Before the long-delayed first flight of the A400M, the new airlifter’s TP400 turboprop was flown 18 times on a C-130 flight test bed (FTB) modified and flown by Marshall Aerospace. During a presentation to the UK’s Royal Aeronautical Society last October, Marshall’s chief test pilot Iain Young and flight test engineer Rob Boyle described the challenging task.
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).
Here at the Singapore Airshow, Raytheon Missile Systems (Stand U01) is showcasing its Fish Hawk standoff antisubmarine torpedo. While the weapon has been under development for some time, this is its inaugural promotion at a major international exhibition, highlighting the interest in it from the Asia-Pacific region.
Continued tensions in the Far East and southern Asia are ensuring that the region remains a major sales battleground for the world’s fighter houses. At stake is the sale of several hundred new combat aircraft in the coming years as air arms seek to modernize their forces or, in the case of countries such as Japan and Singapore, stay ahead of the regional threat.
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.
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.