Boeing and Lockheed Martin marketing strategy will push military transports as complementary to Airbus offering

Boeing and Lockheed Martin are repositioning their airlifter marketing efforts as they adjust to the long-delayed launch of the Airbus Military A400M. Both companies are portraying their aircraft as complementary in capability and timing to the European transport.

Despite seven European nations signing for 180 A400Ms, the US companies continue to promote their products, arguing that the European airlifter's capability and 2009-10 entry into service leaves room for a complementary aircraft.

In Portugal, which has until August to rejoin the c20 billion ($17 billion) A400M programme, Lockheed Martin is offering up to six C-130Js, while Boeing is offering the lease or purchase of two C-17s. Boeing is also offering to upgrade Portugal's six C-130Hs to US Air Force Avionics Modernisation Programme (AMP) standard.

The UK operates 25 C-130Js and has signed for 25 A400Ms, but is considering leasing another four C-17s, says Boeing. The four aircraft now on lease are flying more than twice the hours contracted for, and the UK is looking at doubling the lease terms to 1,500h a year per aircraft.

Boeing is also offering to lease up to 12 C-17s to NATO. Germany, which has signed for 60 A400Ms, is leading the initiative to augment the alliance's airlift capacity, and the US manufacturer believes the C-17's strategic outsize cargo capability will complement the smaller European airlifter.

Lockheed Martin is also offering C-130Js to NATO as interim airlifters. "We would like to work with Germany," says Ross Reynolds, vice-president C-130J programme. "The stretched C-130J-30 meets 90% of NATO's strategic transport needs. We see it as a complement to the C-17 and A400M."

Airbus Military says Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, South Africa and Sweden have expressed interest in the A400M. Boeing is also offering the C-17 to Canada, which is evaluating its airlift requirements, and Japan, as a complement to its planned indigenous C-X transport. Lockheed Martin is targeting Canada, Egypt, Norway and Sweden, while hoping for follow-on orders from Denmark and, possibly, Australia.

Airbus Military continues to court Russian suppliers for the A400M, including landing gear specialist Gidromash. The engine pylons are also on offer. FiatAvio has signed a contract with EuroProp International to supply gearboxes for the T400-D6 turboprop, despite Italy having withdrawn from the programme and purchased C-130Js. Windtunnel testing is under way to determine the benefit of using counter-rotating propellers, which would require two different standards of gearbox.

Source: Flight International