The $10 billion-plus contract to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to India will be completed by the end of the year. That was the confident prediction of Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation president and director-general, at an eve-of-show press conference. Since India selected the French combat jet in January 2012, negotiations have dragged on, with thorny issues of local partnerships, offsets and liabilities unresolved.
At an eve-of-show press conference, Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation president and director-general, predicted that the $10 billion-plus contract to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to India would be completed by the end of the year. And he confirmed that the option for a further 63 aircraft was under active discussion.
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.
Boeing will seek two separate certifications from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its new KC-46A tanker, the commercial 767 derivative it is developing for the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The manufacturer will first apply for an amended type certificate from the FAA for a 767-2C “provisioned freighter” without the aerial refueling components and military avionics planned for the tanker. It will then seek a supplemental type certificate (STC) for a fully equipped KC-46A.
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.
Major fighter manufacturers displayed their wares this week at the 2013 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition in Malaysia in anticipation of that country’s pending requirement for new fighters. Five aircraft considered contenders for the program–the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab JAS-39 Gripen, Dassault Rafale, Boeing F/A-18F and Sukhoi Su-30MKM–participated in the aerial display.
Faced with growing costs in the Lockheed Martin F-35 program, Denmark is reviewing its options for a new fighter and has invited Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet), Eurofighter (Typhoon) and Saab (Gripen E) to submit information for alternatives. A decision is due in 2015. Dassault (Rafale) may have been approached, but at the time of writing appeared unlikely to respond. The company has a history of not bidding on programs that it calculates have little chance of success.
Night vision goggle (NVG) technology provider Rebtech, of Bedford Texas, announced the initial night-vision compatible conversion of an AS350B3 owned and operated by rotor training provider HeliStream. Rebtech (Booth No. N4724) provided both the supplemental type certified equipment and integration support for the conversion. Rebtech also modified the aircraft’s external lighting. The NVG-compatible lighting inside and outside the helicopter will allow HeliStream to provide specialized NVG training for both initial pilot transition and recurrent training.
Defense contractors flocked to Bangalore for the Aero India show this week, even as the Indian government confirmed that the years of plenty might be over. Defense minister A.K. Anthony confirmed that his spending would be cut in the fiscal year that starts in April, although not on “operational preparedness.”