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McCaskill to push for Super Hornet at defense hearing

A Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet sits aboard the USS Harry S. Truman. (KWMU photo/Matt Sepic)

By Bill Raack, KWMU

St. Louis – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said she'll continue to lobby for Boeing's St. Louis-built F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet during a hearing Thursday with the Defense Department.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants the government to buy just 31 Super Hornets next year, down from this year's 45.

McCaskill said the plane is key to U.S. aircraft carrier operations, and taxpayers will save money if the Pentagon signs a multi-year contract with Boeing instead of submitting annual orders.

"I think we've got a really good opportunity to make a strong case on the merits, on policy, on fiscal accountability to move forward with a multi-year procurement of the F/A-18 and I'm optimistic about that," McCaskill said.

The ultimate decision is up to Congress and President Obama, and boosting production for the Super Hornet has been a priority of both Republicans and Democrats in St. Louis' congressional delegation.

About 4,000 Boeing employees work on the F/A-18 production line in St. Louis.