There was good news for the F-35 program when U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ended the two-year “probation” for the STOVL version a year early. Lockheed Martin F-35B executive v-p Larry Lawson said that “critical engineering challenges” had been solved.
BAE Systems revealed L-3 Link Simulation & Training as its partner to provide the ground-based training system for BAE’s Hawk Advanced Jet Training System (AJTS), proposed for the U.S. Air Force T-X jet trainer replacement program. L-3 Link, based in Arlington, Texas, joins Northrop Grumman as announced partners on the BAE pursuit team.
Thales signed a fixed-price availability contract with the French ministry of defense for support of the Rafale fighter. The company is the last of the three big Rafale contractors to agree to a long-term partnership deal for support. Dassault signed a 10-year agreement in 2008, and engine supplier Snecma followed with a five-year agreement in 2010.
Former Grumman and Gulfstream Aerospace chief test pilot Robert Smyth, 84, died Tuesday at his home at the Leeward Air Ranch in Ocala, Fla. During his career at Grumman, he test flew the F9F Cougar, F11F Tiger, A-6A Intruder, F-14A Tomcat and the Gulfstream I twin turboprop, in addition to helping with the Apollo Lunar Module development in the 1960s. Smyth joined Gulfstream in 1981 and retired in 1993 as vice president of operations. His family is planning a remembrance ceremony.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program faces fresh challenges as the new year begins. First, a long-awaited “should cost” review from the U.S. Defense Acquisition Board might clarify whether Lockheed Martin’s continued optimism on the average procurement unit costs (APUC) is justified. In addition, big cuts to the U.S. defense budget seem unlikely to spare the F-35, which is the Pentagon’s highest profile acquisition, and might undermine the basis for the APUC calculations.
The first international Joint Strike Fighter, an F-35B for the UK, was rolled out on November 22, one week before a parliamentary report shed more light on the UK’s decision to switch from the STOVL F-35B version to the conventional carrier landing F-35C version.
The saga of the UAE’s new fighter procurement took another turn Wednesday when the Emirates’ top decision-maker on defense contracts described Dassault’s offer for the Rafale as “uncompetitive and unworkable.”
Has the Eurofighter Typhoon really unseated Dassault’s Rafale as the UAE Air Force’s fighter-of-choice for a 60-plane order?
South Korea is expected to issue a request for proposals for an F-16 radar retrofit this week. It could be the first country to decide between the Northrop Grumman Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) and the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR).
French hopes of an early order for Rafale fighters from the United Arab Emirates Air Force may have been dashed. A British source with knowledge of the requirement has told AIN that the Emiratis will now hold a formal competition, and had just issued a request for proposals (RfP) to the UK government for the Eurofighter Typhoon.