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27 Jan 11. Nimrod MRA4 Aircraft: Cancellation of Project. Discussions continued over the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4, as announced in the Strategic Defence & Security Review (19 Oct 10). The MoD pointed out (27 Jan 11) that the original contract to supply 21 aircraft at a cost of £2,800m had escalated to £3,650m for just nine aircraft, with delays of over nine years. The Chief of the Defence Staff endorsed the “tough decision” to cancel the project.
Comment: At the time of cancellation, one Nimrod MRA4 aircraft had been delivered, three aircraft were over 90% complete and the remaining five were over 40% complete. BAE Systems is removing onboard equipment from the aircraft, which will then be dismantled by Metal and Waste Recycling Limited. While the strategic considerations of the project cancellation remain contended, it was undoubtedly a correct decision (belatedly) from an accounting point of view. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 11/05, 31 Jan 11)
BATTLESPACE Comment: The Sunday Times reported a list of problems with the aircraft ranging from bomb door problems to hot pipes. BATTLESPACE reported some time ago that the aircraft suffered from a Dutch yawl due to the new wing box which causes a very bumpy and sick-making ride for the crew. This could have been the final straw for the Project as no reports of it being solved have been reported. However, we stick by our original analysis of the Afghanistan disaster which casts doubt on the hot pipes being the cause of the explosion. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.11 ISSUE 44, 31 October 2009, NIMROD DISASTER REPORT – NOT THE WHOLE STORY?)
24 Jan 11. Chinook Helicopters: Upgrading. Boeing Defence UK announced (24 Jan 11) that flight testing of the first Chinook Mk4 for the RAF started at Gosport on 9 Dec 10. Project Julius is modifying 38 Chinook Mk2/2A Chinook into the Mk4/4A configuration and eight Chinook Mk3 into the Mk5 configuration. All the aircraft are to be delivered to RAF Odiham.
Comment: The Strategic Defence & Security Review confirmed that a further 12 Chinook are to be ordered (and not 22 as previously announced). With the inclusion of two replacement aircraft, the total number is planned to be 60 (and not 70). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 11/05, 31 Jan 11)
01 Feb 11. India’s indigenous fighter jet engine, Kaveri, is to power the home-grown fifth-generation advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA).
DRDO’s gas turbine research establishment (GTRE) is developing the engine, which was initially planned for the light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas programme. The indigenous fighter aircraft engine programme was began in 1986, and the engine is capable of producing thrust of 70kN-75kN. About 50-60 test flights will be conducted in the coming months to check the engine in terms of reliability, safety and airworthiness. The engine will also undergo further flight trials with a fighter aircraft, according to the Press Trust of India. The AMCA is a twin-engine indigenous fighter aircraft programme, which is expected to be ready by 2017. Kaveri will be fitted on the first 40 LCAs to be supplied to the Indian Air Force (IAF) as part of an upgrade programme in the latter half of the decade. (Source: airforcetechnology.com)
31 Jan 11. The Italian Air Force has taken delivery of the first of four Boeing KC767-A tanker aircraft at the Pratica di Mare base south of Rome, Italy. The KC767-A has been configured for transporting troops and cargo as well as refuelling from a rear boom, and three hose and drogues, and will replace the existing B-707T/T tanker used by the air force.
The aircraft, MM 62229, will undergo a series of tests and