The U.S. Air Force’s much delayed and troubled attempts to procure a new-generation tanker hit an embarrassing snag in November, when the evaluating office inadvertently sent out technical assessments of each proposal to the opposing bidders. The documents in question were the Integrated Fleet Aerial Refueling Assessments (IFARA) that model tanker operations in various scenarios.
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).
On November 19, Lockheed Martin received a $3.5 billion contract modification to build 31 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for the fourth low-rate initial production (LRIP) batch. Together with earlier long-lead funding, this brings the contract value for LRIP-4 to $3.9 billion. The batch comprises 10 F-35A CTOL aircraft for the U.S.
PZL-Mielec has flown the second Sikorsky S-70i “international” helicopter. It is the first to fly in Poland, where two more units are in final assembly. The Polish company previously shipped major subassemblies for the first S-70i to the U.S., where initial flight tests were completed at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach, Fla. facility last month.
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is courting outside manufacturers to participate in its KF-X stealth fighter program. This program is expected to produce more than 120 aircraft for South Korea’s air force, and may be offered as an export to interested countries. The program’s total cost could reach $8 billion, which is causing the government of South Korea to hesitate in giving its approval.
Embraer has sold eight Super Tucano turboprops to the Indonesian air force. The aircraft will replace aging OV-10 Broncos in the light attack role, although Embraer notes that the Super Tucano can also perform surveillance and air-to-air interception. The value of the deal, which also includes ground support and an integrated logistics package, was not revealed. Deliveries will begin in 2012.
EADS announced “the conclusion” of talks to amend the Airbus A400M airlifter development and production contract with the seven European partner nations.
The U.S. National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform drafted a recommendation for large reductions in U.S. military spending in an effort to save $200 billion. The document suggests ending procurement of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor and slashing the planned buy of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
European manufacturers of major defense equipment face a struggle to secure new contracts in the Middle East against American competition, as evidenced by the latest Saudi arms deal. The huge F-15 deal probably ends Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) interest in a second batch of Eurofighters.
On October 20 the Defense Security Cooperation Agency lodged four separate notifications with the U.S. Congress covering a huge foreign military sales arms package for Saudi Arabia, with Boeing the major beneficiary if the procurements go ahead.
France and the UK will jointly develop a new medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV that could enter service in 2015. The two countries are also likely to combine forces on future unmanned combat air systems (UCAS), by launching a “joint technology and operational demonstration” to run for six years, beginning in 2013. The decisions form part of the cross-channel agreement between the two countries.