A new “smart” bomb employing three guidance modes is entering service with the UK Royal Air Force. The Raytheon Paveway IV is a 500-pound laser-guided weapon that can alternately be guided by GPS, with backup from an INS system if GPS is not available for any reason (such as jamming).
AIN Defense Perspective
The U.S. Navy is expected to issue a draft request for proposals this quarter for the EP-X intelligence-gathering aircraft, which will replace the EP-3 Aries. In a recent briefing, Boeing revealed that Raytheon was joining its team to bid the P-8 Poseidon for EP-X.
Continuing production of the C-17 Globemaster airlifter into the next decade now seems assured. Boeing officials are quietly confident that the U.S. Congress will add another 15 of these airplanes to the Fiscal Year 2010 budget, following similar action for FY09. The company also expects “at least 15 more international orders,” according to Dave Bowman, until recently Boeing’s v-p and general manager for mobility systems.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a protest by Lockheed Martin over the U.S. Navy’s selection of the Northrop Grumman RQ-4N Global Hawk UAV for the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) contract. The ruling allows Northrop to proceed with the $2.3 billion system design and development phase of BAMS.
Boeing faces a tough decision, now that the Pentagon has confirmed that bigger is better in the KC-X tanker competition. “We’ve now revised the language to make it unambiguous that we intend to provide consideration above threshold for fuel offload,” said U.S. director of defense procurement and acquisition policy Shay Assad. He spoke at a press briefing on August 6, to introduce the draft revised request for proposals (RFP).
Ahead of schedule and under budget, Boeing delivered the first of an expected 85 operational models of its EF-18G Growler to the U.S. Navy in early June, followed by three more during July and August. Electronic attack squadron VAQ-129 based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, received the aircraft, which are expected to enter operational evaluation in September as the fleet readiness squadron fills out to five aircraft.
This columnist never did discover why the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor that displayed at this month’s Farnborough airshow, needed an escort from an F-15 fighter. The top-of-the-line stealth fighter flew from RAF Fairford, only 50 miles away, where it was due to make its international debut at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
Student pilots from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) have begun basic flight training on the Pilatus PC-21 advanced turboprop. Twelve aircraft have now been airfreighted to the RSAF’s Flying Training School at Pearce airbase in Australia and re-assembled. The remaining seven are due for delivery next month. They are replacing Alenia Aermacchi S-211 jet trainers that are now nearly 25 years old.
Although neither the UAE nor Singapore has yet chosen their new jet trainer, both have now eliminated the BAE Systems Hawk from consideration. They continue to evaluate the more modern Alenia Aermacchi M-346 and KAI/Lockheed Martin T-50 Golden Eagle. These setbacks have caused BAE to refocus the Hawk sales campaign on upgrades and through-life support.
The UK Royal Air Force flies three Nimrod R.1 versions that are dedicated to SIGINT (signals intelligence). They were converted from MR.2 maritime patrol aircraft, and their sensors have been upgraded regularly to monitor emerging new threats and signals. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) developed a plan for a complete replacement of the aircraft’s SIGINT suite, Project Helix, and chose L-3 Communications UK to provide it.