Saab has been steadily building its airborne ISR portfolio and hopes to secure its first deal in the maritime surveillance/patrol market in the near future. Saab has two offerings in this sector: the Saab 340 MSA (maritime surveillance aircraft), for which the company has produced a demonstrator that was on show at Farnborough; and the larger and more capable Swordfish. Saab has been keeping the UK aware of its developments in this field, although any formal requirement for a UK maritime patrol aircraft is not expected until after a strategic defense review next year.
Airborne early warning and control
Simulator specialist CAE has just signed a contract with the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control program management organization to perform a major upgrade to the flight crew simulators that are used to train crews from the 16-nation joint force that flies the Boeing E-3A Awacs. This upgrade is being performed in parallel with a new flight deck upgrade for the 17-aircraft operational fleet.
With four maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) in the static park at this week’s Farnborough Air Show, and much talk about British requirements in the chalets, it might seem that the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is about to take action to rectify its most glaring “capability gap.” But British defence procurement minister Philip Dunne told journalists at the show on Wednesday that no decision to reconstitute the capability will be taken until after next year’s strategic defense review.
Although India already operates two types of airborne early warning aircraft, the air force is pressing ahead with a program to procure a third platform with extended range, longer endurance and higher operational altitude performance.
Qatar has announced a raft of orders for new equipment worth around $23 billion, covering vehicles, vessels and aircraft, plus associated systems and weaponry. The announcements were made on March 27, which was the last day of the Dimdex show in Qatar’s capital Doha.
Australia’s Defence Materiel Organization awarded Boeing Defense Australia a five-year contract extension valued at AUD $901 million ($819 million) to maintain Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) E-7A Wedgetail airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. Nearly half, or AUD $443 million, of the money will be spent in Australia, Defense Minister David Johnston said.
On Monday the North Atlantic Council announced that it will begin operating airborne early-warning flights in response to the situation in Ukraine, where pro-Russian forces are largely in control of Crimea. NATO will fly Boeing E-3 Awacs airborne early-warning aircraft in the airspace of member states Poland and Romania, which both border Ukraine. The flights are intended to “enhance the alliance’s situational awareness” of events in Ukraine.
Boeing sees its new maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) based on the Bombardier Challenger 605 business jet as potentially a starter platform for countries eyeing the higher-end P-8 Poseidon the company is supplying to the U.S. and Indian navies.
Just outside Phoenix, Arizona, Lockheed Martin’s Goodyear facility is a key provider of ISR capabilities. The facility was first developed by Goodyear Aerospace, a subsidiary of the tire company that had developed farms in the area to provide cotton for the belts in its tires. The company built Corsair fighters in World War II, and airships.
British plans for a new AEW helicopter system were in focus at the Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI) show in London this week. Lockheed Martin UK (LMUK) and Thales will compete for the requirement named Crows Nest, to provide a replacement for Royal Navy’s current Sea King Mk7 airborne surveillance and control (ASaC) helicopters, and be deployable on the UK’s two forthcoming aircraft carriers.
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