Atlas V one step closer to launch
Lockheed Martin announced that its Atlas V launch vehicle in late May passed "a significant test on the launch pad," as it prepares for its debut launch this summer.
The Atlas team successfully completed the second "wet dress rehearsal," which is a practice countdown for actual launch, according to Lockheed. The first WDR was conducted the week of March 11.
Lockheed, with its Atlas V, and Boeing, with its Delta IV, are the main contractors to the U.S. Air Force for its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, and compete for launches. The first Delta IV launch also is scheduled for this summer.
U.S. Army looks for significant aviation growth
The U.S. Army would like to increase greatly the size of its aviation special operations organization, with more helicopters, people and overseas locations, according to a report by Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine.
The growth plan, if approved, would add more than 60 additional special operations aircraft to the force, both Boeing-built MH-47 Chinooks and Sikorsky MH-60 Black Hawks, Aviation Week, an aerospace industry trade publication, said.
Military planners have been impressed by the performance in Afghanistan by Army Special Operations helicopter units and are pressing for them to play a heavier role in future conflicts, according to the publication.
Strike drops Bombardiers profit
A 21-day strike at Bombardier Inc.'s jet-assembly facilities near Montreal dented first-quarter profit, but the company said it remains on track to reach its full-year target of 10 percent growth in its earnings per share, according to The Globe and Mail, a Canadian daily newspaper. Bombardier said it expects that the production delays caused by the strike and the lead up to it also will hurt second-quarter results. For the three months ended April 30, Bombardier said it posted a profit of $219.2 million or 15 cents a share on sales of $5.5 billion, compared with profit of $241 million or 17 cents on sales of $4 billion a year ear-lier. Earnings per share of 15 cents in the first quarter were slightly below the 16-cent consensus estimate of nine analysts polled by Thompson Financial/First Call, according to The Globe and Mail. The strike by 7,400 workers at Bombardier Aerospace's three Montreal area plants began April 15 and ended in early May. In a news release, Bombardier President and CEO Robert Brown said that the company still expects to reach its goal of 10 percent earnings per share growth by year-end.
Northrop Grumman UAV first flight
Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy in May completed the first flight
of the third prototype version of the RQ-8 FireScout Vertical takeoff
and landing Unmanned Air Vehicle , Defense Daily reports. The flight,
by a version of the FireScout, dubbed P3, was completed at the Naval Air
Warfare Center at China Lake, Calif. A Northrop official told the publication
FireScout's first flight lasted about one minute, and a second flight
that same day lasted five minutes and flew about 4,000 feet, landing on
top of the aim point at the end of the runway. The next flight of the
P3 Firescout is scheduled for sometime this month. Northrop built the
P3 Firescout to replace the first prototype, which crashed in 1999. It
has a dual-redundant flight control system absent from the first version,
the report said. Firescout is being developed as a tactical UAV for the
U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Initially, Northrop planned to build 23 vertical
takeoff and landing UAV systems for both services. But production was
limited to just one development system. Defense Daily reports,
however, that Japan, Spain, Israel, Germany and Australia all have expressed
interest in the program, even if U.S. military services don't want it.
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