Although already deployed on operations to meet urgent needs, the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned surveillance helicopter has reliability and sustainability problems that have delayed its regular fielding. An updated selected acquisition report (SAR) obtained by InsideDefense.com reveals that both the initial operational capability and the full-rate production decision have been delayed by about two years until May or June 2014.
Technical issues continue to affect the Airbus Military A330MRTT Multi-Role Tanker-Transport program, delaying full operational capability with four air forces that are due to receive a total of 28 aircraft ordered to date. A second refueling boom separated from an A330MRTT during a test flight in Spain in September.
The Pentagon notified the U.S. Congress on November 9 of a proposed foreign military sale (FMS) of 25 Lockheed Martin C-130Js and KC-130Js to Saudi Arabia, a transaction valued at $6.7 billion. The sale to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) would be the largest FMS in the history of the C-130J program, according to Lockheed Martin.
Israel had prevented Boeing from delivering two Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft to the Turkish air force, but has now agreed to lift its restriction, according to a November 9 report in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. AIN understands that the Elta division of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) provides the vital electronic support measures (ESM) system for all the Wedgetails sold to date–four to Turkey, four to Korea and six to Australia. Northrop Grumman provides the core AEW radar system. Both Boeing and IAI declined to comment on the matter.
AgustaWestland has awarded its annual Cormorant Trophy for Helicopter Rescue to a Canadian Forces SAR team from Squadron 103 for their October 27, 2011 rescue of two walrus hunters who were stranded on an Arctic Sea ice flow near Nunavut. The trophy recognizes the “Canadian civilian, government or military crew that has performed the most demanding helicopter rescue of the year.” The mission required 18 hours of flying and multiple fuel stops in an AW101.
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.
Industry and government executives involved in the development and regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) offered airline pilots assurances that air vehicles piloted from the ground will be introduced safely and incrementally to the U.S. national airspace system (NAS). “We’re doing this in an organized and structured fashion,” said Richard Prosek, manager of flight technologies and procedures in the FAA’s UAS Integration Office.
Saab’s confidence in a growing sector has resulted in the company investing in a demonstrator platform for its 340 maritime security aircraft (MSA) offering. The aircraft’s conversion was completed last month, in time to begin customer demonstrations and appearances at a series of trade exhibitions, beginning with this week’s Farnborough International Airshow.
Aerovironment revealed that 19 countries have now bought “thousands” of Puma, Raven and Wasp hand-launched UAVs. At the Satory arms fair in Paris, the company announced new orders from Sweden for the Puma and Wasp, and from Denmark for the Puma. Denmark acquired the Raven in 2007.