An Air Force RQ-4B Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft landed at Avalon Airport southwest of Melbourne, Australia, making the aircraft type’s debut flying into a foreign airshow, announced manufacturer Northrop Grumman. The high-altitude, long-endurance platform is participating in the 2015 Australian International Airshow that runs through March 1. “This really speaks to the maturity and reliability of the system,” said Ian Irving, chief executive for Northrop Grumman Australia. “As the Royal Australian Air Force seeks to procure the MQ-4C Triton [aircraft], a variant based on Global Hawk, they will be able to use the system’s capabilities to transform the way they conduct maritime surveillance missions,” he said. In addition to the Global Hawk, which arrived on Feb. 21, Pacific Air Forces airmen are flying demonstrations and running static displays with aircraft including the F-22, F-16, B-52, and KC-135 at Avalon, according to a PACAF release. The Air Force has stepped up cooperative exercises and rotational deployments to Australia in light of the Obama Administration’s Asia-Pacific focus, and the United States’ recent defense cooperation agreement with Canberra.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.