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28 Apr 14. Thales announced the delivery of the final standard for the maritime patrol aircraft to Turkey as part of the MELTEM II programme, for which Thales is the prime contractor. To this day, five of the six aircraft have been delivered to this standard, with the sixth set for delivery before the summer. This follows the three maritime surveillance aircraft which were sent to the Turkish coastguards last year.
A ceremony was held at the Topel (Turkey) naval airbase to celebrate the official delivery of aircraft to the Turkish Navy in the presence of the Chief of Staff for the Turkish Navy, Mr Bülent Bostanoglu, as well as the Secretary of State for the Turkish Defence Industry (SSM), Mr Ismail Demir. Pierre Eric Pommellet, Senior Vice President of Thales in charge of Defence Mission Systems, officially handed over the delivery certificate for the aircraft to the Chief of Staff of the Turkish Navy. On this occasion, he highlighted the “strong relationships that have been established throughout the programme with Turkish industry partners, TAI, Havelsan, Aselsan and Milsoft. These have enabled the success of this aircraft transformation programme and pave the way for future partnerships between Thales and the Turkish industry.
28 Apr 14. The US Air Force is set to expand its radar capabilities by awarding a pair of major contracts by early summer. The larger contract is for the Space Fence program, which will dramatically increase the Pentagon’s ability to track debris in low-Earth orbit. The smaller but still key Air Force radar system set for a contract award this summer is the Three Dimensional Expeditionary Long Range Radar (3DELRR) program, which will replace the aging AN/TPS-75 system as the ‘grab and go’ radar used in the field. The Space Fence program has been hailed as critical to America’s space capabilities, with Gen. William Shelton, the outgoing head of Air Force Space Command, calling it a ‘high priority’ for the command, “and I think for the nation in terms of space situational awareness” in a 2013 speech. That’s because the Pentagon estimates it tracks only 5 percent of the roughly 500,000 objects floating in space, much of that uncontrollable ‘space debris’ that needs to be monitored to avoid collisions with US assets. An Air Force press release claims the program will be able to ‘detect, track and measure an object the size of a softball orbiting more than 1,200 miles in space.’ The program makes up one of the larger new lines for research, development, test and evaluation in the Air Force’s 2015 budget request, at $214m. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, the two competitors in the program, should find out who emerges victorious soon, according to Steve Bruce, vice president for Advanced Systems at Lockheed’s Mission Systems and Training business. “The plan right now is to award by the end of May,” Bruce said. “The [operational] date would be in 2018 for Site 1. It’s a pretty reasonable schedule. It’s a development program with the biggest radar ever built, so I wouldn’t claim it’s easy, but it’s pretty reasonable. I’d say it’s low risk.” Lockheed’s offering is built from existing technology, Bruce said, which helps with costs and meeting the service’s schedule. “Space Fence will provide the US Air Force with enhanced space situational awareness and is vital to our national security,” Raytheon spokesman Michael Nachshen wrote in an emailed response to a request for comment. “Raytheon is confident of our solution and looks forward to the Air Force’s decision.” Shelton had planned to offer an award on the program last year, but was delayed while the results of the Strategic Choices and Management Review were finalized. That led to an additional $70m in costs, according to testimony from top Air Force acquisition officials in October. (Source: Defense News)