March’s top news stories

5 April 2018 (Last Updated June 18th, 2018 11:01)

Qatar signs €3bn contract to purchase 28 NH90 military helicopters, USAF awards $642m EELV launch services contracts to SpaceX and ULA, and RAAF’s JORN radar system to undergo $1.2bn upgrade. Airforce-technology.com wraps up key headlines from March 2018.

March’s top news stories
GlobalEye aircraft. Credit: Saab AB.

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 modernisation plan to upgrade its military helicopter fleet.

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.

Of the total 28 NH90 units, Qatar will purchase 16 helicopters in tactical transport (TTH) configuration and the remaining 12 aircraft in naval (NFH) configuration.

The agreement will also include provisions for the delivery of a comprehensive support, maintenance training services package, and related infrastructure.


USAF awards $642m EELV launch services contracts to SpaceX and ULA

The US Air Force (USAF) awarded two new launch services contracts, with a total value of nearly $642.43m, to Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and United Launch Alliance (ULA) for the evolved expendable launch vehicles (EELVs).

Of the two awards, SpaceX has secured a $290.59m firm-fixed-price contract to provide the launch services that would help deliver three GPS III missions (1 base and 2 options) to the intended orbit.

Planned to be launched between late next year and 2020, the GPS III missions will deliver sustained, reliable GPS capabilities to the US combatants and their allies, in addition to the civil users.


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, Queensland; Laverton, Western Australia; and Alice Springs, 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.


Airbus delivers two A400M aircraft to Germany and France

Airbus formally delivered two latest A400M military transport aircraft to two European nations, Germany and France.

This was the first time the company had delivered two A400M airlifters to two different countries in one single day.

During a ceremony in Seville, Spain, Airbus handed over the aircraft to the European Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), which represented Germany and France, and is currently in charge of the management of the A400M Programme.


US AFICA uses new tracker to capture more than $1bn in savings

The US Air Force Installation and Contracting Agency (AFICA) captured more than $1bn in budgetary savings and cost avoidance by using a new cost savings tracker.

AFICA deployed the cost savings tracker, strategic partnerships, and acquisition innovation to align with Air Force Materiel Command’s (AFMC) strategic plan.

Commenting on the achievement, AFICA executive director Renee Richardson said: “Many of the strategic sourcing efforts reported in the cost savings tracker show just how AFICA is acting as a good steward of taxpayer dollars and as a cooperative partner with local, state and federal governments.”


India’s ninth LCA Tejas completes maiden flight in Bengaluru

India’s light combat aircraft (LCA), Tejas SP-9 (LA-5009), successfully completed its maiden flight from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Airport in Bengaluru.

During the trials, the LCA Tejas SP-9 jet was piloted for 21 minutes by Indian Air Force (IAF) retired air commodore KA Muthanna.

LA-5009 is the ninth jet in a series of Tejas aircraft being produced for the Indian armed forces.


Saab’s GlobalEye AEW&C jet conducts first test flight in Sweden

Saab’s newest GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft conducted its maiden flight from the company’s airfield in Linköping, Sweden.

The modified Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft flew for one hour 46 minutes after completing a series of ground trials, including high and low-speed taxiing tests.

Saab experimental test pilot Magnus Fredriksson said: “Today’s flight went as planned, with the performance level matching our high expectations.”


USAF’s Travis AFB tests laser technique to remove corrosion

The US Air Force’s (USAF) Travis Air Force Base (AFB) in California tested a laser removal process to remove paint and corrosion on aerospace ground equipment.

Travis AFB is one of only two bases selected to test the two lasers, Clean Laser 1000 and the Clean Laser 300.

60th Maintenance Squadron’s (MXS) Aircraft Structural Maintenance corrosion manager technician sergeant Brian Brown said: “The main difference with this laser is that it can remove corrosion without removing metal.

“Sanding and grinding remove additional material, while the laser burns off corrosion without taking any metal with it.”


UK MoD and MBDA sign £400m deal to support Brimstone 2 installation

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a £400m deal to launch advanced Brimstone air-to-surface missiles from the Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon multi-role fighter jets.

The contract awarded to MBDA will support the Brimstone 2 capability sustainment programme (CSP), under which the company will be responsible for manufacturing missiles for the British Armed Forces.

The CSP will help replenish the country’s inventory and extend the service life of the missiles beyond 2030.


InDyne wins $417.8m contract for maintenance of SSPARS

US-based company InDyne secured a $417.8m contract with the US Air Force (USAF) to provide operations and maintenance services for the solid state phased array radar system (SSPARS).

Under the terms of the firm-fixed-price contract, the company will be responsible for providing the entire range of non-personal services, administrative, financial and managerial resources required on a continuous 24/7 basis to support the five SSPARS installations or sites.

Work will be carried out at the (USAF) Beale Air Force Base (AFB) in California, Cape Cod Air Force Station (AFS) in Massachusetts, Clear AFS in Alaska, and Thule Air Base in Greenland, in addition to the Royal Air Force Fylingdales, UK.