Faced with China’s increasingly assertive military posture, as well as a continuing ballistic missile threat from North Korea, Japan plans to spend more on defense, boosting its air and maritime forces. The plan commits to buying 28 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft, 17 Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors, and three Northrop Grumman Global Hawk UAVs over the next five years. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) will also upgrade existing fleets of F-2 and F-15 fighters.
Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk
Having already supplied pricing, availability and technical data, Northrop Grumman is hopeful that in the coming weeks the Republic of Korea will sign a letter of acceptance concerning the acquisition of four RQ-4B Global Hawk HALE UAVs, paving the way for a formal request for proposal and contract signature. The potential sale was notified to U.S. Congress in December 2012, and is being conducted via government-to-government channels, with the U.S.
The U.S. Air Force’s RQ-4B Global Hawk is among 16 acquisition programs that experienced problems during early testing last year that need to be corrected, according to the Pentagon’s Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E).
The U.S. Congress authorized defense spending of $625 billion in Fiscal Year 2014, but calls for an independent review of the software being developed for the Pentagon’s largest weapons program, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. A separate, two-year budget law the Congress passed reduces the more than $100 billion in automatic “sequestration” budget cuts the Pentagon faced over the next two years by about one third.
The U.S. Navy is rethinking prime contractor Northrop Grumman’s selection of an Exelis-built collision avoidance radar for the unmanned MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance aircraft. The plan was to fit the Global Hawk derivative with the first Department of Defense (DOD) program of record “sense-and-avoid” radar, to comply with international airspace requirements and prevent midair collisions. However, “we’ve made a decision to pause on the development of that capability,” Capt. James Hoke, the Navy’s Triton program manager, said at the Unmanned Systems 2013 conference in Washington, D.C.
Europe should stop trying to build a “me-too” version of the Reaper Male unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and concentrate instead on a stealthy unmanned combat air system (UCAS), because the U.S. will not export that technology. That was the advice offered at the Paris Air Show yesterday by Frank Pace, president of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (Hall 3 Stand A82).
The U.S. Navy’s next-generation maritime patrol jet, the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, is months away from starting its first operational deployment, which will hasten the retirement of the venerable P-3C Orion turboprop.
In the wake of the Euro Hawk cancellation in Germany, the future of the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system based on the similar Northrop Grumman Global Hawk UAV is in doubt. Germany intends to offer for AGS whatever alternative platform it decides to employ for the Cassidian integrated signals intelligence system (ISIS) that was the payload on the Euro Hawk. The Royal Air Force Raytheon Sentinel R.1 ground surveillance aircraft is also on offer.
The German Ministry of Defence abruptly canceled plans to introduce a fleet of five Northrop Grumman RQ-4E Euro Hawk UAVs for high-altitude Sigint collection. The first aircraft, delivered in July 2011, was already flying on development tasks from Manching airbase near Munich. According to German media reports, the country has already spent €508 million of the planned €1.2 billion (in 2012 prices) to acquire the fleet, which was intended to replace aging Atlantic manned twin turboprops.
The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) and Northrop Grumman said the MQ-4C Triton broad area maritime surveillance aircraft completed its first flight from the company’s Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility on May 22. The Global Hawk maritime derivative flew for 80 minutes in restricted airspace and reached an altitude of 20,000 feet.