President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget will request 24 Super Hornet jets built by Boeing Co., reversing an Obama administration decision to stop buying the fighter after this year, according to two people familiar with the decision.
Such a reversal would bolster the prospects of Being’s north St. Louis County assembly line, which only a couple of years ago faced an uncertain future as the military considered winding down orders for the Super Hornets made there. Instead, new foreign orders are now expected to keep the line running into the next decade, and a renewed commitment from the U.S. military for the St. Louis facility’s biggest product, the Super Hornet, could help keep many of the 14,000 Boeing jobs there safe for even longer.
The proposal in the budget due to be presented Feb. 12 is likely to be welcomed in Congress, which has consistently added more Super Hornets than requested and resisted Pentagon plans under former President Barack Obama to phase it out. Lawmakers approved 12 of the aircraft in fiscal 2016 when none were requested and 12 more in fiscal 2017 when two were requested. This fiscal year, House and Senate appropriators have proposed adding 10 aircraft to the 14 requested.
“The big question is: How long will the Navy sustain the line?” Richard Aboulafia, military aircraft analyst for the Teal Group, said. “But in the ‘here and now,’ this is very good news for one of Boeing’s most profitable programs.”