AUSA 2021: Bell passes halfway point of 360 Invictus prototype assembly

by Pat Host

The Bell 360 Invictus, pictured in July 2021. Bell is on track for flying the aircraft in fiscal year or calendar year 2023. (Bell)

Bell is 60% into assembly of its 360 Invictus prototype that it is developing for the US Army's Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft – Competitive Prototype (FARA-CP) programme and is on track for flying the aircraft in fiscal year (FY) or calendar year 2023.

Chris Gehler, Bell vice-president and program director for 360 Invictus, told Janes on 7 October, ahead of the Association of the United States Army's (AUSA's) annual convention, that the company has been flying the 360 Invictus in its systems integration laboratory (SIL) since August. Here, Bell flies the aircraft with all of the hardware, cockpit, avionics, and flight control computers, among others, to see how all the systems work together.

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President Xi calls for accelerated development of military technologies

by Jon Grevatt

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the country's defence-industrial base to ‘step up' efforts to develop new military technologies and advanced weaponry.

The drive is needed, he said, to enable the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to achieve its modernisation milestones later this decade.

Speaking at a conference on military equipment and weapons in Beijing on 26 October, Xi claimed China achieved “leapfrog development” in military technologies during the country's 13th Five Year Plan (FYP), which ended in 2020.

This progress served as the “material and technological underpinning for the country's strategic capabilities”, said Xi in comments published by the official Xinhua news agency.

However, Xi also said this development needs to accelerate during China's 14th FYP, which runs 2021–25. He indicated that such progress is needed to support the PLA's stated goal to “build a modern military” by 2027, its centennial anniversary.

Xi went on to call on China's defence industry to “step up” the implementation of the 14th FYP and to “step up” the development of a “modern management system” to develop weapons and equipment.

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Lockheed Martin's purchase of Aerojet Rocketdyne delayed to Q1 2022

by Marc Selinger

Lockheed Martin, which had expected to finish its acquisition of propulsion manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne in the fourth quarter of 2021, disclosed on 26 October that it forecasts it will complete the transaction in the first quarter of 2022.

The US defence contractor did not give a specific reason for the delay; however, it indicated that the USD4.4 billion deal remains in the regulatory approval process. The Federal Trade Commission is leading the US government's multi-agency review of the proposed acquisition.

Lockheed Martin unveiled the deal in December 2020, saying it wants to bring the propulsion provider in-house to make designing and building missiles and rockets more efficient. Critics, including Raytheon Technologies, contend that the combination could make it difficult for Lockheed Martin's competitors to buy Aerojet Rocketdyne products.

Lockheed Martin provided the acquisition update while releasing its latest financial results. Net sales declined 2.8% to USD16 billion in the third quarter of 2021 partly because of the Covid-19 pandemic's impact on suppliers. Vendors that support both commercial aviation and defence are experiencing the most financial hardship, said John Mollard, Lockheed Martin's acting chief financial officer.

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Edge consolidates training businesses

by Charles Forrester

The United Arab Emirates' defence industrial conglomerate Edge announced on 26 October that it was consolidating three of its training businesses under the Jaheziya business unit.

The company's Jaheziya, Knowledge Point, and ETS businesses will be brought together under the Jaheziya brand as a result of the move and remain in the company's Mission Support cluster. The move will combine a variety of business functions and outputs, including Jaheziya's firefighting and emergency response training, Knowledge Point's defence and security education and training capabilities, and ETS's complex systems engineering and integration efforts.

Talal Al Hashmi, CEO of Jaheziya, said in a release, “In line with our ongoing assessments to optimise efficiencies and maximise returns at Edge Group, this new asset is set to add significant value. … Jaheziya is now an agile military and emergency response solutions provider with the scale, resources, and competencies to drive value for our stakeholders while continuing to meet the evolving needs of our customers.”

Al Hashmi added, “The new Jaheziya will span the value-chain spectrum from concept to commissioning, and its expanded capabilities are set to deliver innovative and cost-effective solutions aligned with evolving customer priorities.”

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