For many years the U.S. Air Force has operated a fleet of surplus Phantom IIs as QF-4s in the full-scale aerial target role (FSAT). Under projected usage rates, that fleet will be consumed within the next few years. Now, the Air Force has taken the first step to providing a replacement. Not surprisingly, the type chosen is the Lockheed Martin F-16, the older variants of which are entering the boneyard in some numbers.
AIN Defense Perspective
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) flew the prototype of its Surion utility helicopter for the first time on March 10. Flown by two pilots and with a test engineer aboard, the Surion took off for a 30-minute maiden flight at Sacheon air base, near Korea’s south coast, and performed hovering and hover turns.
EADS will receive an extra €2 billion to continue the A400M program, as well as a loan of €1.5 billion to be repaid as a levy on future exports of the airlifter. An ”understanding” with the eight European partner nations also includes forgiveness of all late delivery penalties to date, and an acceleration of pre-delivery payments.
A version of the Boeing 767 dubbed “NewGen Tanker” will win the reopened U.S. Air Force KC-X competition by default, after Northrop Grumman declined to bid the Airbus A330MRTT.
BAE Systems agreed to pay a $400 million fine to settle a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into commission payments made to secure arms contracts. BAE also made an out-of-court settlement with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which has been investigating the company since 2004.
India will test fly, in 2012, its indigenous airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system integrated onboard a modified Embraer EMB 145, an official involved in the project said.
The Sikorsky S-92A will take over search-and-rescue helicopter (SAR-H) duties in the UK, following selection of the Soteria Consortium by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is proposing aerial tanker versions of business jets such as the Gulfstream G550. At the Singapore Airshow earlier this month, a company official told AIN that its small and smart tactical tanker (SSTT) is still only a proposal, aimed at reducing the costs of aerial refueling training.
Brazil’s purchase of 36 new fighters has pitted the air force’s preference for the Saab Gripen, backed by a 10-month technical report, against a presidential preference for the Dassault Rafale as part of a “strategic alliance” with France. Second in the air force’s ranking was the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet. According to the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, France reduced the cost of the Rafale package from $12.2 billion to $8.2 billion.
Limited funding for the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland VH-71 presidential helicopter, which is based on the triple-engine AgustaWestland AW101, made it into the final FY2010 U.S. defense appropriations bill, reviving the model’s chances of one day flying U.S. presidents. At direction of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Pentagon had terminated the program on May 15 last year.