Boeing is trying to keep its F/A-18 Super Hornet attractive to the Navy, now suggesting the ability to launch a small UAV. Which lines up with what our own Gordon Adams said a few weeks ago on This Week in Defense News:
I have a prediction on the F-35. The version that gets bought in smaller numbers than currently projected is the Air Force version. The version that gets bought even though it probably shouldn’t be is the Marine Corps version—because their lobbyists are good and the Brits want it. The version that gets killed or cut very deeply is the Navy version, and they buy F-18s instead.
As the Navy keeps buying F/A-18s in the near-term, it also seems to be easing the need for the F-35 in the long-term too. As Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus testified in March:
In the far term, the Navy will need to replace its F/A-18E/F Fleet. Pre-Milestone A activities are underway to define the follow-on F/A-XX aircraft. Options include additional F-35s, a variant of the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System (UCLASS), a new manned/unmanned platform, or some combination of these.
Then the Navy formally asked for other options for their follow-on to the F/A-18, heightening suspicions the Navy is looking to replace, not complement the F-35. The F-35 program would be a little less big without the Navy, but that's likely to be more a dilemma than an advantage for the program.