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Australian Air Force installs new SATCOM system on C-130: A high-speed satellite communications (SATCOM) system has been installed on a second Air Force C-130J Hercules, providing in-flight internet connection to crew and passengers. Air Force is the first C-130J Hercules operator in the world to install the Ka-band SATCOM system in its fleet. The latest aircraft to have the system installed was C-130J A97-467. The first C-130J was equipped with the antenna and associated avionics equipment in late 2017, and a total of six aircraft will receive the upgrade. The system allows live-streaming of high-definition video, and connectivity to headquarters and other nodes around the world. Historically, crew and passengers on a Hercules have been limited to using HF radio for long-range communication while in flight. In 2015, Air Force began equipping its fleet of 12 C-130J Hercules with L-band SATCOM, which provided global voice and limited data connectivity. The Ka-band capability substantially increases the bandwidth compared to L Band, enabling increased data transmission and simultaneous connections by multiple users.

Royal Australian Navy installs 3D printing capability: A large-format SPEE3D metal 3D printer was installed by the Fleet Support Unit (FSU) at HMAS Coonawarra Navy Port, making the Royal Australian Navy the latest Australian Defence service with the capability to print their own metal parts, on demand. Sustainment, or the repair, maintenance and overhaul of equipment makes up a substantial proportion of the cost of all Defence Forces globally. The difficulty and expense of getting spare parts through regular supply chains has been exacerbated and highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The world has been looking to advanced manufacturing (AM) to solve this problem, however, most AM technology has proven too delicate, too expensive, and far too slow to solve the problem. SPEE3D has proven to be the exception. SPEE3D’s metal printing technology was developed in Australia and is the world’s fastest and most economical metal 3D printing technology. It is also the only large format metal 3D printing technology that has been trailed and proven field-deployable by Defence. SPEE3D recently completed a series of successful field trials deploying the WarpSPEE3D printer to the remote outback with the Australian Army. The Australian Government funded the $1.5 million trial which included the training of Army craftsmen and engineers in 3D printing at Charles Darwin University in everything from design to certification of parts. The program resulted in a range of parts that the Army are now able to print and finish in the field at a fraction of the cost and time of current supply chains.

New maritime underwater tracking range to be built: A new maritime underwater tracking range will be built in Western Australia as part of the government’s A$270 billion investment in defence capability over the next decade. This project will replace the original tracking range system that ceased operating in 2012 and will provide the Navy with sub-surface tracking capability and optimised preparedness. Through a series of sensors, the tracking range will capture and relay information on the location and movement of assets that are operating within the tracking field. Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the capability will provide Navy with vital information on the performance of its maritime warfare assets and tactics. “By investing in technology which will strengthen our understanding of the best and most effective way to use our weapons, decoys and platforms, we are enabling our submarines and other maritime warfighting capabilities to operate with superiority while protecting Australia’s interests,” Reynolds said. “Similar to a three-dimensional laboratory, the range will allow our Navy, our allies and partners to fine tune our anti-submarine warfare tactics to deliver the technology edge needed in the future.”

Ecuadorian Air Force takes delivery of H145s: Airbus Helicopters has delivered two H145s to the Ecuadorian Air Force, the first military customer in South America for this multi-purpose twin-engine helicopter. A total of six H145s will be delivered over the next year. The H145 helicopters, known as “Cobra” in the Ecuadorian Air Force, will be assigned to the 22nd Combat Wing in Guayaquil. The contract includes training for 12 pilots and 15 technicians, as part of an in-country operational training programme. The six H145 helicopters will help with missions related to national security, such as border surveillance and the fight against drug trafficking, as well as carrying out rescue operations at high altitudes, medical evacuation (MedEvac) and assistance in the case of natural disasters, both during the day and at night. This wide range of mission capabilities is thanks to the variety of equipment included such as the cargo hook, rescue crane, stretchers, searchlight, and electro-optical camera for reconnaissance.

Meggitt signs deals for defence: Meggitt PLC, a leading international company specialising in high performance components and subsystems for the aerospace, defence and selected energy markets, announced it has signed two new contracts. The company signed a deal with for a radome contract with BAE Systems to enable advanced radar technology on the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon fighter jet. The deal is worth £4.2 million. The company also announced it has signed a contract with the Defense Logistics Agency in Philadelphia for the supply of fuel bladders to the F/A-18 Super Hornet. The contract is valued at around US$5.5 million and deliveries are scheduled to commence this month.

Leonardo in testing program for C-27J Spartan: Leonardo has begun the final testing of the C-27J Next Generation which features new equipment, a new avionics system and advanced aerodynamic devices. These will enhance the existing high performance of the aircraft. The first C-27J in the new configuration will be delivered to an undisclosed customer in 2021. The performance and reliability of the C-27J Spartan continues to evolve as the best response to its customers’ needs. Pushing on the aircraft’s versatility and mission flexibility, the C-27J offers an ever-increasing range of mission solutions, which adapt in response to new challenges faced by operators. A true force enabler, its unrivalled multi-mission capabilities are key in presenting the latest evolution of the Spartan as a cost-effective solution and an intelligent investment for nations, which are selecting it for their military, as well as civil protection requirements. Marco Zoff, Leonardo Aircraft Division’s managing director, said: “The enhanced C-27J brings the unrivalled quality and capabilities of the Spartan to the next, higher level. Its operators will benefit from modern avionics, increased performance and efficiency. The Spartan embodies the essence of national security, proving to be the best asset for armed forces’ defence operations and for their fundamental contribution to population support and disaster relief.”

Airbus signs contract for 38 Eurofighters with Germany: Airbus has signed a contract to deliver 38 new Eurofighter aircraft to the German Air Force. This makes Germany the largest ordering nation in Europe’s biggest defence program. The order, also known by its project name Quadriga, covers the delivery of 30 single-seater and 8 twin-seater Eurofighters. Three of the aircraft will be equipped with additional test installations as Instrumented Test Aircraft for the further development of the Eurofighter program. The renewed order from Germany secures production until 2030 and comes at a strategically important time for the programme. In addition to an expected Eurofighter order from Spain to replace its legacy F-18s, procurement decisions in Switzerland and Finland are imminent in 2021. The variant offered in Switzerland corresponds to the configuration of the German Quadriga order. The equipment includes the world’s latest electronic radar, future-proof hardware and software and unlimited multi-role capability for engaging air and ground targets.

Innovaero Technologies opens new site: Innovaero Technologies has opened a new modern manufacturing premises. Located in Kardinya, Western Australia, Innovaero confirmed its official entrance into the Australian Defence Industry, with the launch of their purpose-built Defence sovereign manufacturing facility and the unveiling of their 100 percent Australian-made Maritime Unmanned Aerial System (MUAS), the Innovaero Fox. The new manufacturing premises was specifically designed to facilitate the production of Fox, which is the culmination of over two years of privately funded research, development and innovation. Established a decade ago, Innovaero is a 100 percent Australian operation that delivers innovative aeronautical design, certification and manufacturing. The opening of Innovaero’s new modern manufacturing premises with its state-of-the-art workshop equipment and security initiatives heralds a new era for sovereign maritime and land surveillance capabilities through Innovaero’s CASA certified, multi-award winning and world leading aerial platforms and sensors.

Lufthansa Technik hands over patient transport units: Lufthansa Technik has recently handed over eight Patient Transport Units (PTU NG) for intensive care patients and 16 oxygen supply systems for medium to lightly injured patients to Airbus Defence and Space. The new PTUs are destined for the multinational Airbus A330 MRTT operated by the MMU (Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport Unit) of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), which will also collaborate with the European Air Transport Command (EATC), and enable the transport of up to eight intensive care patients and 16 lying patients with oxygen supply systems. This makes medical evacuation missions (MedEvac) with the aircraft of the MMU fleet possible. Shortly after the handover, training for doctors and medical staff will begin at the new units, which are to be completed by the end of November. The first installation of an A330 MRTT of the MMU is scheduled for December. This will create one of the largest and most powerful MedEvac aircraft. The national Airbus A310 MRTT fleet of the German Air Force has already been equipped with the PTU’s predecessor model for almost 20 years and is now being gradually replaced.

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