Since the late 1980s China has aggressively pursued a policy of modernizing its defense industries, with the aim of rivaling those of the West and Russia. Now the results of that policy are reaching the front line, allowing China’s forces to transition from a Cold War inventory that was dominated by huge quantities of unsophisticated equipment to a leaner force equipped with systems that are smarter and more competitive with those fielded by the West.
Airborne early warning and control
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have teamed to offer a pod-mounted radar surveillance system that can easily be fitted to transport aircraft or medium-sized helicopters. The Vigilance system is being marketed as a viable alternative to expensive, role-dedicated airborne platforms. It also offers maritime and overland reconnaissance options, thanks to the versatility of modern AESA radar technology.
Saab Surveillance Systems is offering a new maritime mode for the Erieye AEW&C system that can detect moving objects as small as jet skis or rubber boats that might be used by terrorist groups. Mats Wicksell, technical program manager, told an AEW conference organized by Defence iQ in London that AEW systems can play an important role in maritime surveillance because of their wide-area coverage. Like other AEW systems, the Erieye radar already offers detection of larger vessels.
Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems has unveiled a self-contained sensor pod that can be fitted easily to helicopters and airlifters to convert them for a variety of airborne surveillance missions. At the core of the package, which Lockheed Martin has named Vigilance, is an adaptation of Northrop Grumman’s fighter-size APG-80/81 AESA radar series.
UAE’s Air Force and Air Defense (AFAD) has a long-standing interest in acquiring an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) capability.
Military aircraft requirements in the Middle East and Asia worth billions of dollars remain unresolved, and will be a major talking point at next week’s Dubai Air Show. Most of the major aerospace companies will have a presence at the show, although the venue is unlikely to provide confirmation of any major order.
The first publicly observed flight of the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter in January and the more recent emergence of the ex-Soviet Varyag aircraft carrier demonstrate China’s progress toward becoming a modern military power by 2020. But China’s ability to project force outside the region remains limited in the near term, the U.S.
Boeing delivered the first of four modified 737-700IGW airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft to South Korea, the second nation after Australia to receive the airborne radar platform. The first E-737 ordered under South Korea’s Peace Eye program arrived August 1 at Gimhae air force base, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing the Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
A week after U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates praised Denmark and Norway for punching above their weight in the Libyan operations, both countries indicated they would scale back their contribution of F-16 fighters. They “have provided 12 percent of allied strike aircraft yet have struck about one-third of the targets” said Gates, praising them for the effective use of their limited resources.
Saab is offering a version of its 2000 MPA (maritime patrol aircraft) to the Indian navy to answer that service’s medium-range, maritime reconnaissance (MRMR) requirement.