RAF Typhoon upgrade complete

BAE Systems has completed a programme to upgrade RAF Tranche 1 Typhoon aircraft.

Under the programme known as Retrofit 2, 43 Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft have been upgraded to the Tranche 1 Block 5 standard, which includes installation of the forward looking infra-red (FLIR) system, enhancement of the air-to-air capability, introduction of an air-to-surface capability and the ability to use the laser designator pod for precision weapon delivery.

Martin Taylor, BAE Systems’ Combat Air Support Director said: “This upgrade programme gives the Royal Air Force Typhoon fleet an improved baseline capability, making it better than it has ever been before. This improved capability will also allow the Royal Air Force greater scope for how they manage the Typhoon fleet.”

Air Commodore Keith Bethell, Head of the Fast Air Support Team, Defence Equipment and Support at the Ministry of Defence said:“The Retrofit 2 programme was one of the first steps on our ongoing journey to deliver Typhoon availability and capability through a partnered approach with BAE Systems. This early step helped lead us onto the highly successful Typhoon Availability Service into which Retrofit 2 was then subsumed. The conclusion of the Retrofit 2 programme is a significant milestone on the Typhoon journey and one we will build from as we continue to grow the Typhoon Force.”

Over the last six years, a mixture of twin and single seat aircraft have been processed through the programme which has been managed by a team of around 160 employees working in close co-operation with the Royal Air Force/Ministry of Defence fleet management team.

Under the programme, the last aircraft to be handed back to the Royal Air Force is British single seat Typhoon number BS23 (tail number ZJ932). The aircraft originally entered service with 3 Squadron on 10th November 2006, delivering Quick Reaction Alert duties from RAF Coningsby. The aircraft will return to service with XI Squadron to provide a major contribution to the deployable Typhoon Force.

In the early days of the contract it was recognised that synergies could be gained by contracting BAE Systems to also perform primary servicing on the aircraft at the same time as the upgrade programme was being undertaken. This combination of work minimised downtime of the aircraft from the Typhoon fleet and offered significant savings to the customer.

Previously under standalone national contracts, the activity was subsequently subsumed into the wider Typhoon Availability Service (TAS) contract.

All future upgrade and maintenance programmes will be carried out at the RAF Coningsby Typhoon Maintenance Facility.

F-35Bs for US Marine Corps

The US Marine Corps at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona have taken delivery of three Lockheed Martin F-35Bs.

The aircraft are assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 residing with the host Marine Aircraft Group 13.

To date, the Marine Corps have taken delivery of 16 F-35s. Currently, 13 STOVLs are assigned to the 2nd Marine Fighter/Attack Training Squadron 501 at Eglin AFB, Florida, supporting pilot and maintainer training.

The F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the US Air Force, the F/A-18 for the US Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the US Marine Corps.

P-8A for US Navy

The fifth production P-8A Poseidon has been delivered to the U.S. Navy.

The P-8A is one of 24 low-rate initial production (LRIP) maritime patrol aircraft that Boeing is building for the Navy as part of contracts awarded in 2011 and 2012.

The next three Poseidons are undergoing mission systems installation and checkout in Seattle, and two more are in final assembly in Renton, Washington. The sixth production P-8A will be delivered to the Navy in early 2013.

The Navy plans to purchase 117 of the Boeing 737-based P-8A anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to replace its P-3 fleet.

As part of the LRIP contracts, Boeing is also providing aircrew and maintenance training for the Navy, in addition to logistics support, spares, support equipment and tools.

MO-130 Released

Marshall has released a new special edition C-130 variant – the MO-130 (or C-130 MO)

In the spirit of Movember, Marshall Aerospace has announced a new variant of the C-130 Hercules, the MO-130 aircraft.

This special version Hercules with an ‘over-nose whisker’ is available during the month of November only.