An MQ-1 Predator UAV supported firefighters in their efforts to control the huge California Rim Fire in August-September, according to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI). The company noted that the UAV’s more-than-24-hour endurance offered a “value-added capability” over helicopters, which ground commanders had relied on previously but are required to refuel every two hours.
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).
Even as French aircrews began training in the U.S. on the Reaper UAS, EADS Cassidian announced that it had received a one-year extension to its support contract for the Harfang UAS that the French air force intends to replace with the American drone. Cassidian also noted that the similar Heron UAS operated by the German air force and supported by the company has logged 15,000 hours over Afghanistan. The Germans are also considering a Reaper buy as a replacement for the Israeli-origin UAVs.
C-17 production will end in 2015, Boeing announced. Denis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, described the decision as “difficult but necessary.” Since production of the heavy airlifter for the U.S. Air Force began winding down some years ago, Boeing has extended the line every six months, based on signed or anticipated export orders.
Software remains the biggest risk of the F-35 program, according to U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the program executive officer. In a presentation at the Air Force Association (AFA) Air & Space Conference on September 17, Bogdan also discussed progress in fixing the Joint Strike Fighter’s helmet-mounted display systems (HMDS), and program costs.
Beechcraft claimed a communications first for the AT-6, its losing contender for the USAF Light Air Support (LAS) program. Meanwhile, Embraer described progress in producing the winning LAS contender, the A-29 Super Tucano.
Flight trials of the MiG-29K on the INS Vikramaditya (formerly Admiral Gorshkov) in the Barents Sea have been completed. Deliveries of the naval version of the fighter to India continue, with the carrier to follow on November 15, and the Russian Navy will soon receive its first MiG-29K.
India’s own medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAS has experienced another delay, with first flight now expected toward the end of next year. A senior official from the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) told AIN that the Rustom-2 project has suffered from lack of access to technology for sensors and engines. “Requirements for ISR are huge in India, given threats from the border. However, Hale, micro and nano UAVs require powerful algorithms. That is where we require help,” added V.S.
The Netherlands confirmed its previous choice of the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II to replace the air force’s F-16s. But in a statement, the Dutch government noted that “based on current insights, the available financial room is sufficient for 37 aircraft.” A total of 85 had originally been planned.
Contractors are working on risk-reduction contracts for the secretive and stealthy long-range strike-bomber (LRS-B) program, the former deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Air Force for acquisition disclosed. During a panel discussion at the Air Force Association (AFA) Air and Space Conference near Washington, D.C, on September 17, retired Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford said the contracts serve as a technology “bridge” to the future bomber following the cancellation of the Next Generation Bomber (NGB) program in 2009.
Textron and joint-venture partner AirLand Enterprises surprised the Air Force Association (AFA) Air & Space Conference near Washington, D.C., this week by unveiling a new midsize twin-turbofan jet designed for armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. Textron division Cessna Aircraft has quietly built a prototype of what the team has named the Scorpion and intends to fly it by year-end.