The U.S. Air Force contested an audit report by the Pentagon’s inspector general which found that the service has not justified its plan to buy 401 General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft by 2019. The audit report is based on outdated information, responded the Air Force, which said that it plans to buy 55 fewer Reapers.
Royal Air Force
British air-to-air refueling service provider AirTanker has provided, on time, all nine Voyagers (Airbus A330MRTTs) that make up the “core” fleet providing service to the UK Royal Air Force (RAF). They have replaced the RAF’s aging VC10 and TriStar tankers. One of them is now engaged on the type’s first “no-notice” operation—the refueling of RAF Tornados flying strike missions over Iraq.
The deployment of four UK Royal Air Force Tornadoes to perform overwatch of Iraq, and an unconfirmed report last week that more might be deployed for surveillance of northern Nigeria, serves to illustrate the ongoing value of the aging but effective “Tonka.” Although the RAF fleet is scheduled to be retired in 2019 in favor of the F-35, upgrades continue, with another one announced recently. Meanwhile, the German air force intends to keep its Tornado fleet until at least 2025, with its own upgrades.
Germany-based aeromedical and air rescue helicopter operator DRF Luftrettung took delivery of the first Airbus Helicopters EC 145T2 today during a ceremony at the aircraft manufacturer’s production facility in Donauwörth, Germany. DRF has a firm order for 20 EC 145T2s, which will gradually replace its BK 117 and Bell 412 fleets over the coming years. Two DRF pilots will soon ferry the new helicopter to the operator’s maintenance facility at Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport, where the EC 145T2 will be outfitted with medical equipment.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued long-promised guidance adopting the position of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) regarding when an on-airport repair station is responsible for large aircraft on its property under the new aircraft repair station security regulation.
Britain’s new aircraft carrier is now afloat, but the total forecast cost of £6.1 billion ($10.4 billion) still threatens to sink other defense projects in the UK. To this cost must be added the forecast near-£2.5 billion ($4.28 billion) being contributed by the UK to development and initial test and evaluation of the F-35s that will fly from her decks, plus perhaps another £5 billion ($8.56 billion) for their production. However, the Royal Navy and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are taking their cue from H.M.
With four maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) in the static park at this week’s Farnborough Air Show, and much talk about British requirements in the chalets, it might seem that the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is about to take action to rectify its most glaring “capability gap.” But British defence procurement minister Philip Dunne told journalists at the show on Wednesday that no decision to reconstitute the capability will be taken until after next year’s strategic defense review.
The contract to begin full integration of the MBDA Storm Shadow long-range precision attack missile with the Eurofighter Typhoon is expected to be signed today. Philip Dunne, UK Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, announced the signing while speaking at Farnborough yesterday.
The contract is between Eurofighter and NETMA, the four-nation Eurofighter management agency, and is worth €150 million ($205 million).
Monday’s announcement by Prime Minister David Cameron that the RAF’s Raytheon Sentinel R1 fleet will be extended in service until at least 2018 has breathed new life into the program, and sparked real interest in further development.
One of the key features that could be added is a greater maritime capability. While the RAF is quick to stress that a maritime-capable Sentinel is not a maritime patroller, it could be used as a gap-filler in certain scenarios, and has considerable applications in littoral operations, such as amphibious landings or humanitarian missions.
In response to increased scrutiny of armed UAV operations by human rights groups, British legislators and the United Nations, the British Ministry of Defence (UK MoD) has stepped up efforts to reassure the public. Late last year, it allowed media (including AIN) access to the Royal Air Force Reaper ground control station (GCS) at RAF Waddington for the first time. New documents describing UK operational procedures, including targeting, have been released. The UK is one of only three countries to have fired weapons from UAVs in combat, the others being Israel and the U.S.
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