The war of words between the system integrators and radar houses that are chasing the F-16 upgrade market intensified here this week. With 3,500 Fighting Falcons still flying, at least one-third of which might be upgraded, the stakes are high. Here in Singapore, BAE Systems Inc. and Raytheon are hoping that the local Ministry of Defence will entertain their rival proposals for a contract that could be worth almost $2.5 billion, and consider them above the solution offered by Lockheed Martin (LM) and Northrop Grumman (NG).
Airlines from Indonesia, Indian and Vietnam are expected to announce at least $17 billion worth of new aircraft orders at this week’s Singapore Airshow.
On the eve of the 2014 event, the Boeing sales force was working to nail down what is expected to be a contract for up to 50 of its new 737 Max models. The customer is expected to be an Indian operator, with Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Air India seen as the most likely buyers.
The U.S. Congress authorized defense spending of $625 billion in Fiscal Year 2014, but calls for an independent review of the software being developed for the Pentagon’s largest weapons program, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. A separate, two-year budget law the Congress passed reduces the more than $100 billion in automatic “sequestration” budget cuts the Pentagon faced over the next two years by about one third.
South Korea’s air force would be best served in the near term by a mix of fighters that includes an advanced version of Boeing’s F-15, according to retired U.S. Air Force general and former chief of staff Ronald Fogleman. The F-15 would provide needed combat capability to counter the threat posed by North Korea right away, whereas Lockheed Martin’s F-35 will lack full combat capability until around 2020 when its Block 3F software is installed and tested, he said.
First-time NBAA exhibitors Aviation Partners Group (APG) of Punta Gorda, Florida, and Oma Sud of Capua, Italy and Miami, are presenting here at NBAA 2013 the Oma Sud Skycar (B. No. N409). Designed and developed in Italy, the five-place, all-metal piston twin-engine Skycar is both FAA and EASA certified. Designed for missions ranging from executive transport to cargo hauling and patrol work, the aircraft is currently receiving enhancements including air-conditioning, composite three-bladed propellers, electronic ignition and tuned exhaust system.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II notched its 10,000th flight hour in September, and by the end of the month the combined Joint Strike Fighter fleet had flown 6,492 times for 10,077 hours. Illustrating the momentum that the program has built since operational production aircraft began training operations, more than half the total was amassed in the past 11 months. It had previously taken the program six years to reach the 5,000-hour milestone.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the Eurofighter Typhoon are back in play for South Korea’s F-X III fighter requirement after that country made a sudden decision to reject the last remaining contender, Boeing’s F-15SE Silent Eagle, and restart the procurement process.
Software remains the biggest risk of the F-35 program, according to U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the program executive officer. In a presentation at the Air Force Association (AFA) Air & Space Conference on September 17, Bogdan also discussed progress in fixing the Joint Strike Fighter’s helmet-mounted display systems (HMDS), and program costs.
The Netherlands confirmed its previous choice of the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II to replace the air force’s F-16s. But in a statement, the Dutch government noted that “based on current insights, the available financial room is sufficient for 37 aircraft.” A total of 85 had originally been planned.
The premier position of the UK aerospace industry on the Lockheed Martin F-35 program was highlighted by a briefing and presentation at the Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI) show in London this week. Some 500 British companies are involved in producing “15 percent of each of the 3,100 F-35s that will be built,” according to Steve O’Bryan, vice president for F-35 program integration at Lockheed Martin. The company has calculated that the program will secure 24,000 high-technology jobs in the UK through 2039.