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.
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.
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.
The Russian unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) program revealed as long ago as 2007 may have reached the flight test phase. The evidence comes from a near midair over Arkhangelskoye on February 17, reported by the pilots of two L-29 jet trainers belonging to a civilian flying club based at the Barataevka airfield near Ulyanovsk. The L-29 pilots rapidly altered heading and altitude to escape collision with an unidentified flying object that they described as “a heavyweight unmanned air vehicle”.
BAE Systems has been awarded a contract extension that will see it continue to support the RAF’s Tornado GR.Mk 4 fleet until the type’s planned retirement in 2019. BAE has been supporting the aircraft through the ATTAC (availability transformation: Tornado aircraft contract) program since 2006, but the initial 10-year period was due to expire in 2016. The new extension adds three years and approximately £125 million ($210 million) to the deal.
As part of enhanced collective measures agreed to by member countries in April, NATO has deployed more fighters to eastern Europe in response to the continuing crisis in Ukraine. France and Canada have dispatched aircraft this week, while a new NATO multinational team is taking over the enhanced air defense detachment in the Baltic republics.