The Lockheed Martin F-35 may yet show up here, but the odds were still against it yesterday, as AIN went to press. A senior Pentagon official said Thursday that all F-35 engines had been inspected and no faults found. But the organization responsible for the four F-35B STOVL versions that are supposed to make the transatlantic trip did not lift the grounding.
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).
At the recent ILA Berlin Airshow, Airbus Defence & Space reported progress with the passive radar [alternatively, passive coherent location (PCL)] system that predecessor company Cassidian had been developing since 2006. Frank Bernhardt, project manager, said that the company has “worked closely” with two armed forces on tests of the system. One of them is Germany.
European companies, especially in the East, are continuing to refine passive ground-based technologies with the potential to detect stealth aircraft. The best known of these is the detection and correlation of emissions from aircraft–such as from radars, radar altimeters and other navigation devices–using ESM/ELINT techniques, sometimes known as passive emitter tracking (PET).
The U.S. Air Force announced that it released a request for proposals (RFP) to industry on July 9 for its new Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program to develop the next generation heavy bomber. The service said it expects to make a contract award next spring.
Advanced Jet Training at RAF Valley was the first “training service package” to be signed by Ascent–the contractor that is taking over the UK Military Flying Training System–with the UK’s Ministry of Defence. Another to train the Royal Navy’s rear aircrew (“observers”) followed. It was implemented in 2011-12 at RAF Barkston Heath on the MoD’s pre-existing contract-provided Grob 115E elementary trainers, and at RNAS Culdrose, where four King Air 350ER twin turboprops acquired by Ascent are based.
Fast-jet pilot training in the UK has been thoroughly modernized, thanks to the introduction of new simulators, courseware and the BAE Systems Hawk T.2 trainer. Ascent, the contractor that is taking over the UK Military Flying Training System (MFTS), says the new set-up is “affordable, and demonstrably good value for money.” Still, there are grumblings from those opposed to the commercial provision of British military flying training, on either philosophical or practical grounds.
Airbus Defence and Space Military Aircraft is scheduled to deliver the first of 22 A400M airlifters to the Royal Air Force in September. The delivery of aircraft MSN15 not only will mark the start of operations by a third country, but also represents the introduction of new capabilities as an important step along the type’s development roadmap. To get those capabilities into service has necessitated an intensive flight-trial campaign in the first part of this year.
Powered ground tests of the Sikorsky CH-53K, the U.S. Marine Corps’ future heavy-lift helicopter, are now well under way at the company’s West Palm Beach, Florida facility in the run-up to first flight later this year. The first ground-test vehicle (GTV1) started systems testing in late April, about a week before the first flying article was rolled out on May 5. Operational service of the mostly composite helicopter, which has been dubbed the “King Stallion,” is expected in 2019.
Sikorsky Aircraft powered on its S-97 Raider prototype on May 28 at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Florida, marking the successful installation of the avionics system and a major step toward completing the assembly of the new light tactical rotorcraft. A contender for the U.S.
Airbus DS is at an advanced stage of selling A330 MRTTs to three more countries. Qatar has selected to buy two pod/boom-equipped aircraft, while India has selected the A330 with Rolls-Royce engines and a pod/FRU tanking configuration. Airbus has finalized negotiations, including offset packages, and has pre-signed the contract. A signature is hoped for before the end of the year.