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.
Russian Aircraft MiG (RSK MiG) said that it delivered the first batch of three MiG-29UPG single-seat fighters to India aboard an Antonov An-124 Ruslan airlifter.
Russian Aircraft MiG (RAC MiG) demonstrated new MiGs being built at its aircraft manufacturing plant in Lukhovitsy near Moscow, when a group of Russian members of Parliament from the defense committee inspected the plant together with a group of journalists. The members of Parliament said they want to ensure that the MiG company continues to be one of the major suppliers to the Russian armed forces. They voiced concern that the proportion of MiGs in the Russian air force inventory has reduced over the past few years.
The U.S. Air Force issued a request for proposals (RFP) for its “high priority” combat rescue helicopter (CRH) acquisition on October 19. The RFP begins a second campaign to replace the service’s HH-60G Pave Hawk search-and-rescue helicopters. In 2009 the Pentagon cancelled the original replacement program, which had been awarded three years earlier to Boeing for the HH-47 Chinook, after successive contractor protests and delays.
The Russian defense ministry has decided to modernize the air force’s surviving MiG-25 spyplanes for service until 2020. The venerable aircraft will receive a modern navigation suite based on Glonass receivers and laser gyroscopes; digital photo and video cameras; and a new “radio-technical reconnaissance complex.” The latter will include a new side-looking radar for surface surveillance and various communications and electronic intelligence-gathering systems.
Photographs have recently appeared on Chinese Internet sites showing a Xian Y-7 transport aircraft that has been heavily modified to serve as a testbed for a carrier-borne airborne early warning and control (AEW) aircraft. These recent photos follow one that appeared in May 2011, which provided the first grainy visual evidence of development of a “Chinese Hawkeye” by Xian.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will convert half its fleet of 24 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets to EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft. Australia’s Department of Defense will acquire Growler modification kits from the U.S. through a foreign military sale (FMS) for $1.5 billion, the department said on August 23.
The Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) selected Pilatus to provide a complete pilot training system based on the PC-21 turboprop trainer. The package will include ground-based training devices and extensive logistics support and maintenance. The newly established QEAF air academy will receive the first of 24 aircraft in 2014 so that training can start in mid-2015. Pilatus has signed a long-term performance-based support contract.
AgustaWestland’s AW159 Lynx Wildcat has moved closer to being fully operational. The initial release into service for the British Army model was issued last April and the first operational flight came on June 18. The AW159 is the successor of the Lynx helicopter family although the only major components in common with the earlier Lynx design are the main rotor blades and rotor head.