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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.

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.

Military experts write to oppose UK Navy cuts

February 25th, 2011 by David No Comments

A group of senior retired military experts and academics have written a letter to the UK government to oppose the scrapping of the country’s Harrier fast jet carrier aircraft under the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) announced last year.

The letter to prime minister David Cameron criticises the retirement Joint Royal Navy / Royal Air Force Harrier Force of 70 aircraft, which has operated from the aircraft carriers Ark Royal and Illustrious. The two ships are scheduled for retirement this year and 2014 respectively.

The grouping’s letter criticises the effect the loss of a fast jet carrier air group could have on UK national security until the arrival of the new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, currently under construction, and the Harrier’s replacement, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

“Continuity of operations is highly desirable if the new carriers are to be brought into operational service quickly, with the right experience and supporting elements such as flight deck crews, command and staff officers at all levels,” says the petition.

“The first is the deprivation of fixed wing carrier-borne air capability for at least a decade. This not only removes a very important component of the offensive and defensive capabilities of the Fleet but also undermines support of the Army and of the Royal Marines in their amphibious role. This valuable operation can no longer be attempted even against a lightly armed aggressor without considerable risk,” adds the letter.

The letter was signed by several veteran Falklands War commanders, including admiral Sir John ‘Sandy’ Woodward, major general Julian Thompson and admiral Sir Jeremy Black. Academics listed as signatories include naval historians Nicholas Rodger, from Oxford university, and King’s College London’s Andrew Lambert.

The letter provides three alternatives to scrapping the Harrier force, including the retainment of a smaller amount of the aircraft alongside the RAF’s Tornado fighter aircraft, which was retained over the Harrier force in the SDSR.

The letter notes that the Tornado is more expensive to operate than the Harrier and has been itself partially replaced in RAF service by the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The letter highlights the increased operational flexibility provided by the Harrier over the Tornado, and says keeping on 40 Harriers and 40 Tornadoes would save £5bn over 15 years.

As a further option, the experts suggest maintaining 48 Tornados, 30 harriers and buying or leasing 18 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet multirole carrier-borne combat aircraft.

“It should be noted that the F/A-18 Super Hornet is better at air defence than the Typhoon, better at ground attack than Tornado and Typhoon and around one third to one fifth of the cost of the Typhoon,” says the letter.

“This F-18 squadron would not be difficult to form due to existing partnerships and training which the Royal Navy has, and is expected to continue to have, with the United States Navy. Furthermore, Britain would not be buying a substandard aircraft, as the Super Hornet is a very capable aircraft now being procured by the US Navy and the Australian Armed Forces,” adds the letter.

KMW and Daimler sign Bundeswehr truck repair deal

February 24th, 2011 by David No Comments

Krauss Maffei Wegmann (KMW) has signed a service framework deal with Daimler AG.

The contract is to repair and maintain the German armed forces’ fleet of Mercedes-Benz trucks and vehicles used in Afghanistan.

The deal extends to all Mercedes vehicles operated by the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan, Kosovo, on Nato, UN and EU missions.

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.

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