USN outlines F/A-18 STE enhancements

8th July 2020 - 13:00 GMT | by Trevor Nash in Holsworthy


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The USN has unveiled plans for its continued update of F/A-18 and EA-18G synthetic training equipment (STE) over the next four years.

With all but two of the programmes funded, the US Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) expects to spend around $220 million on the upgrades.

The first contract is expected to be awarded in September to upgrade the F/A-18C/D Hornet Tactical Operational Flight Trainer (TOFT) with the Next Generation Threat System (NGTS) Version 3.2.

This is a sole-source $20.5 million contract to be undertaken by the TOFT OEM, L3 Harris Link Training & Simulation.

NGTS has been developed by the Naval Air Warfare Center's Aircraft Division. It models ground, surface, sub-surface and airborne threats as well as friendly aircraft.

To maintain simulator downtime to a minimum, it is thought that the TOFT units will also undergo an upgrade to their older SimView image generators at the same time as the NGTS update. 

Again, this sole-source $6.5 million contract will see L3 Harris Link Training & Simulation carry out the work.

Another F/A-18C/D programme being worked up by NAWCTSD is the aircraft’s Simulated Aircraft Maintenance Trainer (SAMT), for which an RfP is expected in Q3 FY2021. Valued at $12 million, this competitive bid contract award is expected in early 2023.

Turning to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, an RfP is expected in Q2 FY2021 for software configuration and an operational flight programme (SCS/OFP) update. Valued at $10 million, this sole-source contract for Boeing is expected to be awarded at the end of 2021.

Running slightly behind the SCS/OFP contract is a sole-source maintenance training system technical refresh requirement valued at $12 million. Boeing will be the beneficiary.

In early 2022, Boeing and Link will be asked to bid on a $25 million programme that addresses hardware obsolescence and technical refresh of F/A-18E/F and EA-18G TOFTs, Low Cost Trainers and maintenance trainers.

Again, this contract is likely to run in parallel with a $10 million Boeing sole-source contract for SCS/OFP updates.

Two unfunded requirements are also being considered by NAWCTSD. One concerns a Block III upgrade for the F/A-18E/F and this other is a Block II upgrade for the EA-18G.

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