Tanker, transport aircraft market worth 2 400 aircraft over next 30 years – Airbus Military


The worldwide market for light, medium and heavy transport aircraft and tankers is worth 2 400 aircraft valued at US$240 billion over the next three decades, according to Airbus Military’s latest market forecast. A growing portion of this demand is coming from emerging markets such as the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, according to the company.

1 250 new light and medium transport and surveillance aircraft will be acquired over the next 30 years, while customers around the world will buy 800 heavy transports and 350 tanker/transport aircraft, Airbus Military said at its Trade Media Briefing in Madrid, Spain this week, which was attended by defenceWeb.

This year’s forecast is up from Airbus Military’s prediction last year of 1 780 light, medium and heavy transports as well as aerial refuelling tankers cum multi-role transports (MRTT) for the military and civil markets in the three decades to 2040.

There are approximately 6 300 military light, medium and heavy transport aircraft and tankers in service today, with an average age of 27 years: 2 450 heavy aircraft, 3 200 light and medium aircraft and 635 tankers. Airbus Military products (including the C-212, CN-235, C295, MRTT) represent 10% of the world fleet and over the last ten years have accounted for 47% of light and medium transport/Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, 33% of heavy airlifters and 78% of tankers/multirole tanker transports.

Meanwhile, between 2001 and 2011, Airbus’s competitors sold approximately 600 tankers and light, medium and heavy transports including: 66 C-27Js, 22 Antonovs, 32 Bombardier Dash-8MPAs, 19 ATR 42/72MPAs, 21 CN-235s, 164 C-17s, 202 C-130Js, eight KC-767s and 179 KC-46As. During the same period, Airbus sold 26 CN-235s, 38 CN-235MPAs, 69 C295s, six C295MPAs, two C295ASWs, 174 A400Ms and 28 A330MRTTs.

Airbus said that the military market for transport, special mission aircraft and tanker is very irregular – for instance, last year Airbus Military sold five aircraft (although it delivered 29, including 20 light and medium transports, three P-3s and six MRTTs). However, this year the company has already sold 24 aircraft and may have a record year – its most recent contract was eight C295s for Oman. One big problem facing the industry is shrinking military budgets, especially in the West. Airbus said the global economic prospects for 2012 and 2013 are pessimistic and are only supported by the developing economies, with Asia, Latin America and the Middle East and North African regions showing the most promising growth.

Antonio Rodriguez Barberan, Senior Vice President Commercial, said that Airbus Military was doing well in spite of the global financial crisis, technical challenges Airbus had experienced (such as with the A400M and A330 MRTT) and other financial pressures currently being experienced by the global industry. “There are many challenges but with the right products, the right strategy…we’ll get through,” Barberan said. “If we’re lucky…we’ll sell 30 aircraft this year.”

Part of Airbus Military’s strategy is to focus on emerging markets, including Africa, the Asia-Pacific and Latin America, as budgets are growing in the Middle and Far East. “We want to become global. We need to be closer to the customer,” Barberan said. As a result, Airbus Military is opening up new offices around the world, including in Jakarta and Singapore and will shortly be opening up an office in Mexico. In addition, the company is very willing to pursue industrial partnerships with other nations and customers. “Africa is going to rapidly start growing, especially regarding light and medium aircraft…So we are going to be in Africa,” Barberan said.

As part of its marketing efforts, the company recently sent the A400M on a tour to Latin America and Asia and is actively marketing the airlifter there. Airbus Military is making a major effort in Peru and hopes to increase its presence in Mexico. It also recently created Airbus Military Brazil.

Head of Airbus Military Domingo Urena-Raso said that his company’s product line was growing and that despite challenges, Airbus Military remains committed to delivering new aircraft. Barberan pointed out that although defence budgets were shrinking, militaries were still seeking new transport/tanker aircraft but trying to extract greater value for money by obtaining multipurpose aircraft that were highly reliable and had a high availability rate.

Barberan mentioned that there is an increasing demand for aircraft for civil and humanitarian missions and that the most versatile aircraft have the best chances to obtain market success. The military as well as government agencies have a need for aircraft to perform transport, maritime patrol, anti-piracy, pollution control and search and rescue duties. Such roles are becoming increasingly important as natural disasters, drug smuggling and illegal immigration increase. For instance, Airbus Military said that more than 30 000 people were rescued between 1982 and 2010 during search and rescue missions, including 12 338 in 2010 alone. Over the past decade, more than two billion people were affected by natural disasters, with 62 000 lives were lost per year on average, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. According to the United Nation’s World Drug Report, the global production of cocaine has grown by a factor of six during the last three decades while global opium production has grown by a factor of seven in the last thirty years.

Border surveillance is another target area for Airbus Military, which said that around 300 000 irregular migrants entered the United States from Latin America in 2011 while 55 000 irregular immigrants travel from Africa to Europe every year. With regard to peacekeeping missions, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2010 nine organisations were involved in 52 peace operations with 263 000 personnel. More than 90% of these were from NATO and the United Nations. Airbus Military said that maritime patrol aircraft are needed to tackle the growing threat of piracy, which saw 435 attacks around the world in 2011, according to the International Maritime Bureau.