Manufacturer hopeful of success in emerging contests in India, Japan and Malaysia

Boeing is trying to persuade Thailand to consider the 
F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for its next-generation fighter requirement and has also begun providing Japan with information on the aircraft for its F-X fighter programme.

Bangkok has been evaluating the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D, Saab/BAE Systems Gripen and Sukhoi Su-30 since early last year for a 12- to 18-aircraft requirement. The US government has so far only submitted an order for the F-16, but Boeing business development director for naval systems Dave Schweppe says the company believes its Super Hornet will also be evaluated before Thailand makes a selection later this year. “There may be an opportunity to engage with them over the next six months,” he says.

Gripen International sales director Bob Kemp says Thailand requires deliveries by 2011 and that a decision is expected “sometime this year, depending on politics in Thailand”.

Although the Super Hornet is currently not being evaluated, Boeing has been providing Thailand with information on the aircraft since a financial crisis forced it to cancel a 1998 order for eight F/A-18C/Ds. Schweppe says Boeing also continues to provide updates on the Super Hornet to Malaysia – an F/A-18D operator that has been considering the two-seat F model since 2001. The company remains in contact with the Malaysian air force, but Schweppe says it is impossible to predict when the country will request a new bid.

Boeing also is providing information on the Super Hornet to India and Japan. Discussions with India began about one year ago and Schweppe expects a request for proposals to be released within one to three months for 126 fighters to be delivered from 2009 or 2010. New Delhi is also evaluating the F-16, Gripen, RSK MiG MiG-29 and Dassault Mirage 2000-5, although the French manufacturer appears unwilling to pursue the contest on industrial grounds.

Japan is interested in the Boeing F-15 and F/A-18, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-22 and Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) for its 40- to 60-aircraft F-X requirement. Tokyo began preliminary discussions with the manufacturers last year, but a selection is not expected until 2007 or 2008. Schweppe claims the Super Hornet is the most affordable solution on offer to Japan, as Boeing’s production line for the type is guaranteed until 2015 for the US Navy. Japan’s expected license production requirement could exclude the F-22 and JSF.


Source: Flight International