GKN Aerospace has just shipped the 750th spares assembly for the Tornado fighter from its plant in Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK. The company was awarded a maintenance contract by BAE Systems in 2006 as part of the ATTAC (availability transformation: Tornado aircraft) agreement. Under the contract, which runs until at least 2016, GKN Aerospace is responsible for a range of Tornado aircraft structures, including ammunition boxes and rudders.
Visitors to the BAE Systems pavilion here at Farnborough are being greeted by a model of a UCAV (unmanned combat air vehicle) representing a notional shape that could one day be a joint Anglo-French design. The UCAV model reflects the UK group’s refocusing of its show presence on “air” products, and the hugely important part unmanned systems are expected to play in the company’s future.
A Lockheed Martin executive reported “lots of progress” in fixing problems associated with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter helmet-mounted display system (HMDS). But the company continues developing an alternate helmet display in case the existing system fails to meet requirements. Critical design reviews of both systems are planned in the fourth quarter.
BAE Systems announced this week that its Mantis Male (medium-altitude, long-endurance) unmanned technology demonstrator is to fly again, starting next year. The UAV first flew on Oct. 21, 2009, and undertook a short and successful flight trials campaign from the remote Woomera base in South Australia. The vehicle returned to BAE Systems Warton and has been laid up since.
A new contract worth $2.5 billion has been signed under the Saudi-British Defence Co-operation Program (SBDCP) to upgrade the pilot training syllabus of the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF). Prime contractor BAE Systems will supply 22 Hawk AJTs (advanced jet trainers), along with 55 Pilatus PC-21 turboprops, and a variety of ground-based training devices.
Germany-based Flight Ambulance International (FAI, Stand 749) has ordered six Spectrum Aeromed 2800 series stretchers for its newly acquired Bombardier CRJ200. One of the stretchers will be fitted with “advanced life support systems.” To its fleet of “special-purpose” aircraft, FAI plans to add two BAE Systems Avro jets, also able to carry six stretchers or more each, by year-end.
BAE Systems Regional Aircraft plans to extend its contract engineering work this year, raising the proportion of such revenues coming from third parties outside the BAE group to 92 percent. “The proportion has grown from 35 percent in 2010,” according to managing director Alan Fraser. “We have reshaped our engineering business and geared it for growth. [Our] skills, expertise and aircraft-design capability are [generating] a steady flow of new business.”
BAE Systems is competing against Lockheed Martin to be the prime contractor for Korea’s forthcoming upgrade of some 130 F-16s. Attention has focused largely on the competition between Northrop Grumman and Raytheon to supply the AESA radar. But the Korean request for proposals also invited non-OEMs to bid as system integrator. Taiwan and the U.S. are also planning a similar upgrade to some 140 and 300 aircraft, respectively. Other F-16 operators may follow, making this a multibillion-dollar market.
After several years of testing, the U.S. Marine Corps has deployed the BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) to Afghanistan. The APKWS is a conversion of the Hydra 70-mm unguided rocket into a precision-guided munition through the addition of the WGU-59/B mid-body guidance unit developed by BAE.
Eurofighter signed a new, five-year support contract with NETMA, the NATO management agency that represents the four European partner nations in the combat aircraft program. As before, the Eurofighter industrial partners will deliver support to the individual air forces. Alenia values its part of the deal, to support the Italian air force, at more than $660 million. BAE Systems says its contract to support the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is worth $708.5 million. EADS values its future support to the German and Spanish air forces at more than $1.1 billion.