Friday, April 13, 2018

CAN BOEING MAKE NICE WITH CANADA?


Block III Super Hornet
The Boeing/Bombardier brouhaha can now be delegated to the annals of history.  The C Series is alive and well, thank you very much.

After encouraging the Trump administration to impose stiff tariffs on the Canadian-designed airliner, Bombardier fought back with an Airbus partnership.  That partnership would render those tariffs moot by building C Series in the USA.  If that was not enough, the U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously voted to overturn those tariffs.  After suffering that one-two punch, Boeing has decided to drop its case against Bombardier.

In its zeal to smother the C Series in its crib, Boeing stepped on toes and made enemies.  First, it raised the ire of the Canadian government.  This resulted in Boeing losing a $6 billion Super Hornet order which otherwise would have been a sure thing.  Not only that, but Boeing also ticked off Great Britain (which builds part of the C Series) and Delta Airlines (the C Series most prominent buyer).

Like a Looney Tunes antagonist, Boeing's plans to defeat a seemingly harmless opponent blew up in its face.

Boeing's current state.
Lucky for Boeing, it still has allies in the US government.

Only a few years ago, it seemed that the Super Hornet assembly line would be coming to a close.  Boeing's salvation came in the form of a hawkish new President backed by Republican-controlled House and Senate.  While the Pentagon previously preferred to throw money at the F-35, now the prevailing wisdom seems to be: "Why not both?"  This has given the Super Hornet has a new lease on life.

One has to wonder how Boeing will now fare in international sales, however.  The Super Hornet is still officially a contender to replace the CF-18...  But Boeing has been rather blasé about it, being the only manufacturer to skip an information session.

Boeing may instead decide to focus its efforts on the Indian market.  Like its rival Lockheed-Martin, Boeing has offered to partner up with Indian manufacturers in producing Indian-made Super Hornets.    This deal, while lucrative, may very well end in frustration as India's convoluted military procurement history make's Canada's seem straightforward by comparison.  One simply has to study India's history with the Rafale and the HAL FGFA.

F/A-18E Block III
What are the Super Hornet's chances for a Canadian sale?

The current ice-cold relations between Canada and Boeing do not bode well for the fighter.  Boeing's half-hearted attempts to remain in the contest could be a matter of too little, too late.  It does leave the door open to future damage control, however.

I, for one, am glad to see the Super Hornet is still a candidate to replace the CF-18.  The Block III improvements go a long way to making Rhino more competitive...  Even though Boeing's latest PR material omits the "Enclosed Weapon Pods".  The Super Hornet is a great workhorse.

Can Boeing do anything to rid the sour taste left in Canada's mouth?  Has the Super Hornet been delegated to the role of "also ran" after once being considered the defacto replacement for the CF-18?  Do the Block III improvements do enough to make the Super Hornet competitive against is sexier competitors?

I guess we will see.

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