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.
EADS has decided to bid the A330MRTT for the U.S. Air Force KC-X requirement again, this time without a major North American partner. Ralph Crosby, chairman of EADS North America, said that the Pentagon had recognized EADS North America as a qualified prime contractor. Leaving Boeing as the sole-source bidder “harms the U.S. taxpayer,” Crosby added.
UVflightplanner.com, Universal Weather and Aviation’s flight planning system for business aviation, now has integrated fuel tankering calculations, which the company claims is an industry first. The new system, which goes live this week, allows operators to quickly decide when and how they should fill tanks with fuel during a trip.
The UK’s Secretary of Defense, Bob Ainsworth, confirmed on March 22 that the Royal Air Force would receive three Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft to provide its signals intelligence (Sigint) gathering capability, the final agreement having been reached on March 19. The announcement brought to an end any lingering speculation concerning the immediate future of RAF Sigint.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is proposing aerial tanker versions of business jets such as the Gulfstream G550. At the Singapore Airshow earlier this month, a company official told AIN that its small and smart tactical tanker (SSTT) is still only a proposal, aimed at reducing the costs of aerial refueling training.
As was true of much of the industry, Israel Aerospace Industries saw a fairly steep dip in sales during 2009, largely due to a marked softening in demand on the civil side of its business. Published financial results for the first three quarters of 2009 showed sales slipping by about 25 percent on 2008 and there were few signs that the fourth quarter numbers will have reversed this trend.
Ten weeks after the deadline for comments on the draft RFP for the latest attempt to procure a new KC-X aerial refueling tanker, the Pentagon has still not released the final document. It now says to expect this by the end of the month, and that some changes have been made. Northrop Grumman said it would not bid unless the final RFP was changed to give credit for the greater capacity of the A330MRTT (aka KC-45).
According to Airbus Military officials, the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) has won all the recent competitions for a large aerial tanker because of its superior airframe, coupled to a unique, high-technology refueling system. “We’re very proud of our in-house boom,” said Peter Scoffham, vice president for defense capability marketing.
Eurocontrol is warning helicopter operators, especially offshore oil operators, of a potential threat posed by “skysails,” giant kites that help propel some large ships such as oil tankers and container carriers. On September 15 a helicopter was descending over the southern North Sea to a nearby oil or gas platform when the crew saw such a skysail. It was flying ahead of a vessel, at around 1,000 feet, just below the clouds.