It's Paris 2011 and the big theme at what, (so far, it's early in the show) feels like a queter than usual kickoff to one of the aviation world's biggest event is companies pitching how mature their products are; meaning they won't cost much, if anything, to develop, have known operating costs and can be delivered on time. Several defense exectuves have indicated this may be a key feature of selling weapons in a budget-constrained environment This focus on existing weapons also means that companies will be looking to pitch upgraded components like ISR targeting pods that can be strapped onto existing platforms.
For example, Boeing Defense Systems' VP for business development, Chris Raymond, said that his company's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EF-18G Growler other tactical air products were positioned very nicely since they are performing well in the field and are "predictable" in terms of costs and delivery schedules.
Walt Kreitler, Northrop Grumman's director of business development for the U.S. Navy's RQ-4 Global Hawk-based Broad Area Maritime Surveillance drone even joked this morning that the Air Force's Global Hawk (which has encountered some development problems) has served as the risk reduction platfrom for the Navy's version of the jet.
Speaking of drones, Raymond did note that the Chicago-based defense giant does see a growth market in UAV tech, especially in the U.S. where the Pentagon is eyinng a new crop of stealthy, survivable drones capable of doing everything from strike missions to ISR sorties.
This is just a quick welcome note, come back throughout the day to check out posts on the cool gear that's making an appearance at Paris.