2017: a Shephard year in review

It has been quite the year for the Shephard Media editorial team and we have all certainly racked up the air miles.

We’ve also expanded the team, welcoming Alice Budge and Tim Martin on board as new reporters. Expanding our presence in the US we’ve also named Ashley Roque as North American Editor.

Now there’s time to take a look back at some of the news highlights from 2017 across the defence and aerospace world.

The year started off with the launch of a new helicopter concept in March as Bell Helicopter revealed the FCX-001 at Heli-Expo in Dallas. The new medium twin-sized aircraft, positioned as slightly bigger than the Bell 412 in length and in width. It will be interesting to see how Bell incorporates technologies from the FCX-001 into future designs and new aircraft.

Meanwhile, Turkish Aerospace Industries was flaunting its T129 at every opportunity, with appearances at Paris Air Show, Dubai Air Show and Defense and Security in Bangkok.

Speaking to Shephard at the Paris Air Show, the manufacturer of the T129 Atak and the T625 multirole helicopter said it is looking towards next year and considering the introduction of new platforms.

Meanwhile at sea, the UK designated 2017 as the year of the Royal Navy. With the first steel cutting of the Type 26 BAE Systems and the UK Government are now looking to export the vessel to the likes of Canada. The government is also focusing its efforts on export with the new and ongoing Type 31e (e for export, who’d have guessed) which will see the Royal Navy commission some new light frigates.  

Of course we could not ignore the developments of the Queen Elizabeth-class carrier. As the first of the two vessels has been commissioned questions surround the spend on the vessels and what this means for the future of shipbuilding. 

In the unmanned arena there has been progress on a couple of major military efforts, the first being the US Navy’s desire for a tanker refuelling UAV, known as the MQ-25 Stingray, in an unexpected announcement Northrop Grumman said it would no longer pursue the programme. Despite this Boeing recently unveiled its design for the programme.

On the ground the US Army continues to look for a load carrying robot under its Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) programme. The army ended the year by announcing that four UGVs would enter Phase II of SMET, which will begin in 2018. You can read full details of the final four here. 


This year the team made its annual jaunt over the Washington DC for the AUSA Annual Meeting in October. Focuses for the US Army this year included the evolution of active protection systems with the service looking to speed up the acquisition of such a system for the in-service M1A2 Abrams tank.

Meanwhile, the French Army continued its revolution as it continues to make gains with the Scorpion modernisation programme. In the summer, Shephard got a close up look of the prototype during a visit to Nexter Systems facility in Satory, near Paris.


Speaking of revolution, a quiet one may be underway in the defence industry as some of the largest players are beginning to adopt blockchain technology. This year saw the digital ledger technology increasingly being touted as the answer to challenges faced by ever more data-reliant and connected military establishments.

In the simulation and training arena we saw Northrop Grumman drop out of another programme, the US Air Force’s T-X effort to find an Advanced Pilot Training (APT) aircraft. Boeing, Leonardo DRS and Lockheed Martin remain in the race and 2018 should bring further developments.

Of course this just skims the surface of what the team has covered during 2017 and the events we have attended. All of the news content, magazines and videos from 2017 can of course be found on the Shephard Media website and we look forward to seeing you in 2018.

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