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Navy has to wait for F-35 and will extend the life of its F-18

The United States Navy plans to battle an expected fighter gap by keeping its oldest F/A-18 Hornet fighter craft in the air over the next 10 years, even though major concerns remain related to the next-generation of fighter aircraft.

There is a concern if the Navy halts F-18 production, an expected fighter gap of about 200 aircraft could dampen the Navy's air superiority.  Specifically, there is a concern the fighter gap will impact the Navy's aircraft carrier fleet, as the F-18 Hornet remains a popular aircraft for use in missions from carriers.

However, Navy Rear Adm. Mike Manazir and Lockheed Martin said it may be possible the next-generation Joint Strike Fighter F-35C aircraft will be ready for deployment in late 2016.  

Last year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the F-18 would be phased out as the Navy transitioned to the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet -- but delays, engine problems, and budget issues have led some to lose faith in the program.

The GE/Rolls-Royce F136 engine has been given a lifeline -- for now -- and will be funded as an alternative to the current F135 engine from Pratt & Whitney.

"The Marine Corps is committed to an all-STOVL force,” Manazir recently claimed.  That means “we are in discussions with the Marine Corps on how we would” integrate the two services’ fighters on a carrier.  The F-35C has longer range, more cargo capacity, and is optimized for carrier operations,” he said. “The STOVL [model] is designed differently and so it has slightly different characteristics, so we’re in discussions right now about how you put those two together.”

The USMC plans to replace the F/A-18 with the F-35 as well, but needs to deal with  the same production issues the Navy and Air Force must deal with.  The Air Force hasn't thrown in the towel on the JSF -- and doesn't plan on leaving it behind.



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The Hornet is a POS.
By NAVAIR on 5/27/2010 4:18:23 PM , Rating: 3
There is nothing similar between a Hornet (A/B; C/D) and a Super Hornet (E/F) other than some avionics boxes. The Hornet is a compromise, its a half ass fighter and a half ass bomber with less performance than the Tom's or A-6's. My god, ass soon as a Hornet takes a cat shot, it needs to refuel. The only thing that will be left on the flight deck are Helo's, Hummers and Hornet's very soon. The F35 is another compromise, I am sure its better than a Hornet although the F35 vs a Raptor would be another story. The Raptor renders every fighter in the world obsolete. The Navy needs a dedicated fighter and a dedicated bomber although the money is not there to support to programs not to mention the streamlining of the logistical process. The Carrier Air Force is not designed today to have the same range or massive ordnance delivery of the 8 airframes than were flown 14 years ago. One A-6 can drop 3 times the ordnance of the Hornet and has almost 3 times the legs. Maybe they should just kill carriers all together and buy a bunch of predators at this rate with the way congress has cut the money off to support the Navy , Bill Clinton started this trend and 18 years later, the damage is done.




RE: The Hornet is a POS.
By NAVAIR on 5/27/2010 4:20:10 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, the old motto of the Tom's, " if its not leaking is broke" now apply's to the old Hornets as well.


RE: The Hornet is a POS.
By Jaybus on 5/27/2010 11:04:36 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think UAVs could replace carriers, but a few cruisers with lots of UAVs could certainly take a load off of the existing carriers and their flight ops. I see no reason UAVs couldn't more or less take over recon missions.


Air superiority....
By Amiga500 on 5/27/2010 10:58:42 AM , Rating: 1
With an F/A-18?

Who they trying to kid?

Navair should have got the Tomcat-2000 or built new frame -14Ds instead of going with the most inept "high performance" airframe in the world.

It is amazing that a ridiculous decision made over 30 years ago still lingers like a bad stench today!




RE: Air superiority....
By inperfectdarkness on 5/27/2010 1:58:58 PM , Rating: 1
maybe you should do some more research before posting. the f-14 was NOTORIOUSLY horrible from a maintenance perspective.


RE: Air superiority....
By knutjb on 5/28/2010 3:22:30 AM , Rating: 2
People who suggest such an idea never worked on combat aircraft and probably watched Top Gun too many times.


RE: Air superiority....
By rcc on 5/27/2010 6:25:59 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, the USN really hasn't gotten anything in aircraft but compromises and also rans since the 70's. The politicians and bean counters all seem to think there is no difference between a 10,000 runway on dry land, and an aircraft carrier.


omg gap!
By MadMan007 on 5/27/2010 9:49:06 PM , Rating: 2
Sir, we've got a mineshaft gap!




RE: omg gap!
By johnsonx on 5/29/2010 3:09:23 PM , Rating: 2
better that than a basselope gap!


F-111
By knutjb on 5/28/2010 3:26:00 AM , Rating: 2
We went through this before when they tried to make the F-111 a multi-service fit all branches fighter. Will this happen to the F-35?




RE: F-111
By ajfink on 5/30/2010 10:52:47 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, that's why they've designed three different versions of the aircraft from the get-go.


confusing article
By johnsonx on 5/27/2010 1:51:22 PM , Rating: 3
This article needs to properly distinguish between F/A-18A/B/C/D Hornets and F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. Despite similar designations and physical appearance, they are very different aircraft sharing almost no components.
The article seems to intermingle the issues of keeping the older F/A-18 Hornets flying with the production of new F/A-18 Super Hornets.
Finally, while we may often say just "F-18" in casual conversation, it's never correct to write it.




new parts
By leuNam on 5/27/2010 9:54:29 AM , Rating: 2
Within the next 10 years....
there's little change in these fighters though...

newer add-ons, revamped engine...




Hornet vs Super Hornet
By HotFoot on 5/27/2010 10:23:28 AM , Rating: 2
My earlier impression was that the F-18 E/F and EA-18 G would be flying along-side the F-35, when the latter reaches service. I thought it was the A/B/C/D that are being retired (if the A/B haven't already). So are the options to build more F-18 E/F to replace ageing F-18 C/D units or to do a life-extension programme on the C/D?




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