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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UK seeks new GEO satellite for Skynet

by Olivia Savage

Skynet 6A (pictured above), scheduled to be launched in 2025, will fill a capability gap while the MoD sets the requirements for the Skynet Enduring Capability. (Airbus)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is seeking a Narrowband Satellite System (NSS) for the Skynet Enduring Capability (SKEC).

A Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ), published by the MoD on 10 August, outlined a requirement for a narrowband ultra-high frequency (UHF) geosynchronous (GEO) satellite and its control system for SKEC.

A deadline for expressions of interest has been set for 20 September. The satellite must also meet NATO STANAG 4681 Ed 2 and/or MIL-STD-188-100 standards.

The SKEC space segment comprises two separate procurements, the first of which involves the acquisition of a GEO NSS. The second one seeks multiple medium-sized GEO satellites with X and Mil Ka-band payloads, which will help meet a wideband requirement, the MoD detailed.

It is expected that SKEC will provide the MoD with a next-generation satellite communications (satcom) capability. It is anticipated that the satellites will be in service until at least 2040, the MoD disclosed. The MoD also hopes to have the capability to monitor and control the platforms.


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UK launches next phase of UAS Heavy Lift challenge

by Olivia Savage

The Royal Navy trialling Windracers Autonomous Systems' Ultra fixed-wing UAS (pictured) in the UASHLC. (Crown Copyright 2022)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched Phase 2 of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Heavy Lift Capability (UASHLC) challenge.

According to the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) published on 5 August, the MoD is seeking to “support and inform the development of maritime operating concepts and enable assessment, analysis, exploration, and evaluation of the use of UAS for beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) payload delivery and broader UAS capabilities”. The MoD is therefore seeking to accelerate the development of one or more suppliers' platforms, as well as the key technologies that will enhance UAS operational capabilities.

The closing date for suppliers to submit a PQQ is 5 September, with a contract expected to run from September 2022 to August 2027, the MoD said. Up to GBP95 million (USD116 million) is available for the programme, the MoD added.

The MoD was unable to provide further comment at the time of publication.


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Czech Republic to buy Heron UAVs from Israel

by Gareth Jennings

The Czech Republic is looking to buy three Heron 1 UAVs from Israel, with the deal expected to be concluded by the end of 2022. (IAI)

The Czech Republic is to buy three Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as part of the country's wider Concept of Capability Construction of the Army of the Czech Republic plan.

The Czech Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the plan on 8 August, saying that negotiations for the procurement are to begin with the Israeli government shortly as it plans to acquire equipment seen “as crucial in conducting aerial reconnaissance and performing other tasks for direct combat support and protection of Czech army units”.


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Unionised workers at three Boeing military aircraft factories in and near St Louis, Missouri, have a...

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