Limited funding for the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland VH-71 presidential helicopter, which is based on the three-engine AgustaWestland AW101, has made it into the final FY2010 U.S. defense appropriations bill (H.R. 3326), reviving the machine’s chances of one day flying the President. At the direction of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Pentagon terminated the program on May 15 last year.
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).
The first prototype of two-seater trainer version of India’s single-seat Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) made its maiden flight on November 26. Taking off from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) Bangalore airfield, the aircraft achieved an altitude of 30,000 feet and speed of Mach 0.85. The flight was about six months behind schedule because the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) wanted to avoid a failed test. ADA chief P.S.
The U.S. Air Force has finally acknowledged the existence of a stealthy air vehicle operating over Afghanistan, after another photo of the so-called “Beast of Kandahar” was published on the French Web site Secret Defense. Designated the RQ-170 Sentinel, the tailless flying wing was designed by the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, and is providing reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward-deployed combat forces, the USAF said.
The Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) for the UAE passed its critical design review phase, keeping the program on schedule. The first of two aircraft being converted by Provincial Aerospace Ltd. (PAL) of Canada are to be qualified in the first half of 2011, with service entry slated for later in that year.
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.
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.