Airbus Helicopters’ retired X3 compound helicopter demonstrator entered the Air and Space museum at Paris Le Bourget Airport today. The airframe had reached its life limit, as it was previously a prototype AS365 Dauphin used for high-speed evaluations before it was fitted with two side-mounted propellers and a modified tail in 2010 to become the X3. The X3 set an unofficial speed record of 255 knots a year ago, but no follow-on program has since been announced by Airbus Helicopters.
The F-35B V/STOL version of the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter will not perform vertical landings during its international debut in the UK next month. The maneuver cannot be performed without risk of damage to runway surfaces, unless they have been constructed with high-temperature-resistant concrete. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed last week that three specially built vertical landing pads will be provided at RAF Marham, the planned UK base for the F-35B, at a cost of more than $12 million.
Sikorsky Aircraft vice president of research and engineering Mark Miller confirmed that the Stratford, Conn.-based helicopter manufacturer plans to develop a civilian version of the S-97 Raider, which is a contender for the U.S. Army’s armed aerial scout program. The S-97, he said, is a production-ready, “scaled-up version of the X2 demonstrator,” with both helicopters having contrarotating rotor blades and a pusher propeller that enables high-speed forward flight. A civil variant of the S-97 would be “ideal” for offshore oil, search and rescue and VIP transport, according to Miller.
BAE Systems has been awarded a contract extension that will see it continue to support the RAF’s Tornado GR.Mk 4 fleet until the type’s planned retirement in 2019. BAE has been supporting the aircraft through the ATTAC (availability transformation: Tornado aircraft contract) program since 2006, but the initial 10-year period was due to expire in 2016. The new extension adds three years and approximately £125 million ($210 million) to the deal.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II will make its first appearance outside the U.S. this summer, flying at both the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and the Farnborough International airshow in England in mid-July, the UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) announced. The decision followed discussions between U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his UK counterpart, Philip Hammond.
F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin will retrofit early production lots of F-35Bs delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps with modified bulkheads to address cracking issues that came to light during durability testing of ground articles last fall. It will build redesigned bulkheads into the fighter beginning with low-rate production lot (LRIP) 9, said Rear Adm. Randy Mahr, deputy program manager with the Pentagon’s F-35 joint program office (JPO).
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.
Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has now awarded prime contracts to all four participating companies to begin Phase 1 development for the agency’s VTOL X-Plane program. Boeing and Karem Aircraft received contracts this week, to join Aurora Flight Sciences and Sikorsky. While all four have submitted proposals for unmanned vehicles, the technology that is to be developed has equal application to manned VTOL aircraft.
The U.S. Air Force’s 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Arizona is set to formally unveil its first Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter on March 21, following delivery of the aircraft earlier in the week.
Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works advanced development unit is building an unmanned vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) air vehicle under a U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program to demonstrate a cargo UAV capable of carrying interchangeable mission payloads.