The Blue Angels fleet will be upgraded to the F/A 18 “Super Hornet” within the next two years, according to a Department of Defense contract. The Boeing Company’s St. Louis facility has been awarded $17 million for retrofit kits to turn nine F/A-18E and two F/A-18F fighter jets into the newest Blue Angel demonstrator aircraft. The work will take place in St. Louis and is expected to be completed in December of 2021. This upgrade will be the ninth change in aircraft type for the demonstrators since 1946.
The Super Hornet is larger, has a greater range, and can carry more weapons than the older F/A-18 models, FlightGlobal reported. The F/A-18E is the single-seat Super Hornet, while the F/A-18F has two seats. The Blue Angels say each show involves three flights that involve the need for a back seat. A media representative takes part in one flight, while the other two contain Key Influencers, who are specially chosen to promote the Navy and the Marine Corps.
The Blue Angels said turning a current F/A-18 aircraft into a demonstrator requires removal of the nose cannon, installing a smoke-oil tank and adding a spring to the control stick that applies additional stick pressure, improving control for formation and inverted flying. Each aircraft has the ability to be returned back to combat duty aboard an aircraft carrier within 72 hours.