Europe’s failure to launch a medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAV to compete with long-established offerings from Israel and the U.S. was a major talking point at last week’s Paris Air Show. AIN’s team of editors and reporters provided full coverage of the world’s biggest aerospace event; all the stories can be found online at www.ainonline.com–some of them in longer form than we were able to publish in our four print editions of Paris Airshow News.
Saab JAS 39 Gripen
Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe revealed this week that the company is exploring the idea of an Optional Manned Gripen (OMG). While believing that manned operations will still be needed for at least the next 40 years, Buskhe also recognizes that many “dull and dangerous” missions could be performed better by an unmanned aircraft. Using an OMG for such roles rather than acquiring another type of aircraft would, in essence, halve the logistics costs. OMGs could perhaps operate in a formation under the control of piloted aircraft.
Recently reorganized Selex ES has come to Paris to show off its varied capabilities in the defense and security electronics sector as part of the wider Finmeccanica presence. Selex ES (Chalet A232) is highlighting its ISR, radar and defensive systems, which range in size from unmanned air vehicles to compact sensors.
Brazil has long been known as the home of Embraer, which continues to vie for the rank of the world’s third-largest commercial aircraft producer behind Boeing and Airbus. Although the rest of the country’s aerospace and defense sector has tended to lag well behind the U.S. and Europe, the situation may be about to change.
So many countries, with so many aerospace companies! Visitors shouldn’t be fooled by the panoply of European companies displaying at the Paris Air Show next week. The harsh truth is that there’s not enough money to sustain them all, especially with respect to defense technology. The European Defence Agency (EDA) commissioned a study of the problem–and reached some alarming conclusions.
Major fighter manufacturers displayed their wares this week at the 2013 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition in Malaysia in anticipation of that country’s pending requirement for new fighters. Five aircraft considered contenders for the program–the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab JAS-39 Gripen, Dassault Rafale, Boeing F/A-18F and Sukhoi Su-30MKM–participated in the aerial display.
Late last week Saab received a second order from FMV, the Swedish defense material administration, for the development of the Gripen E fighter that is slated to form the combat equipment of the Swedish air force from 2018.
Faced with growing costs in the Lockheed Martin F-35 program, Denmark is reviewing its options for a new fighter and has invited Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet), Eurofighter (Typhoon) and Saab (Gripen E) to submit information for alternatives. A decision is due in 2015. Dassault (Rafale) may have been approached, but at the time of writing appeared unlikely to respond. The company has a history of not bidding on programs that it calculates have little chance of success.
The South African Air Force (SAAF) received the final four of 26 Gripen fighters this month, as well as its ninth and tenth upgraded Rooivalk attack helicopters.
Sweden and Switzerland have reached agreement on sharing the cost to develop and introduce the next-generation version of the Saab Gripen fighter. The Swedish defense ministry said there are good opportunities for synergies, including training, maintenance and future upgrades.
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