Small Wars Journal

Global Demand for Special Operations Aircraft Grows

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 7:23am

Global Demand for Special Operations Aircraft Grows by Yasmin Tadjdeh - National Defense Magazine

There is an increased global demand for U.S. defense companies to retrofit aircraft for special operations missions, analysts and members of industry said.

“It’s a growing market,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group, a Fairfax, Virginia-based defense and aerospace market analysis firm. “There’s an awful lot of activity.”

Aircraft that can conduct infiltration and exfiltration, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and refueling missions are in particular demand, he added.

During the Paris Air Show, which was held at Le Bourget Airport in June, multiple defense contractors touted their special ops aircraft.

Lockheed Martin unveiled a new variant of its C-130 Hercules, which company officials said they hoped to sell abroad.

Known as the C-130J-SOF Super Hercules, it is the 10th production version of the aircraft and can be used for a variety of missions, said Tony Frese, vice president of business development for Lockheed Martin’s air mobility and maritime missions division...

As equipment becomes more compact, there is less need to fly larger, airliner-like aircraft, he said. That opens up the opportunity for business-class jets to compete for more programs.

There is a “continuing trend toward smaller electronics, more reliability [and] lower power requirements,” he said. “What used to be a desktop tower computer that we all used 10 years ago now is on my wrist; so you can imagine that same advanced technology occurring for the mission equipment.” …

Raytheon also sees growth in the market. The company — which takes commercial aircraft and modifies them for special operations — makes up more than $2 billion of the overall strategic ISR market, said Jim Hvizd, vice president of business development for Raytheon. The company works heavily in the modification of aircraft for full-spectrum airborne ISR applications, and is pursuing $2 billion to $4 billion in additional opportunities...

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