In commercial service for nearly nine months now, the Airbus A380 has proven itself perfectly capable of doing what its developers intended it to do–fly lots of passengers comfortably and efficiently.
Farnborough Air Show » July 14, 2008
While European governments preach greater collaboration in defense research and development, three competing programs for uninhabited combat air vehicles (UCAVs) have been officially funded. Yet the aim of all three is to preserve the European high-technology base and develop important capabilities such as low-observability and autonomous control, independent of the U.S.
EADS’s failure to divest itself of major Airbus production sites in both France and Germany as part of its Power8 restructuring plan hasn’t threatened a delay in the development schedule for the A350XWB, according to the European group’s CEO Louis Gallois. However, in the build-up to this week’s Farnborough airshow, questions remained over how long the company could wait before the program begins to lose its development rhythm.
Last month, bidders submitted proposals for the U.S. joint air-to-ground missile (JAGM) and they now await a contract award for a 27-month risk-reduction phase. That announcement is expected in August or September, with two teams being selected to demonstrate their technologies, including live-firing.
After a wave of strategic acquisitions in recent years, L-3 has significantly boosted its presence as a systems integrator in complex defense programs. Alenia’s new C-27J Spartan military transport for the U.S. Joint Cargo Aircraft contract, which made its first flight last month, is L-3’s biggest task to date. The U.S.
L-3 Communications (Hall 4 Stand 18, Chalet A16-18) is showing a new, handheld version of the Rover device that has rapidly become essential kit for allied ground troops directing airstrikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The company has already delivered some 4,000 of the previous, laptop-size Rover 3 and 4 versions, which display video feeds from various airborne platforms.
Boeing’s F-15 Eagle has racked up an enviable 104-0 combat record, as one of the world’s top-flight air-superiority and air-to-ground assault fighters. Although the Eagle made its first flight 36 years ago, the latest U.S. Air Force plan says it won’t be leaving its inventory any time soon. Current considerations call for the F-15C/D to remain in service for another 17 years, and the F-15E for another 27.
Airbus insists the A350-800XWB will make it to market on time in 2013, despite the company’s failure to close on plant divestments that would have helped pay for $1.5 billion in needed upgrades to key manufacturing sites.
GKN Aerospace is targeting $4 billion in annual sales by 2017, double its current level, and the UK-based group has already won much of the business it needs to achieve that total.
The company has achieved most of its dramatic growth to date–from sales of just $150 million in 1994 when GKN acquired the former Westland Aerospace to $2 billion today–through acquisitions, but going forward more of it will be organic.
- Page 7