US DEFENCE secretary William Cohen has agreed to delay the low-rate initial production (LRIP) decision on the McDonnell Douglas F-18E/F programme, due on 28 March.

The postponement comes at the urging of the US General Accounting Office, which felt that an LRIP decision should not be made until Congressionally ordered studies on the multi-billion-dollar weapons project are completed later this year.

The Congressional watchdog agency questions the Super Hornet's cost and combat effectiveness. It believes that the E/F would not provide significant operational performance advantages over the less-expensive C/D model which it would replace. The US Navy wants 1,000 Super Hornets (Flight International ,19-25 March, P21).

Cohen says that there is no rush to judgement. "I think we can deal with these issues once the tactical air situation is studied by the quadrennial defence review," he adds.

Source: Flight International