Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Boeing Co. was awarded a $23.6 million contract by the U.S. Navy for support in solving maintenance issues of F/A-18 Hornet fighter planes.
The contract, a modification of a prior contract and announced on Thursday by the Defense Department, calls for engineering, logistics, and program management of F/A-18A-D, E/F, and EA-18G aircraft in support of reducing fleet "out of reporting" rates and maintenance planning.
The term refers to a plane grounded because of maintenance or repair issues. The planes, in service since the 1970s, are currently flown by the U.S. Marine Corps as its front-line fighter, by the U.S. Navy as a second-tier fighter, and also by seven international customers. The Marine and Navy planes are expected to have a service life of 20 years, but are wearing out faster than expected due to extensive use.
Defense Department contracts for maintenance and upgrades are regular and numerous, and have included replacement center barrel sections -- the center section of the plane where wings are joined to the fuselage, an expensive undertaking -- and re-opening of production lines. Some of the repairs have been offered to allied air forces, which maintain their own refurbishment and upgrade programs.
In April alone, three contracts to fix problems on the F/A-18 were announced. Sierra Nevada Corp. received a $13.5 million to fix beacon transmitter and receiver issues, International Enterprise Inc. won a $7.3 million contract to repair color instrument displays and General Electric received a $77.6 million contract for engine repairs.
In May, Boeing was awarded a $163.9 million one-year contract to continue modernizing the U.S. Navy's F/A-18E/F fighter jet fleet under the service life modification program.
The planes also use different radar systems, depending on the countries which own them.
The contract announced on Thursday is expected to be completed by September 2020.