The divided U.S. government edged closer to the so-called the “fiscal cliff,” a combination of tax increases and automatic spending cuts that will be imposed on January 2 unless political parties reach agreement on a package to reduce the country’s $16 trillion national debt. With 25 days remaining before the measures take effect, the parties were at a stalemate.
AIN Defense Perspective
The French and German governments have agreed to reduce their shareholdings in EADS to 12 percent each, and drop their veto rights over key decisions. Spain will hold 4 percent. EADS said the pact will normalize and simplify its governance, while still allowing the three countries “to protect their legitimate strategic interests.”
India’s audit body for government projects, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), has censured the Ministry of Defense for violations in the offset clause of five projects for which waivers were given. As a result, the CAG says, more than $376 million in foreign direct investment for the Indian aerospace industry has been lost. The projects were all started before India introduced its latest offset policy earlier this year.
Bangladesh and Vietnam are close to buying the Yakovlev Yak-130 advanced jet trainer, according to Russia’s weapons exporter, Rosoboronexport, but in other Asian countries the aircraft faces growing competition from China in the form of the Hongdu L-15. “There are no sales prospects for our aircraft in China, because the local engineers have developed their own design. Outwardly, the L-15 bears a distinct resemblance to the Yak-130,” said Sergei Kornev, head of the Rosoboronexport department for aviation.
Europe’s first unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) has flown. The Neuron technology demonstrator took off from the Dassault test base at Istres, France, at dawn on December 1. Dassault is the prime contractor, teamed with Alenia Aermacchi (Italy); EADS-CASA (Spain); Hellenic Aerospace Industries (Greece); Ruag (Switzerland); Saab (Sweden) and Thales (France).
Five days after a ceasefire ended the latest conflict between Israel and the Hamas regime controlling Gaza, in which the Rafael Iron Dome rocket interception system featured prominently, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced the first successful test of a new interception system. The David’s Sling system, or “Magic Wand,” that was co-developed with Raytheon and the U.S.
China has conducted fixed-wing operations on an aircraft carrier for the first time. The initial trial was conducted by a pair of Shenyang J-15s, numbers “552” and “553,” on the Liaoning, (side number 16), the country’s ex-Russian vessel. The aircraft were unpainted apart from serial numbers and large photo-calibration marks. They are believed to be the second and third J-15 prototypes, and are powered by the Russian-made AL31F engine rather than the Chinese WS10H that has been installed in some other J-15 prototypes.
Although already deployed on operations to meet urgent needs, the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned surveillance helicopter has reliability and sustainability problems that have delayed its regular fielding. An updated selected acquisition report (SAR) obtained by InsideDefense.com reveals that both the initial operational capability and the full-rate production decision have been delayed by about two years until May or June 2014.
China has ordered 10 used Il-76s from Russia’s arms vendor Rosoboronexport as an interim measure to enlarge its fleet of the heavy airlifters, before the redeveloped Il-476 version becomes available. Sergei Kornev, head of Rosoboronexport’s aviation equipment department, told AIN that his company has already found seven suitable airframes on the secondary market. They are being overhauled before delivery to the PLA Air Force. Rosoboronexport is still sourcing the other three aircraft, which could come from non-Russian fleets.
The U.S. Navy released a draft request for proposals (RFP) for the long-delayed VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program on November 23. The draft RFP revives an acquisition program that was cancelled more than three years ago. The formal RFP is expected to follow early next year.