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SINGAPORE 2010: Boeing looks to capitalise on F-35 woes

Boeing anticipates that changes announced recently to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme will inadvertently help its overseas campaigns for fighters.

If the JSF programme slips it will affect the overseas partners in the programme "and that gives us tremendous opportunity to go in there, particularly with the Super Hornet", says Boeing Integrated Defense Systems vice-president international business development Mark Kronenberg.

 Lockheed Martin F-35, Lockheed Martin
 Lockheed Martin F-35

He says five years ago F-35 programme partners Canada and Denmark would "have been rock solid", but now there is an opportunity for Boeing to talk to them and focus on aspects such as the price and proven capability of Boeing's aircraft. Canada and Denmark are manufacturing partners in the F-35 programme, but are so far the only two partners that have yet to commit to buying the F-35.

Boeing will continue building the F/A-18E/F until at least 2014, which includes fulfilling a recent US Navy order for 26.

"Beyond that we believe because of the [US Navy's fighter] shortfall, and because of some of the challenges with our competition, and some of our international opportunities - including Denmark, India, Brazil, and others - we believe the F/A-18 will be rock solid until the end of the next decade," says Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing military aircraft.

Boeing also has to contend in future with Russia's Sukhoi PAK FA/T-50, a fifth-generation fighter that made its first public flight on 29 January.

When asked what impact this new aircraft will have on future demand for Boeing's fourth-generation Boeing F-15, Boeing executives argued that it may stimulate demand for Boeing fighters.

"It just highlights the need for air sovereignty - and I think it just heightens the need for platforms that are available today but will also work well in two decades to come," says Boeing Defense, Space and Technology vice-president business development global strike systems Jeffrey Johnson.

He also says F-15 operators also have the option to step up to the F-15 Silent Eagle.

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