The design maybe 40 years old, but there is plenty of life left in the F-15 Eagle fighter. Boeing’s St. Louis factory is producing F-15Ks for South Korea and F-15SGs for Singapore, and current orders mean that the Eagle will be in production into 2012. Meanwhile, Boeing Defense, Space and Security (DSS) is maintaining the technology insertion program that has seen the F-15 remain a viable option in today’s tactical aircraft marketplace.
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 U.S. Air Force is wresting with the manpower, training and cultural issues that surround the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In his presentation to the Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference (DIAC) last November,* USAF commander General Norton Schwartz outlined the new terminology and career fields that the service is introducing in response.
Taiwan’s Aero Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) is bidding to achieve Tier 1 supplier status with the major aerospace OEMs. It is building the Taiwan Advanced Composites Center (TACC), a 538,000-sq-ft facility that will contain large new autoclaves, ply cutters and computer-controlled milling machines. AIDC already produces smaller composite parts, such as the co-cured frames for the cockpit of Sikorsky’s S-92 helicopter.
When Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) developed the T-50 Golden Eagle in partnership with Lockheed Martin in 2001 hopes were high in South Korea that the only supersonic trainer jet would become a hit around the world. Nine years later, industry opinion remains divided as to whether this potential will be fulfilled and what has actually been achieved to this end since KAI entered a joint marketing effort with Lockheed Martin in 2006.
EADS is moving forward with its Talarion medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV, with an eye to flying it in 2014. In the meantime, its Barracuda demonstrator is gearing up for a series of trials to demonstrate the employment of UAVs in a netcentric environment.
Limited funding for the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland VH-71 presidential helicopter, which is based on the triple-engine AgustaWestland AW101, made it into the final FY2010 U.S. defense appropriations bill, reviving the model’s chances of one day flying U.S. presidents. At direction of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Pentagon had terminated the program on May 15 last year.
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) plans to order 22 new Chinooks, in its latest response to widespread criticism over the shortage of heavy helicopter lift to support British troops in Afghanistan. Last September, the RAF announced for its existing fleet of 38 Chinooks a $650 million upgrade program named Project Julius that consists of a cockpit upgrade and more powerful engines.
Ten weeks after the deadline for comments on the draft RFP for the latest attempt to procure a new KC-X aerial refueling tanker, the Pentagon has still not released the final document. It now says to expect this by the end of the month, and that some changes have been made. Northrop Grumman said it would not bid unless the final RFP was changed to give credit for the greater capacity of the A330MRTT (aka KC-45).
Boeing announced this month that India had formally expressed interest in acquiring 10 C-17 military transports. The company said the Indian air force wanted to “replace and augment” its fleet of Russian-made Il-76 and An-32 airlifters. The news followed closely on a confirmation that the U.A.E. had signed for six C-17s, as expected. Four will be delivered in 2011 and two in 2012.
The VH-71 presidential helicopter program, which was terminated in May by the Secretary of Defense, received life support on December 19 when the President signed the FY2010 Defense Appropriations Bill. Earlier last year, Obama had threatened to veto the bill if it contained funding for the program.