The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) abandoned a radical plan for a commercial company to manage the UK’s defense procurement.
News and issues relating to the defense aerospace business, with emphasis on current/in-use, in-development and prospective programs for manned military aircraft, unmanned combat aircraft vehicles (UCAVs), military aircraft engines, avionics, missiles, bombs, guidance systems and ground-based air-defense systems.
Expectations of a late-2013 surge in new airliner deals were handsomely surpassed at last month’s Dubai Airshow (November 17-21), with aircraft orders (including the engines that will power them) exceeding a record-breaking $200 billion mark, as of press time. But business aviation also put on a strong showing, accounting for roughly a third of the 150 or so aircraft occupying a packed static display at the biennial event’s new Dubai World Central (DWC) site. The impressive purpose-built show venue closely replicates the appearance of the long-standing site at Dubai International Airport.
Boeing selected the Bombardier Challenger 605 to be the platform for its maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) offering. This program was announced last year as a less expensive alternative to Boeing’s high-spec P-8 Poseidon maritime patroller. The MSA mission suite draws heavily on the technology developed for the P-8, albeit sized for a business jet. Field Aviation in Canada is currently modifying a Boeing-owned Challenger 604 to act as an MSA demonstrator, which should appear next year. Field will also undertake the production modifications of the Challenger 605.
Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control division (MFC) is a major supplier of defense equipment to the Middle East and that business is about to arise to a new level thanks to an anticipated sale of its Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) to Qatar.
On Saturday the Indian Navy formally took delivery of the INS Vikramaditya. The aircraft carrier is the former Soviet Admiral Gorshkov, which has been refurbished and retrofitted by the Sevmash shipyard at Severodvinsk in the north of European Russia (see story page 22). India’s defense minister, Arackaparambil Kurian Antony, attended the ceremony.
Ushering in a new era of capability for the UAE’s growing defense business is the Al Tariq glide-bomb kit family produced by Tawazun Dynamics. The joint venture between Tawazun (51 percent) and South Africa’s Denel Dynamics (49 percent) was announced in September 2012 at the AAD show in Pretoria. Based on Denel’s Umbani weapon, Al Tariq is a modular family of bomb kits that turn regular freefall bombs into stand-off precision-guided weapons.
Although it made its debut at the IDEX show earlier this year, the Aerostat-200 from Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments (Adasi) is being shown in its full inflated glory for the first time in public at the Dubai Airshow. The 200-cubic meter aerostat, which began operations this year, can carry a payload such as an EO/IR sensor up to more than 500 feet to provide non-stop surveillance. Adasi will soon introduce the more voluminous Aerostat-500, followed by the even larger Aerostat-900 with a 3,500-foot altitude capability.
Having teamed up earlier this year on a project to conceive lightweight multi-purpose airplanes for passenger transportation, Russian and Austrian designers have recently revealed the first models of what they envision as low-cost 9- and 19- seat aircraft powered by two diesel engines.
Saab’s Skeldar V-200 unmanned air system (UAS) has been undertaking anti-piracy patrols in the troubled waters off the Horn of Africa and southern Arabia. The rotary-wing, heavy fuel engine UAS has been flying from the Spanish navy offshore patrol vessel (OPV) BAM Meteoro, operating in concert with a manned helicopter to support the European Union’s Naval Force Somalia (also known as Operation Atalanta) anti-piracy mission. Saab earlier this year announced a contract to “deploy the Skeldar UAS for maritime operations,” but at the time did not name the customer.
Lockheed Martin announced last Friday that it plans to close four facilities and reduce operations at a fifth, with the loss of 2,000 jobs. The closures affect the company’s Information Systems & Global Solutions (IS&GS); Mission Systems and Training (MST); and Space Systems business areas. A further 2,000 jobs in these business areas will be eliminated through “operational efficiency initiatives,” the company said.