The movers and shakers of the airpower world were out in force here Saturday for the Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference. Organized by the Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis–the UAE-based think tank–the conference featured presentations from nine air force commanders or their deputies.
Royal Air Force
Responding to mounting criticism of civilian casualties caused by air strikes, the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) tightened the rules of engagement (RoE) last July.
In September the UK defense ministry announced a contract to upgrade the Royal Air Force’s 46-strong Boeing Chinook support helicopter force. Known as Project Julius, and driven partly by the extraordinary demands of sustained operations in Afghanistan, the program consists of re-engining and a cockpit upgrade.
With the delay to the Airbus A400M in mind, as well as tight defense budgets, BAE Systems Regional Aircraft’s Asset Management unit is marketing surplus British Aerospace 146-200 and -300 airliners to military customers as low-cost tactical transports under the model name BAe 146M. BAE owns 47 of the four-engine, high-wing jets, many of which are now coming off lease as airlines replace them with new regional jets.
In late July the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command issued a request for information for what it calls the light attack/armed reconnaissance (LAAR) aircraft. The RFI covers the potential procurement of 100 OA-X aircraft optimized for irregular warfare missions, which could see the U.S. Air Force back in the business
Boeing took a long-expected order from Canada for 15 CH-47F Chinook helicopters worth $1.15 billion. These will be new-build helicopters, to enter service in 2013 and 2014. Boeing said it would offset the entire contract value with contracts and partnerships in Canada. Canada already operates six CH-47Ds that it acquired urgently last year from the U.S. Army, for service in Afghanistan.
The General Dynamics Aviation Services (GDAS) facility at Barnes Municipal Airport in Westfield, Mass., recently had its Hawker Beechcraft authorized service center (ASC) designation renewed. In 2006 it became the first facility so designated and remains the only such facility in the northeast United States. The current designation expires in 2012.
Last week Hawker Beechcraft chairman and CEO Bill Boisture warned employees that due to “significant economic challenges…we are making a host of difficult business decisions to preserve our company.
More than a year after U.S. defense officials offered three RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft as a replacement for the same number of Royal Air Force BAE Nimrod R1 signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft, the UK Ministry of Defence has not made a decision.
Britain’s Royal Household and Ministry of Defence are evaluating options for providing flights for Queen Elizabeth II and her family beginning April 1 next year, when existing military and private charter arrangements expire. The revival of an earlier plan to purchase a new head-of-state aircraft appears unlikely due to concerns about the continuing recession.