Boeing has successfully completed the service life modification (SLM) of a US Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jet at its San Antonio line in Texas.

The upgraded aircraft was delivered to the service and marks the fourth unit to undergo SLM.

Under the SLM programme, the service life of the existing Super Hornets will be extended from 6,000 to 10,000 flight hours.

The three previous jets under the SLM programme underwent a series of modifications in St Louis, Missouri, US.

They returned to the fleet as ‘fully mission capable’ and with capability for the extended flight hours.

In February last year, the US Navy took delivery of the first upgraded F/A-18 Super Hornet jet from Boeing under the SLM contract.

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The F/A-18 E and F Super Hornet maritime strike attack aircraft was manufactured by Boeing and flew for the first time in November 1995.

The Super Hornet is about 25% larger than its predecessor ‘F/A-18C/D’ and contains 42% fewer structural parts.

F/A-18 & EA-18G programme manager captain Jason Denney said: “With two lines now conducting SLM, the navy will be able to have more updated Super Hornets in the inventory, further bolstering readiness.”

US Navy’s SLM Lead Sarah Banagan said that a total of 25 jets have been inducted so far between the two SLM production lines in St Louis and San Antonio.

According to the US Navy, the San Antonio line is expected to handle more jets for SLM in the future.

F/A-18E/F deputy programme manager Ann Wood said: “The SLM lines are the navy’s key enabler to minimising strike fighter shortfalls and will position the navy to extend the life of the EA-18G Growler as well.”

The last modified Super Hornet was delivered to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122 at NAS Lemoore in California, US.

In November 2018, Boeing awarded a new contract for Phase II of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block II infrared search and track (IRST) programme.