Billed as the most advanced aircraft yet built by the UK aerospace industry, the BAE Systems Taranis UCAS demonstrator has also been one of the most elusive. Security surrounding the stealthy, unmanned combat air vehicle technology demonstrator has been extremely tight, with access strictly controlled. However, the UK government finally cleared BAE to release some details of the project this week, following the announcement on January 31 by the UK and France that cooperation on the next stage of a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) has been agreed.
The EASA has granted approval to BAE Systems Regional Aircraft for a BAe 146 part manufactured using 3-D printing (“additive manufacture”) technology. The part is a plastic breather pipe that prevents fogging of cabin windows. The pipes were originally made by injection molding in plastic but the tooling is no longer available. Making new tooling would have cost almost $23,000 and taken several months, followed by two more months to produce the parts, according to BAE.
Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande, together with their respective defense ministers Philip Hammond and Jean-Yves Le Drian, announced a series of new defense deals, building on the greater co-operation between the countries outlined in the 2010 Lancaster House agreement.
BAE Systems said that it has produced and certified a replacement part for the BAe 146 regional jet for the first time using additive manufacturing, or “3-D printing” technology. Now the company is exploring using 3-D printing to supply replacement parts for other commercial aircraft types.
Singapore’s intention to upgrade its fleet of about 60 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters was indicated by a recent notification to Congress by the Pentagon. But no choice has yet been made between rival upgrade systems integrators BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin. According to the notification, the upgrade will cost Singapore an estimated $2.43 billion, although this total also includes three new weapons.
Airbus Defence and Space may be a new brand, but the former defense and space businesses of EADS face a familiar problem: how to remain profitable when European defense budgets are in decline and export competition is intensifying. The combining of Airbus Military, Astrium and Cassidian took effect at the executive level on January 1. Three weeks earlier, a reduction of 5,800 jobs at the new combined division over the next three years was announced.
Iraq has signed a contract with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to buy 24 T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainers. According to KAI, the deal at the outset is worth $1.1 billion, including initial pilot training, but will almost double in value with the addition of support over 20 years. Iraq also evaluated the Aero Vodochody L-159, BAE Hawk Mk 128 and Yakovlev Yak-130, according to KAI.
Boeing and Saab signed a joint development agreement for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X jet trainer requirement. They join three other industry teams offering aircraft for the T-X competition, which is expected to begin with a request for proposals (RFP) in 2016.
Flight trials of the BAE Systems Taranis UCAS technology demonstrator have started at the Woomera test range in South Australia. But neither the company nor its customer, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has made any announcement. The news emerged from a policy document on military UAS that the MoD submitted to the defense committee of the UK parliament.
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.