India’s attorney general, Goolamhussein Essaji Vahanvati, ruled last week that AgustaWestland breached contractual obligations and an associated “integrity pact” in winning a $787 million contract to supply 12 AW101 VIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2010, raising the possibility the government will cancel the deal.
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 F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) halted the development of an alternate helmet-mounted display system (HMDS) for the Joint Strike Fighter, signaling the resolution of a potentially serious technical complication the program faced.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II notched its 10,000th flight hour in September, and by the end of the month the combined Joint Strike Fighter fleet had flown 6,492 times for 10,077 hours. Illustrating the momentum that the program has built since operational production aircraft began training operations, more than half the total was amassed in the past 11 months. It had previously taken the program six years to reach the 5,000-hour milestone.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has expressed concern that major aviation-related defense procurements will be delayed following the sudden death of Arun Kumar Bal, Ministry of Defense chief negotiator for air acquisitions. “It will take around three months for his replacement. This is a setback for anything the IAF is acquiring,” Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne told AIN.
During a ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Thales facility at Brest, French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian signed the contract that launches a major upgrade for the Marine Nationale’s Dassault Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft. The upgrade equips the Atlantique 2 for service to at least its current planned out-of-service date of 2030, and beyond if its career is extended.
The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) state-owned and -operated Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic) presented a full line of its products and plans for further expansion of its export markets at last month’s Aviation Expo China exhibition, which was held in the Chinese capital, Beijing. The centerpiece of the Avic display was a line-up of models of those military aircraft programs that the conglomerate has been permitted to make public.
Last week the UK/Germany-based 328 Group announced that it had handed over the last of 17 Dornier 328 twin-turboprop transports to Sierra Nevada for supply to U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The U.S. Air Force operates these aircraft as the C-146A Wolfhound. The handover ceremony for the last aircraft took place on July 9, but announcement was delayed, possibly owing to the sensitive nature of these aircraft. Following the handover at 328 Group’s facility at Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany, the aircraft departed for Sierra Nevada’s facility at Centennial, Colorado.
Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s largest supplier, has joined forces with Bell Helicopter on the V-280 being proposed for the DoD’s joint multi-role (JMR) technology demonstrator program. The move by Lockheed Martin comes one month after the company announced it is developing a “universal” avionics and weapons package for the Army’s JMR aircraft even before selection of an airframe. As many as 4,000 helicopters could be acquired under the program.
Bell Boeing, the joint venture that produces the V-22 and MV-22 tiltrotor for the Air Force, Navy and Marines, announced that it had successfully demonstrated the capability of that aircraft to serve as an aerial refueling tanker in trials with F/A-18C/D fighters. The test V-22 used a retractable refueling drogue. Bell Boeing has been promoting the V-22 for other roles, including that of the Greyhound COD resupply mission for aircraft carriers.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the Eurofighter Typhoon are back in play for South Korea’s F-X III fighter requirement after that country made a sudden decision to reject the last remaining contender, Boeing’s F-15SE Silent Eagle, and restart the procurement process.