On 27 June 2018, Boeing has won a foreign military sales contract to supply 22 single-seat F/A-18E models and six F/A-18Fs Super Hornets to the Kuwait Air Force, the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) announced. According to DoD, the Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, is awarded a $1,504,995,240 fixed-price-incentive-firm contract that provides for the production and delivery of 22 F/A-18E and six F/A-18F Super Hornets in support of the government of Kuwait. The contract immediately obligates $275.9 million for long-lead nonrecurring engineering costs, including radar warning receivers and aircraft armament equipment. The future Kuwaiti Air Force (KAF) aircraft are expected to be completed in January 2021.
The combat-proven Super Hornet has the capability, flexibility and performance necessary to modernize the air or naval aviation forces of any country. Two versions of the Super Hornet – the single-seat E model and the two-seat F model – are able to perform virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum, including air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control and tanker missions.
According to the Defense News, the U.S. State Department approved the Super Hornet sale to Kuwait in November 2016. At the time, Kuwait was considering a purchase of up to 40 aircraft to replace its current fleet of legacy Hornets, and the department estimated the sale could rack up a value of up to $10.1 billion. The deal was originally seen as a lifeline for Boeing that would allow the company to keep the Super Hornet in production into the early 2020s. However, in its fiscal year 2019 budget release, the U.S. Navy rolled out an ambitious plan to buy 110 Block III Super Hornets over the next five years. That level of procurement will keep the production line humming until 2025.
Kuwait is a strategic partner in maintaining stability in the region. The acquisition of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft will allow for greater interoperability with U.S. forces, providing benefits for training and possible future coalition operations in support of shared regional security objectives,” read the November 2016 notification. The Kuwait deal is one of several potential international competitions for the Super Hornet, including Finland, India, Switzerland and Germany. In addition to U.S. Navy planned purchases, additional international sales could keep the Missouri-line production line open into the 2030s.