Tommy Dunehew, Vice President, International Sales, Boeing, Defense, Space & Security
Emirati student, Alia Al Mansoori dreams about traveling to Mars, and about space science, and astrophysics. Her dreams came a step closer to reality when the 15-year old student won the Boeing-sponsored Genes in Space competition for an experiment that may help researchers devise ways to detect unhealthy changes in astronauts during long missions like a mission to Mars.
What followed was nothing short for transformational for Alia who watched with pride as her DNA experiment launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station (ISS). Astronaut Peggy Whitson successfully ran her experiment in the miniPCR machine aboard the ISS to look for protein changes in DNA that signal unwanted cell death in space.
It is this promise of innovation and research in aerospace that has propelled Boeing to create for the future through great partnerships with customers, universities, research institutions and local aerospace companies internationally, including the Middle East. These partnerships are at the forefront of Boeing’s presence at the International Defense Exhibition in Abu Dhabi this week.
Boeing’s mission is to provide its customers with the capabilities they need to protect and defend themselves. A 70-year history in the region has taught the company that customers here, like others, want advanced capabilities, efficient, cost effective training and sustainment solutions for one main purpose: Safety and Security.
Boeing is working closely with Arab governments and defense forces to play a key role in enhancing safety and security in the Middle East. Over the next week, Boeing will be discussing capabilities to support the future needs of customers at IDEX, and sharing new capabilities that Boeing brings to the market with platforms such as T-X, KC-46 and Compact Laser Weapon System (CLWS).
During critical missions, a key enabler in combat is the ability to reconfigure an aircraft and to refuel as fast and efficiently as possible. That is why Boeing is on contract for 52 tanker aircraft to the U.S. Air Force. The KC-46 Pegasus is a multirole tanker that can refuel all U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures. Boeing designed the KC-46 to carry passengers, cargo and medevac patients and customers can rapidly reconfigure the aircraft between the three configurations in under two hours. The aircraft can detect, avoid, defeat and survive threats using multiple layers of protection, which will enable it to operate safely in medium-threat environments. Interest from nations looking to modernize their aerial refueling capabilities remains strong. Japan is the program’s first international customer and currently on contract for two KC-46 aircraft. Other countries are also taking a closer look at the KC-46’s unique capabilities and the benefits of adding a more capable and versatile tanker to their fleets.
Another way to promote safety and security is the optimization of training for fighter pilots. The T-X is a fighter-like trainer aircraft, designed to provide a more realistic training experience to better prepare future fighter and bomber pilots for generations to come. The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a contract worth up to $9.2 billion for the T-X advanced pilot training system to replace the T-38 Talon. The Air Force plans to purchase 351 jets, 46 simulators and associated ground equipment. Boeing expects T-X to be a franchise program for its defense and services businesses for much of this century. With T-X, Boeing sees an opportunity to provide companion, aggressor and light attack aircraft for military services around the world and looks forward to working with the U.S. Air Force to collaborate on future international sales opportunities.
Laser technology is another area of interest in the region. Why? To secure urban areas, critical infrastructure and defend against threats from Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Boeing’s Compact Laser Weapon System (CLWS), offers a compact, modular, high-energy laser weapon system to acquire, track and destroy such threats.
In addition to advanced capability, customers need to ensure optimal maintenance for the lifecycle of the platform. The Middle East is one of the largest growth markets for services in the world, there with the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific and servicing this market is a priority. Global Services is working to expand capabilities here using resources, expertise and talent indigenous to the region. Boeing is serious about helping customers optimize performance of their fleets and reduce operational costs.
Boeing will also be showcasing its capabilities to provide customers across the region with focused solutions to keep their defense products – be they helicopters, transport planes or military transports – ready to perform their missions.
Started in 2017, Boeing Global Services continues to provide customer-focused services, engineering upgrades and data analytics to determine fleet and platform performance – and a solution to make the platform perform better. For example, in the UAE, which operates a fleet of CH-47 Chinook and AH-64 Apache helicopters, finding innovative ways of servicing and maintaining those aircraft is top priority, with an approach of doing so while reducing costs.
Boeing are stewards of an inspiring 102-year legacy, dedicated to connecting, protecting, exploring and inspiring the world. A legacy that demands the company continue to listen to customers and offer the products and services they require to succeed in a shared goal to secure a better future for the next generation. So future scientists, and engineers throughout the region like Alia, the future is bright indeed.