Dr. David Byers, developer of the Synthetic Air Traffic Advisory System (Satas), which uses off-the-shelf technology to create a virtual control tower, demonstrated the system at last week’s Sun ’n’ Fun show in Lakeland, Fla. Satas combines a SharpEye radar unit, developed by DeTect of Panama City, Fla., for marine applications, with the airfield radar system from SRI of Rockledge, Fla., which makes ground security radars. Together, the systems identify and track aircraft flying in the area, all without the need for any transponders on board the aircraft.
Now 10 days after the transponder from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 stopped transmitting over the South China Sea, the search for the missing Boeing 777 has expanded to involve 25 countries and cover an area spanning a million square miles. The expansion of the search came in reaction to evidence that the airplane’s satcom system continued to transmit for several hours after Malaysian military radar lost contact with the airplane some 200 miles northwest of the island of Panang off the Western coast of the Malay peninsula.
Large flocks of birds around many Indian airports continue to threaten aircraft that are constantly under threat of strikes particularly during takeoff and landing. Data compiled by Airports Authority of India for Chennai International Airport, for example, shows bird strikes increased from 38 in 2012 to 50 in 2013.
Ushering in a new era of capability for the UAE’s growing defense business is the Al Tariq glide-bomb kit family produced by Tawazun Dynamics. The joint venture between Tawazun (51 percent) and South Africa’s Denel Dynamics (49 percent) was announced in September 2012 at the AAD show in Pretoria. Based on Denel’s Umbani weapon, Al Tariq is a modular family of bomb kits that turn regular freefall bombs into stand-off precision-guided weapons.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) last week notified Congress of another massive sale to Gulf countries by American companies. Saudi Arabia is buying air-launched weapons worth $6.8 billion for its new F-15SA Strike Eagles; the UAE is buying air-launched weapons worth $4 billion for its F-16s. The main U.S. contractors to benefit are Boeing (providing SLAM-ER and Harpoon missiles and small-diameter bombs) and Raytheon (providing JSOW missiles and Paveway “smart” bombs).
Here at Le Bourget, Rafael is launching the latest member of its Spice (smart, precise impact, cost-effective) family of precision-guided glide bombs, the Spice 250. The company’s Spice 1000 and 2000 have now been in service for some time with several customers, and they are combat-proven. These Spice variants comprise guidance and wing kits that are applied to standard Mk 83 1,000-pound and Mk 84 2,000-pound warheads, the wings giving them a range of around 60 km for the Spice 2000 and 100 km for the Spice 2000.
Based in Mooresville, North Carolina, Iomax USA (Chalet A132) has chosen the Paris Air Show to launch its ArchAngel border-patrol aircraft. The ArchAngel has a wide variety of sensor and weapon options available and offers customers a low-cost but highly effective platform for a range of ISR and light attack missions. ArchAngel is in many ways an evolution from the Air Tractor AT-802U armed agricultural aircraft that was previously displayed at Le Bourget. However, much has changed since then.
For the Dassault Rafale combat jet, the French intervention in Mali provided another chance to demonstrate its multirole capability. Starting with a 3,400-mile interdiction mission (AI) launched from France on the night of January 13, up to six aircraft subsequently flew daily from their deployed base at N’Djamena, Chad, also performing reconnaissance and close-air-support (CAS) missions. Six of them are still there.
The laser-guided version of the Sagem AASM (armament air-sol modulaire) air-launched “smart” weapon was qualified last month by the French air armaments agency (DGA) at the Cazaux flight-test center, and will soon enter service in France with operational squadrons of Rafale combat aircraft. It is intended primarily for use against mobile targets. Meanwhile, the French air force has revealed details of recent attack missions over Mali when up to 12 INS/GPS-guided versions of the AASM were salvo-fired within one minute against preplanned targets, to achieve maximum surprise.
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) approved full-rate production of the Sniper advanced targeting pod under its ATP-Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE) program, manufacturer Lockheed Martin announced on January 16. In November, the service approved full-rate production of Northrop Grumman’s Litening pod under the same program.