In my previous article on Boeing (NYSE:BA), I discussed the defense giant's three critical projects for the U.S. Navy. Today, I chat with retired rear admiral Matt Moffit about two more huge programs: the V-22 Osprey and the F/A-18E Super Hornet.
Moffit is the vice president of navy systems for Boeing and a highly decorated combat veteran who brought 34 years of Navy experience with him when he joined the company in 2008. He piloted several different aircraft during his service, including the Super Hornet's predecessor. In this video he explains why the Osprey might see increased numbers in the Navy, and why the Super Hornet is vastly superior to the one he flew.
The tiltrotor Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey -- with its ability to take off and land like a helicopter but fly like a turboprop -- is a familiar sight. ... It's certainly well known as a big Boeing project.
However, the Osprey is primarily a Marine program right now, but the Navy is looking at replacing its current carrier on-board delivery capability, which is a fixed-wing, propeller-driven aircraft.
"And they want a little more versatility, and they're looking at how they can take the Osprey, which is in big numbers out in the Marine Corps, bring that on board, and start using it in that carrier on-board delivery profile for the Navy. They've done some evaluations out on the carriers -- it's called a military utility assessment -- and the Osprey did a great job out there. The Navy was pretty pleased with its flexibility and adaptability. Of course, now we're looking in the program of record there are aircraft, so it's a function of, 'OK, are they going to purchase aircraft or not?' So, we are helping them solve all the issues associated with that, so they can come out and purchase the aircraft and replace it."
Meanwhile, the Super Hornet is already a big Navy winner for Boeing -- and a much improved aircraft from the Hornets Moffit piloted in his combat days.
"Super Hornet [is] doing fantastic around the world. Strike fighter, par excellence. Fully operable, working every day, we continue to improve it. There's capability going into it that makes it better and better."
How has the Hornet improved since you flew it?
"Oh my gosh. The Hornet I started in, the classic Hornet, the As, Bs, Cs, and Ds, don't compare to what the Super Hornet provides today."
Do these come with air conditioning?
"Yes they do, which is great, because I actually started in an A-7 Corsair years ago and the air conditioning in that thing was terrible. And also it was single-engine, and having had an ejection out of an A-7, I know the value of a two-engine aircraft out there in the ocean. So the capability between the classic and a Super is night and day. Remember why the Super Hornet was developed, to increase the payload capability, the cooling, and the power to run those high-end systems required in future war fighting, today and tomorrow. We further evolved that with a helmet that's integrated into that system, with more weapon stations, with better sensors. The Navy's right now putting on an infrared search and track system on the Super Hornet. When you put the hat on, that changes the entire game out there in the air-to-air arena, and the air-to-ground arena to certain extent. But mostly the air-to-air where you now have a passive sensor that can track aircraft from very, very long distances. Very important for future war fighting."
Reporting from the Sea-Air-Space Expo near Washington, D.C., I'm Motley Fool analyst Rex Moore.