Dassault in late December downgraded its 2008 delivery planning for Falcons, citing new FAA “constraints” and stricter enforcement of regulations. As a result, some deliveries have been postponed to the first quarter of this year. Meanwhile, Dassault has reached a “definitive agreement” with Alcatel-Lucent on the latter’s shares in avionics specialist Thales. The ?1.57 billion ($2.2 billion) deal should close next spring.
Saab reacted with vigor to a statement by the Norwegian government that the Gripen fighter was inferior to the Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF in most aspects of performance–and was also more expensive. Norway had been evaluating the Gripen NG (New Generation) as an alternative to the JSF, and Saab had high hopes of launching the NG version with the help of its Scandinavian neighbor.
China’s new J-10 combat aircraft made its public debut at the Zhuhai airshow last month. Two examples of the fourth-generation fighter named “Vigorous Dragon” were part of an expanded Chinese defense presence at the event. The JH-7 fighter-bomber, L-15 jet trainer, J-8 interceptor and H-6Y bomber-tanker were also on flying and static display.
Although India’s 126-aircraft requirement is the main prize for the world’s fighter manufacturers, major procurement decisions in Brazil and Switzerland are expected to be made long before Delhi makes its choice.
Eurofighter has offered India codevelopment of an active antenna for the Typhoon’s Captor radar, as part of its bid to secure that country’s 126-unit order for a new combat aircraft. Eurofighter CEO Aloysius Rauen said that there had been “positive discussions” with India about a plan that would share the costs of converting the mechanically scanned Captor with the four original Eurofighter partner nations.
Thales is demonstrating for the first time at an NBAA Convention its new iDeck “avionics prototyping, advanced system simulation tool.” The simulation platform lets airframers and their customers design, validate and test their future avionics suite configurations and functionality before entering full-scale development.
Elbit Systems of America’s (Booth No. 3113) Kollsman general aviation vision system (GAViS)–a head-down enhanced-vision system–is undergoing installation and certification on both the Piaggio Avanti II turboprop twin and Sikorsky S-76 helicopter. GAViS houses an infrared sensor in a single, aerodynamic line-replaceable unit, which allows for easy installation on an aircraft’s exterior.
Italy’s Piaggio Aero has introduced a third cabin choice for its six- to seven-seat Avanti II twin-turboprop, and expects to almost double production this year by ramping up its manufacturing and outfitting processes.
Four Rafale fighters from the French Air Force have completed a month-long deployment to the U.S., where they conducted a squadron exchange at Luke AFB and then took part in a Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB. According to Dassault, no shootdowns were scored against the Rafale during the 10-day exercise, and American observers were particularly impressed with the accuracy of the fighter’s Sagem AASM “smart” bombs.
Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway are all formally investigating alternatives to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to replace their F-16s.