Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler Aircraft: Background and Issues for Congress
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The FA-18EF Super Hornet is the Navys highest priority aviation modernization program. It is replacing the Navy FA-18CD Hornet combat aircraft. The decision to undertake the FA-18EF Super Hornet program was made during a period of great turbulence in Navy aviation modernization. During this time frame the Navy struggled to identify and implement the best way to modernize its aging fleet of F-14 fighters and A-6E attack aircraft. The A-12 program was terminated in January 1991. The AFX program, another proposed replacement for the A-6E, began in 1991, but was also terminated. The principal alternative to the FA-18EF was a modest upgrade of the F-14 -- a large, two-seat fighter designed in the 1960s, with potential air-to-surface attack capabilities. Some observers describe the FA-18EF as an upgraded and larger version of the FA-18CD, with increased range and payload capacity and more space and weight for future improvements. Others assert that the differences between the baseline Hornet aircraft and the EF model are so great that they would describe the Super Hornet as an entirely new aircraft. The Department of Defense DoD is currently facing a shortage of radar and communications jamming capability. The Navy and Marine Corps EA-6B Prowlers escort and protect Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force aircraft operating in hostile airspace. The Prowlers, however, are few and rapidly aging. All the Services are evaluating preferred approaches to ameliorating this shortfall. The Navys approach is to produce a new electronic attack aircraft based on the FA-18F, called the EA-18G. The Navys FY2009 budget for the FA-18EF and EA-18G requested a total of 4.3 billion to procure 45 aircraft, modernize existing aircraft, and conduct research and development.
- Attack and Fighter Aircraft
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies