Remotely controlled helicopters could be delivering cargo to U.S. Marines in Afghanistan by this time next year. The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NASC) gave the go-ahead for urgent development of competing proposals from Boeing/Frontier Systems (using the A160T Hummingbird) and Lockheed Martin (based on the Kaman K-Max).
Responding to public complaints from Pentagon officials about the cost and progress of the Global Hawk program, Northrop Grumman has provided a robust defense.
Oman is set to buy a further 18 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 50/52 aircraft in a package worth $3.5 billion. The U.S. Congress was notified of the potential sale earlier this month. The package also includes conformal fuel tanks, 18 Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pods and four Goodrich DB-110 reconnaissance pods.
Northrop Grumman rolled out the X-47B UCAS-D (unmanned combat air system-demonstrator) in December 2008 and since then has been busy preparing the first of two vehicles for its maiden flight, expected shortly. Low- and high-speed trials have been completed at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California, where the second X-47B is in final assembly.
Boeing will reveal more details here today about the NewGen Tanker, its entry for the third round of the U.S. Air Force KC-X competition. In the war of words accompanying the long-running and ill-starred contest, Boeing has not previously specified exactly how it will add a digital 787-style cockpit and a new fly-by-wire boom to the 767 airframe. Rival contender EADS North America (EADS NA) has again bid the A330MRTT, as the KC-45.
Following a successful series of trials in a U.S. Air Force F-16 that began late last year, Northrop Grumman’s SABR (scalable agile beam radar) has been refined to the point where the company says it is ready for production. Since receiving limited export clearance in February, Northrop Grumman has been actively marketing the radar upgrade to a number of F-16 users, and it hopes the U.S. Air Force will move ahead with an F-16 radar upgrade.
Fifteen years after the concept was first mooted, NATO may finally acquire an alliance ground surveillance system (AGS). Northrop Grumman last month submitted a firm baseline proposal plus options on behalf of a transatlantic consortium that also includes EADS, Selex Galileo and a variety of smaller European companies.
Last week bidders handed in their latest proposals for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-X program, which seeks 179 new tanker/transports to replace the aging KC-135 fleet. The deadline had been extended to allow EADS North America to prepare a new proposal following the withdrawal of Northrop Grumman, with whom EADS had been partnered until March.
Earlier this week at the Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition, Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter announced the joint development of a new high-capacity unmanned helicopter. Known as Fire-X, the machine is initially aimed at a U.S. Navy requirement for a medium-range unmanned air system that is expected to be announced next year. It has applications in several roles, including ISR and battlefield supply duties.