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.
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.
Poland is looking for a new advanced trainer that can replace its current Iskra jets from around 2015, to complement PZL Orlik primary/basic trainers. Eight new aircraft are being sought in a tender for an integrated aircrew training system for the country’s air force. With Czech company Aero Vodochody having dropped out, three companies have recently responded, in the form of Alenia Aermacchi (M346), Lockheed Martin (KAI T-50) and BAE Systems (Hawk AJT).
The new managing director of Eurofighter said here yesterday that that the company must become leaner, more flexible and take decisions faster. CEO Alberto Gutierrez arrived 10 days ago from Spain and Airbus Military, where he was head of operations. “The Eurofighter is the best in its class for many things, but we must capture new technology and cater for changing customer requirements,” he said.
If you look closely at the exhibits of the major aerospace and defense companies here this week, you will likely notice some unexpected capabilities on display. With their traditional defense businesses threatened by declining budgets, many of these companies are exploring “adjacent markets.”
This trend started with offers in the security and IT realms. But now they are extending to other areas, such as energy, environment and climate; food and water security; and natural disaster protection and response.
The UK government and key aerospace companies have formed a joint venture to invest more than £2 billion (approximately $3 billion) over the next seven years in a move designed to keep the country’s aerospace sector globally competitive, and to increase its market share. Under the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP), the government’s £1 billion investment will be matched by industry and will see the creation of a new Aerospace Technology Institute.
At an unmanned vehicles forum in Bonn this week, EADS Cassidian was again promoting what it now calls a Future European Male (Female) system. But the prospects of a pan-European program to match or improve on Male (medium-altitude long-endurance) UAV offerings from Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere have receded. France has decided to buy two GA-ASI Reaper systems, and there are indications that the UK will retain its Reapers beyond 2015, rather than retire them upon leaving Afghanistan.
Transport Canada has granted Falko Regional Aircraft full transport category type certification for the Avro RJ series of airliners. The jets had not been certified in Canada when originally in production with BAE Systems, although the earlier BAe 146 models were approved by Transport Canada.
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) introduced two BAE Systems 146 jet transports modified to accommodate troops and their equipment. BAE Systems Regional Aircraft designed the conversion–from a quick-change interior–under a $23 million urgent operational requirement (UOR) contract; subcontractor Hawker Beechcraft Services at Chester in the UK completed the project.
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.