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.
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.
Lockheed Martin is offering to reduce the price of the C-130J Hercules by stripping out some of the more expensive systems. The U.S.-built airlifter is facing new competition later this decade, when Embraer’s yet-to-fly KC-390 becomes available.
Sikorsky Aerospace Services has announced the signing of a “blanket ordering agreement” with the Brunei ministry of defense for the support of recently ordered S-70i Black Hawk helicopters. The five-year agreement covers those aircraft that will be delivered next year to the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAF) as well as those that are currently in service.
The crew of a vintage Bell UH-1D Huey had flown their 1965 helicopter from their base in Concord, Calif., to the 2011 National Championship Air Races at Stead Field in Reno, Nev. There, they were to be part of the National Aviation Heritage Invitational static display and competition, which is held annually at the races. It was a chance for the owners and crew of the meticulously restored “25th Infantry” helicopter to win an award for their work.
Air Technology Engines (ATE) of Naples, Fla., signed a T53 service center agreement with Honeywell, authorizing ATE to repair and overhaul Honeywell’s T53 series engine, which powers the Bell UH-1H Huey and other helicopters.
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have teamed to offer a pod-mounted radar surveillance system that can easily be fitted to transport aircraft or medium-sized helicopters. The Vigilance system is being marketed as a viable alternative to expensive, role-dedicated airborne platforms. It also offers maritime and overland reconnaissance options, thanks to the versatility of modern AESA radar technology.
Sikorsky Aerospace Services signed a memorandum of agreement with Danish Aerotech to discuss the possibility of establishing maritime helicopter logistic support in Denmark should the Danish Government acquire MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Royal Danish Navy. Sikorsky Aerospace Services is the aftermarket division of Sikorsky Aircraft. Potential collaboration by the two companies comes as the Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO) evaluates the MH-60R for the Danish Navy’s Maritime Helicopter Replacement Program.
The first NH-90 Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) in final operational configuration was delivered to the French Army on January 30. “This is the culmination of the most important helicopter program ever launched in Europe,” said Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling. Earlier deliveries of the TTH version to Australia, Germany and Sweden attracted criticism in those countries for various deficiencies. But Eurocopter said that the final configuration includes field-tested avionics that enable the helicopter to carry out its missions night and day with no major restrictions.