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USAF tanker aircraft decision expected

February 24th, 2011 by David No Comments

The result of a bidding competition for the US Air Force’s future aerial refueling tanker is expected within hours from the US Department of Defense.

Boeing and EADS have competed with rival bids for the $35bn deal.

The US Air Force wants to replace its fleet of 179 Boeing KC-135 tanker aircraft.

In 2008 EADS was announced to have won the contract with with US partner Northrop Grumman, but the award was withdrawn after the US Government Accountability Office upheld Boeing’s objections that the award process has been flawed.

Both EADS and Boeing bids have highlighted their US-based credentials. EADS is French-based but both companies say the deal would provide approximately 50,000 US-based jobs.

The KC-45 aircraft built by EADS is based on the Airbus 330 commercial airliner.

Boeing’s KC-767 is likewise based on its own 767 commercial aircraft.

Libyan Mirage pilots defect to Malta

February 22nd, 2011 by David No Comments

Two Libyan fighter jet pilots have defected to Malta, by landing without permission on the runway of the island’s commercial airport.

The pilots, who are reportedly both colonels in the Libyan Air Force, are claiming asylum, after allegedly refusing orders to bomb protestors in Benghazi.

The aircraft, which landed at 16:30 local time, are French manufactured Dassault Mirage F-1 fighters.

The Mirage pilots reportedly only made contact with the airport control tower after they had landed on the commercial runway.

Protests in Libya have escalated since the removal of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, strenghening popular resolve against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Hundreds of civilian protestors have been killed in clashes with pro-government forces in Tripoli and Benghazi within the past week, according to media reports.

The Mirage F-1 entered French service in 1973, and is still in French service today. It was also exported to Libya, Spain, Morocco, Iran, Iraq, Jordan and several other countries.

The F-1 jet aircraft is a second generation, Mach 2.2 capable, fighter aircraft, which was originally developed in the 1960s.

Two French-registered Super Puma civilian helicopters also landed in Malta, around the same time, reportedly carrying seven French employees of an Italian firm working in Libya.

All the passengers, who have landed without permission, are being temporarily held within Malta’s airport.

Embraer presents EMB-145 aircraft to India

February 22nd, 2011 by David No Comments

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has presented the first of three new EMB-145 airborne early warning aircraft for representatives of the Indian government.

The EMB-145 is an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, set for Indian Air Force service.

Embraer says the aircraft incorporate DRDO-developed surveillance equipment.

The aircraft presentation, which took place at Embraer’s São José dos Campos headquarters, will be followed by flight testing, before handover and ferry to India in the second quarter.

COMMENT: US Navy deploys EA-18G Growler

February 22nd, 2011 by David No Comments

The US Navy has deployed its EA-18G Growler aircraft for the first time, according to Boeing. The deployment, presumably supporting operations in Afghanistan, comes after the updated fourth generation fighter aircraft was first sent to US Navy squadrons in 2008.

The EA [electronic attack] aircraft is the new version of the combat-tested F/A-18 Hornet fighter / attack aircraft, which has seen service in successive versions with US Navy aircraft carrier squadrons since 1983.

US Air Force and US Navy budgetary constraints on delivery numbers for the next generation of US F-22 and F-35 fifth generation fighter aircraft programmes are making it is more likely that aircraft types already in service, such as the Super Hornet, will continue to be updated for decades to come.

Boeing says the EA-18G is the only air combat platform to delivers full-spectrum airborne electronic attack (AEA) capability, adding fourth generation capabilities to the well-worn targeting and defence capabilities of the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Block II Super Hornet.

Boeing says the aircraft is a derivative of the two-seat F/A-18F Block II, and maintains the ability operate from the decks of aircraft carrier or from airfields.

The EA-18G is replacing the US Navy’s current AEA platform, the veteran EA-6B Prowler, which has been in service since 1971.

Sikorsky and Alpha Star launch Saudi JV

February 18th, 2011 by David No Comments

Sikorsky has announced an agreement with Alpha Star Aviation Services to begin discussions for the formation of a joint venture in Saudi Arabia.

Sikorsky says the venture with Riyadh-based Alpha Star would provide “comprehensive military and commercial aviation support and maintenance services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”.

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