DUBAI (Reuters) - Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) sees possible sales of dozens of its E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft to countries in the Gulf, Asia and North Africa in coming years, despite the loss of an order from the UAE to Sweden’s SAAB AB (SAABb.ST) this week, senior company officials said.
Jerry Spruill, sector director with Northrop’s international mission solutions business, told Reuters at the Dubai Airshow that his company remained in discussions with a number of other countries, but declined to name them specifically.
“We see future opportunities with our existing customers as well as new customers,” Spruill said, noting that France, Japan, Taiwan and Egypt operate the older model E-2C aircraft.
“We’re in the early days of E2-D opportunities,” he said.
Spruill said Northrop did not view the contract loss as a setback since it had other strong business prospects in the Gulf region and around the world. “We feel that the international potential for the E-2D is very bright,” he said.
Japan has already announced plans to buy four of the aircraft, including one put under contract by the U.S. government last week for $151 million, and could ultimately double that order, Northrop officials said.
Doug Raaberg, Northrop’s chief executive for UAE, said the E-2D was a key asset for maritime- and land-based military operations, and could help countries fill gaps in their ability to operate jointly with U.S. and other allied forces.
Northrop has delivered 20 of the 75 planes it is due to build for the U.S. Navy. With current orders, the production line is slated to run through 2024, but additional foreign orders would help extend that line.
Northrop officials last month said it had also offered the E-2D aircraft to India to meet its early warning needs. The E-2D can be used on aircraft carriers, which could be an important consideration given India’s plans to build a carrier.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mark Potter