More JSF partners to sign

PRODUCTION Italy has confirmed its intention to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the production, sustainment and follow-on development (PSFD) phase of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme, while Turkey is to sign the document on 25 January. The countries will follow Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the UK in signing the MoU. Italy's 30-year PSFD phase commitment will be valued at $900 million, with the nation currently expected to buy around 130 aircraft. The country hopes to secure business on the programme worth $8.6 billion, with an additional $1 billion to potentially come from its proposed establishment of a final assembly and check-out line at Cameri airbase to produce and support F-35s for Italy and the Netherlands.

Dauphin FDR recovered despite storms

INVESTIGATION The flight data recorder (FDR) of the CHC Eurocopter AS365N Dauphin helicopter that crashed into the Irish Sea on 27 December, killing all on board, has been recovered by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). The agency expected to be able to begin downloading information from it late last week. The AAIB says that, despite stormy weather that is forecast to get worse, a significant amount of the helicopter's wreckage has also been recovered. The helicopter appeared to have gone out of control during its approach.

First HC-144A enters Deepwater

DELIVERY The US Coast Guard has taken delivery of its first EADS Casa CN-235 to be modified for maritime patrol and surveillance duties under the Deepwater programme. To carry the designation HC-144A, the aircraft - one of three on order - will receive a palletised mission suite from prime contractor Lockheed Martin before entering service later this year.

SpaceX aims for Falcon 1 second attempt

LAUNCH California-based Space Exploration Technologies was last week preparing for the second demonstration flight of its Falcon 1 rocket, scheduled for 22 January. Launched from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific, the first Falcon 1 flight in March last year ended after 29s when the main engine shut down due to a fire. The launch customers for both demonstration flights are the US Air Force and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Military sees Finnair as A330 MRTT conduit

PROPOSAL Finnair is to examine the viability of a Finnish government proposal to use the carrier as a route to obtaining Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft for the military. Under the scheme, detailed in a Finnish defence ministry study, Finnair would acquire the A330 MRTT aircraft and lease them to the government for flight refuelling, troop transport or evacuation during emergencies. At other times the aircraft would be used for regular passenger carriage.

USAF set to release tanker RFP

CONTEST The US Air Force could release its delayed KC-X replacement tanker request for proposals (RFP) this week after a final review forced by rivals' concerns. But Northrop Grumman warns that, if the final RFP does not differ significantly from the draft released in December, it will not bid for the 179-aircraft contract. Northrop is concerned that the KC-X requirements, as drafted, give no competitive advantage to the greater cargo and passenger capacity of its Airbus A330-based KC-30 offering over Boeing's KC-767. Northrop is pushing for a "capabilities-based" contest giving greater weight to cargo and passenger capacity, and which could force Boeing into offering an even larger 777-based tanker. The USAF says it is working with industry and Congress to address concerns over the contest, but observers expect the final RFP to be little changed from the draft. EADS North America is teamed with Northrop to assemble the KC-30, if selected, in Mobile, Alabama.

Source: Flight International