With future-focused solutions, Boeing is the name reckoned for fixed wing aircraft, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, unmanned systems and weapons. Having built world-class military planes for almost a century, now the sad news is that the company is getting ready for a fighter-less future.
So far this year, the company is said to have delivered nine of its F-15 Eagle fighters, 31 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, along with EA-18G Growlers. By moving at a pace of manufacturing of four every month, the Super Hornet/Growler will provide a total of 47 airplanes in 2014. However, the F-15 has no monthly delivery program the company delivered two planes in January, April & June respectively and one in February, March & July and not any in the month of May or August.
Henceforth, the firm commitment of the U.S. along with many allies to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program formed by Lockheed Martin Corp. At this rate, Boeing is running out of funding for the fighters. At the present scenario, the head of the company’s defense unit is formulating a roadmap which would grant the market to Lockheed and shift the future of the business on other aircrafts, together with military versions of their commercial jetliners.
No doubt, the fighters of Boeing are being heavily used still to this day, like its F/A-18 jets have been leading the airstrikes by U.S. in northern Iraq. Still the company is bound of new orders for their legendary fighters in nations like UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and other nations to save their identity. It has been estimated that the manufacturing of the F/A-18 could be terminated in 2017, whereas the last batch of its F-15s is due to wind up the production in 2019 for Saudi Arabia.
In order to pursue the manufacturing of F/A-18 line a little longer, the company foresees an opportunity to convince the Pentagon to fund some extra deals for the Navy. Also the company sees it a buy time from a few potential international buyers like Canada and Denmark to settle on proposed fighter purchases.
It has been projected from the company’s side that the production of F/A-18 could be continued through the end of the decade as it is behind its deadline.
In order to get adjusted to tighter military budgets it introduced cost-cutting and efficiency measures. In fact, it cut back the defense unit’s expenditure by $4 billion per year over the past three years, dropping thousands of jobs and is targeting another $2 billion in savings as the militaries in other parts of the world including U.S. are stressing over the affordability rather than capabilities of artillery systems.
Well, in October 2001 the seeds of the fighter woes were said to be sown when Lockheed Martin was chosen to manufacture Joint Strike Fighter, which was a whooping $400 billion program proposed to reinstate the U.S. military’s tactical fighters. Boeing tried hard to get into stealth fighter game with it’s F-15 Silent Eagle, but so far it has failed to secure any buyers.
Also it loses a series of contracts in India, Brazil and South Korea and faces a decreased number of available deals, majorly the long-delayed fighter replacement program of Canada. Also the company is planning to shut down its Long Beach, California branch next year that manufactures C-17 military cargo jets. Shutting down F/A-18 and F-15 production will reduce its 50% of revenue from military aircraft unit.
In 1917, the company sold its first military plane to the United States Navy, which was a single-engined Boeing Model 2 seaplane. Followed by this in 1923, they’ve also sold their first fighter the PW-9/FB to the U.S military.
During World War II, Boeing developed some of the most iconic aircraft including the B-17 Flying Fortress that served very against Germany and the B-29 Super Fortress Bomber that dropped the atomic bombs over Japan. The B-52 Stratofortress manufactured by Boeing remains in service with the U.S. Air Force for more than 60 years after their first flight and plans to be in service until 2040.
In 1997 it acquired McDonnell Douglas Corp. that boosted a defense business that 5 years earlier spawned just 10% of group sales, putting it on the 10th position in the world, behind General Electric Co. & General Motors Co. Before the boom and development in commercial airplane sales over past 3 years, the defense and space unit if Boeing spawned more than half of its revenue.
The company is focused on restoring its lost fighter revenue by bagging some contracts like a new long-range strike bomber, Navy’s UCLASS- carrier-based drone program, Air Force T-X trainer program, and even the new FA-XX for USAF/USN sixth generation fighter. A couple of these contracts may work better to boost the revenue of the company nurturing even the F/A-18 and the F-15 fighters that are on the brink of being lost.
But, the woes of the company don’t end here. It faces steep challenges and competition from other ammunition and fighter production companies which are also eyeing on those contracts. Hope Boeing may become successful in getting all those contracts to sustain and fund its long-established name with fighter planes.