Random 5: Paris Air Show Day 1

Paris air show daybreak.jpg

So many briefings, interviews and exhibits, so little time. Completely absorbing the fire hose of data coming at you every day is sometimes a futile struggle. I’ve filed about eight news stories today for the Flight Daily News, but only scratched the surface of my notebook. Here’s a few random bits from today’s news. (I snapped the photo above at daybreak on Sunday morning.)

1. Sukhoi is suddenly coy about the prospects for the first flight of the T-50 demonstrator by end-year. It was only a few months ago that Sukhoi CEO Mikhail Pogosyan confidently predicted the PAK-FA demonstrator would fly before 2010. Asked about that prediction today, he told reporters that Sukhoi would have more information about first flight at the Farnborough air show next July.

2. In a press briefing about Northrop Grumman’s unmanned systems, a completely new aircraft design was pictured on one of the slides. I asked what it was. The Northrop executive identified the UAV as the “WildThing”, a fan-in-wing-powered design aimed at the naval cargo market. That was interesting. A few hours later, Northrop notified reporters that it wasn’t called “WildThing” after all. It is instead called the MUVR. Okay, so then what is WildThing? Northrop replies: “WildThing is a proprietary vertical-lift concept for fleet self-defense in small-deck shipboard operations”.

3. Northrop Grumman is expecting a contract award for KC-X in March. So much for Secretary of Defense’s Bob Gates’ objective to sign a deal by the end of the year.

4. The next 90 days could be very interesting in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter flight test program. First, BF-1 and BF-2 return to flight. The first optimized conventional-takeoff-landing prototype, AF-1, will also fly within that timeframe. If Lockheed Martin can pull it off, the planned burst of activity would end a nearly 9-month-old lull in multi-aircraft flight test operations.

5. Two different companies — Northrop Grumman and Raytheon — are eyeing the concept of dramatically scaling-up same basic airframe design for the MQ-X role. Northrop calls it the Bat and Raytheon calls it the KillerBee, but both come from the same design by Swift Engineering. Raytheon’s legal right to make this pursuit is a matter of dispute between the two companies.

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One Response to Random 5: Paris Air Show Day 1

  1. Dave 15 June, 2009 at 6:07 pm #

    Regarding the PAK-FA, I knew it. It really was only a matter of time…

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