Boeing may slow F/A-18 plane output to keep line going longer

F/A 18 E/F fighter jet is seen in hanger at Naval Air Station Patuxent River MarylandBy Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boeing Co is considering a slower build rate and other options to keep production of its EA-18G electronic attack planes running into 2017, and give Congress time to add more orders, a top company executive told Reuters in an interview. The St. Louis production line for Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers is slated to shut down after 2016 unless the Pentagon’s No. 2 supplier wins additional U.S. or foreign orders for the planes soon. U.S. Navy officials often laud the performance, on-time deliveries, and low operating cost of the Super Hornet and Growler aircraft, which fly from U.S. aircraft carriers. But U.S. defense officials say the Pentagon’s 2015 budget will not fund any more of the Boeing planes given competing budget demands and a growing focus on Lockheed Martin Corp’s next-generation F-35 fighter, which has three models, including a carrier-based model for the Navy.

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