-18 and EA-18 Program Office (PMA-265).