Late last month, a Saab JAS 39C Gripen fired two examples of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. They were the first production-representative rounds of the weapon to be fired as the Meteor program gears up to deliver operational capability beginning early next year. The missiles were launched at remotely controlled targets at the Vidsel range in northern Sweden. They validated the datalink between the launch aircraft and the missiles, as well as the weapon’s ability to lock on. The trials also verified the command support that has been developed for the pilot.
Rockwell Collins and Piaggio announced an upgrade program for the Piaggio Avanti twin turboprop. The program, available from Ruag Aviation, allows operators to upgrade their Pro Line 4 avionics to Pro Line 21. The Pro Line 21 P180 cockpit will be equipped with three or four 10-inch by 8-inch LCDs and Rockwell Collins’s Integrated Flight Information System, plus a new FMS and GPS-4000 that enables Waas LPV and space-based augmentation system with vertical guidance approaches.
Europe’s failure to launch a medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAV to compete with long-established offerings from Israel and the U.S. was a major talking point at last week’s Paris Air Show. AIN’s team of editors and reporters provided full coverage of the world’s biggest aerospace event; all the stories can be found online at www.ainonline.com–some of them in longer form than we were able to publish in our four print editions of Paris Airshow News.
Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe revealed this week that the company is exploring the idea of an Optional Manned Gripen (OMG). While believing that manned operations will still be needed for at least the next 40 years, Buskhe also recognizes that many “dull and dangerous” missions could be performed better by an unmanned aircraft. Using an OMG for such roles rather than acquiring another type of aircraft would, in essence, halve the logistics costs. OMGs could perhaps operate in a formation under the control of piloted aircraft.
On display in the Thales pavilion, the AESA (active electronically scanned array) version of the RBE2 radar will soon become the first of its kind to go operational in Europe. The first French air force Rafale squadron to convert to the new fighter will receive four AESA-equipped aircraft in October. The first production radar was delivered last October and is completing operational testing at Mont de Marsan airbase.
Sergei Bogdan, who is flying the Sukhoi Su-35S demonstration flights in the flying display here this week, has more than 4,900 flight hours on several dozen aircraft types, including 460 hours in the cockpits of Su-35 fighters.
Piaggio Aero has unveiled its P.1HH HammerHead unmanned aerial system (UAS) at the Paris Air Show. First announced in February at the IDEX show in Abu Dhabi, the HammerHead program is based on the company’s P180 Avanti II twin-turboprop business turboprop, but it has reinforced wings with greater area offering extended range and endurance.
The new managing director of Eurofighter said here yesterday that that the company must become leaner, more flexible and take decisions faster. CEO Alberto Gutierrez arrived 10 days ago from Spain and Airbus Military, where he was head of operations. “The Eurofighter is the best in its class for many things, but we must capture new technology and cater for changing customer requirements,” he said.
The events in Sabah, Malaysia, this past March, when local forces conducted Operation Daulat used combat jets to quell the resistance of the Filipino gunmen on the island of Borneo, may have prompted a spate of arms sales to that country and her closest neighbors. The armed forces do have a big wish list for weapons, but procurement processes for the most expensive and longest-lead items are likely to be launched properly only after the general elections in Malaysia later this year.
Russia won export orders for weapons exceeding $15 billion and delivered weapons worth $14 billion in 2012, compared with $13.2 billion of weapons in 2011. “Surely, Russia will continue cooperation with her traditional partners in the sphere of military-technical cooperation,” Russian president Vladimir Putin told a meeting of the government’s committee for military-technical cooperation with foreign countries in December. “But it is of not less importance to us to enter new markets, expand the nomenclature of deliveries and services.”