A decade ago, after losing the Joint Strike Fighter competition to rival Lockheed Martin, with an ageing product portfolio, and with everyone predicting that the future lay in unmanned strike aircraft, Boeing's future in manned combat aircraft looked precarious.
In mid-2011, that outcome might not be so certain, as Stephen Trimble explains in our cover feature this week (Flight International, 12 July). The company that gained a tactical aircraft capability when it acquired McDonnell Douglas in 1997, has backlogged orders for the F-15E and F/A-18E/F extending to the middle of the decade, and in the case of the Super Hornet, Boeing bosses are confident production could be stretched into the 2020s.
But, more significantly, beyond that, Boeing is preparing to be a contender for the next manned fighter programme in a restructuring of its defence business that the leader of its military aircraft arm calls a "mindset change".
Elsewhere in the issue, Michael Gerzanics takes a simulator ride in the Block II F/A-18E/F and Dan Thisdell looks at Europe's plans in manned spaceflight. Craig Hoyle examines the latest UK initiative to improve military aviation safety, which come almost five years after one of the country's worst air accidents, the loss of a Nimrod MR2 surveillance aircraft over Afghanistan. And Siva Govindasamy reports from Tokyo, where Boeing 787 launch customer ANA finally got its hands on its first Dreamliner, albeit a validation aircraft rather than the first passenger version.