The US Navy has backpedaled on its intention of acquiring more Boeing F/A-18E/F aircraft in fiscal year 2015, cancelling a 17 October pre-solicitation order for up to 36 of the aircraft.
The navy issued a cancellation notice on the federal procurement website FedBizOpps.gov today, putting the brakes on the earlier notice, which was for both F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and E/A-18G Growler aircraft.
The navy also cancelled a 17 October pre-solicitation notice to procure up to 84 General Electric F414 engines, which power both the Super Hornet and Growler, according to FedBizOpps.gov.
"The pre-solicitation was removed from FebBizOpps because, currently, there is no fiscal 2015 or subsequent requirements for additional F/A-18E/Fs or E/A-18Gs," the navy tells Flightglobal in a statement.
The solicitation orders were seen by some analysts as an attempt by the navy to ensure it has the option to purchase more of the Boeing fighter jets amid uncertainty about the readiness of Lockheed Martin’s F-35C Joint Strike Fighter.
Todd Harrison, senior fellow at Washington, DC-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told Flightglobal the Navy appeared to be “hedging their bets” with the pre-solicitation.
Boeing told Flightglobal that it thought the pre-solicitation was a “formality to keep the door open to potential future buys” of F/A-18s.
The navy declined to comment on the original pre-solicitation order, but earlier this month US Navy Vice Admiral Allen Myers told senators during a meeting of the Armed Services Committee that FY2014 budget cuts threaten the ability of the navy to ensure F-35Cs reach “initial operational capability” by 2018.
The Senate appropriations committee also recommended that the FY2014 budget include $75 million for procurement of Super Hornets, noting concerns about delays of the Joint Strike Fighter programme.
The FY2014 appropriations bill has not been passed by the Senate.