The first Airbus A330 future strategic tanker aircraft (FSTA) for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) made its first flight after conversion on September 13. Three days later, the British legislature published a report that heavily criticized the $16 billion-plus procurement of the RAF’s new tankers via a private finance initiative (PFI).
Earlier this month Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) began flight trials of the single Boeing 767-200ER it has converted to multi-mission tanker transport (MMTT) configuration for the Columbian air force (Fuerza Aérea Colombiana). During the initial 3.5-hour post-conversion flight, the MMTT successfully cleared the full flight envelope, and subsequently engaged in refueling trials with an IAI Kfir C10 fighter.
Last week, Vince Cable, the business secretary in the new British government, heavily criticized the supply of 14 A330MRTTs to the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a private finance initiative (PFI). He told The Sunday Times that the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) is “a massively expensive and unnecessary commitment.”
In the U.S. Air Force KC-X competition size matters, but not much else, according to a Boeing briefing here. The company refused to discuss how its NewGen Tanker could be “combat ready” when substantial development work must be done. Citing competitive reasons, Boeing gave no technical details on the new cockpit, the new refueling boom, or even which version of the 767 it was based on.
Boeing will reveal more details here today about the NewGen Tanker, its entry for the third round of the U.S. Air Force KC-X competition. In the war of words accompanying the long-running and ill-starred contest, Boeing has not previously specified exactly how it will add a digital 787-style cockpit and a new fly-by-wire boom to the 767 airframe. Rival contender EADS North America (EADS NA) has again bid the A330MRTT, as the KC-45.
The Moroccan government’s military transport wing has taken delivery of the first of four C-27J Spartans that it ordered from Alenia Aeronautica in October 2008. The aircraft, which arrived at Kenitra air base on July 7, is equipped with the self-protection suite but does not feature an in-flight refuelling probe.
Lockheed Martin on May 27 announced the award of a $245 million contract covering the supply through Foreign Military Sales of three KC-130J Hercules tankers for the Kuwait Air Force (KAF). The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in late 2013, with final delivery early in 2014. Congress was notified in July 2009 of a potential sale of up to eight C-130Js to Kuwait. The sale is being managed through the Navy program office.
Some in the business aviation industry leave behind their families and jobs to serve in active war zones. In the continuing AIN series intended to recognize those in our community who defend the way of life we continue to enjoy back home, senior editor David A. Lombardo spoke with Jet Works paint shop manager Chris Nath about his service in the Air Force Reserve. This is Chris’s story.
Last month the U.S. Navy completed Phase One testing of a U.S. Marine Corps HC-130J Hercules outfitted with the Harvest Hawk system, which gives the tanker/transports weapons capability. Following initial tests at Patuxent River, Maryland, the HC-130J departed for further tests at China Lake in California, in preparation for an initial deployment to Afghanistan in the summer.
On April 19 Lockheed Martin rolled out from its Marietta, Georgia, facility the first of a new batch of special-mission Hercules for the U.S. Air Force. The company has a contract for 21 HC/MC-130Js, but this number is expected to rise to 31 (11 HCs and 20 MCs). They will replace ageing first-generation aircraft currently serving in Special Operations Squadrons.