All systems go! That was the message from the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter briefing at the Paris Air Show last week. The first test flights have already provided good validation of some of the aircraft’s unique features. The eight international partners are all still onboard, all having signed up for the production sustainment and flight development (PSFD) phase over last winter.
Gil Michielin, v-p and general manager of Thales Commercial Aircraft Solutions, has been appointed president of EUROCAE, the European air transport electronic systems and equipment standardization body. With 20 years’ experience in the industry, Michielin has worked on programs ranging from the Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighters to the A380 and 787 airliners.
As Saab celebrates its 70th birthday this year (and 50 years at the Paris Air Show), the company is on the verge of a major technology demonstration program of the Gripen NG that will ensure the viability of the JAS 39 Gripen fighter “well beyond 2040,” according to Gripen International managing director Johan Lehander.
For years, airshow crowds have been wowed by the superlative demonstrations of Russian fighters, but now visitors here at Le Bourget can sample the delights of flying such aircraft themselves. On the Sukhoi stand (Hall 4, Stand G15) a Su-35 flight simulator creates a realistic atmosphere not to be taken lightly by those prone to air sickness.
South Africa’s Denel Optronics has been awarded a multi-million dollar production order for optical helmet tracker systems (HTS) to equip the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter. The deal represents the latest South African investment by BAE Systems through its Defense Industrial Participation program, which arose from South Africa’s decision to modernize and right-size its air force with 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainers and 28 Gripen fighters.
MBDA, the missile manufacturer owned by BAE Systems, EADS and Finmeccanica, has appointed Antoine Bouvier as its new chief executive. He replaces Marwan Lahoud. Bouvier was most recently chief executive officer of EADS Astrium Satellites, a post he took up in 2002, and before that he held senior positions at ATR culminating in his becoming chief executive in 1998.
In the fighter aircraft business, there’s no substitute for combat experience, if you want to impress potential customers. The Dassault Rafale has now dropped bombs in anger as part of NATO’s stabilization effort in Afghanistan.
The Irkut aviation plant on Sunday delivered the first two Su-30MKM multirole fighters to Malaysia, where they will be reassembled. Four more will follow in the summer and another six by the end of the year. The 18-aircraft order will be completed next year. The first two Su-30MKMs had been formally handed over to the Malaysian air force in a ceremony in Irkutsk on May 24.
The U.S.-led Joint Strike Fighter program represents an important opportunity not only for large Italian aerospace companies, but also for medium-size firms that are playing a significant role in developing the F-35 Lightning. Among these is Milan-based Aerea, whose engineers are directly involved in the aircraft mission equipment integrated project team (IPT) at Lockheed Martin’s main facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
As the U.S. equips its fighter aircraft with active electronically scanned array (aesa) radars, Europe’s avionics industry is working hard to put similar technology into its three “Euro-canard” fighters–the Gripen, Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon. This effort was highlighted last month by the first flight of a Typhoon with an AESA radar installed.