Today in Paris

By Marcus Weisgerber, Jason Simpson, John Reed / June 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Paris Air Show is under way in rainy Le Bourget, France. While the international media is busy coming up with conspiracy theories about why the Air Force did not bring the F-22A Raptor to the show, the staff of Inside the Air Force brings you some highlights from today's industry briefings and announcements.

Boeing Renames Tanker Program

Boeing announced it has changed the name of its KC-X tanker competition proposal from the KC-767 to the KC-7A7. While the “A” does not does not stand for anything in particular, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems President and CEO James Albaugh said it symbolizes the company's option to offer a 767- or a 777-based aircraft. “Our capture teams have been actively working both of these options,” Albaugh said during a morning briefing with reporters.

. . . And Unveils New UAS Division

Boeing also announced the formation of an unmanned aerial system division within its defense and space business unit. The UAS division will assume program management responsibility for the A160T Hummingbird, Unmanned Little Bird, SolarEagle (Vulture), ScanEagle and Integrator programs. The sector also will oversee the X-45 Phanton Ray and Hale programs. The division Director Vic Sweberg will report to Boeing Military Aircraft President Chris Chadwick.

Using Your Head

Lockheed Martin awarded Vision Systems International $54.1 million to deliver 52 F-35 Gen II helmet-mounted displays and 30 aircraft shipsets in support of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Helmet Mounted Display System program, according to a company statement. VSI will provide system hardware and production tooling for the first three lots of low-rate initial production. The system enables the pilot to accurately cue on-board weapons and sensors by looking at enemy aircraft and ground targets with the helmet display.

Moving Forward

Lockheed announced it has delivered the final block of new flight software architecture that will provide “highly reliable” spacecraft command and control operations for the Space-Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Orbit (SBIRS GEO) satellite constellation. The software will enable robust command and data handling, fault management and safe-hold capabilities on the GEO satellites, according to a company statement. The delivery of the final block of software comes roughly a year and a half after arcane issues were found in the original design.

Lockheed also announced today that the Global Positioning System III program has entered the critical design review stage on schedule. Over the next year, Lockheed and its industry partners will conduct 70 individual CDRs for critical GPS III spacecraft subsystems, assemblies and elements, according to a separate statement. “The phase will culminate in the fall of 2010 with a final Space Vehicle CDR that will validate the detailed GPS III design to ensure it meets warfighter and civil requirements,” the statement reads.

Saudi Snipers

Lockheed Martin announced that it is set to deliver Sniper advanced targeting pods to the Royal Saudi Air Force. This marks the first step in a $100 million program aimed at upgrading the precision targeting equipment on the Saudi air service's fleet of F-15Ss, which are nearly identical to U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles. The Saudi jets have been using Lockheed's LANTIRN targeting pods since the planes were delivered to the kingdom in the mid-1990s, according to a company statement.

Airborne Intelligence

Lockheed Martin unveiled its newest intelligence product as it announced the creation of a flying intelligence collection tech lab known as the Airborne Multi-INT Laboratory. The lab is centered on a Gulfstream III business jet and will serve as a flying testbed for a number of intelligence collection tools that can be swapped in and out of the jet, according to a company statement. More interesting is the fact that Lockheed claims the plane will be available for “participation in government and coalition exercises,” according to release. “Using the AML as a multirole cooperative research platform testbed, the team will work with operational commands to develop innovative ways to bring ((intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance)) to the edge,” the statement reads.