The US Navy has taken delivery of the first upgraded F/A-18 Super Hornet jet from Boeing under the service life modification (SLM) contract.

Boeing plans to deliver the second SLM jet by the end of this month, with the third expected in April.

The first Super Hornet jets delivered by the company under this contract will extend the service life from 6,000 to 7,500 flight hours.

Future upgrade plans will enable the jets to fly 10,000 hours and incorporate the new capabilities of Block III.

E/F/G Air Vehicles PMA-265 co-lead Stephen May said: “SLM is going to provide a critical resource for the navy to re-capitalise on long-serving aircraft to return them to the fleet in a near new condition.

“It will reduce burden on our maintainers, our supply system and our depot level assets within the enterprise.”

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At present, there are 15 Super Hornets on production lines in St Louis and San Antonio under the SLM. Boeing has plans to deliver five more jets this year.

As the SLM progresses, the time taken to complete modifications on an F/A-18 will come down to one year instead of 18 months.

The conversion will include improved network capability, conformal fuel tanks, and an advanced cockpit system.

Additional upgrades will include signature improvements and an enhanced communication system. The upgrades will add extra life and new capabilities to the F/A-18.

Last month, Boeing and the US Navy concluded the F/A-18 Super Hornet flight with an Infrared Search & Track (IRST) Block II pod.