02 Jul 12. As it cuts its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter order, Italy has confirmed a base sharing plan for its 30 Navy and Air Force STOVL aircraft, which is set to save on maintenance and support. The fighters — 15 for the Navy and 15 for the Air Force — will be grouped at the Navy’s Grottaglie base in southern Italy, which currently hosts the Navy’s AV-8 Harrier jump jets. The decision ends a simmering debate between the Navy and Air Force about how many STOVL aircraft each service would receive, a debate that kicked off when Italy cut its order in February. Italy’s original planned order of 131 JSFs was cut back to 90 in February due to budget cuts. The Air Force had planned to buy around 40 F-35B STOVLs to replace its AMX fighters, while the Navy said it needed at least 22 to keep a full contingent on board the Cavour. (Source: Defense News)
06 Jul 12. Raytheon Company’s all-up-round Standard Missile production facility in Huntsville, Ala., is nearing completion. The state-of-the-art factory, located on the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal, should be completed before the end of the year. Once operational, the 70,000 square-foot facility will assemble and test Standard Missile-3 and SM-6 interceptors. The new production facility will feature advanced tools and the latest processes for missile production. The advanced technology will enable Raytheon to streamline processes, reduce costs and add increased value for the warfighter. The first SM-6 is scheduled to be produced from the new facility in February 2013, and initial SM-3s are scheduled to be delivered the following quarter.
02 Jul 12. QinetiQ and the U.K. MoD announced the award of a contract for research funding for the next three years to maintain the UK’s world-leading expertise into defence advanced materials. The funding, worth £11.7m, has been granted by Dstl as part of its Materials And Structures Technology (MAST) Science and Technology Centre (STC) and has been awarded to a QinetiQ led consortium including Malvern Optical Ltd, BAE Systems, MBDA, NPL, Q-Par Angus, and several UK universities. The funding will allow QinetiQ and its partners to establish a world class facility, primarily sited in Farnborough and Pershore, which will enable companies from around the UK to conduct research and test new materials. Ultimately these materials will be used to protect UK armed forces in the air, at sea and on land. The new facility will act as a national hub enabling vital collaborative work amongst Dstl’s MAST STC members from around the country to meet current and future defence needs. The facilities are open for use (subject to contract and with prior agreement from Dstl) for the benefit of UK industry and academia. The facility will transition from initial to full operational capability between March 2012 and April 2013.
06 Jul 12. The National Aeronautical Centre (NAC) (Hall 1, A19) launched at the Farnborough Airshow. The initiative could position the UK at the forefront of a global UAS market, assessed [by US analysts WinterGreen Research] to be worth US$51bn in 2020. Centred about West Wales Airport (WWA), the NAC harnesses and expands the capabilities of existing on-site tenants, including the UK MoD’s “Watchkeeper” development programme, led by French innovator Thales. Other world-class companies, including Selex Galileo are also participants. A brand under which to build a national asset, the NAC provides a collaborative and stimulating environment where industry, government organisations, research and academia can develop, test and demonstrate products in safe, controlled and segregated airspace. The idea behind the NAC is that all users have a platform where they can exchange ideas and create cutting edge products and technologies in an environment perfectly suited to such development. WWA is the only privately owned airport in Europe regulated to operate unmanned aircraft in specially segregated flying zones over land and sea. The