System Upgrades For 2,000 F/A-18s

Dec 24, 2008
By Lee Ann Tegtmeier and Michael Bruno

Boeing will upgrade the mission systems in 2,000 F/A-18s operated by eight countries through a $905.3 million system configuration set contract awarded by the U.S. Navy.

F/A-18 A/B, C/D, E/F and EA-18G aircraft from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Spain, Kuwait, Switzerland, Finland and Malaysia will receive the enhancements scheduled to be finished in December 2013.

The upgrades are part of an effort to keep the fighters "in front of developing threats over the next three decades," said Boeing spokesman Philip Carder.

This is a big win for Boeing, which has been on a campaign to pitch the F/A-18 as a gap-filler or even alternative fighter to U.S. and allied air forces while they await the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and European contenders like the Saab Gripen Next Generation. Customers from the Royal Australian Air Force to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have wrestled with how to fill so-called fighter gaps expected in coming years.

Boeing will upgrade the mission systems with software and hardware, including distributed targeting processors and active electronically scanned array radar improvements, and ensure the enhancements integrate, according to Carder.

It will complete 95% of the upgrades at its St. Louis, Mo., facility and the rest will be done at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, Calif., the latter of which is responsible for the contracting activity.

Contract funds for this big project will not expire at the end of the fiscal year.

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Aviation Week

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