"I'm huge ... in Japan."

For decades, this been a label of ignominy's been hung 'round the neck of U.S. pop stars, whose star power has begun to fade. They may not draw the crowds at home anymore, but overseas they still rock the house. And with Textron (NYSE: TXT), the situation is similar.

One of the early stars of the unmanned-aerial-vehicle movement, Textron -- more precisely, its AAI subsidiary -- has been losing ground in the headline wars lately. Larger rivals such as Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), as well as United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) and even tiny AeroVironment (Nasdaq: AVAV), are dominating the headlines with their robotic aviary of Global Hawks, pilotless Black Hawks, and Ravens. The field's become so crowded that Textron's legacy "Shadow" UAV is getting a mite ... well, overshadowed.

No longer. All of a sudden, Textron is the "it" UAV maker. And the source of its popularity -- while not Japan, per se -- is most definitely international.

Just this morning, Textron announced that it's landed an order from military-aircraft maker Saab, which wants to buy a pair of Textron's Shadow 200 Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems. One "system" equals four UAVs, multiple ground-control stations and terminals, and associated equipment. (I'm presuming that just like at Best Buy, the HDMI cables cost extra.)

According to the press release, Saab will pay $31.4 million for the UAVs. But in fact, this contract could be even bigger. You see, Sweden's not the only country getting to know the Shadow. Australia made some inquiries earlier this month, as it looks to replace a UAV capability that gapped when the army canceled a deal to buy "I-View" UAVs from Boeing (NYSE: BA) in 2008.

The Australian order would be for two Shadow 200 "systems." But the price being bandied about down under is quite a bit different: $218 million. If we presume that Textron is not simply price-gouging the Australians, and that this second, larger figure more accurately reflects the true revenues Textron stands to reap over the years its product remains in service (the Australians' order appears to include more additional services and ground-control stations), then the value of these couple-of-plane deals becomes apparent. And it would appear that Pakistan's purchase of 12 Shadows was an even bigger deal than we thought.

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