An executive of the aircraft specialist Boeing has informed that it is in “very serious” talks with five customers about its new Maritime Surveillance Aircraft, a long-range spy plane based on Bombardier’s 605 business jet.
Robert Schoeffling, a senior manager with Boeing’s military aircraft division, said it was difficult to predict when the plane-maker would receive a first order for the aircraft, but it was likely to happen in the next year or two.
Schoeffling did not mention any specific names, but said that there were five potential customers in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Europe. He said events including the recent focus on disputed man-made islands in the South China Sea were fuelling interest.
Boeing started developing the aircraft in 2011 using five sensors drawn from its larger P-8A spy plane built for the U.S. Navy, India and Australia. It unveiled the plane at the 2014 Farnborough Airshow in Britain.
Schoeffling said Boeing had received U.S. approval to market the jets in 10 to 20 countries. He said the jet was designed with components that were exportable and Boeing did not foresee any issues obtaining export licenses.