When it comes to defense coverage, AIN naturally focuses on airborne systems and platforms, including some very high-tech stuff, of course. But my visit to the Defence Geospatial Intelligence Conference and Exhibitionin London last month was a reminder that what happens on the ground is equally, if not more, important.
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).
Boeing announced the first flight of an upgraded UK Royal Air Force Ch-47 Chinook. It also confirmed that the entire current fleet of 46 UK Chinooks will receive the new cockpit displays and mission avionics, supplied by Thales from its TopDeck range, by 2016. The upgrade also includes more powerful Honeywell T55-l-714A engines, new defensive systems, nose-mounted FLIR and new secure communications.
Marshall Aerospace took steps to boost the future of its core business: C-130 Hercules maintenance and support. The Cambridge, UK-based company will partner with Lockheed Martin in the OEM’s offer to provide enhanced and performance-based sustainment solutions to the air forces of Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Marshall Aerospace has previously overhauled and modifies C-130s for these countries.
Airbus Military has flight-tested the fuselage refueling unit (FRU) of the A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) for the first time. The Cobham-supplied FRU is a hose-and-drogue system that is fitted to the version destined for the UK Royal Air Force as its future strategic tanker aircraft (FSTA). It transfers fuel at a greater rate than the underwing hose-and-drogue units that Cobham supplies for all A330MRTTs.
Major subassemblies for the Neuron UCAV technology demonstrator have been delivered to Dassault Aviation, which acts as prime contractor and design authority for this pan-European project. Sweden-based Saab handed over the front and central sections, while HAI in Greece delivered the rear fuselage.
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.
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.
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.
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.