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.
Airbus Military believes that teething problems with its multi-role tanker/transport (MRTT) business are now behind it, and that it’s set to grow over the coming year. With the A330 MRTT the company has the only new-generation tanker/transport flying, and hopes to secure new customers while continuing to deliver aircraft to its existing four operators, who will have received 17 aircraft by the end of 2013.
Boeing will seek two separate certifications from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its new KC-46A tanker, the commercial 767 derivative it is developing for the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The manufacturer will first apply for an amended type certificate from the FAA for a 767-2C “provisioned freighter” without the aerial refueling components and military avionics planned for the tanker. It will then seek a supplemental type certificate (STC) for a fully equipped KC-46A.
After a year-long delay, the Airbus Military A330MRTT has gained its “release to service” as a tanker in the UK, allowing the Royal Air Force (RAF) to start operational refueling. The service had been obliged to extend the service life of its aging VC10 and TriStar tankers in the meantime. The recent deployment of RAF Eurofighter Typhoons to Malaysia relied on Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767s to refuel the aircraft en route.
Following Israeli requests for advanced defense equipment, the U.S. has agreed “an unprecedented release of capabilities,” according to a senior Pentagon official. Israel will receive Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotors; KC-135 tankers; AESA radar retrofits for its F-15 and F-16 fighters; and anti-radiation missiles. The new approvals were made public during U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s visit to Israel and other countries in the Middle East this week.
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.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has selected the A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) for its tanker procurement in preference to the Ilyushin Il-78MK, after a second round of bidding. Commercial negotiations for six aircraft with an option for three more will start soon, and a contract that includes a 30-percent offset commitment is expected to be signed by June.