The Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI) in London this week was supported by more than 1,500 exhibitors, with 30,000 visitors from around the world expected, according to organizer Clarion Events. DSEI’s main focus has traditionally been on land, naval and security equipment. But a number of exhibitors this year featured air systems, and the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) ran a series of seminars in which senior officers outlined the service’s capabilities and future plans.
Royal Air Force
On behalf of the seven European nations buying the Airbus Military A400M, the French government defense procurement agency (French acronym DGA) announced that the new airlifter had achieved military certification.
Airbus Military believes that teething problems with its multi-role tanker/transport (MRTT) business are now behind it, and that it’s set to grow over the coming year. With the A330 MRTT the company has the only new-generation tanker/transport flying, and hopes to secure new customers while continuing to deliver aircraft to its existing four operators, who will have received 17 aircraft by the end of 2013.
Beechcraft has a long history of providing special-mission platforms for military intelligence and security programs, reaching back to the late 1950s. Today this business remains highly important to the company, based largely on the King Air family that has become a popular choice of platforms for special-mission duties. Now the company is broadening its portfolio by offering the smaller and cheaper Baron G58 as an ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) platform, and has already delivered the first example to a customer.
British Helicopter Association CEO Peter Norton has urged UK authorities to abandon plans for new restrictions on rotorcraft operations over urban areas following the January 16 accident in which an AgustaWestland A109 Power crashed in central London. The crash prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron to order a review of helicopter operating rules, and an Air Accidents Investigation Branch inquiry is in progress.
The U.S. Marine Corps has extended the retirement date of its AV-8B Harrier IIs in increments until 2030, and most of the fleet will remain active through 2027, according to Boeing, which supports the 1980s-generation strike aircraft.
After a year-long delay, the Airbus Military A330MRTT has gained its “release to service” as a tanker in the UK, allowing the Royal Air Force (RAF) to start operational refueling. The service had been obliged to extend the service life of its aging VC10 and TriStar tankers in the meantime. The recent deployment of RAF Eurofighter Typhoons to Malaysia relied on Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767s to refuel the aircraft en route.
Charter operator Fast Air, based in Winnipeg, Canada, did its first Halo 250 gross weight increase modification on a Beechcraft King Air 200 equipped for aeromedical transport. Fast Air also offers aircraft management, maintenance and consulting services. The Halo 250 mod adds 920 pounds of payload capacity by increasing the maximum takeoff weight to 13,420 pounds, up from 12,500.
The Halo 250 mod was developed by CenTex Aerospace of Waco, Texas, and FAA certification was granted last October after three years of effort.
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) introduced two BAE Systems 146 jet transports modified to accommodate troops and their equipment. BAE Systems Regional Aircraft designed the conversion–from a quick-change interior–under a $23 million urgent operational requirement (UOR) contract; subcontractor Hawker Beechcraft Services at Chester in the UK completed the project.
Reorganization of Great Britain’s police helicopter bases is well under way, in a campaign to provide “more efficient and accessible” air support to police forces in England and Wales. Although the number of bases is being cut, the improved efficiency of the system should eventually ensure that 98 percent of the population is within 20 minutes’ flight time of a base.