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.
AIN Defense Perspective
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.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has selected the A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) for its tanker procurement in preference to the Ilyushin Il-78MK, after a second round of bidding. Commercial negotiations for six aircraft with an option for three more will start soon, and a contract that includes a 30-percent offset commitment is expected to be signed by June.
The U.S. has made a formal offer to Korea of four Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 UAVs, in a package valued at $1.2 billion. The notification to Congress states, “The Republic of Korea needs this intelligence and surveillance capability to assume primary responsibility for intelligence-gathering from the U.S.-led Combined Forces Command in 2015.” The U.S. Air Force currently flies the high-altitude mission over and around the Korean peninsula using three Lockheed Martin U-2s based at Osan Airbase.
The Russian Defense Ministry has signed a follow-on contract with Irkut for 30 more Su-30SM two-seat multirole fighters, for delivery by 2016. This deal follows one concluded in March last year, for 30 such aircraft for delivery by 2015.
Northrop Grumman has proposed its long-endurance multi-intelligence vehicle (LEMV) hybrid airship to meet new Indian requirements for border surveillance, AIN has learned from a senior official at the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The huge, unmanned LEMV was being developed for U.S. Army missions over Afghanistan, but has fallen behind schedule. It first flew last August, one year later than promised.
The U.S. Army plans to acquire up to 7,000 advanced, “software-defined” radios for its helicopters in a successor program to the disbanded Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) effort. In a recent notice, the service said it will issue draft performance requirements for the Small Airborne Networking Radio (SANR) program this month, followed by a draft request for proposals in the summer.