The UK Ministry of Defence has further delayed the announcement of winners in the Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), Future Transport Aircraft (FTA) and Short Term Strategic Airlifter (STSA) competitions, threatening postponements in fielding the equipment.

The MoD originally planned to announce the decisions in the first quarter, but this slipped to late April. As Flight International closed for press a decision was not forthcoming. Industry sources suggest that the Treasury continues to be the source of the delay (Flight International, 28 March-3 April), while other ministries have signed off the decision.

The competitions have also become mired in the politics of a Europe versus USA battle.

BVRAAM is a straight fight between a Matra BAe Dynamics-led team offering the Meteor against Raytheon, which is offering developments of the AIM-120 AMRAAM. STSA is a battle between the UK's Air Foyle offering Antonov An-124s and Boeing, with the C-17 Globemaster. The latter is also competing in the FTA contest against Airbus Military Company (AMC) A400M.

Meteor is the favoured missile, while Boeing is likely to win the short-term transport contest with the MoD committing to, but not ordering, the A400M for the FTA contest.

The MoD, however, says a decision has not been made and declines to reveal when it will make an announcement. Continued slippage of decisions threatens to push the equipments' in-service dates to the right. BVRAAM is set to equip the Royal Air Force's Eurofighters from 2008 and the STSA is required by the late third quarter of next year.

It will take AMC 71 months from final contract signature to deliver the first A400M.

Source: Flight International