The Navy Super Hornets have more advanced avionics and mission capabilities than the F/A-18s. At one time, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort was one of three bases that stood a chance at adding them to their roster. But now, Beaufort is officially out of the race, instead Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach will be getting 8 squadrons and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina will get the remaining two squadrons.
So, will this decision have any impact on the base's future? The thing everyone is concerned about is the next round of base closures, but many say this decision is a completely separate issue and shouldn't have any impact on the future of the base and shouldn't affect the base in the next round of base realignment and closures scheduled for 2005.
"That has no impact as far as I can see in whatever decision comes down on BRAC," said Jim Shufeld with the Greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce.
In fact, Shufeld says not getting these Super Hornets could be a good move for the base, considering new aircraft are on their way. "What's going to come down, I guess in eight years, is what's called the strike fighter, which will be a common aircraft for all the services."
But, what's really going to determine the base's future is the next round of BRAC. For over a year now, the chamber has been gearing up with a $200,000 campaign to save the air station and the rest of the Tri-command.
"To lose Parris Island or the air station would be an economic disaster and 20 years is not a stretch projection as to how long it would take reconstitute that loss," said Shufeld.