The Farnborough International 2006 airshow (July 17 to 23) is set to be a bumper event with more exhibitors and aircraft than ever before. Show organizers announced here in Singapore that sales for the almost-sold-out event are up more than 15 percent on the last Farnborough airshow in 2004.
JAS 39 Gripen
The MBDA Meteor ramjet, active radar homing air-to-air missile (AAM) program is still alive and kicking, but has had to focus its efforts on meeting the deadlines imposed by the original December 2002 contract in order to avoid cancellation penalties.
The Eurofighter Typhoon program is one of the longest running projects in the history of military aircraft. The sheer number of years from initial design studies to production deliveries to the air forces of the four original partner nations (Germany, the UK, Spain and Italy) has been fodder for criticism that the program has become a mammoth, never-ending defense project that imposed an excessive burden on taxpayers.
Volvo Aero has delivered a number of post-certification enhancements to the RM12 twin turboshaft engine that powers the Saab Gripen. Some of these have been adopted by General Electric, whose F404 was adapted by Volvo for the single-engine Swedish fighter. The company said further improvements are possible, although its main emphasis is on developing lighter weight components for commercial airliner powerplants.
The Gripen team occupies the high ground at the Farnborough show this year in a new prime-site chalet and with the Swedish fighter flying a daily solo routine. Meanwhile, seven Swedish Air Force Gripen fighters flew to Alaska this past weekend to participate in their first “Red Flag” exercise. In practical terms, that deployment will demonstrate more about the Gripen’s capability and prospects than the marketing effort going on here.
Swedish-based defense group Saab said it has finished developing a system to protect aircraft from surface-to-air missiles and plans to supply production versions of the system as part of a bid to win a U.S. Department of Homeland Security contract. Saab is part of a consortium that is one of three groups competing for the contract. The winner could be announced as early as this month.
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