As US President Donald Trump stood in front of Boeing’s inaugural 787-10 Dreamliner in South Carolina this week, he turned his attention from the company’s commercial crown jewel to tease a possible military aircraft sale.
Trump mentioned a potential F/A-18E/F Super Hornet order as the focus of his speech meandered from boosting American jobs to rebuilding its military.
“Do you care if we use the F/A-18 Super Hornets?” Trump asked. “We are looking seriously at a big order. The problem is that [Boeing CEO] Dennis [Muilenburg] is a very tough negotiator, but I think we may get there.”
It’s difficult to gauge whether Trump is serious about buying additional Super Hornets and what order the president is referencing. US Air Force officials confirmed this week that Trump included Muilenburg on a call discussing the Lockheed Martin F-35 programme and whether a version of the Super Hornet that could compete with the F-35C.
That conversation led to a Defense Department review that would compare the F-35C and the F/A-18. While the outcome of the memo is unclear right now, Boeing and the US Navy are discussing what a complementary mix of Super Hornets and F-35s might look like, a Boeing spokeswoman tells FlightGlobal.
The president also commented on his own aircraft, the Boeing-built Air Force One. The US Air Force is working on a protracted recapitalisation programme to replace the two 747-200-derived VC-25As.
“We’re also working on the air force one project which was a difficult project for previous administrations, but it looks like we’re getting closer and closer,” Trump says. “That plane, as beautiful as it looks is 30 years old. What can look so beautiful at 30? An aeroplane.”