Addressing a media roundtable at the Paris Air Show on 20 June, Boeing Vice President for Global Sales, Gene Cunningham, described potential discussions which could see multiple European and NATO members increasing defence expenditure up to 2 per cent GDP following criticism from US President Donald Trump.
“We have to give governments time to figure out what they’re going to do. I’m encouraged as it shows people are taking this seriously rather than putting some notion out there,” he explained while questioning how much money would be spent on materiel. “Serious discussions are underway. In this period, we are going to see that evolution and see those changes. We’ve got to be ready and we’ve also got to be ready as these decisions evolve but with an organisation such as NATO, i expect those discusssions to be collaborative. That’s the most effective way to increase everyone’s security.”
According to Cunningham, the European market remains busy with Boeing currently chasing multiple fast air procurement programmes Finland and Switzerland, as well as ongoing dialogue with the Norwegian government to deliver the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).
He described Boeing’s thoughts on the emerging Heavy Lift Helicopter Programme in Germany for its air force (Luftwaffe), as well as Poland’s requirement for a future attack helicopter. Concerning German MoD’s Heavy Lift Helicopter programme, Cunningham explained Boeing’s company strategy to offer up the latest version of the CH-47 CHINOOK helicopter. Furthermore, Cunningham confirmed Boeing would be offering up a variant of the AH-64 APACHE Attack Helicopter for the Polish MoD’s Attack Helicopter requirement. “We are certainly engaged in that process. Apache provides the defence needs for the Polish going forward,” he informed.
Following the Helsinki Air Show, Cunningham confirmed that Boeing was interested in the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) effort to replace 64 F-18 aircraft.
“We are interested in being part of that,” Cunningham confirmed. “The Finnish Air Force is looking at requirements and options for potential contenders with no limitations at this point so we see ourselves moving foward [with the Super HORNET].”
The programme is expected to progress towards a competitive Request for Proposals in 2019, Cunningham added.
Turning his attention to Switzerland, Cunningham referred to ongoing efforts to replace legacy F-18 and F-5 aircraft. He described “initial discussions” with the Swiss MoD in regards to intentions to move forward with the effort.
The Swiss decision to revive the programme follows the cancellation of Saab’s GRIPEN fighter which was revoked following a national referendum. “Now it is a very different environment and the Swiss are talking about a very open and transparent process.”
In Norway, Boeing continues to conduct discussions with the MoD regarding delivery of P-8 MPA ahead of an expected contract in the next year or so, Cunningham explained. An Initial Operating Capability has been highlighted during 2022, he added while describing how Boeing would be seeking indigenous partners to assist in the manufacturing of the aircraft. “We are still in the beginning stages of what that will look like but we are looking at capabilities in Norway,” Cunningham concluded.