The French Air Force will sign a contract for between five and seven A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transports in 2013, with quick deliveries foreseen, according to its commander General Jean-Paul Palomeros. Budget difficulties thwarted earlier French attempts to procure a new tanker.
While the A400M program enters a new phase of turbulence, with Germany looking to slash its purchase to 40 from 53 and France looking to renegotiate a maintenance deal, the flight-test campaign is forging ahead with the aim of getting the European airlifter delivered by the end of 2012.
British, French and U.S. aircraft began the action in mid-March, in a “coalition of the willing” named Operation Odyssey Dawn that was led by U.S. Africa Command. On March 31, NATO took command. Eleven other nations sent aircraft to join the campaign.
British commanders are counting the cost of a major and successful contribution to NATO’s Operation Unified Protector. The UK and France were the biggest contributors to the campaign, after the first week when U.S. forces provided an initial boost. British aircraft and helicopters flew more than 3,000 sorties, including more than 2,100 strike missions. They successfully attacked about 640 targets with more than 1,400 precision-guided munitions.
Bell Helicopter is exploring new markets and missions for its Bell-Boeing Osprey V-22 military tiltrotor.
Rockwell Collins has provided more details of the flight deck displays, mission systems backbone and other key systems that it is providing for the new Boeing KC-46A tanker.
The company has devoted 200 engineers to the program, many of them previously involved in the commercial avionics business of Rockwell Collins, Mike Jones, senior director of tanker/transport programs, told AIN.
Recent briefings in Brussels and London on Operation Unified Protector reveal that attack helicopters provided by France and the UK are now making key contributions to NATO-led operations over Libya, which has been extended until the end of September.
Prominent U.S. defense programs are feeling pressure from more than just Congress and Pentagon cost police. Before and during the Paris Air Show, Boeing’s KC-46A tanker and Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II faced flak from the aviation press and, in the latter case, an ally’s speech.
Airbus Military has delivered two of five A330MRTTs ordered by launch customer the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). After a delay of more than two years, the first aircraft was flown from Madrid to RAAF Amberley and handed over in a formal ceremony on June 1. The second was handed over on June 22.
Since April 22 the Swedish air force Gripens have been conducting operations over Libya as part of the NATO response to UNSCR 1973. Sweden already maintained a unit of eight aircraft on a deployment alert for the Nordic Battle Group, and it was these aircraft that were sent to Sigonella in Sicily. They arrived within 23 hours of the parliamentary approval for the operation, their participation being sponsored by full NATO member Denmark.