An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | May 1, 2018

DCMA Boeing St. Louis lands key milestone

By Thomas Perry DCMA Public Affairs

Who knew it takes a village to deliver a strike fighter? A Defense Contract Management Agency Boeing St. Louis pilot recently delivered the 300th F/A-18E single-seat variant Super Hornet to the Navy.

While just one person sat in the cockpit, leadership credits this delivery milestone to a collective effort, which was accomplished by an integrated team of flight operations, contracting, manufacturing, engineering, quality assurance, finance, information technology, program management and other support functions.

“Our warfighter support team is composed of more than 200 personnel including 15 Navy and Air Force service members. It took every single one of them to deliver this aircraft,” said Navy Capt. Paul Filardi, DCMA Boeing St. Louis commander. “This group is completely dedicated to providing our military with the best, most capable warfighting products. The 300th F/A-18E Super Hornet will serve in the Navy for the next 15 to 25 years, operating off aircraft carriers to implement our foreign policy needs. It will reach an extended service life of 9,000 flight hours before it is retired.”

A few of its first flight hours were spent en route to Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, where it was accepted by Strike Fighter Squadron 143, known as VFA-143. According to its website, NAS Oceana is the Navy’s East Coast master jet base, home to F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets. The station’s primary mission is to serve as a shore-based readiness integrator, providing the facilities, equipment and personnel to support shored-based readiness, total force readiness and maintain operational access of Oceana-based forces.

“The men and women who fly and maintain these aircraft trust DCMA to ensure they are ready for fleet introduction and ready to carry out the thousands of missions these aircraft will be called upon to complete,” said Filardi. “These F/A-18’s that DCMA delivers are the backbone of naval aviation and will be for decades to come.”

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Bellinghausen, who piloted the 300th Super Hornet to Oceana, is one of those trusted DCMA professionals.

“It is an honor to know I was the person who took the last step in providing the Navy fleet with a much needed aircraft that is immediately capable to going into combat,” said Bellinghausen, a DCMA Boeing St. Louis alternate government flight representative.

The Super Hornet has served a front-line role since it entered Navy service in 1999. According to the Naval Air Systems Command, the multi-role strike fighter was built on the nation’s first strike fighter, the F-18 Hornet. Today’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is an attack aircraft as well as a fighter through selected use of external equipment and advanced networking capabilities to accomplish specific missions.

“The Navy has been employing the Super Hornet in combat for the entire life of the airframe,” said Filardi. “Any new aircraft brings with it the ‘new jet smell and a more capable weapon system than the previous one.’ It also affords the squadron the ability to rotate it into the cycle and provide relief of the workload from airframes that have been carrying the brunt of the combat load. While some deliverables from DCMA come as new parts and components, a single Super Hornet represents the hard work of thousands of people from the government and industry team.”

Navy Cmdr. Douglas Hool, the DCMA Boeing St. Louis chief of flight operations, explained that because of the key role the aircraft plays within the Navy that “hard work” often takes a lead role.

“Although we manage nine ACAT I programs with contracts valued at more than $138 billion, it’s still hard to overstate the specific connection the team has to the Super Hornet program,” said Hool. “The aircraft is the backbone of the Navy’s carrier air wings, and everything from its production, sustainment, and now life extension through the F/A-18E/F service life modification program is touched in some way in St. Louis. This contract management office is responsible to provide the proper oversight for it all.”

That oversight accelerates in importance and takes on real-world implications once an aircraft is accepted by the Navy.

“The most rewarding aspect is easily the knowledge that I am critical to the fleet getting a totally capable and lethal aircraft,” said Bellinghausen. “I take this responsibility very seriously with my worst fear being responsible for an imperfect aircraft being delivered to the warriors at the tip of the spear.”

This most recent milestone comes just a few months after DCMA Boeing St. Louis delivered its 150th EA-18G Growler to similar warriors at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California.

The Growler is a variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet Block II. It is considered a carrier-based, electronic warfare aircraft. This variant is less than 10 years old, but it and the Super Hornet are derivatives of the original F/A-18 Hornet.

“This November marks the 40th anniversary of the first F/A-18 Hornet having made its maiden flight in 1978,” said Filardi. “That is quite a milestone for what was originally a simple fighter aircraft with a basic mission. It continues to evolve today as a world-renowned, multi-mission, premier strike fighter operated by the Navy and America’s foreign partners. Throughout its entire history, the government team, we know today as DCMA, has been there the whole way.”

For the Naval warfighter, this delivery adds a “capable and lethal aircraft” to its fleet.

For DCMA Boeing St. Louis, new challenges lie ahead as work on the Block III Super Hornet is expected to begin in 2019.

And for Bellinghausen, the 300th delivery ended unceremoniously. He went from cockpit to coach in less than 24 hours.

“My travel home is the least exciting portion of my delivery, I organize it through the Defense Travel System and book a flight via commercial air,” he said.