The amount of foreign off-the-shelf defense products China purchases is falling, overall, but its cooperation with foreign countries–mainly Russia–shows a growing trend toward acquiring licenses and technologies for production and joint development projects. The Chinese are especially interested in new materials, composites, software and high technology for aircraft or engines. They also are developing product support infrastructure.
Pentagon sources confirmed to AIN that Lockheed Martin has been ordered to stop work on the development of a second block of AW-101-variant helicopters scheduled to join the U.S. presidential fleet in 2015, while the Department of Defense reassesses the program and perhaps seeks alternatives that could include the Sikorsky S-92. When the President is aboard, these helicopters are designated “Marine One.”
The UK took a step toward airborne network-centric warfare this month when it confirmed that the Tactical Information Exchange Capability (TIEC) would be added to Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 and Harrier GR9 combat aircraft. General Dynamics UK is the key provider of TIEC, which allows ground troops to transmit the coordinates of targets that they have identified into the cockpits of RAF Harrier GR9 and Tornado GR4 aircraft.
Libya plans to buy 14 Dassault Rafale fighters as part of an arms package agreed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy and Libyan leader Muammar Ghadaffi during a state visit to Paris this month. The package, which is worth $5.8 billion, also includes 35 Eurocopter helicopters and the return-to-service and upgrade of Libya’s Mirage F1 fighter fleet.
Columbia Helicopters will send a second Boeing Vertol 234 Chinook to Papua New Guinea, to work on heli-rig contracts with local exploration company Oil Search.
Both aircraft will be used to lift components of oil and gas drilling rigs and ancillary equipment above areas of dense jungle to remote drilling locations that are inaccessible by road.
U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighters are flying again, following a grounding after the November 2 loss of an F-15C interceptor version in the U.S. That crash followed an apparent midair break-up and nixed U.S. plans to fly an F-15E in the Dubai Air Show. The older F-15C fleet remains grounded. USAF officials said that the incident underscored their desire to boost the F-22 Raptor fleet beyond the 190 that Congress has approved.
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.
Airbus Military will receive the first four flight test engines for the delayed A400M medium-lift transport by the end of the year, ending speculation that the TP400 engine program has run into serious difficulties.
The UK Royal Air Force Red Arrows make a return appearance to the Dubai Air Show. Flying nine Hawks, the team is a crowd pleaser wherever it performs. Joining the Reds are the Patrouille de France flying Alphajets and Patrulla Aguila of Spain in CASA 101s. See videos of all the flying displays on AINtv.com.
Four European engine exhibitors at Dubai–Rolls-Royce, Safran, MTU and ITP–are fighting to recover an engine program that has run into serious problems during testing, forcing major delays to the Airbus Military A400M transport currently being campaigned as the answer to medium uplift requirements in the UAE and other Gulf states.