DN - Defence Notes

Air Power 2017: CAS highlights partnerships

12th July 2017 - 04:07 GMT | by Beth Maundrill in London

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As the Royal Air Force (RAF) looks forward to its centenary in 2018, the Chief of the Air Staff has highlighted partnerships as key for the future of the service to enhance capability and improve efficiency.

ACM Sir Stephen Hillier told the Air Power Conference in London that the air force already works well with other air forces and comfortably with industry but new partnerships will continue to be formed, especially with the procurement of new platforms such as the P-8 Poseidon.

Alongside the OEM, Boeing, the RAF will continue to partner with other customers of the aircraft, including the Norwegian air force and the largest customer, the US Navy. The RAF is set to receive nine aircraft following a contract announcement in July 2016.

Hillier’s remarks come a year after the RAF commenced a ten year partnership with BAE Systems on the Typhoon Total Availability Enterprise Service (TyTAN).

‘TyTAN will provide half-a-billion-pounds savings over ten years… those savings will be reinvested into Typhoon,’ Hillier highlighted. This, he suggested, will not only improve the platform but also its export potential.

‘This debunks the theory that increased efficiency means capability shortfalls… we are acquiring more for less.’

Previously, BAE Systems operated the Typhoon Availability Service (TAS) and other initiatives but these have been shorter-term. In the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), the UK Government said that the aircraft will be in service until at least 2040, hence the need for continued upgrades.

Hillier also emphasised the newly-established Rapid Capability Office (RCO), which aims to bring new technologies and capabilities, in faster more streamlined means.

The first company to partner with the RCO is Leonardo in May 2017. The joint project between the two partners will help develop the next generation of fighter jet countermeasures and rapidly bring the BriteCloud decoy into service.

‘This will help meet the challenge of the more hostile EW environment,’ said Hillier.

The RAF successfully conducted an initial evaluation of BriteCloud in 2016 and a contract for the anti-missile countermeasure decoy followed.

Hillier also highlighted the continued investment ongoing in the RAF as the service continues the expansion of its ISR fleets as billions has been set aside for the upgrade of the fleet of six E-3D Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft.

‘The RAF strategy illuminates the way to the next generation air force,’ Hillier finished, ‘This can only be implemented if we reach out to our partners.’ 

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