Boeing and Sikorsky Aircraft signed a teaming agreement to submit a joint proposal for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) technology demonstration (TD), phase one. The effort aims to develop the Army’s next-generation medium helicopter. The two companies said they are prepared to “build and fly one or more” medium-sized demonstrator aircraft in 2017, the program’s first-flight milestone.
AIN Defense Perspective
Flight operations of the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (Stovl) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter remained suspended this week as U.S. military and contractor engineering teams investigated the cause of an engine fueldraulic line failure in a test aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The fueldraulic line is part of the fuel-based hydraulic system that controls the actuators of the F-35B’s vectoring exhaust system. The grounding did not affect the F-35A and C models, respectively, the conventional takeoff and carrier variants.
Airbus Military still expects to deliver the first production A400M to the French Air Force in the second quarter. The milestone slipped by three months following a gearbox fault last summer, which interrupted function and reliability (F&R) flight-testing. To support its recent military intervention in Mali, France turned to the UK Royal Air Force C-17 fleet, which flew troops and equipment from Villacoublay to Bamako.
Northrop Grumman and EADS Cassidian conducted the first signals intelligence (Sigint) sensor test flight of the Euro Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) on January 11. The aircraft flew for more than six hours and climbed to 54,000 feet in military-controlled airspace before returning to Manching Air Base in Germany, north of Munich. Bernhard Gerwert, Cassidian CEO, said the payload “showed excellent performance within the perfect interplay of the overall system.”
Northrop Grumman selected a Telephonics multimode surveillance radar to equip U.S. Navy MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopters under a rapid deployment capability program. The company awarded Telephonics a $33 million contract for the production, integration and testing of nine radar systems.
Facing an uncertain budget environment in the coming months, the U.S. Air Force will nevertheless continue developing a new long-range strike bomber (LRS-B) capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear weapons. “Long term, we’re committed to the long-range strike bomber. We’re going to try to keep programs like that on track,” Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said.
Korea has chosen the AgustaWestland AW159 over the Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk as its new maritime operational helicopter. The contract for eight aircraft is the first export order for the new-generation aircraft, which is entering service with the British Army and Royal Navy. The Korean Navy already operates about 20 Super Lynx helicopters, the predecessor to the naval version of the AW159.
General Dynamics and Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi signed a letter of intent to jointly offer a pilot training system built around Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 advanced jet trainer for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X jet trainer replacement program. The partnership is the second industrial team to announce its pursuit of the T-X program after the team of BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman, which is offering the Hawk AJT (advanced jet trainer).
The first two production examples of a new attack helicopter were handed over to the Islamic Republic of Iran Army Aviation (IRIAA) and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on January 2. The ceremony, attended by the Iranian defense minister, Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, coincided with the last day of a major Iranian military exercise called Velayat-91, during which operational units fired a number of anti-ship missiles.
The U.S. Army selected five companies to compete for future small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) requirements under an indefinite-quantity, indefinite-delivery (IDIQ) contract valued at up to $248 million. Contracts were awarded to AeroVironment of Monrovia, Calif.; Elbit Systems of America in Fort Worth; Lockheed Martin in Owego, N.Y., and two small Gainesville, Fla., companies–Altavian and Innovative Automation Technologies.