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.
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).
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.
In late September the Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) became the latest customer for the Hawker Beechcraft T-6 Texan II trainer and the first for the weapons-capable T-6C. The $37 million Foreign Military Sales contract covers the first installment of a planned 24-aircraft purchase that was first notified to the U.S. Congress through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in late 2007.
The U.S. Air Force F-15 display here is so hot you can see the paint peeling off the aircraft! In fact, although this F-15E Strike Eagle needs sprucing up a tad, its airshow act could hardly be smarter. The display put on by captains Phil “Ritz” Smith (pilot) accompanied by John “Gizmo” Cox in the back seat, is the best that AIN has seen of an F-15.
Making its first-ever appearance in the Middle East, the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor is flying over each day from Al Dhafra airbase, Abu Dhabi, for its 14-minute display slot. Major Dave “Zeke” Skalicky is showing off America’s top-of-the-line stealth fighter with a serious of gravity-defying maneuvers.
Selex Galileo, which produces the Falco tactical UAV, has recently integrated multiple reconnaissance sensors on the vehicle. With an mtow of only 1,078 pounds, the Falco may be the smallest UAV to carry both video and radar sensors. The Anglo-Italian company manufactures the sensors and the ground control system, as well as the air vehicle and its avionics.
In late July the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command issued a request for information for what it calls the light attack/armed reconnaissance (LAAR) aircraft. The RFI covers the potential procurement of 100 OA-X aircraft optimized for irregular warfare missions, which could see the U.S. Air Force back in the business