Mar 3, 2014
Boeing may slow F/A-18 plane output to keep line going longer
The St. Louis production line for Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers is slated to shut down after 2016 unless Boeing wins additional U.S. or foreign orders for the planes soon. The plant will build F-15 fighters through at least 2018, based on current orders.
U.S. Navy officials often laud the performance, on-time deliveries, and low operating cost of the Super Hornet and Growler aircraft.
The Pentagon's 2015 budget will not fund any more of the Boeing planes given competing budget demands and a growing focus on F-35.
Boeing says detailed studies reveal a need for more electronic attack aircraft given work by potential adversaries on new radar systems that could detect steltht fighters like F-22 and F-35.
The EA-18G Growlers fly into battle with other warplanes, jamming, confusing and disrupting enemy radars.
The company already plans to slow production to three jets a month from four.
Navy and the Pentagon are very seriously studying the need for more electronic attack capability, and Boeing could eventually land 50 to 100 more Growler orders.
Some U.S. lawmakers worry about ending the Boeing production line in 2016, three years before the Navy is due to start using its F-35 jets in combat, especially given continued issues with the development of software that the F-35 fighter needs to be able to operate certain key weapons.