Direct industrial participation by German and Italian companies in the US prime contractor bids for the two nations' Dassault Atlantic 1 maritime patrol aircraft replacement programme is unlikely to meet the required 70% of contract value.

Boeing, L-3 Communications and Lockheed Martin are competing for the 18-24 aircraft programme, while Alenia and EADS are to bid jointly.

US industry sources say the 70% direct participation will be difficult to achieve, particularly with US-built airframes, and that 50% is a more achievable level.

Talks are complicated by Alenia and EADS having to offer to US bidders any systems or capabilities from their own bid, say the sources.

Alenia/EADS and Boeing will offer jet platforms, while L-3 and Lockheed Martin are proposing rebuilt and new Lockheed Martin P-3s respectively. Selection is planned in January, with service entry in 2007.

L-3 director maritime surveillance systems James Bukhardt says: "We're still having conversations with [Alenia parent] Finmeccanica and EADS." The two groups' electronics, systems and aircraft companies are potential partners, while P-3 remanufacturing and systems installation on most aircraft will be done in Europe, he says.

Bukhardt adds that "we don't have our own sensors, so would use European systems. We have offered participation in the tactical control system [TCS]". L-3 says TCS has also been offered to Alenia/EADS for its proposal.

Jack Crisler, Lockheed Martin German/Italian bid leader, says: "Ninety per cent of the effort has been developing the team, which will continue past the submission of the bid." Lockheed Martin is assessing European sensors, missions systems and weapons, as well as structures work, says Crisler.

Boeing campaign manager Martin Fisher says the company is also talking to German and Italian suppliers, including EADS business units, while Alenia, which has close ties with Boeing, is "a candidate for airframe modifications".

The 737's commercial use means Boeing can offer through life support, while German and/or Italian airlines operating the aircraft could offer training and maintenance.

Source: Flight International