Northrop Grumman conducts first flight of Australian MQ-4C
14 November 2023
by Jon Grevatt
Northrop Grumman said it expects to deliver the first of four on-order MQ-4C Tritons to Australia by 2024. (Northrop Grumman)
Northrop Grumman has completed the first flight of Australia's on-order MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS),the company announced on 13 November.
The company said the flight took place on 9 November at its Palmdale Aircraft Integration Center in California. Northrop Grumman said the first of four contracted MQ-4Cs will be delivered to Australia in 2024.
According to the company, the first Australian MQ-4C flight – of more than six hours – evaluated the airworthiness of the engine, flight controls, and fuel system. Basic handling tests were also conducted, it said.
The Australian government approved the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF's) purchase of a fourth MQ-4C RPAS in September. The government said the cost of the aircraft, in addition to planned upgrades of its fleet of Boeing P-8A ‘Poseidon' maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), was AUD1.5 billion (USD957 million).
Australia committed to the procurement of the initial three MQ-4C aircraft in 2018. In total, Australia has said it expects to procure six of the type.
The US Air Force said the Bell Boeing CV-22B involved in the mishap was an aircraft from the 353rd Special Operations Wing. The unit operates its CV-22Bs from Yokota Air Base near Tokyo. (US Air Force)
A Bell Boeing CV-22 Osprey of the US Air Force (USAF) has crashed in Japanese waters.
In a statement later on 29 November US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) said the CV-22B Osprey from the 353rd Special Operations Wing was involved in the “mishap”.
The aircraft was “performing a routine training mission off the shore of Yakushima Island, Japan, with eight airmen on board,” the AFSOC statement said, adding that the aircraft had taken off from Yokota Air Base.
According to AFSOC, the crew's condition was “unknown” as of 0030 h local time on 30 November. “Emergency personnel are on scene conducting search-and-rescue operations. The cause of the mishap is currently unknown,” AFSOC said.
In a press conference in Tokyo later on 29 November Japanese Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense Hiroyuki Miyazawa said the CV-22 “made an emergency water landing off the coast of Yakushima” at 1440 h local time.
A model of the Airbus SIRTAP UAS, displayed in Paris at Eurosatory 2022. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)
Spain has acquired the Airbus SIRTAP unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the manufacturer announced on 29 November.
The Spanish Ministry of Defence (MoD) has contracted nine systems comprising a total of 27 air vehicles and nine ground control stations. Two simulators have also been acquired.
“Airbus has signed a contract with the Spanish Ministry of Defence for the development and acquisition of SIRTAP, a high-performance tactical UAS that will reinforce the tactical capabilities of the Spanish Army and the Air and Space Force,” Airbus said. The MoD said that the contract value was “close to” EUR495 million (USD543 million).
Having originally launched SIRTAP with Colombia, this contract with Spain now formally kick-starts Airbus' development of the UAS that is being billed as sitting midway between the light tactical and medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) classes.
Canadian MQ-9 Reaper operational capability delayed to 2028
28 November 2023
by Zach Rosenberg
One of the two MQ-9A Block 5-15 air vehicles currently operating with Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 (VMU-1). The accompanying artist's rendering shows an MQ-9A Block 5-25 in VMU-1 colours. The SkyTower ANE pod is carried beneath the MQ-9A's left wing on stores station 2. (NAVAIR)
Canada's planned purchase of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper under the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) programme has been delayed from 2025 to 2028, the country's Department of National Defence (DND) told Janes on 27 November.
GA-ASI was the sole respondent to a solicitation issued in February 2022. Although the DND intends to sign a contract worth up to CAD5 billion (USD3.7 billion) with GA-ASI in fiscal year (FY) 2023 (which ends in calendar year March 2024), MQ-9's initial operational capability (IOC) qualification is delayed from FY 2025–26 to FY 2028 citing a need for additional development work.
Claire Chu, Janes senior China analyst joins Harry Kemsley and Sean Corbett to discuss how China's economic activity projects influence globally and what she learnt as part of the recent US Congressional staff delegation to China.