CBO Report on Super Hornet Availability

February 10, 2023 9:07 AM

The following is the Feb. 9, 2023, Congressional Budget Office report, Availability and Use of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Fighter Aircraft.

From the report

  • Availability Rates by Fiscal Year Are Lower and Declined Faster for Both Types of Hornets
    Than for the Rest of the Department of the Navy’s Fleet. Availability rates of Super Hornets
    declined markedly between the mid-2000s and the mid-2010s; the older F/A-18C/D Hornets
    experienced a longer and steeper drop. Both types of Hornets experienced sharper and steeper
    drops in availability than the rest of the Department of the Navy’s fleet. Because the Super Hornet
    is a newer aircraft, it has a higher availability rate, on average, than F/A-18C/Ds, which were
    introduced in the late 1980s.
  • Super Hornets Have Aged More Adversely Than Their Predecessors. When compared with
    F/A-18C/Ds of the same age, the Super Hornet fleet has had lower availability rates. For example,
    Super Hornet availability at age 10 was about 18 percentage points lower than F/A-18C/D
    availability at age 10 and is comparable to F/A-18C/D availability at age 20. These findings
    suggest that age has had a more adverse effect on Super Hornets than it did on F/A-18C/Ds.
  • Flying Hours Cannot Explain Differing Availability. Are Super Hornets becoming less available
    faster than their predecessors because they are flying more and thus subject to greater wear and
    tear? The data CBO analyzed do not support this hypothesis. Monthly flying hours of Super
    Hornets modestly exceeded those of F/A-18C/Ds only in the initial years of operation of both
    fleets. By age 10, however, Super Hornets were flying four fewer hours per month than 10-year old
    F/A-18C/Ds flew.
  • Availability Rates of Super Hornets May Stabilize or Continue to Decline. The experiences of the
    oldest Super Hornets suggest that their availability is likely to continue to decline as the fleet ages.
    A similar trend has been observed for many fighter and attack aircraft. But some fleets have had
    lengthy periods with stable availability rates. Because the Super Hornet is a relatively new aircraft,
    the Navy could take actions that might increase or stabilize the aircraft’s availability rate, such as
    increasing funding for maintenance.
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