Boeing says operators' positive experiences with a number of its military aircraft put it in a strong position to compete for a slice of the European market for unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).
Mike Kurth, senior vice-president of Boeing Saudi Arabia, says that with the UK's inventory including the C-17 strategic transport, CH-47 Chinook and AH-64D Apache rotorcraft - alongside Scan Eagle UAVs from Boeing subsidiary Insitu - it demonstrates the nation's trust in the airframer's product range.
The two Scan Eagle systems are operated by the Royal Navy under a contractor-owned, contractor-operated agreement, and a bid has been submitted by the company to provide two further systems which is currently being assessed by the service, Kurth says.
“The customer has been happy – there is plenty of potential for improving the capability,” he adds. “We have a customer here in the UK who is really interested in using unmanned systems.
“The UK with respect to UAS is like it is across the whole operational spectrum…they are sophisticated buyers.”
Furthermore, the company believes it is well-placed to contribute to any potential joint Anglo-French UAV development.
“There is no reason why we can’t be competitive in Europe,” Kurth adds, but notes it ultimately depends on the price of entry to market.
“We need to carefully choose where we invest…there are certain things in which it is wise to invest,” he adds.
The company is one of the four vendors selected to develop an air vehicle design for the US Navy’s UCLASS programme, which Kurth says could be of interest to Europe, despite efforts to develop an indigenous strike UAV design.
“It will be interesting to see where the winner of UCLASS stands in the UK,” he says. “I think they [Europe] would find it attractive.”
Source: Flight Daily News