With concern mounting over Iran’s nuclear program, the U.S. and allies in the region are adding bunker-busting bombs designed to penetrate hardened targets from the air. In a television interview on December 19, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta noticeably toughened his previous stance.
AIN Defense Perspective » December 23, 2011
In mid-December the U.S. Congress authorized $662 billion in defense spending for fiscal 2012, trimming $27 billion from President Obama’s request in probably the last budget before deeper, more painful, cuts are required by the Budget Control Act passed in August.
Airbus Military flew the fifth and last A400M development aircraft for the first time on December 20. This aircraft carries only a light load of flight-test instruments and will be used mainly for electromagnetic interference (EMI) testing, cold-weather trials, the proving of cargo loads and operational demonstrations. The company reports the A400M has now logged more than 2,500 of the 3,700 flight-test hours planned.
Northrop Grumman is hoping that funds to re-engine the first two operational E-8C JSTARS radar surveillance aircraft will be provided in the Fiscal 2013 budget next year. The test bed aircraft is now flying with JT8D-219 engines that Northrop Grumman has modified with a new pneumatic system that it claims “vastly improves reliability and the hardware’s life cycle.” Although the JT8D is hardly new technology, the 17 operational E-8Cs are powered by even older JT3Ds. A $1.7 billion program to replace them was started some years ago, and the test bed first flew with JT8Ds in December 2008.
Japan has selected the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II to meet its F-X requirement. The losing contenders were the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon. The Japanese Defence Ministry said that, while all three contenders met the essential requirements, the F-35 scored highest after points were awarded for performance, cost, logistics support and domestic industrial participation. Japanese newspapers quoted defense officials saying that the aircraft’s stealth and networking capabilities were key deciding factors.
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