The first seven Eurofighter Typhoons for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) are now in final assembly at the Warton, UK facility of BAE Systems. The company will say only that the first flight is planned for “later this year.” The date of the first delivery to the Kingdom is known to be June 2009. The first 24 of the 72 Typhoons that are being supplied to Saudi Arabia are being assembled at Warton.
BAE Systems, in conjunction with Cranfield Aerospace and Cranfield University, executed an entire flight without human intervention in a BAE Systems Jetstream 31 turboprop. The event was the first “unmanned” flight with a flight crew onboard. “To comply with current aviation regulations, the Jetstream is a ‘surrogate UAV,’ meaning that it always has aircrew on board,” said Nick Colosimo, program manager with BAE Systems.
“Contractorization” may be an ugly word, but for Lockheed Martin and Britain’s VT Group, it is pretty good business. Their joint venture, called Ascent, last month won a £635 million ($1.25 billion) contract to provide the military flying training system (MFTS) for UK armed forces over the next 25 years. During that time, a further £6 billion ($11.8 billion) could be spent on training aircraft, simulators, equipment and services.
Aerospace, which employs 12,000 people in the UK and is worth an annual £20 billion ($39.8 billion) to the country’s gross domestic product, “will remain central to the British economy and our future as a high-tech manufacturing nation.”
A BAE Systems Regional Aircraft regional jet is flying over Asia to improve understanding of how equatorial rain forests influence climate change. The BAe 146 atmospheric research aircraft (146ARA) is being used at Kota Kinabalu in a four-week operation supporting academic research into the way emissions from vegetation effect concentrations of ozone and methane.
Last week Marshall Specialist Vehicles delivered a second ground control station shelter to BAE Systems Integrated Systems Technologies (Insyte) for use with the Herti unmanned air system. Marshall SV’s 14-foot shelter is sized for air deployment by the short-fuselage Hercules version, which can also transport the air vehicle.
BAE Systems unveils the Mantis UAV at its outdoor exhibition site today. The Mantis, shown in full-scale model form, is armed with GBU-12 laser-guided bombs and Brimstone missiles on its six weapon pylons. The twin-prop, T-tailed vehicle is equipped with a multi-sensor turret and radar under the fuselage, and a satcom antenna in the upper nose section. It employs a triplex flight control system.
In a continuing expansion of its presence in aerospace, UK firm ENL (Hall 4 Stand E14) has opened an injection molding center in Slovakia with the support of BAE Systems. The company supplies precision injection molded and machined components to Airbus, Thales, BAE Systems and Raytheon, and soon plans to begin manufacturing composite parts.
Last week Saab received two orders from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration for equipment to upgrade the Swedish air force’s fleet of Gripen fighters. The first, worth around $54 million, covers the provision of electronic warfare systems, scheduled for delivery this year or next. The second, worth approximately $42 million, provides weapons pylons compatible with GPS-guided weapons. Deliveries are scheduled for 2009 to 2011.
Under an agreement reached in late January, BAE Systems will not have to build the 12 Avro RJX quad-jets ordered by Exeter, UK-based British European. BAE Systems canceled the ill-fated Avro RJX program on November 27 due to weak market demand and strong pricing pressures. But the company faced the prospect of fulfilling its obligation to build the dozen airplanes over a five-year period if British European insisted.