Japan is examining the possibility of continuing production of the Mitsubishi F-2 to bolster its fighter fleet in the face of growing Chinese capability, adding some 20 aircraft to the 94 (plus four prototypes) currently procured. The Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) is looking for a new fighter and has stated a desire for the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, but U.S. export restrictions have ruled that out.
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).
Boeing has revealed its latest thinking on how the C-17 heavy airlifter could meet the joint future theater lift (JFTL) requirement that is emerging in the U.S. The “Advanced Tactical C-17” would retain the basic wings and tail of the current C-17A, but feature a new fuselage that is four feet narrower and consists of more composite structure. The four P&W F117 turbofans would be upgraded to provide 13 percent more thrust.
During the Farnborough airshow in late July, the Brazilian air force announced its intention to acquire 28 Embraer KC-390 twinjet tanker/transports. First flight is expected in 2014, with service entry planned before the end of 2015.
Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing, has won the U.S. Navy’s small tactical unmanned air system (STUAS)/Tier II competition to provide the Navy and Marine Corps with an easily deployable ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capability. A decision on STUAS/Tier II was originally expected in the spring, but was delayed while the Navy continued its evaluations of competing systems.
Northrop Grumman rolled out the X-47B UCAS-D (unmanned combat air system-demonstrator) in December 2008 and since then has been busy preparing the first of two vehicles for its maiden flight, expected shortly. Low- and high-speed trials have been completed at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California, where the second X-47B is in final assembly.
Buoyed by last week’s endorsement of the F-35 from Canada, Lockheed Martin vice president Tom Burbage, delivered a business-as-usual update on the Joint Strike Fighter program here in Farnborough this week. There was some talk of the alleged mounting costs, but much more about the flight-test program and international partnerships.
Boeing announced here yesterday a set of potential enhancements to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet that it will market to export prospects. They include an enclosed weapons pod that is intended to lower the aircraft’s radar cross section. The countries currently evaluating or expressing interest in the Super Hornet include Brazil, Denmark, India, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Qatar.
Ankara-based Turkish Aerospace Industries rolled out a new tactical medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAV last Friday. Named Anka, the UAV has been developed to answer the Turkish armed forces’ TIHA (tactical UAV) requirement, but is also to be offered for export.
Lockheed Martin may be focusing a large proportion of its promotional efforts on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but the company insists there is still a lot of life left in the F-16 and that production could continue alongside that of the F-35 for some years. Meanwhile, the company has outlined a sustainment and supportability plan that projects to at least 2040.
In the U.S. Air Force KC-X competition size matters, but not much else, according to a Boeing briefing here. The company refused to discuss how its NewGen Tanker could be “combat ready” when substantial development work must be done. Citing competitive reasons, Boeing gave no technical details on the new cockpit, the new refueling boom, or even which version of the 767 it was based on.