Airbus Defence and Space may be a new brand, but the former defense and space businesses of EADS face a familiar problem: how to remain profitable when European defense budgets are in decline and export competition is intensifying. The combining of Airbus Military, Astrium and Cassidian took effect at the executive level on January 1. Three weeks earlier, a reduction of 5,800 jobs at the new combined division over the next three years was announced.
Iraq has signed a contract with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to buy 24 T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainers. According to KAI, the deal at the outset is worth $1.1 billion, including initial pilot training, but will almost double in value with the addition of support over 20 years. Iraq also evaluated the Aero Vodochody L-159, BAE Hawk Mk 128 and Yakovlev Yak-130, according to KAI.
Boeing and Saab signed a joint development agreement for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X jet trainer requirement. They join three other industry teams offering aircraft for the T-X competition, which is expected to begin with a request for proposals (RFP) in 2016.
Flight trials of the BAE Systems Taranis UCAS technology demonstrator have started at the Woomera test range in South Australia. But neither the company nor its customer, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has made any announcement. The news emerged from a policy document on military UAS that the MoD submitted to the defense committee of the UK parliament.
BAE Systems Regional Aircraft is proposing an air-to-air refueling (A2R) version of the BAE146/Avro RJ regional jet airliner. The business previously proposed and engineered a firefighting tanker version, 12 of which are now in service. It also proposed a military convertible version, which has been introduced by the UK Royal Air Force. These aircraft were all conversion of used passenger aircraft, which are readily available at $2 to $5 million each from airlines and leasing companies, including Falco Regional Aircraft, which bought the large BAE portfolio of 146s and RJs a few years ago.
A briefing on the Eurofighter Typhoon organized by BAE Systems at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford last week provided a further indication that some key upgrades to the combat jet are being funded by Saudi Arabia and possibly Oman. The four original partner nations have proved reluctant to collectively fund in the near term enhancements that extend the aircraft’s air-to-ground capability, such as integration of the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile. The four partners have also so far failed to approve full development of the Captor-E AESA radar by the Euroradar consortium.
BAE Systems has won a contract to provide the spoiler control electronics for the new Boeing 737 Max, the UK-based company announced Tuesday. The deal boosts BAE’s comparatively small but resurgent civil business at a time of sagging defense spending.
BAE Systems expects that the U.S. and Korean governments will sign a letter of offer and acceptance later this year authorizing the foreign military sale (FMS) of BAE’s F-16 avionics and weapons upgrade to the Republic of Korea Air Force. The company provided an update on the Korean program and a sales pitch for further F-16 upgrades during a Paris Air Show briefing on Tuesday.
Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe revealed this week that the company is exploring the idea of an Optional Manned Gripen (OMG). While believing that manned operations will still be needed for at least the next 40 years, Buskhe also recognizes that many “dull and dangerous” missions could be performed better by an unmanned aircraft. Using an OMG for such roles rather than acquiring another type of aircraft would, in essence, halve the logistics costs. OMGs could perhaps operate in a formation under the control of piloted aircraft.
Poland is looking for a new advanced trainer that can replace its current Iskra jets from around 2015, to complement PZL Orlik primary/basic trainers. Eight new aircraft are being sought in a tender for an integrated aircrew training system for the country’s air force. With Czech company Aero Vodochody having dropped out, three companies have recently responded, in the form of Alenia Aermacchi (M346), Lockheed Martin (KAI T-50) and BAE Systems (Hawk AJT).