A report released at last week’s Dubai air show by US analyst the Teal Group revealed that US aircraft builders Boeing and Lockheed Martin control 93% of the military transport market.
Richard Aboulafia, head analyst at the group, said: `Due to European neglect of transport requirements, US companies almost monopolise the market, and will continue to do so.’
Aboulafia added that in the long-term, with Europe dithering over how to proceed with the Airbus A400M large transport aircraft project, European governments should reconsider joining the rival Lockheed World Airlifter project.
In the meantime, he said, `the Boeing C-17 and Lockheed Martin C-130 transports will have 93% of the market. With continuing uncertainty over the A400M, European countries should acquire mixed fleets of C-17s, C-130Js and smaller aircraft.’
He admitted that the A400M (formerly known as the Future Large Aircraft) would satisfy European countries’ lift requirements while keeping jobs and aerospace design and manufacturing in Europe.
But he added: `Before Airbus commits to the A400M’s development, it is demanding a guaranteed European buy that would cover development costs, estimated at £3.72bn.’
The UK has not signed up to the A400M, even though British Aerospace is a 20% partner in Airbus.
Lockheed’s World Airlifter, a twin or four-engined jet also known as the New Strategic Aircraft, would be smaller than the C-17 and would also satisfy European lift requirements.
It would be aimed at the tanker replacement market, and the UK has already decided to buy new tankers through a public-private partnership arrangement.
`Lockheed Martin offered the A400M countries a role in the [World Airlifter] project, but was rebuffed,’ Aboulafia said. `Given the A400M’s stagnation, European countries should think again. A joint project with Lockheed Martin would give access to the US market, which remains the only market large enough to justify the business case for a new aircraft.’