Cyclical. That word speaks both of opportunity and risk. It also is one descriptor for the aerospace / defense industry. Private equity funds have been investing in the sector for decades (Forstmann Little, the investment firm, bought Gulfstream in 1990 before selling it to General Dynamics nine years later) and continue to be active acquirers in the industry.
In line with its government’s recommendation in early May, Denmark has agreed to purchase 27 of Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighters for approximately $3 billion. The new Joint Strike Fighters will replace Denmark’s current fleet of aging F-16s and concludes Denmark’s flight modernization program, which was relaunched in 2013.
Intended to replace the Hellfire missile, a Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (“JAGM”) was successfully fired from a Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system and hit its target, a truck travelling at twenty miles per hour. According to the U.S. Army’s Joint Attack Munition Systems project manager, this is the first time the JAGM missile has been tested on a drone.
Vietnamese carrier VietJet Aviation announced it will order 100 Boeing 737 Max 200 jets worth an estimated $11.3 billion at list prices. VietJet is one of the fastest growing low-cost airlines in Southeast Asia, and previously only used Airbus A320’s since forming in December 2011. The planes are expected to be delivered between 2019 and 2023, with VietJet estimating strong growth in its aircraft fleet from the thirty-six it has today to more than 200 by the end of 2023.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $582 billion Pentagon budget that shifts major funds to a list of major weapons programs including the F/A-18, F-35, and Army rotorcraft. The new bill plans to reallocate $18 billion in wartime overseas contingency operations (“OCO”) funding toward base budget requirements, and adds more troops, jet aircraft, shipbuilding, and rotorcraft.
Airbus Group is aiming to become a key player and capture significant market share in the rapidly growing global drone industry. According to the Teal Group, the drone market was roughly $4 billion last year, and is expected to increase to roughly $14 billion a decade from now.
The prototype rotorcraft vying to replace the Army’s Black Hawk is scheduled to take its first flight in 2017. The prototypes are being developed for the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator project, commissioned in 2013 after considering various new technologies, by a Sikorsky and Boeing team and Bell Helicopter.
Many aerospace & defense companies announced earnings this week, reporting mixed results across the board. Boeing’s Defense segment posted strong results, as revenues increased 18.5%; however, margins were down for the Commercial Airplanes division due to over $300 million in pretax charges on its new Air Force refueling tanker and 747-8 jetliner.