Seoul’s ADEX escapes the worst of Covid-19 cancellations

by Gareth Jennings

As the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition 2021 is staged at Seoul Airport on the outskirts of the South Korean capital from 19 to 21 October, Gareth Jennings explores the expected developments at the show…

ADEX, as the event is popularly known, is rapidly becoming one of Asia-Pacific's most influential and prestigious aviation, aerospace and defence events, along with Aero India, Avalon in Australia, the Singapore Air Show, and the China Air Show in Zhuhai in China.

For organisers, the biennial show has been fortunate to escape the worst of the Covid-19 cancellations and postponements that have blighted other similar events over the last couple of years, with the previous ADEX in 2019 having been staged just ahead of the global shutdown, and this latest iteration coming just on the back of it. There will, however, be a reduced international participation at this year’s event as global travel restrictions remain place.

 

With Covid-19 having also taken the gloss off previously announced defence budget increases (in 2021, nearly USD500 million was shaved off defence expenditure for the year to help pay for the pandemic), South Korea in general and the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) in particular will be keen to once again being showing their wares to the world at this 14th running of ADEX.

Although the RoKAF has increasingly taken on an expeditionary role in recent years, it remains the threat from North Korea that drives the service's procurement and modernisation plans (for instance). To this end, the RoKAF's acquisition planning is focused primarily on strengthening its air combat capabilities with the latest precision strike and air defence assets, and ADEX will bring the latest news on a planned follow-on buy of the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), as well as latest developments on the KF-21 Boramae (previously known as KF-X) programme in particular. 

With a keen focus on military affairs, Janes interconnected intelligence spans across the globe. For those with a particular eye for South Korean aviation, please see below for our latest analysis of the country’s developments….

  • ADEX 2021: KF-21 Boramae to take centre-stage (read more)
  • ADEX 2021: Uncrewed aircraft to feature strongly in Seoul (read more)
  • ADEX 2021: Persistent threat from North Korea drives RoKAF modernisation (read more)
  • South Korea to buy 1,000 more UAVs by 2027 (read more)
  • South Korea advances space force plans (read more)
  • South Korean military to deploy VTOL UAVs for coastal surveillance and reconnaissance (read more)
  • South Korea testing several new missiles amid tensions with Pyongyang (read more)
  • South Korea to start trial operations of ‘grenade-launching' and ‘small modular' UAVs in 2022 (read more)
  • KAI to support Boeing in upgrading RoKAF's E-737 AEW&C aircraft (read more)    
  • Korean Air begins research on RoKAF-commissioned project to launch space rockets using commercial aircraft (read more)
  • Korean Air to bid for second Baekdu ISR project (read more)

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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As the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition 2021 is staged at Seoul Airport on the o...

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