Although India already operates two types of airborne early warning aircraft, the air force is pressing ahead with a program to procure a third platform with extended range, longer endurance and higher operational altitude performance.
The UK Royal Air Force retired its four remaining Lockheed TriStar tanker/transports on schedule this week, as the replacement fleet of Airbus A330-MRTTs grows. Seven of these aircraft, known as the Voyager in RAF service and provided under contract by AirTanker, have now been delivered. Two more are slated to to be handed over by the end of June.
Airbus Defence and Space has confirmed an anticipated order from the Republic of Singapore Air Force for six A330 MRTT tanker/transports. The selection of the Airbus rather than the Boeing KC-46A was first revealed yesterday via the Singaporean ministry of defense’s Twitter account. At the same time, the country’s Ministry of Defense also confirmed that it is to order two more Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk maritime helicopters for the naval air arm’s 123 Squadron, raising the total number to eight.
Four air forces have opted for the A330MRTT to date, and Airbus Military is marketing the tanker worldwide. Current prospects include Brazil, France, India Korea and Singapore. But the big prize of a U.S. Air Force contract eluded the European manufacturer, which lost out to Boeing after two controversial, hotly fought competitions.
The commercial outfit that will provide the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) with air-to-air refueling service for the next 22 years says that it will meet the forecast in-service date. By May 2014, AirTanker will have nine Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transports (MRTTs) ready on the ramp at RAF Brize Norton. It has already trained 18 aircrews, received six aircraft and begun operational flying. Chief executive Phil Blundell told AIN that his company could also assist other customers that need training on the A330MRTT–such as the UAE Air Force.
Delivery of a new SIGINT aircraft for the Royal Air Force has been postponed. The UK’s Military Airworthiness Authority (MAA) has not yet reviewed the safety case. The Airseeker (the RAF’s name for the U.S. Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint system) is the latest airframe that could be delayed by the MAA’s detailed scrutiny, which British contractors have privately called overzealous.
Bell Boeing, the joint venture that produces the V-22 and MV-22 tiltrotor for the Air Force, Navy and Marines, announced that it had successfully demonstrated the capability of that aircraft to serve as an aerial refueling tanker in trials with F/A-18C/D fighters. The test V-22 used a retractable refueling drogue. Bell Boeing has been promoting the V-22 for other roles, including that of the Greyhound COD resupply mission for aircraft carriers.
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has bid a fond farewell to the VC10 air refueling tanker, a type that has been in British military service for 47 years.
BAE Systems Regional Aircraft is proposing an air-to-air refueling (A2R) version of the BAE146/Avro RJ regional jet airliner. The business previously proposed and engineered a firefighting tanker version, 12 of which are now in service. It also proposed a military convertible version, which has been introduced by the UK Royal Air Force. These aircraft were all conversion of used passenger aircraft, which are readily available at $2 to $5 million each from airlines and leasing companies, including Falco Regional Aircraft, which bought the large BAE portfolio of 146s and RJs a few years ago.
Irkut and the Yakovlev Design Bureau announced at the Paris Air Show this week that they expect Bangladesh to sign up for the Yak-130 trainer/light attack platform before the end of the year. If this happens, the nation will join a growing number of nations that have ordered the type, including Belarus last December.
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