Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG and Aviadvigatel have confirmed that work continues on “radical modernization” of the MiG-31 Foxhound, with the focus on extending the performance of the aging, out-of-production Mach 3 interceptor so that it can carry out not only air-defense duties but also serve the recently established VKO, the Russian acronym for the country’s Air and Space Defense (Command). Under a directive from the Russian defense ministry, RAC MiG is working on new versions of the aircraft that are more capable than the current MiG-31BM.
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).
Australia will order 58 more Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighters for $12.4 billion, the government said on April 23. Including jets the country has already ordered, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will be able to field three squadrons of the fifth-generation fighter.
Sikorsky Aircraft completed the first flight of an optionally piloted Black Hawk demonstrator last month in a joint effort with the U.S. Army, the company said on April 21. The Black Hawk serves as a second testbed (joining an S-76) for Sikorsky’s Matrix research program to develop and field systems for autonomous vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.
In the light of growing Chinese incursions into Japanese airspace, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force has established a new permanent squadron of Northrop Grumman Hawkeye airborne early-warning aircraft on the island of Okinawa. The ministry of defense has also broken ground for a new radar site on Japan’s westernmost island, Yonaguni.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II will make its first appearance outside the U.S. this summer, flying at both the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and the Farnborough International airshow in England in mid-July, the UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) announced. The decision followed discussions between U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his UK counterpart, Philip Hammond.
Speaking to the foreign affairs and defense committee of Japan’s upper house, defense minister Itsunori Onodera has confirmed that the Mitsubishi ATD-X (advanced technology demonstrator - experimental) future fighter demonstrator is on course to fly later this year, albeit with a slight delay. Originally to have been unveiled to the media in May, the ATD-X is now a few months behind schedule, but should be revealed later in 2014 with a first flight to follow soon afterwards.
Kaman Aerospace has begun production flight-testing of the first of 10 refurbished SH-2G(I) Super Seasprites that were previously delivered to Australia, but have now been bought by the Royal New Zealand Navy. The milestone opens another chapter in the story of a design that made its first flight (as the HU2K-1) on July 2, 1959, and which became a stalwart of the U.S. Navy’s shipborne helicopter fleet until retired in 2001.
Selex ES announced it recently carried out successful end-to-end trials of its BriteCloud expendable decoy program, launched last November in conjunction with partner Saab, which is pitching BriteCloud as an electronic warfare option for the Gripen fighter. The announcement comes days after Saab revealed it had begun flight-tests with Selex ES’s Skyward G infrared search and track (IRST) system. The Finmeccanica group company is also supplying the ES-05 Raven AESA radar for the new-generation Gripen E.
The Textron AirLand joint venture said its Scorpion light strike and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) jet has completed 50 hours of flight-tests since it first flew on December 12 last year. The prototype has flown to 30,000 feet and at 120 to 310 knots calibrated airspeed, with a maximum airspeed tested of 430 KTAS.
Boeing’s Super Hornet production line in St. Louis, Mo., would be sustained until 2017 if the U.S. Navy receives the 22 EA-18G Growler electronic warfare variants it seeks on a list of “unfunded” priorities the service has submitted to Congress. Industry and government analyses show a need for 50 to 100 more Growlers, Boeing contends.