US Army insists on human-piloted rotorcraft for armed reconnaissance mission instead of UAV

by Pat Host

A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper UAV pictured on 5 August at March Air Reserve Base in California. The US Army insists on having a piloted rotorcraft perform the armed reconnaissance mission, though an expert said the service could do it, and do it cheaper, with an MQ-9. (US Air National Guard)

The US Army insists it needs a human-piloted Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) helicopter to perform the armed reconnaissance mission despite experts telling Janes the service could perform the mission with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Brigadier General Robert Barrie, programme executive officer for aviation, told Janes on 12 October that the existing technology requires the US Army to have a human-in-the-loop operating in the FARA for the decisions that would be required, and anticipated, for forward reconnaissance. A portion of this mission, he said, will be executed by UAVs, specifically with a combination of Air Launched Effects (ALE) and manned-unmanned teaming.


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Indian defence chief killed in helicopter crash

by Rahul Bedi & Jon Grevatt

India's Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat was one of 13 people killed on 8 December after their Indian Air Force (IAF) Russian Mi-17V ‘Hip' helicopter crashed in foggy weather in mountainous terrain in the southern Tamil Nadu state, officials have confirmed.

Gen Rawat, along with his wife and 11 other military personnel, was on his way from the Sulur military air base to Wellington – less than 100 km away – where he was to address officers at the Defence Services Staff College when the rotary craft caught fire and crashed near the hill town of Coonoor.

One IAF officer on board survived the crash, and is being treated for severe burn injuries in a local military hospital.

The IAF has ordered an inquiry into the accident to determine its cause.

Gen Rawat was appointed as India's first CDS in December 2019 upon retiring as Indian Army Chief of Staff. His remit was to function as the principal military advisor to India's defence minister.

He was also tasked with boosting triservice co-ordination, creating American-style theatre commands, prioritising materiel procurements, and economising defence expenditure.


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South Africa admits ‘negative impact' of delayed Gripen negotiations

by Helmoed-Römer Heitman

South Africa's Department of Defence released a statement on 6 December admitting that protracted negotiations on a support contract for the South African Air Force's (SAAF's) Gripen fighters are “negatively impacting on the air defence capability”.

It noted that a “lengthy discussion” has taken place between its procurement agency Armscor and Saab, the Gripen's manufacturer. “Proposals have been presented by both parties and are being reviewed to ensure that the matter is conclusively dealt with,” it said. “The SAAF is confident that a solution will be found to resolve the matter.”

It has been reported that the SAAF's 26 Gripens are now effectively grounded pending an agreement, with some aircraft having already been cannibalised to keep others flying.

The Department of Defence statement did not explain what has held up the negotiations, but similar problems have hit the SAAF's fleet of BAE Systems Hawk jet trainers and the navy's German-built Type 209 submarines.


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Piaggio Aerospace sale stalls

by Charles Forrester

The sale of Piaggio Aerospace has stalled, with the company to reopen to possible bids in the coming weeks. (Piaggio Aerospace/Paul Cordwell)

The sale of Italy's Piaggio Aerospace to an undisclosed buyer has stalled, company officials confirmed to Janes on 7 December.

The company's Extraordinary Commissioner, Vincenzo Nicastro, met with trade union representatives following local press reports that the sale had been “interrupted”. According to Nicastro, no binding offer was received from the unnamed sole bidder. The bidder had been selected in September to begin exclusive negotiations to acquire the company following “long and careful screening”.

“The potential investor made us just aware [of] what the conditions would be for the purchase: these conditions were not consistent with the tender rules they had formally accepted and were linked to events [that were] difficult to realise. In agreement with the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, we decided therefore to start discussions with other parties interested in purchasing the company assets,” Nicastro said in a statement.


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The US Army insists it needs a human-piloted Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) helicopter...

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