Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the Eurofighter Typhoon are back in play for South Korea’s F-X III fighter requirement after that country made a sudden decision to reject the last remaining contender, Boeing’s F-15SE Silent Eagle, and restart the procurement process.
Boeing’s F-15SE Silent Eagle fighter offering to South Korea benefits from development work on the F-15SA ordered by Saudi Arabia and an existing base of F-15Ks flown by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), the company said this week.
The Republic of Korea seems set to launch the F-15SE Silent Eagle, by confirming Boeing as winner of the F-X III contest for 60 more combat aircraft. The Yonhap news agency reported that the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-35A have been eliminated. Boeing, Eurofighter and Lockheed Martin all said this week that they had received no official notification on the outcome of the F-X III contest. Yonhap said that “a final decision on whether to accept or reject the sole (remaining) candidate” will be made in mid-September.
A briefing on the Eurofighter Typhoon organized by BAE Systems at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford last week provided a further indication that some key upgrades to the combat jet are being funded by Saudi Arabia and possibly Oman. The four original partner nations have proved reluctant to collectively fund in the near term enhancements that extend the aircraft’s air-to-ground capability, such as integration of the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile. The four partners have also so far failed to approve full development of the Captor-E AESA radar by the Euroradar consortium.
Selex ES is supporting sales of electronic warfare equipment with training courses in the company’s EWOS (electronic warfare operational support) facility at Lincoln, UK. A group of 11 Kuwait Air Force (KAF) personnel has just completed a training course there on the company’s Hidas (helicopter integrated defensive aids system) that equips the KAF’s AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters. The courses at the EWOS are also designed to allow customers to develop their own EWOS capabilities, so that they can react independently to meet emerging electronic threats.
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.
Speaking prior to the Paris Air Show, Antoine Bouvier, CEO of European missile house MBDA, said, “2012 was an excellent year in terms of performance but it was a year of contrast for order intake. It was our best ever year for export, but the domestic market fell short, especially in France.” Leading those good export figures was a sizeable sale of MICA air-to-air missiles to India to support a Mirage 2000 upgrade program.
Italy’s Aerea is debuting its new weapons storage and release carriage for UAVs at the Paris Air Show (Hall 1 Stand F293). The new Ultralight Release Unit (URU) is a smaller version of similar equipment that the Milan-based company has previously developed for the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Aermacchi M346 trainer/light attack jet and the NH-90 helicopter.
So many countries, with so many aerospace companies! Visitors shouldn’t be fooled by the panoply of European companies displaying at the Paris Air Show next week. The harsh truth is that there’s not enough money to sustain them all, especially with respect to defense technology. The European Defence Agency (EDA) commissioned a study of the problem–and reached some alarming conclusions.