Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has now awarded prime contracts to all four participating companies to begin Phase 1 development for the agency’s VTOL X-Plane program. Boeing and Karem Aircraft received contracts this week, to join Aurora Flight Sciences and Sikorsky. While all four have submitted proposals for unmanned vehicles, the technology that is to be developed has equal application to manned VTOL aircraft.
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).
Earlier this month Japan released some details about the growth of incursions by Chinese aircraft into Japanese airspace. The release of information comes after China unilaterally declared the establishment of its East China Sea ADIZ (air defense identification zone) last November. The figures show a significant rise in the number of interceptions being launched by the JASDF (Japan air self-defence force) against Chinese intruders.
Australia’s Defence Materiel Organization awarded Boeing Defense Australia a five-year contract extension valued at AUD $901 million ($819 million) to maintain Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) E-7A Wedgetail airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. Nearly half, or AUD $443 million, of the money will be spent in Australia, Defense Minister David Johnston said.
Earlier this month Russian Helicopters delivered the 3,500th helicopter of the Mil Mi-17 series. Assembled at the Kazan Helicopters plant, the machine is one of 151 that India has ordered. However, at the same time, tensions with Ukraine are threatening the supply of engines.
The U.S. Air Force’s 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Arizona is set to formally unveil its first Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter on March 21, following delivery of the aircraft earlier in the week.
At the Dassault Aviation annual press conference, in Saint-Cloud (France), CEO Eric Trappier has confirmed achieving a firm agreement with Indian group Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) concerning the partnership between Dassault and HAL for the 126 Rafale fighters that India wants to buy. The agreement covers the general configuration of the aircraft, the technology transfers and the detailed workshare between the two partners and their subcontractors. Also, it clarifies the mechanism of warranties, said Trappier.
Sikorsky Aircraft anticipates contract awards this year from the U.S. Air Force for its new combat rescue helicopter (CRH) and from the Navy for a new U.S. presidential helicopter.
This week Airbus Defence and Space unveiled the Orlik MPT, an upgrade of the PZL-130 Orlik (eaglet) trainer that made its first flight in 1984 and has been the Polish air force’s basic trainer since entering service in 1993. The new version introduces a host of improvements intended to equip it to serve as the initial step in a new-look Polish training syllabus, and the unveiling follows Poland’s decision to procure the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 to serve as the advanced/lead-in trainer before successful students progress to Poland’s front-line F-16 fighters.
On Monday the North Atlantic Council announced that it will begin operating airborne early-warning flights in response to the situation in Ukraine, where pro-Russian forces are largely in control of Crimea. NATO will fly Boeing E-3 Awacs airborne early-warning aircraft in the airspace of member states Poland and Romania, which both border Ukraine. The flights are intended to “enhance the alliance’s situational awareness” of events in Ukraine.
Airbus Defence and Space has confirmed an anticipated order from the Republic of Singapore Air Force for six A330 MRTT tanker/transports. The selection of the Airbus rather than the Boeing KC-46A was first revealed yesterday via the Singaporean ministry of defense’s Twitter account. At the same time, the country’s Ministry of Defense also confirmed that it is to order two more Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk maritime helicopters for the naval air arm’s 123 Squadron, raising the total number to eight.