After a long-running procurement saga, the Royal Thai Air Force has selected the Saab Gripen to replace its elderly Northrop F-5 fighter fleet. The deal also covers the supply of airborne early warning aircraft to bolster the nation’s air defenses.
JAS 39 Gripen
The Pakistan air force is due to begin receiving new-build F-16s from Lockheed Martin beginning in 2009. The 18 aircraft on order–plus a major upgrade package for the nation’s existing aircraft and further options–will dramatically enhance the service’s capabilities and will bring to a close a controversial 20-year procurement saga.
The long-awaited competition to supply 126 new fighters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) is formally under way. The six contenders for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) requirement have received a formal request for proposals (RFP), and must respond by next March. The Boeing F/A-18E/F, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, RSK MiG-35 and Saab Gripen will be evaluated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Czech government has pledged $13.5 million over three years to a consortium of 16 companies to build and market a nine- to 14-seat twin turboprop dubbed the EV-55. Organized by the Czech Aviation Manufacturers’ Association and led by Kunovice-based Evektor, the program would awaken a virtually inactive Czech civil aerospace industry and help regain some of the status it enjoyed during the peak of Let 410 and Zlin glider production.
The U.S. Navy has selected the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics system for its fleet of 55 T-44A trainers in a major upgrade program anticipated to last four years. Under terms of the deal, Arinc will serve as the purchasing and installation agency for the program and L-3 Communications the prime contractor. The T-44A is the military version of the Beech King Air twin turboprop.