Here at Farnborough International Airshow, Russia’s Irkut is demonstrating its Yakovlev Yak-130 combat trainer. Although the aircraft has participated in various air shows before, this time it represents a version of the jet already in service with the Russian and Algerian air forces.
The pressure on government spending is forcing even the defense industrial giants to adapt. One example is Lockheed Martin’s IS&GS division, which is promoting a supermarket-style choice of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) products and services, with trademarked branding to match.
Open-sea testing of the new Indian Navy aircraft carrier Vikramaditya and her primary weapons, in the form of MiG-29K/KUB deck fighters, means that the MiGs won’t be making appearance here at the 2012 Farnborough International Airshow. The ship has been bought from Russia to replace the former British-built HMS Hermes, which India acquired in 1986 and renamed Viraat.
Geopolitical shifts including regime-change in Libya, the stiffening of international sanctions against Iran and violent unrest in Syria, are among the trends compelling Russian military export agency Rosoboronexport to keep looking for new clients worldwide. This is, to a large degree, one of its primary motives for exhibiting at the Farnborough International Airshow.
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.