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USAF launches second X-37 unmanned spacecraft

March 7th, 2011 by David No Comments

The US Air Force (USAF) has launched its second X-37B orbital test vehicle (OTV).

The Boeing-built X-37B was launched via an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, reaching a low-Earth orbit on March 5 at 17:46 Eastern time.

The first X-37B OTV launched in April 2010, orbiting for eight months, before successfully landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

In December, it successfully de-orbited and landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., where it continues to undergo post-flight evaluation.

USAF gets its last Predator drone

March 7th, 2011 by David No Comments

The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator UAV.

The US Air Force (USAF) has accepted delivery of its final Predator unmanned air vehicle (UAV).

The MQ-1 drone, tail number 268, was handed by Air Combat Command’s Irregular Warfare Division.

The MQ-1 is built by General Atomics. Operators include the US, UK, Italy and Turkey.

The USAF says that since the Predator’s maiden flight in July 1994, the type has amassed over 900,000 flight hours and kept mission capable rate over 90% in US service.

EADS will not dispute KC-X decision

March 7th, 2011 by David No Comments

The Pentagon’s selection of Boeing to fill its order for a KC-X future tanker aircraft will not be disputed by EADS, the Paris-based company says.

EADS North America says it will not dispute the US Air Force’s decision to update its KC-135 aerial refuelling aircraft with Boeing’s KC-46, based on its 767 commercial airliner.

EADS lost its KC-45 proposal, which was based on the Airbus A330 airliner aircraft, after winning an initial order in 2008, which was successfully disputed and overturned by Boeing.

A statement from EADS said the firm expressed its appreciation to the Air Force for running a competition consistent with the rules set out in its Request for Proposal.

By USAF fleet effectiveness metrics, the EADS tanker had been decided the more capable aircraft, but Boeing was able to offer a less costly deal to the US Department of Defense. Boeing’s bid for the 179 aircraft deal dropped $16bn from its original tender in 2002.

“While we are obviously disappointed that our men and women in uniform are not getting the most capable tanker available, we will not take any action that could further delay the already overdue replacement of the Air Force’s aging tanker fleet,” said EADS North America chairman Ralph Crosby.

“Much is promised by our competitor, whom we congratulate. However, should they fail to deliver, we stand ready to step in with a proven and operating tanker,” added Crosby.

US Navy seeks new landing craft bids

March 4th, 2011 by David No Comments

The US Navy wants firms to submit proposals for a new landing craft.

The service’s Naval Sea Systems Command issued a draft request for a ship-to-shore connector (SSC), giving firms until March 31 to reply.

A new landing craft would replace the Navy’s Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) amphibious craft that have been in service since the 1980s.

Two teams are known to be developing SSC designs: one involving Textron, L3 Communications and Alcoa; and a second consisting of Marinette, Boeing, Oceaneering and Griffon Hoverwork.

The new SSC designs will be very similar in size to previous designs, but have an uprated load requirement of 67 metric tons, up from 54 on current LCACs.

Cobham blames US budget for slow growth

March 4th, 2011 by David No Comments

London-based Cobham has blamed contracting US defence and security budgets for a slowdown in demand set to stymie revenue growth.

The defence components manufacturer posted pre-tax profits of £306m for 2010, up 4% from the previous year.

The firm’s chief executive Andy Stevens said a current freeze in US defence budget to 2010 levels will halt Cobham’s revenue growth in 2011 at the £1.63bn ($2.65 billion) made last year.

Cobham’s components formed a part of both the successful Boeing-led bid and the unsuccessful EADS proposal to supply the US Air Force with 179 KC-X future tanker aircraft.

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