17 Dec 15. KAI, Lockheed rollout T-X prototype. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has revealed the prototype that will form the basis of Lockheed Martin’s bid for the US Air Force’s T-X next generation trainer competition.
Based on the T-50 family of trainer/light fighter aircraft, the company’s “T-X demonstrator aircraft” will conduct ground and flight tests in 2016, says KAI in an email to Flightglobal. In 2017, KAI plans flight tests in the USA.
The aircraft features several new features, including a large area display (LAD), embedded training systems, and an aerial refuelling capability.
Aesthetically, the most striking change from the original T-50 is the addition of a large dorsal hump.
The original T-50, along with its variants, was developed via technology transfer from Lockheed Martin with offsets related to South Korea’s large F-16 fleet.
The lucrative T-X competition has always been a major objective of the T-50 programme, which is a source of great national pride in South Korea. The country’s president Park Geun-hye was in attendance at the rollout ceremony.
The winner of the T-X competition will eventually replace the 55-year old Northrop T-38 Talon, which has served as the USAF’s advanced jet trainer since the 1960s. The procurement could reach up to 350 units. The appearance of the Lockheed/KAI T-X technology demonstrator is notable in that it makes the Lockheed/KAI team the first competitor to show its hand. Over the years KAI and Lockheed have displayed models at air shows of a baseline T-50 with T-X markings.
The other T-X competitors are Northrop Grumman, Boeing (which is teaming with Saab) and Alenia Aermacchi.
On 12 December, Northrop Grumman grudgingly allowed journalists to a view of a model of its planned offering for the requirement, but allowed no photographs. Days later in an interview with Flightglobal, Boeing Phantom Works president Darryl Davis refused to provide any more details about the US firm’s planned clean-sheet offering with Saab. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Flight Global)
16 Dec 15. France To Order Four C-130J Super Hercules Aircraft From US. France formally decided to order four C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the US, marking a major step toward filling a pressing need for tactical transport and in-flight refueling, two French defense specialists said.
“Our defense minister has just authorized the purchase of four US C-130Js,” one of the sources said Dec. 15.
That key decision was taken at a Dec. 15 meeting of the ministerial investment committee and clears the way for French officials to negotiate a purchase and speedy delivery under a foreign military sale deal, the second source said.
The sources declined to give their names as they were not cleared for briefing on a subject seen as politically sensitive.
The Direction générale de l’armement procurement office declined comment.
“The decision has been taken,” the second source said. “This is very good news for the armed forces, particularly the Army and special forces.”
The French services are eager for an early delivery, faster than the standard 36 months once a contract has been signed.
There are doubts whether the contract will be signed before the end of the year, as some staff are due to go on leave as Dec. 25 nears. The order is expected to exceed an earmarked €330m budget, but the extra funds will likely be found through adjustments in the budget, the second source said.
An option of buying secondhand Lockheed Martin C-130Js from the British Royal Air Force failed to win favor, as these aircraft were seen as worn out after flying intensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The US government assures the C-130J will stay in service until 2050, seen as a long-term commitment to support investment in the aircraft, the second source said. (Source: Defense News)
15 Dec 15. Analysis: America’s future airlifter, the European A400M. While Airbus Defence and Space (DS) is still looking to meet its short-term goal