LE BOURGET, France — Bombardier is betting on its Global 6000 for the U.S. Air Force's JSTARS and Compass Call programs, but that doesn't mean the model will be its offering for other upcoming U.S. special mission aircraft requirements, the company's vice president of specialized aircraft said Wednesday.
"The Global 6000 is a great platform because of its physical attributes, because of its performance," said Stéphane Villeneuve, Bombardier's vice president of specialized aircraft told Defense News during an interview at the Paris Air Show.
"It is an incredibly versatile platform, which is why we are using it in many different applications," he said. "At the same time, we're not tied to one aircraft."
Updating service's command and control infrastructure is one of U.S. Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein's top priorities, and a study on future concepts is ongoing. But while two special mission aircraft, JSTARS and Compass Call, will receive near-term recapitalization, the path to replace other aircraft, including airborne early warning planes and the RC-135 Rivet Joint family, are still undetermined.
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Bombardier's wait-and-see approach contrasts sharply with Boeing, which will almost certainly be angling to replace legacy special mission aircraft with militarized variants of its own planes. Last year, Boeing officials said the company is banking on a modified version of its 737 airliner — which it has proposed for the JSTARS competition — for upcoming competitions to replace the Rivet Joint and E-3 airborne warning and control system.
In contrast, Villeneuve said Bombardier has many different aircrafts — from the smaller Challenger series business jets and midsize Global 6000 to its new C series airliners — which may be good options for the U.S. Air Force, and the company will not make a decision on which to offer until it sees the service's requirements.
"For the programs that you mention in the U.S., surely the Global 6000 [is a good option], but I’m going to limit myself to that. If the U.S. Air Force tells us they need something bigger; we’ll bring in the C series," he explained.
Bombardier is competing with prime contractor Lockheed Martin on the JSTARS recapitalization contract and has found itself entangled on the Compass Call crossdeck program, where it has protested L3’s award. Beyond that, Villeneuve would say little about ongoing special mission aircraft competitions.
"We have dozens of active pursuits in dozens of countries in the world right now, including [request for proposal] activities," he said.
While the company had previously been focused on ensuring its new C series aircraft successfully entered service with commercial airlines, Bombardier has started looking into where it can offer it for military purposes. Villeneuve noted that some customers have approached Bombardier about using it as a special mission aircraft, but the company has not yet put its muscle into marketing the C series for that application.