In the U.S. Air Force KC-X competition size matters, but not much else, according to a Boeing briefing here. The company refused to discuss how its NewGen Tanker could be “combat ready” when substantial development work must be done. Citing competitive reasons, Boeing gave no technical details on the new cockpit, the new refueling boom, or even which version of the 767 it was based on.
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).
Some aircraft fulfill their missions so well that they seem to last almost forever. The Sikorsky S-61/H-3 Sea King helicopter, the prototype of which made its first flight way back in 1959, appears on its way to achieving this “never die” status.
This month the Italian air force’s fleet of 12 Alenia Aeronautica C-27J transports racked up its 10,000th flying hour, during the course of which the type has consistently demonstrated high operational efficiency. The fleet was delivered to the 46th air wing at Pisa between 2007 and last year, and since 2008 the airplanes have been used on theater operations in Afghanistan.
Robust and versatile, the series of small-medium tactical transports designed by CASA in Spain are still enjoying steady sales after more than 40 years. Now owned by EADS and marketed by Airbus Military, the C-212, CN-235 and C-295 have logged 817 sales to 127 operators in 58 countries. “These aircraft are little jewels. They are our bread-and-butter, and deserve more headlines,” said Airbus Military CEO Domingo Urena.
Hawker Beechcraft’s first AT-6 PRTV (production-representative test vehicle) has taken time out from its busy test schedule to make its international debut here at Farnborough. It arrives having completed an impressive demonstration of its light attack and armed reconnaissance capabilities during a two-week U.S. joint forces exercise.
Air Tractor’s AT-802U light attack and surveillance aircraft made its debut at Paris last year, but comes to Farnborough this year with new capabilities. Chief among them is a mission endurance extended to more than 10 hours thanks to a new fuselage fuel tank.
In late May, Kaman Aerospace announced that it had received a $2.9 million contract from the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) to further refine its Unmanned K-Max heavylift helicopter for potential theater operations. The contract comes hot on the heels of two successful demonstrations of the Unmanned K-Max for both the army and the U.S. Marine Corps.
Making its international debut here is this Chengdu/PAC JF-17 Thunder, a joint Chinese/Pakistani multi-role fighter project. Known in China as the FC-1 Xiaolong, the Thunder is now in series assembly at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex’s Kamra plant. The aircraft is powered by a Russian Klimov RD-93 engine and has a Chinese NRIET KLJ-7 radar.
Boeing will reveal more details here today about the NewGen Tanker, its entry for the third round of the U.S. Air Force KC-X competition. In the war of words accompanying the long-running and ill-starred contest, Boeing has not previously specified exactly how it will add a digital 787-style cockpit and a new fly-by-wire boom to the 767 airframe. Rival contender EADS North America (EADS NA) has again bid the A330MRTT, as the KC-45.
Talks to amend the Airbus A400M development and production contract will drag on into the autumn as the moratorium on funding imposed by the European partner nations continues.