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.
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 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.
Bacau, Romania-based Aerostar is nearing the end of a program to bring eight Mozambique Air Force MiG-21 fighters back to life after some 20 years in storage. The company is best known today for its commercial MRO and aerostructures business. But the latest MiG work follows Aerostar’s previous contract to upgrade 110 Romanian air force MiG-21s to the Lancer standard, with new avionics designed by Elbit Systems.
A Sino-Russian effort to develop a new advanced heavy helicopter was discussed during the recent visit to Shanghai by a Russian delegation headed by President Putin. According to Russian Helicopters general director Alexander Mikeyev, his company has been discussing the project with China’s Avicopter since 2008. “The main parameters of the project have been agreed on. But the work is not yet complete,” he said.
The Pentagon announced the award of an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract to Northrop Grumman on June 3 for ongoing modernization and sustainment of the B-2A Spirit bomber. The IDIQ contact comes with a ceiling of $9.9 billion; at the same time, Northrop Grumman is preparing for the possibility of its building the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) that will replace the B-2.
The organizers of this week’s ILA Berlin airshow claimed 1,200 exhibitors from 40 countries, and were expecting 200, 000 visitors, including public spectators on the last three days. The show had plenty to offer in the fields of civil aerospace, space and environmental solutions. However, defense exhibitors and attendees at ILA Berlin are mostly focused on German requirements. The problem is, the Germans are not buying anything.
Airbus Defence & Space (D&S), Alenia and Dassault Aviation have proposed a Project Definition (PD) study for a future European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV to the governments of France, Germany and Italy. At the same time, however, Airbus D&S may be working with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) to develop what it describes as “bridging solution” for the German armed forces, using the Heron TP. Meanwhile, General Atomics–Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) is quietly confident that Germany may join the European “Reaper Club” that already comprises France, Italy and the UK as members.
German aviation and electronic system house ESG has proposed a new Israeli SIGINT aircraft as a replacement for Germany’s cancelled Euro Hawk SIGINT UAV. ESG displayed a large model of IAI-Elta’s conversion of the Bombardier Global 5000 business jet on its stand at the ILA Berlin airshow this week. The Luftwaffe has been told to evaluate five alternatives to the Euro Hawk, but this is the only one that would abandon development of the Integrated Signals Intelligence System (ISIS) SIGINT that Airbus Defence & Space was developing for the Euro Hawk.
Swiss citizens have rejected their government’s plan to buy 22 Saab Gripen E combat aircraft in a referendum. The verdict was not unexpected, since recent opinion polls had shown a majority against the plan, despite its previous approval by the Swiss parliament. However, the “no” vote majority was only 53.4 percent. Under Switzerland’s unique version of democracy, many significant and/or controversial matters of public policy are decided in this way.