VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- The Navy is moving forward with its on-going transition from older F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets to the newer, more capable Super Hornets at Oceana.
Many of the older planes, which date back to the 1980's, are beyond the 6,000 flight hours for which their airframe was engineered, and some have passed 8,000 hours. The increased wear from nearly 16 straight years of combat operations has taken a big toll.
"These aircrafts are reaching the end of their service life," said Ted Brown, a spokesman for United States Fleet Forces Command. "We do need to replace them."
The Navy plans to order at least 80 additional Super Hornets over the next five years including 14 jets in the fiscal year '18 budget request
For Naval Air Station Oceana and Fentress Field, the Navy will continue the transition that began in 2015 from the older, legacy, F/A-18 C and D Hornets to the newer, more advanced F/A 18 E and F Super Hornets. Currently just three operational legacy squadrons remain.
In all, 62 planes will be switched.
"Basically we're talking about a one to one replacement of Super Hornets of the older model C & D aircraft," said Brown. "The types of operations will remain the same. The tempo of operations will remain the same. Quite frankly, we believe it have a minor impact, if that."
They may look similar, but there are differences. The Hornet costs $29-57 million; the Super Hornet costs $70.5 million. The Super Hornet is 20 % larger, and 7,000 pounds heavier. U.S. Fleet Forces Command says the Super Hornet is 5 to 6 decibels louder than the Hornet.
Noise around Oceana and Fentress should be lessened, because once the transition is complete, there will be 40 less aircraft in operation, locally.
"The Super Hornet is a somewhat louder aircraft, 5 to 6 decibels depending on the modes of operation, but it should not be noticeable or a very major impact to folks in the community."
The Navy plans two public meetings, scheduled for Tuesday, August 29 at the Columbian Club in Virginia Beach and Wednesday, August 30 at the Hickory Ruritan Club in Chesapeake; both meetings are from 5 to 7 pm.