The Gripen team occupies the high ground at the Farnborough show this year in a new prime-site chalet and with the Swedish fighter flying a daily solo routine. Meanwhile, seven Swedish Air Force Gripen fighters flew to Alaska this past weekend to participate in their first “Red Flag” exercise. In practical terms, that deployment will demonstrate more about the Gripen’s capability and prospects than the marketing effort going on here.
Farnborough Air Show » July 17, 2006
Boeing adopted the mantle of systems integrator in a big way with the 787, calling on a group of international partners to produce complete subassemblies for an aircraft that it will assemble in days. It also took the bold step of opting for a composite primary structure throughout, with advantages including lower maintenance costs, increased airframe life and significantly reduced weight.
Failure of a large Boeing 787 composites fuselage-barrel test section is not expected to delay the new jetliner’s initial services with Japan’s All Nippon Airways in just under two years’ time. Boeing is relying on successful production of composite structures, which constitutes a significantly larger part of the new design–including the entire fuselage–than any of its previous jetliners.
Low observability The reduced radar cross-section of the F-35 allows it to evade most enemy air defenses, both airborne and ground-based. Program officials note that stealth features on the aircraft have been traded against cost, so it is not as stealthy from all aspects as, for instance, the F/A-22 Raptor.
Wholly owned Boeing subsidiary Alteon Training has confirmed that it plans to place Boeing 787 training suites in Australia, India and Singapore, increasing to seven the number of its Dreamliner training locations. The U.S. firm previously confirmed Tokyo, Seattle, London-Gatwick and China.
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, Resistoflex Aerospace employs 84 people and reported sales of $16 million last year. The company, which invented PTFE extruded hose, also produces tubes and swaged fittings, including hydraulic beam seal fittings for aircraft and engine applications, and Nutlok, a separable fluid connector requiring no lockwire.
Responding to the rapid growth in demand for training in the area of unmanned aerial systems, Qinetiq’s Empire Test Pilots’ School, located at the UK Ministry of Defence MOD Boscombe Down site, late last month completed its first “Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems Trials and Evaluation” short course. Fourteen delegates from the UK armed forces and civilian personnel from Qinetiq attended.
The key technologies being investigated in the current UCAV programs are advanced flight control for tail-less, blended-wing-body configurations; autonomous operation using reconfigurable software; open architecture avionics; secure datalinks; low-cost composite construction; and low observability (for example, stealth).
Having led the way with unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) concept demonstrations, the U.S. Air Force seems to be having second thoughts. Meanwhile, Europe is playing catch-up, but with three entirely separate UCAV demonstrators: the pan-European Neuron, the BAE Raven and the EADS Barracuda. Good technical progress is apparent, but debates about requirements, operational utility and cost are ongoing.
By the end of this month, Airbus France will deliver the first forward fuselage section for the A400M military transport. Almost simultaneously, Airbus Military (Hall 4 Stand A13) is set to complete construction of its final assembly line in Seville, Spain. Final assembly of the first A400M should start during the first quarter of next year.
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