The drive for low collateral damage weapons continues, and one recent focus has been on making air-ground rockets ‘smarter’ by adding seekers. The U.S. has led the way, but Europe is catching up. Rocketsan of Turkey has developed a product; and now Thales subsidiary TDA Armaments is flight-testing a metric precision rocket (French acronym RPM) on the Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopter.
News and issues relating to the defense aerospace business, with emphasis on current/in-use, in-development and prospective programs for manned military aircraft, unmanned combat aircraft vehicles (UCAVs), military aircraft engines, avionics, missiles, bombs, guidance systems and ground-based air-defense systems.
Flir Systems is introducing its new Star Safire family of high-definition cameras that it says will mean operators no longer having to compromise on performance because their aircraft cannot carry larger, heavier equipment. The new range of camera gimbals use common mounting hardware and cabling and, according to the U.S. manufacturer, weigh barely half of other systems (less than 50 pounds versus around 100 pounds).
The U.S. government spends more on its military each year than any other nation by far, but it will be a restrained Department of Defense (DOD) that presents itself at this year’s Paris Air Show. That’s because a previously obscure fiscal mechanism known as “sequestration” requires the DOD to cut $41 billion, or roughly 8 percent of its $527 billion base budget, by September 30, the end of the fiscal year on the government’s calendar.
On May 16, at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii, a Raytheon SM-3 Block IB hit-to-kill interceptor was successfully fired by the Aegis-equipped cruiser U.S.S. Lake Erie at a separating short-range ballistic missile target. The FTM-19 test was not only the 23rd successful intercept for the SM-3 weapon, but the third consecutive success for the latest Block IB version. Having achieved three successful strikes in a row, the Block IB is now authorized for production.
On display here and ready for export, Europe’s own state-of-the-art air defense system has now demonstrated its anti-tactical ballistic missile (TBM) capability three times. In the most recent test two months ago, the MBDA Aster 30 missile successfully intercepted a target representing a TBM fired from 185 miles away. Unlike the first two anti-TBM tests, this one was fully coordinated within the NATO command-and-control structure.
So many countries, with so many aerospace companies! Visitors shouldn’t be fooled by the panoply of European companies displaying at the Paris Air Show next week. The harsh truth is that there’s not enough money to sustain them all, especially with respect to defense technology. The European Defence Agency (EDA) commissioned a study of the problem–and reached some alarming conclusions.
For the Dassault Rafale combat jet, the French intervention in Mali provided another chance to demonstrate its multirole capability. Starting with a 3,400-mile interdiction mission (AI) launched from France on the night of January 13, up to six aircraft subsequently flew daily from their deployed base at N’Djamena, Chad, also performing reconnaissance and close-air-support (CAS) missions. Six of them are still there.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) recorded its lowest accident rate in 36 years in the year ending March 31. The introduction of upgraded Western aircraft; quality audits of maintenance practices; increased use of simulators; and voluntary reporting of unsafe acts have contributed to the improved record, a senior official said at a recent media briefing.
MBDA has confirmed that production rounds of the Meteor long-range air-to-air missile are scheduled for delivery before year-end. However, MBDA managing director Steve Wadey would not disclose which air force will be the first to get the new missile, which MBDA UK claims represents a “step change in the air-to-air world.” AIN reported last year that French Rafale and Swedish Gripen fighters would be flying operational Meteors ahead of the four Eurofighter nations.
The lingering effects from sequestration have taken a heavy toll on the 2013 military airshow and demonstration season, as multiple public outreach events and at least one high-profile team have seen their entire schedule scrubbed due to budget cuts.