Boeing and the US Navy are beginning to evaluate the potential export market for the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft.
The first operational example was handed over to the service on 3 June, and its first EA-18G unit is expected to stand up in late fiscal year 2009.
Technology transfer restrictions are likely to limit the number of potential international buyers for the Growler, but Mike Gibbons, Boeing EA-18G programme manager, says the manufacturer forecasts the total export market to be "far less than 100, but 50 in the extreme".
An EA-18G in flight
Ted Herman, manager F/A-18 international business development, adds: "It's a market to come, that is just now starting to be addressed by countries."
Boeing says there have been no approaches from interested nations to date, although sole existing F/A-18F Super Hornet export customer Australia is reportedly likely to seek between four and six of the aircraft.
A possible follow-on requirement to its deal for 24 F/A-18Fs is expected to be addressed in a government White Paper due to be published later this year, examining the country's defence needs until 2045.