Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Boeing sells first Super Hornet to foreign military

St. Louis Business Journal – by Christopher Tritto

A member of the Royal Australian Air Force inspects a F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jet at Wednesday’s ceremony marking Boeing’s first sale of the aircraft to a foreign military.

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Boeing Co. officials unveiled the first of 24 F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jets being built here and delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force over the next four years.

The order will generate about $1.3 billion in revenue, or about $51 million per plane, for Boeing’s St. Louis-based Integrated Defense Systems division. But software upgrades, maintenance and training services provided by Boeing are expected to bring the total price tag to $2 billion.

The F/A-18F delivered Wednesday is the first Super Hornet to be sold to a foreign military. Boeing IDS is competing for orders to supply similar F/A-18s to India, Greece, Brazil and Denmark, which combined are in the market for up to 306 fighter planes.

Wednesday’s ceremony at Boeing’s IDS headquarters in Berkeley included video presentations and remarks by Bob Gower, vice president of F/A/-18 programs at Boeing; George Roman, vice president of IDS government operations; IDS President and Chief Executive Jim Albaugh; St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay; Rear Admiral David Philman, director of air warfare for the U.S. Navy; and Air Marshal Mark Binskin, chief of the Royal Australian Air Force.

Hundreds of people, including Boeing employees, suppliers and local economic development officials, were on hand.

Boeing IDS is the second-largest employer in the region and the state of Missouri, with 16,000 workers. It posted revenue of $32.1 billion last year. The F/A-18 program involves 5,000 local Boeing employees, 304 supplier companies in Missouri and Illinois, and provides the region with an estimated economic impact of more than $1 billion.