Four Dornier 228s operated by the German Navy’s Marineflieger-geschwader 3 “Graf Zeppelin” on pollution-control and surveillance missions are being upgraded with new glass cockpits and composite propellers by Ruag Aerospace. The German Office of Defense Technology and Procurement signed the contract for the upgrade program in early August.
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).
Boeing is due to fly the first P-8A maritime patrol aircraft equipped with a mission system early next year as the program to replace the U.S. Navy’s aging fleet of P-3 maritime patrol aircraft moves into the flight-test phase. The Navy plans to buy 117 P-8As, derived from the 737-800 airliner, with an initial operating capability in 2013. Meanwhile, India is the first export customer, with eight aircraft on order.
Last month Saab announced a partnership with Ultra Electronics’ UK-based Communication and Integrated Systems division covering the joint exploration and exploitation of the market for vertical takeoff and land unmanned aerial vehicle systems (VTUAS). Earlier, in May, Saab announced another partnership with Swiss UAV, which added the Neo and Koax vehicles to create a VTUAS family along with the Saab-developed Skeldar.
Not unlike the way the Philadelphia Phillies’ chances of winning this year’s World Series decreased substantially on Sunday when they lost game four to the New York Yankees, the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland VH-71 presidential helicopter’s chances of receiving funding in this year’s defense appropriations bill diminished considerably yesterday when Congressman John Murtha (D-Pa.) apparently removed his support of the program.
The first Euro Hawk UAV for the German Air Force (GAF) was unveiled last month at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, Calif. facility. It was apparent that the wing pods that house the SIGINT sensors, provided by EADS Defence and Security, have again grown in size, since AIN provided a description of this program at the Paris Air Show last June.
Airbus Military is increasingly confident about the technical progress of the A400M airlifter, but has refused to comment on the difficult, ongoing negotiations with the European launch nations over cost and timescale.
The future of the VH-71 presidential helicopter program neared the wire last month as Congress worked to pass a final 2010 defense appropriations bill that the President would sign before the start of the fiscal year on October 1. If the bill is not signed into law by then, Congress would need to pass a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the Department of Defense. As AIN went to press, the bill had not yet become law.
With the delay to the A400M in mind, as well as tight defense budgets, BAE Systems Regional Aircraft is marketing surplus BAe 146 airliners to military customers as low-cost tactical transports. BAE owns 47 of the four-engine, high-wing jets, many of which are now coming off lease as carriers replace them with new regional airliners.
A second copy of the Barracuda combat UAV demonstrator made four successful flights from Goose Bay, Labrador, according to EADS. The first Barracuda crashed on an early test flight in Spain in 2006. The demonstrator flew autonomously with monitoring from the ground station for safety purposes only, EADS said. The tests form part of the “Agile UAV in Network Centric Environment (NCE)” study commissioned by the German Defence Ministry.
The Russian government has finally committed to production of the Sukhoi Su-35 combat aircraft, which features thrust-vectoring and e-scan radar. At the MAKS 2009 airshow at Zhukovsky airbase near Moscow this month, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed a contract worth $2.5 billion for 48 Su-35S models. They will be delivered to the Russian Air Force by 2015.