The air campaign over Libya has rekindled the debate about what exactly air power can accomplish without “boots on the ground.”
Speaking at Dassault’s annual press conference yesterday, CEO Charles Edelstenne clarified that BAE Systems would be the prime contractor for a joint medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft program under the recently announced memorandum of understanding between the two companies. The MoU follows last November’s Anglo-French inter-governmental agreement.
MBDA is stepping up efforts to consolidate Europe’s missile industry, on the back of last November’s Anglo-French Defence Declaration. This pact nominated the company–already a four-nation European industrial combine owned by BAE Systems (37.5 percent), EADS (37.5 percent) and Finmeccanica (25 percent)–as “a test case” for further integration, according to CEO Antoine Bouvier.
Held in Abu Dhabi, the IDEX defense exhibition is traditionally the platform for the United Arab Emirates to announce major deals. But apart from a possible buy of Predator UAVs and an H-60 upgrade (see separate stories), there was nothing on the UAE’s big-ticket items at last week’s event. Even the much-anticipated deal for the THAAD high-altitude air defense system has not been finalized.
A decision in the long-running Indian medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition could come as early as September, according to Air Chief Marshall Pradeep Naik, an Indian air force commander. Naik told the press at the Aero India show in Bangalore that the price bids would soon be unsealed so that contract negotiations for the 120-aircraft order could start.
The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) made two defense procurement decisions, but deferred the long-pending choice of a new combat aircraft. It bought an unspecified number of Hermes 450 UAV systems from the Brazilian subsidiary of Elbit Systems. The Israeli company noted that it has now sold UAVs to more than 20 countries and that the Hermes 450 has logged more than 200,000 operational flight hours.
From a distance, the exterior of the Dassault Falcon 900LX–F-WWFB–reminded me of a lady caught without her makeup when I saw her sitting on the ramp outside Epps Aviation at Atlanta's Peachtree Airport (PDK).
Dassault's EASy 2 cockpit is moving toward its certification, which is expected for the Falcon 900 in the second quarter of next year. The cockpit system will be ready on the Falcon 7X and 2000 by late 2012, around the same time as additional communications functions will be certified.
European manufacturers of major defense equipment face a struggle to secure new contracts in the Middle East against American competition, as evidenced by the latest Saudi arms deal. The huge F-15 deal probably ends Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) interest in a second batch of Eurofighters.
The delivery in early September of a Dassault Falcon 7X to a Fortune 500 customer furnished opportunities to ride along on the flight to the airplane’s new home base, as well as to get some stick time in the level-D flight simulator at training provider CAE. Both experiences revealed quite a lot about Dassault’s flagship bizjet.