Nine heavy hitters from the Lockheed Martin F-35 program fronted Tuesday’s media briefing here at Farnborough. But even three senior Pentagon officials, one Air Force general and five industry chiefs could not conjure the actual hardware–although the good news at the show yesterday was that the F-35 was given clearance to fly with “a restricted flight envelope.” The four F-35Bs slated to fly to the UK were have been grounded at NAS Patuxent River after a June 23 engine fire at Eglin AFB in Florida.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 may yet show up here, but the odds were still against it yesterday, as AIN went to press. A senior Pentagon official said Thursday that all F-35 engines had been inspected and no faults found. But the organization responsible for the four F-35B STOVL versions that are supposed to make the transatlantic trip did not lift the grounding.
Time is running out for the Lockheed Martin F-35 to make its international debut. The fleet remains grounded after the engine fire on June 23. “We’re working day and night to provide evidence to the airworthiness authorities, but we haven’t learned enough yet,” said Lt Gen Chris Bogdan, head of the F-35 Joint Program Office.
The tri-national Medium Extended Air Defense System (Meads) remains in limbo, with the $3.4 billion nine-year development program scheduled to conclude this year and no production order in sight from the U.S., Germany or Italy. But at a briefing last week during the ILA Berlin airshow, program officials said that Meads meets Poland’s stated air and missile defense (AMD) requirement. The Meads International industrial consortium, which currently comprises Lockheed Martin and MBDA’s German and Italian companies, is offering to make Poland an equal partner.
For the second time in less than a month, a major Internet-related company has acquired a firm developing a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which could serve as a node to provide Internet connectivity from the stratosphere.
South Korea’s arms procurement agency chose the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter for the re-competed F-X III fighter competition, announcing plans on March 24 to negotiate a foreign military sale (FMS) for 40 jets, 20 fewer than originally sought. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) also approved the acquisition of RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 UAVs, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The Indian government last week stalled completion of several major military equipment deals until at least the end of the current financial year on March 31. “We have no money,” said defense minister A. K. Antony at the Defexpo show in New Dehli on Thursday.
The defense industries of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are looking to expand their export market share beyond their traditional customer base–and for the first time are challenging some of the world-leading U.S., European and Russian firms.
In an unexpected move, the Republic of Korea Navy is pursuing a U.S. offer to supply 20 Lockheed Martin S-3A Viking twinjets for maritime surveillance. The service told legislators in Seoul that this is a lower-cost option for expanding this capability compared to acquiring refurbished P-3C Orions from the same manufacturer to add to the current fleet of 16, or new aircraft such as the Airbus Military C295, Boeing P-8 Poseidon, or Lockheed Martin SC-130J Hercules.
Singapore’s intention to upgrade its fleet of about 60 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters was indicated by a recent notification to Congress by the Pentagon. But no choice has yet been made between rival upgrade systems integrators BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin. According to the notification, the upgrade will cost Singapore an estimated $2.43 billion, although this total also includes three new weapons.
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