Ahead of schedule and under budget, Boeing delivered the first of an expected 85 operational models of its EF-18G Growler to the U.S. Navy in early June, followed by three more during July and August. Electronic attack squadron VAQ-129 based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, received the aircraft, which are expected to enter operational evaluation in September as the fleet readiness squadron fills out to five aircraft.
AIN Defense Perspective » July 21, 2008
This columnist never did discover why the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor that displayed at this month’s Farnborough airshow, needed an escort from an F-15 fighter. The top-of-the-line stealth fighter flew from RAF Fairford, only 50 miles away, where it was due to make its international debut at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
Student pilots from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) have begun basic flight training on the Pilatus PC-21 advanced turboprop. Twelve aircraft have now been airfreighted to the RSAF’s Flying Training School at Pearce airbase in Australia and re-assembled. The remaining seven are due for delivery next month. They are replacing Alenia Aermacchi S-211 jet trainers that are now nearly 25 years old.
Although neither the UAE nor Singapore has yet chosen their new jet trainer, both have now eliminated the BAE Systems Hawk from consideration. They continue to evaluate the more modern Alenia Aermacchi M-346 and KAI/Lockheed Martin T-50 Golden Eagle. These setbacks have caused BAE to refocus the Hawk sales campaign on upgrades and through-life support.
The UK Royal Air Force flies three Nimrod R.1 versions that are dedicated to SIGINT (signals intelligence). They were converted from MR.2 maritime patrol aircraft, and their sensors have been upgraded regularly to monitor emerging new threats and signals. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) developed a plan for a complete replacement of the aircraft’s SIGINT suite, Project Helix, and chose L-3 Communications UK to provide it.
The first seven Eurofighter Typhoons for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) are now in final assembly at the Warton, UK facility of BAE Systems. The company will say only that the first flight is planned for “later this year.” The date of the first delivery to the Kingdom is known to be June 2009. The first 24 of the 72 Typhoons that are being supplied to Saudi Arabia are being assembled at Warton.
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