(In final paragraph, should read... ways to reduce our costs
... not 'cuts' as earlier sent)
* Northrop also skipped Farnborough show in 2012
* Company eyes expanded presence at shows in Australia,
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
WASHINGTON, Jan 2 Northrop Grumman Corp,
maker of the Global Hawk unmanned plane, said on Wednesday it
would not participate in the 2013 international air show in
Paris to save money, but could beef up its presence at air shows
in Australia and the Middle East.
Northrop Grumman and other companies that it has acquired
have participated in the Paris air show for many decades, said
Northrop spokesman Randy Belote.
One of those companies built the "Spirit of St. Louis," the
plane that Charles Lindbergh flew to Paris for the first
non-stop transatlantic flight in May 1927. The plane now hangs
in Washington's National Air and Space Museum.
"In full alignment with its affordability and cost reduction
goals, Northrop Grumman will not be exhibiting or offering a
business center at the 2013 Paris Air Show," Belote told Reuters
when asked about the company's plans.
Northrop's move is part of its overall drive to reduce costs
as the U.S. defense industry girds for tighter budgets after a
decade of sharp growth.
Northrop, one of the five biggest U.S. defense contractors,
also skipped the Farnborough international air show outside
London last year, calling the move part of its drive to cut
costs and prepare for leaner times in the global defense market.
Weapons makers generally spend around $4 to $5 million to
participate in a big air show, exhibiting aircraft and flying in
top executives to wine and dine prospective clients.
Belote said the company remained committed to France and its
other global customers, but was focusing its "international
business development activities and resources in areas that
better support its customers' needs."
Northrop did plan to participate in the Australian
International Air Show that begins in late February, and the
Dubai air show in November, and might even expand its presence
at those events, he said.
"We are considering enhancing our participation level in
shows in other regions, including Australia and the Middle
East," Belote said.
Aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia said Northrop's decision
to skip the Paris air show reflected the fact that the company
no longer builds major weapons platforms like the B-2 bomber,
and he did not expect other big U.S. firms to follow its lead.
"Northrop is extremely determined to get a low cost profile,
but anyone who is in the platform business has to get serious
about increasing exports, and major air shows are still a big
part of that," he said.
Paris and London alternate hosting a huge air show each
year, an event billed as the largest of the international events
of this type. This year's show at the Le Bourget airport outside
Paris, which is scheduled for mid-June, will be the 50th held
Northrop had a large presence at the Paris air show in 2011,
one of 2,113 exhibitors from 45 countries, according to the air
Lockheed Martin Corp has also scaled back its
spending on air shows in recent years, reducing the number of
executives it sends and relying more on local employees. But the
No. 1 Pentagon supplier still plans to participate in the Paris
show this year, said spokeswoman Jennifer Whitlow.
"We continue to look for ways to reduce our costs, but we do
think the air show is an important opportunity to talk with our
customers about their national security needs," she said.
(Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Gerald E.
McCormick, Nick Zieminski and Tim Dobbyn)