Northrop Grumman rolled out the X-47B UCAS-D (unmanned combat air system-demonstrator) in December 2008 and since then has been busy preparing the first of two vehicles for its maiden flight, expected shortly. Low- and high-speed trials have been completed at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California, where the second X-47B is in final assembly.
Recent orders for the Mikoyan MiG-29K may pave the way for further successes for the sea-going version of the “Fulcrum,” according to RSK MiG. A first batch of MiG-29Ks and KUB trainers for the Indian navy was followed by a second order this March for 29 aircraft. Meanwhile, the Russian navy has decided to buy 26 MiG-29K/KUBs to replace its Sukhoi Su-33s.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates chose the Navy League convention to spell out some hard truths about future funding. After paying tribute to the thousands of sailors and marines deployed on combat operations in the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan, Gates noted that the Navy has been the most vocal of the U.S. armed services in protecting its force size.
India agreed to buy 80 Mil Mi-17V-5 helicopters worth $1.2 billion during a visit to Delhi by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev early this month. These will replace 35-year old Mi-8 choppers the Indian Air Force currently flies. The deal includes weapons options and an offset obligation worth $405 million. Accompanying Medvedev were Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdukov and United Aircraft Corp. chief Alexei Fedorov.
It had been a routine flight, right up to the moment that the captain dialed 24,000 into the altitude preselect controller and we began our descent. As I rolled the vertical-speed wheel into a nose-down command, the Citation VII responded slowly, but eventually began a healthy 2,500-fpm descent as we left FL 350 for 240.
Steel-jawed ex-Navy Top Guns may be disappointed to learn about the plan to fully automate aircraft carrier deck landings, in the interest of safety and efficiency. After all, surely, deck landings are pretty straightforward: you just fly the arrester hook hanging out behind your F-14 or F/A-18 through an imaginary three-foot-square box located 14 ft above the stern, and you’re virtually home.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicholas Sarkozy reached some significant–though little noticed–defense arrangements when they met in London late last month. The two countries agreed to seek a single joint contract for the in-service support of the Airbus A400M airlifters that both have ordered. If achieved, this will be the first such arrangement ever concluded.
After years of preliminary definition and assessment, the UK Ministry of Defence gave the go-ahead for construction of two 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers. They will enter service in 2014 and 2016, and will be able to carry up to 40 aircraft, including F- 35 Joint Strike Fighters, AEW aircraft and helicopters.
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