The F-35 program is still ongoing and infamously over budget, yet the U.S. Navy is kicking off the early steps in the search for a sixth generation fighter to replace the current F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. This first step in searching for new fighter aircraft is a Request for Information from companies interested in participating with the program.
The document reads, “To support OPNAV N98’s request, this is a Pre-Material Development Decision (MDD) market survey for the purpose of determining market interest, feasibility, and capability of potential sources and does NOT constitute a Request for Proposals. NO SOLICITATION DOCUMENTS EXIST AT THIS TIME.”
The Navy is never going to buy enough F-35s to replace the SuperHornet fleet. Something is going to have to replace the Supers. As the F-35C enters the fleet (maybe?) the priority will be to replace legacy Hornets that are worn out. How worn out? The Navy has been rebuilding low-time F/A-18As to A++ configuration to replace worn out F/A-18Cs. That’s a pretty expensive, short term solution. And there are only so many low time airframes available.
The Navy is also pretty clearly hedging its bets against the F-35 program getting the axe. I don’t think the C model will get canceled, but the Navy has to have a contingency plan. If the C model does die, the most likely solution is to buy a lot more E/F SuperHornets to replace legacy Hornets, and crank up this program to eventually replace early blocks of SuperHornets.
Ignore the comments at the article. There’s a lot of stupid people there.