European manufacturers of major defense equipment face a struggle to secure new contracts in the Middle East against American competition, as evidenced by the latest Saudi arms deal. The huge F-15 deal probably ends Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) interest in a second batch of Eurofighters.
Republic of Singapore Air Force
Singapore last week confirmed its choice of the Alenia Aermacchi M346 advanced jet trainer to replace the aging TA-4S Skyhawks its air force operates. Deliveries will begin in 2012. Prime contractor ST Aerospace will manage the $412 million deal to supply 12 aircraft plus spares, and a ground-based training system (GBTS).
The crash of a Spanish Air Force two-seat Eurofighter at Moron airbase on August 24 that killed a pilot from the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) has raised questions about the progress of the al-Salam agreement between the UK and Saudi governments. This $6.6 billion deal provided for the training of RSAF pilots and ground crew by the UK Royal Air Force, as well as the supply of 72 Eurofighters and various support services by BAE Systems.
Singapore’s choice of an advanced jet training system is due next month and could be crucial to the future export prospects of Italy’s M-346 Master and Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle. These dissimilar training jets have been bid here by rival prime contractors, ST Aero and Lockheed Martin, respectively.
The design maybe 40 years old, but there is plenty of life left in the F-15 Eagle fighter. Boeing’s St. Louis factory is producing F-15Ks for South Korea and F-15SGs for Singapore, and current orders mean that the Eagle will be in production into 2012. Meanwhile, Boeing Defense, Space and Security (DSS) is maintaining the technology insertion program that has seen the F-15 remain a viable option in today’s tactical aircraft marketplace.
The 2010 Singapore Airshow is set to be a sell-out by the time it opens its doors for this year’s February 2 to 7 event. As of press time, just over 95 percent of the 430,000 sq ft of exhibition space had been sold, with some room still available for small companies.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control has announced that it is to supply the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod to the Royal Saudi Air Force. The Snipers will replace the LANTIRN system used by the RSAF’s F-15S strike aircraft. The deal represents the first phase of a $100 million multi-year sensor modernization program, conducted through Foreign Military Sales channels.
Student pilots from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) have begun basic flight training on the Pilatus PC-21 advanced turboprop. Twelve aircraft have now been airfreighted to the RSAF’s Flying Training School at Pearce airbase in Australia and re-assembled. The remaining seven are due for delivery next month. They are replacing Alenia Aermacchi S-211 jet trainers that are now nearly 25 years old.
When Singapore revealed that it had chosen the Gulfstream G550 business jet as its new airborne early warning (AEW) platform last April, Northrop Grumman officials were reportedly shocked. They had every confidence that the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) would select the E-2D, an upgraded version of the Hawkeye twin turboprop that had served the RSAF well for nearly 20 years.