Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Boeing has delivered the F/A-18 Super Hornet upgraded under its Service Life Modification contract to the U.S. Navy, the company announced on Thursday.
According to Boeing, five more upgraded Super Hornets will be delivered this year, with the second rolling out as soon as the end of February.
"SLM is going to provide a critical resource for the Navy to re-capitalize on long-serving aircraft to return them to the fleet in a near new condition," Capt. Stephen May, co-lead for E/F/G Air Vehicles, said in a statement. "It will reduce burden on our maintainers, our supply system and our depot level assets within the enterprise."
According to Boeing, there are now 15 Super Hornets in the SLM program on production lines in St. Louis and San Antonio, and it takes 18 months to complete modifications on an F/A-18, though that time is expected to decrease as the program progresses.
The SLM programs's upgrades are expected to extend each aircraft's service life from 6,000 to 7,500 flight hours, with future modification plans extending the flight life to 10,000 hours.
In addition to undergoing modifications that increase their flight life, the aircraft will undergo Block III conversion, which includes enhanced network capability, conformal fuel tanks, an advanced cockpit system, signature improvements and an improved communication system.