Military aircraft market erosion & the F-35

In the military aircraft market, “the sky is not falling; we are just experiencing erosion and the effects of sequestration, budgets, and politics,” described Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group Corp., during his keynote—“Back in Black: Aviation/Defense Industry Overview and Forecast”—at Mentor Graphics’ Integrated Electrical Solutions Forum (IESF).


The past few years have seen what Aboulafia describes as a “massive uptick in military combat aircraft investment.” At the same time, however, just 75 military fighter aircraft were produced in 2013. A majority of recent military aircraft investments have gone into Lockheed Martin F-35 single-seat, single-engine, fifth-generation multirole fighters; the F-35 program has suffered design and development delays, and other setbacks.

“The F-35 devouring everything in the U.S. and abroad” when it comes to military aircraft budgets and military fighter production shares, Aboulafia says, noting that the Republic of Korea recently confirmed F-35 fighter jet orders. Virtually all other U.S. military aircraft programs—including the C-17, C-130, F-15, F-16, F/A-18, F-22, T-6, T-45, and T-X—comes to an end in the coming years—except for the F-35; in fact, Lockheed Martin’s development roadmap extends through 2021, while F-35 upgrades are expected through 2023. “There’s a lot riding on the F-35,” he adds.

European military fixed-wing deliveries have been rescued by the Airbus A400M, says Aboulafia, explaining that the A400M is taking over the C-17 market and Airbus continues investing in military aeronautics. Boeing military fixed-wing deliveries fall off in the coming years, but the the P-8 and KC-46 will keep the production line alive through 2020.

QM Bow Dusk

If you missed the IESF 2014: Military & Aerospace conference held in Dallas, Texas, and Everett, Wa., this month, you can still register to attend the free industry event on 1 May 2014 at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif. (Reserve your seat online at

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Posted April 30th, 2014, by

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J. VanDomelen holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and myriad certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTia in varying facets of computer software, hardware, and network design and implementation. He has worked in the electronics industry for more than 12 years in varied fields, including advanced systems design of highly technical military and aerospace computer systems, semiconductor manufacturing, open source software development, hardware design, and rapid prototyping. J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

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