Northrop briefing offers glimpse at industry's F/A-18 strategy

Washington DC
Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

An internal Northrop Grumman report inadvertently made available on its public Internet site reveals details about the cost pressures and sales strategy facing the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet industry team.

Northrop, Boeing’s largest F/A-18 supplier, presented the 78-slide presentation to potential suppliers on 13 March. The Google search engine’s web crawlers has preserved a cached snapshot of the report, although the document itself is no longer available for public viewing on Northrop’s web site. 

Boeing and Northrop officials declined to comment about the report.

Northrop described facing prices from suppliers rising by 29% even as Boeing negotiates a potential third multi-year procurement (MYP) deal with the US Navy for at least 100 aircraft. Despite the rising prices, Northrop says it must reduce costs on the aft fuselage alone by $1 million per ship set, or by roughly 20%.

Securing the third MYP order has long been seen as critical for extending the Super Hornet’s production line well into the next decade.

Deliveries for at least three new customers – Japan, India and Greece – could begin in 2012, assuming Boeing’s proposal defeats an active competitive field in each of those countries.

A key chart in the presentation also reveals internal estimates showing that the production rate for F/A-18E/Fs and EA-18Gs could potentially double from this year to 2014.

Intriguingly, Northrop also projects the potential for follow-on aircraft deliveries to both Australia and Canada after 2013 -- a period in which both countries are currently planning to fulfill their commitments to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

 

[Click here to view the Northrop Grumman briefing online.]

 

Read The DEW Line for more coverage of the F/A-18 presentation.