Lockheed Martin on May 27 announced the award of a $245 million contract covering the supply through Foreign Military Sales of three KC-130J Hercules tankers for the Kuwait Air Force (KAF). The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in late 2013, with final delivery early in 2014. Congress was notified in July 2009 of a potential sale of up to eight C-130Js to Kuwait. The sale is being managed through the Navy program office.
The U.S. Department of Defense's undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics on May 14 certified to Congress that the proposed third Super Hornet/Growler multiyear procurement (MYP) met statutory requirements, including substantial savings. With this certification in place, the contract should proceed to cover the purchase of 124 aircraft over Fiscal Year 2010 through 2013.
Brazil’s purchase of 36 new fighters has pitted the air force’s preference for the Saab Gripen, backed by a 10-month technical report, against a presidential preference for the Dassault Rafale as part of a “strategic alliance” with France. Second in the air force’s ranking was the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet. According to the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, France reduced the cost of the Rafale package from $12.2 billion to $8.2 billion.
Boeing Defence Australia is in the process of installing elements of the Project Vigilare network-centric command and control system (N3CS) at the Royal Australian Air Force base at Williamtown, and has begun to demonstrate the system’s connectivity. The installation program continues throughout this and next year.
Earlier this month, the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet completed a series of risk-reduction tests with an infrared search and track (IRST) system. A Boeing/General Electric/Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control team installed an IRST sensor in the nose of a modified 480-gallon fuel tank for the trials. The sensor was carried on the centreline station during six flights at NAS Patuxent River and four at NAWS China Lake.
Ahead of schedule and under budget, Boeing delivered the first of an expected 85 operational models of its EF-18G Growler to the U.S. Navy in early June, followed by three more during July and August. Electronic attack squadron VAQ-129 based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, received the aircraft, which are expected to enter operational evaluation in September as the fleet readiness squadron fills out to five aircraft.
Boeing test pilot Ricardo Traven is flying his usual impressive routine here in the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet. The price of this significantly upgraded warplane to the U.S. Navy has been significantly reduced in recent years, so Boeing is bullish about international prospects. Australia recently became the first export customer for the Super, and Boeing is eyeing India, Japan, Greece and Switzerland, among others.
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.
With 319 Beechcraft-built T-6 trainers delivered to date and almost 500,000 flight hours to their credit, Raytheon has concluded that the time is ripe to launch the AT-6 joint airborne weapons system derivative. Promoted as a platform for the net-centric battlefield, the AT-6 has been readied for its new mission by the addition of sensors, datalink, cockpit protection and various weapons configurations.
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