On September 1st, a group of about 20 folks, members of GPS and Orange County Navy League, met at 1 Hornet Way, the 1,000,000 square foot Northrop Grumman plant where a large part of the fuselage of the F/A-18 Super Hornet and Growler are currently being manufactured. Our host was Capt Tighe “Tiger” Parmenter who is now the Business Development Manager for the F/A-18 after running the highly successful X-47B program.
We started out with a very detailed review of the development of the F/A-18 Hornet, Super Hornet and Growler. Apparently the line is going to shut down in the not-to-far distant future unless NG gets more orders from other nations. The US has put all its eggs in the F-35 basket and has no current interest in buying new F-18s for the Navy. That being said, NG has a large part of the manufacturing responsibilities for the F-35 so they are not without business. The tour was very professional and we got to ask any question that we wished and all were answered. It was quite interesting.
After the tour of the manufacturing line we retired to a conference room for a briefing of the X-4 7 B U C A S Demonstrator Program. As you may recall, Tiger briefed us a few times on the progress of the X-47B. After successfully demonstrating the ability of the X-47B to complete in air refueling and after already proving itself around the carrier, the Navy has shelved the project in order to get organized (author’s opinion, not Tighe’s). Tiger gave us an excellent brief on the current situation on the X-47B. We were all duly impressed. See photo of the aircraft in action.