Although the F-35 is in much better shape now than it was a year ago, “we’re not declaring victory yet–it’s still a development program,” said Lockheed Martin v-p of F-35 program integration Steve O’Bryan at the Paris Air Show. But O’Bryan noted that the top U.S. government procurement official had recently expressed cautious optimism and declared that there are no technical showstoppers.
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.
On display in the Thales pavilion, the AESA (active electronically scanned array) version of the RBE2 radar will soon become the first of its kind to go operational in Europe. The first French air force Rafale squadron to convert to the new fighter will receive four AESA-equipped aircraft in October. The first production radar was delivered last October and is completing operational testing at Mont de Marsan airbase.
The $10 billion-plus contract to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to India will be completed by the end of the year. That was the confident prediction of Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation president and director-general, at an eve-of-show press conference. Since India selected the French combat jet in January 2012, negotiations have dragged on, with thorny issues of local partnerships, offsets and liabilities unresolved.
At an eve-of-show press conference, Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation president and director-general, predicted that the $10 billion-plus contract to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to India would be completed by the end of the year. And he confirmed that the option for a further 63 aircraft was under active discussion.
Russian aviation is presenting one of its most vivid and memorable displays at this year’s Paris Air Show. Three military aircraft, the Su-35 multirole fighter, the Yak-130 combat training aircraft and the Ka-52 attack helicopter are participating in the flight displays above Le Bourget airfield. Aircraft and equipment represented 37 percent of deliveries by Russia’s Rosoboronexport export agency in 2012.
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.
For the Dassault Rafale combat jet, the French intervention in Mali provided another chance to demonstrate its multirole capability. Starting with a 3,400-mile interdiction mission (AI) launched from France on the night of January 13, up to six aircraft subsequently flew daily from their deployed base at N’Djamena, Chad, also performing reconnaissance and close-air-support (CAS) missions. Six of them are still there.
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.