The U.S. Navy’s next-generation maritime patrol jet, the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, is months away from starting its first operational deployment, which will hasten the retirement of the venerable P-3C Orion turboprop.
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).
Since the first quarter of 2012 two Aermacchi M346s have been flying under Italian air force colors, carrying out the initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) campaign. From March 5 to Sept. 5, 2012 the two Masters logged some 130 flight hours in the hands of the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (test flight wing) of Pratica di Mare.
Airbus Military believes that teething problems with its multi-role tanker/transport (MRTT) business are now behind it, and that it’s set to grow over the coming year. With the A330 MRTT the company has the only new-generation tanker/transport flying, and hopes to secure new customers while continuing to deliver aircraft to its existing four operators, who will have received 17 aircraft by the end of 2013.
The events in Sabah, Malaysia, this past March, when local forces conducted Operation Daulat used combat jets to quell the resistance of the Filipino gunmen on the island of Borneo, may have prompted a spate of arms sales to that country and her closest neighbors. The armed forces do have a big wish list for weapons, but procurement processes for the most expensive and longest-lead items are likely to be launched properly only after the general elections in Malaysia later this year.
On the eve of the Paris air show the Longbow joint venture comprised of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman announced that it had received a contract to provide Longbow fire control radars (FCRs) for the AH-64E Apache Guardians (formerly AH-64D Block III) that have been ordered by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The $90.6 million contract covers FCRs for the Royal Saudi Land Forces Aviation Command and the Saudi Arabia National Guard, as well as mast-mounted assemblies for the U.S. Army. Spares and support is also included in the Saudi element.
Although German UAV specialists Rheinmetall Airborne Systems (RAS) is now 51-percent owned by EADS, the Bremen-based outfit is retaining its own identity and continues to build upon expertise gained in operating two UAV systems for the German armed forces. It has developed a lightweight, low-cost tactical UAV and is proposing an innovative larger design that is hybrid in both airframe and power.
The first four flying versions of the U.S. Marine Corps’ next generation CH-53K helicopter were advancing through assembly at Sikorsky Aircraft’s West Palm Beach, Florida, facility earlier this year. “We’re well beyond the paper side of the aircraft. We’re building this thing,” Marine Col. Robert Pridgen, H-53 program manager, told reporters at the Navy League conference in April.
When Serbia shot down U.S. Air Force F-117 during the Kosovo war in 1999, skeptics of stealth claimed vindication. However, that success was due to a combination of poor mission planning, smart air-defense operators exploiting both radar and ELINT sensors, some vulnerability in the first-generation platform–and pure luck. Low-observable technology has moved on, and the F-22, F-35 and the latest UCAVs are stealthier than the F-117.
The $10 billion-plus contract to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to India will be completed by the end of the year. That was the confident prediction of Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation president and director-general, at an eve-of-show press conference. Since India selected the French combat jet in January 2012, negotiations have dragged on, with thorny issues of local partnerships, offsets and liabilities unresolved.
At an eve-of-show press conference, Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation president and director-general, predicted that the $10 billion-plus contract to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to India would be completed by the end of the year. And he confirmed that the option for a further 63 aircraft was under active discussion.