The debut of the Boeing AH-6i light attack/reconnaissance helicopter at the Dubai Airshow this month was just the latest iteration in this aircraft’s long and complicated history. The design first flew in the 1960s as the Hughes Model 300. It was adopted by the U.S. Army as the OH-6A and further developed for civilian customers as the Models 500 and 530.
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).
Although the supply of French Rafale combat jets to the UAE was not finalized at the Dubai Airshow, there were plenty of indications that negotiations are going well. In an unusual departure from custom, the former head of the UAE Air Force gave a detailed interview on the progress of the deal to The National, the main newspaper in Abu Dhabi.
Breaking with a tradition that has seen major military procurements signed and announced only in Abu Dhabi, the UAE government sealed deals for new training and AEW&C aircraft during the Dubai Airshow this month. Pilatus secured the new basic trainer, an order for 25 PC-21s worth $521 million, to also include several training simulators with all systems and services.
Recently installed chief of staff of the Indonesian air force vice marshal Imam Safaat outlined a modernization plan for the service’s pilot training while speaking at the ceremony in which he took over from Marshal Subandrio. The Indonesian air force has operated some 20 Hawk Mk 53s and eight OV-10 Broncos for approximately 30 years, and to upgrade the training program they need to be replaced.
Northrop Grumman’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is currently undergoing carrier compatibility tests at the U.S. Navy’s Patuxent River dummy-deck facility in Maryland before its first venture to sea. Initial carrier trials are to begin in the first half of next year, the exact schedule depending on carrier availability. Here at the Dubai Airshow an operational U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeye 2000 from the U.S.S. Nimitz is on display in the static area.
There was good news and bad news for Europe’s troubled airlifter last week. Airbus Military said the first A400M is now in the hands of the flight-test team and on course for a first flight by the end of the year. And the program gained a strong endorsement from the UK Royal Air Force commander. But South Africa canceled its order for eight aircraft and claimed a refund of $391 million already handed over.
Raytheon has successfully completed a series of firing tests in both hot and cold temperature extremes of the Talon laser-guided rocket for the UAE army’s AH-64D Longbow Apaches. The program, which Raytheon and Emirates Advanced Instruments (EAI) began developing together in May 2008, is moving toward the first airborne firings.
The Saab 340 AEW&C aircraft with Erieye radar, which is destined for the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), took to the skies for the first time on Friday, flying from Saab’s Linkoping plant where airborne early warning and control conversion work is undertaken. Thailand has one AEW&C aircraft on order (plus another option), as part of a deal involving Gripen fighters.
The Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout, a vertical takeoff unmanned air system (VTUAS), began its first operational deployment with the U.S. Navy last month. Two vehicles are currently embarked on the guided-missile frigate U.S.S. McInerney (FFG 8) for a six-month cruise operating alongside a Sikorsky SH-60B on counter-drug operations in the eastern Pacific. Compatibility trials with the frigate got under way last December.
Responding to mounting criticism of civilian casualties caused by air strikes, the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) tightened the rules of engagement (RoE) last July.