Fast-jet pilot training in the UK has been thoroughly modernized, thanks to the introduction of new simulators, courseware and the BAE Systems Hawk T.2 trainer. Ascent, the contractor that is taking over the UK Military Flying Training System (MFTS), says the new set-up is “affordable, and demonstrably good value for money.” Still, there are grumblings from those opposed to the commercial provision of British military flying training, on either philosophical or practical grounds.
Royal Air Force
Airbus Defence and Space Military Aircraft is scheduled to deliver the first of 22 A400M airlifters to the Royal Air Force in September. The delivery of aircraft MSN15 not only will mark the start of operations by a third country, but also represents the introduction of new capabilities as an important step along the type’s development roadmap. To get those capabilities into service has necessitated an intensive flight-trial campaign in the first part of this year.
Airbus Defence and Space Military Aircraft (Outdoor Exhibit 13) has announced that it will begin deliveries of an improved version of the A330 multi-role tanker transport in late 2017. The initial A330 MRTT Enhanced aircraft will be the first of six that were ordered by Singapore earlier this year. Subsequent production aircraft will all be of the new version.
Multi-role functionality has been a long time coming for the Eurofighter Typhoon. But the four-nation industrial consortium building the combat jet says the Phase 1 Enhancements (P1E) package that is now entering service represents a “paradigm shift” in capability.
The commander of the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon force, Air Cmdr. Gary Waterfall, said the new package allows the RAF to drop 500-pound Paveway IV “smart” bombs “at the moment of our choosing, on targets of our choosing, with a multitude of fuse settings, impact angles and arrivals.”
Russian Helicopters has taken over the management of five aircraft repair plants formerly owned by Russia’s ministry of defense. The plants are located in Khabarovsk, Svetly (Kaliningrad Region), Engels (Saratov Region), St. Petersburg and Chita. They will “significantly strengthen” after-sales service for Russian commercial and military helicopters, according to the manufacturer. Managers from the plants met with Russian Helicopters CEO Alexander Mikheev on May 21.
Airbus has suggested civilian operation of the A400M airlifter for disaster relief flights. At a media briefing during the ILA Berlin airshow last week, Norbert Kolvenbach, vice president for public affairs Germany, noted that the aircraft is already certified by EASA. He floated the idea of a “supranational” operator, such as the United Nations. “The A400M could be interesting,” said Birgitte Stalder-Olsen, head of logistics for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), at the same briefing.
BAE Systems has been awarded a contract extension that will see it continue to support the RAF’s Tornado GR.Mk 4 fleet until the type’s planned retirement in 2019. BAE has been supporting the aircraft through the ATTAC (availability transformation: Tornado aircraft contract) program since 2006, but the initial 10-year period was due to expire in 2016. The new extension adds three years and approximately £125 million ($210 million) to the deal.
Qatar has announced a raft of orders for new equipment worth around $23 billion, covering vehicles, vessels and aircraft, plus associated systems and weaponry. The announcements were made on March 27, which was the last day of the Dimdex show in Qatar’s capital Doha.
The UK Royal Air Force retired its four remaining Lockheed TriStar tanker/transports on schedule this week, as the replacement fleet of Airbus A330-MRTTs grows. Seven of these aircraft, known as the Voyager in RAF service and provided under contract by AirTanker, have now been delivered. Two more are slated to to be handed over by the end of June.
On Monday the North Atlantic Council announced that it will begin operating airborne early-warning flights in response to the situation in Ukraine, where pro-Russian forces are largely in control of Crimea. NATO will fly Boeing E-3 Awacs airborne early-warning aircraft in the airspace of member states Poland and Romania, which both border Ukraine. The flights are intended to “enhance the alliance’s situational awareness” of events in Ukraine.