The Navy announced today the results of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet operational evaluation (OPEVAL). The OPEVAL report awarded the best possible grade to the Super Hornet, calling it "operationally effective and operationally suitable." In addition, the report recommended the aircraft's introduction into the fleet.
Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jay Johnson, stated "The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is the cornerstone of the future of naval aviation. The superb performance demonstrated throughout its comprehensive operational evaluation was just what we expected and confirms why we can't wait to get it to the fleet!"
Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine (VX-9) at China Lake, Calif., flew 1,233 hours in over 850 sorties and expended more than 400,000 pounds of ordnance in the Super Hornet during nearly six months of flights. The 23-member aircrew tested the aircraft in a complex variety of tactical missions representing the operational arena.
The Navy's Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs, Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Cook commented, "This is the best news the Navy's carrier forces have received in a long time. It will ensure that throughout the next twenty years the fleet will be capable of countering the evolving threat. My congratulations to the Navy's Operational Test and Evaluation Command, the men and women of VX-9, and the entire naval aviation systems team."
The purpose of the OPEVAL was to test the aircraft in a realistic fleet setting to determine its operational effectiveness as a weapon system, and its suitability to be maintained and operated by the Navy. No new deficiencies were found and the report validated the aircraft's superior capabilities.
"I'm really excited about the results," said Capt. James B. Godwin III, F/A-18 program manager, "and we got the best grade possible from OPEVAL - operationally effective and operationally suitable. This report confirmed that the Super Hornet is a very mature product. We have been recommended for full fleet introduction."
The OPEVAL report specifically cited the aircraft's key enhancing features -- growth, bringback, survivability, range and payload -- as qualities relative to current fleet operational capabilities. The successful completion of OPEVAL continues the Super Hornet along the road to a milestone III decision, and then approval to start full-rate production and multi-year procurement.