The deployment of four UK Royal Air Force Tornadoes to perform overwatch of Iraq, and an unconfirmed report last week that more might be deployed for surveillance of northern Nigeria, serves to illustrate the ongoing value of the aging but effective “Tonka.” Although the RAF fleet is scheduled to be retired in 2019 in favor of the F-35, upgrades continue, with another one announced recently. Meanwhile, the German air force intends to keep its Tornado fleet until at least 2025, with its own upgrades.
LITENING targeting pod
Nearly three years after the U.S. military withdrew from Iraq, Navy F/A-18 Hornets and Air Force F-15s, F-16s and unmanned MQ-1 Predators returned to the sky over the country this past week to stem the advance of Islamic extremists and support humanitarian airdrops.
Israeli defense group Rafael believes it will be more responsive to the markets it serves following the reorganization that took effect at the beginning of this year. The company is now split into three divisions: air superiority, land and naval systems, and air and C4ISR.
Rafael’s exhibit here at the Singapore Airshow (Booth N51) reflects the outcome of the Israeli defense group’s recently completed reorganization that, according to chairman Brig. General (Retd.) Itzchak Gat, will better enable it to meet its goals for further developing its product portfolio.
Saudi Arabia and Great Britain have still not agreed to terms for a resumption of Eurofighter Typhoon deliveries. Twenty-four aircraft are operational in the Middle East kingdom, out of the total 72 agreed in the Al-Salam deal. Construction of numbers 25 upward began in 2009, but instead of proceeding to the final assembly line, the subassemblies were placed in storage at BAE’s Warton factory. When they were eventually moved into final assembly last year, it seemed that an agreement was close.
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) approved full-rate production of the Sniper advanced targeting pod under its ATP-Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE) program, manufacturer Lockheed Martin announced on January 16. In November, the service approved full-rate production of Northrop Grumman’s Litening pod under the same program.
Boosted by a visit from British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday, yesterday Eurofighter described an upgrade path for the Typhoon that finally appears to be on a firm footing.
Having selected the Gripen E/F to fulfill its F-5 replacement requirement, the Swiss air force is calmly confident that the acquisition makes it through the political process unscathed. Lt. Gen. Markus Gygax, the air force chief of staff, spoke to AIN last month about his service’s plans for the machine.
Rafael is promoting a new version of the very successful Litening pod here at Paris, after celebrating the 1,000th sale of this targeting and navigation system. It has also developed a multi-sensor ground station from one that it previously built to handle imagery from the Rafael Reccelite reconnaissance pod.
Two semi-official reports have criticized support arrangements for the UK Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon fleet. The UK National Audit Office (NAO) said that the four-nation collaborative contracts were complicated, and had resulted in “shortages of spares and long timescales for equipment repair.” The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) referred to “a very complex supply chain that stretches all over Europe.”
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