MANASSAS, Va: Buzzing a runway in 200-knot low-level passes and steep, nose-up climbs, Eurocopter’s silver X3 hybrid helicopter looked like something out of a James Bond movie as it performed for the media in late July. The X3 (pronounced “X-cubed”) stopped off at Manassas Regional Airport as part of a U.S. tour that ended last Thursday at the Pentagon, where Eurocopter hopes to sell several types of helicopters based on its sleek new technology demonstrator.
“I see a bright future inside the military,” said Steve Mundt, vice president for business development for Eurocopter parent EADS North America and a retired brigadier general who once ran the Army’s aviation branch. Keep reading →
Everyone knows military technology projects take forever and cost billions to produce, right? Just look at the Air Force’s latest fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor. The Raptor’s initial requirement was written in 1981, with the objective of developing an air superiority fighter to counter the Soviet air threat. It was declared operational in December of 2005, 14 years after the USSR collapsed. Better late than never, eh? After spending $65 billion (that’s billion-with-a-b), the Raptor fleet was capped at 187 aircraft, just 28 percent of the 650 originally envisioned.
This isn’t a unique situation. The V-22 Osprey has an almost identical story (requirement published in 1981, first delivery in 2005), except instead of $65 billion the military is projected to spend a mere $55B to acquire as many as 458 Ospreys. Keep reading →