Lockheed Martin plans to upgrade the daylight television camera on U.S. Army AH-64D Apache helicopters with a high-definition color-capable camera with improved field of view. The modernized day sensor assembly (M-DSA) is the last component of the Apache’s nose-mounted target acquisition and designation system (TADS) to be upgraded.
Russian engine manufacturer Salut revealed that its backlog for the AL31F series now exceeds 400, thanks largely to orders from China. At the Engines 2000 exhibition in Moscow last month, Salut confirmed that more negotiations with China took place recently, but it declined to provide details. Salut also revealed progress on increased-thrust versions of the AL31F.
Lockheed Martin has provided more details on the lower-cost C-130XJ that it revealed earlier this year, along with the proposed SC-130J Sea Herc for maritime missions. The company has delivered 252 of the 320 C-130Js on order by 15 countries, and is reducing the production rate to 30 per year from last year’s peak of 36.
The field of companies offering armed scout helicopters to the U.S. Army and other militaries has grown with the addition of MD Helicopters, which is proposing the MD 540F, an upgrade of its MD 530F light helicopter, equipped with a weapons management system from Israel’s Elbit Systems. The offering is based on the same airframe MD Helicopters supplies to Boeing for the AH-6i, which is also a competitor for the Army’s armed aerial scout (AAS) program.
Italy is the latest country to offer to pool or share military pilot training with other air forces. “We have many years of experience, and were the first to introduce the practice of ‘downloading’ training from more expensive platforms,” said Col Luca Capasso, deputy chief of the T-346 program office. Alenia Aermacchi has provided the new Italian training system as a package that includes the new T-346 advanced jet trainer and all the ground-based training. The contract was signed in late 2009.
A follow-on order for 92 aircraft has boosted production of the Sukhoi Su-34 strike fighter. Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Sukhoi general director Igor Azar signed the contract on March 1. The Russian MoD signed for 32 Su-34s in 2008, of which 10 have been delivered so far. The air force expects 12 more this year. Production at the NAPO plant in Novosibirsk will now continue through 2020.
Boeing has selected Elbit Systems to supply the high-resolution large area display (LAD) for future export versions of the F-15 Eagle and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The 11- by 19-inch LAD replaces several multifunction displays. It forms part of the F-15 Silent Eagle proposal to Korea, and the Super Hornet proposal for Brazil’s long-running fighter contest.
Russian air force commander Gen Alexander Zelin told Russian media that a new air-to-air missile will be accepted into service shortly and “double the combat capability” of the MiG-31 interceptor. A Russian air force spokesman added that the service plans to modernize 60 aircraft to the MiG-31BM standard by 2020. The upgrade includes a new radar (believed to be the Zaslon-M capable of detecting up to 10 targets simultaneously at a range of up to 175 nm); new mission computer; and new color cockpit displays.
News highlights from the Singapore Air Show this week: Lockheed Martin announced a new version of the evergreen F-16 fighter designated F-16V. It includes the upcoming AESA radar upgrade as well as a new mission computer and cockpit display.