Thales Alenia Space to build two SDS satellites for Intelsat

by Olivia Savage

Thales Alenia Space has been contracted to deliver two Space Inspire software-defined satellites. (Thales Alenia Space )

Intelsat has contracted Thales Alenia Space – a joint venture between Thales and Leonardo – for the production of two software-defined satellites (SDSs).

The satellites, IS-41 and IS-44, will be based on the Space Inspire product line and are scheduled to be in service by 2025.

SDSs are more flexible than traditional types of satellites as they enable the user to reconfigure and reprogram on demand and in orbit. More traditional types are commonly launched for a single purpose and although they can be upgraded, this often takes longer to implement.

Instelsat general manager Dave Micha told Janes, “We're at the forefront of the move to SDS, which will allow us to design beams of different shapes and sizes and reconfigure coverage plans on-the-fly. For example, satellite beams could track particular planes or ships and dynamically allocate capacity precisely where it's needed.”

Thales Alenia Space said its Space Inspire satellites provide seamless telecommunications mission and services reconfigurations and immediate in-orbit alterations to broadband connectivity.

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Philippines progresses plan to procure 32 new S-70i Black Hawk helicopters

by Ridzwan Rahmat

Manila has made further progress with its plan to procure 32 additional new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana disclosed on 16 January that a notice of award (NOA) was issued to PZL Mielec of Poland on 28 December 2021 for the airframes.

The indicative contract value for the project is PHP32 billion (USD624 million) and it will include a logistics and training package for pilots and maintenance crew.

The Philippines ordered an initial batch of 16 S-70is in 2019 for USD241 million.

The airframes were first delivered to the PAF's 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing in November 2020 with the last five helicopters inducted in December 2021. One of the airframes was lost in a June 2021 crash.

Airframes that are in service are for roles such as close-air support operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, and medical evacuations.

A contract agreement for the 32 additional airframes is being drafted, after which a notice to proceed will be issued to PZL Mielec to officially mark the commencement of the programme, said Lorenzana on his official social media channel.

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Taiwan loses one F-16V in a crash

by Alessandra Giovanzanti

A Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) F-16V single-seat fighter aircraft crashed into the sea during a routine training sortie on 11 January, the Ministry of National Defence (MND) in Taipei said.

The aircraft (serial number 6650), which departed from Chiayi airbase around 1455 h local time, went missing from radar screens at about 1523 h local time over the sea, west of the airbase. The MND said that radar and communications contact was lost with the aircraft shortly after take-off.

It was later confirmed that the aircraft crashed into the sea. At the time of writing, the pilot was still missing. The RoCAF Command said it has established a response centre to carry out search and rescue (SAR) operations.

Meanwhile, all F-16 training operations have been suspended, the RoCAF said, with Air Force Major General Liu Hui-chien saying during a press conference that safety checks will be conducted on the entire fleet.

The aircraft is one of the recently upgraded F-16A to V standard and part of the recently commissioned first F-16V squadron assigned to the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing in November 2021.

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Dassault aircraft deliveries rise

by Marc Selinger

A Dassault Rafale armed with MBDA missiles. (Dassault Aviation)

Dassault Aviation delivered 55 airplanes in 2021, up from 47 the year before, the French aerospace manufacturer announced on 6 January.

Dassault provided 25 Rafale multirole fighters to export customers in 2021, which met expectations and was up from 13 the previous year. The company also delivered 30 Falcon business jets, up five from an earlier forecast but down four from the previous year.

Dassault received orders for 49 Rafales and 51 Falcons in 2021, up from zero and 15, respectively, from the year before. The company attributed its low 2020 order intake to economic uncertainty and travel restrictions spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2021 Rafale order figure consisted of 37 aircraft for export and 12 for France. The United Arab Emirates' signing of a contract in December 2021 to buy 80 Rafales is not included. Dassault gave no reason for the omission.

Dassault's backlog stood at 86 Rafales and 55 Falcons at the end of 2021, up from 62 Rafales and 34 Falcons a year earlier.

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Intelsat has contracted Thales Alenia Space – a joint venture between Thales and Leonardo – for the ...

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