Source: IHS Janes Defense
The US Marine Corps (USMC) is having to recover Boeing F/A-18C Hornet combat aircraft from the ‘boneyard’ at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona to bridge the delayed introduction into service of the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a Boeing official said on 10 June.
Speaking at Boeing’s Global Sustainment and Support (GS&S) site at Cecil Field in northern Florida, Bill Maxwell, senior manager F/A-18 operations, said that the USMC has contracted the company to recover 30 legacy Hornets from the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) facility at Davis-Monthan AFB to cover a projected shortfall in numbers and capability as the service transitions over to the JSF.
“The USMC wants 30 Hornet aircraft – two full squadrons – recovered from the boneyard and ‘reconstituted’ for fleet service. These aircraft were never meant to fly again, but Boeing is bringing them to Cecil Field and extending their airframe lives from 6,000 hours to 8,000 hours, replacing all the old avionics with the latest systems, and returning them to the marines,” Maxwell said.
While Maxwell declined to be drawn on specific enhancements included in the F/A-18C+, as the reconstituted aircraft are designated, it has previously been reported by IHS Jane’s that it includes integrating the Link 16 datalink; fitting colour screens in the cockpit and navigation upgrades with a moving map display; the incorporation of new Naval Aircrew Common Ejector Seats; and integrating the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System.
Boeing has to date delivered two F/A-18C+ aircraft, and is working on four more at Cecil Field. A further five are set to arrive at the facility before September, with the remaining 19 set to arrive later on an undisclosed schedule. Maxwell noted that it takes about one-and-a-half years for the refurbishment work to take place, with particular attention being paid to those structural components that are subjected to the most stress during operations, such as the longerons.