Subject: F/A-18E/F Update
From: Chuck Spinney 
[Personal opinion, not representing institutional affiliation]
Wed, 01 Apr 1998 07:47:40 -0500

Navy & Boeing appear poised to declare victory over wing drop.  While this
fix appears to eliminate (mitigate?) wing drop & buffet, I have been unable
to determine what, if any, penalties come with it.  In theory, such
penalties could take the form of reduced lift, increased drag (although it
is also possible that an optimized design could reduce drag), increased
maintenance problems, or adverse changes to radar cross section.  To the
best of my knowledge, the Navy has not done a detailed analysis of these
penalties yet.  Note, however, pressure to approve a multi-year procurement
is building.  The advanced procurement dollars for the multi-year, if
approved, would be appropriated this summer for the budget year which
begins next Oct--well before the beginning of the OT-IIC Operational
Evaluation tests , which will determine if this aircraft is acceptable to
fleet (OT-IIB was supposed to begin in Mar but has been delayed).  This
makes the analysis of penalties crucially important before any money is
released or production decisions are made.  If multiyear is approved, and
if OT-IIC shows the E/F to be unacceptable, or to be such a small
improvement over the best available alternative (i.e., Lot XIX, XX
F/A-18C/Ds) that it is not worth the increased costs, the U.S. government
may find that it is too expensive to stop production of E/Fs and increase
production of Lot XX C/Ds.