Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe revealed this week that the company is exploring the idea of an Optional Manned Gripen (OMG). While believing that manned operations will still be needed for at least the next 40 years, Buskhe also recognizes that many “dull and dangerous” missions could be performed better by an unmanned aircraft. Using an OMG for such roles rather than acquiring another type of aircraft would, in essence, halve the logistics costs. OMGs could perhaps operate in a formation under the control of piloted aircraft.
U.S. government procurement officials issued a “much improved” school report card on the management of the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter program. Speaking to reporters after the annual conference of customer chief executives in Fort Worth, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s under-secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, said there was “a remarkable change of tone” at the meeting compared with the one he attended a year ago. Lt. Gen.
Eurocopter announced today that its X3 compound helicopter demonstrator flew at 255 knots in level flight on Friday near Istres in southeast France. Also part of the unofficial speed record was a descent at 263 knots. These speeds are just a few knots higher than those the Sikorsky X2 semi-compound demonstrator attained in 2010.
Responding to a requirement of the Fiscal Year 2013 defense authorization act, U.S. military services declared their planned initial operational capability (IOC) dates for the three variants of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) on May 31. The legislation required the services to establish IOC dates by June 1.
The U.S. Marine Corps has extended the retirement date of its AV-8B Harrier IIs in increments until 2030, and most of the fleet will remain active through 2027, according to Boeing, which supports the 1980s-generation strike aircraft.
The international defense industry fair (IDEF 13) held in Istanbul, Turkey, from May 7 to 10 saw the Turkish industry announce a number of developments. The most notable was the revelation of three potential concepts for the TF-X national combat aircraft program, a stealthy aircraft that is ultimately expected to replace the F-16.
The Obama administration has proposed a $526.6 billion defense budget for Fiscal Year 2014 that continues funding for developmental priorities, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the KC-46A tanker and a future long-range bomber. The President’s base defense budget does not include funding for overseas contingency operations in Afghanistan and does not reflect budget cuts mandated by sequestration.
Operational testing and evaluation of the F-35A has begun, with the delivery of four aircraft to Nellis AFB. They were accepted by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center in a ceremony on March 19. Eight more F-35As will join them by 2019. The Air Force has now received 24 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing aircraft. Another 34 F-35s have been delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy.
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is soliciting proposals from industry for a vertical takeoff and landing experimental aircraft (VTOL X-plane) that would demonstrate “radical” improvements over the current state of VTOL flight. In late February, Darpa issued a broad agency announcement seeking proposals by May 1.
The U.S. military cleared the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to return to flight on Thursday, ending a week-long cautionary grounding that was ordered after an engine inspection revealed a cracked turbine blade on an F-35A test aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.