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Boeing Rethinking Plan To Back Out Of JCA

This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

Boeing is rethinking its decision to back out of a deal with L-3 Communications and Alenia North America to build C-27Js for the U.S. Air Force and Army.

Last week, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems President Jim Albaugh is said to have decided to pull out of the partnership to build the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) over disagreements concerning Boeing's work share. Boeing was in talks to establish a new production facility for the aircraft in Jacksonville, Fla.

After Albaugh decided to back out of JCA, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney stepped in and reopened the matter, an industry source says.

This source suggests the relationship between Boeing and Alenia North America, as well as prime contractor L-3 Communications, was souring and they were not making headway on work share after a year of discussions. "Boeing is not used to being a follower" on contracts, the source says.

This week, however, it appears Boeing is publicly acknowledging the question is open. Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Precision Engagement and Mobility Systems, which falls under Albaugh's purview, says "we are trying to close the business case" on the deal.

It appears to be a moot point, however, as Ben Stone, an Alenia official, says the company has "terminated" negotiations with Boeing. "We have stopped all negotiations in an effort to find work for Boeing," he says. "I am perplexed ... as to why Boeing would make that statement."

Weighing risk

At issue is the risk associated with Boeing funding the Jacksonville facility and how many of the aircraft the team would guarantee to roll off that production line. While the market appears robust for the C-27J, the Pentagon has only contracted for 78 of the aircraft. With a 2010 deadline for establishing the Jacksonville manufacturing plant looming, the team was mired in a disagreement over how many aircraft would be built in the U.S.

Read the rest of this story, a note on some crazy underwater drones, insight into Wired's idea for a terror drone and more from the AUVSI show in San Diego from our Aviation Week friends at Military.com.

-- Christian

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