November 10, 2015 / 10:25 AM / 3 years ago

AIRSHOW-Boeing expects first maritime spy plane sale in next few years

DUBAI, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Boeing Co is in “very serious conversations” with five customers about its new Maritime Surveillance Aircraft, a long-range spy plane based on Bombardier’s 605 business jet, an executive said on Tuesday.

Robert Schoeffling, a senior manager with Boeing’s military aircraft division, said it was difficult to predict when the planemaker would receive a first order for the aircraft, but it was likely to happen in the next year or two.

Schoeffling gave no names, but said the five potential customers were 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 fueling interest.

Boeing began 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. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by David Clarke)

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