Prime, Subcontractors Eye Maritime Patrol Market

By Amy Butler
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

“Amascos is fully operational, and we will present the full system with four consoles, integration of anti-submarine warfare, very smart radar algorithms, tactical situation and the use of electronic support measures,” says Pierre-Eric Pommellet, senior vice president of defense mission systems at Thales.

In the U.S., Raytheon, L-3 Communications and Sierra Nevada Corp. have embraced either modifying a customer's existing platforms or offering integration of specialized gear on a low-end platform, including used aircraft.

The platform providers—Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Embraer and Bombardier—are being pressured to offer a full-up, platform-based solution. “The market is oversaturated with individual platform providers trying to deliver a specific platform,” says an industry official. “We just are not married to any kind of platform [and] I am not trying to force a box down [their] throats.”

In some cases, countries end up purchasing equipment they are unable to properly maintain or operate. The Philippines, for example, has bought Russian helicopters and sensors that have been in storage for a lack of proper support. In this case, the executive says, the country might have been better off purchasing a less-sophisticated system or intelligence via a services contract whereby the company manages the sensor and aircraft and provides the finished intelligence to the customer. “We are not interested in having to go and be a prime,” the executive says, adding that in the case of the Philippines, some assets wind up “rusting on the end of the runway.”

Boeing's 737-based P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, which will replace the U.S. Navy's aging P-3s, is setting the global standard for a fully integrated—but expensive—option. By contrast, Boeing is proposing its small, catapult-launched ScanEagle as a fully integrated solution for nations that cannot afford or do not want a complicated fixed-wing system to maintain and operate. It is operating in eight countries and, last week, Boeing announced a sale to the U.K.

Chris Raymond, vice president of business development and strategy for Boeing Defense, Space and Security, acknowledges that the intelligence/surveillance aircraft market—including maritime patrol/surveillance—is “a little crowded.”

Meanwhile, business jet manufacturers such as Embraer and Bombardier are mirroring the approach of the large U.S. primes, emphasizing the platform as an integrated solution for customers.

Comments On Articles