The German Ministry of Defence abruptly canceled plans to introduce a fleet of five Northrop Grumman RQ-4E Euro Hawk UAVs for high-altitude Sigint collection. The first aircraft, delivered in July 2011, was already flying on development tasks from Manching airbase near Munich. According to German media reports, the country has already spent €508 million of the planned €1.2 billion (in 2012 prices) to acquire the fleet, which was intended to replace aging Atlantic manned twin turboprops.
Defense » Military Aircraft
News and issues relating to the defense aerospace business, with emphasis on current/in-use, in-development and prospective programs for manned military aircraft and unmanned combat aircraft vehicles (UCAVs).
After a year-long delay, the Airbus Military A330MRTT has gained its “release to service” as a tanker in the UK, allowing the Royal Air Force (RAF) to start operational refueling. The service had been obliged to extend the service life of its aging VC10 and TriStar tankers in the meantime. The recent deployment of RAF Eurofighter Typhoons to Malaysia relied on Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767s to refuel the aircraft en route.
The laser-guided version of the Sagem AASM (armament air-sol modulaire) air-launched “smart” weapon was qualified last month by the French air armaments agency (DGA) at the Cazaux flight-test center, and will soon enter service in France with operational squadrons of Rafale combat aircraft. It is intended primarily for use against mobile targets. Meanwhile, the French air force has revealed details of recent attack missions over Mali when up to 12 INS/GPS-guided versions of the AASM were salvo-fired within one minute against preplanned targets, to achieve maximum surprise.
India’s Ministry of Defense has issued a request for proposal (RFP) for the procurement of 56 transport aircraft to replace the air force’s aging fleet of around 30 Avro 748Ms. In a bid to launch an indigenous private defense manufacturing capability, this is the first time an RFP states that the Indian Production Agency (IPA) will be a private company. This leaves out Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), which has until now held a monopoly in defense programs. The last date for submission of bids is October 8.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense has issued a contract for the modernization of the Navy’s fleet of Ilyushin Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft. The Novella mission system will be installed in an unspecified but “large” number of aircraft serving in the Northern Fleet, making them Il-38Ns. Of the 59 aircraft produced between 1967 and 1972, some 18 are currently in operation. The work was initially planned for the Ministry of Defence’s aircraft repair plant No. 20 at Pushkino, but instead the MoD has contracted UAC’s Ilyushin and Myasishchev to undertake it at the Zhukovsky airbase near Moscow.
The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) and Northrop Grumman said the MQ-4C Triton broad area maritime surveillance aircraft completed its first flight from the company’s Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility on May 22. The Global Hawk maritime derivative flew for 80 minutes in restricted airspace and reached an altitude of 20,000 feet.
Prime contractor Raytheon expects that the U.S. Army will begin an operational evaluation in the coming fiscal year of its joint land attack cruise missile defense elevated netted sensor system (JLENS), an aerostat-based surveillance system that will monitor a sizeable chunk of the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region.
The U.S. Navy will likely issue a request for proposals (RFP) in the coming weeks for a 10-month preliminary design phase of the unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike system (UCLASS) program, according to Lockheed Martin, one of the interested contractors.
The U.S. Navy recorded another first on May 14 when it conducted the first catapult launch of the Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned combat air system demonstrator (UCAS-D) from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush under way off the coast of Virginia.
China’s first jet-powered stealth unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), the Lijian or “Sharp Sword,” was recently spotted undergoing taxiing tests in that country. Analysts interpreted the sighting as indicating that the Lijian’s maiden flight is imminent.