Airbus advances A400M deliveries with latest Belgian airlifter

by Gareth Jennings

Aircraft CT-04 is the third A400M to be delivered to Belgium, and the fourth for the bi-national 15th Air Transport Wing established with Luxembourg. Its delivery into Melsbroek on 23 September brings to 101 the number of A400Ms now received by international customers. (Belgian Air Component)

Airbus has advanced deliveries of the A400M Atlas airlifter, with Belgium receiving its latest aircraft on 23 September.

Aircraft CT-04 was the third for the Belgian Air Component (BAC), and the fourth A400M to be delivered to the bi-national 15th Air Transport Wing that Belgium has established with Luxembourg at Melsbroek (the military area of Brussels airport). It brings to 101 the total now delivered to international customers.

The joint Belgian-Luxembourg Bi-National Unit (BNU) is due to receive its four remaining A400Ms by the end of 2023, with full operating capability for the unit slated for the end of 2024. These aircraft will be made available to the European Air Transport Command, and through that the European Rapid Reaction Force.


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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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Airbus has advanced deliveries of the A400M Atlas airlifter, with Belgium receiving its latest aircr...

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