At the backdrop of the world’s largest defence and security event, DSEi in London, SP’s Land Forces Editor-in-Chief Jayant Baranwal had an exclusive tete-á-tete with Mark Kronenberg, Vice President, International Business Development, Boeing Defense Space and Security. Excerpts:
Jayant Baranwal (SP’s): Which are the key markets Boeing is currently engaged with?
Mark Kronenberg (Kronenberg): Primarily Asia-Pacific, Middle East and actually here in Europe we engage with the UK. So these are our growth markets. Approximately 26 per cent of our revenues are coming in from international customers and we have a goal to get it 30 per cent and we are on track at this point.
SP’s: Can you elaborate on some of your top programmes in these markets?
Kronenberg: Primarily, on the platforms side, it would be fighters with the F-15, the F-18s, C-17s of course. The new market entry would be the P-8, India being the first P-8 international customer. India also has the largest fleet of C-17s outside the US, 10 in their fleet. But there is also another area that is primarily to sustain. When you look at Boeing platforms we look to sustain those that is going to stay here for the next 25-30 years. It is the training and maintenance market of our existing platforms. There are markets like in India, Korea, and quite likely in UK where we see a lot of projects sustain on our existing platforms.
SP’s: Which top five countries in Asia are the most promising markets for Boeing?
Kronenberg: If you look at Asia, India has probably got by far the fastest growth. Korea, Singapore, Japan and Australia would also be in our list of Asia-Pacific countries which are 45 per cent of the market in Asia. Middle East is primarily driven by Saudi Arabia and Emirates, and in Europe it’s primarily the UK.
SP’s: When you speak of Korea and some of the Middle East countries, which specific programmes are you referring to?
Kronenberg: Specifically in South Arabia, we had a large government-to government sales, about $23 billion three years ago. There was sale of F-15s, 84 new builds F-15s, 72 basically upgrades of existing aeroplanes, 36 Apaches, 36 AH6s. So that constitutes the largest. But if you look at UAE for example, it also has C-17s and Apaches.
SP’s: What are the core technologies currently being developed by Boeing?
Kronenberg: If you look at the commercial development of airplanes, one thing that we have been able to combine is take a look at what we do at the defence side for example in multi-mission maritime airplanes as well as in next generation tanker and we combine it with what we know on the commercial side because we are using commercial platforms, the programmes where we tackle multi-mission aircraft programmes for our international customers and our US service customers.
SP’s: Is Boeing looking at all the three forces requirements in a balanced manner or there is a serious bias?
Kronenberg: No there is no bias. It’s all on customer’s preference. If we look at the revenues that we get from the customers, it is pretty evenly distributed, though air force customers are a bit larger then army and navy. But the percentage is balanced. So it is quite customer balanced.
SP’s: Any specific programme can you refer to in the context of armies potential requirements, other than Chinooks and Apaches?
Kronenberg: Well Chinooks and Apaches are our mainstay in our army requirements. However, one in the US that has come up is the EMARS programme, which is a kind of tactical intelligence surveillance reconnaissance (ISR) platform and we are working through that. But really our bread and butter is through our rotorcraft platforms, the Apache and CH47s.
SP’s: Is Boeing working on new concepts on stealth technology?
Kronenberg: Probably it’s more in the electronic warfare area. So if we look at fighter platforms, multi-mission maritime airplanes, systems and sub systems, electronic warfare surveillance— those are the kinds of technologies we are developing for future contingencies and threats.
SP’s: Any specific development towards the unmanned combat vehicles?
Kronenberg: If we take a look at nuclear aspects, we are going to compete with an autonomous UAV . It’s for a navy programme and probably in the 2023-2025 time frames.
SP’s: How does Boeing perceive the unmanned vs manned market?
Kronenberg: Probably the combination of both. I think you are never going to get a system where it is going to be completely unmanned. It would be a combination of system where men are in the platform. For example it’s still the case with Apaches offered as UAVs that is probably where there is a combination of both manned and unmanned systems which we are going see in the future. I do not foresee a future where it will be completely unmanned.
SP’s: What are the key unmanned programmes that are currently on with Boeing?
Kronenberg: Our mainstay is Scan Eagle. It’s a small, tactical ISR programme, which is our main UAV programme.