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.
Italian turboprop manufacturer Piaggio Aero, which recently announced its entry into the Brazilian market, plans to bring its business to Russia as well. The company is seeking Russian certification for its popular P.180 Avanti II twin-engine turboprop, which it expects to begin delivering in the country by April or May of next year.
Airlift manufacturers were prominent at last month’s African Aerospace and Defence show in Cape Town, highlighting the need of the South African Air Force (SAAF) to renew its air transport fleet.
Earlier this month Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) began flight trials of the single Boeing 767-200ER it has converted to multi-mission tanker transport (MMTT) configuration for the Columbian air force (Fuerza Aérea Colombiana). During the initial 3.5-hour post-conversion flight, the MMTT successfully cleared the full flight envelope, and subsequently engaged in refueling trials with an IAI Kfir C10 fighter.
Reports from Washington suggest that a new arms package being assembled for Saudi Arabia could reach record proportions, as much as $60 billion. Another 80-plus F-15 fighters could be offered, along with about 70 UH-60 Black Hawk and up to 60 AH-64 Apache helicopters.
During the Farnborough airshow in late July, the Brazilian air force announced its intention to acquire 28 Embraer KC-390 twinjet tanker/transports. First flight is expected in 2014, with service entry planned before the end of 2015.
Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Aerospace is aiming to be not only a tier-one supplier of large composite structures to Airbus or Boeing, but also a business jet manufacturer. Yesterday at the Farnborough airshow, Mubadala Aerospace executive director Homaid Al Shemmari told AIN in an exclusive interview that the company intends to build a “business jet-sized aircraft” for entry into service in 2018.