Air forces of the world appear increasingly likely to play follow-the-leader in aircraft procurement over the coming decade - and that leader is increasingly likely to be the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

This is the opinion of the latest fighter/attack aircraft forecast from the US-based Teal Group, issued at the show today.

The coming decade will effectively be Europe's last window of opportunity to export new fighters or create alliances to forestall US market dominance, predicts the report. A small number of fighter competitions, such as Singapore's, give a chance for aircraft such as Rafale and Typhoon to boost their production lifespans before the F-35 comes on stream. But increasingly, the report says, the market will revolve around the US aircraft.

This is because the shock of 11 September 2001 has led to hugely-increased US defence budgets, securing the future of the JSF. It has also led to a more muscular foreign policy - and potential purchasers prefer to buy their weaponry from such a supplier, rather than one with a more passive approach to the outside world.

"This will all have a profound effect on the export standing of US contractors," argues the report. "Now that F-35 looks like it is working out as planned, US fighter manufacturers can offer a seamless roadmap of export fighters. Countries can buy interim batches of F-16s or F/A-18s and then transition to F-35. Tellingly, Canada and the Netherlands have followed the UK into the F-35 development programme. More countries will follow."


Source: Flight Daily News