The U.S. Army awarded Boeing a $234 million foreign military sales contract to supply 24 AH-6i light attack/reconnaissance helicopters to Saudi Arabia, affirming a long pending order. The Department of Defense announced the contract award on August 29; the estimated contract completion date is Dec. 31, 2016.
Defense » Military Aircraft
News and issues relating to the defense aerospace business, with emphasis on current/in-use, in-development and prospective programs for manned military aircraft and unmanned combat aircraft vehicles (UCAVs).
Ruag Aviation announced a teaming with Highland Integrated Surveillance Systems (HISS) to market and deliver turnkey electronic warfare solutions for aircraft. The Swiss and American companies have “complementary competencies,” according to RUAG.
Pilatus Aircraft has signed a 10-year contract with Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) for the Indian company to supply PC-12 NG aerostructures. Tata will replace existing supplier PZL-Swidnik of Poland. This is India’s first major private partnership, and results from the 30-percent offset obligation (worth about $165 million) that Pilatus incurred in its sale of 75 PC-7 Mk II trainers to the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The deployment of four UK Royal Air Force Tornadoes to perform overwatch of Iraq, and an unconfirmed report last week that more might be deployed for surveillance of northern Nigeria, serves to illustrate the ongoing value of the aging but effective “Tonka.” Although the RAF fleet is scheduled to be retired in 2019 in favor of the F-35, upgrades continue, with another one announced recently. Meanwhile, the German air force intends to keep its Tornado fleet until at least 2025, with its own upgrades.
The U.S. Army terminated the second test flight of its Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) concept vehicle soon after launching it on August 25 after detecting a “flight anomaly,” the Pentagon said. The experimental glide vehicle and its three-stage rocket booster exploded and fell back on the Kodiak Launch Complex where it had lifted off, some 25 miles from Kodiak, Alaska.
The U.S. Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $240 million contract modification to build three more RQ-4B Global Hawk Block 30 unmanned aircraft, each with integrated sensor suite and signals intelligence (Sigint) payloads, plus two Sigint payloads as retrofit kits. The new aircraft will join 18 Block 30 Global Hawks the service earlier planned to retire.
South African defense company Paramount reported on August 13 the first flight of its Advanced High-performance Reconnaissance Light Air Craft (AHRLAC). The twin-boom, tandem-seat, push-prop design, powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66B turboprop, has been under development since September 2011.
The U.S. Air Force said on August 19 that it recently grounded 82 two-seat F-16D fighters following the discovery of canopy sill longeron cracks between the front and rear pilot seats. An “immediate action time compliance technical order” the service issued after post-mission flight inspections revealed initial structural cracks led to the discovery.
Russia will fly the prototype next-generation strategic bomber in 2019 and develop a new interceptor by 2020 to replace the MiG-31 fleet. Addressing the media on Russian Air Force Day (August 12) the service’s commander, Gen. Victor Bondarev, also said a new combat aircraft with forward-swept wings is under development and could emerge soon as a prototype.
Nearly three years after the U.S. military withdrew from Iraq, Navy F/A-18 Hornets and Air Force F-15s, F-16s and unmanned MQ-1 Predators returned to the sky over the country this past week to stem the advance of Islamic extremists and support humanitarian airdrops.