Airborne Retrofit & Modernization Highlights – 7/3/17 Edition

by Matthew Beres, Airborne Retrofit & Modernization Analyst, Forecast International.

This blog post briefly highlights recent Airborne Retrofit & Modernization news. More in-depth news can be found in Forecast’s E-Market Alerts. Sign up here to receive our World Aerospace and Defense Intelligence Newsletter. To the minute R&M news can also be found via the Forecast R&M twitter account, @MBeresFI.

USAF May Cut A-10 Fleet

The U.S. Air Force has announced plans to cut its A-10 fleet down to six squadrons, under an effort that will begin within the next few years. The announcement was made by Representative Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) during a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee that was cut short, so a number of questions remain to be answered regarding the drawdown. These plans notwithstanding, there has historically been significant pressure to maintain the current A-10 fleet-strength. (McSally said that the current fleet includes nine squadrons.) Still, budget levels and the availability of A-10 replacement aircraft will have a significant effect on how many squadrons remain through the coming 15 years. The USAF has maintained a commitment to operate a minimum of six A-10 squadrons through 2030.

U.S. Air Force A-10 Warthog (Source: U.S. Air Force)

BriteCloud Tested on RDAF F-16A/Bs

Leonardo’s BriteCloud expendable active decoy has been tested on board a Royal Danish Air Force F-16A/B. The successful test will be followed by initial deliveries by the end of 2017. Although the system is targeted for the F-16, other target platforms include the Typhoon, the Gripen, the Tornado, and the F-15.

BriteCloud electronic warfare
Source: Leonardo Company

Pratt Proceeds with F-35 Engine Upgrade

Pratt & Whitney is offering an F135 upgrade package that provides a fuel burn reduction of 4-6 percent and a thrust increase of 6-10 percent. The upgrade, which will become available as early as 2020, could serve as a stepping stone to a next-generation fighter engine.

F135 engine
F135 engine on display
Source: Pratt & Whitney

Hawk Trainer Being Retrofitted with New Technology

BAE Systems plans to fly its Advanced Hawk fitted with technologies that will keep it competitive for the USAF T-X trainer program. Some of the new capabilities may be retrofitted onto legacy Hawk fleets. Improvements include a modified wing and vertical stabilizer and an advanced cockpit.

Saab Will Continue to Support Sweden’s Gripens

Saab has signed a $217.98 million contract with the Swedish Defense Materiel Administration for continued support and maintenance of Swedish Gripen C/Ds.

Swiss Fighter Replacements

The Swiss Air Force may replace its F-5Es and F/A-18C/D Hornets with 30 new aircraft and a ground-based air defense system.

Swiss Air Force F-5E Tiger II

Update: German P-3 Bombs

The German Navy is planning to replace its P-3 Mk 46 lightweight torpedo with the Raytheon Mk 54. The fleet is currently undergoing a life extension program that will extend the life of the aircraft to 2035.

Mk 54 Torpedo
Mk 54 Torpedo
Source: Raytheon

Inmarsat to Provide Services for Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways has selected Inmarsat to provide GX Aviation in-flight connectivity to more than 130 Airbus A350s and Boeing 777s, under a program that will start in mid-2017.

MD-80 Freighter Conversions

Aeronautical Engineers has signed a contract with Mexico-based Aeronaves for two additional MD-83SF freighter conversions. The first MD-83 modification was to begin in June, with a projected delivery in September.  Work on the second MD-83 was to begin on June 23, with a delivery in October. These are very likely some of the last MD-80 cargo conversions the market will see.

Vortex Seeks STC for 737 Finlets

Vortex Control Technologies plans to obtain Supplemental Type Certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for drag-reducing finlets for Boeing 737s. Further plans call for these finlets to be installed on Airbus A320; Boeing 747, 767, and 777; and McDonnell Douglas MD-11 aircraft.

Gogo Milestone

Gogo recently achieved a milestone of 200 inflight Internet 2Ku installations. The 2Ku antenna has been installed on Airbus A319, A321, A330, and A340 and Boeing 737-800, and 747-400 aircraft.  Gogo projects that 550-650 aircraft will be 2Ku-equipped by the end of 2017.

Gogo 2Ku Antenna
Source: Gogo

Airshow Moving Map Available

Gogo Business Aviation and Rockwell Collins have announced that Airshow moving maps are now available to customers in the business aviation market. These moving maps can be installed in the cabins of business aviation aircraft without the need for additional hardware.


SR Technics and VAS Aero Enter Agreement

SR Technics and VAS Aero have signed a multiyear engine parts repair agreement. The “preferred repair services” that SR Technics provides under the new contract will help VAS market engine materials with optimal market conditions, enabling competitive prices and on-time delivery.

FL Technics an Approved Supplier

Asiana Airlines, AirAsia X, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways, T’way Airlines, and Indonesia’s GMF AeroAsia have awarded FL Technics the status of approved supplier of aircraft spare parts.

Lufthansa and Wamos Air Extend Cooperation Agreement

Lufthansa Technik AG and the Spanish charter airline Wamos Air have extended their existing cooperation for a further two years.  Lufthansa Technik has supplied components for Wamos Air’s fleet of Boeing 747-400s since 2003 as part of a Total Component Support (TCS) agreement. The newly extended contract includes the warehousing and pooling of spare parts at Wamos Air’s hub in Madrid in addition to the provision of component repairs and overhauls.

West Star Opens Landing Gear Facility

West Star Aviation has opened a new landing gear repair facility in Grand Junction, Colorado. The facility will support Challenger, Hawker, and Embraer Phenom landing gear overhaul and repair.

Bombardier MRO

Bombardier Aerostructures and Engineering Services has expanded its MRO capabilities in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Services will include full inspection, testing, repair, and overhaul of hydraulic components and assemblies. The Belfast area already offers component repair and overhaul of engine nacelles, flight control surfaces, landing gear, and electrical harnessing. The center also offers modification and repair services.

 F&E Aircraft Maintenance

F&E recently announced that it will now provide its GoldCare line maintenance services for Boeing 787 and 737 MAX aircraft at Denver, Colorado and Seattle, Washington.

Constant Aviation Opening New MRO Center

Constant Aviation announced that it is opening a full service MRO center at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona. This will be Constant’s fifth MRO center in the United States.

AJW Technique Enters Agreement with Tunisair Technics

Canada’s AJW Technique has entered into an agreement to support MRO service provider Tunisair Technics’ work on Airbus and Boeing fleet aircraft. The agreement covers more than 300 parts, along with access to AJW repair services at its Montreal maintenance facility.

DoD Contracts


Rockwell Collins Inc, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is being awarded a $9,145,465 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-13-C-0004) for the procurement of upgrades for the Block I Sustainment and Support System in support of the E-6B Block I aircraft.  This modification is an engineering change proposal for technology refresh, obsolescence mitigation, and material and software builds.  Work will be performed in Richardson, Texas, and is expected to be completed in October 2018.  Fiscal 2015 Aircraft Procurement (Navy) funds in the full contract amount of $9,145,465 are being obligated at time of award, all of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.


The Boeing Co, St. Louis, Missouri, is being awarded $11,601,558 for a cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to delivery order N0001917F1032 under previously issued basic ordering agreement N00019-16-G-0001 to provide production engineering support for the installation and integration of systems required for the follow-on test and evaluation of the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System.  Work will be performed in Patuxent River, Maryland (75 percent) and St. Louis (25 percent), and is expected to be completed in May 2018.  Fiscal 2017 Aircraft Procurement (Navy) funds in the full contract amount of $11,601,558 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the fiscal year.  The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.


Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, is being awarded a $7,378,057 cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N68335-13-G-0010).  This order provides for the design and development of the Midwing Avionics Obsolescence Vibration Structural Life and Engine Diagnostic operational test program set, as well as the production of three VSLED weapon replaceable assemblies for the V-22 aircraft.  Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri (75 percent); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (20 percent); and Ft. Worth, Texas (5 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2020.  Fiscal 2015 Aircraft Procurement (Navy) funds in the full contract amount of $7,378,057 will be obligated at time of award, all of which will expire at the end of the fiscal year.  The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, New Jersey, is the contracting activity.

V-22 ~ Source: US Navy

Please feel free to use this content with Forecast International and analyst attributions, along with a link to the article. Contact Ray Peterson at +1 (203) 426-0800 or via email at for additional analysis.

Forecast International’s Airborne Retrofit & Modernization Forecast provides operators in the military and commercial aviation sectors with the information they need to maximize their current investments rather than expand their fleets, a trend that is opening up multiple opportunities for the expansion of retrofit and modernization programs. It offers a one-stop service for tracking the status of commercial and military R&M programs in progress worldwide, and pinpoints key developments in the aviation industry that will impact the market in the future.



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