Airbus Military and Alenia Aermacchi have performed firefighting trials of their competing tactical airlifters, the C295 and the C-27J, respectively. As defense budgets tighten, both companies are hoping to sell new, cost-effective applications such as these.
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 U.S. Navy declared operational readiness of the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and deployed the first Poseidons to the Asia Pacific region earlier this month.
Flight tests of the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile on a Eurofighter Typhoon began on November 27. A week later, the four-nation industrial consortium delivered the 400th aircraft. The first Tranche 3 Eurofighter flew on December 2 from Warton.
UK Royal Air Force (RAF) crews have begun training on the Eurocopter Puma Mk 2, although the two squadrons will not be cleared for service until 2015. Under a contract signed in 2009, Eurocopter is upgrading 24 of the 40-year-old helicopters with new engines, glass cockpits, digital autopilot and other improvements. Seven have been redelivered to date.
India’s twice-bid reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter (RSH) competition has been delayed again. An oversight committee is now scrutinizing the latest bids to inquire into allegations of improper conduct by an army officer during flight trials of the finalists. The Kamov Ka-226T and Eurocopter AS550C3 Fennec are competing for an Army and Air Force requirement for 197 helicopters.
The U.S. Marine Corps has extended Lockheed Martin’s contract to operate two K-Max unmanned helicopters in Afghanistan into next year. Operating there since December 2011, the converted Kaman cargo-lifting machines have demonstrated a 97-percent operational availability, according to Lockheed Martin. The company hopes that either the Marines or the U.S. Army will create a formal program of record for the K-Max, for at least one unit operating six helicopters.
The heavy rain that forced organizers to cancel the last day of the Dubai Airshow was a metaphor for the main defense story of the week. The prospect of the UAE ordering a new fighter–specifically the Eurofighter Typhoon–had been talked up by UK officials in particular, and reinforced by an eve-of-show visit by the British Prime Minister.
China’s first unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), the Lijian or Sharp Sword, made its first flight on November 21. The event took place at an unidentified flight-test site in southwest China after several months of ground testing. The first flight lasted approximately 20 minutes, and unofficial video footage was soon available on Chinese websites.
France and the UK have agreed a common military staff requirement for a future medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAS, according to Gen. Denis Mercier, commander of the French Air Force. However, he cautioned that the move would not automatically result in the development by European industry of a Male UAV “because there is no money available at the moment.” European aerospace leaders have been pressing for the launch of a “Euro-Male” development program.
Boeing formally announced the Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) program, based on the Bombardier Challenger business jet. Development has been under way for some time, with Field Aviation in Toronto already modifying a Boeing-owned Challenger 604 to serve as the demonstrator.