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).
Flight testing of the A400M airlifter is on track, and Airbus Military expects civil type certification (TC) by the end of the year, according to the new head of the program, Cedric Gautier. The four development aircraft have now logged more than 1,600 flight hours and will be joined by a fifth next October, which will be in production configuration.
Airbus Military is exploring an airborne early-warning and control version of the C295 tactical airlifter. A company-owned aircraft that has been modified with a six-meter-diameter dummy rotodome will start a three-month flight-test campaign next month.
There was news last week of two long-delayed air-refueling tanker contracts. The Italian air force (AMI–Aeronautica Militare Italiano) formally accepted into service two of the four Boeing KC-767 tanker-transports that it ordered more than eight years ago. But Airbus Military conceded that another few weeks will likely pass before the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) accepts its first two A330MRTTs.
During the 2011 International Defense Industry Fair (IDEF), held in Istanbul on May 10 to 13, EADS Cassidian signed a memorandum of understanding with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), covering the participation of Turkish industry in the Talarion Male UAV program. This modular surveillance platform is being developed to meet projected requirements from France, Germany and Spain.
Hawker Beechcraft has dispatched the first export version of the current variant of its T-6 turboprop trainer, delivering 12 aircraft to the Royal Moroccan Air Force. Twelve more T-6Cs ordered by Morocco will be delivered this year. No other international orders have been placed for the trainer.
Northrop Grumman unveiled a new optionally piloted vehicle in the medium-altitude, long-endurance (Male) class, which is currently dominated by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems with its Predator/Reaper series. The Firebird will fly in piloted and multisensor configuration later this month at Empire Challenge 2011, a military intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) exercise hosted by the U.S.
In recent weeks, important contractual issues surrounding the A400M airlifter have been resolved. First, Airbus Military signed a formal agreement to amend the development and production contract with the seven European launch nations, represented by the OCCAR procurement agency.
The Boeing Phantom Ray stealthy and autonomous UAV demonstrator made its first flight at Edwards AFB on April 27, and flew again in early May. The flights followed high-speed taxi tests that validated ground guidance, navigation and control and verified mission planning, pilot interface and operational procedures.