During the Dubai Airshow, Leanne Caret, Boeing’s vice president and general manager for Vertical Lift, confirmed that any progress on a future vertical lift project was highly unlikely. Caret confirmed that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Eurocopter had been agreed several years ago over the potential development of a heavy lift helicopter for Europe [as originally espoused by the European Defense Agency]. However, she pointed out that “due to the fiscal crisis the requirement the opportunity to capitalize on that [project] in a way that we had hoped in the early part of the decade has been pushed out.”
|Boeing AH-6i taking off with International Bureau
Chief Andrew Drwiega riding in front. See
“Experiencing the AH-6i” on page 50.
Discussing the relationship with Sikorsky over their joint project for the Joint Multi Role/Future Vertical Lift aircraft design for U.S. Army Aviation, she said that the SB>1 Defiant [SB means Sikorsky Boeing – two are greater than one] had now been established as a 50/50 agreement with neither Boeing nor Sikorsky having primacy – in fact they were collocated in a neutral office to ensure the fact. She added that the name Defiant was their name, not selected by the U.S. Army.
The company is expectant that its AH-6i Little Bird has a bright future and brought one to the Dubai Airshow to give demonstration flights to potential operators. Caret said that Boeing was very bullish on AH-6i sales for the region based on the fact that a recently signed foreign military sales (FMS) agreement with the U.S. government will lead to the production of AH-6i helicopters for an international customer [this launch customer is understood to be Saudi Arabia with an order for 36 AH-6is]. It is thought that Saudi Arabia is also interested in the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, although Israel is set to be the first customer with an initial requirement for six aircraft, although Caret did not wish to discuss the issue [military sales to Arab nations or Israel are still sensitive topics, even today]. Caret also pointed out the potential for further sales of the AH-64E Guardian Apache into Middle Eastern and Far Eastern markets, citing the recent FMS agreement to supply eight of the attack helicopters to Indonesia.
Finally, she said that the U.S. Army’s Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) competition was going – with nothing further to report on its progress.