Attempts by India to fast-track the procurement process for its 126-aircraft Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft requirement have come unstuck as the evaluation process has taken far longer than initially expected.
AIN Defense Perspective
Last month the U.S. Navy completed Phase One testing of a U.S. Marine Corps HC-130J Hercules outfitted with the Harvest Hawk system, which gives the tanker/transports weapons capability. Following initial tests at Patuxent River, Maryland, the HC-130J departed for further tests at China Lake in California, in preparation for an initial deployment to Afghanistan in the summer.
On April 19 Lockheed Martin rolled out from its Marietta, Georgia, facility the first of a new batch of special-mission Hercules for the U.S. Air Force. The company has a contract for 21 HC/MC-130Js, but this number is expected to rise to 31 (11 HCs and 20 MCs). They will replace ageing first-generation aircraft currently serving in Special Operations Squadrons.
Earlier this week at the Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition, Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter announced the joint development of a new high-capacity unmanned helicopter. Known as Fire-X, the machine is initially aimed at a U.S. Navy requirement for a medium-range unmanned air system that is expected to be announced next year. It has applications in several roles, including ISR and battlefield supply duties.
EADS has decided to bid the A330MRTT for the U.S. Air Force KC-X requirement again, this time without a major North American partner. Ralph Crosby, chairman of EADS North America, said that the Pentagon had recognized EADS North America as a qualified prime contractor. Leaving Boeing as the sole-source bidder “harms the U.S. taxpayer,” Crosby added.
Last month, EADS Defence & Security delivered back to the Luftwaffe the first Tornado to undergo the production ASSTA 2 upgrade program. This modernization is part of an effort to keep selected Tornados in German service until at least 2025.
Hawker Beechcraft successfully completed the maiden flight of its second AT-6 production-representative test vehicle (PRTV) on April 5 in Wichita. The first PRTV first flew with the new mission avionics suite last September. The second PRTV is the first to fly with the intended powerplant, the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68D rated at 1,600 shp (1194 kW).