Although German UAV specialists Rheinmetall Airborne Systems (RAS) is now 51-percent owned by EADS, the Bremen-based outfit is retaining its own identity and continues to build upon expertise gained in operating two UAV systems for the German armed forces. It has developed a lightweight, low-cost tactical UAV and is proposing an innovative larger design that is hybrid in both airframe and power.
More than 8,000 Russian rotorcraft are in operation in more than hundred countries around the world–twenty types and around forty variants with major upgrades. Their manufacturer, Russian Helicopters (Hall 2a, Stand C198), which claims it has 14 percent of the world’s fleet, reported a profit of Roubles 9.4 billion ($300 million) in 2012–and a hefty 21 percent rise in revenues, to RUB125.7 billion.
A debate has unfolded in Russia over whether to invest further in the MiG-31 series or to concentrate funding on the Sukhoi Su-35. United Aircraft’s Sokol factory in Nizhny Novgorod continues to deliver MiG-31BM multirole aircraft modified from MiG-31 interceptors built earlier. The plant’s general director, Alexander Karezin, reported that the company handed over 15 last year, and the plant “holds a firm order for about sixty MiG-31BMs due for delivery in 2011-2018.” He added, “This is a considerable contribution to the national defense of the country.”
Russia has approached India again with an offer for MiG-35 fighters. The move comes as negotiations drag on to finalize a contract for the Dassault Rafale, which was declared the winner of the medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition in January last year.
Bell Helicopter unveiled its next-generation tiltrotor on April 10 at the Army Aviation Association of America (Quad A) annual convention in Fort Worth, Texas. Bell intends to enter the V-280 Valor in the U.S.
East/West Industries took the opportunity at Heli-Expo to feature two of its products that share little in common on the surface, except for innovative design and safety considerations.
“Our energy-attenuating seats are the lightest seats on the market, and accommodate the entire range of potential occupants without any adjustments,” said Joseph Spinosa, vice president for business development. “The occupant merely sits down, buckles in and gets full protection. We provide the same protection level for all occupants, not just the 50th percentile model.”
Bell Helicopter delivered the 100th copy of a planned total of 349 H-1 helicopters during a ceremony at its Amarillo Assembly Center earlier this year. The U.S. Marine Corps H-1 helicopter program comprises both the UH-1Y utility helicopter and the AH-1Z attack helicopters.
The first of up to 12 Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors are joining Marine Helicopter Squadron (HMX) 1, the unit tasked with transporting the President, other VIPs and their entourages. The Marine Corps was expected to take formal delivery of the first HMX-1 MV-22 last month. The MV-22s are replacing the CH-46E Sea Knights attached to the squadron and are being modified with upgraded communications equipment and seating. They are not expected to be used to transport the President.
Wednesday will be a big day for helicopter OEMs and could shape the future of the industry for decades to come, when Phase One proposals are due into the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate. The proposals will likely lead to the construction of Joint Multi-role demonstration aircraft (JMR TD) that could fly as early as 2017, with the start of production expected between 2025 and 2030.
Korea has chosen the AgustaWestland AW159 over the Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk as its new maritime operational helicopter. The contract for eight aircraft is the first export order for the new-generation aircraft, which is entering service with the British Army and Royal Navy. The Korean Navy already operates about 20 Super Lynx helicopters, the predecessor to the naval version of the AW159.