F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin will retrofit early production lots of F-35Bs delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps with modified bulkheads to address cracking issues that came to light during durability testing of ground articles last fall. It will build redesigned bulkheads into the fighter beginning with low-rate production lot (LRIP) 9, said Rear Adm. Randy Mahr, deputy program manager with the Pentagon’s F-35 joint program office (JPO).
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).
Bulgaria’s small air defense force has been scrambled numerous times in the last two months to meet a growing number of surveillance flights being launched by Russia over the Black Sea following developments in Ukraine, according to minister of defense Angel Naidenov. Although none of the flights violated Bulgarian airspace, they approached and flew along the coast and were operating without flight plans, in turn requiring investigation.
The U.S. Navy is fitting Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk helicopters with a new digital rocket launcher, for the first time enabling them to carry a variety of weapons. The “smart” launcher will be integrated on the MH-60S as part of a rapid deployment capability, and later added to the MH-60R and potentially other platforms, the service said.
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) awarded Boeing a $30.6 million contract to develop an airborne satellite launch vehicle the company has designed to attach to an F-15E Strike Eagle. The aim of Darpa’s Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program is to reduce the cost of routinely launching microsatellites into space.
Qatar has announced a raft of orders for new equipment worth around $23 billion, covering vehicles, vessels and aircraft, plus associated systems and weaponry. The announcements were made on March 27, which was the last day of the Dimdex show in Qatar’s capital Doha.
The UK Royal Air Force retired its four remaining Lockheed TriStar tanker/transports on schedule this week, as the replacement fleet of Airbus A330-MRTTs grows. Seven of these aircraft, known as the Voyager in RAF service and provided under contract by AirTanker, have now been delivered. Two more are slated to to be handed over by the end of June.
A war of words has flared between Ankara and Damascus this week after a Turkish air force Lockheed Martin F-16 shot down a Syrian air force Mikoyan MiG-23BN ground attacker on Sunday. While Syria described the shootdown as a “flagrant act of aggression,” Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, warned Syria that “our response will be heavy if you violate our airspace.” Syria has also accused Ankara of shooting down the aircraft to deflect attention away from Turkish domestic political issues, just a week before local elections.
South Korea’s arms procurement agency chose the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter for the re-competed F-X III fighter competition, announcing plans on March 24 to negotiate a foreign military sale (FMS) for 40 jets, 20 fewer than originally sought. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) also approved the acquisition of RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 UAVs, Yonhap News Agency reported.
Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has now awarded prime contracts to all four participating companies to begin Phase 1 development for the agency’s VTOL X-Plane program. Boeing and Karem Aircraft received contracts this week, to join Aurora Flight Sciences and Sikorsky. While all four have submitted proposals for unmanned vehicles, the technology that is to be developed has equal application to manned VTOL aircraft.
Earlier this month Japan released some details about the growth of incursions by Chinese aircraft into Japanese airspace. The release of information comes after China unilaterally declared the establishment of its East China Sea ADIZ (air defense identification zone) last November. The figures show a significant rise in the number of interceptions being launched by the JASDF (Japan air self-defence force) against Chinese intruders.