Procurement: January 5, 2005

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One reason France, Sweden and the Eurofighter consortium went to such great expense to create the new Rafale, Gripen and Eurofighter (respectively) was to position themselves for the coming huge increase in demand for new fighter aircraft. Many air forces are full of ageing combat aircraft that are in need of replacement. The end of the Cold War delayed, but did not eliminate, this generational replacements. So in the next 10-15 years, there will be a demand for 4-5,000 new warplanes, costing about $40 million each. The aircraft destined to take most of this business is the new American F-35 (the Joint Strike Fighter.) Orders for several thousand have already been placed, or seem certain to be. But much depends on politics, and finances. European nations are under a lot of pressure to buy European, which favors Rafale, Gripen and Eurofighter. 

When it comes to price, some upgraded older aircraft (F-16, F-15, F-18, MiG-29 and especially Su-27) will be very attractive. Russia has already shown that it is willing to allow a lot of the assembly, and some of the manufacturing, to be done in the country getting the aircraft. The F-35 is everyones target, because right now it has the best price (because so many are being built just for the United States) and performance (especially if it performs well in combat, and gets into combat, which is more likely for American aircraft.) A dark horse is China, which is developing its first modern combat aircraft (the FC-1 and J-10). 

The F-22 is unlikely to be exported, as it is too expensive, and contains advanced technology the U.S. does not want to risk getting stolen. A lot of the competition will come down to price, and a lot of non-U.S. aircraft will get sold at a loss to save jobs, and pride. 

 


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