03 May 06. Joint Strike Fighter (JSF): Development Costs. The Defence Procurement Minister said that the UK had contributed $812m between 2001 and 31 Mar 06 to the US JSF Joint Project Office, as part of an overall contribution of $2,000m to the system Design and Demonstration Phase. An additional £600m, including £41.5m spent up to 31 Mar 06, is expected to be committed to UK supporting studies.
Comment: The UK is the only Level One partner in the US JSF programme. The Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) JSF variant has been selected by the MoD to meet the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) requirement, even though the UK will not receive any aircraft until 2014. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0618, 08 May 06)
May 06. U.K. Hawk Trainer Deal Nears Approval. Britain’s efforts to rebuild its pilot training capabilities will take a major step forward with a production contract for BAE SYSTEMS’ updated Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft, now being considered by the Ministry of Defence’s powerful Investment Approvals Board. The deal, likely to be worth more than £600m ($1.1bn), is in the final stages of negotiations, and if signed-off by Lord Drayson, defense procurement minister, a contract could be ready by midyear. An MoD spokesman confirmed May 4 the contract “was in the latter stages of the approvals process.” Between 26 and 28 Hawk 128s are expected to be ordered, with the first delivery scheduled for the third quarter of 2008, a BAE source said. The aircraft will replace the venerable Hawk T1 aircraft to train future fast-jet pilots in advanced tactical missions before they move to front-line aircraft like the Tornado GR4, Harrier GR9, Eurofighter Typhoon and, if they settle technology-transfer difficulties with the United States, the Joint Strike Fighter. The selection of the new digitally-equipped Hawk 128 by the MoD in mid-2003 was controversial, as then-Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon went against the advice of his officials and directed the BAE aircraft be ordered without a competition. That saved the Hawk production line from closure. A £158m design and development contract followed in late 2004. Two development aircraft are undergoing test flights. Originally, Hoon announced the order would cover 20 aircraft with options for up to another 24. But with changing pilot requirements and a huge shake-up planned in the way training is delivered through the joint MoD-industry Military Flying Training System (MFTS) program, that number has been whittled down to less than 30. Any further British orders for Hawks depend on the winner of the three-way MFTS competition, now in the final stages of bidding to establish a military-industry partnership to conduct virtually all flight training here for the next 25 years. Paul Livingston, the head of customer relations at MFTS contender Ascent, said May 3 that any further orders for the Hawk 128 depend on whether a number of training tasks currently undertaken by the older T1 variant could be delivered by a new turboprop trainer like the Pilatus PC-21 or Raytheon Texan. (Source: Defense News)
11 May 06. Aerospace increases production by 18.5%. Today, the Office for National Statistics published its Index of Production for the first quarter of 2006. Compared with the same quarter in 2005, the aerospace sector has increased production by 18.5%. Overall, general manufacturing increased production by 0.7% in the quarter, with transport equipment (including aerospace) increasing by 4.3%, the highest for any manufacturing sector. Within the transport equipment sector, aerospace led the charge with a quarterly increase of 9.4% for the first quarter of this year. Between February and March 2006 aerospace manufacturing rose by 2.8%.
27 Apr 06. Eurofighter Typhoon: Availability. The Armed Forces’ Minister said that 26 Typhoon aircraft had been delivered to date. Aircraft availability varied from day-to-day, allowing for planned maintenance and issues arising dur