Taiwanese president Ma Ying-Jeou renewed his nation’s plea to the U.S. for more F-16s, citing China’s recent unveiling of the J-20 stealth fighter. Ma spoke after witnessing an air defense exercise that involved the launch of 19 missiles, including indigenous Tien Chien (Sky Sword) AAMs and Tien Kung (Sky Bow) SAMs. The new ground-launched version of the Tien Chien was also fired.
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).
BAE Systems abandoned plans to sell most of its remaining avionics capabilities. The company put its Platform Solutions business up for sale last fall, but rumored interest from Goodrich, Honeywell and Rockwell Collins evidently failed to produce an acceptable offer. The main sites of this $200 million turnover transatlantic business are Rochester, UK; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Johnson City, N.Y.
The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) made two defense procurement decisions, but deferred the long-pending choice of a new combat aircraft. It bought an unspecified number of Hermes 450 UAV systems from the Brazilian subsidiary of Elbit Systems. The Israeli company noted that it has now sold UAVs to more than 20 countries and that the Hermes 450 has logged more than 200,000 operational flight hours.
The prototype of China’s J-20 fighter made its first publicly witnessed flight on January 11 from Chengdu’s factory airfield. The aircraft, which lifted off at 12:50 p.m. local time and landed 18 minutes later, was accompanied by a two-seat J-10S during its flight. The event was witnessed by high-ranking officials, who arrived from Beijing in two VIP Boeing 737s.
Lockheed Martin has two years to fix problems with the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) version of the Joint Strike Fighter, or it will be cancelled, according to the Department of Defense. U.S.
Marshall Aerospace has completed development of an avionics upgrade for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) fleet of nine Lockheed Tristar tanker-transports. The work was designed to avoid obsolescence problems that now affect these aging aircraft, and to provide compliance with the latest requirements for flying in civil airspace, such as CNS/ATM.
Eurocopter ended 2010 with a flurry of progress announcements, some of which related to previously delayed military programs in Europe. The first NH-90s in the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) configuration for France and Spain both made their maiden flights at Marignane on December 17. The French machine, one of 34 TTHs to be handed over to the French army late this year, is now undergoing flight tests at Istres.
Boeing has won the enhanced medium-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance systems (EMARSS) competition to supply low/medium-altitude airborne reconnaissance systems to the U.S. Army. The Army pre-specified the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350ER as the platform for EMARSS, as well as the basic specification.
The Pentagon’s decision in the third round of the KC-X competition is now expected next month. Meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hear testimony concerning the inadvertent leak of competition-sensitive data to the competing contractors.
Following months of speculation, fueled by tidbits gleaned during the Zhuhai airshow in November, the first images of China’s newest combat aircraft were revealed in the week before Christmas. Believed to be designated the J-20, the aircraft is under development by Chengdu (611 Design Institute) and Shenyang, with the former leading the effort having effectively won a design competition in 2008.