02 Mar 17. With the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) eyeing a future armed MALE UAV platform to join its fleet, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) wants the right to compete against the General Atomics Reaper in a head-to-head contest.
As Australia typically veers towards American products and regularly takes the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) avenue, IAI’s Heron TP is facing a hard task even before technical specifications are considered under Project Air 7003 Phase 1.
Team Reaper Australia, a coalition led by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and including Cobham, CAE Australia, Raytheon Australia and Flight Data Systems, is obviously pushing for Australia to purchase the Reaper under an FMS case.
Shaul Shahar, IAI’s executive VP and general manager of its military aircraft group, argued that a competitive commercial bid would be much fairer. He told Shephard, ‘It’s the best total solution for Australia. It meets all requirements and above for the RAAF.’
He added that the Heron TP was ‘no less state-of-the-art technologically, but may be higher’ than its competitors.
Among Shahar’s key arguments was that Australia would gain total control of the Heron TP’s technology, with no hidden black boxes. This would contrast markedly with the Reaper, where the US maintains strict control over various ITAR-related components.
Furthermore, there would be far greater industry involvement for local defence companies if the RAAF adopted the Heron TP. IAI would allow final assembly within Australia, and Australia could integrate any sensor it wanted onto the platform.
Over the life of the platform, this is an important consideration as it would allow the RAAF to customise the Heron TP to emerging requirements thanks to its open architecture and separated flight and mission systems.
Shahar said IAI was currently in the process of finding the best candidate to act as an industrial partner within Australia.
Another advantage of the Heron TP is that the RAAF has been operating the Heron 1 since 2010, accumulating more than 30,000 flight hours, and more than 200 personnel have trained on it. This gives the RAAF familiarity with the Heron family, making it easier for pilots and maintainers to convert to the Heron TP.
The Heron TP has been in Israeli service since 2010. It weighs 5.4t and its service ceiling is listed as 45,000ft. Whether sensors and/or munitions, the Heron TP can carry a 1t payload thanks to six underwing hardpoints.
IAI brought a Heron TP to the Avalon Air Show to invigorate its Air 7003 campaign. Shahar said IAI needed to show what Australia can gain by taking an alternative route to FMS.
Shahar concluded, ‘Presenting Heron TP in Australia is, therefore, a direct continuation of the RAAF’s tradition of operating the Heron 1, and we truly believe that the Heron TP is the best solution for the Australian customer’s needs.’ (Source: Shephard)
02 Mar 17. The White House and U.S. Air Force are closing in on the final requirements needed to build the next fleet of Air Force One aircraft, the service’s top acquisition official said Thursday. But as questions swirl about whether specifications will drastically change under President Donald Trump’s direction, Air Force officials maintain that revisions will be relatively minor in scope. The service in 2015 selected Boeing to build a heavily modified version of its 747-8 design for the next presidential transport aircraft, which is in the nascent stages of development. However, Trump has placed the Air Force One replacement program under harsh scrutiny since the election, at one point threatening to cancel it altogether over the total cost of the program, which has not been cemented by the service. One of the options on the table is to alter the plane’s requirements, first discussed by Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg after a January meeting with Trump. But acting Air Force acquisition head Darlene Costello said the service, which procures Air Force One on behalf of the Whit