Dubai Air Show Disapoints So Far

by: Matthew Potter
November 16, 2011

Category: Boeing, Business Line, Companies, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Countries, D'Assault, EADS, Events, Lockheed Martin, logistics, Military Aviation, missile defense, production program, Raytheon, Saudi Arabia, Services, UAE | RSS 2.0

The Dubai Air Show held in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) every year has become one of the three most important air shows and military exhibitions. It joins the alternating Paris and Farnborough air shows that take place in France and the U.K. ever other year and the Singapore Air Show as one of the ways defense contractors market their wares to a wide variety of customers. The Dubai due to its location obviously focuses on the U.A.E. and other Gulf States.

In the past the show has been the scene for announcing major defense contracts. In 2009 the U.A.E. bought military transports from Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Boeing (BA) as well as made a major investment in missile defenses with planned purchases from Lockheed and Raytheon (RTN). These contracts whetted the appetites of the companies for further deals with a goal of offsetting the coming reductions in domestic defense spending.

In 2010 there were no major contracts announced although the U.A.E. did make some investments in joint ventures between domestic companies and foreign ones to provide support to existing systems and build new ones at home. It was safe to say that 2010 was not what the U.S. and European defense contractors had hoped for.

The current 2011 edition has seen many different contracts for civil aviation. EADS (EADS:P) and Boeing have sold airliners to various Gulf based companies as well as different maintenance and upgrade plans have been signed but so far no real military contracts.

There is hope that the U.A.E. will commit finally to a new fighter with France’s Dassault and Eurofighter considered top contenders but that has been talked about for many months. The same story was being discussed at last year’s show. The U.A.E. did discuss its plans for upgrading and improving its air defenses next year including plans to add a UAV to its military in 2013. While the state is negotiating supposedly with Dassault it also expressed interest in another more advanced fighter.

Boeing was also hoping to announce that a contract for their new version of the OH-6 helicopter, the AH-6I, could be executed. So far that has not happened. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are considered contenders for the light attack aircraft.

While there are different things being considered by the Gulf States none of these have yet to come to fruition. It may be another disappointing show for the Western defense contractors. Faced with the potential for reduced sales in their home countries these types of foreign deals will become more necessary to maintain revenue and earnings.

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