ST. LOUIS, March 28, 1997 -- The U.S. Navy and McDonnell Douglas (NYSE: MD) have received approval from the Department of Defense to begin low-rate initial production (LRIP) of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
Dr. Paul Kaminski, under secretary of defense for research, development and acquisition, signed an acquisition decision memorandum March 26 that gives the go-ahead for Super Hornet production.
"This is super news for the Super Hornet," said Jerry Daniels, vice president and general manager for U.S. Navy and Marine Corps programs at McDonnell Douglas.
"It clears the way for us to start building the first of 1,000 planned F/A-18E/Fs for the U.S. Navy. This decision is a key milestone in the life of a very successful program -- a milestone that could not have happened without a great team effort on the part of the U.S. Navy, McDonnell Douglas and the entire Hornet Industry Team."
The Defense Department has authorized the production of the first 12 F/A-18E/F aircraft, release of long-lead funding for the next 20 aircraft and a total initial production run of 62 planes. These Super Hornets will be built in three lots of 12 (fiscal year 1997), 20 (fiscal year 1998) and 30 (fiscal year 1999), pending the annual approval of Congress. Funding for the 12 fiscal year 1997 Super Hornets was approved by Congress last year.
The Defense Department memorandum also authorizes the Navy to make future production decisions for the F/A-18E/F program -- including the decision to begin full-rate production of 48 aircraft per year in fiscal year 2000.
The Navy plans to buy 1,000 Super Hornets. Delivery of the 12 Lot 1 aircraft is scheduled to start in calendar year 1999. Deliveries of full-rate production aircraft are scheduled to start in calendar year 2002.
McDonnell Douglas is the prime contractor for the F/A-18E/F and builds the forward fuselage. Northrop Grumman is the principal subcontractor and builds the center/aft fuselage. General Electric supplies the engines and Hughes Aircraft provides the radar.
Assembly of the 12 Lot 1 aircraft will begin in May at Northrop Grumman and late this summer at McDonnell Douglas.