Air combat and the aircraft, weapons and equipment pilots use to pursue air superiority are changing rapidly. Accordingly, the methods and tools armed forces use to train pilots need to keep pace with the technology and a step ahead of enemies. The recent Farnborough Airshow showcased various components of the holistic approach making this happen, from training schools through simulation to making in-combat training more realistic.
The world-famous biennial event returned in July to showcase the best of UK and international aerospace and defence. While this year’s military aerial displays were limited, the hectares of exhibition space were crammed with aircraft and the systems that support them. We report on the latest military aircraft, innovations, stories and contracts to come out of Farnborough 2018.
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has launched a five-year, £50m space innovation programme. Two of the key programmes it will fund will help declutter Earth’s orbits and improve satellite communication. Berenice Baker looks at these in more detail and takes a visual tour of the history of British space innovation from the space race to the near future.
Inspired by the promise of vastly increased flight durations, the Russian and American militaries experimented with nuclear powered aircraft for two decades, but the concept never progressed beyond a handful of trials. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works claims to have the solution in its grasp, unveiling plans for a compact nuclear fusion generator that could power everything from aircraft to naval vessels within ten years.
Argentina has launched a bid to acquire 24 Saab Gripen E fighter jets off the back of a deal with Brazil. Some commentators were quick to label the proposal a threat to British interests in the Falkland Islands, but given Argentina’s greatly depleted and outdated Air Force fleet, are they right?
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In the modern military landscape, being a nuclear weapons technician involves a lot of ‘hurry up and wait’, although when potential nuclear threats raise their heads requiring intense drills and levels of alertness, missileers – yes, that’s a word – are put under extreme duress. US Air Force officials have decided to raise morale through a new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal.
Since the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in July, there have been international calls for commercial airliners to be fitted with military-style missile defence equipment as standard to avoid a similar catastrophe happening again. Could existing technology have prevented such an incident, and what other procedural and legislative measures could keep passengers and aircrew safe?
Utility helicopters perform a vital role in modern warfare delivering troops and supplies to otherwise inaccessible areas, but they are often minimally armed so have to fly with an armed escort. Israeli company Duke Airborne Systems presented its solution to this predicament at this year’s Eurosatory event; a first-of-its-kind fully-robotic Remote Weapon Station for helicopters.
Unmanned aerial systems are commonplace for many air forces around the world, but the technology can often be expensive and bespoke systems can take years to build. Now aerospace manufacturers are looking at ways they can bring down the costs of these aircraft by equipping tried-and-tested legacy systems like the F-16 and Black Hawk with optionally manned capabilities.
Latest In Defence reports from Farnborough International Airshow, where the F-35 was due to make its international debut but failed to make a showing. We have an update on the UK’s A400M programme; the Boeing P-8 Poseidon makes its debut; and there are new developments for the Eurofighter Typhoon programme.