Boeing offers international partnerships for MMA work

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US manufacturer aims to learn lessons from rival Lockheed Martin's JSF programme

Boeing has made commitments to Australia, Canada and Italy to place more than $500 million of work on the P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) in each country if they sign to join the US Navy development programme.

The offers are intended to persuade each country to invest $300 million in the MMA system development and demonstration (SDD) programme. All three nations are participating in Joint Strike Fighter development, and after studying the lessons learned from that programme Boeing decided to work with the industry in each country to identify the companies and the work they could perform.

Offers of industry-to-industry partnerships are on the table in each country, says Tony Parasida, MMA programme manager, but they are dependent on government-to-government agreements to join SDD. Boeing needs to get as many of the international partners as possible on board by the MMA preliminary design review (PDR) in September.

"We are locking up the major suppliers by PDR. The major chance for international participation is early in the programme," says Parasida. The work on offer is principally on the air vehicle itself and largely on mission system as the supply chain for the 737 airframe is already in place, he says.

Recognising that government-to-government negotiations will move at a different pace in each country, Boeing is prepared to begin placing work ahead of an agreement if it believes talks are going well. "We are in the process of evaluating bids. We are within weeks of our first international award," Parasida says. Boeing and the MAA industry team have targeted specific companies in each country, but they will still have to bid for the work to ensure they provide value and meet the "should cost" affordability goals, he says. "The point is to make an offer it is difficult to turn down," says Parasida.

The plan resembles the strategic sourcing process introduced on the JSF programme, which was introduced after several international participants complained they were not getting an adequate return on their investment under Lockheed Martin's best-value bidding process. "We got a lot of pushback from the countries [on best-value bidding]," he says.

"We have a business case on the table that is an unprecedented offer. Each of the international partners says the industrial benefit stands alone as a good deal." About 50% of the mission-unique systems content of the MMA is "up for grabs for international partners", Parasida says.

GRAHAM WARWICK/WASHINGTON DC