Friday, February 23, 2018

Saab rolls out first UAE Air Force GlobalEye AEW&C aircraft

Saab unveiled the first GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft from its Linköping site, Sweden.

GlobalEye is an advanced, swing role airborne surveillance system based on a Bombardier Global 6000 jet aircraft, which has undergone a thorough modification programme to adapt it for its role.

Saab is currently producing the GlobalEye AEW&C, combining air, maritime and ground surveillance in one single solution. GlobalEye combines a full suite of sophisticated sensors including the powerful new extended range radar (Erieye ER), with the ultra-long range Global 6000 jet aircraft.

GlobalEye can detect and track airborne and surface targets (both on land and on sea). Missions of up to eleven hours in duration are possible with a detection range of up to 400 km.

The Erieye ER main sensor is fitted in the ‘balance beam’ fairing above fuselage, while the Leonardo Defence Seaspray 7500E X-band maritime search radar is fitted below the fuselage near the wing root, along with a Flir Star SAFIRE electro-optical sensor turret below the entry/exit door.

This first aircraft is equipped and being prepared for ground and flight trials to gather aerodynamic data as part of the ongoing development and production programme.

The development and production contract was awarded at the Dubai Air Show November 2015 by the United Arab Emirates with an initial order for two systems.

An additional order by the UAE for a third system was announced in 2017, bringing the total cost to over $ 1.5 billion.

The GlobalEye solution brings extended detection range, endurance and the ability to perform multiple roles with one solution, including tasks such as search & rescue, border surveillance and military operations.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

XTI Aircraft aims sub-scale Trifan 600 prototype flight in 2018

VTOL aircraft startup XTI Aircraft Company (XTI) plans to fly the 60 percent scale flying prototype of the TriFan 600 VTOL aircraft later this year.

Denver based company announced its on schedule and on budget as it completes the first sub-scale prototype.

The Phase 2 of the program carries out fabrication of the wings and fan, along with performing ground tests for static thrust performance and verification on those components. The Phase 2 will also complete weight and balance, and full structural design.

Fabrication of the entire aircraft will be completed in Phase 3, which will begin in April, followed by two or three months of testing before first flight later this year.

The six-seat TriFan 600 will have the speed, range and comfort of a luxury business aircraft and the ability to take off and land vertically, like a helicopter. It will travel at over 300 miles an hour, with a range of 1,200 miles.

Using three ducted fans, the TriFan lifts off vertically. Its two wing fans then rotate forward for a seamless transition to cruise speed and its initial climb. It will reach 30,000 feet in just ten minutes and cruise to the destination as a highly efficient business aircraft.

XTI has received 60 orders for the airplane, representing $390 million in sales revenues. 

Sikorsky HH-60W combat rescue helicopter enters final assembly

Sikorsky is beginning final assembly of the first HH-60W “Whiskey” Combat Rescue Helicopter, which will bring unprecedented capability enhancements to the U.S. Air Force combat rescue mission.

The timing of final assembly supports the program's accelerated schedule and positions the aircraft's first flight for the end of this year, two months ahead of schedule.

The final assembly process includes installation of the new Tactical Mission Kit (TMK) delivered from Lockheed Martin's Owego, New York, facility. The integration of sensors, radar and multiple defense systems will bring added intelligence into the cockpit, giving pilots more information to make split second decisions to complete the mission.

The HH-60W will be the most thoroughly networked and connected vertical lift platform ever produced, capable of linking entire suite of air and space power, and employed in support of combat rescue operations, even in deep and denied territory.

The final assembly process also involves installation of a new fuel system that features duel internal fuel tanks totaling 660-gallons, nearly doubling the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk. This enhanced capability gives the U.S Air Force crew greater range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space.

This Engineering Manufacturing Development (EMD) aircraft is the first to be assembled at the Sikorsky headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut. A total of nine aircraft will be built in Connecticut during the EMD phase of the program ― four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA).

The U.S. Air Force program of record calls for 112 helicopters to replace the Air Force's aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services.

The $1.5 billion EMD and SDTA contract includes development and integration of the next generation combat rescue helicopter and mission systems, including delivery of nine HH-60W helicopters as well as six aircrew and maintenance training devices, and instructional courseware designed specifically for the HH-60W aircraft. Sikorsky successfully conducted the training systems design review in September.

The Whiskey will have a 195 Nautical Mile combat radius, 22,500 lb max gross weight for greater payload, Shipboard compatibility, Improved armor including protection against armor piercing projectiles, Improved Structural Design for increased gross weight and Helicopter Air Refueling and Fuel Dump System.

 The CRH will be equipped with Advanced integrated defensive suite including:
- ALQ-210 Digital Radar Warning Receiver
- AVR-2B Laser Warning System
- AAR-57 Missile and Hostile Fire Warning System
- Integrated six chaff and flare dispensers.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Qatar takes delivery of first Airbus A350-1000

Airbus has delivered the world’s first A350-1000 widebody airliner to launch customer Qatar Airways during a formal aircraft handover ceremony at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France.

Qatar Airways is the world’s largest A350 XWB family customer with 76 aircraft on order, 20 in fleet (A350-900) and the largest A350-1000 customer.

The aircraft is the first of 37 A350-1000s ordered by the carrier and is the first ever Airbus aircraft fitted with the revolutionary new Qsuite seats, offering the first ever double bed in Business class.

The A350-1000 is Airbus’ latest and largest widebody in the twin-aisle category. With a 7-metre longer fuselage, the A350-1000 space for premium cabin products is 40% larger than its smaller sibling the A350-900.

In Qatar Airways configuration the A350-1000 offers 44 additional seats. It is a truly long-range aircraft with a range of 8,000nm (14,800 km) at entry into service.

The A350-1000 features a modified wing trailing-edge, new six-wheel main landing gears and more powerful Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines.

As with the A350-900, the A350-1000 brings together the very latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies for a 25 per cent step change in operating cost compared to previous generation competitor aircraft.

Powering the A350-1000 is the two 97000 lb thrust each Rolls Royce Trent XWB-97 turbofans, the most powerful engine to power an Airbus aircraft.

Trent XWB-97 – incredible engineering by numbers:
  • It sucks in up to 1.3 tonnes of air, the equivalent of a squash court, every second at take-off.
  • The force on a fan blade at take-off is equivalent to a load of almost 90 tons, the same as nine London buses hanging off each blade.
  • High pressure turbine blades inside the engine rotate at 12,500 rpm, with their tips reaching 1,200mph – twice the speed of sound.
  • At take off each of the engine’s 68 high pressure turbine blades generates around 900 horsepower per blade – the equivalent to that of a Formula One racing car.
  • At full power, air leaves the nozzle at the back of the engine travelling at almost 1000 mph.

Norway carries out first in-country F-35A parachute braking trials

Norway has completed the first in-country braking trial of a drag chute fitted F-35A on Feb 16, from the Ørland Air Force Base.

The test successfully verified the parachute braking system, a unique feature being developed for the Norwegian F-35As.

It is being added in order to rapidly decelerate Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35s after landing on the country’s icy runways when there are challenging wind conditions.

The chute is housed under a small fairing on the upper rear fuselage between the vertical tails.

The first stage of drag chute braking trials commenced in last April at Edwards Air Force Base in California, verifying handling characteristics and braking performance on wet and dry runways.

Now US Air Force is completing the second round at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska verifying performance at icy runways.

Norway plans to eventually acquire 52 F-35A stealth fighters, along with weapons, support equipment and training, worth around $ 8.5 billion. Currently firm order for 40 aircraft has been placed.

The first three Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A were delivered to Norway, Ørland in November 2017.

From 2018, Norway will receive six aircraft annually until 2024.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Crashed US Navy C-2A wreckage mapped

YOKOSUKA, Japan – A U.S. Navy-led mission aboard research vessel RV Petrel has mapped the wreckage of a C-2A Greyhound aircraft that crashed into the Philippine Sea en route to USS Ronald Reagan, Nov. 22, 2017.

Using the vessel’s side scan sonar and remote operated vehicle (ROV) to survey the aircraft from Feb. 2-5, the team determined the aircraft lies on the ocean floor in two main sections - cockpit and fuselage - and that the C-2A’s flight recorder or black box is still intact.

Planning continues for an upcoming salvage mission, during which every effort will be made to bring both sections to the surface despite very challenging environmental conditions.

At a depth of 18,500 feet (more than three nautical miles) this will be the deepest aircraft recovery to date and the team with have to contend with several variables including deep water rigging and weather that may affect retrieval.

The aircraft was initially discovered late last year (Dec. 29) by a U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) team using a towed pinger locator (TPL-25) system aboard a different contracted vessel. In January, the Navy contracted RV Petrel to support debris field mapping and inform aircraft recovery planning.

RV Petrel is a 250-foot research and exploration vessel owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, equipped with advanced underwater equipment and technology, making it capable of exploring to more than 3.5 miles. A team of SUPSALV personnel embarked Petrel late January and returned to the crash site.

Assigned to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC 30) forward deployed to Japan, the C-2A aircraft was carrying 11 crew and passengers when it crashed. Eight personnel were recovered immediately by U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC 12).

For the next three days, Ronald Reagan led combined search and rescue for three Sailors with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), covering nearly 1,000 square nautical miles before ending the search.

The C-2A Greyhound is a cargo aircraft used to resupply US Navy aircraft carriers, capable of carrier operations. The aircraft will be replaced by the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor in future.

First Texan T6C trainers deliverd to UKMFTS

The first two Beechcraft Texan T6C advanced turboprop trainers has been delivered as a part of UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) at RAF Valley.

The UKMFTS is a partnership between the UK Ministry of Defence and Ascent Flight Training Ltd which will replace the current military flying training system with a modern training system that is better-equipped to meet the needs of the next generation of front-line aircraft operated by the UK Armed Forces.

The two US built Textron Aviation Texan T6C trainers are part of a planned fleet of 10 that is set to deliver Basic Flying Training (BFT) at RAF Valley for RAF and Royal Navy pilots from 2019.

The Texan T6C fleet will be a lead-in aircraft to prepare pilots for their Advanced Jet Training on existing fleet of Hawk T2 aircraft which are already operating here.

The T-6C military trainer is an advanced version of the original T-6A with updated cockpit avionics. In order to replicate today’s high-tech frontline aircraft, the new cockpit features a Head-Up Display (HUD), Up-Front Control Panel (UFCP), three color Multi-Function Displays (MFD), Hands-On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) as well as advanced synthetic air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons training capabilities.

The integrated glass cockpit and a state-of-the-art avionics suite expands its capabilities, enabling the advanced systems and information management skills training required in current and future military aircraft.

The T-6C variant maintains avionics similarity with the U.S. Navy’s T-6B while incorporating a hard-point wing to allow carriage of external fuel tanks.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Aseman ATR-72 crashes in Iran

An Iranian ATR-72 regional turboprop airliner has crashed in to the Dena mountain region, while flying in foggy weather conditions on Sunday.

Flown by Iranian carrier Aseman Airlines, the plane came down near the town of Semirom after taking off from Tehran's Mehrabad airport.

All the 66 onboard the flight EP3704 including 60 passengers and 6 crew members are believed to be dead.

The flight to the southwestern city of Yasuj disappeared from radar screens 50 minutes after taking off from Mehrabad airport.

Due to remote and adverse weather conditions in the region, the rescue team still haven't reached the crash site.

According to Flightradar24 logs, the flight took off at 04:33 UTC (08:03 local time). Last signal was received at 05:55 UTC when flight was at 16,975 feet and descending.

The aircraft was due to land in Yasuj at 09:50 local time.

The accident aircraft EP-ATS was 24 years old, first delivered in 1993. It restarted flying in October 2017, after remaining grounded for 7 years.

Powered by two turboprop engines, the Franco-Italian ATR-72 is a short haul regional aircraft with a max seating of 72 passengers.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Boeing 737 MAX 9 achieve FAA certification

Boeing announced today that the 737 MAX 9 has received an amended type certificate (ATC) from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), officially certifying the airplane for commercial service.

Boeing's new 737 MAX 9 has received FAA certification and is now being prepped for first delivery. Paul Weatherman photo.

This certification marks the culmination of a successful flight test program that began in March 2017 with two Boeing flight test airplanes. The FAA certification affirms that the airplane's handling, systems and overall performance all comply with required aviation regulations.

Boeing is now in the final stages of preparing the MAX 9 for its first delivery to launch customer Lion Air Group.

The 737 MAX 9 is designed for a capacity of up to 220 passengers and a maximum range of 3,550 nautical miles. With three additional seat rows compared to the 737 MAX 8, this airplane provides operators added capacity while maximizing profitability within their network.

The 737 MAX family is designed to offer customers exceptional performance, with lower per-seat costs and an extended range that is opening up new destinations in the single-aisle market. The 737 MAX incorporates the latest CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets, Boeing Sky Interior, large flight deck displays and other features to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market.

The 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history, accumulating more than 4,300 orders from 93 customers worldwide.

Indian Pipistrel Virus microlight marks first crash

Two Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots were killed when their Pipistrel Virus SW 80 Garud microlight aircraft crashed in the northeastern Indian state of Assam on 15 February.

The incident took place at about 1200 h (local time) after the aircraft took off from Air Force Station Jorhat for a routine training flight.

Wing commanders Jai Paul James and D Vats suffered fatal injuries in the crash.

The pilots had attempted an emergency landing but the crashed near the river island of Majuli in Assam, and the aircraft was completely charred.

The fatal crash comes, despite the aircraft being equipped with safety features likes Ballistic Parachute Rescue System and several other safety enhancing features, such as Energy Attenuation Seats and a KevlarTM reinforced cockpit cell.

HT Copyright
Pipistrel was awarded the contract by Indian MoD to supply 194 Virus SW 80 aircraft to the Indian Air Force (72 aircraft), Indian Navy (12 aircraft) and National Cadet Corps (110 aircraft) in October 2015.

The two-seat trainer is capable of take-off and landing from prepared as well as semi-prepared surfaces and is made from advanced carbon-fibre composite materials.

The aircraft is powered by an 80 HP aviation certified Rotax engine and can reach a maximum speed of more than 220 km/h, fly for more than 3 hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 6000 meters.

More than 100 Indian Virus SW 80 are believed to be delivered, since first delivery in August 2016. 

Nigeria induct indigenous Tsaigumi surveillance UAV

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) inducted its first indigenous operational Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) nicknamed, Tsaigumi designed for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) roles.

The light weight UAV capable of land and sea surveillance, was produced by NAF Aerospace Engineers in collaboration with UAVision of Portugal.

The UAV is capable of day and night operations and has an operational endurance in excess of 10 hours, a service ceiling of 15,000 feet and a mission radius of 100 km.

It has a maximum take-off weight of 95 kg and its payload is an electro-optic/infra-red camera system.

Powering the Tsiagumi is an internal combustion engine driving a 2 blade propeller in pusher configuration.

It could also be used for policing operations, disaster management, convoy protection, maritime patrol, pipeline and power line monitoring as well as mapping and border patrol duties. In addition, it could be deployed for the protection of wildlife, weather forecast and telecast.

Additionally, in the maritime domain, the Tsaigumi UAV could be used for search and rescue, coastal monitoring and patrol of Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Nigeria Air Force currently operates a fleet of armed CH-3 drones acquired from China. An unknown no of these are operational, and have been successfully employed to strike Boko Haram terrorist ground targets.

MiG-35 complete flight testing

Flight testing of the new generation Russian MiG-35 multi-role fighter has been completed, United Aircraft Corp, said in a statement.

The medium weight fighter is ideal for high intensity armed conflict scenarios, with its ability to carry Russian and foreign weapons.

The flight testing involving Russian Air Force pilots, commenced in January 2017, and verified all on board systems including the targeting, navigation, communication, engines and radar.

The MiG-35 is an upgrade of 1980s era designed MiG-29 Fulcrum, with advanced avionics, radar and new weapon capability.

Initially designed as a interceptor, the MiG-35 have now evolved into a true multi-role aircraft, with simultaneous air to air and air to ground weapon capability.

The highly agile fighter can carry a 6400 kg payload on the 8 under wing and one under fuselage weapon stations.

The most important changes are the Phazotron Zhuk-AE active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, the RD-33MK engines and the newly designed optical locator system, OLS-35.

The Zhuk-AE can detect 30 targets at a range of 130-160 km in air and 300 km in water, and can engage with 6 targets at a time.

Powering the MiG-35 is two Klimov RD-33MK smokeless low bypass turbofan engines, rated at 87 kN each. The engine is 7 percent more fuel efficient and also features improved reliability.

The first MiG-35 was delivered to Egyptian Air Force in April 2017, who have 46 on order.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov during the MAKS 2017 said, the MiG-35 will be inducted to Russian Air Force from 2018 pending completion of the flight testing, even though no formal orders have been placed.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

B-21 and B-52 to be backbone of USAF

U.S. Air Force outlined plans for its strategic bomber fleet in its Fiscal Year 2019 President’s Budget Request on Feb. 12, 2018.

In line with the service’s bomber vector, the budget request detailed the Air Force plan to update the B-52 Stratofortress fleet and continue modifications to the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit fleets while continuing to acquire B-21 Raiders.

“As part of our decisions presented in the FY19 President’s Budget, the Air Force will update the B-52 bomber fleet and fund development of replacement engines,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather A. Wilson. “We will also continue necessary B-1 and B-2 modifications to keep them relevant until the B-21s come on line.”

Once sufficient B-21 aircraft are operational, the B-1s and B-2s will be incrementally retired. Delivery and retirement timelines are dependent on the B-21 production and delivery schedules.

“If the force structure we have proposed is supported by the Congress, bases that have bombers now will have bombers in the future,” Wilson said. “They will be B-52s and B-21s.”

The B-21, which the Air Force plans to start fielding in the mid-2020s, will eventually become the backbone of the U.S. strategic bomber fleet and serve as a visible, flexible deterrent to adversaries and assure U.S. partners and allies.

The decision to maintain the B-52 is based on numerous factors including maintenance and sustainment metrics, such as aircraft availability, mission capability, supply, maintenance hours per flying hour and total cost perspectives.

“With an adequate sustainment and modernization focus, including new engines, the B-52 has a projected service life through 2050, remaining a key part of the bomber enterprise well into the future,” said Gen. Robin Rand, Air Force Global Strike Command commander.

Northrop Grumman is developing the B-21 Raider stealth bomber, and is expected to enter service by mid-2020s

“At the end of Desert Storm in 1991 we had 290 total bombers,” Rand said. “Today that force has dropped to 157 bombers at five bomb wings and 15 total force bomb squadrons. That’s a 46 percent decrease in our bomber force while we have conducted continuous combat operations such as Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Odyssey Dawn, Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel, in addition to continuous bomber rotations in the (U.S. Central Command) and (U.S. Pacific Command) areas of responsibility.”

The Air Force budget request of $156.3 billion for fiscal year 2019 builds on the progress made in 2018 to restore the readiness of the force, increase lethality, and cost-effectively modernize.

The FY19 request supports the purchase of 48 F-35A Lightning II fighters, 15 KC-46 Pegasus tankers, and continued development of the B-21 Raider. 

The FY19 proposal initiates development of B-52 replacement engines and continues development of the Long Range Stand Off missiles and the replacement of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. The budget also targets investments to modernize the integrated land, air, and space-based systems to ensure secure, survivable connectivity with the President and national command leadership.

The FY19 budget proposes the modernization of seven E-3 Airborne Warning Command and Control aircraft (AWACS) and keeps the current E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar Systems (JSTARS) operational through the mid-2020s as the service develops and transitions to an advanced battle management system. 

According to Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, restoring readiness to win any fight, any time remains a primary objective in FY19. It funds 1.5 million flying hours at a cost of $8.7 billion. T