The US Department of Defense has agreed to buy 124 F/A-18E/Fs and EA-18Gs manufactured by Boeing over the next four years for an undisclosed sum, a source familiar with the deal tells

DoD notified Congress today that it will pursue a package deal called a multi-year procurement. The arrangement locks the government into a long-term contract, and the manufacturer provides a discounted price in exchange for the commitment.

Missouri Rep Todd Akin announced that DoD had approved the third multi-year procurement (MYP) for orders during Fiscal 2010-2014, but he did not provide numbers.

The source, however, confirms the package includes 66 F/A-18E/Fs and 58 EA-18Gs, raising the total fleet 515 F/A-18E/Fs and 114 EA-18Gs after the last deliveries occur in late 2015.

Super Hornet trio - US Navy 

The cost for the four-year contract has not been disclosed. Boeing released a statement saying the package deal will cost 10% less buying the aircraft in annual lots.

"It is encouraging to see the Navy and DoD come to their senses on this issue, after I have spent two years arguing that a multi-year contract made sense on all fronts," Akin says.

Last year, DoD officials rejected Boeing's initial multi-year proposal, saying the three-year, 89-aircraft bid lowered the cost of procurement by less than 7%.

The Congressional Research Service extrapolated that even if Boeing's offer was extended to cover 150 aircraft over five years, it would still fall slightly short of DoD's 10% threshold for approving multi-year procurement (MYP) contracts.

The deal means that Boeing will continue producing the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G through at least calendar year 2015.

Extending the production line even further will depend partly on ongoing efforts to sell the aircraft abroad. Australia launched the export campaign for both aircraft types, and Boeing also is offering the fighter to India, Japan, Greece, Denmark, Kuwait and Canada.

But the programme's future also depends on the fate of the Lockheed Martin F-35B and F-35C for the Marine Corps and Navy, respectively. Both services intend to buy 680 F-35B/Cs to replace about 620 F/A-18C/Ds and about 120 AV-8B Harriers.

Meanwhile, the navy is also managing a projected fighter shortfall growing to at least 177 jets by FY2017.

Source: Flight International