July 10, 2012
Credit: Credit: Credit: Bell-Boeing
Military budgets may be under pressure in the United States and Europe but there is growing demand from the Middle East, Asia and other regions for new fighter jets, helicopters and surveillance equipment, top weapons industry executives say.
“We have probably our busiest air show as of right now,” William Swanson, chief executive of Raytheon Co told Reuters in an interview on the opening day of the Farnborough International Airshow, the largest aerospace showcase in the world.
British Prime Minister David Cameron opened the show, where 83 trade and military delegations from over 43 countries got a firsthand look at new commercial and military aircraft, including Boeing Co’s 787 Dreamliner, the European four-nation Typhoon and the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft built by Boeing and Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron.
Foreign sales account for about 25 percent of Raytheon’s $25 billion in annual sales, said Swanson, who comes to the show every year to meet personally with foreign buyers, and can’t understand why other defense companies are so focused on their domestic troubles.
“There’s opportunities there. Don’t sit there and go, ‘Oh woe is me.’ Look at it and say, ‘Okay, where’s the opportunity?” Swanson told Reuters in an interview.
Even the U.S. military market remained very rich, despite deep cuts in spending expected in coming years, he said. “They’re still spending $500 billion dollars.”
Northrop Grumman Corp, maker of the B-2 bomber and the Global Hawk high-altitude surveillance drone, stayed home this year, saying it preferred air shows in the Middle East and Asia, where most of the new demand for weapons is emerging.
The Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, Frank Kendall, and Vice Admiral David Venlet, who runs the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, also skipped this year’s arms and airplane bonanza, mindful of pressing budget problems at home.
Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Military Aircraft, said continuing uncertainty about the U.S. budget had dampened the mood at the show, where rain clouds literally darkened the sky all day. Foreign arms buyers were still out in force.