Paris Air Show 2015 –sun shines but not on big ticket items
While the sun made a very welcome appearance at Le Bourget for this year’s Paris Air Show, big ticket sales of military aerospace equipment did not. Sales were markedly dominated by Airbus and Boeing on the commercial side, with military sales – and even the big defence players themselves - significantly fewer and farther between that ever before.
Textron AirLand was busy touting its Scorpion twin-engine ISR/strike/trainer jet, displaying the aircraft in its armed configuration with multi-spectral sensors, cameras and a host of weapon systems - while also announcing that the Thales I-Master radar has been successfully integrated into the jet. Textron Aviation focused on the special mission capabilities of the King Air 350ER, Grand Caravan EX and Baron G58 ISR, alongside the Beechcraft AT-6 multi-role light attack aircraft. The company also announced the delivery of four T-6D military aircraft to the US Army for its Joint Primary Aircraft Training Systems (JPATS) programme.
AERO Vodochody announced that the first customer for its L-39NG jet trainer will be Lom Praha, the company responsible for training pilots of the Czech Air Force. The company's existing L-39 fleet will be upgraded to the NG standard, and the customer is also understood to be considering the new aircraft to expand or replace the existing fleet.
With the majority of its announcements falling on the commercial side, Embraer still secured sales for 11 A-29 Super Tucano light attack and advanced training turboprop aircraft - five to the Ghana Air Force and six for the Mali Air Force.
Also in on the multi-role light aircraft action was IOMAX, which displayed an armed reconnaissance variant of its Thrush S2R-T660 turboprop - dubbed Archangel - as it seeks to build on its foothold in the precision strike/reconnaissance border patrol airplane platform market. Company officials announced during the show that deliveries to the UAE customer have now commenced.
On the helicopter front, a French Army Aviation NH Industries NH90 tactical transport helicopter strutted its stuff in an impressive flight display, while Sikorsky used the show to announce the delivery of its S-92 helicopters to Bristow Helicopters for the UK's Search and Rescue service contract.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Honeywell and Rolls-Royce joint venture (JV) Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company and Turkish Aerospace Industries will see the turkish light utility helicopter powered by the CTS800 engine. An MoU was also signed between Turbomeca and Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL),forming of a JV in India for the maintenance, repair and overhaul for both companies' engines (TM333 and Shakti) installed on HAL-produced helicopters.
Airbus Helicopters entered into an agreement with Vector Aerospace and Rockwell Collins to develop and market Pro Line Fusion to upgrade Airbus Helicopters platforms, with the AS352 Mk1 among the first helicopters targeted for the upgrade.
Meanwhile Airbus Defence and Space was keen to demonstrate its confidence in the A400M following the crash in Seville on 9 May, flying the aircraft daily and announcing that deliveries will recommence following the lifting of restrictions by Spanish regulator DGAM. Elsewhere the company bagged an order from Saudi Arabia to deliver four C295W transport aircraft.
Also in the airlift corner, estimating the market demand for transport aircraft at 1,100 aircraft until 2035, Antonov showed off its new AN-178 multipurpose and An-132 light multipurpose transport aircraft with which it hopes to grab a share. The company also announced it had signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia to participate in the design and construction of a new in-country aviation plant, with AN-132 construction expected to be carried out at the site.
Boeing announced that it will deliver four C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft to the Qatar armed forces, while its P-8A surveillance aircraft made its first appearance at Le Bourget in the US DoD corral along with its CH-47F Chinook and AH-64 Apache helicopters and an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter.
Lockheed Martin had an understated presence at the event, announcing teaming agreements with Raytheon and Bombardier for the US Air Force's JSTARS Recapitalization programme and Hybrid Enterprises for the sale and marketing of its Hybrid Airship systems.
IAI attended armed with a host of new technologies, including a new family of modular ultra high frequency active electronically scanned array radars designed for early warning and long-range detection and tracking of low observable air breathing targets and ballistic missiles.
Elbit Systems unveiled a range of new capabilities, including the Air Keeper signal intelligence and electronic warfare solution for transport aircraft, the Canary helmet mounted display-integrated physiological monitoring device for military pilots and BriteNite, a multi-spectral panoramic solution for helicopter pilots flying in degraded visual environment. The company also introduced a new mini UAS, Skylark I-LEX, designed for organic over-the-hill reconnaissance, counter-insurgency and force protection missions.
Thales announced the selection of its I-Master ground moving target indication, synthetic aperture radar performance and maritime moving target indication radar for the Royal Jordanian Air Force, following the successful delivery and installation of the radar onto the force's AC-235 aircraft in 2014. Thales also brought a range of new capabilities to market, including a new generation dual civil/military air traffic control (ATC) radar called STAR NG. The company has already sold the S-Band primary surveillance radar to the UK Ministry of Defence for its Marshall ATC programme.
UAS news were scarce. CAE announced that it will develop and deliver enhancements to the Predator UAS mission trainer being developed for the Italian Air Force, while and GA-ASI declared that its certifiable Predator B has successfully completed phase 1 critical design review as part of its work to develop a Predator B certified for flight according to the NATO airworthiness standard for UAS.
LH Aviation made moves to target the Asian market with its UAS capabilities, signing a partnership with OIS-Advanced Technology (OIS-AT) that will see a manufacturing plant for the LH-D tactical UAV established in India, allowing OIS-AT to produce the LH-D under licence for the local market.
UVision unveiled a line of multi-operational beyond-line-of-sight precision loitering solutions with low noise and thermal signature and stabilised electro-optics day/night cameras designed to carry out pinpoint strikes in urban areas or remote locations with minimal collateral damage.
Sagem won an export contract for the delivery of AASM Hammer air-to-ground missiles to Egypt following the acquisition of 24 Rafale fighters from Dassault Aviation. In other areas, Sagem also secured a contract to upgrade the capabilities of the Euroflir 350 optronic system on the French Army's Cougar helicopters, as well as signing a collaboration agreement with Mexican company Seguritech for the joint development of UAV, airborne surveillance and C2 technologies for the local market. An agreement with Défense Conseil International (DCI) will see the companies collaborate on UAS and light aircraft-based surveillance systems.
DCI joined forces with Thales to meet the needs of the EW training market, with plans to combine skills and offer comprehensive solutions for customers in this area.