Saab opens Red Hawk production plant in Indiana

by Gareth Jennings

Saab will manufacture the aft fuselage of the T-7A Red Hawk at its newly opened West Lafayette facility in Indiana. (Boeing)

Saab officially opened the West Lafayette production facility in Indiana from where it will build its share of the T-7A Red Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft on which it is partnered with Boeing.

The Swedish manufacturer announced the event on 13 October, noting that apart from being the site for manufacturing the aft airframe section of the Red Hawk, the site will be used for research and development in autonomy, artificial intelligence, and advanced manufacturing also.

“By 2027, Saab expects to hire up to 300 employees for this facility, including assemblers, engineers, system administrators, and more. The West Lafayette facility will also work collaboratively with Purdue [University in Indiana] on research and development in sensor systems, artificial intelligence, and more. Saab plans to export products and technology from this facility,” the company said.

With two production representative jets (PRJs) built and flying, the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract awarded in September 2018 covers five more aircraft for flight trials, plus one fuselage for static tests, and another for fatigue testing.


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Boeing avoids labour strike at three US defence plants

by Marc Selinger

Boeing is developing the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned tanker for the US Navy. The company has averted a labour strike at three US factories that build military aircraft, including the MQ-25. (Boeing)

Unionised workers at three Boeing military aircraft factories in and near St Louis, Missouri, have approved a new three-year contract, averting a looming labour strike, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) announced on 3 August.

Boeing welcomed the news. “We're pleased with the outcome of the vote and we look forward to our future here in the St Louis area,” the company said in a statement.

The IAM said that Boeing's latest contract offer contained better retirement benefits compared with the one its members rejected on 24 July. About 2,500 union members were scheduled to go on strike on 1 August, but postponed the walkout after receiving the new offer.

“The newly ratified modified offer features critical improvements to the company's previous offer for retirement plans, including a USD8,000 lump sum payment that can be deferred to an employee's 401(k), and continuing the 4% company contribution and 75% match on the first 8% of an employee's 401(k) contribution,” the union said.


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Rocket Lab launches surveillance satellite for Australian DoD, US NRO

by Oishee Majumdar

Rocket Lab launched NROL-199, co-developed by the US NRO and the Australian DoD, with the help of its Electron rocket from a spaceport in New Zealand's Māhia Peninsula on 4 August. (Rocket Lab )

The second of the two surveillance satellites co-developed by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) of the United States and the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) was launched by the US-based Rocket Lab from its spaceport in New Zealand's Māhia Peninsula on 4 August.

The US NRO and Rocket Lab confirmed the launch of this second satellite, named ‘Antipodean Adventure' or NROL-199, on Twitter.

The first satellite named ‘Wise One Looks Ahead' or NROL-162 along with NROL-199 “carry national security payloads” designed and built by the US NRO in partnership with the Australian DoD, a spokesperson for the NRO told Janes on 3 August.

The two agencies will collaborate in operating these satellites, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that the NROL-162 and NROL-199 “missions are the latest examples of NRO's commitment to enhancing relationships” with the US' “allies and partners and demonstrates NRO's capability to consecutively launch multiple rockets from overseas locations”.


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USSOCOM awards Armed Overwatch contract to L3Harris Technologies

by Andrew White

L3Harris Technologies' AT-802U Sky Warden. (L3Harris)

US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has selected L3Harris Technologies as the lead contractor for its long-awaited Armed Overwatch programme.

The company was awarded a contract worth a maximum of USD3 billion on 31 July, although it was officially announced by the Tampa-based command on 1 August.

The Armed Overwatch programme intends to provide US Special Operations Forces (SOF) with up to 75 “deployable and sustainable manned aircraft systems [capable of] fulfilling close air support [CAS]; precision strike; and SOF intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) in austere and permissive environments”, according to USSOCOM's request for information for the programme.

Additional requirements called for a “multirole, modular” aircraft capable of supporting counter-terrorism/counter-violent extremist organisation operations in addition to “collapsing the stack by merging the capabilities of larger ISR and armed aircraft capabilities into one cost-effective, resilient package”.

Use of Armed Overwatch aircraft is expected to increase availability of other air assets to support operations against more advanced adversaries.


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Saab officially opened the West Lafayette production facility in Indiana from where it will build it...

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