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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Program Insider: Program Updates

Attack/Utility — Bell Helicopter delivered three H-1 upgrade aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps in February, as the H-1 program finally rolls into production. So far, it has delivered one attack AH-1Z and two utility UH-1Ys. A full-rate production decision is due later this year.

Heavy Lift — The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command recently showed off "first chips" from newly machined parts of the General Electric GE38-1B engine for the U.S. Marine Corps’ new heavy-lift CH-53K at NAS Patuxent River, Md. Sikorsky Aircraft picked the GE engine in 2006; it is designed to be more fuel efficient and has 60 percent fewer parts than the T64 used on legacy H-53s, the Navy said.

Transport — The NH90, made by the consortium of AgustaWestland, Eurocopter, and Stork Fokker Aerospace, looks good in the European Union markets. "Spending money on this program has become an excellent way for European countries to defuse criticisms about low defense spending, and this product has basically sewn up the European market," Teal Group writes in a recent report.

Unmanned — The U.S. Navy is considering an integrated radar for Northrop Grumman’s Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle, perhaps to be incorporated around 2010. The company, in keeping with its ongoing push to accelerate Fire Scout development, may move sooner to put a radar on its corporate test aircraft.

Unmanned — The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has conducted the first flight test of CybAero’s Vantage unmanned aerial vehicle under a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA). The lab and the Sweden-based company said in late February the drone had been flown on a restricted range near the lab’s Washington facility at various speeds to assess flight control performance. It also was hovered in medium-strong wind and performed vertical takeoff and landing. It low-speed flight capabilities by autonomously maneuvering over a pre-programmed course, they said. The Vantage is a Humvee-transportable, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone powered by a heavy-fuel rotary engine.

Utility — The Republic of Singapore Air Force is launching a three-year, collaborative research program with EADS on condition-based maintenance for its Super Puma AS332s. The amount of the investment won’t be determined until June, when the deal is finalized.

Utility — The Pentagon’s Joint Cargo Aircraft program is on schedule, according to prime contractor L-3. The L-3 team is to deliver the first two C-27Js, based on Alenia Aeronautica’s Spartan aircraft, in September and November. — Rebecca Christie

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