The French Air Force accepted its first A400M airlifter on August 2, when an all-military crew flew the first production aircraft–MSN7–from Seville to its operational base at Orleans. The flight followed a July 31 declaration by the pan-European procurement agency OCCAR that Airbus Military had achieved the contracted specifications for the initial operating capability of the new airlifter.
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).
India will launch its 37,500-ton indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-1) on August 12 at the Cochin Shipyard in Kerala. The ship is scheduled for induction by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, the former Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, now the INS Vikramaditya, conducted final trials in the Barents Sea this week with its squadron of MiG-29K combat jets embarked. It is due to be delivered by year-end, after a delay of more than four years.
American defense contractors are set to enjoy revenues of nearly $4.7 billion from Iraq, according to a series of arms sales notifications by the Pentagon to Congress in the past two weeks. The potential sales include an integrated air defense system worth $2.4 billion and 30 Bell 412EP helicopters worth $300 million. The deals include training and support.
The Pentagon approved full-rate production of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle multi-role unmanned aircraft on July 26. That same day, manufacturer General Atomics reported the first flight of an improved version of the aircraft that it will demonstrate to the U.S. Army later this year.
Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) reached an agreement in principle to fund the next two low-rate initial production (LRIP) lots of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, comprising 71 aircraft. The company and DOD jointly announced the “handshake agreement” on July 30 in advance of signing the LRIP contracts, which will provide consecutive, 4-percent reductions in the unit cost of U.S. military variants, they said. The parties said they will release cost details when the contracts are finalized.
Less than three years after it was renamed Cassidian, the defense and security business of EADS is being rebranded again. In fact, the EADS name will disappear in a reorganization that includes application of the “globally recognized Airbus brand” to all the group’s activities. “We affirm the predominance of commercial aeronautics in our group,” said CEO Tom Enders.
The bid deadline for the U.S. Navy’s high-profile VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program closed on August 1 with apparently only one bidder—Sikorsky Aircraft—submitting a proposal. The Navy declined to identify the number of bids received, but other companies that had earlier announced plans to compete for the VXX contract confirmed that they have decided not to submit proposals.
Contract negotiations between the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate and AVX Helicopter, Bell Helicopter and the Sikorsky/Boeing team–the potential Phase I vendors for the joint multi-role technology demonstrator (JMR-TD)–are nearing completion. Announcement of the awards for a new U.S. Army medium helicopter are planned for September, according to an Army spokesman.
Assembly of the first F-35 Joint Strike fighter to be produced outside the U.S. has begun in Italy. Manufacturers delivered major structural components to the new final assembly and check-out (FACO) facility at Cameri Air Base, west of Milan, where the first F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant, designated AL-1, will be assembled for the Italian air force. The facility is operated by a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Alenia Aermacchi.
On behalf of the seven European nations buying the Airbus Military A400M, the French government defense procurement agency (French acronym DGA) announced that the new airlifter had achieved military certification.