09 Jun 05. Raytheon Systems Limited (RSL) at Broughton has just completed the third of five test flights of a green Bombardier Global Express – an unmodified ASTOR aircraft – from Hawarden Airfield in North Wales. These flights are being carried out under RSL’s newly achieved Ministry of Defence AvP67 Flight Approval and are in preparation for the maiden flight of Broughton’s first modified Sentinel RMk1 ASTOR aircraft, ZJ 691, which is anticipated in July.
06 Jun 05. The German MoD within months will outline ways to keep its existing heavy transport helicopter fleet in service through 2020, when the aircraft are to be replaced, ministry officials said. Work on the systems capabilities requirement document is expected to be finished in August, a senior MoD official said, but it is not yet clear what direction the recommendations will take. The timetable and budget will depend on the eventual course of action. The document “is the prerequisite for the authorization of [research and technology] funds to analyze armament solutions,” an MoD official in Berlin said in an e-mail June 1. One step may be substantial system upgrades for the nearly 40-year-old CH-53 Sea Stallions. “There are plans to look at ways to safeguard the operational readiness of the CH-53s until 2030-plus,” the MoD official said. This would include looking at new mechanical and electronic packages for the workhorse helicopter. MoD officials in the past have acknowledged that upgrades are badly needed to keep the helicopter fleet operational for missions such as the military’s International Security Assistance Force commitment in Afghanistan. In 2003, the MoD had to spend €28m ($34.9m) on 46 new engines for the CH-53s serving in Afghanistan to protect them against sand and erosion. Additional avionics and mechanical upgrades could easily cost several hundred million euros, defense sources here said previously. Meanwhile, Eurocopter executives in Marignane, France, and Donauwörth hope the MoD will make its position clear soon. They said the EADS subsidiary company would favor developing a new heavy transport helicopter in cooperation with Sikorsky Aircraft, Stratford, Conn. (Source: Defense News)
06 Jun 05. Greece’s Air Force is crafting an aircraft procurement and modernization plan to renew and improve its fighter fleet to sustain a force level of at least 300 frontline combat aircraft. This new aircraft has been dubbed the MFA. The service operates 132 F-16s of various configurations and versions; 32 Mirage 2000EG/BGs, 10 of which will be upgraded to the Mirage 2000-5 Mk 2 standard; 35 F-4E Peace Icarus 2000s; 20 F-4E Phantom II SRAs, 22 RF-4E Phantom IIs and 80 A/TA-7H/C Corsair II aircraft. It is awaiting delivery of another 15 Mirage 2000-5 Mk 2 fighters. The F-4E Phantom II SRAs will retire by year’s end, and the Corsairs will be phased out over the next five years. Avlonitis declined to say how many modern fighter aircraft will be purchased. The exact number “will be determined in the future, within the above-mentioned time frame and in relation to the future operational requirements, and national and international commitments of the Air Force, as well as the older-generation aircraft retirement plan,” he said. An internal Air Force report compiled late last year said that by 2010, the service should buy 60 to 90 aircraft equipped with an integrated, automated, internal and programmable self-protection system. Avlonitis noted that since the modern fighter the service wants “is a force multiplier, it is not necessary to replace the retiring second-generation aircraft with an absolute analogy of one to one.” (Source: Defense News)
06 Jun 05. Instead of depending entirely on the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) to upgrade its aging fighter fleet, the Indian Air Force is pressing ahead with plans to supplement its indigenous jet with 126 new medium-range combat jets under a program valued at some $9bn. Senior leaders want a mix of LCAs and new