U.S. lawmakers are poised to approve the purchase of 12 F/A-18E/Fs in fiscal 2016, which began Oct. 1. Manazir said problems could be avoided if the Navy bought more Super Hornets in both fiscal 2017 and 2018, and was able to start using an initial squadron of F-35 fighter jets as now planned in August 2018. F-35 delays forced the Navy several years ago to extend the service life of its older F/A-18C Hornets from 6,000 hours to 10,000 hours, a project that turned out to be more intensive and take much longer than expected. Manazir's comments spell good news for Boeing, which needs more F/A-18E/F orders to extend its St. Louis production line beyond the end of 2017, when it is currently slated to end. Manazir said it would not make sense for the Navy to accelerate its purchases of F-35 C-model jets instead since work had not been completed on the required Block 3F software needed for the jets to carry all the weapons required by the Navy.
Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley reassured lawmakers that the F-35C aircraft the Navy is buying in fiscal 2016 would be delivered in 2018 with the needed software package. Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher said it was premature to comment on Manazir's comments since the Pentagon is still finalizing its fiscal 2017 budget plans. If Congress finalizes the order of 12 jets in fiscal 2016, the Boeing F/A-18 production line will extend through mid-2018, while an expected order of 28 more jets from Kuwait could push production out until 2019 or beyond."
Unusually big last minute orders last few years and this of F18 derivates for USN air wing, seems like they are trying to get as more Hornets as they can before F35 hits the fan, coz something actually needs to fly