Defense contractors flocked to Bangalore for the Aero India show this week, even as the Indian government confirmed that the years of plenty might be over. Defense minister A.K. Anthony confirmed that his spending would be cut in the fiscal year that starts in April, although not on “operational preparedness.”
AIN Defense Perspective
Neelam Mathews and Vladimir Karnozov contributed to this report.
Helicopters were much in the news at the Aero India show this week. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) showed the armed version of its advanced light helicopter (ALH) called “Rudra.” The company’s light combat helicopter (LCH) was also on show, and so was an armed Mil-17V5. The Indian Navy’s new multi-role helicopter (MRH) requirement also attracted attention.
The Indo-Russian joint venture Multirole Transport Aircraft Ltd. (MTAL) exhibited for the first time at Aero India in Bangalore this week. Under the leadership of general director N.C. Agarwal, the company was established by a framework agreement signed in October 2012 between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and United Aircraft Corporation’s Transport Aircraft division.
Rosoboronexport reported a new Indian order for 12 Mil Mi-17V5 helicopters at the Aero India show this week amid hopes that some 200 of them could eventually be sold to India. To date, Russian Helicopters has delivered 36 of the 80 machines that were ordered in 2008 in a deal worth more than $1.3 billion. Deliveries to the Indian Air Force commenced in 2011. The latest order comprises three in VIP transport configuration, and nine for the Indian Coast Guard.
The U.S. Air Force is gathering information to help it decide if a very light jet (VLJ)–typically a jet with a maximum takeoff weight below 10,000 pounds–could replace its fleet of Raytheon T-1A Jayhawk trainers. The service conducted similar market research in 2006.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) published its equipment spending plan for the next 10 years for the first time. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond–known in political circles as “spreadsheet Phil”–has made a virtue of cutting unrealistic ambition in UK defense spending plans, following a painful review in 2010 that made substantial force cuts that are still being implemented.
The first large military airlifter developed by China made its maiden flight on January 26. The Y-20 prototype, seen previously upon rollout, was airborne for about one hour before returning to the Yanliang air base in Xian, amid the cheers of a flag-waving crowd. The test flight was called a key step toward building China’s strategic force. Judging from the prototype’s serial number–20001–at least 100 Y-20s could be produced.
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) approved full-rate production of the Sniper advanced targeting pod under its ATP-Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE) program, manufacturer Lockheed Martin announced on January 16. In November, the service approved full-rate production of Northrop Grumman’s Litening pod under the same program.
Alenia Aermacchi made the first flight of an SF-260TP primary and basic trainer with a glass cockpit from its factory at Venegono, Italy. The aircraft also carried an upgraded air conditioning system and an infrared TV camera on the wing leading edge that provides the pilots with an enhanced vision system at night or in poor weather.
Production of the Airbus Military C212 light transport is being transferred to Indonesia. The company signed a “strategic collaboration agreement” with PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) in mid-2011. The last aircraft to be assembled in Spain–a C212-400 version–was delivered to the Vietnam Marine Police in late December.