Airlift manufacturers were prominent at last month’s African Aerospace and Defence show in Cape Town, highlighting the need of the South African Air Force (SAAF) to renew its air transport fleet.
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).
The EADS Barracuda UCAV technology demonstrator performed a new flight-test campaign at Goose Bay, Canada. The company flew four missions focusing on sense-and-avoid capabilities; auto-taxi systems; flight-testing of a structurally integrated antenna; and the exercising of an image exploitation chain, including an automatic target detection system. The UCAV was carrying an EO/IR sensor provided by Zeiss.
Singapore last week confirmed its choice of the Alenia Aermacchi M346 advanced jet trainer to replace the aging TA-4S Skyhawks its air force operates. Deliveries will begin in 2012. Prime contractor ST Aerospace will manage the $412 million deal to supply 12 aircraft plus spares, and a ground-based training system (GBTS).
Starting next month, Canada’s government will take delivery of six interim CH-148 Cyclone multi-mission, ship-based helicopters ahead of 2012 deliveries of the finished version. The interim version will have partially compliant mission system software and slightly lower performance specs than the finished version. The fly-by-wire CH-148 derives from the civil S-92 medium twin.
The U.S. Army could issue a formal request for proposal (RFP) early next year for what could become a helicopter armed aerial scout (AAS) program. The AAS–which might encompass at least 300 helicopters–is a potential $5 billion bonanza for the winner and could have significant implications for civil helicopter manufacturers, not just in terms of revenue but also with regard to driving, or not driving, new technologies such as the Sikorsky X2.
Israel’s Elbit Systems and French company Sagem Défense Sécurité agreed on September 15 to form a joint venture by early next year. To be based at Eragny and Montluçon in France, the joint venture will market UAV systems in France and other designated markets, and will take over existing initiatives.
Earlier this month Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) began flight trials of the single Boeing 767-200ER it has converted to multi-mission tanker transport (MMTT) configuration for the Columbian air force (Fuerza Aérea Colombiana). During the initial 3.5-hour post-conversion flight, the MMTT successfully cleared the full flight envelope, and subsequently engaged in refueling trials with an IAI Kfir C10 fighter.
Boeing has consolidated its military aircraft business into four divisions from six, as part of a rationalization process prompted by slowed defense spending. Two of the previous divisions are amalgamated into a single missiles and unmanned airborne systems division based in St. Charles, Mo., while the current rotorcraft division is split.
In the last few weeks the Embraer KC-390 jet tanker/transport program has gained four international partners, who have expressed their intentions to purchase the aircraft and to participate in its development and manufacture. Following the announcement at Farnborough in July that the Brazilian air force would initially acquire 28 KC-390s, the latest announcements raise prospective sales to 54.
An improved version of the Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk mini-UAV is now operating with the British Army in Afghanistan. The hand-launched system has an improved video sensor and a larger wing. The UK is the only announced customer for the Desert Hawk.