2018: The year’s biggest Airforce Technology stories

8 January 2019 (Last Updated January 29th, 2020 12:42)

The US Air Force (USAF) awarded a $9.2bn contract to Boeing to support the service’s new T-X advanced pilot training programme, The New Zealand Government reached an agreement to purchase four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from the US in a $1.6bn deal. Airforce-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from 2018.

2018: The year’s biggest Airforce Technology stories
Boeing T-X advanced pilot training system. Credit: John Parker / Boeing.

USAF awards Boeing $9.2bn contract for T-X trainer aircraft

The US Air Force (USAF) awarded a $9.2bn contract to Boeing to support the service’s new T-X advanced pilot training programme.

Under the deal, the company will be responsible for the development and delivery of 351 units of the T-X trainer aircraft to the airforce, in addition to 46 simulators and associated ground equipment.

The advanced pilot training system has been designed to provide training to generations of fighter and bomber pilots for several decades in the future.


New Zealand to buy four P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft for $1.6bn

The New Zealand Government reached an agreement to purchase four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from the US in a NZD2.346bn ($1.6bn) deal.

The procurement will allow the government to replace the existing P-3K2 Orion fleet, which has been operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force since the 1960s and will reach the end of its expected operational life in 2025.

Acquisition, training systems, infrastructure and service introduction costs are included in the deal’s total purchase price.


Bahraini Air Force to buy 16 F-16 Block 70 jets from US for $1.12bn

The Royal Bahraini Air Force is to procure 16 new Fighting Falcon F-16 Block 70 aircraft from the US Government.

Lockheed Martin was awarded a $1.12bn contract from the US Government for the production of the 16 fighter jets for the Bahraini Air Force.

The current ‘undefinitised contract action’ award represents the sale of the first F-16 Block 70 and the first F-16 production programme carried out in Greenville, South Carolina, US.


Qatar signs €3bn contract to purchase 28 NH90 military helicopters

Qatar signed a contract valued at more than €3bn with the NHIndustries consortium for the acquisition of 28 units of the NH90 multi-role aircraft as part of the country’s military helicopter modernisation plan.

NHIndustries is a company jointly owned by Airbus Helicopters with a 62.5% stake, Leonardo with 32%, and Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker with a 5.5% stake in the consortium.

Qatar will purchase 16 of the helicopters in tactical transport (TTH) configuration and the remaining 12 aircraft in naval (NFH) configuration.


RAAF’s JORN radar system to undergo $1.2bn upgrade

BAE Systems Australia is set to carry out a major $1.2bn upgrade on the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) to modernise the country’s defence force.

Based in Longreach in Queensland, Laverton in Western Australia, and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, the network consists of three radar sites controlled from the JORN Coordination Centre at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia.

Located in remote parts, the radars are used to detect and track air, as well as maritime targets from the country’s northern approaches.


Indian Air Force completes development trials of Astra BVR-AAM

The Indian Air Force (IAF) completed development trials of the Astra beyond visual range air-to-air missile (Astra BVR-AAM).

The development trials included a series of flight tests that were carried out by the airforce at the Integrated Test Range in the Balasore city of Odisha, India.

Flight trials involved a combination of complex tests for engagement of pilotless target in different modes of manoeuvring, off-boresight, medium and long ranges.


Harris delivers sixth navigation payload for USAF’s GPS III satellite

Information technology services provider Harris delivered an advanced navigation payload for the USAF’s Global Positioning System (GPS) III satellite programme.

The sixth of the total ten payloads has been delivered to Lockheed Martin.

GPS III navigation payload is fitted with a mission data unit (MDU) with a 70% digital design that links atomic clocks, radiation-hardened processors and powerful transmitters.


UK RAF receives delivery of 20th Atlas military transport aircraft

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) received the delivery of the 20th next-generation A400M Atlas military transport aircraft at the Brize Norton air station, the base for the air mobility force.

The delivery coincided with trials conducted to test the aircraft’s ability to deliver cargo by parachute in addition to undergoing air-to-air refuelling (AAR).

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “From deploying troops to transporting armoured vehicles, the Atlas aircraft has played a global role in operations in the Middle East against Daesh and providing vital relief in the Caribbean.”


Italy assembles first F-35A jet for Royal Netherlands Air Force

Italy started assembling the first European-built F-35A Lightning II fighter jet that has been developed for the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

The aircraft is the first of 37 F-35s to be acquired by the Netherlands. It is expected to be delivered to the Dutch Ministry of Defence at the end of next year.

Construction work on the F-35A aircraft has commenced at the Italian F-35 manufacturing plant in Cameri, Italy.


Saab rolls out first GlobalEye AEW&C aircraft

Saab unveiled the first GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft at its Linköping site in Sweden.

Developed based on a Global 6000 jet aircraft from Bombardier, GlobalEye is an advanced, swing-role airborne surveillance system.

The system integrates a complete range of advanced sensors, including the latest extended-range radar (Erieye ER), with the ultra-long-range Global 6000 jet aircraft.