All articles by Grant Turnbull

Grant Turnbull

Beyond the hype: the year of the Scorpion fighter jet

Since its first flight in 2013, Textron AirLand’s new Scorpion aircraft has enjoyed significant attention from industry, the media and military top brass. The small, low-budget fighter jet made its international debut in 2014 and even participated in a US military exercise. But with the jet still lacking any firm orders, can it really live up to the hype?

Video feature: British Army’s Watchkeeper finally operational in Afghanistan

The British Army’s next generation unmanned air system (UAS) – called Watchkeeper – is now fully operational in Afghanistan. The aircraft, which is not armed, will give troops on the ground greater situational awareness via advanced sensors and cameras. Importantly, it will provide force protection as British troops continue their withdrawal from Afghanistan this year.

Airbus announces defence sell offs, will others follow?

In a radical shake-up of its business portfolio, Airbus Defence and Space has announced it will sell several business units in order to concentrate on its core activities in space, military aircraft, missiles and related systems and services. Several businesses have been earmarked for divestment which will simplify the defence side of the business and allow the Airbus Group to shift focus to its more successful commercial business.

BAE Systems reveals futuristic ’human skin’ concept for aircraft

Engineers have developed a human-like skin for aircraft which can detect damage and sense the world as it flies through the sky. The smart skin is embedded with tiny sensors the size of rice grains that could be sprayed on existing aircraft like paint, making it far more accurate than current sensor technology.

Bombs away: US bomber fleet upgraded for the 21st century

Billions of dollars are being spent to upgrade and modernise the US Air Force’s ageing fleet of Cold War strategic bombers. With several technological enhancements, it is hoped the B-1B, B-2 and the venerable B-52 will remain effective platforms for another 40 years. But with adversaries building up effective air defence capabilities and a new bomber on the way, is it money well spent?

Stealth dilemma: debates heats up over F-35’s radar-evading tech

Spiralling costs and long delays are constant gripes for many critics of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme. Now, there is an added dimension to the debate as a growing number of industry experts begin to question the F-35’s stealth performance and the programme’s effect on US electronic warfare capabilities.

Russian rockets: the US Government’s RD-180 conundrum

Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin recently sent shockwaves through the US space industry when he announced that Russia would no longer supply rocket engines to the US. The engines – known as the RD-180 – are used to lift vital national security satellites into space. With only two years’ worth of rockets left, the US is scrambling to find a non-Russian alternative, but is it too late?

Fresh focus on UK defence at Farnborough 2014

At this year’s Farnborough Air Show held in Hampshire, it is UK defence, rather than commercial aerospace, which is the centre of attention. As the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review looms closer and a general election is now less than a year away, the work of the UK armed forces – and British industry in supporting defence – is being given much more exposure.

Gripen vote: how people power could ruin Saab’s $3bn Swiss deal

The Swiss Government has agreed to spend billions of dollars replacing the air force’s 1970s-era fighters with modern Swedish jets. There is only one problem: the deal has to go to a referendum for the people to approve. Could a centuries-old political system and claims that Saab is funding the yes campaign scupper the most important Swiss procurement project in recent memory?

Digital battlefield: connected simulators let pilots fly a full-scale war

Soldiers, sailors and airmen could soon be working together to fight huge, highly realistic battles online. Just like gamers playing the latest Call of Duty or Battlefield games, they’ll be able to co-op across a sprawling network of high-tech simulators. We look at the latest technologies from Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems that are making this virtual dream a reality.