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Journalists from Canada, India and Israel recently toured Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) sites in the United States to get a first-hand look at BDS wares.
Indian journalist Ajai Shukla has written about defense for years, but participating in a Boeing-hosted media tour in the United States was still an eye-opener for him, especially when it came to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, a front-runner in the Indian government’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition.
"People in India are familiar with the performance of the F/A-18," said Shukla, of India's Business Standard newspaper. "What has come as an education to me is the complete backup system that comes along with the aircraft - the maintenance, the kind of education facilities that are available for supporting the crews and so on, the training devices and simulations for the pilots. So the Super Hornet is not just a fighter aircraft, but a whole complete system that goes along with it."
Just as in the United States, the news media in many other countries play a key role in informing their citizens about defense spending and programs.
In late April and early May, almost 30 journalists from Canada, India and Israel visited U.S. customer facilities where Boeing products are in use and BDS sites across the United States to learn more about products their countries are acquiring – or may buy in the future.
“We are taking international journalists to all four corners of the United States to show them the wide range of capabilities that Boeing offers for their countries’ national security needs now and in the future,” said Mark Kronenberg, BDS vice president of International Business Development. “Providing international media with as much access as possible to our facilities and programs is essential to keeping them and, in turn, their readers informed. BDS has a robust and diverse product line delivering transformational strike, surveillance, mobility, support, communications and space systems. We are honored that so many distinguished members of the news media have traveled such long distances to hear and see the Boeing story.”
Canadian journalists toured the Philadelphia factory that builds the CH-47 Chinook helicopter and the V-22 Osprey helicopter-airplane hybrid. Canada is buying 15 CH-47Fs. The journalists also saw the St. Louis production line of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet – a successor to the F/A-18 Hornet that Canada currently flies – and were briefed in Seattle on the new P-8 maritime patrol aircraft.
Dean Black, publishing editor of Airforce magazine in Ottawa, was impressed with “the skills and craftsmanship that go into the construction” of Boeing aircraft. He described this attention to detail as “palpable,” as “employees are just as jubilant when the 87th production aircraft takes off for the first time as they were when the first production aircraft first took to the air.”
Indian journalists saw the Chinook and Osprey factories in Philadelphia, the Super Hornet flight line at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., the C-17 Globemaster III transport production line in Long Beach, Calif., the P-8 factory in Seattle and Space Shuttle Atlantis’ liftoff in Florida. India awarded its first defense contract to Boeing last year, for the P-8, and is seeking U.S. government approval to buy 10 Boeing C-17s.
Israeli journalists toured the St. Louis production line of the F-15, their country’s top-line fighter, and flew aboard the V-22 in Massachusetts. At Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., they inspected the Airborne Laser Test Bed, which recently made history by becoming the first laser system to shoot down an in-flight ballistic missile.
"Boeing is an extremely well-known brand in Israel with aircraft flying both with our main commercial airline carrier El Al and the Israel Defense Forces," said Andrey Kozhinov of Israel’s Channel 9 Russian language broadcast service. "However, coming to the U.S. and visiting Boeing provides us a unique opportunity to learn more about the company and its very diverse portfolio of products. We’ll return home that much better informed when reporting on Boeing systems in the future."
With additional reporting by Marcia Costley, Amrita Dhindsa and Paul Lewis.