SINGAPORE AIRSHOW: Aerospace Primes Target Asia-Pacific Sustainment

By Meredith Roaten

Lockheed Martin photo

SINGAPORE — As defense business grows throughout Asia and the Pacific islands, U.S.-based manufacturers are focused on winning sustainment contracts in the region, according to executives.

Lockheed Martin is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze how to extend the life cycle of its aircraft, Steve Sheehy, vice president for sustainment strategy and business development, said Feb. 16 during a press conference.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for more resilient logistics for the company’s platforms.

“Logistics systems need to not just survive road bumps, but thrive through them,” he said.

The company is pivoting to set up sustainment contracts for a country’s overall fleet instead of sustainment packages by platform, Sheehy said. This shift could be particularly useful for Singapore’s air force, which plans to fly its F-16 fighter jets for at least another decade, the leader of the service told Channel News Asia earlier in the week.

One of the platforms that is getting sustainment investment is the F-35 fighter jet. The Government Accountability Office released a report last summer calling the U.S. side of the program “unaffordable” in part due to its high operating costs.

“We're using artificial intelligence and machine learning to pull data off the aircraft, analyze it, and then on the F-35 pump the data back into the to the aircraft for a self-diagnosis,” he said. “Right now, on the F-35 we are isolating faults in the aircraft well over 90 percent which is unheard of on any other plane.

Singapore also plans to purchase four F-35 platforms in coming years.

“We think industry can help by partnering with governments to keep the aircraft’s high readiness and lower costs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Korea awarded Boeing three performance-based logistics contracts for F-15K fighter jets, airborne early warning and control aircraft and CH-47 Chinook helicopters, according to a Feb. 15 statement.

South Korea announced its intention earlier this year to buy large helicopters that would replace its aging Chinook fleet. Other Chinook operators in the region include India and Singapore.

Boeing’s data-centric approach would better inform logistics and supply chain management, according to a press release.

“Our partnership with Korea is continuing to grow as we shift from transactional support approaches to customized models driven by agreed-to readiness outcomes,” said Thom Breckenridge, senior director of far east programs at Boeing.

The company will also explore how it might use data analytics to make the program-based logistics approach more effective.

Topics: Global Defense Market

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