This year’s record-breaking figures are driven not by developing-world clients, however, but by extraordinary sales to Saudi Arabia – $29.4 billion for Boeing F-15s – and Japan – $10 billion for Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Those deals may well represent trends, not flukes, given rising anxiety among the oil-rich Gulf States over the Iranians and anxiety across East Asia over the Chinese. However, Genaille told reporters after his public remarks here that he expected sales to settle back down next year to the more usual range of $32 billion to $35 billion annually.
While manned fighters dominate today’s foreign sales, it is unmanned aircraft that could be a big growth area for the future. It’s an area where the US industry enjoys a commanding advantage, thanks to the massive expansion of the American military’s drone fleet since 9/11. Just today, Radio Australia reported that Australia was reviving its plan to buy seven long-range Broad-Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) drones.