Boeing has applied some stealth design principles to the F-15 Strike Eagle, and is marketing the modified aircraft for export as the F-15SE Silent Eagle. On the new model, the conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) already added to the F-15E are adapted to carry weapons internally and the vertical tails are canted outwards to reduce radar-cross section under certain conditions.
Earlier this month, the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet completed a series of risk-reduction tests with an infrared search and track (IRST) system. A Boeing/General Electric/Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control team installed an IRST sensor in the nose of a modified 480-gallon fuel tank for the trials. The sensor was carried on the centreline station during six flights at NAS Patuxent River and four at NAWS China Lake.
The Direction de la Défense et de la Sécurité Civile (DDSC) of Marseilles, France, has selected StandardAero to provide PW100 and PT6 engine maintenance services. The total contract value for the first six years is expected to be approximately $20 million. A six-year contract extension is possible.
Saab reacted with vigor to a statement by the Norwegian government that the Gripen fighter was inferior to the Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF in most aspects of performance–and was also more expensive. Norway had been evaluating the Gripen NG (New Generation) as an alternative to the JSF, and Saab had high hopes of launching the NG version with the help of its Scandinavian neighbor.
Four Rafale fighters from the French Air Force have completed a month-long deployment to the U.S., where they conducted a squadron exchange at Luke AFB and then took part in a Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB. According to Dassault, no shootdowns were scored against the Rafale during the 10-day exercise, and American observers were particularly impressed with the accuracy of the fighter’s Sagem AASM “smart” bombs.
Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway are all formally investigating alternatives to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to replace their F-16s.
Ahead of schedule and under budget, Boeing delivered the first of an expected 85 operational models of its EF-18G Growler to the U.S. Navy in early June, followed by three more during July and August. Electronic attack squadron VAQ-129 based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, received the aircraft, which are expected to enter operational evaluation in September as the fleet readiness squadron fills out to five aircraft.
Yesterday’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter briefing turned into a celebration of the recent first flight of the F-35B STOVL version. The three customers for the new-generation jump jet (the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.K. and Italy) lined up to sing its praises. Test pilot Graham Tomlinson from BAE Systems was on hand to describe the maiden flight.
Northrop Grumman’s defensive systems division has delivered the first of a new generation of Plug and Play II video datalinks for use with the Litening AT and Litening G4 targeting pods.
Last week Saab received two orders from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration for equipment to upgrade the Swedish air force’s fleet of Gripen fighters. The first, worth around $54 million, covers the provision of electronic warfare systems, scheduled for delivery this year or next. The second, worth approximately $42 million, provides weapons pylons compatible with GPS-guided weapons. Deliveries are scheduled for 2009 to 2011.