Armed forces in Europe are bracing themselves for severe cutbacks as governments tackle budget deficit problems. The scale of the cuts is evident in a couple of proposals made public last week. Germany’s defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, has tabled a plan that saves €9.3 billion ($11.7 billion) in the long term, with current fleets and acquisition programs hit hard.
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).
Last week bidders handed in their latest proposals for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-X program, which seeks 179 new tanker/transports to replace the aging KC-135 fleet. The deadline had been extended to allow EADS North America to prepare a new proposal following the withdrawal of Northrop Grumman, with whom EADS had been partnered until March.
Amid tight security, the Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) was unveiled at BAE Systems’ Warton airfield in England this week. Uncleared visitors were not allowed to approach the aircraft, but the stealth-driven configuration seemed unchanged from artists’ impressions released previously. The Taranis concept demonstrator is due to fly next year from an undisclosed overseas airbase.
As part of a concerted drive to increase the number of unmanned aircraft displays at the Farnborough show, organizers have installed a special netted area in Hall Three where exhibitors are flying small unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
Although developed to help answer the UK’s surveillance requirements, the BAE Systems Mantis unmanned air vehicle technology demonstrator has become the focus of wider interest from elsewhere in Europe. The UAV is seen now as a potential platform to answer the time-critical requirements of France and Italy, as well as the UK itself, and will inevitably draw interest from other nations such as Germany and Spain.
The Sikorsky S-70i military helicopter–a new export variant of the UH-60M Black Hawk–made its first flight on July 1 from the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The Republic of Korea Air Force brought an era to an end when on June 16 it conducted the last flights of its McDonnell F-4D Phantom IIs. These veterans had served for 41 years, and were the last of the early model Phantoms in service anywhere in the world.
The Eurofighter consortium in May submitted a proposal for the final batch of Eurofighters to be built for the four partner nations under the original contract. Tranche 3 was to have been contracted as a single batch, but was split in half to appease budget-cut-hungry politicians. Now the fight begins for the final 124 aircraft in Tranche 3B.
While it looks forward to accepting its first TAI/AgustaWestland T129 attack helicopter, Turkey is urgently seeking interim helicopter gunships in the face of increased terrorist actions by the PKK and other Kurdish separatist groups. The situation has become desperate as Turkey's current force of Bell AH-1W Cobras has fallen to just six operational aircraft, plus a few earlier single-engine Cobras.
Having been dogged by cost overruns, Boeing's avionics modernization program (AMP) for the C-130 Hercules has passed its Defense Acquisition Board Milestone C, allowing low-rate initial production (LRIP) to begin. The AMP provides an integrated avionics system to prolong the useful career of the U.S. Air Force's legacy Hercules fleet, and includes full night-vision-goggle compatibility, glass cockpits and digital systems.