Technical negotiations with the United Arab Emirates for what will be the first export sale of the Dassault Aviation Rafale combat jet, are almost complete. But commercial and government talks continue, so a formal announcement is probably still some months away. Deliveries are unlikely before 2013. At the Paris Air Show, Dassault displayed two scale models of the Rafale with weapons configurations that are unique to the UAE.
AIN Defense Perspective
Israel’s Elbit showed the latest member of its UAV family for the first time at the Paris Air Show in June. The Hermes 90 has an 85-kilogram mtow, of which 25 kilograms can be sensor payload. It can be operated by a crew of two, who can turn it round between missions in about 15 minutes. Endurance is over 18 hours at an altitude of 15,000 feet.
Northrop Grumman has now equipped more than 400 aircraft of 42 types with its AAQ-24(V) Nemesis directed infrared countermeasures system, which is designed to protect aircraft against shoulder-launched missiles, or Manpads. The original plasma lamp-based turret gave way to the eye-safe Viper laser from 2002, and the system continues to be in great demand. Now the company is examining a range of new applications for Nemesis.
Airbus and Northrop Grumman are reluctant to discuss the status of the two KC-45s (A330s) built for the KC-X USAF tanker competition in advance of the award of the contract to Northrop Grumman by the Pentagon last year. Northrop Grumman offered the aircraft as proof of its serious intent in pursuing the requirement. The first KC-45 was flown to Dresden for the addition of a main-deck cargo door by EADS-EFW.
EADS hopes to persuade France, Germany and Spain to launch development of its Advanced UAV, now named Talarion, a medium/high-altitude surveillance drone. But evidence of any progress by EADS in the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) sector was entirely missing at this month’s Paris Air Show.
EADS Airbus Military hopes that by the Paris Air Show next month launch customers Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK will complete a review of their commitment to the A400M military transport.
The Italian Army confirmed that it is buying 16 Boeing CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters in a co-production deal with AgustaWestland that is worth approximately $1.23 billion. This is the first international sale of the CH-47F, a major upgrade to the evergreen Chinook that is already in service with the U.S. Army.
Boeing is making further improvements to the F/A-18E/F, and evaluating a more powerful version of the Super Hornet’s GE F414 powerplants. A new core and a new fan that could deliver 20 percent more thrust are under investigation by Boeing and General Electric. Boeing F/A-18 program manager Bob Gower said that no change to the aircraft’s inlets would be required to increase mass flow. The core has already run in a test cell.
The stealthy, jet-powered version of the Predator series UAV that was unveiled last month was developed “with significant company investment,” according to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI). Tom Cassidy, president of GA-ASI’s aircraft systems group, again sought to contrast the company’s lean and independent development model with that of the major aerospace companies.
Although the Pentagon last month declared that it was increasing the early production tempo of the F-35, the decision to buy 30 aircraft next year does not actually change previous plans. Moreover, there is still no U.S. commitment to multi-year procurement (MYP) before 2015. Mindful of repeated criticism by the U.S.