With one carrier-borne squadron already operational, deliveries to the French air force well under way, an impressive range of weapons already qualified and significant upgrades now funded, the Rafale program comes to the 2005 Paris Air Show in very good shape. Together with partners Snecma and Thales, Dassault has produced another warplane that is the pride of all France.
Smiths Aerospace is supplying its new generation cockpit voice and data recorder (VADR) systems for the MH-47 Chinook and MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters operated by the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Regiment and the U.S. Coast Guard’s HH-60 Jayhawk and HH-65 Dolphin. Manufactured at Smiths’ facilities in Michigan, the VADR is claimed to be the most capable and reliable solid-state recorder on the market today.
Major helicopter manufacturers here in Paris are eagerly awaiting the expected release next month of a U.S. Air Force request for proposal (RFP) for a combat search-and-rescue helicopter to replace some 100 aging Sikorsky HH-60Gs. The RFP is expected to request 141 personnel recovery vehicles (PRVs) at a value of about $10 billion, with initial entry into service in 2011.
The new combat aircraft requirement in India is a hot topic in the chalets here this week, thanks to its size and–for Boeing and Lockheed Martin–the prospect that this country could become a customer for U.S. warplanes for the very first time. Meanwhile, Lockheed seems likely to clinch the sale of 24 new F-16C/D Block 52 fighters to India’s prospective adversary, Pakistan, later this year.
“Stealth does not make you invisible,” said the Russian designer sitting across the table at an out-of-the way institute in Moscow. “It makes an aircraft more survivable–but the concept that it is the only path to increasing the survivability of a military aircraft is wrong. We have taken a different approach from the U.S.”
In the era of “smart weapons” a lot can still go wrong, not the least at the interface between the combat aircraft and the missile or bomb. Here at the Paris Air Show, the EDO Corporation is displaying new “solutions” in the specialized and surprisingly complex business of weapons carriage and release.
One set of options for MiG-29 operators involves the cockpit modernization packages offered by Israel’s Elbit Systems. The modular approach allows for the integration of new sensors, systems and weapons, along with an improved man-machine interface.
Russia’s RSK MiG continues to offer new members of the MiG-29 family of multifunctional fighters, including the MiG-29K/KUB, the-29M/M2 and the -29SMT. They feature digital multichannel fly-by-wire systems, color liquid-crystal multifunction displays and hands-on throttle and stick controls.
Unless you have stood next to a Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor–and you won’t be able to at Le Bourget this week because it’s not here–it is difficult to fully comprehend what an impressive piece of engineering it is and what a struggle of wills it must have taken to bring it to this stage.
Celebrating the fifth anniversary since its formation, Rosoboronexport has successfully promoted the sale of Russian aerospace products, valued at more than $5 billion, for the last couple of years. The company manages about 90 percent of Russian defense exports and current orders totaling some $12 billion will keep the country’s factories busy into at least 2008.