The Swiss air force has selected the Elbit Hermes 900 to replace its earlier-generation IAI Ranger UAVs. IAI also competed for the UAS 15 contract, which is worth about $280 million. The selection is subject to further government and parliamentary approvals.
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.
On June 6 Airbus Defence and Space’s Military Aircraft division handed over the first of three C295 medium transport aircraft to the Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana. The aircraft have been ordered for a range of military and humanitarian transport missions, and will be particularly useful in supporting populations in remote and mountainous regions of the country. All three C295s are to be delivered before the end of the year, and their arrival will allow the last elderly Avro 748s to be retired.
Visitors to the Farnborough Air Show next month who are keen to get a good look at the headline F-35 stealth fighter should consider attending the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford, which takes place the weekend prior. The three F-35B Lightning IIs that are flying to the UK for next month’s events will be based at Fairford throughout, and none will be on static display at Farnborough.
Turbomeca is negotiating with Russia’s United Engine Corp (Russian acronym ODK) to co-develop a new 3,000-shp engine based on the RTM322, but using the new Tech3000 core. The Safran subsidiary has already established a strong presence in Russia, with 200 engines in service and new ones selected to power the Ka-62 and Ka-226 helicopters.
The Brazilian air force formally committed to the KC-390 airlifter last month, signing a $3.2 billion contract for 28 aircraft in a ceremony at Embraer’s São Paulo facility. The event was attended by Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. Final assembly of the first of two KC-390 prototypes is slated to start this month.
A lack of decision-making on large Indian defense procurement deals in the past two years is expected to end with the swearing-in of the new government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Changes in procurement and offset policies are also expected.
Airbus has suggested civilian operation of the A400M airlifter for disaster relief flights. At a media briefing during the ILA Berlin airshow last week, Norbert Kolvenbach, vice president for public affairs Germany, noted that the aircraft is already certified by EASA. He floated the idea of a “supranational” operator, such as the United Nations. “The A400M could be interesting,” said Birgitte Stalder-Olsen, head of logistics for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), at the same briefing.
The tri-national Medium Extended Air Defense System (Meads) remains in limbo, with the $3.4 billion nine-year development program scheduled to conclude this year and no production order in sight from the U.S., Germany or Italy. But at a briefing last week during the ILA Berlin airshow, program officials said that Meads meets Poland’s stated air and missile defense (AMD) requirement. The Meads International industrial consortium, which currently comprises Lockheed Martin and MBDA’s German and Italian companies, is offering to make Poland an equal partner.
The Turkish aerospace industry was on full display last week during the ILA Berlin airshow, at which it was the official ‘partner country’. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) put the T129 attack helicopter and the Anka Male UAV on static display, and showed the Hurkus turboprop trainer on its stand in Hall 6. Also in that hall were displays by avionics specialist Aselsan; simulation and training company Havelsan, missile house Roketsan, systems house STM, defense research and space organization Tubitak, and Turkish Airlines.
Despite many program delays and customer criticisms, the pan-European NH-90 helicopter “is fit for purpose and doing real missions” according to Vincent Dubrule, president of the NH Industries joint venture among Airbus Helicopters, AgustaWestland and Fokker. He acknowledged that the NH-90 “had been a development program for too long, with a lot of variants. But now, nearly all the deliveries are in the final configuration.” The current focus was to refine in-service support, reduce the intervals between scheduled maintenance, and “solve the remaining maturity issues,” Dubrule added.