The Super Hornet economic return
As the U.S. Department of Defence prepares its final budget recommendations for 2014, there is considerable speculation about the long-term future of the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, both of which are expected to complete their current production run in 2016.
But Boeing is talking up the value proposition it brings to the table as it awaits a decision by the federal government on the CF-18 fighter replacement program.
A week after the government issued its new Defence Procurement Strategy, Brian Beyrouty, Boeing’s senior manager of international partnerships, was in Ottawa to talk about the industrial benefits of the Super Hornet.
Like all defence companies, Boeing has adjusted to previous changes to Industrial and Regional Benefits requirements, so a shift in focus to technological benefits and an emphasis on weighted and rated value propositions doesn’t dramatically alter its approach.
“We can adjust as needed,” he said, adding that what was presented to the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat “applies whether you are doing an industrial participation approach, which is the current model, or an IRB or an ITB. We would exercise different parts of the organization, perhaps, in how we would address it.”
Boeing already draws from a range of Canadian suppliers for components on the Super Hornet, but it would leverage the reach of partners General Electric, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon if the government opts to engage in an open competition.
“There is a pretty impressive footprint on the Super Hornet here already,” he said. “We would look at where opportunities are across the enterprise. On the defence side, we have 200 different product lines, some big ones like the C-17 and Chinook, some very small that fill niche roles…[W]e tried to highlight that what we bring to the table from a program perspective and industry benefits perspective is not linked solely to a single platform – it is really about the breadth of our partners.”
Boeing has already used previous IRB commitments – $4.5 billion on the classic Hornet and modernization program alone – to build relationships with academia and small and medium sized companies. But Beyrouty acknowledged a government emphasis on technology benefits and key industrial capabilities might drive greater activity with SMEs in the search for innovation. Boeing’s Engineering Operations and Technology division scouts technology globally, and has one person dedicated to the Canadian market, he noted. “As we see the ITB and KICs more well defined, we’ll be able to fit those needs pretty well.”