Training pilots to fly combat jets is an expensive proposition. A proposal by European air chiefs to cut costs by combining forces has made only slow progress. However, two well established multinational training programs are readily available in North America. Meanwhile, “downloading” and “contractorization” are the prevailing buzzwords, as all air forces try to rationalize their flight training systems.
Visitors to Alenia Aermacchi, part of the Finmeccanica stand here at Le Bourget, will find the same M-311 lightweight jet basic/advanced trainer avionics demonstrator the company showed two years ago. However, the program has moved forward since then, with advancements in both the commercial and technical fields.
AgustaWestland and Eurocopter have confirmed “their joint commitment to the NH90 program,” the two companies announced here at Heli-Expo’07. They will ensure that commitment is reaffirmed during meetings planned during the next few weeks between the NATO Helicopter Management Agency and government representatives. The NH90 backlog stands at 445 firm and 100 options ordered by 18 armed forces in 14 countries.
Boeing and AgustaWestland (Booth No. 529) have signed a memorandum of understanding for joint work on the next-generation Chinook for the Italian Army. The deal could lead to similar joint opportunities in the future.
Lockheed Martin has recommended to the FAA that the agency upgrade to Airworthiness Directives a series of service bulletins developed over the past 18 months for the L-329 JetStar, one of the first U.S. business jets, to ensure compliance.
“In today’s combat environment, the name of the game in dropping air-to-ground munitions is how to double the distance from the target from which we can drop the weapon itself–the release range–but still not experience any decrease in accuracy,” said Lockheed Martin’s John Schoeppner. “We have achieved this level of performance with our AN/AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pod, but what we feel further differentiates us from our competitors is our pod’
With one carrier-borne squadron already operational, deliveries to the French air force well under way, an impressive range of weapons already qualified and significant upgrades now funded, the Rafale program comes to the 2005 Paris Air Show in very good shape. Together with partners Snecma and Thales, Dassault has produced another warplane that is the pride of all France.
Smiths Aerospace is supplying its new generation cockpit voice and data recorder (VADR) systems for the MH-47 Chinook and MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters operated by the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Regiment and the U.S. Coast Guard’s HH-60 Jayhawk and HH-65 Dolphin. Manufactured at Smiths’ facilities in Michigan, the VADR is claimed to be the most capable and reliable solid-state recorder on the market today.
Major helicopter manufacturers here in Paris are eagerly awaiting the expected release next month of a U.S. Air Force request for proposal (RFP) for a combat search-and-rescue helicopter to replace some 100 aging Sikorsky HH-60Gs. The RFP is expected to request 141 personnel recovery vehicles (PRVs) at a value of about $10 billion, with initial entry into service in 2011.
The new combat aircraft requirement in India is a hot topic in the chalets here this week, thanks to its size and–for Boeing and Lockheed Martin–the prospect that this country could become a customer for U.S. warplanes for the very first time. Meanwhile, Lockheed seems likely to clinch the sale of 24 new F-16C/D Block 52 fighters to India’s prospective adversary, Pakistan, later this year.