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Military aircraft market erosion & the F-35

In the military aircraft market, “the sky is not falling; we are just experiencing erosion and the effects of sequestration, budgets, and politics,” described Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group Corp., during his keynote—“Back in Black: Aviation/Defense Industry Overview and Forecast”—at Mentor Graphics’ Integrated Electrical Solutions Forum (IESF).


The past few years have seen what Aboulafia describes as a “massive uptick in military combat aircraft investment.” At the same time, however, just 75 military fighter aircraft were produced in 2013. A majority of recent military aircraft investments have gone into Lockheed Martin F-35 single-seat, single-engine, fifth-generation multirole fighters; the F-35 program has suffered design and development delays, and other setbacks.

“The F-35 devouring everything in the U.S. and abroad” when it comes to military aircraft budgets and military fighter production shares, Aboulafia says, noting that the Republic of Korea recently confirmed F-35 fighter jet orders. Virtually all other U.S. military aircraft programs—including the C-17, C-130, F-15, F-16, F/A-18, F-22, T-6, T-45, and T-X—comes to an end in the coming years—except for the F-35; in fact, Lockheed Martin’s development roadmap extends through 2021, while F-35 upgrades are expected through 2023. “There’s a lot riding on the F-35,” he adds.

European military fixed-wing deliveries have been rescued by the Airbus A400M, says Aboulafia, explaining that the A400M is taking over the C-17 market and Airbus continues investing in military aeronautics. Boeing military fixed-wing deliveries fall off in the coming years, but the the P-8 and KC-46 will keep the production line alive through 2020.

QM Bow Dusk

If you missed the IESF 2014: Military & Aerospace conference held in Dallas, Texas, and Everett, Wa., this month, you can still register to attend the free industry event on 1 May 2014 at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif. (Reserve your seat online at

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