Flight tests of the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile on a Eurofighter Typhoon began on November 27. A week later, the four-nation industrial consortium delivered the 400th aircraft. The first Tranche 3 Eurofighter flew on December 2 from Warton.
In ceremonies at the Seville factory and at Orleans airbase on September 30, Airbus Military and the French Air Force celebrated the entry into service of the A400M airlifter. No new aircraft were handed over, but delivery of the second aircraft for France and the first for Turkey will occur by the end of October.
With delivery of the first A400M airlifters nearing, Airbus Military has concluded an initial support deal with the French air force and a long-term training contract with the UK Royal Air Force (RAF). Meanwhile, Airbus Military is equipping its international training center in Seville with A400M computer-based trainers and a full-motion simulator.
EADS Cassidian redelivered to the German air force (GAF) the first two Tornado fighter-bombers to be upgraded to the ASSTA (Avionic System Software Tornado Ada) 3.0 standard. After several months of retrofitting, certification and acceptance flight tests, they were returned to the GAF’s 33rd Wing at Buechel at the end of June.
Budget cuts to the German Armed Forces will force the renegotiation of contracts with two divisions of EADS for the A400M transport, and for NH90 and Tiger helicopters.
Armed forces in Europe are bracing themselves for severe cutbacks as governments tackle budget deficit problems. The scale of the cuts is evident in a couple of proposals made public last week. Germany’s defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, has tabled a plan that saves €9.3 billion ($11.7 billion) in the long term, with current fleets and acquisition programs hit hard.
Last month, EADS Defence & Security delivered back to the Luftwaffe the first Tornado to undergo the production ASSTA 2 upgrade program. This modernization is part of an effort to keep selected Tornados in German service until at least 2025.
If all goes well, the German air force could be the first air arm to routinely operate a military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in European airspace. The first Euro Hawk should fly from the U.S. to the Manching test base in southern German during mid-2010 and begin operational flight evaluations from Schleswig-Jagel air base a year later.
The Mikoyan MiG-29 carries a reputation as one of the most capable fighter aircraft ever designed, but to keep the revered Russian warplane on the cutting edge, new technology needs to be applied to the marque. Russian and foreign firms have made numerous proposals over the past 12 years, but none of them have ever reached a stage that even approaches Lockheed-Martin F-16’s midlife upgrade program.