Thursday, June 14, 2018

Germany selects Heron TP drones

Germany’s parliament approved lease of Israeli made Heron-TP surveillance drone in a deal worth an estimated €1 billion ($1.2 billion).

Airbus signed an operator agreement with German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) to operate the Heron TP unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

The contract includes both the provision of Heron TP UAS as well as all operational services required for the system. In accordance with German budget law, the contract will become effective upon publication of the federal budget.

Heron 1 drones, which are currently deployed by the German Armed Forces in Afghanistan and Mali, are to be replaced by the more powerful IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) made Heron TP which is already fully operational with the Israeli Air Force, although the contract between the Bundeswehr and Airbus is based on this previously successful model. Industry will ensure system performance, flight hours and availability and enable soldiers to focus fully on their respective missions.

The project will have a two-year set-up phase, followed by an operational phase lasting a further seven years, thereby bridging the gap until a sovereign European drone will be developed.

Under the terms of the basic contract, the Bundeswehr will receive five aircraft equipped for reconnaissance missions and capable of carrying weapons, four sets of ground segments, training environments and all system operational services. The basic contract also includes preparing the drones for their use in future countries of operation.

The systems are equipped with electro-optic and infrared sensors and imaging radar systems to perform far-reaching reconnaissance tasks. Satellite communication systems and German data and voice encryption systems are also part of the configuration.

The UAVs are kitted out with a weather radar system so that they can operate in bad weather conditions.

The MALE HERON TP system will get military certification from the German Armed Forces aviation authority in accordance with STANAG 4671 allowing the system to be used around the world. This is supplemented by the integration of collision avoidance capabilities.

As was the case with the previous model, the Heron 1, Airbus as prime contractor will closely collaborate with Israeli company Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd (IAI). Complementing its role as prime contractor, Airbus is already a Heron TP design organisation approved by the German Armed Forces aviation authority and will also become the approved Heron TP manufacturing and maintenance organisation for the project.

The 14 m long, 26 m wingspan Heron TP has a maximum take off weight of 5,400 kg and can carry a mission payload of 1,000 kg.

It is powered by a 1200 hp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engine and have a top speed of 220 KTAS.

Airbus details H160M for French Armed Forces

Airbus Helicopters revealed more details about the Airbus Helicopter H160M military helicopter selected for the French Joint Light Helicopter Program (HIL).

The H160M was selected by French Defense Ministry to replace six different helicopters in service with French Army, Air Force and Navy.

The helicopter is a militarized version of the new generation commercial H160 medium weight utility helicopter being developed by Airbus. The three services will receive specific variants with custom features.

The H160M will feature larger windows for increased visibility, an IFF+ interrogator, , external sling, hoist, self protection system, infra-red suppression in engine exhausts, anti-sand engine air intake filter, canted fenstron tail rotor for improved stability and low vibrations, in-flight refueling system, 20 mm canon, side-mounted 7.62 mm machine gun and electro-optical system.

The medium weight helicopter will have a maximum take off weight (MTOW) ranging from 5,669 kg to 6,050 kg, a 400 NM (741 km) range and a 5 troop/2 stretcher capable cabin.

The Army variant will come equipped additionally with a datalink and TDA Armements Aculeus  laser guided ground attack rocket firing capability, while the Navy variant will have anti-ship missile capability, a datalink, tactical radar and manually foldable main rotor blades and tail fin for ship-board operations.

The H160M can be flown under pilot autonomy for 50 hours with out any checks. It is powered by two Safran Helicopter Engines Arrano turboshaft engines rated at 1,100 shp each.

The commercial H160 is undergoing flight testing and is scheduled to enter service in 2019.

French sources reported that H160M will make maiden flight in early-2020 and commence delivery by 2023.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Qatar equipping Rafale with Sniper targeting pod

The Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) selected Lockheed Martin's Sniper® Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) for its Rafale aircraft, marking continued growth and platform expansion for the precision targeting capability.

Under this contract announced during the Eurosatory exhibition, Lockheed Martin will provide the QEAF with pods, spares and deployment support for the Rafale – the 10th platform to fly with Sniper ATP. Integration efforts are ongoing, with flight tests currently in progress.

"Platform expansion on the Rafale aircraft is a testament to Sniper ATP's proven performance, ease of integration and open architecture," said Kenen Nelson, director of Fixed Wing programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "We continuously invest to ensure that Sniper ATP is the most capable targeting pod available for our allies worldwide."

Pod deliveries to the QEAF will begin in 2019.

Sniper ATP detects, identifies, automatically tracks and laser-designates small tactical targets at long ranges. It also supports employment of all laser- and GPS-guided weapons against multiple fixed and moving targets.

Sniper ATP has been integrated across multiple platforms, including U.S. Air Force and multinational F-2, F-15, F-16, F-18, A-10, B-1, B-52, Harrier and Typhoon aircraft. 

Cost reduces as Lockheed delivers 300 th F-35

The F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin delivered the 300th production F-35 aircraft, demonstrating the program's continued progress and momentum. The 300th aircraft is a U.S. Air Force F-35A, to be delivered to Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

The first 300 F-35s include 197 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variants, 75 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variants, and 28 F-35C carrier variants (CV) and have been delivered to U.S. and international customers.

As production volume increases and additional efficiencies are implemented, Lockheed Martin is on track to reduce the cost of an F-35A to $80 million by 2020, which is equal to or less than legacy 4th generation aircraft.

With the incorporation of lessons learned, process efficiencies, production automation, facility and tooling upgrades, supply chain initiatives and more, the F-35 enterprise has already significantly reduced costs and improved efficiency. For example:

  • The price of an F-35A has come down more than 60 percent from the first contract.
  • Touch labor has been reduced by about 75 percent over the last five years.
  • Production span time has decreased by about 20 percent since 2015.

The F-35 enterprise met its 2017 delivery target of 66 aircraft, representing more than a 40 percent increase from 2016. In 2018, the team is targeting 91 aircraft deliveries and is preparing to increase production volume year-over-year to hit a rate of approximately 160 aircraft in 2023.

More than 620 pilots and 5,600 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 140,000 cumulative flight hours.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Lufthansa A340 sustain fire damage at Frankfurt Airport

A Lufthansa Airbus A340 sustained substantial heat damage whilst under tow at Frankfurt Airport (EDDF) on Monday morning.

The empty Airbus A340-300 widebody long-haul aircraft owned by Deutsche Lufthansa AG was damaged after the tow truck caught fire.

About 10 people were taken to the hospital after for smoke inhalation, a spokeswoman for the carrier’s Lufthansa Technik maintenance unit said.

The aircraft suffered damage to area beneath the nose cone charred and covered with soot.

The airliner was being towed with no passengers on board in preparation to operate as Flight LH426 to Philadelphia.

The aircraft, registered as D-AIFA was delivered in 2000 and is more likely to be scrapped than repaired.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

GippsAero GA10 crashes in Mojave

GippsAero has lost one of the two GA10 Airvan light utility turboprop aircraft during flight testing over Mojave Desert in United States on June 4.

The Australian based company owned by Indian Mahindra Aerospace has been flight testing the 10-seater single engine utility aircraft for a 2018 second quarter maiden delivery.

The two pilots on board were able to parachute to ground safely shortly after the aircraft crashed close to US Air Force Edwards Air Force Base.

The flight testing was carried out by National Test Pilot School from the Mojave Air & Space Port in California.

GA10 is a development of the piston engined GA8 Airvan, stretched to increase seating and re-engined with a Rolls Royce M250 turboprop engine.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Electric Magnus eFusion prototype crashes in Hungary

A prototype of Magnus eFusion electric powered aircraft crashed on 31 May in Hungary, killing the pilot and passenger onboard.

India test fire Agni 5 ballistic missile

India successfully carried out the test firing of the long range ballistic missile Agni 5 today from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island (Wheeler Island).

Turkey unveils new twin prop combat UAV development

Turkey has unveiled a new program to develop a UCAV (unmanned combat aerial vehicle) with superior combat capabilities, President Recep Tayyib Erdogan revealed during a TV program.

The twin turboprop engine powered UCAV weighing 4.5 tonne is being developed by Baykar, featuring operational capabilities similar to the US made General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper.

Friday, June 1, 2018

General Atomics tests MQ-25A powerplant configuration

General Atomics and Pratt & Whitney team is continuing risk reduction testing in anticipation of the U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial refueling aircraft contract in the coming months.

On April 5th the GA-ASI/P&W team completed its first powered run of the PW815 turbofan powerplant with the GA-ASI MQ-25A inlet and exhaust configuration. The test met all objectives and collected extensive data that the team is now evaluating.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Diamond DART-550 trainer complete maiden flight

Diamond Aircraft Industries GmbH has completed first flight of the new DART-550 turboprop trainer aircraft

The basic flight included a couple of low approaches, system checks, landing gear operation at different speeds as well as short field take off demonstration.

The DART-550 is powered by a General Electric GE H75-100 turboprop engine with 550 hp featuring electronic engine and propeller control (EEPC) system, a five blade, full feather MT propeller and features Martin Baker MK16 ejection seats and Garmin G3000 integrated avionics systems.

The expected maximum speed is 247KTAS with a MTOM of 2,400 kg (5,291 lbs) and an empty mass (fully equipped) of 1,600 kg (3,527 lbs). Maximum endurance at loiter speed of the DART-550 will be 8 hours plus reserve at MTOM.

The aerobatic trainer will be available in different variants differing in engine power ratings, seat configuration and/or avionics options for diverse customer needs.

The DART-550 will be presented at Farnborough Airshow in UK from July 16th until July 22nd, 2018 on the Static Display.