July’s top news stories

3 August 2018 (Last Updated August 6th, 2018 16:22)

New Zealand to buy four P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft for $1.6bn, UK requested a $650m sale of AIM-120D air-to-air missiles from US, and GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPA completed trans-Atlantic flight. Airforce-technology.com wraps up key headlines from July 2018.

July’s top news stories
The US Navy’s newest maritime patrol and reconnaissance test aircraft, P-8A Poseidon flies with a P-3C Orion. Credit: US Navy / Liz Goettee.

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.


UK requests $650m sale of AIM-120D air-to-air missiles from US

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a possible sale of the AIM-120D advanced medium range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAMs) to the UK for an estimated $650m.

Requested by the UK Government, the proposed deal includes the sale of up to 200 AIM-120D missiles, in addition to containers, weapon system support and test equipment.

Approved by the US State Department, the sale includes the delivery of site surveying, repair and return support, spare parts, maintenance and personnel training.


GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPA completes trans-Atlantic flight

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI)’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) successfully completed its first trans-Atlantic flight.

Taking off from the company’s Flight Test and Training Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota, US, the unmanned aircraft landed at the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) air station in Fairford, Gloucestershire, after covering 3,760nm in 24 hours and two minutes.

Currently, the GA-ASI SkyGuardian is the world’s first medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) RPA to complete a trans-Atlantic flight.


USAF awards $420m MRO contract for Rolls-Royce’s F137 engine fleet

The US Air Force (USAF) awarded a new sustainment contract worth up to $420m to Rolls-Royce for engine maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the service’s Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft fleet.

The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract will continue for six years and will also include MRO engine services for the US Navy fleet of Triton unmanned aerial vehicles.

Furthermore, the agreement includes delivery of programme management and sustainment engineering services for Rolls-Royce’s F137 turbofan engines, which are engineered and manufactured at the company’s facilities in Indianapolis, US.


Hungary to receive 20 H145M aircraft with HForce weapon system

Airbus is set to provide the Hungarian Ministry of Defence with 20 units of H145M military helicopters fitted with the new HForce weapon system.

Delivery will be carried out under the Zrinyi 2026 framework of the military modernisation programme.

The company will also be responsible for supplying an extensive training and support package to Hungary.


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.

“As we come closer to receiving the full fleet of aircraft, we can be proud of the role the Atlas has played in supporting the RAF lift-off into a new century of air power.”


UK MoD uses Cobham AAR system for F-35B receiver clearance

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) used Cobham’s air-to-air refuelling (AAR) systems and modelling expertise to help attain F-35B receiver clearance for mid-air refuelling from the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Voyager tanker.

For the first time, AAR modelling and simulation technology provided by the company was used in the aerial refuelling clearance process for a receiver aircraft.

Cobham Simulation and Modelling manager Henry Clarke said: “We use modelling to help our customers test the performance and boundaries of our AAR equipment in a highly accurate and realistic way.

“Our aim is to provide them with enough substantiated evidence that they can minimise the number of flight trials needed to test the equipment thus saving a great deal of time and cost, as well as reducing pilot and aircraft risk.”


Rafael and Lockheed sign MoU to market SPICE missile kits

Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Lockheed Martin to evaluate potential markets and user requirements for its Smart, Precise Impact and Cost-Effective (SPICE) missile guidance kits.

Currently in service with the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and other international customers, the system uses a new advanced electro-optical seeker with unique scene-matching algorithms, navigation guidance and homing techniques.

The system can effectively attain operational missions during both day and night in adverse weather without global positioning system (GPS) and at a low lifecycle cost.


Kongsberg to deliver JSM test missiles for F-35A integration phase

The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency awarded a new contract to Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace for Joint Strike Missile (JSM) test missiles.

The Nkr700m ($85.56m) contract will see the delivery of the JSM test missiles for the integration phase on the F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter.

Capable of being employed against both sea and land-based targets, the JSM is Norway’s advanced anti-surface warfare missile developed to be carried by the F-35A aircraft.


USAF receives delivery of Northrop BACN Global Hawk aircraft

The US Air Force (USAF) received the Global Hawk autonomous surveillance aircraft carrying the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN).

Developed by Northrop Grumman, BACN is a high-altitude aircraft that translates and distributes voice communications and other battlespace information from a wide number of sources.

BACN is used to bridge the gaps between the systems in addition to extending communications among different users and networks. This will help provide improved situational awareness to the USAF fleet.