Boeing, Lockheed Eye Big Fighter Deal As Richer Contract Looms

Switzerland is ready to pick a new fighter jet with offerings from Boeing (BA) and Lockheed Martin (LMT) in the running for a $6.5 billion deal. Defense stocks were mixed.


The Swiss cabinet is expected to make a decision on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed’s F-35, Airbus’ (EADSY) Eurofighter and Dassault’s Rafale are among the competing aircraft.

Swiss voters approved a plan to spend $6.5 billion on the “Air2030” program by a razor-thin margin of 50.2% in October.

The new fighter jets would replace the Swiss Air Force’s Boeing F/A-18s Hornets and Northrop Grumman (NOC) F-5 Tigers which are scheduled to go out of service in 2030.

The F-35 was the winner in technical criteria, the Swiss broadcaster SRF said Monday. But some cabinet members reportedly prefer a European-built jet like the Eurofighter or Rafale, which is French.

“It certainly looks like the Rafale has an excellent chance here, but I wouldn’t rule out anything at this point,” Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia said via email last week.

The stealthy F-35 is the only fifth-generation fighter in the contest, with the others less advanced fourth-generation fighters.

The four fighters as well as Saab’s Gripen are also jockeying for an $11 billion Finnish order expected later this year. Finland’s contract will be one of the biggest air-armament acquisitions in Europe.

Boeing stock rose 0.3% on the stock market today. Lockheed shares added 0.3%. General Electric (GE), which makes the engines on the Super Hornet, gained 0.5%. Raytheon Technologies (RTX), which makes the engines on the F-35, lost 0.1%.

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Swiss President Guy Parmelin noted the fighter competition came up during a meeting with President Biden in Geneva earlier this month.

“Mr. Biden recalled the excellent quality of the two U.S. planes,” Garmelin said. “I reminded him that we have a process underway, which was decided on long ago, and that the government will reach its decision based on the process currently underway.”

In October, the U.S. State Department notified Congress of the possible sale of up to 40 Boeing Super Hornets, 40 Lockheed F-35A fighters to Switzerland, contingent on a contract award.

Winning the Swiss contract would provide a significant boost to the U.S. defense stocks.

According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency at that time, 40 F-35s for Switzerland would have an estimated cost of $6.58 billion. The F/A-18 Super Hornets would cost $7.45 billion.

Follow Gillian Rich on Twitter @IBD_GRich for aviation news and more.


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