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.
No offense intended to its participants, but aviation progress by the 1980s had become rather mundane by comparison with the incessant leaps and bounds of previous decades. Maybe it was a matter of butting up against the realities of aviation’s maturity, or maybe it was simply a product of the funk enveloping the west at the start of the 1980s.
It’s fitting that the first museum to which Raytheon Aircraft is donating a Beech Starship–the Kansas Aviation Museum–is located in Wichita, the city where the composite twin-turboprop pusher was conceived, designed and built. In June Raytheon Aircraft disclosed to AIN (July, page 1) that it planned to destroy all 50 Starships produced because continued support is cost prohibitive.
Sino Swearingen plans to resume flight testing the SJ30-2 early this month with the second conforming prototype (S/N 3), followed within the next 90 days by S/N 4. Flight testing came to an abrupt and tragic halt on April 26 when the only conforming prototype (S/N 2) crashed during flutter tests, killing pilot Carroll Beeler.
The Beech Starship fleet is being destroyed at the behest of manufacturer Raytheon, which owns 40 of the 50 production airplanes built between 1988 and 1995.
The backlog of orders for Sukhoi’s Superjet 100 regional airliner passed into three figures yesterday when Russia’s AviaLeasing signed a heads of agreement for 24 of the 95-seat model and options for 16 more. Here at Farnborough today, Sukhoi is expected to announce a breakthrough order from a Western operator.
L-3 Communications announced here at Farnborough a number of significant contracts. From the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory comes a $34 million indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for L-3 Wescam’s MX series of 15-inch and 20-inch EO/IR sensor turrets. Deliveries begin immediately and are intended for use in the airborne reconnaissance low and persistent threat detection system (PTDS) programs.
Piaggio Aero Industries is developing a special version of the P.180 Avanti for the Italian air force intended for navaid flight inspections. Private firm Norwegian Special Mission will supply its Unifis 3000 inspection terminals for the reconfigured airplanes, due to enter service in 2010. Italy’s Aeronautica Militaire 14th Stormo is providing four Avantis from its fleet for upgrades with the flight inspection gear.
Last week Saab received two orders from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration for equipment to upgrade the Swedish air force’s fleet of Gripen fighters. The first, worth around $54 million, covers the provision of electronic warfare systems, scheduled for delivery this year or next. The second, worth approximately $42 million, provides weapons pylons compatible with GPS-guided weapons. Deliveries are scheduled for 2009 to 2011.