The design maybe 40 years old, but there is plenty of life left in the F-15 Eagle fighter. Boeing’s St. Louis factory is producing F-15Ks for South Korea and F-15SGs for Singapore, and current orders mean that the Eagle will be in production into 2012. Meanwhile, Boeing Defense, Space and Security (DSS) is maintaining the technology insertion program that has seen the F-15 remain a viable option in today’s tactical aircraft marketplace.
Japan’s Defense Ministry is preparing to select the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to replace its aging F-4EJ feet. The plan to about acquire 40 F-35s, estimated to cost about ¥9 billion (US$91 million) each, is likely to be included in new defense policy guidelines to be adopted this month.
The U.S. Air Force has finally acknowledged the existence of a stealthy air vehicle operating over Afghanistan, after another photo of the so-called “Beast of Kandahar” was published on the French Web site Secret Defense. Designated the RQ-170 Sentinel, the tailless flying wing was designed by the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, and is providing reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward-deployed combat forces, the USAF said.
Making its first-ever appearance in the Middle East, the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor is flying over each day from Al Dhafra airbase, Abu Dhabi, for its 14-minute display slot. Major Dave “Zeke” Skalicky is showing off America’s top-of-the-line stealth fighter with a serious of gravity-defying maneuvers.
A second copy of the Barracuda combat UAV demonstrator made four successful flights from Goose Bay, Labrador, according to EADS. The first Barracuda crashed on an early test flight in Spain in 2006. The demonstrator flew autonomously with monitoring from the ground station for safety purposes only, EADS said. The tests form part of the “Agile UAV in Network Centric Environment (NCE)” study commissioned by the German Defence Ministry.
GP Aerospace’s GP210 program manager Stéphane Brand was at the Paris Air Show in June looking for small French companies to become partners or suppliers on the GP210 program. “From there, we will try to attract French investment funds,” he explained. The program calls for an estimated $10 million to get the prototype flying. Thus far the company has secured $2 million, said Brand.
EADS hopes to persuade France, Germany and Spain to launch development of its Advanced UAV, now named Talarion, a medium/high-altitude surveillance drone. But evidence of any progress by EADS in the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) sector was entirely missing at this month’s Paris Air Show.
Another airshow, another photo opportunity with the F-35 partner nations. Lockheed Martin assembled this group of representatives from the nine countries that are part of the program here yesterday. They all received a newly minted coin mounted in a plaque.
Israel intends to order 25 Lockheed Martin F-35 fifth-generation fighters, with an option for 50 more. If it wants them quickly, as expected, the news could help some other international partners in the Joint Strike Fighter program.
Vision Systems International, a joint venture between Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins, has received a $54.1 million contract to begin production of Gen II helmet-mounted display systems for the F-35 Lightning II. Lockheed Martin awarded VSI the contract to deliver 52 displays and 30 aircraft shipsets. These HMDS components cover the requirements for Lots 1, 2 and 3 of F-35 low-rate initial production.