modification. The F/A- 18 Blue Angel program converts
F/A-18C/D aircraft from fleet aircraft to aerial demon-
stration aircraft. Finally, the F/A-18E/F Phase program
provides modifications to Super Hornet aircraft.”
The HFH effort is the most extensive work done by
Boeing Cecil Field.
“An average of 40 F/A- 18 A-D Hornet aircraft receive
various types of depot-level maintenance at Boeing’s
Cecil Field facility each year,” Smay said. “Boeing Cecil
Field produces approximately 10 HFH aircraft per year.
This total does not include non-HFH depot work, nor
does it include F/A-18E/F depot events.”
The time it takes to overhaul an F/A- 18 varies wide-
ly. Cycle time depends on the scope of work requested
by NAVAIR and ranges from several months to over a
year, Waltman said.
Smay said there is no significant cost differential
between the HFH work done by Boeing Cecil Field and
the nearby FRC Southeast at NAS Jacksonville. The
two organizations closely communicate on a regular
basis, Smay said.
“High Flight Hour events exhibit a significant vari-
ation in cost from one to the next due to the large
degree of variability in material condition and resultant
findings requiring repair from one aircraft to the next,”
he said. “With that in mind, the total cost per aircraft
of executing HFHs at OEM [original equipment manu-
facturer, like Boeing] depots is approximately the same
as at the organic FRCs.”
For the F/A-18C+ program, Boeing will be mod-
ifying aircraft to provide the Marine Corps with the
most current capabilities. The C+
modifications include avionics and
weapon systems upgrades such as
the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing
System and an updated flight-deck
display, Waltman said.
“Boeing has completed two C+
modifications and has several others currently in work,” Smay said.
The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) ensures
quality assurance and acceptance
of the aircraft after depot inspections and repairs are complete.
Once the F/A-18s are ready for
post-maintenance check flights, it
is naval aviators who take them
aloft to check out the quality of the
depot’s work, as required by the
“DCMA maintains active-duty
billets for Navy and Marine Corps
pilots for oversight of the entire
process, to include check flights and final aircraft
acceptance on behalf of the Navy,” Smay said.
Boeing inducted its first Hornet for repair and
modification work in 1999 and began inducting Super
Hornets in early 2005, Waltman said. As of October, it
had completed work on 869 F/A-18A-F aircraft.
“The quality of work performed at Boeing Cecil
Field is equivalent to the high standard of work exhibited by any organic FRC,” Smay said.
The depot work on F/A-18s has received extensive
attention from government officials since the Budget
Control Act of 2011 went into effect and slowed the
ability of the service-operated depots to keep the Navy
and Marine Corps F/A-18s, in particular, in flying condition, thereby exacerbating a fleet-wide strike fighter
“Boeing is mitigating the [Navy/Marine Corps] strike
fighter inventory shortage by augmenting the FRCs
with inspections and repairs on F/A-18A-F aircraft at
our Cecil Field depot facility,” Waltman said. “Our
efforts are complementary to the FRCs and our work
scope is closely aligned. There has not been a signifi-
cant impact [from the budget shortfalls on Boeing Cecil
Field] although it poses challenges. Typically, there is
sufficient work-in-process and advance planning to
allow for uninterrupted effort during that time.”
“The large volume of depot events required by the
F/A- 18 and decades of very high utilization is precise-
ly what drove the Navy to augment existing organic
Boeing operates a facility at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Fla., where many Navy
and Marine Corps F/A- 18 aircraft receive depot-level maintenance, repair and
modification. The Cecil Field operation, along with L- 3’s facility in Mirabel,
Quebec, Canada, provide an important supplement to the Navy depots in
keeping the aging Hornet fleet airborne.