As with civil aviation operators, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) must ready its aircraft fleet to comply with fast-approaching mandates to operate in the future global airspace system. Failure to meet those requirements will prevent operators from being able to take advantage of preferential routes and altitudes that will be available to properly equipped aircraft.
AIN Defense Perspective
Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Center (Muac) is supplying air traffic data to the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) in a project designed to better coordinate civil and military flights in some of Europe’s busiest airspace. Eurocontrol said the data-sharing system has started initial operations with 11 military controller and two supervisory positions.
The U.S. Air Force declared the joint-service pilot training and maintenance wing for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter “ready for training” the first instructor pilots on the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant, beginning in January. Next summer, the wing will begin training Navy pilots on the F-35C carrier variant of the fifth-generation fighter.
The U.S. Navy awarded a contract to BAE Systems valued at $400 million over five years to maintain T-34, T-44 and T-6 training aircraft. BAE’s Aerospace Solutions business, based in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., will perform scheduled inspections, repairs, modifications and logistical support of more than 300 aircraft operated by the Chief of Naval Air Training.
Russian Aircraft MiG (RSK MiG) said that it delivered the first batch of three MiG-29UPG single-seat fighters to India aboard an Antonov An-124 Ruslan airlifter.
After protracted negotiations, Lockheed Martin reached an agreement in principle with the Pentagon for the fifth lot of low-rate initial production F-35s (LRIP-5). The company has reported new flight-test milestones for the Lightning II stealth fighter in recent weeks. But there was less good news from Canada, which is reconsidering its commitment to the F-35 on cost grounds.
China is close to signing for 24 Sukhoi Su-35 single-seat multirole fighters, in a deal worth $1.5 billion. The Moscow-based newspaper Vedomosti recently reported that Beijing and Moscow have agreed delivery terms, including quantity and price. Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi declined to comment.
More than 10 months after India chose the French Rafale to meet its $15 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) requirement, contract negotiations are mired in issues related to offsets, the transfer of technology and the role of Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL).
The Danish government signed a letter of intent to acquire nine MH-60R Seahawk helicopters through a U.S. foreign military sale valued at $686 million. Denmark is the second foreign nation after Australia to buy the maritime helicopter, manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft with mission systems integration by Lockheed Martin.
Sales of U.S. military aircraft will fall by 2.4 percent this year to $58.2 billion, the lowest level since 2006, according to a preliminary estimate of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). Sales are expected to decline by another 10 percent in next year as budget cuts force the Pentagon to reduce procurement spending, the association said in its year-end review and forecast, released earlier this month.