Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, Okla., the state’s largest single-site employer with some 20,000 civilian employees, is preparing for a lead role in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
The Colombian Army formally inducted into its fleet five new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters. Colombia is the first South American country to acquire the S-70i variant, which is assembled at Sikorsky’s PZL Mielec facility in Poland.
Sikorsky said the helicopters were custom-equipped in the U.S. for the special forces of the Colombian army’s air assault division. They join a national fleet of 96 UH-60L Black Hawks operated by the Colombian National Police, army and air force. Colombia operates the world’s fourth-largest Black Hawk fleet.
Elbit Systems announced new orders from home and abroad for its top-of-the-line Hermes 900-series UAV system. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) placed a follow-on order on December 31 last year, having first bought the system in 2010. The IDF has also funded some new features, including quick reconfiguration of payloads, in a separate contract placed in January worth $35 million. The company also sold a Hermes 900 system comprising multiple UAVs and ground stations to “a customer in the Americas.“
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.
The British Army is using what may be the world’s smallest UAV yet deployed on military operations. The Black Hornet “nanocopter” is eight inches long with a rotor diameter of about five inches and weighs less than two pounds. It can provide video and still imagery of difficult-to-reconnoitre targets such as walled compounds and even the interior of buildings. It was recently introduced in Afghanistan and demonstrated in public for the first time last week during a pre-deployment exercise on Salisbury Plain in the UK, for the next British Army task force to be sent there.
This week’s IDEX defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi provided the first public view of the Saab 340AEW, purchased by the UAE Air Force and Air Defense as an interim airborne early-warning solution. One of two aircraft in service made a single flypast during a brief force demonstration. The air force’s latest acquisition, the Airbus A330 MRTT, also flew past, accompanied by four Mirage 2000-9 fighters, just days after being delivered. The remaining pair from the UAE’s order will be delivered later this year.
India’s indigenous airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system made its debut at Aero India 2013. The Embraer 145 flew on the opening day and remained in the static for two more days. A cutaway scale model on display revealed the operator positions and equipment placement, and further details were made available by the Center for Air Borne Systems of Defense Research and Development Organization (CABS-DRDO).
The integration of the Indo-Russian BrahMos missile on 40 of the Indian air force (IAF) Su-30MKI fleet of combat aircraft is proceeding this year. The land- and ship-launched version of the highly maneuverable, supersonic, anti-ship cruise missile have already been tested successfully.
Embraer Defense and Security and AEL Systems, the Brazilian subsidiary of Israel’s Elbit Systems, signed an agreement to accept unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) developer Avibras as a shareholder in their UAS-focused joint venture, Harpia Systems.
Embraer believes it stands to benefit from the Indian military’s desire to maximize commonality in its fleet of aircraft in a bid to control maintenance costs. Five of the Brazilian manufacturer’s Legacy jets are in use with the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Border Security Force for functions such as transporting government officials and visiting foreign dignitaries.