The Boeing Military Aircraft (BMA) greatly values its ties with the UAE as it has long term plans to work together with entities like Mubadala, according to Christopher (Chris) M. Chadwick, President, Boeing Military Aircraft, who was on an official visit to the UAE. He said that Boeing was confident of marketing its high tech portfolios and aircraft like C 17 in the region.
"Boeing is a $ 15 billion business employing 23,000 people worldwide. The four main divisions are: Surveillance and Engagement; Global Strike; Mobility; and Missiles and Unmanned Airborne Systems. Global Strike is for fighters, trainers and attack helicopters like Apache. We have got a brand new capability for tankers for the US Air Force: the C-17 and Chinook helicopters which are heavy-lift transportation," he said in an in-depth interview with the "Nation Shield", the journal of the UAE Armed Forces.
"We have unmanned airborne systems and also systems from lower tiers. We have a division called Surveillance and Engagement and that is mainly the P-8 which is the P-3 replacement. We believe there is a 5-7 year window of opportunity for international sales in the Middle East right now, as the customers are recapitalizing their fleets. It may be noted that C-17 is one of a kind, with the UAE being the most recent customer with four C-17s delivered last year and two C-17s this year.
He said that Boeing's fighter planes are also of interest to customers here. "F-15 sales for Saudi Arabia were very big but F-15 and F-18 are being looked at very closely by the middle east customers. In addition, Apache helicopters are unique as attack helicopters. We sold the P-8 to India, which is not in the Middle East. And then in the Unmanned area there has been a lot of interest in our unmanned vehicles and we are happy about it. So it is really a part of our important products and portfolios."
"I would say our weapon systems have become more focused and have been able to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Our business is growing. And our growth was more domestic than international, and now we see a change in our international mix which is about 30 per cent of our total business today and still growing. Boeing has had long term relationship with all the Middle East customers such as the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and, more recently, Saudi Arabia as Boeing has been engaging with the Middle East for over 50 years."
"Global Strike and Boeing Aircraft are key elements of that engagement. Our people are stationed in these countries and many of these regions and our approach is to create lasting ties with countries like the UAE or with entities like Mubadala because we can provide products, help accelerate technology, training and learning for the longer term that are mutually beneficial.
He praised the IDEX and the Dubai Air Show saying the two exhibitions allowed companies like Boeing to showcase its products and portfolios. "I would say that Dubai Air Show is right up there at the top. These shows attract a lot of important customers, and we take them as an opportunity to perhaps open up new markets and introduce new products. You have seen C-17 in the past, and Dubai Air Show showcased V-22 Osprey which is a relatively new product. The Show is really a game-changer."
He said Boeing faces stiff competition in the sector of fighter aircraft as it has a number of players such as Eurofighter, Rafale, Grippen and F-15 and F-18. "It is a very heated battle because they are all iconic in nature."
He said Mubadala-Boeing relationship spanned across Boeing's entire business. It goes from commercial to defense to R&D, and Mubadala is a perfect opportunity to leverage shared destiny for manufacturing, technology development, training and education.
Mr Chris was full of praise for the UAE and other GCC countries as business partners. "The UAE is our newest customer for C-17 and we have been in talks with the concerned people. It may decide the future path forward, which explains our intensive presence here."
He praised Nation Shield for doing a wonderful job by bringing the latest in defense and technology to the decision makers around the world.