After a year-long delay, the Airbus Military A330MRTT has gained its “release to service” as a tanker in the UK, allowing the Royal Air Force (RAF) to start operational refueling. The service had been obliged to extend the service life of its aging VC10 and TriStar tankers in the meantime. The recent deployment of RAF Eurofighter Typhoons to Malaysia relied on Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767s to refuel the aircraft en route.
Following Israeli requests for advanced defense equipment, the U.S. has agreed “an unprecedented release of capabilities,” according to a senior Pentagon official. Israel will receive Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotors; KC-135 tankers; AESA radar retrofits for its F-15 and F-16 fighters; and anti-radiation missiles. The new approvals were made public during U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s visit to Israel and other countries in the Middle East this week.
The Obama administration has proposed a $526.6 billion defense budget for Fiscal Year 2014 that continues funding for developmental priorities, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the KC-46A tanker and a future long-range bomber. The President’s base defense budget does not include funding for overseas contingency operations in Afghanistan and does not reflect budget cuts mandated by sequestration.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has selected the A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) for its tanker procurement in preference to the Ilyushin Il-78MK, after a second round of bidding. Commercial negotiations for six aircraft with an option for three more will start soon, and a contract that includes a 30-percent offset commitment is expected to be signed by June.
Technical issues continue to affect the Airbus Military A330MRTT Multi-Role Tanker-Transport program, delaying full operational capability with four air forces that are due to receive a total of 28 aircraft ordered to date. A second refueling boom separated from an A330MRTT during a test flight in Spain in September.
The Pentagon notified the U.S. Congress on November 9 of a proposed foreign military sale (FMS) of 25 Lockheed Martin C-130Js and KC-130Js to Saudi Arabia, a transaction valued at $6.7 billion. The sale to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) would be the largest FMS in the history of the C-130J program, according to Lockheed Martin.
The ILA Berlin airshow, held this week on a new site at Schonefeld Airport, remains largely a regional event driven by German industry and government requirements. News of the merger talks between EADS and BAE Systems broke halfway through the event, although not by design, a senior EADS official told AIN. But there was other important defense news announced or discussed at the show.
The Omega Air KDC-10 tanker is here to remind visitors that a contract air refueling service is readily available. It brought the two Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets across the Atlantic to Farnborough last week; the U.S. Navy is Omega’s prime customer, buying about 85 percent of the Irish company’s tanking output, which was nearly 1,600 hours last year with the KDC-10 and three KC-707s.
The drive to find international customers for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor continues, prompting four U.S. Marine Corps MV-22s to make a transatlantic trip to fly displays and demonstrations here at Farnborough and at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford last weekend. Aircraft for export could easily be slotted into the expected second American multi-year buy, Col. Greg Masiello, joint V-22 program manager, U.S.
Airbus Military has taken orders for 28 A330 MRTT (multi-role tanker-transport) aircraft, and by the end of this year 13 are due to be in service. The program has encountered a number of teething troubles, but the company reports that they are being solved as the aircraft expands the envelope of its operational experience.