Ukraine conflict: General Atomics offers to donate two UAVs to Ukraine

by Marc Selinger

An MQ-9A Reaper. (US Air Force)

US-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has offered to transfer two company-owned MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a ground-control station, and related equipment to Ukraine for the symbolic price of USD1 to help the war-torn country improve its airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, according to GA-ASI's chief executive.

US and allied forces have used Reapers extensively in combat, and providing such aircraft to Ukraine would have an “immediate impact” on the country's war with Russia, CEO Linden Blue said in a 1 February statement.

The offer includes free training for the first cadre of Ukrainian pilots and maintainers. It excludes the cost of readying the aircraft for combat, transporting them to Ukraine, setting them up in that country, obtaining satellite bandwidth, or providing additional supporting labour, all of which are “outside of our control”, according to Blue.

GA-ASI made its proposal public amid months-long US government resistance to sending the company's UAVs to Ukraine. While Ukraine has received artillery, tanks, and other much-needed military support from the West, it continues to lack “high-quality” UAVs, GA-ASI spokesperson C Mark Brinkley told Janes

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Bombardier eyes rapid defence growth

by Marc Selinger

Bombardier has provided its Global 6000 business jet for Saab's GlobalEye airborne early warning and control aircraft. (Saab)

Bombardier expects to triple its defence revenue to more than USD1 billion in the second half of the decade, according to the Canadian aircraft manufacturer.

“Geopolitical tensions and international security concerns have accelerated demand” for Bombardier's defence products, the company wrote in a 23 March investor day presentation. The revenue boost will come from aircraft deliveries, aircraft modifications, and engineering services, said Paul Sislian, Bombardier's executive vice-president of aftermarket services and strategy.

“We are actively answering several proposals and tenders,” Sislian said at the investor event. “We must remind ourselves that defence programmes are long to operationalise, and the procurement, design, and modification cycles can last many years. As such, we are preparing our company and infrastructure to enhance our participation in this segment for the long run.”

These preparations include recruiting more engineers, technicians, and salespeople, and moving into a new 750,000 sq ft (69,677 m 2 ) final assembly plant in Mississauga, Ontario, a Bombardier spokesperson told Janes on 24 March.

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Boeing to take another KC-46A tanker charge

by Marc Selinger

A Boeing KC-46A tanker touches down during a visit to Japan. (US Air Force)

Boeing expects to take another earnings charge on its long-troubled KC-46A Pegasus tanker because of a “supplier quality issue” with the centre fuel tank, according to an official at the US aerospace manufacturer.

The amount will be far smaller than the KC-46A's third quarter 2022 charge of USD1.2 billion, which Boeing blamed on labour and parts shortages, Boeing's chief financial officer, Brian West, said on 22 March at the Bank of America Global Industrials Conference. Asked whether the new charge would be USD1 billion, West replied, “Not billion, not even half of that.”

The KC-46A is a variant of the 767 commercial aircraft, which is also affected by the tank issue. West said Boeing has identified a fix for the problem and is working to implement it on planes that are in production and in service.

“We will deliver airplanes as we complete rework, and we are not changing our overall delivery plans for the year,” a Boeing spokesperson said in a statement. “Our engineering analysis to date shows that the issue is not an immediate safety-of-flight concern.”

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US backtracks on M1A2 tanks, sending older variant to Ukraine

by Meredith Roaten

After months of deliberations, top US Army officials have decided that sending the M1A1 Abrams tank to Ukraine is faster than sending the M1A2 as originally planned. (US Marine Corps)

The Pentagon announced on 21 March that the 31 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs) promised to Ukraine will not be M1A2 model as initially planned.

In order to get platforms to Ukraine faster, the US will pull 31 M1A1 tanks from US Army stocks and spruce them up for battle, said Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder on 21 March. The variant change will “significantly expedite delivery timelines” and will ensure that the tanks will arrive by “the fall timeframe”.

The funding for the assistance to Kyiv will come from Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which will enable the Pentagon to pay General Dynamics to modify the M1 tank hulls.

Scott Taylor, director of US business development at General Dynamics Land Systems, told Janes that the tanks will be refurbished according to the US Army's 10-20 mission capable standards.

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US-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has offered to transfer two company-owned...

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