Japan’s defense budget for Fiscal Year 2008 includes only Y7 billion ($66 million) for the Mitsubishi ATD-X Shin-shin (Spirit) new-technology fighter demonstrator. The amount is considerably less than the Y49.9 billion ($462 million) requested by the organization overseeing the program, the Technical Research and Development Institute.
It’s a stealthy, mass-produced warplane for 12 air arms in 10 countries, including Singapore. Can the F-35 Lightning II really fulfill its promise, at an affordable price? With crucial negotiations on production prices and quantities now under way, here’s how Lockheed Martin and partners are putting together the Joint Strike Fighter.
The Pentagon’s aging aircraft concerns won’t go away. About 60 percent of the U.S. Air Force’s 440 F-15A/B/C/D interceptors have been cleared to resume flying after inspections for structural fatigue of the forward fuselage longerons. But cracks have been found in some airplanes, and the remaining 40 percent of the fleet could need repairs.
EADS Defense and Security Division confirmed that three European governments have provided funds for a risk-reduction study of the company’s concept for a modular, jet-powered reconnaissance UAV. EADS Germany previously designed, built and flew a UCAV demonstrator called the Barracuda mainly using its own funds, but this unmanned airplane crashed last year during an early test flight.
Lockheed Martin is demonstrating the versatility of the U.S. Navy’s Seahawk helicopter, for which the company installs and integrates the avionics equipment, as well as the sensor systems. On delivery of the airframe from Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin undertakes the extensive equipment installation that over the years has been progressively updated.
The first Lockheed Martin (LM) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has now been grounded for more than six months. But program officials hope to get the world’s largest combat aircraft program airborne again by the end of this month. “We have a very aggressive flight test schedule to get everything done by October 2012,” Bill Coutts, LM’s F-35 site director, told AIN at Fort Worth recently.
Russia’s defense industry seems determined to make up for ground it has lost to Western rivals in the market for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The most tangible evidence to date came in August at the MAKS airshow in Moscow where RSK-MiG launched its stealth Skat unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV).
BAE Systems (Stand W412) has started building the airframe for the Taranis, a $254 million unmanned combat aerial vehicle demonstrator aimed at helping the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) determine its armed forces’ future equipment needs.
The first Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) has now been grounded for nearly six months. On its 19th flight in early May, the aircraft encountered an electrical arcing problem in the flight control unit of the right horizontal tail. The F-35 has a unique electro-hydrostatic actuation system.
The Sukhoi-led Russian Regional Jet (RRJ) program awaits approval to take off in July this year, but much depends on Boeing, as the U.S. aerospace giant contemplates its role in the project, so far restricted to sharing expertise in marketing and aircraft design with its Russian partners. Boeing plans to make a decision this summer.