An improved version of the Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk mini-UAV is now operating with the British Army in Afghanistan. The hand-launched system has an improved video sensor and a larger wing. The UK is the only announced customer for the Desert Hawk.
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).
Iran unveiled a jet-powered UAV that it claimed could deliver two 250-pound bombs to targets beyond 600-miles range. The Karar drone appears to be in the same class as the CL-289 UAV designed and built for reconnaissance by Canadair in the 1980s.
Responding to public complaints from Pentagon officials about the cost and progress of the Global Hawk program, Northrop Grumman has provided a robust defense.
AeroVironment has become the first company to fly a stratospheric, very-long-endurance UAV as part of the U.S. government’s Global Observer initiative. The 175-foot-wingspan aircraft took off from Edwards Air Force Base on August 5 and flew for one hour, reaching 4,000 feet.
Raytheon Systems Ltd. (RSL) has revealed details of the Shadow R1, a modification of the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350ER that was done in the UK as an urgent operational requirement for the UK Royal Air Force. The four aircraft were delivered last year without fanfare to No 5. squadron, which also operates the five Sentinel R1 (Astor) surveillance jets provided by RSL. They have since been deployed to Afghanistan.
Israel has agreed to acquire 20 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs), despite U.S. reluctance to permit their modification with Israeli-designed equipment. Recent talks in Washington between Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed a compromise that was first revealed at the Farnborough airshow.
Oman is set to buy a further 18 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 50/52 aircraft in a package worth $3.5 billion. The U.S. Congress was notified of the potential sale earlier this month. The package also includes conformal fuel tanks, 18 Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pods and four Goodrich DB-110 reconnaissance pods.
India signed a contract for 57 more BAE Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers (AJTs), all to be manufactured under license at the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) factory in Bangalore. A previous contract provided 24 Hawk AJTs from the BAE Systems production line in the UK, six more in kit form for assembly by HAL, and 36 to be license-built.
Reports from Washington suggest that a new arms package being assembled for Saudi Arabia could reach record proportions, as much as $60 billion. Another 80-plus F-15 fighters could be offered, along with about 70 UH-60 Black Hawk and up to 60 AH-64 Apache helicopters.
Lockheed Martin has begun flight testing a new sensor for the F-35's targeting system, developed by the company's missiles and fire-control division. The test aircraft is a highly modified Boeing 737 operated by BAE Systems and is known as the CATBird (cooperative avionics testbed).