Airbus DS is at an advanced stage of selling A330 MRTTs to three more countries. Qatar has selected to buy two pod/boom-equipped aircraft, while India has selected the A330 with Rolls-Royce engines and a pod/FRU tanking configuration. Airbus has finalized negotiations, including offset packages, and has pre-signed the contract. A signature is hoped for before the end of the year.
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).
Airbus Defence and Space Military Aircraft (Outdoor Exhibit 13) has announced that it will begin deliveries of an improved version of the A330 multi-role tanker transport in late 2017. The initial A330 MRTT Enhanced aircraft will be the first of six that were ordered by Singapore earlier this year. Subsequent production aircraft will all be of the new version.
Multi-role functionality has been a long time coming for the Eurofighter Typhoon. But the four-nation industrial consortium building the combat jet says the Phase 1 Enhancements (P1E) package that is now entering service represents a “paradigm shift” in capability.
The commander of the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon force, Air Cmdr. Gary Waterfall, said the new package allows the RAF to drop 500-pound Paveway IV “smart” bombs “at the moment of our choosing, on targets of our choosing, with a multitude of fuse settings, impact angles and arrivals.”
Efforts by Iraq’s embattled Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to urgently acquire combat aircraft to assist with the battle against Isis rebels have already born fruit in the form of Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot” attack aircraft from Russia and Iran.
Boeing is targeting the third quarter for the maiden flight of a 767-2C “provisioned freighter” that will become one of the first U.S. Air Force KC-46A aerial refueling tankers. The company acknowledged encountering what it described as typical issues in the tanker’s development, and that it slipped an internal goal to fly the aircraft for the first time in June.
The long quest by the U.S. Air Force to acquire a new combat rescue helicopter (CRH) appears to have concluded, with Sikorsky’s announcement that it has received an engineering and development (EMD) contract worth an estimated $1.28 billion for a derivative of the UH-60M Black Hawk.
Boeing has added to its portfolio of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft a “multi-int” platform based on the Beechcraft King Air 350ER. The company’s Reconfigurable Airborne Multi-Intelligence System (Ramis) was originally developed as a demonstrator for the U.S. Army and is now being offered to customers.
Flight operations of the F-35A Lightning II conducted by the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., were suspended after one of the fighters caught fire on June 23 as it prepared to take off on a training mission. The U.S. military is investigating the incident.
Airbus Defence and Space has teamed with Textron to offer the Shadow M2 tactical UAV for a French army requirement that is expected to be launched in the coming weeks. France has been deliberating over a UAV for the army for some time, and has tested the Thales Watchkeeper extensively. Meanwhile, Sagem has offered the Patroller UAV. However, the ministry of defense has indicated it will shortly issue an open tender. Under the teaming agreement, Airbus D&S will install French mission equipment in the Shadow.
The F-35B V/STOL version of the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter will not perform vertical landings during its international debut in the UK next month. The maneuver cannot be performed without risk of damage to runway surfaces, unless they have been constructed with high-temperature-resistant concrete. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed last week that three specially built vertical landing pads will be provided at RAF Marham, the planned UK base for the F-35B, at a cost of more than $12 million.