Armed Services Panels Open Door
To Multiyear Super Hornet Buy
The House and Senate Armed Services Committees
have opened the door — albeit partially — to the
possibility of a third multiyear procurement contract
for Boeing Co.’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, to begin in
In their versions of the fiscal 2009 defense authorization bill, both panels directed the Defense
Department to at least review the possibility of another multiyear buy to help the service bridge an impending Navy strike fighter shortfall before the carrier-based F- 35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike
Fighter, comes fully online.
But both committees fell short of an outright
endorsement of another multiyear buy, preferring
instead to give the Defense Department time to examine the costs and benefits of buying more Super
Hornets than currently planned.
The current multiyear contract for the Navy’s Super
Hornets is due to expire next year. After that, the Navy
plans to buy just 89 Super Hornets through traditional
But Boeing has given the Navy an unsolicited offer
for 170 of the fighters at a price of $49.9 million apiece
— amounting to a 7 percent to 10 percent cost savings
per aircraft. Under the company’s plan, a multiyear
contract would start in 2010 and last through 2013.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton,
D-Mo., here speaking at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition in Washington in March, is among the
senior lawmakers who have expressed concern about an
impending Navy strike fighter shortfall.
Boeing’s offer was in direct
response to mounting concerns on
Capitol Hill and within the Navy
about a strike fighter shortfall that
will peak in 2017 at 69 aircraft and
continue until Lockheed Martin’s
F-35C comes fully online in 2025.
The House-passed version of the
Pentagon policy bill requires the
defense secretary to submit a
report to Congress by March analyzing the potential cost savings of
entering into another multiyear
contract for the fighter jets versus
buying them in annual procurement lots. The bill also orders the
defense secretary to make a recommendation on whether Congress
should authorize another Super
Hornet multiyear contract.
Perhaps most importantly for
Boeing, the House bill authorizes
the Navy to obligate $100 million
out of its fiscal 2009 Super Hornet
procurement budget for efforts
aimed at reducing costs on the pos-
sible multiyear buy — a move
Boeing says is critical to getting the
best price per plane.
The Senate Armed Services
Committee (SASC), whose bill had
not gone to the floor for debate by
press time June 16, included language that encourages the Defense
Department to assess a third multiyear procurement for the Super
Hornets. But the panel did not
authorize any funding for cost-cutting efforts for 2009.