SINGAPORE — Boeing's Jeff Kohler castigated any contenders against the new P-8 Poseidon Multimission Maritime Aircraft and the Boeing/Bombardier 605 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) in the international market Monday during a news conference a day before the beginning of the Singapore Airshow.
The P-8, which replaced the US military's P-3 Orion, is the only modern maritime patrol aircraft with integrated built-in lethal capabilities with torpedoes, he said.
"I've seen some of the alternatives. Rolling things out of the back of a ramp of a cargo airplane" does not count as a lethal capability. "I'll leave that to my competitors to explain," the retired US Air Force Lt. Gen. said.
Kohler, who is now vice president of Boeing's international business development, defense, space, and security, set the bar high for what will be aggressive campaigns in Asia for maritime patrol aircraft in both the low-tier and high-tier markets and this week's Singapore Airshow will be the battle ground for the Asia market.
Competitors at the show, being held Feb. 16 to 21, competing for various maritime patrol aircraft markets at all levels include Bombardier, Dornier, SAAB, and the proposed MSA being co-developed by Bombardier using the Challenger 605 and repackaging of the Poseidon's sensors and electronics. The MSA allows for competition for the lower-tier markets giving Boeing an advantage, Kohler said. "Cost is a major factor for customers."
Kohler previously served as the director of the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which handles the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
On the P-8, the United Kingdom is in dialogue with the US government on a possible deal via the FMS program, he said. Australia and India have already sealed deals for the P-8 and the market in the Middle East has a lot of interest, Kohler said.
The maritime aircraft surveillance market is obvious in just being in Singapore, he said. "In Singapore, all you have to do is get on a roof and look over the water," he said, referencing Singapore's use as a maritime transportation hub and the importance of securing sea lines of communication in the narrow Malacca and Singapore straits.
"When you talk to customers, the requirements are about the same: See what's out there, find the knowns, track them, then find the unknowns," Kohler said, citing the wide range of customer options for the P-8 and MSA.
The US Navy will display a P-8 at this week's Singapore Airshow and Defense News will be covering the show all week.