Defense at Dubai: Overshadowed, But Not Forgotten

Commercial aircraft orders stole the spotlight on the opening day of the Dubai Airshow. Boeing launched its 777X and racked up $100 billion in orders and commitments for 777s, 787s and 737s, while Airbus secured a crucial order for 50 A380s, not to mention 50 A350s and 30 A320neos. 

But the Middle East is also crucial for U.S. and European defense contractors as they look for new markets to help offset declining military budgets at home. Five years ago, Boeing's defense and space unit derived just 7% of its sales from outside the U.S. This year that figure is around 28-29%, and CEO Dennis Muilenburg forecasts international sales will account for one-third of his company's business during the next 5-10 years. 

And most of that growth is coming from the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, he said during a Nov. 17 roundtable with reporters at the Dubai show. "I would say about 80% of our [international] business is in those two regions, and roughly balanced between [them]," he says. Saudi Arabia has ordered 84 F-15s and is upgrading another 70 already in its fleet. 

And Boeing sees opportunities for that aircraft or the F-18 in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. But while the region presents lucrative opportunities, the competition for business has grown stiffer. "The fact that U.S. and European [defense] budgets are down is creating more competition in other markets," Muilenburg acknowledges. 

Meanwhile, Boeing's proposal to sell Super Hornets to Brazil has been "paused" for six months, until next spring. U.S.-Brazilian relations have been strained by revelations of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency, so the delay could benefit the company by providing time for tensions to cool. "Good government-to-government relations ... help feed the order pipeline," Muilenburg says, adding that Boeing's proposal includes work with Brazilian aircraft builder Embraer. "The industrial relationships we've built around our proposal are very beneficial."

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Ares?

Aviation Week's defense blog

From The Archives

Aviation Week is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.


Aug 27, 2015

Aviation Week Lifts Veil On Boeing B-52 Bomber (1952) 19

In 1952, Aviation Week provided the first details on the new Boeing B-52 bomber....More
Aug 14, 2015

Bonanza Travel Pays 3

The legendary Beechcraft Bonanza has an impressive production record, so perhaps the marketers back in 1949 were onto something when they coined the phrase "Bonanza travel pays."...More
Aug 14, 2015

Venerable Boeing 727 Prototype To Fly Again 29

The most famous 727, the prototype aircraft which would join United as N7001U, was delivered to the airline in October 1964 having served its time as a Boeing test aircraft....More
Aug 13, 2015

Aviation Week And The Bomb

Aviation News did not predict how nuclear weapons would change the world. But neither did anyone else....More
Aug 13, 2015

Collins Radar Takes The Ups And Downs Out Of Flying

Turbulence? Rockwell Collins had a solution for those bumpy rides in the early 80s with its WXR-700 Doppler Weather Radar....More
Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×