Finmeccanica’s Alenia Aermacchi division is launching a competition to find a nickname for its M346. The division’s CEO, Carmelo Cosentino, said the first low-rate initial production (LRIP) example flew on July 7, and that the aircraft is 700 kg lighter than the prototypes, giving it “much better maneuverability.” Aermacchi hopes to attract 35 to 40 percent of a market for around 2,000 advanced jet trainers over the next 25 years.
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).
In aviation’s early days, long-distance HF communications used wire antennas trailing behind the aircraft. Stored on a reel inside the fuselage, the 100- to 200-foot antenna was usually hand-cranked out and back in. Reeling in was important–to keep the antenna taut when trailing, its end carried a heavy lead weight, which became a lethal weapon if the antenna remained extended while landing.
This columnist never did discover why the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor that displayed at this month’s Farnborough airshow, needed an escort from an F-15 fighter. The top-of-the-line stealth fighter flew from RAF Fairford, only 50 miles away, where it was due to make its international debut at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
Student pilots from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) have begun basic flight training on the Pilatus PC-21 advanced turboprop. Twelve aircraft have now been airfreighted to the RSAF’s Flying Training School at Pearce airbase in Australia and re-assembled. The remaining seven are due for delivery next month. They are replacing Alenia Aermacchi S-211 jet trainers that are now nearly 25 years old.
The UK Royal Air Force flies three Nimrod R.1 versions that are dedicated to SIGINT (signals intelligence). They were converted from MR.2 maritime patrol aircraft, and their sensors have been upgraded regularly to monitor emerging new threats and signals. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) developed a plan for a complete replacement of the aircraft’s SIGINT suite, Project Helix, and chose L-3 Communications UK to provide it.
Yesterday’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter briefing turned into a celebration of the recent first flight of the F-35B STOVL version. The three customers for the new-generation jump jet (the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.K. and Italy) lined up to sing its praises. Test pilot Graham Tomlinson from BAE Systems was on hand to describe the maiden flight.
Further delay to the Airbus A400M military transport now seems inevitable. “There’s an obvious risk of slippage,” Carlos Suarez, head of EADS Military Transport Aircraft (MTA), said here at Farnborough. The first A400M ceremonially rolled out from the brand-new final assembly line building at Seville, Spain, on June 26.
Northrop Grumman’s X-47B UCAS-D carrier-borne unmanned combat air system demonstrator is currently undergoing sub-system checks before final assembly for a first flight date in November next year. Having been developed at El Segundo, the first X-47B (AV-1) is now at Palmdale, California, where the vehicle’s centerbody/inner wing structure is essentially complete.
The advanced stand-off radar (ASTOR) ground surveillance system produced by Raytheon has passed a major operational test, and will be officially accepted by the UK Royal Air Force by September. Raytheon and British military officers lined up here yesterday to describe recent progress on a system that is, in fact, three years behind schedule.
Piaggio Aero Industries is developing a special version of the P.180 Avanti for the Italian air force intended for navaid flight inspections. Private firm Norwegian Special Mission will supply its Unifis 3000 inspection terminals for the reconfigured airplanes, due to enter service in 2010. Italy’s Aeronautica Militaire 14th Stormo is providing four Avantis from its fleet for upgrades with the flight inspection gear.