Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Deborah Lee James announced a major change to Air Force strategy at the Farnborough Airshow on Tuesday. “This is the blueprint for the Air Force,” she said, “for organizing, equipping and training the Air Force.” Although she revealed some elements about the strategy’s fundamental nature, details of the plan will be released in the next four weeks.
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.
U.S.-based UTC Aerospace Systems and Selex ES, a Finmeccanica company, have signed an agreement to offer a TacSAR (tactical synthetic aperture radar) to complement the proven DB-110 EO/IR sensor. The European company will adapt its Seaspray 7500 radar to fit in the center third of the pod that houses the UTC DB-110 on fighter aircraft.
BAE Systems launched a new version of the Striker integrated display helmet for combat aircraft pilots here at the Farnborough Airshow this week. Mark Bowman, the company’s chief test pilot, demonstrated how BAE has leveraged its work on an alternative helmet-mounted display (HMD) for the Lockheed Martin F-35 to produce Striker 2. The company was tapped to provide the alternative, using night-vision goggles, after serious development problems with the Elbit Systems/Rockwell Collins HMD that is integral to the F-35 cockpit.
Aero Vodochody launched a new version of the popular L-39 jet trainer in Farnborough yesterday. The L-39NG will be powered by a Williams FJ44-4M turbofan.
Other changes from the original version include a new wet wing, lighter structure, single-piece canopy, and modern cockpit. Company officials told AIN that they hoped to finish the prototype by the end of 2016, certify the L-39NG in 2017 and begin deliveries in 2018.
MBDA Missile Systems (Outdoor Exhibit 10, Chalet D1) said yesterday that it would assemble the first copy this week of the Brimstone 2 missile, which is now in series production. The missile incorporates a dual-mode, millimeter-wave radar and semi-active laser seeker, an “insensitive munition” (IM) rocket motor and warhead and a new, stronger airframe.
AgustaWestland (exhibiting here at the Farnborough Airshow with parent Finmeccanica, Outdoor Exhibit 1) gained a contract worth £90 million (around $150 million) here yesterday to integrate Europe’s next-generation maritime missile on the AW159 Wildcat helicopter.
F-35 test pilots with the U.S. Air Force’s 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California, will begin using a third-generation helmet-mounted display system (HMDS) in the next few weeks. The updated HMDS incorporates fixes to the current generation system, which pilots found inadequate and the Pentagon labeled as a technical risk to the F-35 program.
Operational with 12 nations, of which five are NATO members, Raytheon’s Patriot air defense system is pursuing three key campaigns in Europe as part of a global resurgence in interest in the system. That trend has already resulted in Qatar signing a letter of acceptance for Patriot this week. With the U.S. Army committed to Patriot through 2048, Raytheon is working on a new-generation Patriot and other developments to maintain the system’s viability in the face of emerging and future threats.
The Wisła (“Shield of Poland”) air and missile defense (AMD) program is the largest and most far-reaching defense procurement ever in the post-Communist history of this NATO border nation. The program has immense implications for Poland’s national security even under normal circumstances, but the invasion and occupation of the Ukrainian region of the Crimea by Russia, and an escalating Russian-backed incursion in the eastern regions of Ukraine, has upped the stakes in this program.
The U.S. Air Force announced that it released a request for proposals (RFP) to industry on July 9 for its new Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program to develop the next generation heavy bomber. The service said it expects to make a contract award next spring.
Detailed requirements for the bomber are classified and in a press release the Air Force described the platform in generalities. It nevertheless designated the LRS-B as a top priority, along with the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and KC-46A tanker.