UK touts uncrewed air defence from mid-2030s

by Gareth Jennings

Seen flying alongside a manned F-35 fighter in this artist's impression, the Mosquito uncrewed aircraft is set to be the primary element in the UK's future airborne air defence capabilities from the mid 2030s. (Crown Copyright)

The United Kingdom has said that its airborne air defence duties will be flown by uncrewed aircraft from the middle of the decade, with manned combat aircraft flying in support.

Answering a question in the House of Commons on 13 September, Minister of State for Defence Jeremy Quin said that uncrewed aircraft are set to replace the Royal Air Force's (RAF's) Eurofighter Typhoons in the air-to-air role from the mid-2030s, supported by the Tempest fighter now being developed as part of the wider Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

“A core aircraft is set to play a crucial role in our concept of a Future Combat Air System, but this will likely be just one element in a network of capabilities supporting uncrewed aircraft that are expected to replace the United Kingdom's Typhoon aircraft air-to-air combat capability from the mid-2030s,” Quin said.


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Airshow China 2021: CASC's twin-turbofan CH-6 armed reconnaissance UAV prototype breaks cover

by Kelvin Wong

Front view of the new CH-6 armed reconnaissance UAV, showing its chined fuselage, turbofan engine pods, and T-tail. (wanquanfoto/CAAA)

Chinese defence prime China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) is taking the opportunity at Airshow China 2021, being held in Zhuhai from 28 September to 3 October, to unveil a prototype of its new strike-capable Cai Hong-6 (Rainbow-6, or CH-6) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Under development by CASC subsidiary China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA, also known as the 11th Academy) in Beijing, the CH-6 is a turbofan-powered, medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE)-class UAV primarily designed for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and airborne strike operations at high subsonic speeds.

Janes understands from a company spokesperson that development of the CH-6 commenced in June 2019, with preliminary and critical design review completed in February 2020 and December 2020 respectively. Work transitioned into the engineering development phase in January, with the construction of the prototype completed in July.

“We anticipate that the prototype air vehicle's subsystem trials will be completed in February 2022, with ground testing and first flight expected in October,” the spokesperson said.


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USAF contracts Rolls-Royce for B-52 re-engining

by Gareth Jennings

The Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3 engines on the USAF's fleet of 76 B-52H bombers are to be replaced by Rolls-Royce F130 engines. The entire fleet is due to be modernised by 2035. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The US Air Force (USAF) has contracted Rolls-Royce to provide the powerplants to re-engine its fleet of Boeing B-52H Stratofortress bombers.

Announced on 24 September, the initial indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) award is valued at USD500.9 million over six years. If all options are exercised, the value will rise to USD2.6 billion, encompassing 608 commercial engines (76 aircraft at eight engines each), spare engines, support equipment, and related data and services.

The contract will be performed at the company's Indianapolis facility in Indiana, and is expected to be completed by 23 September 2038. According to the USAF, the first two fully modified B-52s are projected to be delivered by the end of 2025, ahead of ground and flight testing. The first operational B-52s with the new engines are projected for delivery by the end of 2028, with the entire fleet modified by 2035.


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PT Dirgantara Indonesia, Turkish Havelsan to develop simulator for N219 aircraft

by Alessandra Giovanzanti

The N219 (seen here after completing its maiden flight on 16 August 2017) was showcased at the Teknofest 2021. During the exhibition, PTDI and HAVELSAN signed an MOU to develop and produce a simulator for the aircraft. (LAPAN)

PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) and Turkish company Hava Elektronik Sanayi ve Ticaret A Ş (HAVELSAN) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to proceed with the joint development of a simulator for PTDI's N219 Nurtanio short take-off and landing (STOL) multirole aircraft.

The MOU was signed on 21 September by PTDI President Director Elfien Goentoro and HAVELSAN's Mehmet Active Nacar at the PTDI booth during the Teknofest 2021 international exhibition held in Istanbul between 21 and 26 September.

The agreement also includes avionic and system modelling, flight and engine modelling, and computer system and interface development, PTDI noted in a statement released on 22 September.

The N219 transport aircraft is a twin-turboprop transport aircraft offered for passenger, troop and cargo transport, maritime surveillance, and medical evacuation, all with quick-change configuration. According to Janes All the World Aircraft


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The United Kingdom has said that its airborne air defence duties will be flown by uncrewed aircraft ...

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