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Lockheed Martin seeks export F-22

LOCKHEED MARTIN and Boeing are negotiating with the US Department of Defense for clearance to develop export variants of the F-22 fighter, initially aimed at McDonnell Douglas F-15 operators.

Mickey Blackwell, president of Lockheed Martin's Aeronautics sector, says that the company has begun to look at a "tailored version of the F-22" aimed at the international market. "The dialogue with the US Government has just started," he says.

Despite the sensitive nature of much of the technology in the F-22, Blackwell is confident that an acceptable compromise can be found.

Alongside F-15 operators, such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Japan, the UK Ministry of Defence, is believed to have been kept abreast of Lockheed Martin's plans.

Blackwell maintains that the performance shortcomings on the F-22's Pratt & Whitney PW119 engine can be resolved. "The F-22 engine is within a few per cent of what the US Air Force contracted for," he says.

Alongside an export derivative of the F-22, Lockheed Martin is also looking at the Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) demonstrator programme as producing a next-generation combat aircraft for its export portfolio, eventually to replace the F-16.

Blackwell, since taking over the reigns of the Aeronautics sector two months ago, says that he has sought "...substantial additional investment in JAST. We don't entertain the thought of losing".