Boeing’s Muilenburg On Defense, Space Challenges

By Joseph C. Anselmo
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

So what would make the South Koreans look at your proposition the way you see it?

The acquisition that was just delayed was for 60 aircraft of the same type. Our South Korean customer not only faces evolving threats; they also have some tough schedule and cost constraints. The upcoming operational transfer between the U.S. and South Korea is driving the schedule, so they need jets in 2017. So you could perhaps look at a split buy of some sort. There are a lot of alternatives.

Boeing has known for several years that the F-35 was not going to meet its cost and schedule targets, yet only came out swinging this year in making the case for the F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet. Why did you hold back?

We understand the need for the F-35 and how it fits into the future force structure. But if you look at the U.S. Navy's plan for their fleet through 2030, more than half of the airplanes on carrier decks are F/A-18s and [EA-18G] Growlers. So our motivation to invest in that product line reflects the fact that the F-35 is not a replacement for the F/A-18 and the Growler; it's intended to be a complement. Our commitment is to continue to inject technology while we reduce cost. This year's Super Hornet costs less than last year's, and it is more capable. That is a great value proposition in a budget-constrained environment.

What spurred you to join forces with Lockheed Martin to compete for the U.S. Air Force's Long-Range Strike-Bomber program with Boeing as prime and Lockheed as your chief teammate?

We believe this teaming arrangement will meet the U.S. Air Force's affordability, schedule and performance requirements better than any other approach, and we are dedicating the combined talent and capabilities of both enterprises to serve this top customer priority. We know how to design, develop, produce and support complex, highly survivable systems, and have proven that in delivering most of the advanced systems and aircraft assets that the Air Force operates.

How are you going to pitch a solution for the U.S. Navy's Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (Uclass) program?

The primary mission for Uclass is a carrier-based, long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. We want to start with those requirements and design a purpose-built system. It's important not to start with some existing solution and then try to backfit it into the customer's requirements. Stealth for the sake of stealth is interesting. Stealth that can be fielded and supported in an affordable way is one of the places where we have a technology advantage.

Are plans to close the C-17 line after 2015 a result of the uncertain budget environment or lack of a market to support continued production?

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