The heavy rain that forced organizers to cancel the last day of the Dubai Airshow was a metaphor for the main defense story of the week. The prospect of the UAE ordering a new fighter–specifically the Eurofighter Typhoon–had been talked up by UK officials in particular, and reinforced by an eve-of-show visit by the British Prime Minister.
Royal Air Force
France and the UK have agreed a common military staff requirement for a future medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAS, according to Gen. Denis Mercier, commander of the French Air Force. However, he cautioned that the move would not automatically result in the development by European industry of a Male UAV “because there is no money available at the moment.” European aerospace leaders have been pressing for the launch of a “Euro-Male” development program.
The path to a fully multi-role Eurofighter Typhoon is finally becoming clear. At a media briefing here tomorrow (Wednesday), the company hopes to announce the first test flight in Italy of an aircraft carrying the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile. The jet’s full operational clearance to drop smart bombs came recently. Meanwhile one of the prototypes will fly next spring with the Selex AESA radar.
The AirTanker consortium comprises Babcock, Cobham, EADS, Rolls-Royce and Thales. These partners have all contributed equipment and/or buildings to the project. AirTanker Ltd. holds the contract with the UK MoD; service delivery is via another registered company, AirTanker Services Ltd.
The commercial outfit that will provide the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) with air-to-air refueling service for the next 22 years says that it will meet the forecast in-service date. By May 2014, AirTanker will have nine Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transports (MRTTs) ready on the ramp at RAF Brize Norton. It has already trained 18 aircrews, received six aircraft and begun operational flying. Chief executive Phil Blundell told AIN that his company could also assist other customers that need training on the A330MRTT–such as the UAE Air Force.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron made an unexpected stop here at the Dubai Airshow on his way home from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka. Speaking to assembled UK aerospace industrialists, he encouraged them to compete in what he termed the “global race.” Cameron did not refer specifically to the possibility of selling Eurofighter Typhoons to the UAE, but did say that he was “incredibly proud to stand up and promote the aircraft around the world.” He later stated his hop that the UK could be entering into a partnership here in the UAE on more general aerospace matters.
Eight senior air force commanders from the U.S., Europe and the Middle East have agreed to speak at the Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference (DIAC), which immediately precedes the Dubai Air Show on November 16. They include the British and French air force commanders, and the commander of the USAF’s Central Command. Their decision to attend the conference and show may reflect a desire to reassure allies in the Gulf of their support, after recent disagreements over policy toward Egypt and Syria.
Flight trials of the BAE Systems Taranis UCAS technology demonstrator have started at the Woomera test range in South Australia. But neither the company nor its customer, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has made any announcement. The news emerged from a policy document on military UAS that the MoD submitted to the defense committee of the UK parliament.
Delivery of a new SIGINT aircraft for the Royal Air Force has been postponed. The UK’s Military Airworthiness Authority (MAA) has not yet reviewed the safety case. The Airseeker (the RAF’s name for the U.S. Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint system) is the latest airframe that could be delayed by the MAA’s detailed scrutiny, which British contractors have privately called overzealous.
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has bid a fond farewell to the VC10 air refueling tanker, a type that has been in British military service for 47 years.