Boeing Defense, Space & Security is bullish about prospects for military rotorcraft sales in the Asia-Pacific region, with Indonesia emerging as a potential buyer for the CH-47 Chinook.Apache
Boeing officials met with representatives from Indonesia on 16 February, and Shephard understands Jakarta has asked the US for a letter of offer. However, the exact number and requirements are not yet delineated.
Boeing will continue producing Chinooks until at least the mid-2020s.
Referring to the suitability of Boeing’s military portfolio to Asia-Pacific, Jeff Kohler, vice president global sales, told media ahead of the show, ‘We see a very viable market for us here going forward.’
Other potential sales are ‘a few more’ Ospreys for the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF), in addition to the 17 it already wants, according to Kohler. A foreign military sale (FMS) was notified to the US Congress last May.
Japan is buying a configuration similar to the MV-22B of the US Marine Corps, although they will have a different radio fit. The US Osprey fleet has now surpassed 300,000 flight hours.
Realistically, however, the Osprey’s price tag is an obstacle for most nations in the region, with Kohler admitting this made it a ‘longer trek’. The US Navy’s selection of the Osprey for its carrier onboard delivery (COD) system could open the door to more applications.
Indeed, Rick Lemaster, director of international sales and marketing for vertical lift, mentioned three main areas being pursued for Osprey sales. One is nations operating aircraft carriers who might need a COD.
Another is buyers of the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter, since the Osprey can internally carry an F-135 engine module. The third potential market is countries with significant land masses or large numbers of islands where rapid mobility may be required.
Without naming countries, Kohler said a couple of Asia-Pacific countries had expressed interest in the AH-6i platform.
Figuratively speaking, South Korea is ‘flying the wings off’ its Boeing 737 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft through intensive use, and Kohler said the country could opt for two more examples.
India may invest in further P-8I maritime patrol aircraft too, while the first AH-64E Apaches are on schedule for delivery to India in 2019.
Bell Helicopter and BAE Systems Australia signed an agreement on 16 February to sustain the AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter, in preparation for a possible replacement of the Australian Army’s Airbus Helicopters Tiger.
However, Lemaster said Boeing is not currently offering its Apache to the Australian Army and is waiting for release of the Defence White Paper