Eurofighter hopes to engage India as an industrial partner for production and future development of the Typhoon, and is proposing a navalized variant to the Indian Navy and other customers. Officially announced during the Aero India 2011 show in February, the carrier-based Typhoon would also introduce a thrust-vectored variant of the Eurojet EJ200 engine. Speaking at Aero India, Bernhard Gerwert, CEO of Cassidian Air Systems and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Eurofighter GmbH, said:'Our ultimate objective is to win India as a key partner co-developing and co-producing future upgrades and enhancements, new sub-systems, software, etc.' Should India enter an industrial partnership with Eurofighter, it would present a significant opportunity for local industry, which would enter the global Eurofighter supply chain on a manufacturing and engineering level.
The Hawker Siddeley Dominie T1 served as a navigation training platform with the RAF for 45 years, in recent times equipping No 55 (Reserve) Squadron at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire. As such, the Dominie was the RAF's oldest active aircraft, having preceded the VC10 into service by a matter of months. The first Dominie T1 produced was XS709, one of 20 for the RAF, which went to No 1 Air Navigation School at Stradishall in December 1965. Eleven of these aircraft were later rebuilt to a new and improved standard, the first (XS728) flying from Cambridge on 31 August 1994 following conversion. These had modernized avionics, a new Thorn/Racal Super Searcher radar in an elongated nose and a re-designed cabin layout with forward-facing consoles. While the designation T2 was mooted for the re-worked examples it never became official, the aircraft remaining as T1s, although a black color scheme did become standard. No 55(R) Squadron maintained a strength of eight Dominie T1s to the end, one of these being XS709/M.
The end of the decade has brought with it a depressing swathe of combat aircraft retirements, with the closure of the UK's Joint Force Harrier on December 15 truly marking the end of an era. The UK has sacrificed its carrier strike capability until 2020, if not forever. It's difficult to see how the planned return to conventional catapult and arrested operations with the F-35C can realistically be attained by the UK despite the proclamations of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. The Ministry of Defence is faced with having to start again from scratch with a fixed-wing carrier capability in 10 years' time following the sad demise of the Harrier. A knock -on effect of the UK cutbacks has seen BAE Systems announcing a round of job losses, with the end of Harrier GR9 support and the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 project. The latest redundancies will involve 1,900 employees. The biggest job losses will be at the Woodford and Warton sites. For more on the Harrier retirement, turn to page 28 for our special report from RAF Cottesmore.
The first Lockheed Martin F-35C carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter arrived at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, on November 6. Flown by David 'Doc' Nelson, CF-1 departed Fort Worth to join the test effort at Tax'alongside the F-35B. The F-35C and the F-35A at Edwards AFB, California, are both ahead of schedule in flight test this year; however, the troubled F-35B STOVL variant was 41 flights behind schedule as of October. The overall F-35 program plan called for 51 flights in November, working towards a total of 394 for 2010. Although the first two F-35As had been scheduled to arrive at Eglin AFB in November, the first two Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) aircraft (AF-6/AF-7) will be'loaned'to help support the System Design and Development (SDD) phase. They will join the Integrated Test Force at Edwards, and be fitted with Block 1.0 avionics.The33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin has been forced to slip its training program, which will now begin in late summer 2011.