Jul 29, 2014 16:10 UTC
Latest updates[?]: Corrosion problems; Delayed opportunity in India.
NH90: TTH & NFH
The NH90 emerged from a requirement that created a NATO helicopter development and procurement agency in 1992 and, at almost the same time, established NHIndustries (62.5% EADS Eurocopter, 32.5% AgustaWestland, and 5% Stork Fokker) to build the hardware. The NATO Frigate Helicopter was originally developed to fit between light naval helicopters like AW’s Lynx or Eurocopter’s Panther, and medium-heavy naval helicopters like the European EH101. A quick look at the NFH design showed definite possibilities as a troop transport helicopter, however, and soon the NH90 project had branched into 2 versions, with more to follow.
The nearest equivalent would be Sikorsky’s popular H-60 Seahawk/ Black Hawk family, but the NH90 includes a set of innovative features that give it some distinguishing selling points. Its combination of corrosion-proofing, lower maintenance, greater troop or load capacity, and the flexibility offered by that rear ramp have made the NH90 a popular global competitor.
As many business people discover the hard way, however, success can be almost as dangerous as failure. NH Industries has had great difficulty ramping up production fast enough to meet promised deliveries, which has left several buyers upset. Certification and acceptance have also been slow, with very few NH90s in service over a decade after the first contracts were signed. Booked orders have actually been sliding backward over the last year, and currently stand at 474 machines, on behalf of 14 nations.
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Jul 16, 2014 16:35 UTC
Latest updates[?]: New Striker-II HMD for Typhoon; Full E-SCAN radar contract expected by end 2014.
The multi-national Eurofighter Typhoon has been described as the aerodynamic apotheosis of lessons learned from the twin engine “teen series” fighters that began with the F-14 and F-15, continued with the emergence of the F/A-18 Hornet, and extended through to the most recent F/A-18 Super Hornet variants. Aerodynamically, it’s a half generation ahead of all of these examples, and planned evolutions will place the Eurofighter near or beyond parity in electronic systems and weapons.
The 1998 production agreement among its 4 member countries involved 620 aircraft, built with progressively improved capabilities over 3 contract “tranches”. By the end of Tranche 2, however, welfare state programs and debt burdens had made it difficult to afford the 236 fighters remaining in the 4-nation Eurofighter agreement. A 2009 compromise was found in the EUR 9 billion “Tranche 3A” buy, and the program has renewed its efforts to secure serious export sales. Their success will affect the platform’s production line in the near term, and its modernization plans beyond that.
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Jul 15, 2014 15:56 UTC
Latest updates[?]: EUR 150 million Anglo-French FCAS contract signed; Announcements include collaborations between Thales and Selex.
The European nEUROn project joins Britain’s Taranis UCAV, Russia’s MiG SKAT, Boeing’s X-45 Phantom Ray, and the US Navy’s X-47 UCAS-D program as unmanned aircraft projects with fighter-substitution potential.
Multinational projects are often fraught affairs, and Europe’s stealth Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) had its own close calls. In November 2005, a Forecast International report on the future UAV market saw political trouble coming for the proposed 6-nation nEUROn project, unless the partner nations could get their act together and agree. In the end, the project got rolling with committed funding of EUR 535 million and counting, and the French DGA (Délégation Générale pour l’Armement) procurement agency acting as the program executive. This FOCUS article covers the Neuron program’s 3-fold goals, envisioned platform, program structure and schedule, and ongoing contracts and developments. In the wake a Franco-British joint UCAV development memo, Britain’s Taranis project has been added to this article in a separate coverage stream.
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