It's been a rocky engagement period, but Boeing and Alenia Aeronautica have decided to get divorced before they were ever formally married on the C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft for the Pentagon.
Our Senior Pentagon Editor Amy Butler got the scoop in Orlando, Florida:
The two companies have terminated all discussions on partnering on JCA. That leaves L-3 as the prime contractor, and Alenia in charge of the final assembly site being set up in Florida.
The two companies have been in talks for 2.5 years to come to an industrial partnering agreement and parted ways last year. But the Boeing boss wasn't quite ready to give up on that market and pushed the two companies back to the bargaining table. This time the separation is for good, say reps for both contractors.
The change in strategy is being blamed on the general economic conditions. “It was not about the team, it was not about the airplane,” says a Boeing official. The two companies also were able to navigate problems around the dollar-euro exchange rate. What exactly proved a bridge too far isn't entirely clear, yet.
Boeing says it is no longer interested in getting into the small airlifter market, instead focusing its efforts in the “mobility” sector on the C-17 strategic airlifter.
Alenia North America officials insist the turn of events is not affecting JCA plans. The design for the final assembly site at Cecil Field, Jacksonville, Fla., is now frozen, and site clearance should commence next week.
The first U.S.-assembled JCA is due to come of the production line in late summer or early fall of 2011. Alenia says it is spending around $100 million on developing the Jacksonville facility. The first batch of JCAs are coming off the Italian production line.