Even “Top Gun” couldn’t save the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Boeing announced Thursday that it expects to end production of the fighter jet in late 2025 after a final delivery to the U.S. Navy.
Production of the plane could be stretched out to 2027 if India places an order, the company said.
The first F/A-18 debuted in 1983 and was built by McDonnell Douglas, which merged with Boeing in 1997. More than 2,000 Hornets, Super Hornets and Growlers have been delivered to the U.S. military and the governments of many allies, including Canada, Finland, Australia and Malaysia.
But the plane’s fate has been in doubt in recent years. The Navy had planned not to buy any Super Hornets after fall 2021, citing the age of the plane’s design. Only an act of Congress kept production running.
News of the plane’s curtain call comes less than a month after Boeing delivered the last of its iconic 747 jumbo jet that has been used in passenger and cargo service for half a century.
Boeing said ending F/A-18 production will let it focus on future military aircraft, both crewed and uncrewed, and increase production of other defense programs. The company said it plans to build three new facilities in St. Louis, where the F/A-18s are assembled.
“We are planning for our future, and building fighter aircraft is in our DNA,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president of Boeing’s Air Dominance division.
The company said it will continue to develop upgrades to the current fleet of F/A-18 Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers. The latter is a carrier-based electronic version of the jet.
The Super Hornet featured prominently in the 2022 movie “Top Gun: Maverick,” with Tom Cruise reprising his role in a 1980s movie about a Navy pilot. The sequel got positive reviews and was among the highest-grossing movies of last year.
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