Industry awaits India’s upcoming fighter comps | GA announce industry partners for MQ-25, Navy pushes IOC to 2023 | Is the NH90 too much trouble?Feb 15, 2018 05:00 UTC
- The US Navy has pushed initial operational capability (IOC) of the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial tanker into 2026, rather than the rapid acquisition initially planned for 2020. Service officials told a Fiscal Year 2019 budget briefing on Monday that they plan to spend $719 million on research and development for the MQ-25A and now anticipates purchasing the first four aircraft in 2023. Meanwhile, Boeing has been listed by General Atomics Aeronautical System (GA-ASI) as part of its industry team of suppliers entering the Stingray program. The announcement comes after Boeing’s Phantom Works unit revealed before Christmas, its own fully assembled MQ-25 ground test vehicle at its St Louis facility, and the firm maintained that acting as both a prime bidder and a member of the General Atomics team “is good for our customer and reflects our focus on doing what’s necessary to compete, win and grow.” Other suppliers listed by GA-ASI include: Pratt & Whitney for its engines; UTC to design and build the landing gear; L3 Technologies for communications; BAE Systems for software capabilities, mission planning, and cybersecurity; Rockwell Collins for advanced navigation technologies, a new generation of the TruNet ARC-210 networked communications airborne radio and a comprehensive simulation framework; and GKN Aerospace’s Fokker for landing gear technologies.
- Bell Helicopter’s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor demonstrator has been flown by a US Army pilot for the first time. The February 7 flight was conducted by Chief Warrant Officer 3, Tom Wiggins, of the US Army Special Operations Aviation Command, at the Bell Flight Test Facility in Amarillo, Tex. During the flight, Wiggins performed Hover In Ground Effect repositioning, pattern flight and roll-on landings. The aircraft is being funded under the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMRTD) program and is led by the service’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC). AMRDEC personnel have been fully involved in the demonstrator effort including integration of experimental test pilots and flight test engineers into the mixed flight test team, and Army pilots will take part in additional flights throughout the test program. The JMRTD is a precursor to the Department of Defense Future Vertical Lift program.
Middle East & Africa
- Raytheon received Monday, February 12, a $23.2 million US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) contract modification for software development and engineering support services for the Army/Navy Transportable Radar (AN/TPY-2) system operated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Work on the foreign military sale (FMS) will take place at Woburn, Mass., with a scheduled completion date of November 2019. This new modification increases the cumulative face value of the award from more than $717.6 million to $740.9 million, the Pentagon said. The AN/TYP-2 is the main radar used on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system but also cues the AN/MPQ-53 radar of the Patriot system—both of which are deployed by the UAE.
- High operating costs may cause the Swedish military to ground nine of its NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) fleet used for ground operations. Speaking on the issue, Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said the procurement had a long history and background of broken expectations, and that life-cycle and operating costs should have been investigated and controlled prior to this. A report by Swedish broadcaster Ekot reported that Defense Force Helicopter 14 costed an average 200,000 kroner (almost $25,000) per hour—by comparison, the US DoD costs UH-60 Black Hawks at about $4,500 per flight hour. Hultqvist added that the helicopter’s high costs will be investigated further before a final decision on whether the nine NH90s will have their flight hours cut or grounded completely. First ordered in 2001 Sweden’s Defense Helicopter Wing operates 18 NH90 TTHs, alongside 16 UH-60Ms, and 20 AW109s (eight of which designated for sea roles).
- Thales Group announced Tuesday that both the Spanish and German armed forces have selected the French firm to provide rockets for their respective Tiger helicopter fleets. The deals will see Germany acquire 10,000 70mm/2.75″ training rockets to further the training of its UH Tiger units, while Spain will receive 1,000 rockets for defensive use by its Tiger HAD-E fleet. Spain operates the latest 70mm NATO standard rocket onboard its Tiger HAD-Es, which come fitted with four light weight composite rocket pods, two of 19 tubes (FZ225) combined with two of 7 tubes (FZ233), able to carry a mixed loading of practice and high explosive warhead. Spain’s Tigers are currently deployed to Mali, where they are serving on an ongoing UN-peacekeeping mission.
- China has put its new generation J-20 stealth fighter into service, the air force announced last Friday. The J-20 will further raise the air force’s combat abilities and help the air force better carry out its “sacred mission” to defend the country’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, the air force said, adding that the fighters had been commissioned into combat units. First put on display at 2016’s Zhuhai airshow, Beijing has been characteristically secretive on the warplane’s development and questions remain on whether the aircraft can match the radar-evading properties of its closest lookalike Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, or the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
- Boeing will upgrade the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft under a $60.9 million US Air Force contract announced by the Pentagon Monday. The agreement will see Boeing provide mission computing upgrade installation and checkout of four Japanese E-767 aircraft and associated ground systems. Work will take place in Oklahoma City, Okla., San Antonio, Texas, and Seattle, Wash., and is scheduled to wrap up by December 2022. Japan’s E-767 fleet uses Boeing’s E-3 Sentry surveillance radar and air control system installed on a Boeing 767-200.
- Executives from Boeing and Saab claim that upcoming elections in India—to take place in May 2019—is likely to push decisions on new fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy into late next year. Both firms are currently vying for a contract to supply the navy with 57 carrier-borne aircraft with the F/A-18 Super Hornet and a marine variant concept of the JAS-39 Gripen, however, no formal request for proposal (RFP) has yet been issued with an service official saying work was in progress and he expected an RFP would be issued in the months ahead detailing specific requirements. Dassault’s Rafale M fighter and Russian Aircraft Corporation’s MiG-29K are also believed to have responded to New Delhi’s request for information (RFI). The IAF requirement for 100 conventional fighter, which is at a less advanced stage than the naval fighters and is still waiting to release a RFI, has attracted Saab’s Gripen E and Lockheed Martin Corp with its F-16. As a sweetener to Prime Minister Modi’s “Make in India” initiative, Saab has partnered with Adani to build Gripens in India if it wins either or both of the fighter jet contests, while Lockheed has selected Tata Advanced Systems as its local production partner for the F-16.
- Bell V-280 Valor first Army test: