Boeing is being awarded a contract to investigate and address events related to physiological episodes on the F/A-18A-F and EA-18G aircraft, including performing research, developing solutions, testing, and fielding inspections and modifications.
The cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) requirements contract, worth around $19 million, is being awarded by the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) located in Patuxent River, Maryland.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri (50 percent); and El Segundo, California (50 percent), and is expected to be completed in March 2020.
The F/A-18 and EA-18G aircraft’s onboard oxygen generating system (OBOGS) is thought to have triggered a number of hypoxia-like physiological events (PE) for U.S. Navy aircrews, as well as some decompression events, in the last decade, with the issue raised in US Congressional hearings last month.
Both U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircrews have experienced physiological episodes while flying the aircraft.
In one incident reported by Defense News, the temperature inside the cockpit suddenly plunged to temperatures reaching -30 degrees and a mist pumped into the the cockpit, covering the instruments and windows in a layer of ice, rendering the pilots almost completely blind.
The fog inside the aircraft iced over the instrument panel, forcing the pilot and electronic warfare officer to use a Garmin watch to keep track of their heading and altitude while air controllers began relaying instructions to the crew. The pilot and EWO were forced to use the emergency oxygen supply, which was completely depleted by the end of the flight.
Even though the aircraft was landed safely at NAS Whidbey Island, both pilot and EWO suffered serious injuries due to frostbite following the incident.
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 A/B/C/D Hornet
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole combat jet, designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft (hence the F/A designation).
The F/A-18A is the single-seat variant and the F/A-18B is the two-seat variant. The F/A-18C is the upgraded single-seat variant and the F/A-18D is the upgraded two-seat variant.
Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
The F/A-18E Super Hornet single-seat and F/A-18F Super Hornet tandem-seat variants are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet are used by the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
Boeing EA-18G Growler
Boeing EA-18G Growler is an American carrier-based electronic warfare (EW) aircraft, a specialized version of the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet.
The EA-18G began production in 2007 and entered operational service with the U.S. Navy in late 2009. Australia has also purchased twelve EA-18Gs, which entered service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 2017.