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  Published by Dar Assayad Arab Defence Journal
Highlights   المعلوماتية العسكرية تكنولوجيا الدفاع حول العالم العالم العربي تحديث السلاح الافتتاحية رسالة الناشر
FARNBOROUGH DELIVERS SOME SURPRISES


The 2018 Farnborough International air show provided many important defence surprises, and an impressive level of new technology developments. For many years this gathering of the world"s aerospace and defence companies has continued to attract sector leaders and acts as a

showcase for the biggest and also the smallest and most innovative centers of excellence. In recent years most of the headline news has been centered on mega-deals within the airline sector, and 2018 was no exception with orders and commitments announced for around 1,500 civil transport aircraft worth around US$154 billion. In addition more than 1,432 engines, worth $21.96 billion were also ordered.
But this year"s air show provided a shock in the defence sector as the UK government announced that as part of its new Combat Air Strategy it was launching an all-new sixth-generation combat jet development programme, and initial work on the concept was already well underway. Known as the Tempest, this programme will allow the UK"s home defence industry to maintain its place as a leader in military aircraft, engines and systems design and manufacture, while pushing the innovative performance boundaries further than any other known next-generation programme. To indicate the determination of the UK government to place it at the heart of future air combat planning, a full size concept model was revealed for the first time in the BAE Systems exhibition hall at the show. It was also shown to selected overseas air force chiefs at RAF Fairford a few days before the Farnborough air show began. The aircraft features a stealthy airframe, an advanced propulsion system, internal weapons bay and an innovative virtual cockpit and leverages experience from recent stealthy and autonomous demonstrators, such as Taranis, but will incorporate game-changing new capabilities raising the bar for future air domination air platforms. It is intended to grow leading design engineering capacity and skills to ensure that the UK can continue to maintain a cutting-edge combat capability beyond Typhoon and the F-35, and to retain national sovereignty in four key technology areas, advanced combat air systems and integration (BAE Systems), advanced power and propulsion systems (Rolls-Royce), advanced sensors, electronics and avionics (Leonardo UK) and advanced weapons systems (MBDA).The Tempest development timescale is ambitious. The UK MOD is setting up a team to deliver a business case for the programme by the end of this year and to have initial conclusions on international partners by mid-point next year, with engagement with potential partners beginning immediately. Early decisions on how to acquire the capability will be confirmed by the end of 2020 before final investment decisions are made in 2025.
Team Tempest includes an impressive line-up of partners including BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo UK and MBDA, and the UK Ministry of Defence, and the intention is to open up involvement as the project advances to embrace international partners. Very long range hypersonic attack and defence missiles will be developed and the aircraft will incorporate novel technologies for self-protection. Swarming weapons will utilize Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Another unexpected appearance in the UK on the eve of the air show was the General Atomics MQ-9B Sky Guardian Unmanned Air Vehicle, known in the Royal Air Force as the Protector. This is based on the Predator family of military UAVs but is larger and is civilian airspace compliant, allowing it to operate in controlled airspace. The UK is the launch customer and has ordered 20 to replace its current Reaper armed UAV fleet. Demonstrating its considerable range and endurance, the development Protector flew non-stop to the UK from North Dakota, USA, in 24 hours. It has a flight endurance of 48 hours, which is twice that of the Reaper, and is due to be armed with MBDA Brimstone missiles and Paveway Mk IV precision bombs made by Raytheon UK.
A big story from Farnborough was the reporting of progress with the Zephyr solar-powered surveillance and communications unmanned air vehicle programme, described as a High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS), which can remain on station in the stratosphere above normal aircraft movements and weather for many weeks without having to land. Airbus Defence and Space has just opened a new factory and development centre for Zephyr at Farnborough where production aircraft are already being built, initially for the British MOD. It has already flown at an altitude of 74,000ft and can stay in the stratosphere continuously over each 24 hour cycle, even allowing for a cruising height reduction at night when the all-electric aircraft relies on stored battery power until its solar panels, which form the wing, re-charge when sunlight returns.
The UK government also used the Farnborough show to launch an ambitious new national space infrastructure programme that will see the UK return to launching its own space launch vehicles. It will develop selected West Coast airfields as spaceports, with long runways close to the sea to operate conventional "mother-ship" carrier aircraft that will then launch space rockets out over the ocean to gain polar orbits. Virgin Galactic is already preparing to base a converted Boeing 747 rocket launch platform in South West England at Newquay for this purpose, and other specialized launch vehicles are expected to follow.
Many new programmes emerged at the show, including a proposed new four-engine jet military transport, the Antonov AN-188, aimed at carrying a 50 tonnes payload, including up to 300 troops or 206 casualties in an aero-medical role, and able to operate from an 800 metre unpaved runway.
L3 displayed its Q400 Multi Mission Aircraft (MMA) which is a configurable modification of the Bombardier Q400 turboprop transport. It claims to offer a lower cost alternative to pure jet special mission aircraft and has a large cabin which can accommodate a wide variety of mission systems and displays making it suitable for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, maritime patrol and special missions duties. Also on static display was Leonardo"s rival Special Mission version of the ATR-75, which was fitted with maritime search radar, electro-optical sensors and provision for multi-mission operations, including anti-submarine warfare and search and rescue. While these two MMA offerings are aimed at lower cost alternatives to the Boeing P-8A, Airbus is offering its own jet MMA platform based on the popular A320 airframe and called the A320M3.
Boeing had a very futuristic exhibition showing how the company"s products and services were being brought together to leverage the maximum benefits from its products, from air platforms to military systems and global through-life support. Some models of hypersonic and blended wing aircraft were on display alongside more familiar commercial models and the latest best-selling F-18 Super Hornet.
 
 
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