In a significant move, the U.S. government has cleared an unarmed version of the Predator UAV for wider export, including to the Middle East. Until now, the Predator and Reaper series has been exported only to the UK and Italy, and offered to a few other U.S. allies. Long-endurance UAVs are included in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MCTR), a voluntary 34-nation agreement.
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).
Held in Abu Dhabi, the IDEX defense exhibition is traditionally the platform for the United Arab Emirates to announce major deals. But apart from a possible buy of Predator UAVs and an H-60 upgrade (see separate stories), there was nothing on the UAE’s big-ticket items at last week’s event. Even the much-anticipated deal for the THAAD high-altitude air defense system has not been finalized.
Boeing has won the KC-X competition and been awarded a $3.5 billion contract for Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) of the 767 NextGen Tanker, including four aircraft. Follow-on contracts to procure 175 production aircraft in 18 lots will be worth at least $30 billion. The new tanker will be designated KC-46A and the first 18 are planned to be in service by 2017.
Boeing has won the KC-X competition and been awarded a $3.5 billion contract for engineering and manufacturing development of the 767 NextGen Tanker, including four aircraft. Follow-on contracts to procure 175 production aircraft in 18 lots will be worth at least $30 billion. The new tanker will be designated KC-46A and the first 18 are planned to be in service by 2017.
Airbus and Boeing officials are expecting a call from the Pentagon at 4:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time this afternoon to inform them which company has won the $35 billion contract for the new U.S. Air Force KC-X tanker. The Pentagon will then make a public announcement about the award at 5:10 p.m. EST, Airbus and Boeing spokespeople told AIN.
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.
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.