Friday, September 15, 2017

India's Astra BVRAAM complete developmental trials

India has completed the developmental flight trials of the indigenous Astra Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM).

The final testing conducted from 11-14 September, involved a total of seven successful trials over the Bay of Bengal, against the Lakshya Pilotless Target Aircraft.

The missile were fired from Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jet against the PTA in various flight regimes. The missions included engagement of target at very long range, engagement of high manoeuvring target at medium range and multiple launches of missiles in salvo to engage multiple targets.

All the sub-systems including the indigenous RF Seeker performed accurately, meeting all the mission parameters and objectives. Two missiles were also launched in the combat configuration with warhead and the targets were neutralized.

The missile was developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), while the integration on to the aircraft was carried out by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Powered by a smokeless rocket motor, the 154 kg Astra carries a 15 kg warhead and can engage target at a maximum range of 75 km, while shorter range version has a range of 44 km.

Russian Tu-22M3 bomber involved in runway excursion incident

A Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-22M3 supersonic bomber was involved in a runway excursion incident after landing at the Saykovka airbase on Sept. 14.

The supersonic bomber with registration RF-94233, reportedly veered off the runway after a hard landing and came to rest on ground nearby.

All the four on board, including the pilot, co-pilot, weapon system officer and navigator escaped unharmed.

The aircraft based at the Belaya Air Base, had been flying a mission as a part of the Zapad 2017 military exercise between Belarus and Russia.

The Tu-22 M3 is a variable sweep wing long range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed in the 1970s. Around 150 of them are operated by Russian Air Force and Navy.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Saudi Eurofighter Typhoon Crashes in Yemen

The Joint Saudi-UAE coalition fighting the Yemen's Houthi rebels has lost their first fighter jet during combat operation in the Southern Yemen.

A Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) Eurofighter Typhoon crashed in Yemen's Abhyan province while carrying out a combat mission, killing its pilot.

According to Saudi Govt press release, the Eurofighter crashed due to technical reasons and pilot Lt Col Muhanna Al-Baiz did not survive the crash.

This is the first crash of Eurofighter Typhoon during combat operations. In August a UAE Black Hawk military helicopter crashed in Yemen killing the four on board personnels.

Saudi Arabia received its last of the 72 Eurofighters ordered by the Kingdom in June 2017.

South Korea hone precision strike capabilities with Tauras KPED

Amid rising tensions with North Korea, South Korea conducted precision strike trials of its Tauras KPED 350K standoff cruise missiles on 12 Sept.

The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) Boeing F-15K fighter launched the missile against a static target over the western coast of the country.

The high subsonic speed Tauras missile with a maximum range of 500 km self navigated around 400 km to strike the target.

The trials marks the integration of the missile onto the South Korean F-15K fighters after delivering the first batch of 40 missiles in October 2016.

The Tauras KEPD 350K is an enhanced and upgraded version of the TAURUS KEPD 350 missile, which has been in service with the German Air Force since 2005 and with the Spanish Air Force since 2009.

The 5 m long, 1400 kg KEPD 350K missile has been designed and developed to fly through dense air defenses at a very low terrain-following level and for the engagement of high-value targets.

The missile contains a highly effective dual stage warhead system weighting 480 kg, which combines excellent penetration capabilities for hard and deeply buried targets with blast-and-fragmentation capabilities against point and area targets.

The dual stage warhead called Mephisto has an initial penetrating charge to clear light surfaces like soil and penetrate the bunker and then a variable delay fuze trigger the main warhead to destroy hardened objects.

It is powered by a Williams P8300-15 turbofan engine and navigation system include inertial navigation, GPS, Terrain reference navigation and Image Based Navigation.

South Korea has ordered a total of 260 Tauras missiles to arm its F-15K fighters and is expected to order more following the tensions.

The TAURUS KEPD 350E is a product of TAURUS Systems GmbH, a joint venture between MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Saab Dynamics AB.

USAF awards contact for preliminary design of next Air Force One

U.S. Air Force has awarded a contract modification for just under $600 million to Boeing on Sept. 12, 2017, for preliminary design efforts for the next U.S. presidential aircraft, based on Boeing 747-8 aircraft.

The contract modification includes the design to incorporate a mission communication system, electrical power upgrades, a medical facility, an executive interior, a self-defense system and autonomous ground operations capabilities into two commercial Boeing 747-8s.

These aircraft will replace the two aging VC-25A (747-200) presidential support aircraft.

These aircraft will provide the president of the United States with safe, reliable and affordable air transportation equipped with all mission capabilities necessary to continuously execute the constitutional responsibilities of commander-in-chief, head of state, and chief executive.

Under this contract action, Boeing and their suppliers will complete the initial design of the future Air Force One. The Air Force is committed to working with Boeing to ensure the PAR program meets presidential airlift mission requirements, as well as the president's affordability expectations.

The Air Force is also working with Boeing on a follow-on contract modification, referred to as the Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract modification, which will continue the program through detailed design, aircraft modification, test and delivery of two presidential mission-ready aircraft.

The EMD contract modification is planned to be awarded in the Summer of 2018. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New Russian TV7-117ST turboprop engine commence flight testing

The United Engine Corporation has began flight tests of the upgraded Russian TV7-117ST turboprop engine developed by Klimov to power new turboprop aircraft.

The engine is intended to power the IL-112V military transport aircraft and the IL-114-300 regional airliner, while its turboshaft variant powers the Mi-38 helicopter.

The engine is flight tested on board the IL-76LL flying laboratory, with one of its inner starboard PS90 turbofan engine replaced with the TV7-117ST turboprop.

The advanced engine has a maximum takeoff power of 3000 hp, and can deliver 3,600 hp in emergency conditions. It is paired to a six bladed AV-112 propeller developed by Aerosila NPP.

The engine is equipped with FADEC control system that can control the engine speed and propeller pitch to achieve the max fuel efficiency.

United Aircraft Corp is planning to resume the production of the IL-114-300 aircraft with the new engine, which will improve its take off performance.

The IL-112V is a new generation turboprop military airlifter intended to replace the An-26 operated by Russian Armed Forces.

The first prototype of the aircraft has completed final assembly and is planned to achieve first flight in the coming months. With a maximum take off weight of 21 tonnes, the IL-112V can carry a payload of 5 tonne.

US clears F/A-18 sale to Canada

United States has cleared a 5.23 billion dollar deal to supply Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jets to Canada.

The deal for 18 Super Hornets include 10 single seat E versions and 8 twin seat F fighter/trainer versions, along with support, spares and weapons.

The order is an stopgap measure until a permanent replacement to the present Canadian F/A-18 (locally called CF-18) hornet fighter fleet acquired in the 1980s, following cancellation of acquisition of the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter by the present Trudeau government.

The aircraft will be equipped with AN/APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, M61A2 20MM gun systems, AN/ALR-67(V)3 Electronic Warfare Countermeasures Receiving Sets, AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods, Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems–Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS-JTRS), Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS), AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Countermeasures Systems, LAU-127E/A and or F/A Guided Missile Launchers, AN/AYK-29 Distributed Targeting System (DTS) and AN/AYK-29 Distributed Targeting Processor (DTP).

Weapons include AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Tactical Missiles, AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM), AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Special Air Training Missiles (NATM), AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Tactical Guidance Units and AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II CATM Guidance Units.

The principal contractors will be:  Boeing Company, St. Louis, MO; Northrop Grumman, Los Angeles, CA; Raytheon, El Segundo, CA; General Electric, Lynn, MA; and Raytheon Missile Systems Company, Tucson, AZ.  Canada will also negotiate offset agreements with key U.S. contractors.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Saab unveils Gripen Aggressor concept at DSEI 2017

Swedish Saab has unveiled an aggressor variant of the Gripen multi-role fighter jet for the first time at DSEI 2017, London, UK.

Based on the Gripen C variant, the Gripen Aggressor is intended for the adversary air combat training market, with its unique mix of high performance, mission flexibility and availability combined with a low life cycle cost.

An aggressor, or adversary, aircraft, is used to act as an opposing force in advanced military combat training. Aggressor squadrons use enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures to provide a realistic environment for the fighter pilots to train against.

There is a growing segment within the adversary air combat training market for highly advanced aggressor capabilities to be able to perform realistic combat training. Gripen Aggressor provides an exceptional, dissimilar opponent aircraft system against which pilots will sharpen and refine their combat skills so as to fight and win against an advanced enemy threat.

Saab sees potential for the platform as a high-level aggressor option within both the United States Air Force’s Adversary Air (ADAIR) and UK MOD’s Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) requirements.

The aircraft has been customised for the aggressor role. It has all the renowned handling and flight characteristics associated with the Gripen C and its advanced sensor and datalink capabilities, but will not carry live armament.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mitsubishi MRJ resume flight testing after short grounding

The Mitsubishi MRJ passenger jet has resumed flight testing from Moses Lake, Washington following a brief pause after an in-flight engine failure incident.

The four aircraft flight test fleet were grounded on August 21, following an uncommanded engine shutdown during a test flight.

The left Pratt & Whitney PW1200G geared turbofan engine of the MRJ FTA-2 experienced an uncommanded engine shut down with out any prior indication to the pilots.

The aircraft was immediately diverted to Portland International Airport and carried out a single engined landing without any further incidents.

The left PW1200G GTF engine involved in the incident

The FTA-2 returned to its flight test center at Grant County Airport in Moses Lake, after the engine was replaced.

Flight testing was resumed with the FTA-4 aircraft, flying out of the Phoenix Mesa airport in Arizona on September 6.

The aircraft has since then completed multiple flights, with one flight lasting more than 3.5 hours.

Mitsubishi said the FTA-4 engines were inspected with the help of a team from Pratt & Whitney prior to commencing the flight test. The company said the exact cause of th FTA-2 engine malfunction is under investigation.

The MRJ 70-90 seat regional jet is the first commercial airliner design from Japan. After numerous delays, the MRJ is now poised to achieve certification in 2019 and enter service with All Nippon Airways in 2020.

To fasten the flight testing process, Mitsubishi is carrying out the flight testing from Moses Lake.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

First Phénix A330 MRTT tanker for France takes off

Airbus Defence and Space has completed the maiden flight of the first A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport for France.

The aircraft, which will be known in French service as Phénix, is the first of nine ordered by the French Defence Procurement Agency DGA, plus another three expected to be confirmed.

It is the second new standard A330 MRTT to fly, featuring structural modifications, aerodynamic improvements giving a fuel-burn reduction of up to 1%, upgraded avionics computers and enhanced military systems.

The aircraft was converted in Getafe from a standard A330 assembled in Toulouse. The crew reported that the aircraft performed in line with expectations during the 3h 25min flight.

The Phénix fleet will be equipped with a combination of the Airbus Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods, and can carry 272 passengers or be configured for medical evacuation.

First delivery is due in 2018. Fifty-one A330 MRTTs have been ordered by eight nations of which 28 have been delivered.

Photo: Pablo Cabellos / Airbus

Leonardo Vixen AESA radar selected for upgrading IAR-99 TD trainer jet

Leonardo’s Vixen 500E AESA radar has been procured by the National Institute for Aerospace Research “Elie Carafoli” (INCAS), Romania’s leading aerospace research and development establishment, for its new trainer technology demonstrator programme IAR-99 TD.

The project is based on a Romanian Air Force IAR-99 Soim trainer jet (prototype no. 7003) which will be modified by INCAS together with aircraft manufacturer Avioane Craiova.

Leonardo has worked with INCAS previously, providing its Seaspray 5000E AESA surveillance radar for INCAS’s special mission BN-2 Islander aircraft.

This is currently being used for scientific and environmental monitoring missions. It is hoped that the sale of the Vixen 500E could lead in future to Romania’s fleet of IAR-99s being retrofitted with the new radar as part of a wider upgrade program.

Dr. Catalin Nae, General Manager of INCAS, said: “It is a dedicated development program towards a new generation trainer we develop at INCAS, as a follow-up on the current IAR-99 Soim in service for the Romanian MoD. IAR-99 TD is a technological demonstrator to fully test and further develop new technologies for advanced trainer, with enhanced sensing and combat capabilities. The Vixen 500E radar system will bring the capability that we consider critical with respect to the operational environment for our future trainer.”

Vixen 500E is one of Leonardo’s active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar systems, meaning that instead of physically pointing the radar’s antenna at its target, a matrix of miniature radar modules are used to steer the beam electronically.

This technology allows Vixen to combine high performance with reliability and a low cost of ownership, as well as being easy to install and operate. The prototype aircraft with the radar on-board is expected to be ready for testing by the end of 2017.

The contract with INCAS follows Leonardo’s recent provision of the same Vixen 500E radar to the US Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) in Patuxent River, Maryland, where students will use the radar while training on-board the school’s C-26 aircraft. Previously, Leonardo has also sold the Vixen 500E to the United States for the Department of Homeland Security.

Leonardo is Europe’s leader in fire control radar. The company provides the Raven ES-05 AESA radar for Saab’s Gripen E combat aircraft (which will go into service with both Sweden and Brazil) and leads the pan-European Euroradar consortium in the development of the Typhoon’s new Captor-E AESA radar

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Rolls Royce UltraFan engine development reach new milestone

Rolls Royce's under development UltraFan® geared turbofan engine have reached a new developmental milestone, almost a year after commencing testing in October 2016.

The planetary Gearbox for the engine successfully reached 70,000 horsepower while on test at Rolls-Royce’s dedicated facility in Dahlewitz, Germany.

Eventually the gearbox will reach up to 100,000 horsepower – the equivalent of more than 100 Formula 1 cars.

UltraFan is one of the two new generation engines which Rolls Royce is developing. Equipped with a intermediate gear box, the UltraFan will offer a 25% fuel efficiency improvement over the first generation Rolls Royce Trent 700 engine and will be available from 2025.

While the Advance engine will offer 20 percent fuel efficiency improvements from 2020, without the geared architecture. It relies on the material advancements to achieve the efficiency, like advanced lightweight alloys and a new carbon titanium fan system, comprising the fan blades and fan casing.

UltraFan's Power Gearbox, introduced between the fan and intermediate pressure compressor, enable the fan, engine compressor and the turbine to run at their optimum speeds.

The carbon titanium fan system is further developed to allow the removal of the thrust reverser, enabling a truly slim-line nacelle system.

Rolls Royce is working in partnership with Liebherr-Aerospace, through their Aerospace Transmission Technologies joint venture, to develop manufacturing capability and capacity for the new power gearbox. RR is leading the design definition and design integration of the power gearbox, as well as testing activities.