Russian aircraft take to French skies in the absence of US military aircraft
One expected the 50th Paris Air Show (Golden Jubilee Year) held at Le Bourget from June 17 to 23 to be an exceptional event, but it was not to be so. There were no earth-shaking deals. However, the future of aviation was on show, particularly in the realm of defence. Though the sheen was missing with American military jets skipping the biennial event due to federal budget cuts known as sequestration, there were others who grabbed the opportunity to showcase their products and cutting-edge technologies. The US Defense Department has scaled back its presence at air shows everywhere and Paris is no exception.
The absence of US military aircraft opened up space for Russians and the host country France to showcase their latest planes, helicopters and drones. Also this year the notable themes were electric and hybrid-electric planes, as well as carbon-graphite construction—improvements aimed at creating light, strong, sustainable planes in the face of high fuel prices.
The cynosure of all eyes was the Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter as it was flying first time in French skies, while the other European aircraft have done the rounds here. The Su-35 showcased its prowess doing various manoeuvres, including the famous Pugachev Cobra where a plane flies straight up and then seems to curl back in on itself. Russia, like the US and European companies, is keen on wooing the international buyer, not just from the Middle East and Asia (India having been one of its major buyers).
The defence market is quite fluid with several developed nations slashing defence budgets. However, there is a growing trend for unmanned aircraft along with manned aircraft.
Le Bourget gave a peek into the development. Foremost was the Piaggio Aero HammerHead which has been transformed from a business jet into a drone, with surveillance equipment and remote flying systems. Piaggio Aero’s Chief Executive Officer Alberto Galassi said the HammerHead is an “insight into what an advanced unmanned aerial system of the future will look like.” Piaggio intends to get approvals of the same for use by 2014.
Elsewhere at the venue Iomax’s ArchAngel, a border patrol aircraft designed to provide ‘airborne surveillance for intelligence and security’ was showcased. The aircraft was originally designed as an agricultural crop-duster, thus reflecting how the industry is reinventing itself due to economic pressures.
Here are some of the announcements at Le Bourget from a wide spectrum of defence operations.
Elettronica unveil self-protection suite
Elettronica, the leading electronic warfare (EW) solution house, unveiled the self-protection suite for combat search and rescue helicopters. All the key Elettronica’s technological breakthroughs and advanced solutions were showcased: Virgilius, the integrated EW-architecture system and ELT/572 DIRCM the winning response to MANPADS threats in the E/O spectrum. Other core solutions included the DASS POD of the Eurofighter Typhoon and the ELT/568 system with a specific Escort Support Jammer solution ALQ-703.
Elettronica also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with PSATRI from Saudi Arabia. The MoU is for research and development of new solutions in the field of electronic warfare.
Selex ES systems onboard V-22 Osprey
Selex ES, a Finmeccanica company, announced that Boeing Defense, Space & Security had selected it to supply its SRT-200 high-frequency radio communication systems to the V-22 Osprey Programme. The SRT-200 system is the latest lightweight and compact outcome of a research and development activity carried out by the company within the high-frequency sector. It provides voice/data radio communications for avionic applications with ALE2 technology.
Selex ES also announced that it had bagged a contract worth €5 million (£4.2 million) by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Defence to supply a number of Titan 385ES-HD turrets for German Navy (Deutsche Marine) Sea Lynx Mk88A helicopters. The Titan 385ESHD (enhanced stability-high definition) turrets will allow German Navy pilots to see their environment clearly while navigating and performing surveillance missions at night and in conditions of poor visibility.
MBDA’s futuristic solution to reshape surface combat
MBDA unveiled the CVS302 HOPLITE that is designed to supply an indirect precision attack capability for land and naval artillery in 2035 and beyond. This represents the fourth and latest of MBDA’s annual Concept Visions projects, demonstrating once again the company’s position as a thought leader in envisaging how innovation in missile systems could dominate the future battlefield.
The HOPLITE system consists of a mission control system, and two missile variants, HOPLITE-S and HOPLITE-L, both of which can fly 70 km in under two minutes at low altitude or up to 160 km at high altitude in under four minutes when the way is clear. HOPLITE’s one shot one kill precision implifies operations while reducing collateral damage risk and mission cost.
A400M on static display
The A400M which is being delivered this summer to the French Air Force (FAF) and the first FAF A400M were on static display. The ability of the A400M to carry C-17 type loads to the point of attack, as does the C-130, will be a significant game changer for the airlift market. The other element of a global fleet built around Airbus Military aircraft is the A330MRTT.
The plane is built on the foundation of the very successful A330 commercial aircraft, which is used widely and globally. When the A330 MRTT was built, Airbus Military went back and redesigned the plane around new computer-based designed tools and a new and even more robust plane emerged crafted for the tanking mission.
HAL orders navigation systems kits from Sagem
Indian aircraft manufacturer, the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), has ordered 107 Sigma 95 navigation systems kits from Sagem (Safran) for the Indian Air Force’s combat aircraft. Developed and produced by Sagem, Sigma 95 is an autonomous hybrid inertial navigation system combining laser gyros and GPS/Glonass satellite navigation. It ensures high-precision navigation and broad operational flexibility for both combat and special-mission aircraft.
Two-thirds of the systems in this order will be manufactured in India by HAL, further cementing the partnership agreeement on navigation systems signed by Sagem and HAL.
Beechcraft presents light attack aircraft
Beechcraft Defense Company said that it expects the growth in international defence budgets to lead to demand for its trainer and light attack aircraft. Although most Western nations saw defence cuts in 2012, military spending rose by 7.8 per cent in North Africa, 8.4 per cent in the Middle East and 4.2 per cent in Latin America.
Since deliveries of its T-6 military trainer began in 2000 to the US Air Force and Navy, Beechcraft has expanded into international markets, with customers including NATO Flying Training, Canada, the Hellenic Air Force of Greece, the Israeli Air Force, the Iraqi Air Force, the Royal Moroccan Air Force and the Mexican Air Force.
“We are seeing growing interest in the T-6 and AT-6 from defence departments around the world who are looking for proven reliability and cost-effective solutions,” said Russ Bartlett, President, Beechcraft Defense Company. “The capabilities of these aircraft are second to none, and allow pilots to be trained to the highest standards, and for air forces to operate highly flexible, light attack aircraft.”
The AT-6 is an affordable and capable multi-role, multi-mission aircraft system tailored for initial pilot training, weapons training, operational net-centric ISR and light attack capabilities for irregular warfare. The AT-6 leads the light attack market with purpose-built capability, affordability, sustainability and interoperability for the most demanding of scenarios.
Alenia Aermacchi ties up with Italian Defence
Alenia Aermacchi and the Secretariat General of Defence/National Armaments Directorate of the Italian Ministry of Defence signed an agreement to jointly define the operational specifications and collaborate on the development of a new basic-advanced trainer, the M-345 high efficiency trainer (HET) and expected to enter service between 2017 and 2020.
The new HET will be a further development of the M-345 jet trainer, the latest solution proposed by Alenia Aermacchi for the basic advanced phase of military pilot training.
Russian Helicopters’ Ka-52 Alligator
Russian Helicopters, a subsidiary of Oboronprom, part of State Corporation Rostec and a leading global designer and manufacturer of helicopters, and Rosoboronexport showcased the latest Ka-52 Alligator combat helicopter. The helicopter made its international debut on the first day of Le Bourget with a spectacular display full of aerobatic manoeuvres.
The Ka-52 Alligator is an all-weather, day-night combat helicopter. It is designed to destroy armoured and unarmoured ground targets, low-speed aerial targets and enemy front line and tactical reserve troops, and to undertake reconnaissance missions and coordination of groups of military helicopters. The Alligator is equipped with stealth technologies and active IR and electronic jammers, and is designed to Russian and international standards for combat helicopters and their operation.
Despite the absence of big military aircraft contracts, the Paris Air Show continues to hold on to its marquee status. What if the markets are down, they are sure to bounce back.
Russian Helicopters’ Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter
Dassault Military stall with
nEUROn UCAV on display
A Beechcraft Special Mission 350ER
Airbus Military’s A400M on static display