The Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa earlier this year have refocused procurement priorities in the region, rather than resulted in cancellations of existing orders for military aircraft, according to Boeing.

"We've not seen a great impact in the ongoing discussions in the region. Everyone is going through a recapitalisation of their equipment post-Arab Spring, and we anticipate that this would continue," said Paul Oliver, regional vice-president for international business development at Boeing Defense, Space and Security.

"In the near term though, we could see a change of focus to, for example, heavy lift capabilities. These are the more immediate requirements for the governments when it comes to hardware.

"They are also keen for more industrial participation to rebuild infrastructure and to create jobs - these are priorities for the region, and we want to support the vision of the governments as part of our long-term efforts in the region. Therefore, for example, we are working with both local companies and universities to help them achieve that goal."

The Middle East represents around one-third of the Boeing defence segment's international business, which accounts for 18% of the company's overall revenue. Oliver said the region will remain "one of the most important markets" for Boeing as the countries upgrade their capabilities.

"A lot of the countries here participate in humanitarian efforts, and so the C-17 and heavy lift helicopters are important. Other rotorcraft like the Apache and AH-6 are in demand as well, and there is interest in battle management capabilities," said Oliver.

There have been two evaluation flights from potential customers for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet this year, and Oliver expects more in the coming months. Saudi Arabia is also mulling an order for the F-15E, a move that would be crucial if Boeing wants to extend the line beyond 2012.

Source: Flight Daily News