Warplanes: July 8, 2000


: now, due to cost savings, will make a profit of six percent.--Stephen V Cole

Germany plans to conduct trials using a modified VFW-614 airliner as a surrogate Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle. The plane will have pilots on board, but can also be controlled from the ground as future military combat drones would be. The primary concern at this point in the design process is whether an unmanned remotely controlled aircraft could operate safely in crowded European airspace. In theory, the plane would first fly under control of its crew with short test periods of ground control. Later, it would fly entirely under ground control with the on-board crew ready to seize control should there be any problem with the datalinks.--Stephen V Cole

July 7, 2000; JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER UPDATE: Lockheed Martin is having problems with an overheating bearing on the Short Take Off Vertical Landing version. This has delayed Pratt & Whitney finishing the engine software. The STOVL version of Lockheed Martin's X35 may not fly until the end of next year. If engineering and manufacturing development is delayed, the company will be out $10 million per month or will have to lay off more than half of its hard-to-replace engineers.--Stephen V Cole

July 6, 2000; Australia has begun the upgrade of its 71 FA-18A/B fighters. The $725 million program is designed to keep the Hornets competitive against the new MiG-29s and Su-27s coming into service with Asian countries. The upgrade includes upgraded radios, replacing the existing Identification Friend or Foe system, a new embedded global positioning system, an upgraded XN8+ mission computer, a sixth databus, and new electronic warfare software. Support and training systems will also be upgraded. A second series of upgrades will replace the original APG65 radar with a new APG73, compatibility with the ASRAAM and AMRAAM missiles, and the new AGM-142 stand-off ground attack missile.--Stephen V


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