Boeing and Paramount ink cooperation agreement as Boeing expands African presence


Boeing and Paramount Group cemented their recently announced cooperation agreement with a signing ceremony at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) show on Wednesday, revealing they will cooperate in areas such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), robots and helicopters.

Paramount Group Executive Chairman Ivor Ichikowitz said that, “There will be specific collaboration in the UAV space, we are looking at collaboration in the robotics space and collaboration in the rotor wing space, we’re looking at collaboration on their platforms and our mission systems. There are lots of possibilities. There are opportunities in the naval space, there are opportunities to support US Africom activities in Africa.”

He said that now the collaborative agreement has been signed, the two companies are moving forward into specific agreements relating to specific projects but that regarding the long-term implementation of projects, specific announcements will be made later.

The relationship with Boeing has been in negotiation for some time, with Boeing looking for a partner in Africa. “They ran a beauty contest, not only in South Africa, but around the continent,” Ichikowitz said. “We spent a lot of time looking at synergies, not only in the context of what Paramount can offer, but what the South African defence industry can offer. Boeing is the biggest aerospace and defence company in the world. The fact that they have placed a focus on Africa is in itself a very important and strategic game changer for the African market.
“Boeing are looking for partners, people to collaborate and both partnerships and collaborations will to a large extent be channelled through this strong collaboration.”

Paul Oliver, Middle East and Africa regional vice president, International Business Development, for Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS), said that the agreement with Paramount, “puts us in the best of class,” and highlights solutions like the ScanEagle and MSA which can help with Africa’s problems of poaching, piracy etc.

He would also not be drawn out on specifics regarding the Paramount agreement but said there were two specific projects Boeing and Paramount were looking at. He also said Boeing was looking at the AHRLAC (Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft). “I think we’re going to find opportunities to collaborate,” he said.

Although Boeing Defence is relatively new to the continent, it is pursuing opportunities in Africa. Algeria recently evaluated Boeing’s C-17 Globemaster III, present at AAD, together with the Airbus A330MRTT and A400M but Oliver said the country was still moving through its evaluation processes. Algeria could still order the C-17 if they moved quickly, even though the production line has shut, as there are a few white tail aircraft available.

Boeing is offering a variety of platforms to Africa, such as the ScanEagle UAV, AH-64 Apache, CH-47F Chinook and AH-6i. Oliver said there have been a few questions from African customers regarding the AH-6i light combat helicopter but no strong demand. “I think it’s a great platform for Africa,” he said. On the ScanEagle front, he said there is a strong African interest in the platform, especially for counter poaching and due to its low cost and proven service (ScanEagles have flown 800 000 hours).

Boeing was hoping for Morocco to buy CH-47Fs but the country recently ordered three ex-US military CH-47Ds. Nevertheless, Oliver said that six to seven targeted countries are interested in the Chinook and that it is possible to secure orders in the next year.

Boeing is also promoting its maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA), which is a contender for the South African Air Force’s maritime patrol aircraft requirement (Project Metsi). The aircraft has also “generated some interest” in West Africa.

During AAD Boeing will be touting its C-40A Combi logistics aircraft, which is based on the 737 passenger jet.