The UK’s new military air safety regime has contributed to the delayed entry into British service of some new platforms, such as the Airbus A330MRTT Voyager tanker, the Thales Watchkeeper UAS and the L-3 Integrated Systems Airseeker (the UK version of the USAF’s RC-135 Rivet Joint SIGINT aircraft). As a result, some UK aerospace industry managers have expressed dissatisfaction with the Military Aviation Authority (MAA), in off-the-record comments to this editor and others.
Hawker Siddeley Nimrod
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.
Marshall Aerospace (Hall 2b E158) is bidding to fill the UK’s maritime surveillance gap by modifying some of the Royal Air Force’s Lockheed Martin C-130Js.
Airbus Military delivered the first C295 equipped for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) to Chile.
The twin-engine, medium transport aircraft is equipped with search radar, digital avionics, magnetic anomaly detector, underwing hardpoints for sonobuoys or torpedos and an acoustic processor. The mission system is Airbus Military’s own fully integrated tactical system, with positions for four tactical operators.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) will emerge from the current UK Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) with only two types of airlifter, two types of fighter and two types of helicopter. That much was confirmed here Tuesday when Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), spoke to journalists after delivering a presentation on Combat ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance).
The UK’s Secretary of Defense, Bob Ainsworth, confirmed on March 22 that the Royal Air Force would receive three Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft to provide its signals intelligence (Sigint) gathering capability, the final agreement having been reached on March 19. The announcement brought to an end any lingering speculation concerning the immediate future of RAF Sigint.
More than a year after U.S. defense officials offered three RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft as a replacement for the same number of Royal Air Force BAE Nimrod R1 signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft, the UK Ministry of Defence has not made a decision.
The flight-test program for the BAE Systems Nimrod MRA.4 maritime patrol aircraft is behind schedule, and costs have risen by $150 million in the past year, according to a UK government watchdog.
After a year in which the BAE Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft has received unprecedented negative publicity in the UK, it’s hardly surprising that BAE Systems and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) are not showing the new MRA.4 version here at Farnborough. Four years after it first flew, the Nimrod MRA.4 has still not made a public debut.
Rolls-Royce and Chinese aerospace representatives have signed a “collaborative agreement” to study a new regional jet application for the Rolls-Royce BR710 engine. An MOU, signed by representatives of Rolls-Royce Deutschland and the China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC), involves the potential use of the 14,000 lb- to 17,000-lb-thrust BR710 on China’s proposed ARJ21 regional jet.
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