Although the F-35 is in much better shape now than it was a year ago, “we’re not declaring victory yet–it’s still a development program,” said Lockheed Martin v-p of F-35 program integration Steve O’Bryan at the Paris Air Show. But O’Bryan noted that the top U.S. government procurement official had recently expressed cautious optimism and declared that there are no technical showstoppers.
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
Elbit Systems of America is supplying an upgraded, second-generation joint helmet-mounted cueing system (JHMCS II) for Alenia Aermacchi M-346 advanced jet trainers and is promoting the system for operators of its first-generation JHMCS 1 and new users. The company featured the JHMCS II at this year’s Paris Air Show.
BAE Systems expects that the U.S. and Korean governments will sign a letter of offer and acceptance later this year authorizing the foreign military sale (FMS) of BAE’s F-16 avionics and weapons upgrade to the Republic of Korea Air Force. The company provided an update on the Korean program and a sales pitch for further F-16 upgrades during a Paris Air Show briefing on Tuesday.
Elbit Systems of America debuted an upgraded Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) II at this year’s Paris Air Show (Hall 3 Stand E111).
The JHMCS II provides a new optical-inertial tracker and replaces the JHMCS subsystems with a lightweight aircraft interface unit. The system is designed as a “low-cost, low-integration” helmet-mounted display for both new aircraft installation, as the JHMCS II, and as an upgrade for already equipped aircraft, the Digital JHMCS.
Raytheon has developed a range of products under the Aware (advanced warfighter awareness for real-time engagement) label that provide enhanced situational awareness and intuitive networking for both aircrew and soldiers on the ground. Some of the capabilities are on display here in Raytheon’s pavilion, where key elements of an F-16 cockpit upgrade are on show, linked with a new proof-of-concept demonstrator of a system that could significantly aid JTACs (joint tactical air controllers) working in the field.
The international defense industry fair (IDEF 13) held in Istanbul, Turkey, from May 7 to 10 saw the Turkish industry announce a number of developments. The most notable was the revelation of three potential concepts for the TF-X national combat aircraft program, a stealthy aircraft that is ultimately expected to replace the F-16.
Boeing Defense presented the first F-15SA destined for Saudi Arabia in a ceremony at its St. Louis headquarters on April 30. The latest F-15 variant is the centerpiece of the largest foreign military sale in U.S. history, worth $29.4 billion. It also figured prominently in recent U.S. negotiations to improve the military capabilities of Israel, the UAE and Saudi Arabia simultaneously.
The United Arab Emirates Air Force has decided to buy another 25 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60 fighters. The deal is worth $4 to $5 billion, according to a senior Pentagon official who briefed reporters in Washington. The UAE, together with Saudi Arabia, will also be receiving unspecified “advanced standoff weapons” for its fighters, added the same official. The sales have not yet been formally notified to the U.S. Congress, although the Pentagon had consulted with key legislators there, according to the official.
The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has chosen the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) for its pending upgrade of 134 F-16C/Ds, for delivery beginning in late 2016. The Koreans are the first to choose between the RACR and the rival Scaleable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) from Northrop Grumman, which previously supplied all radars for F-16s. At least another 500 F-16s belonging to Singapore, Taiwan and the U.S. Air Force could be upgraded with advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radars such as the RACR and the SABR.
The Obama administration has proposed a $526.6 billion defense budget for Fiscal Year 2014 that continues funding for developmental priorities, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the KC-46A tanker and a future long-range bomber. The President’s base defense budget does not include funding for overseas contingency operations in Afghanistan and does not reflect budget cuts mandated by sequestration.
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