Newscast: December 15, 2006

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F-35 is Airborne!

The first F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter took off on its initial test flight from Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas on 12:44 December 15, 2006 piloted by the program's Chief Pilot Jon Beesley. The aircraft was airborne 35 minutes on its maiden flight. It has now embarked on a 12,000-hour flight-test program.

Australia Considers F/A-18E/F for a A$2 Billion F-111 Replacement

While commitment for the future Joint Strike Fighter plan is reaffirmed, Australian Government is considering a A$2 billion back-up plan to replace the Australian Air Force's aging F-111 fighter bombers while it waits for the controversial Joint Strike Fighter jets to be delivered. The Australians are considering buying 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to cover the widening gap between F-111 deactivation and activation of F-35s. (ABC Australia)

Australian Defence, Boeing Sign Tactical UAV Contract

The Australian Defence Materiel Organisation has signed contracts with Boeing Australia Limited for the delivery and support of a Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) capability for the Army. Boeing Australia, teamed with Israel Aircraft Industries, will provide the I-View UAV system. The Army’s TUAVs are scheduled to commence operational service in late 2009, operated by 132 Battery, of the 20th Surveillance and Target Acquisition Regiment, based at Gallipoli Barracks in Enoggera.

KAI Wins Orders for 50 Additional K-50 Trainers

The Government of South Korea has signed a contract with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the procurement of 50 additional T-50 and TA-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainers, bringing the total number of T-50s ordered by South Korea to more than 70 of which eight are already operational. The T-50 was co-developed by KAI and Lockheed Martin to train pilots who will fly advanced fighters. The aircraft also carry weapons, including air/air missiles and air/ground weapons, performing light attack missions.

KMW Acquires the Defense Division of Blohm+Voss Industries

A new merger in the German defense market. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) has acquired the defense division of Blohm + Voss Industrie. This acquisition is the second transaction in the European armor market announced this week, following the acquisition of Danish armor specialist Roshield by the Dutch TenCate group.

India, Russia sign pact to upgrade MiG-29 jets

The upgrading of 66 Indian Air Force MiG-29s has moved one step further with the official signing of the U.S. $850 million deal, with Moscow-based MiG Company. India currently operates three squadrons of MiG29s received between 1986 and 1996. The modernization process will include the introduction of the Klimov RD-33 series 3 extended life-cycle jet engines, new, more durable version of the original MiG-29 power plant. Other additions will include improved radars, and advanced avionics. The aircraft will be fitted with aerial refueling thus extending their range and mission endurance.

German Army Gets Initial Delivery of NH90TTH Helicopters

The German Army accepted the first three NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopters on December 13th, 2006. The German Army is the first customer to get this model. The helicopters will be used for flight and maintenance training with the German Army Air Corps.


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