The U.S. Navy has awarded Boeing a contract to configure nine F/A-18E and two F/A-18F Super Hornets for the Blue Angels demonstration team. Since the team’s first performance in 1946, the Blue Angels have used eight aircraft models, including the F11F-1 Tiger, F-4J Phantom II and A-4F Skyhawk II. They have been flying F/A-18C/D Hornets since 1986.
The contract for getting the eleven Super Hornets ready for their debut with the Blue Angels, which is worth approximately $17 million, was awarded to Boeing on Monday. Although not specifically stated what changes would be made to the aircraft, conversions on the team’s currently flying Hornets included removing the aircraft nose cannons, installing smoke-oil tanks and adding a spring on the sticks. Overall, the Super Hornet is bigger by about four feet in both length and wingspan than the Hornet and heavier by roughly 10,000 pounds. At a maximum speed of Mach 1.6, the Super Hornet is slightly slower than the Hornet’s max of Mach 1.8.
According to a Department of Defense release, the Blue Angels Super Hornet conversions will be performed at Boeing’s St. Louis, Missouri, facility. The scheduled completion date for the project is December 2021.