Despite recently acquiring the GA-ASI Reaper UAS from the U.S., the French air force has extended the service of its predecessor UAS, the Harfang, until at least the end of 2017. The Harfang UAS consists of IAI Heron 1 UAVs that are equipped with a communications and control system designed by Airbus Defence & Space (previously EADS Cassidian) in France. The French defense procurement agency, DGA, has recently signed contracts with main contractor Airbus D&S, and with IAI, for the upgrade and continued maintenance of the Harfang system.
Newly merged divisions aiming to increase profitability and growth
Airbus Defence and Space may be a new brand, but the former defense and space businesses of EADS face a familiar problem: how to remain profitable when European defense budgets are in decline and export competition is intensifying. The combining of Airbus Military, Astrium and Cassidian took effect at the executive level on January 1. Three weeks earlier, a reduction of 5,800 jobs at the new combined division over the next three years was announced.
Early next year Cassidian’s Sagitta unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) research project should reach its critical design review. A range slot has already been booked for an August 2015 first flight, and the clock is ticking as the Sagitta team prepares to meet that deadline.
Some elements of the 3m x 3m tailless flying wing are already fixed, such as the outer shell shape, and the core elements have been tested independently. Now the process of integrating the elements together is being undertaken and should be completed at the end of next year.
This Dubai Airshow marks the last time EADS will exhibit at any major aerospace show before it officially changes its name to the Airbus Group on January 1, 2014. Fittingly, two of the company’s highest-profile Airbus-branded products–the A380 and A400M military airlifter–are participating daily in the show’s flying display, while an Egyptair A330-300 sits on static display and an A350XWB cockpit mockup graces the Airbus stand in the exhibit hall.
Even as French aircrews began training in the U.S. on the Reaper UAS, EADS Cassidian announced that it had received a one-year extension to its support contract for the Harfang UAS that the French air force intends to replace with the American drone. Cassidian also noted that the similar Heron UAS operated by the German air force and supported by the company has logged 15,000 hours over Afghanistan. The Germans are also considering a Reaper buy as a replacement for the Israeli-origin UAVs.
The Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI) in London this week was supported by more than 1,500 exhibitors, with 30,000 visitors from around the world expected, according to organizer Clarion Events. DSEI’s main focus has traditionally been on land, naval and security equipment. But a number of exhibitors this year featured air systems, and the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) ran a series of seminars in which senior officers outlined the service’s capabilities and future plans.
A Swiss-owned company that is developing a trio of remotely piloted air systems (RPAS) for civil and military applications made its inaugural appearance at the recent Unmanned Systems conference in Washington, D.C. Unmanned Systems Group, with headquarters in Baar, Switzerland, displayed its Discoverer and Discoverer II fixed-wing air vehicles and a scale model of the planned Atro-X unmanned helicopter featuring tip-jet rotor propulsion.
Less than three years after it was renamed Cassidian, the defense and security business of EADS is being rebranded again. In fact, the EADS name will disappear in a reorganization that includes application of the “globally recognized Airbus brand” to all the group’s activities. “We affirm the predominance of commercial aeronautics in our group,” said CEO Tom Enders.
European aerospace conglomerate EADS reported increased revenues and profitability for the first half of the year on Wednesday, driven mainly by its Airbus commercial aircraft business. The company said it will rebrand itself next year as the Airbus Group to emphasize the predominance of its commercial business.
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