navigation-background arrow-down-circle Reply Icon Show More Heart Delete Icon wiki-circle wiki-square wiki arrow-up-circle add-circle add-square add arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up calendar-circle chat-bubble-2 chat-bubble check-circle check close contact-us credit-card drag menu email embed facebook-circle snapchat-circle facebook-square facebook faq-circle faq film gear google-circle google-square googleplus history home instagram-circle instagram-square instagram linkedin-circle linkedin-square linkedin load monitor Video Player Play Icon person pinterest-circle pinterest-square pinterest play readlist remove-circle remove-square remove search share share2 sign-out star trailer trash twitter-circle twitter-square twitter youtube-circle youtube-square youtube

Super Hornet 'Not Interchangable' With F-35, Says US Air Force Secretary

January 6, 2017 (Photo Credit: Scott Ash/US Air Force)
WASHINGTON — If US President-elect Donald Trump moves forward with trying to supplant Lockheed Martin’s F-35 with Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, he can expect to find opposition from the Air Force, the service’s top civilian said.

Trump made waves in December when — just a day after meeting the Defense Department’s F-35 program chief and CEOs from Lockheed and Boeing — he tweeted out that he had asked Boeing to price out a Super Hornet that would be “comparable” to an F-35.

While the president can determine whether to cancel a weapons program or direct the military to start a new one, the Air Force remains a strong supporter of the F-35 program, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told Defense News in a Jan. 5 interview.

“The Air Force does not view the F/A-18 and the F-35 to be substitutable at all,” she said. “They fulfill different requirements. They’re both fine aircraft, don’t get me wrong. But it’s fourth generation, and F-35 is fifth generation.”

“The leaders of the Air Force will have the opportunity when the time comes to advise the president-elect on this,” she added. “But based on everything I know, the two are not interchangeable and the Air Force has not expressed interest in the F/A-18s.”

Trump has already met with one such official, the Defense Department’s F-35 program chief Gen. Christopher Bogdan, to discuss the program. While the president-elect has not softened on the F-35 since then, James pointed out that his meetings with Boeing head Dennis Muilenburg and Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson may have had an impact on Trump’s tone.

“It’s impossible for me to say” what Trump’s intentions are, she said. “But clearly on that particular day, he did have both the CEOs of Lockheed and Boeing come talk to him about these programs. He did talk about costs. … It certainly would be consistent, I believe, that he is trying to negotiate and trying to see whatever he can do to bring down costs further.”

Although the joint strike fighter still is working through challenges, the program has shown progress, said James, who pointed to decreased costs and the service’s declaration of initial operational capability last August.
Next Article