Egypt Buys Sagem’s Hammer

Egypt has become the second export customer for Sagem’s (Hall 2a, A228, A252) AASM Hammer air-to-ground missile, the company has revealed. The weapons will be used to arm Egypt’s new fleet of 24 Dassault Rafales ordered by Cairo in February. Sagem will deliver the first Hammers to Egypt by the end of 2016. The company says the order covers the three different versions of the weapon, the hybrid inertial/GPS guidance, inertial/GPS and terminal infrared guidance, and inertial/GPS plus laser terminal guidance variants. The weapon is already in service with the French air force and French navy on their Rafale fleets. The weapon is also in use with the Moroccan air force on its modernized Mirage F1s. 

Milestone Orders Airbus, Bell Medium Helicopters

Helicopter leasing company Milestone Aviation Group has placed large orders for the super-medium offerings from Airbus Helicopters (Static C4, Hall Concorde 17) and Bell. The company signed a letter of intent (LoI) with Bell for 20 of the company’s Model 525 helicopters, and signed up for additional H175 super-medium helos, taking the total number of aircraft ordered by the leasing firm to 28. The LoI for the 525 is one of the largest signings yet for Bell’s as yet unflown fly-by-wire super medium helicopter. The helicopter is expected to fly for the first time in the coming weeks.

First Active Sidestick for Russian Airliner

Russia’s Irkut MS-21 narrowbody airliner will be the first large commercial aircraft with active sidesticks as part of its fly-by-wire flight control system. The active inceptors are being developed by UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS). The sidesticks feature electrical cross-coupling, with the ability for one stick to override the other, and back-drive of the grips in autopilot mode, to give the pilots increased awareness of the aircraft’s behavior and situation. First flight of the initial MS-21-300 variant is scheduled for 2016, leading to service entry in 2018.

Boeing Studying Multi-Role BBJ Combi

Boeing Business Jets is studying a multirole VIP BBJ Combi. “It would offer increased flexibility for cargo capacity, while still Being able to accommodate passengers [and] be a natural fit for the China market,” says BBJ president David Longridge. The BBJ Convertible was originally created for the U.S. Navy as the C-40A, of which 15 have been delivered, along with five civil variants to customers in Africa and the Middle East. “As we discussed the BBJ Convertible with potential customers worldwide, a common question was ‘Can you offer a Combi version?’” says Longridge. “We can indeed!”

Modernized AF-1B for Brazilian Navy

Embraer Defense & Security has delivered the first modernized AF-1 (AF-1B) fighter jet to the Brazilian Navy. The AF-1 program (the name given by the Navy to the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk) provides for the revitalization and modernization of 12 subsonic jets – nine AF-1 single-seaters and three AF-1A two-seaters. The jets received new navigation, weapons, power, tactical communications and sensor systems, plus computers and multimode state-of-the art radar.

Qatar to Double C-17 Fleet

Qatar is taking four of the remaining five C-17 Globemaster III airlifters as Boeing (Chalet 321, 324) closes down its Long Beach, California, production line. The four additional aircraft will double the size of the Qatar Emiri air force’s existing fleet, which it uses to support military and humanitarian operations around the world. Qatar was the first Middle Eastern country to buy the C-17, taking delivery of two in 2009 and two more in 2012.

Thomas Cook Flying Converted A330 Tanker

British leisure airline Thomas Cook Airlines has begun passenger flights with an Airbus A330 converted from a multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft. The aircraft – leased from the AirTanker consortium – began service to Punta Cana and Cancun, Mexico, on May 1. AirTanker’s standard 291-seat single-class configuration has been removed and replaced with Thomas Cook’s 323-seat fit, with seatback in-flight entertainment system matching the rest of the Thomas Cook long-haul fleet, which has been undergoing a cabin refit. The aircraft has also been painted into the full Thomas Cook livery. AirTanker operates and supports the UK Royal Air Force’s fleet of A330 MRTT Voyager aerial refueling aircraft.

S-400 Sales to China Confirmed

China has become the first export customer for Russia's new S-400 long-range air defense missile system. The contract for delivery of four missile battalions reportedly was signed in September 2014. The S-400 Triumf was delivered to the Russian Armed Forces in 2007. It will replace previous generation S-300V (SA-12 Gladiator) and S-300PMU (SA-10 Grumble) surface-to-air missile systems. The S-400 has longer destruction range, up to 250 km at an altitude of up to 27 km. The Russian Aerospace Defense Forces received the first S-400 regiment in 2007-2008. They now operate four such regiments to protect Moscow and Central Russia.

Japan Coast Guard Selects Falcon 2000

The Japan Coast Guard (JCG) has ordered Dassault Falcon 2000 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSAs). The MSA is based on a Falcon 2000LXS and is designed for a broad range of missions including piracy control, drug interdiction, fishery patrol, law enforcement, SAR, intelligence and reconnaissance. “It is a new milestone in the long-standing relationship between Dassault Aviation and the JCG,” said Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. 

Cessna CJ3+ Receives EASA Certification

Cessna has received type certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency for its Citation CJ3+ light jet, opening the way for deliveries to begin later this year. The certification is a significant milestone for the company, said Chris Hearne, Textron Aviation VP of jets and interior engineering. The CJ3+ gained initial certification from the FAA last September, less than six months after it was introduced to the market. Last year, Cessna delivered 10 CJ3+s. The certification comes just two weeks after Cessna EASA certified its Citation Sovereign+.

Cherry TackMax – It’s Riveting!

Santa Ana, California-based Cherry Aerospace is displaying its new Cherry TackMax blind tacking rivet for automated production systems in Hall 3/A40. TackMax allows a structure to be prepared for permanent fastener installation faster than previous methods, and reduces human touch time by over 50%. Its temporary fastener can be removed without damaging the structure, and simplifies the installation process from four to two steps. TackMax has been optimized for automation by providing a high contrast red colored sleeve and tight tolerances on concentricity to the installation hole, allowing its head to serve as a coordinate mark for vision systems.

Russian Air Force Confirms MiG-35 Purchases

The Russian Air Force will upgrade its fleet of MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters with a MiG-35 variant. The service plans to receive 30 MiG-35s under the state re-armament program through 2020. The contract will be placed after MiG Corp. develops and delivers two prototypes, said Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov. The two prototypes already exist because the modification was initially developed for the Indian Air Force’s plan to purchase 126 MiG-35s under its Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft program. These prototypes took part in the tender’s evaluation trials. The Russian fighter finally lost the Indian bidding to the Dassault Rafale.

Switzerland to Shrink F-5 Tiger Fleet

Fatigue cracks discovered in the airframes of several Swiss Air Force Northrop F-5 Tigers have forced the Swiss defense ministry to retire 10 aircraft. Of the 36 Tigers regularly flown by the air arm, inspections have found 16 aircraft to be affected by cracks in the airframe. As a result the air force has decided to reduce the operational fleet down to 26 aircraft. Of the 16 found to have cracks, 10 will be retired, and six will be repaired at a cost, according to officials, of around CHF1 million (US$1.05 million).

Orion Adds 3-D Audio to Communications System

Israel’s Orbit Communications Systems (Hall 3, Stand B8) is introducing the Orion – a switchless distributed network supporting a dual-ring topology with the benefit of improved information handling and inherent redundancy and resilience. Orion can be configured on single- or two-seat cockpits in all types of aircraft. A unique benefit of Orion is its directional 3-D audio, which provides the pilot and other crewmembers with a 360-deg., surround-like audio experience that boosts their situational awareness. Orbit has already developed three products using the core Orion platform architecture including a video surveillance system.

L-3 Link Wins Virgin Atlantic Contract

Virgin Atlantic Airways has selected L-3 Link Simulation & Training (Chalet 306, Static C2) to support the training for its Boeing 787 pilots. Under the 12-year agreement, L-3 Link will provide Virgin Atlantic with a 787 Full Flight Simulator and a 787 Flat-Panel Trainer. The 787 FFS will be housed and maintained at British Airways’ flight training center at Heathrow Airport, and the 787 FPT will be installed at Virgin Atlantic’s training center in Crawley, near Gatwick Airport.