Lockheed Martin announced on October 7 a $393.6 million contract to supply four C-130J-30 “stretched” Hercules military transports to the Qatar Emiri Air Force beginning in 2011. This comes a few months after the Qataris signed a deal to acquire from Boeing two C-17s, which will be delivered next summer. Currently the QEAF has no tactical/strategic airlift capability, so the new purchases signal a dramatic change in air force doctrine.
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 India’s 126-aircraft requirement is the main prize for the world’s fighter manufacturers, major procurement decisions in Brazil and Switzerland are expected to be made long before Delhi makes its choice.
An all-composite four-seat general aviation aircraft made in Austria is attracting serious interest in the ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) world. The manufacturer of the Diamond DA42 Twin Star is also marketing the airplane as a multipurpose platform (MPP), equipped variously with small radar, EO and IR sensors. A modular nose to house these has recently been certified.
The program to provide new VIP helicopters for the U.S. president has taken a step forward with first flight of an “operational pilot-production example” of the Lockheed Martin VH-71. The three-engine helicopter, which is based on the AgustaWestland AW101 (born as the European Helicopter Industries EH 101), had its maiden flight at the AgustaWestland factory in Yeovil, England, on September 23.
Four Rafale fighters from the French Air Force have completed a month-long deployment to the U.S., where they conducted a squadron exchange at Luke AFB and then took part in a Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB. According to Dassault, no shootdowns were scored against the Rafale during the 10-day exercise, and American observers were particularly impressed with the accuracy of the fighter’s Sagem AASM “smart” bombs.
Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway are all formally investigating alternatives to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to replace their F-16s.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates last week called off the revised KC-X tanker solicitation before the final request for proposal (RFP) was issued.“We can no longer complete a competition that would be viewed as fair and objective in this highly charged environment,” he said.
The U.S. Navy is expected to issue a draft request for proposals this quarter for the EP-X intelligence-gathering aircraft, which will replace the EP-3 Aries. In a recent briefing, Boeing revealed that Raytheon was joining its team to bid the P-8 Poseidon for EP-X.
Continuing production of the C-17 Globemaster airlifter into the next decade now seems assured. Boeing officials are quietly confident that the U.S. Congress will add another 15 of these airplanes to the Fiscal Year 2010 budget, following similar action for FY09. The company also expects “at least 15 more international orders,” according to Dave Bowman, until recently Boeing’s v-p and general manager for mobility systems.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a protest by Lockheed Martin over the U.S. Navy’s selection of the Northrop Grumman RQ-4N Global Hawk UAV for the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) contract. The ruling allows Northrop to proceed with the $2.3 billion system design and development phase of BAMS.