New life for old jets; Contractors pour into Iraq; Turkey, Russia, and U.S. arms exports.

Uncertain times lie ahead for American fighter jet manufacturing. As three...let’s call them heritage...aircraft enter the final years of production, factory jobs are at stake — but more fundamentally, so is the know-how to design and construct such sophisticated machines.

Recent events have given Boeing and Lockheed Martin assembly lines a bit more life, such as the U.S. decision to allow Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar to buy new F-16 Falcons, F/A-18 Super Hornets, and F-15E Strike Eagles, respectively. And new planes aside, there’s still money to be made from the large fleets that will fly for the U.S. military and others for decades to come.

Then there are the opportunities created when countries that fly perfectly good F-16s decide to get rid of them. Some are trading up to the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; others are shrinking their air operations amid tight budgets. Earlier this month, for example, Romania received six used Falcons from Portugal, a deal that promises new support contracts for Lockheed and related suppliers.

I asked a State Department official about the potential for more such sales. Most Eastern European militaries have old Soviet warplanes, like the MiG-21s of Bulgaria and Slovenia, or no fighters at all, like Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. They are barely suited to protect their borders, let alone deploy, say, to strike Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. It’s why the U.S. Air Force and NATO need to fly the air policing missions there, intercepting the Russian jets that approach or even cross over borders.

Now Romania — which happens to be hosting a U.S. military transit hub and a NATO missile defense radar — is getting a half-dozen 4th-gen combat jets and has plans to build that up to an even dozen. As the State official put it, “These countries are joining the elite nations that fly F-16s.” That means Bucharest could help out with air policing in Eastern Europe and deepen its military relations with other NATO members through training and wargames.

Across Eastern Europe, where many countries don’t have large or modern air forces, a third-party transfer — like Portugal’s divesting its F-16s to Romania — could help strengthen their militaries, the State official said. (FYI: The State Department must approve the transfer of U.S.-built military aircraft, even between NATO allies.) The Portugal-Romania deal took three years from start to finish.

Lockheed and its predecessor General Dynamics have built more than 4,500 F-16s since the 1970s. Iraq is one on the only countries still buying new one, but many even decades-old Falcons are still more than flyable. Plenty of companies, in addition to Lockheed, offer upgrades and modifications to bring the older jets into the modern age.

Romanian also flies second-hand American C-130 cargo planes, which it received in similar fashion to the F-16s. In 2005, The Netherlands sold some of its F-16s to to Jordan. Now the Netherlands is looking to divest more F-16s to make room for its new F-35s.

For several years now, U.S. officials have been urging Eastern Europeans to swap their Soviet and Russian arms for American equipment. This would help them train with U.S. forces and seamlessly fight alongside the American military in battle. Poland is the poster child, having purchased 48 F-16s. And Polish sources have said they want more.

Helping Out in Iraq

With Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul, we thought we’d check in on the number of contractors supporting U.S. operations there — and it’s way up. Since the beginning of the year, the number has jumped 48 percent, according to the latest U.S. Central Command data.

As of Oct. 1, there were 2,992 contractors involved in the effort, up from 1,403 last October. About one-third of those workers are supporting logistics and maintenance for American troops there. The second-largest grouping (15 percent) of contractors are supporting American bases, while 14 percent are working as interpreters. About 239, 8 percent, are working in security roles.

Those 2,992 are supporting more than 4,400 American troops in Iraq, with 500 more are on the way to train and advise Iraqi security forces.

And they are just the ones hired by the Pentagon. Overall, the U.S. government has about 7,700 contractors supporting it in Iraq.

Welcome!

You’ve reached Defense One's Global Business Brief. Send your tips, comments, and random thoughts to mweisgerber@defenseone.com, or hit me up on Twitter: @MarcusReports. Check out the GBB archive here, and tell your friends to subscribe!


From Defense One

Lockheed's Pitch: Buy Our Training Jet, Save Taxpayers $1 Billion // Marcus Weisgerber

Company officials say they can build the jets faster, and that should give them a leg up in the T-X bid evaluation.

Potemkin Jets Unlikely To Fool US Satellites // Patrick Tucker

But Russia's inflatable decoys just might tie up scarce U.S. resources long enough to make a difference.

Should Sailors Be Able to Reprogram Their Ship? // Bradley Peniston

The U.S. Navy's newest destroyer is automated to an unprecedented degree. Should the crew be allowed to harness it with code?


What Turkey-Russia Relations Mean for Defense

The recent warming of ties between Russian and Turkish presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan could affect U.S. arms sales to Ankara, which is both a major buyer and supplier of American weapons and their components. In a note to investors, Cowen analyst Roman Schweizer wrote, “Turkey is an important customer of high-end U.S. weapon systems and a closer alignment with Russia could provoke the U.S. to rethink its FMS policy.” It’s part of a continuing story; back in Vol. 1, Issue 1, of the Global Business Brief, we told you how unrest in Turkey could affect the supply chains of major Pentagon projects, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Boeing Opens New Composite Factory

Even as Boeing winds down fighter jet production in St. Louis, the company is planning a $300 million composite factory there for its commercial airplanes business. In a statement, Boeing said it’s part of an effort to “diversify and grow its St. Louis-area operations.”  The 424,000-square-foot factory and its 700 workers will build composite parts for the wings and empennage of new 777X jetliner.

Coming Up: Big Earnings Week

Third-quarter earnings reports are coming next week from the largest U.S. defense firms. Here’s the lineup: Tuesday, Oct. 25: Lockheed Martin and United Technologies. Wednesday, Oct. 26: Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics. Thursday Oct. 27: Raytheon and L-3 Communications. Check out next week’s Global Business Brief for more.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.