Military Aviation Updates
@ The World Trade organization ruled that US tax benefits to companies (primarily big aviation companies) that establish foreign offices to handle export sales violates WTO rules. If the US does not win an appeal or stop the practice by October, it faces multi-billion dollar sanctions.
@ Lockheed-Martin has won an $843 million contract to design and produce 522 Advanced Targeting Pods to replace the Lantirn system currently used by US F-16s and F-15Es. Lockheed-Martin will call its pod Sniper with first deliveries (to defense suppression squadrons) set for January 2003.
@ MiG Russian Aircraft Corporation is offering to lease MiG-AT trainers to the Russian Air Force if it will take them right away. The Russian Air Force doesn't plan to buy new trainers to replace its L-39s until 2009, and then will have to pick between the MiG-AT and the Yak-130. MiG cannot afford to wait. With virtually no market for its MiG-29, the company is desperate to establish a revenue stream and frantic to be sure it gets the trainer deal. One problem with the idea is that the MiG-AT uses a French engine and electronics, and the Russian government insists on 100% domestic production for all new aircraft. The Russian RD-1700 engine, the only domestic choice, is still in testing.
@ Northrup Grumman is campaigning hard for Congress to provide $8 billion to buy eight new B-2C bombers. The Air Force says the money would have to be new spending as it has no money for new bombers. Moreover, the Air Force would rather spend the money upgrading the 21 B-2As to the B-2C standard rather than operating a mixed fleet with different capabilities.
@ Cargolifter has successfully inflated its CL-75 AirCrane with helium. Larger than the Graf Zeppelin, the CL-75 is a small-size prototype for the planned CL-160 heavy-lift airship which could be used for commercial cargo by the end of this decade. The US Army is fascinated with the Zeppelin concept as a way to move its precious heavy tanks to distant wars.
@ Japan is seeking ten new heavy minesweeping helicopters. Under consideration are the European EH101 and the US-built Sikorsky H-92.--Stephen V Cole