A lack of decision-making on large Indian defense procurement deals in the past two years is expected to end with the swearing-in of the new government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Changes in procurement and offset policies are also expected.
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.
Airbus has suggested civilian operation of the A400M airlifter for disaster relief flights. At a media briefing during the ILA Berlin airshow last week, Norbert Kolvenbach, vice president for public affairs Germany, noted that the aircraft is already certified by EASA. He floated the idea of a “supranational” operator, such as the United Nations. “The A400M could be interesting,” said Birgitte Stalder-Olsen, head of logistics for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), at the same briefing.
The tri-national Medium Extended Air Defense System (Meads) remains in limbo, with the $3.4 billion nine-year development program scheduled to conclude this year and no production order in sight from the U.S., Germany or Italy. But at a briefing last week during the ILA Berlin airshow, program officials said that Meads meets Poland’s stated air and missile defense (AMD) requirement. The Meads International industrial consortium, which currently comprises Lockheed Martin and MBDA’s German and Italian companies, is offering to make Poland an equal partner.
The Turkish aerospace industry was on full display last week during the ILA Berlin airshow, at which it was the official ‘partner country’. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) put the T129 attack helicopter and the Anka Male UAV on static display, and showed the Hurkus turboprop trainer on its stand in Hall 6. Also in that hall were displays by avionics specialist Aselsan; simulation and training company Havelsan, missile house Roketsan, systems house STM, defense research and space organization Tubitak, and Turkish Airlines.
Despite many program delays and customer criticisms, the pan-European NH-90 helicopter “is fit for purpose and doing real missions” according to Vincent Dubrule, president of the NH Industries joint venture among Airbus Helicopters, AgustaWestland and Fokker. He acknowledged that the NH-90 “had been a development program for too long, with a lot of variants. But now, nearly all the deliveries are in the final configuration.” The current focus was to refine in-service support, reduce the intervals between scheduled maintenance, and “solve the remaining maturity issues,” Dubrule added.
The U.S. has approved an Iraqi request for 24 Beechcraft AT-6C Texan II turboprop strike aircraft. Together with associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support, the sale would be worth an estimated $790 million. Iraq is the first announced customer for the AT-6, which lost the controversial U.S. Air Force contest for a Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft to the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano.
Israeli company Senso Optics is claiming a breakthrough in thermal uncooled sensor technology. The company says that superior image quality is now possible in miniature cameras, thanks to the introduction of its Camera On-Chip (COC) device. Senso Optics is a supplier of thermal imaging technology to military and security markets, and also produces commercial avionics.
The U.S. Air Force is flying surveillance missions over northern Nigeria using MC-12W twin turboprops from Project Liberty. The flights are trying to locate more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. They throw some light on a relatively unknown fleet of ISR aircraft that is currently “owned” by Air Combat Command, but likely to move to Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) next year.
The first of 36 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52 fighters for the Iraqi Air Force made its first flight from the company’s Fort Worth, Texas facility. Iraq confirmed the purchase of 18 F-16s in September 2011, and has apparently committed to the other 18 since then. The Iraqi and other orders have extended the F-16 production line through 2017. More than 4,540 F-16s have been delivered to date.
Two Airbus Defence & Space AC-235 light gunships ordered by the Jordanian special operations command have made the type’s public debut at the SOFEX exhibition being held at Marka airport, Amman, this week. They were recently delivered after modification by ATK. Developed in partnership with Jordan’s King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB), the AC-235 is based on the CN-235 tactical transport, two of which were provided by Jordan for the conversion.