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Swiss voters set to sink Swedish jet fighter deal: poll
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) April 11, 2014

BAE Systems, Beechcraft, CAE in joint bid for training contract
Williamtown, Australia (UPI) Apr 11, 2013 - A team made up of BAE Systems, Beechcraft and CAE has bid on an Australian military pilot training program.

Their integrated system, based around Beechcraft's T-6C training aircraft and synthetic flight training devices, for the AIR 5428 Project would reduce training times and provide advanced skills, BAE Systems announced.

"We've drawn on decades of global military flight training experience to develop a solution focused solely on producing the very best military aviators at a location of the ADF's (Australian Defense Force) choosing," said BAE Systems Australia General Manager of Aviation Solutions John Quaife.

"Supported by the world's most proven, cost-effective primary aviation training aircraft in the T-6C, our integrated pilot training system balances the latest training technology with basic competencies. It provides the flexibility to address learning shortfalls and will better prepare graduates for lead-in fighter training than ever before."

In competition for the contract is Team 21, which is composed of Lockheed Martin Australia, Pilatus and Hawker Pacific. Team 21's offering is based on the Pilatus' PC-21 aircraft.

Coast Guard acquiring Air Force C-27Js
Washington (UPI) Apr 11, 2013 - New U.S. Air Force C-27J Spartan aircraft to be mothballed because of budget cuts are instead being transferred to the Coast Guard.

According to Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp, 14 of 21 Spartans are being provided to the Coast Guard by the Air Force while seven others are being given to U.S. Special Operations Command.

Obtaining the medium-lift transporters built by Alenia Aeronautica for free "saves us about a half a billion dollars in acquisition costs, and we're off and running the program now," he said.

The aircraft are expected to be operational with the Coast Guard in fiscal 2016 following instructor qualification and pilot and maintenance training.

The Air Force's decision to rid itself of the aircraft because of budget constraints was made last year, coinciding with the Coast Guard's need to obtain medium-range fixed wing aircraft. The Guard originally contracted to purchase 18 HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft.

"But then last year, when the Air Force put up these brand-new C-27J's as excess, we thought, 'Wow, if we can get 21 for free, that really lowers the lifecycle cost significantly,'" Papp said.

Papp said part of the cost savings comes from the fact that the two-engine C-27J uses the same engines and avionics as the four-engine C-130J Super Hercules, which is slowly replacing the Coast Guard's fleet of older C-130H aircraft.

"Initially, we really don't have to do much more than paint them," he said of the C-27Js. "It has all the communications gear, it has a good surface search radar -- we ultimately will want to put a sensor package in it very similar to what we use in our HC-144s and our C-130s, and that we will put in the budget in future years -- but we can put that aircraft to work almost immediately after we get people trained up on it."

Swiss voters are set to sink a massive defence deal with Swedish firm Saab to buy 22 fighter planes, an opinion poll showed Friday ahead of a referendum next month.

The survey by the gfs.bern polling institute showed that 52 percent of voters opposed the plan, while 42 percent were in favour.

With just six percent of voters still to make up their minds, a turnaround by supporters of the fighter purchase appeared unlikely, the polling institute said.

Approved by the government in 2011 and backed by parliament last September, the fighter deal cannot be blocked as such in the May 18 referendum.

But opponents have been able to contest legislation that allowed the purchase to be funded by tapping an annual 300 million Swiss francs (246 million euros, $342 million) from the neutral country's military budget over 10 years.

The Swiss defence ministry has said that in the event the people reject the financing legislation, the decision will be respected, and that there is no back-up funding plan.

Switzerland opted for Saab's Gripen jets over the Rafale made by French company Dassault and the Eurofighter of pan-European firm EADS.

Supporters underline that in exchange for the sale, Saab and its engine supplier are contractually bound to sign business deals with Swiss firms worth 2.5 billion francs over the next decade.

Opponents dismiss that, and say that the 3.1-billion-franc price tag for the jets could end up tripling because of operating and maintenance costs as well as future upgrades.

The anti-deal coalition is steered by the left-leaning Socialists and Greens, plus anti-militarists who last year lost in a referendum in which voters bucked a European trend and kept their conscript army.

The Gripen's adversaries also include economic liberals opposed to the price.

Referendums form the cornerstone of Switzerland's system of direct democracy, and the campaigners forced a plebiscite by mustering more than 65,000 signatures from voters.

The Gripens are meant to replace Switzerland's three-decade-old fleet of 54 F-5 Tigers, built by US group Northrop.

The Swiss air force also has 32 F/A 18 Super Hornets built by US company McDonnell Douglas, purchased in 1996.

The military notes that with a combined fleet of 54 Gripens and Super Hornets, Switzerland's fleet would lag far behind the 300 jets in service in the early 1990s.

Sikorsky tests structural strength of new helicopter
Stratford, Conn. (UPI) Apr 11, 2013 - An initial series of tests to verify the structural strength of the new CH-53K Super Stallion helicopter have successfully been completed by Sikorsky Aircraft.

The tests, required by the U.S. Naval Air Systems, were conducted using a full-size, non-flying airframe called the Static Test Article.

"The Static Test Article will enable Sikorsky to replicate the many stresses, strains and aerodynamic forces the CH-53K helicopter will experience during all aspects of flight, whether the aircraft is empty, filled with cargo, or carrying up to 36,000 pounds of gear suspended beneath the aircraft by an external sling," said Mike Torok, Sikorsky's CH-53K program vice president.

"By placing incrementally heavier static loads on various parts of the airframe assembly -- including those well beyond the airframe's analytical design strength -- we can measure structural integrity, airworthiness and crash worthiness, and verify safety margins for all expected operational conditions," Torok said.

"The Static Test Article is composed of the cockpit, cabin, fuel sponsons, a transition section and the tail rotor pylon -- all suspended off the ground by the shaft of the aircraft's main rotor gearbox. Surrounding support beams hold the numerous hydraulic cylinders that apply the flight and inertial loads to parts of the airframe assembly," Sikorsky said.

Component-representative weights that simulate the presence of the engines and landing gear are also part of the configuration.

Six tests have been performed to date and testing will continue for another two years, the company said.

The CH-53K is a heavy-lift aircraft with a cruise speed of 196 miles per hour and a combat radius of 110 miles. The U.S. Marine Corps plans to procure some 200 CH-53Ks, which are expected to become operational in 2018.


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