Two semi-official reports have criticized support arrangements for the UK Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon fleet. The UK National Audit Office (NAO) said that the four-nation collaborative contracts were complicated, and had resulted in “shortages of spares and long timescales for equipment repair.” The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) referred to “a very complex supply chain that stretches all over Europe.”
NATO-led air operations over Libya have failed to prevent a stalemate in the civil war there, although humanitarian aid flights and shipments have been protected. Air strikes on the heavy weapons of the Gaddafi regime have continued, but NATO commanders admitted the difficulty of identifying and attacking regime forces that move in light vehicles and trucks.
Speaking at Dassault’s annual press conference yesterday, CEO Charles Edelstenne clarified that BAE Systems would be the prime contractor for a joint medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft program under the recently announced memorandum of understanding between the two companies. The MoU follows last November’s Anglo-French inter-governmental agreement.
MBDA is stepping up efforts to consolidate Europe’s missile industry, on the back of last November’s Anglo-French Defence Declaration. This pact nominated the company–already a four-nation European industrial combine owned by BAE Systems (37.5 percent), EADS (37.5 percent) and Finmeccanica (25 percent)–as “a test case” for further integration, according to CEO Antoine Bouvier.
A decision in the long-running Indian medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition could come as early as September, according to Air Chief Marshall Pradeep Naik, an Indian air force commander. Naik told the press at the Aero India show in Bangalore that the price bids would soon be unsealed so that contract negotiations for the 120-aircraft order could start.
Cessna Citation 560XL, Birmingham, Ala., Dec. 13, 2010–The twinjet experienced rudder binding while landing at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport at the conclusion of a Part 135 flight from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. The Excel landed safely with no injuries to the passenger and two pilots. A post-flight examination of the tail cone revealed ice around the rudder control cables and pulleys.
The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) made two defense procurement decisions, but deferred the long-pending choice of a new combat aircraft. It bought an unspecified number of Hermes 450 UAV systems from the Brazilian subsidiary of Elbit Systems. The Israeli company noted that it has now sold UAVs to more than 20 countries and that the Hermes 450 has logged more than 200,000 operational flight hours.
Following months of speculation, fueled by tidbits gleaned during the Zhuhai airshow in November, the first images of China’s newest combat aircraft were revealed in the week before Christmas. Believed to be designated the J-20, the aircraft is under development by Chengdu (611 Design Institute) and Shenyang, with the former leading the effort having effectively won a design competition in 2008.
In November, Saab received the expected follow-on order for six more Gripen fighters for Thailand. Under a government-to-government deal finalized in 2008, Thailand already ordered two Gripen Cs and four Gripen D two-seaters as part of an air defense package that includes a Saab 340 Erieye radar platform. At the time, Thailand signaled its intentions to double its Gripen order with funding outlined in the subsequent five-year cycle.
India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) selected the General Electric F414 turbofan engine to power the second batch of indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA), also known as the Tejas. GE’s bid was lower than that of rival contender Eurojet for supply of the EJ200, the DRDO said. The American company previously supplied 41 F404 engines to power the development and initial production LCA Mk Is.