The four Eurofighter partner nations (Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK), reached an agreement early this month on a course of action concerning the third tranche of Eurofighter production. Tranche 3 covers the final 236 aircraft of the 620-aircraft umbrella contract.
AIN Defense Perspective
Negotiations between Alenia Aeronautica and Boeing concerning an industrial partnership to build the C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) came to an end last month. Discussions had been ongoing for more than two years, although they were temporarily halted last year. The current economic climate is considered to be the primary cause, as Boeing has stated that there were no concerns about the product or the proposed partnership.
Earlier this month, the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet completed a series of risk-reduction tests with an infrared search and track (IRST) system. A Boeing/General Electric/Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control team installed an IRST sensor in the nose of a modified 480-gallon fuel tank for the trials. The sensor was carried on the centreline station during six flights at NAS Patuxent River and four at NAWS China Lake.
Dramatically expanding the country’s airlift capabilities, the United Arab Emirates plans to add Boeing C-17s and Lockheed Martin C-130Js. The country is purchasing four C-17 Globemaster IIIs for AED4.3 billion ($1.17 billion), and 12 C-130Js for AED5.9 billion ($1.6 billion). Financial management of the purchases has been assigned to Al Waha Capital, and deliveries are scheduled for 2012 and 2013.
The United Arab Emirates has selected the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master to fulfill its advanced trainer and combat support requirement. The UAE Air Force and Air Defense (AFAD) plans to acquire 48 Masters for lead-in fighter training and light attack duties.
The Russian government has bailed out the MiG Corporation after it lost more than $300 million last year and reported total debts of $1.25 billion. Twenty-four MiG-29 SMTs that were built for Algeria will be bought instead by the Russian Air Force for $690 million. Another $417 million will be provided through an issue of additional shares, so that MiG can be integrated debt-free into Russia’s United Aircraft Corp. (UAC).
Indian helicopter requirements provided the only real news at this month’s Aero India event in Bangalore. Indian officials confirmed the relaunch of the competition for nearly 200 armed light helicopters, a requirement that is now called the reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter (RSH). Eurocopter has proposed the AS 550 C3 Fennec, with license-manufacture by Hindustan Aeronautics.
Defense business accounts for nearly half the turnover of Eurocopter, and recent export orders should help the EADS subsidiary overcome a downturn in commercial orders. Over the past two months, a major deal to supply 50 EC 725 Cougars to Brazil has been announced, followed by 15 more to Greece for SAR duties.
Intense speculation surrounds the Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year 2010 U.S. defense budget submission, which is now being deliberated in secret within the Pentagon. According to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, difficult choices must be made. The spotlight has fallen on two aerospace programs: whether to buy any more F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, and whether to abandon the VH-71 Presidential helicopter program.
The four partner nations in Eurofighter have agreed to delay until 2015 the introduction of the Meteor, the advanced rocket-ramjet beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed by MBDA. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is managing the development of Meteor, and is the only country to have committed to production so far. However, the MoD told the UK National Audit Office that it was falling into line with Germany, Italy and Spain.