The new combat aircraft requirement in India is a hot topic in the chalets here this week, thanks to its size and–for Boeing and Lockheed Martin–the prospect that this country could become a customer for U.S. warplanes for the very first time. Meanwhile, Lockheed seems likely to clinch the sale of 24 new F-16C/D Block 52 fighters to India’s prospective adversary, Pakistan, later this year.
JAS 39 Gripen
BAE Systems has all but abandoned Europe. The British defense conglomerate is putting its money into North America, where the budgets are large and the risks are low. But the U.S. government has imposed major bureaucratic controls on all foreign entities that seek to share defense technology. So can BAE ever become a truly integrated transatlantic company?
Almost four years ago the Indian parliament’s defense standing committee leveled a number of major criticisms at the nation’s defense procurement process.
The arrival of the Gripen at the Dubai airshow represents a major milestone in an expanding marketing campaign for Sweden’s multirole fighter. Not only does it mark the aircraft’s first public appearance in the Middle East, it introduces the latest JAS 39C/D–now in service with Sweden and the Czech Republic–to the major international airshow circuit.
The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) medium multirole combat aircraft (M-MRCA) tender is beginning to resemble a free-for-all that shows no signs of abating and will continue for several years.
Away from the turmoil of the marketplace, the Gripen team has continued to develop the aircraft and enhance its weapon capabilities. On Dec. 13, 2005, a Gripen took off from Linköping with a fully representative systems-fit Meteor missile, the first such flight for this important European weapon.
With a big, self-contained display outside Hall A here, Gripen International signals its determination to compete in Asia. And elsewhere, of course. Sales and marketing director Bob Kemp told journalists here this week that he expects the Swedish fighter to gain 200 export orders over the next 10 years–just under 10 percent of his estimate for the total combat aircraft market.
The Farnborough International 2006 airshow (July 17 to 23) is set to be a bumper event with more exhibitors and aircraft than ever before. Show organizers announced here in Singapore that sales for the almost-sold-out event are up more than 15 percent on the last Farnborough airshow in 2004.
The MBDA Meteor ramjet, active radar homing air-to-air missile (AAM) program is still alive and kicking, but has had to focus its efforts on meeting the deadlines imposed by the original December 2002 contract in order to avoid cancellation penalties.
The Eurofighter Typhoon program is one of the longest running projects in the history of military aircraft. The sheer number of years from initial design studies to production deliveries to the air forces of the four original partner nations (Germany, the UK, Spain and Italy) has been fodder for criticism that the program has become a mammoth, never-ending defense project that imposed an excessive burden on taxpayers.