Issue: 09-2021


Boeing’s long-awaited Starliner flight to the International Space Station (ISS) again faced a delay due to a newly attached space station module launched by Russia inadvertently started firing its thrusters, briefly pushing the space station into a spin before ground controllers got it back under control. This is Boeing’s second orbital test of the reusable space vehicle designed for regularly transporting astronauts and payloads to the ISS.

The first Boeing KC-46A tanker built for the Japan Air Self-Defence Force recently refuelled another KC-46A aircraft in the skies over Washington. The Japan-bound tanker also successfully received fuel in return. Japan is the KC-46 programme’s first non-US customer and is scheduled to receive its first aircraft this year.

Boeing is continuing to expand the Indian Navy’s longrange maritime reconnaissance anti-submarine warfare capabilities with the delivery of the country’s 11th P-8I on October 18, 2021. This is the third aircraft to be delivered under an option contract for four additional aircraft that the Indian Ministry of Defence awarded in 2016. Indian Navy (IN) was the first international customer for the P-8 and today operates the largest non-US fleet.


General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) completed a series of flight demonstrations that featured a company-owned MQ-9B SeaGuardian® Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) in partnership with the Royal Air Force (RAF). The demonstration series began August 25 and ended with the completion of the UK’s Exercise Joint Warrior on September 30. The flights showcased the many operational capabilities of the MQ-9B, including the platform’s advanced maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Detect and Avoid System (DAAS), industry-leading endurance and interoperability with NATO partners.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems completed the transfer of two MQ-9A Reaper Block 5 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to the US Marine Corps on October 15, 2021. The two aircraft have been operated by the USMC since 2018 under a Company Owned/Company Operated (COCO) lease agreement in support of an Urgent Operational Need. The Reapers represent the first increment of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Expeditionary (MUX) Program of Record (POR). The transfer of aircraft includes two Ground Control Stations and associated support equipment.


It has been reported that sensor solutions provider HENSOLDT is cooperating with Israel Aerospace Industries to supply new radars to the German Armed Forces to modernise their airspace surveillance and build up Ballistic Missile Defence capabilities. The order is for the delivery and installation of four long-range radars worth approximately 200 million Euros.


On August 10, 2021, Israel Aerospace Industries reported that the work on the structural modification for the conversion of the first Boeing 777-300ERSF to a freighter aircraft, in partnership with GE Capital Aviation Services had started and will take about 130 days. This project is part of an approximately $400 million agreement signed in 2019.


On August 5, 2021, Lockheed Martin Australia was selected as one of the two companies to participate in the Royal Australian Air Force’s AIR6500 Phase 1 Project : Competitive Evaluation Process Stage 2. AIR6500-1 will provide the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with a Joint Air Battle Management System that will form the architecture at the core of the ADF’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defence capability.

On August 23, 2021, Lockheed Martin reported that it had invented a new type of satellite dish technology with a wide range of use on satellites and ground terminals, including space-based 5G. The Wide Angle ESA Fed Reflector antenna is a hybrid of a phased array Electronically Steerable Antenna and a parabolic dish and increases coverage area by 190 per cent compared to traditional phased array antennas at a much lower cost.


The US Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to complete the design of a next-generation, open standards-based signals intelligence (SIGINT) sensor for high-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms. Under the Air Force’s Global High-altitude Open-system Sensor Technology (GHOST) program, the company will deliver a design of a prototype sensor – including airborne and ground components – with an innovative, open standards-based hardware and software architecture that can be scaled and configured to fly on multiple types of manned and unmanned Air Force aircraft.

As per a report dated August 6, 2021, Northrop Grumman Australia has been shortlisted as one of two potential strategic partners of the Commonwealth of Australia for the design, development and delivery of the Australian Defence Force’s Joint Air Battle Management System under the AIR6500 Phase 1 project.

Northrop Grumman Corporation reported on August 6, 2021 that its RQ-4 Global Hawk Ground Segment Modernisation Programme provides a new cockpit display that enhance situational awareness for the pilot and sensor operator while improving overall mission capabilities which is on schedule to complete operational test and evaluation in October 2022.

Northrop Grumman Corporation reported on July 30, 2021 that its MQ-4C Triton took to the skies for the first time in the highly upgraded multi-intelligence configuration known as integrated functional capability four. Triton is the US Navy’s premier high-altitude, long-endurance, maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform.