Monday, December 31, 2012

Pictures: Chinese WZ-10 Attack Helicopters

Chinese Y-20 Transport Plane Surfaces

Pictures of a new Chinese military transport plane surfaced on Dec 24, dubbed the Y-20 is expected to be the strategic transport plane for the Chinese military.
The aircraft is being developed by the Chinese aircraft maker Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation.
The aircraft design has been influenced by the Russian IL-76 and U.S Boeing C-17 transport planes.
Y-20 is large wide-body, four-turbofan engine-powered, high-wing and high T-tail configured military transport.
Nose section seems to be being inspired from the Antonov An-70 transport plane.
The Y-20 uses a wing-fuselage interface similar to that used by the Il-76, producing a pronounced hump atop the forward fuselage, while its wide body, empennage, and T-tail are similar to the C-17.
Prototype aircraft is powered by a Russian Saturn D-30K series turbofan engine and the production models would debut a Chinese indigenous engines.

Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesman Yang Yujun said that China is developing a Y-20 large transport aircraft as part of its military modernization drive. The spokesman added that the advanced long-range aircraft is being developed to be used in disaster relief work and humanitarian emergency situations. He did not say when the Y-20s would be ready for service, but offered that "the research and development of the large transport aircraft is going forward as planned".
 In 2008 a former chinese born Boeing engineer was caught for allegedly selling secrets about the Boeing C-17 strategic transport plane and now retired U.S space shuttles.

First Sukhoi Superjet 100 Delivered to Sky Aviation

On December 29, 2012 Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) and Indonesian air carrier Sky Aviation signed in Ulianovsk (Russia) Act of Delivery & Acceptance for the first Sukhoi Superjet 100 on completion of technical acceptance procedure.
Flight of the aircraft with MSN 95022 from Ulianovsk Delivery Centre to its base airport in Indonesia is planned for January 2013. The same month the airline is going to put SSJ100 into commercial operation.

Boeing to Provide 2 More C-40A Transport Aircraft to US Navy

Boeing has received a $145 million order from the U.S. Navy for two additional C-40A Clipper transport aircraft, increasing the service's ability to move military personnel and cargo around the world. The modified Next-Generation 737-700 aircraft will be the 13th and 14th C-40As in the Navy's Unique Fleet Essential Airlift Replacement Aircraft Program, which is replacing the Navy Reserve's aging fleet of DC-9-based C-9B Skytrains.
"The C-40A offers superior performance and range, 21st century avionics and quiet, fuel-efficient engines, and is increasing the Navy's capability for rapid response," said Andy Reheis, Boeing Global Transport and Executive Systems program manager. "Boeing looks forward to continuing our support of the Navy and meeting the service’s airlift needs."
The C-40A is certified to operate in an all-passenger configuration, an all-cargo variant, or as a "combi" that accommodates both cargo and passengers on the main deck.
The Boeing 737 aircraft in the C-40A program are manufactured by in Renton, Wash., and sent to the company"s facility in San Antonio for modifications and certification. Boeing delivered the first C-40A to the Navy Reserve in 2001. Boeing also provides contractor logistics support for the C-40A fleet with industry partners Delta Technical Operations and J.K. Hill and Associates.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Saab to Integrate Surveillance System on Piaggio Aero MPA Aircraft

Swedish Saab has signed a framework agreement with Italian Piaggio Aero Industries for the integration of surveillance systems in Piaggio Aero's new surveillance aircraft. The order is valued at Euro 15,5 million.
The new aircraft, Piaggio Aero MPA (Multirole Patrol Aircraft), is a multi-functional aircraft and can be used for airborne patrols over land and sea.

Within the framework agreement Saab receives an initial order for the delivery and integration of the surveillance system MPA Mission System. The order comprises two MPA aircraft and requires Saab to integrate a package of advanced surveillance equipment comprising of sensors, radar, infra-red cameras and a mission system.

The Piaggio Aero MPA is the evolution of the Piaggio Aero P.180 Avanti II platform, newly designed to meet the need for a robust and high-tech solution for land, coastal, maritime and offshore security.

The MPA's main features are an enhanced airframe, increased maximum take-off weight, additional fuel tanks and a new aerodynamic configuration with a reinforced wing providing an increased surface and higher aspect ratio.

The new special mission aircraft will be able to fly up to 41,000 feet, with an outstanding endurance of 10 plus flight hours, a maximum range of 3,300 Nm and a best in class cruise speed of 350 Knots.

The MPA is designed for different roles including Maritime Patrol, Ground Surveillance, Tactical ISR and COMINT missions.

The twin turboprop aircraft is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada engines, with a competitive loitering speed both at low and high altitude, coupled with a best in class 350KTAS cruise speed for maximum mission flexibility.

Its operating ceiling of up to 41,000 feet, allows for high altitude operations with a remarkable 10 plus hours endurance.

The aircraft will be able to perform surveillance of broad areas for more than 6 hours at low altitude in coastal or offshore waters, and thanks to its maximum range of more than 3300 Nm and fast deployment speed is able to reach distant operative theaters.

The large, stand up cabin allows installation of any kind of console for flexible operation and special missions as well as providing maximum crew comfort enhanced by the lowest cabin noise in its category and a high pressure differential of just 9psi.

The MPA features the patented Three-Lifting-Surface Configuration (3LSC). The modified aerodynamic configuration designed for special mission applications, underwent extensive Reynolds low speed/high speed wind tunnel testing in the world's leading facilities (ONERA) to validate design and performance and during testing demonstrated an outstanding 30% reduction of required power in comparison to its nearest competitor.

Russian Air Force Inducts Su-34 Bombers


Russian aircraft maker Sukhoi delivered five serial Su-34 frontline bombers to Russian Airforce.
The aircrafts were flown from the runway airport of the Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association (NAPO) of Sukhoi and off to the place of their deployment at the Western military district air base in Voronezh.
The aircraft delivery is carried out in the framework of the State defense order 2012.
The state contract for supply of 32 Su-34 frontlinebombers to the Russian Defense Ministry was signed in 2008.
In March 2012 another state contact was signed for supply of 92 aircraft up to the year 2020. This is one of the largest contracts for combat aircraft supplies under the State armaments program for 2011 – 2020. Its fulfillment will allow replacing largely Su-24 frontline bombers currently in service by new aircraft in the nearest future. It also provides for an extended high production load of Sukhoi Company and related enterprises.
Technical and combat capabilities of the aircraft supplied are in full conformance with the Air Force demands. They were proved during the state joint testing of the airplane completed in September 2011.
The Su-34 can effectively attack land-based, sea- and airborne targets by day and night in all weathers using the entire suite of its airborne munitions, including high-precision types. In terms of operational capabilities this is a 4+ generation aircraft.
Its active safety system, along with the newest computers, provides extra capabilities for the pilot and navigator to performprecise bombing and to maneuver under enemy fire. The excellent aerodynamics, large capacity internal fuel tanks, fuel-efficient bypass engines with a digital control system, in-flight refueling device and add-on fuel tanks enable the aircraft to fly long distances close to those of medium strategic bombers.
The aircraft features an outstanding flight performance, maintainability and maneuverability. It has long-range aiming systems, modern on-board communication and information exchange system with ground control stations, ground troops and surface ships as well as between aircraft of the group.
The Su-34 is armed with highly effective long-range air-to-surface and air-to-air guided weapons enabling multi-channel operational employment. It is equipped with a highly intelligent system of radar countermeasures and defense. The Su-34 has a sophisticated survival system, including an armored cockpit. The aircraft can perform missions at a low altitude in bypass and fly-by modes. There are immediate plans to increase the combat potential of the aircraft with new weapons.

Kaveri Engine Variant to Power Indian Unmanned Strike Aircraft

A variant of India's indigenously developed Kaveri jet engine will be used to power the Indian unmanned combat aircraft named Aura.
On Dec 10, in written reply to a parliamentary question, defense minister AK Anthony said a derivative of the Kaveri can power India’s Unmanned Strike Air Vehicle (USAV), planned to enter service by 2020.
According to the Business Standard , India has no choice but to use a dry (unreheated) version of the Kaveri in the USAV because the international Missile Technology Control Regime bars the export of engines for unmanned aircraft with ranges more than 300km.
GTRE Kaveri Jet Engine
Under development by India’s Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), the Kaveri’s afterburning thrust is less than designed and well short of that needed to power the overweight Light Combat Aircraft Tejus, but its dry (unreheated) thrust is adequate to power the under-10-tonne USAV, the report says.
The Business Standard says tests at Russia’s Gromov Flight Research Institute, mounted on an Il-76 flying testbed, showed the Kaveri’s afterburning thrust is 15,800lb, versus the planned 18,200lb. But dry thrust was almost 11,100lb, close to the planned 11,500lb.
The Kaveri turbofan engine has been under development at the GTRE since March 1989. Anthony, in his written reply, says 2,200hr of ground and altitude testing have been completed on nine Kaveri prototype engines plus four Kabini core prototypes. In Russia, the engine was flown to Mach 0.7 and almost 40,000ft over 27 flights totalling 57hr.
Development was scheduled to be completed in December 1996 at a projected cost of $69.5 million (Rs.382.81 Crore). But because of technical failures and delays, the program was extended and its cost revised to $515 million, of which $362million has been spent so far, says Anthony.
Because of the Kaveri’s failure, the Tejas Mk1 is powered by an imported 19,000lb-thrust GE F404-IN20. But the aircraft is overweight and underpowered, so an enlarged Mk2 version is planned powered by a 22,000lb-thrust GE F414-INS6.
India’s USAV, meanwhile, looks a lot like Europe’s Dassault-led Neuron unmanned combat-aircraft technology demonstrator , which made its first flight in France in early December. The Neuron demonstrator is powered by a 9,000lb-thrust Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

India and Russia Signs Deal for another 71 Mi-17V-5 Helos

Rosoboronexport and the Indian Ministry of Defence have signed an agreement on the delivery another consignment of Russia-made military transport Mi-17V-5 helicopters by 2015.
The agreement was signed during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to India on December 24, 2012. The new consignment of Mi-17V-5 helicopters falls under a contract signed by the Defence Ministry of India and Rosoboronexport in 2008.
Furthermore, the visit of the Russian president to India resulted in the signing of a set of documents aimed at strengthening military-technical cooperation between Russia and India, including in helicopter manufacturing. India is a traditional buyer of Russian aircraft and presently has a fleet of 280 Russian-made helicopters. The Russian delegation accompanying President Putin expressed its confidence that Russia is capable of fulfilling India’s needs for both civil and military helicopters.
The Mi-17V-5 helicopters for the Indian Air Force are built by Kazan Helicopters, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters. The Mi-17V-5 is one of the most advanced helicopters on the global marketplace, as well as in the Indian Air Force.
Today helicopters of the Mi-8/17 series are considered a symbol of the Russian aircraft manufacturing industry. The high level of interest in these rotorcraft is driven by the fact that they successfully employ the latest technological advances while also take advantage of experience gained in the use and operation of previous models. These modern helicopters, powered by the best engines and equipped with the latest avionics, have inherited the outstanding characteristics of their predecessors – superior reliability, simplicity and ease of use. The best in their class, these machines can fly a wide range of missions in conditions ranging from tropical and maritime climates to high altitude and desert environments.

Russia to Open Helicopter Assembly Plant in India

During the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to India, Russian Helicopters, a subsidiary of Oboronprom, part of Russian Technologies State Corporation, and Elcom Systems Private Limited, part of the Indian investment conglomerate SUN Group, signed in New Delhi an agreement to set up in India a modern industrial facility for manufacturing of Russian helicopter models, namely helicopters of the Ka- and Mi- brands.
The joint venture will have the capacity to produce key helicopter units and carry out final assembly of the machines as well as engage in ground and flight testing. It is expected that the enterprise will start with production of components for the multirole Ka-226T helicopter. The enterprise will serve as an industrial base for hi-tech Russian rotorcraft products in India.
“India is a traditional partner of Russian Helicopters in terms of helicopter deliveries. The creation of a joint Russian-Indian enterprise marks a new stage and also a logical continuation of our joint efforts in light of the growing demand for Russian helicopter models,” said Dmitry Petrov, CEO of Russian Helicopters.
According to Petrov, the joint venture will help drive the development of India’s aerospace industry and provide for effective application of advanced Russian technologies. It will also make it possible to organize the training of Indian engineers and promote the development of highly qualified personnel across the entire production chain.
Moreover, the enterprise will be eligible to implement offset projects under various procurement tenders in India where Russian rotorcraft are involved. The holding company and Elcom Systems also reached an agreement on plans to create a joint Helicopter Academy in India for the training of flight and technical personnel.
Vladimir Putin’s visit to India resulted in the signing of a set of documents aimed at strengthening military-technical cooperation between Russia and India, including in helicopter manufacturing. India is a traditional buyer of Russia aircraft and presently has a fleet of 280 Russian-made helicopters.

Monday, December 24, 2012

India and Russia Inks Deal for 42 Su-30 MKI Fighters

Indian public sector defense company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) signed a contract for 42 numbers of Su-30 MKI frontline Fighter Aircraft with the Ministry of Defence and Russian firm Rosoboronexport in New Delhi today.  "HAL's total responsibility for this supersonic multirole aircraft has now gone up to 222. This will further boost our confidence and operations as we have already delivered 119 Su-30 aircraft to the Air Force.  We will continue to contribute to the country's defence preparedness", says Dr. R. K. Tyagi, Chairman, HAL. The deal was inked by Dr. Tyagi on behalf of HAL with the Ministry of Defence.  Mr. S. Subramanyan, Managing Director of HAL's MiG Complex signed the contract with Mr. A. A. Mikheev, Deputy General Director of Rosobornexport.

One hundred fifty seven Indian vendors are involved in providing 13,350 components of the aircraft while another 19,450 components are manufactured at HAL's Nasik and Koraput Divisions, adds Dr. Tyagi.

The Su-30 MKI project provides solid platform to indigenous manufacturing and technical competence creating hundreds of direct and indirect jobs. HAL's hand-holding with private entrepreneurs has also ensured creation of strong infrastructure and quality avionics products.

Su-30 MKI is a two-seater, highly manoeuvrable, supersonic, multirole aircraft for day and night operations in all weather conditions. The aircraft is fitted with two turbojet AL-31FP engines and is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics from Russian, Western and indigenous sources.

The project has enabled HAL to master niche technologies of aircraft building and absorb new technologies in manufacturing areas like machining, forming, welding, assembly, testing and aircraft system checks. The aircraft airframes are made at Nasik, engines at Koraput, accessories at Hyderabad (communication and navigation), hydraulic, pneumatic and fuel aggregates and instruments at Lucknow and avionic displays and INGPS at Korwa. Overhauling and repairs of Su-30 MKI have already commenced in the dedicated lines set up at Nasik.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Raytheon awarded $254.6 million for Tomahawk Block IV Cruise Missile

The U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon Company a $254.6 million contract to procure Tomahawk Block IV tactical cruise missiles for fiscal year 2013. The contract calls for Raytheon to build and deliver Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles, conduct flight tests and provide life-cycle support. Production and delivery of the missiles is scheduled to begin in 2013. "Tomahawk Block IV enables the warfighter to precisely engage heavily defended and high-value targets from extremely long distances, which is critical to maintaining national security," said Capt. Joe Mauser, U.S. Navy Tomahawk program manager. "With more than 2,000 combat missions and 500 successful tests completed, Tomahawk has proven its outstanding reliability and effectiveness."
A major enhancement to the Tomahawk Block IV missile includes a two-way satellite data-link that enables a strike controller to redirect the missile in-flight to preprogrammed alternate targets or more critical targets.
"Tomahawk has an excellent record of reliability, effectiveness and accuracy. No other tactical cruise missile in the world can come close to matching it," said Harry Schulte, vice president of Air Warfare Systems for Raytheon Missile Systems. "This missile provides unparalleled capability and has greatly contributed to the security of our country and our allies."
The contract was announced by the Department of Defense on Dec. 17, 2012, and was awarded in Raytheon's fourth quarter.

Iraqi F-16 Fighter's to be Equipped with Sniper Targeting Pods

                     F-16 with Sniper Pod  Photo© Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin will supply Iraqi Airforce with Sniper targeting pods under a $31.9 million contract.
These pods will equip the 36 F-16 fighters Iraq has ordered in the last two years.
Iraq has also bought 40,000 rounds of 20mm autocannon ammo, 100 AIM-9L/M Sidewinder heat seeking air-to-air missiles, 150 AIM-7M/H Sparrow radar homing air-to-air missiles, and over 500 smart bombs, plus Sniper and LITENING targeting pods.
The Sniper pod provides long-range target detection/identification and continuous surveillance for all missions, including close air support of ground forces. Superior imagery, a video datalink and J-series weapons-quality coordinates enhance the warfighter’s ability to rapidly detect and analyze ground targets while keeping aircrews out of threat ranges.
The 200 kg (440 pound) Sniper pod hangs off a hard point, like a missile, bomb, or fuel tank. Backin 1990, the first targeting pods (the U.S. two pod LANTIRN system) were nearly ready for service. These first electronic targeting pods that looked like a thin bomb were hung under the wing of fighters and contained laser designators and night vision equipment. The LANTIRN got a workout in the 1991 Gulf War, even though the system was still undergoing testing. Israel soon followed with a cheaper, more reliable, and morecapable Litening system.

The Sniper pods are very popular with fighter and bomber pilots.
They are used on American F-15, F-16, A-10, and B-1 aircraft. These pods contain FLIR (video quality night vision infrared radar) and TV cameras that enable pilots flying at 6,200 meters (20,000 feet) to clearly make out what is going on down there. The pods also contain laser designators for laser guided bombs and laser range finders that enable pilots to get coordinates for JDAM (GPS guided) bombs.

The Sniper pod is the most widely deployed targeting system for fixed-wing aircraft in use bythe U.S. Air Force, and is the targeting system of choice for 12 international air forces.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

NASA Puts Orion Backup Parachutes to the Test

Orion being loaded to C-17 for test

A mockup Orion capsule touches down in the desert of the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona with the help of its three 300-pound main parachutes, after being dropped from an airplane 25,000 feet up. The test verified that the parachute design for the spacecraft – which will take humans farther than they’ve ever been before and return them to Earth at greater speeds than ever before – will work in the event of one of the capsule’s two drogue parachutes malfunctions.Photo credit: NASA
NASA completed the latest in a series of parachute tests for its Orion spacecraft Thursday at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in southwestern Arizona, marking another step toward a first flight test in 2014. The test verified Orion can land safely even if one of its two drogue parachutes does not open during descent.
Orion will take humans farther into space than ever before, but one of the most challenging things the multipurpose vehicle will do is bring its crew home safely. Because it will return from greater distances, Orion will reenter the Earth's atmosphere at speeds of more than 20,000 mph. After re-entry, the parachutes are all that will lower the capsule carrying astronauts back to Earth.
Orion uses five parachutes. Three are main parachutes measuring 116 feet wide and two are drogue parachutes measuring 23 feet wide. The 21,000-pound capsule needs only two main parachutes and one drogue. The extra two provide a backup in case one of the primary parachutes fails.
To verify Orion could land safely with only one drogue parachute, engineers dropped a spacecraft mockup from a plane 25,000 feet above the Arizona desert and simulated a failure of one of the drogues. About 30 seconds into the mockup's fall, the second drogue parachute opened and slowed the mockup down enough for the three main parachutes to take over the descent.
The next Orion parachute test is scheduled for February and will simulate a failure of one of the three main parachutes.
In 2014, an un crewed Orion spacecraft will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Exploration Flight Test-1. The spacecraft will travel 3,600 miles above Earth's surface. This is 15 times farther than the International Space Station's orbit and farther than any spacecraft designed to carry humans has gone in more than 40 years. The main flight objective is to test Orion's heat shield performance at speeds generated during a return from deep space.

Nasa and Boeing Completes Preliminary Design Review for SLS Launch Vehicle Core Stage

Boeing and NASA on Dec. 20 completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage and avionics, validating the design of the rocket that will send humans beyond low Earth orbit to places like the moon, an asteroid and ultimately Mars.

The PDR is a comprehensive review that demonstrates that the design meets all system requirements within acceptable risk constraints, establishing approval for proceeding with detailed design.
The first mission in 2017 will be an un-crewed loop around Earth's moon, to be followed by a crewed mission.

The team designing America's new flagship rocket Space Launch System (SLS) will take the agency's Orion spacecraft and other payloads beyond low-Earth orbit, providing a new capability for human exploration.

The first flight test of the SLS, which will feature a configuration for a 70-metric ton lift capacity and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond the moon, is scheduled for 2017. As the SLS evolves, a two-stage launch vehicle using the core stage will provide a lift capability of 130-metric tons to enable missions beyond low-Earth orbit and to support deep space exploration.

The purpose of the PDR was to ensure the designmet system requirements within acceptable risk and fell within schedule and budget constraints. An important part of the PDR was to prove the core stage could integrate safely with other elements of the rocket's main engines and solid rocket boosters, the crew capsule and the launchfacilities at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Core stage designers provided an in-depth assessment to a board of engineers comprised of propulsion and design experts fromacross the agency and the aerospace industry.

The core stage will be built at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans using state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment. The plant continues modifying its facilities and ordering materials for construction of the rocket. Michoud has built components for NASA's spacecraft for decades, most recently, the space shuttle's external tanks.

Boeing and NASA achieved three important milestones in the past year -- System Requirements Review, SystemsDesign Review and now PDR. Boeing can now proceed to the Critical Design Review, the final step -- expected in 2014 -- that officially gives Boeing the authority to proceed into production. Boeing continues to develop production capability for the heavy-lift rocket at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Russia Deliver's Second Batch of Mi-17B-5 Helicopters to India

Russian Helicopters delivered another consignment of Mi-17B-5 helicopters to India as part of a contract signed by Rosoboronexport and India’s Ministry of Defence in 2008.

The helicopters were built by Kazan Helicopter Plant , a Russian Helicopters company. The final delivery under the contract is scheduled for 2013.
The Mi-8/17 series of helicopters is one of the symbols of Russia’s aviation industry. The latest models combine advanced technologies with the years of operational experience accumulated by their predecessors.
These advanced helicopters, the best in their class, are equipped with the latest navigational and on-board systems, and maintain the high levels of reliability, simplicity and ease of operation that generations of operators have come to expect. They can fly a wide range of missions in conditions ranging from tropical and maritime climates to high altitude and desert environments.
The Mi-17B-5 has been built to the requirements of the Indian Ministry of Defence. It is one of the most advanced helicopters on the global marketplace, as well as in the Indian Armed Forces.
The helicopters are equipped with new VK-2500 engines that have an electronic control system and deliver enhanced power performance, which is particularly important in hot climates and at high altitudes. Should one engine fail, the reservepower provided by the second engine ensures safe operation through to landing. The on-board systems allow the helicopter to operate day and night in all weather conditions. A new navigation system has been developed for this version of theMi-17B-5 that shows all of the piloting and navigation information on four multifunctional display screens, significantly reducing the crew’s workload.
The medium multirole Mi-17 is the export version of the Mi-8.
India signed a 1.34-billion contract with Russia for supply of 80 Mi-17V5 helicopters in 2008. The first 21 choppers were delivered in 2011.
Mi-17B5, designed for cargo lift of about five tonnes or 36 personnel, has an advanced multi-function cockpit display and upgraded twin engines that produce 2,200 horse power each, providing it the capacity to be started after switching off even in areas of altitude over 6,000 metres or 21,000 feet.
These helicopters are meant to replace the aging Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters of the IAF.
The IAF is already planning for ordering another additional 59 of these at an estimated cost of$1 billion once the first 80 ordered are delivered by 2014.
Their versatility and high performance have made these helicopters some of the most popular Russian-built helicopters around the world. More than 12 thousand Mi-8/17s are in operation in more than 110 countries. Russian Helicopters builds advanced versions of the Mi-8/17 at Kazan Helicopter Plant and Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Reaches Milestone in Development of Rocket Engine for SLS Launch Vehicle

CANOGA PARK, California,
Rocket engine maker Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne successfully completed the last hot-fire test on the J-2X powerpack - an important step toward development of America's next rocket engine designed for human spaceflight.
NASA has selected the J-2X as the upper-stage propulsion for the Space Launch System (SLS), an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle.
The J-2X powerpack tests were designed to evaluate the full range of operating conditions of the engine's components during flight.
The powerpack was tested separately from the engine because it can be operated more thoroughly and at a wider range of conditions than a fully assembled engine.
The powerpack consists of components on top of the engine, including the gas generator, the oxygen and fuel turbopumps, and the ducts, valves and controls that bring the propellants together to drive the turbines of the two turbopumps.
Throughout the test series, which began in February 2012 at John C Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the powerpack was fired 13 times for a total of more than 100 minutes – at one point breaking a single-test record of 1,350 seconds on the A-1 test stand.
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne engineers used varying pressures, temperatures and flow rates to ensure the engine is ready to support exploration to low-Earth orbit, Mars and beyond.

Oman Order's 12 Eurofighter's and 8 Hawk Trainer Jets

BAE Systems has signed a $4 billion contract to supply Oman with 12 Typhoon fighter jets and eight Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircrafts.
Oman becomes the seventh country in the world, and the second in the Middle East, to operate the Eurofighter Typhoon jets, joining the air forces of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Saudi Arabia.
This order of Hawk AJT's follows an order from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in May of this year. This order takes the total number of Hawk aircraft sold,or on order, to 998.
This contract also provides in-service support to the Royal Air Force of Oman's (RAFO) operational tasks.
Deliveries of jets are expected to commence in 2017.
Oman currently operates Anglo-French Jaguar fighter jets and trains pilots on an earlier variant of the BAE Systems Hawk.
BAe Systems is currently in talks with Saudi for sale of another 72 Typhoon fighters.

Airbus Deliver's First Sharklet Equipped A320 to AirAsia

Sharklet and AirAsia Livery
Airbus delivered the first A320 equipped with Sharklets today to AirAsia, which becomes the first operator of the new fuel-saving large wing tip devices. Sharklets are an option on new-build A320 Family aircraft, and are standard on all members of the A320neo Family.
Sharklets are made from light-weight composites and are 2.4 metres tall. These newly designed wing-tip devices reduce fuel burn and emissions by improving theaerodynamics of the aircraft significantly.
Cutting airlines’ fuel bills by around four percent, Sharklets will offer the flexibility to A320 Family operators of either adding around 100 nautical miles more range or allowing increased payload capability of up to 450 kilogrammes.
Due to the very strong customer demand for Sharklets, all Airbus’ single-aisle final assembly lines (FALs) will be engaged in building A320 Family aircraft with Sharklets.These FALs are located in Toulouse (France), Hamburg (Germany) and Tianjin (China) and will soon be followed by an additional A320 FAL in Mobile (Alabama, USA).
AirAsia, the largest low cost airline in Asia is also Airbus’ largest A320 Family airline customer. The carrier recently placed a new order with Airbus on the 13th December 2012 for 100 more A320 Family aircraft including 36 A320ceo aircraft with Sharklets. Altogether, AirAsia has ordered 475 single aisle aircraft from Airbus, comprising 264 A320neo and 211 A320ceo. Over 100 aircraft have already been delivered to the airline and are flying out of its bases in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Manila and Tokyo.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Australian F-18 Super Hornet Fighters achieves Final Operational Capability

The Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of 24 F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft have achieved Final Operational Capability (FOC).

Russian Airforce Signs for Another 30 Su-30SM Fighters


Russian Defense Ministry and aircraft maker Irkut have signed a contract for of an additional 30 Su-30SM multirole fighter jets to the Russian Air Force by 2016.
The first contract between the Defense Ministry and Irkut for the delivery of 30 Su-30SMs was signed in March.
The Russian Air Force received the first two Su-30SM aircraft on November 22.
“In line with the new contract, Irkut will build 30 additional aircraft of this type for the Defense Ministry by 2016,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Su-30SM is inspired and derived from the Indian Su-30 variant Su-30 MKI fighter.
The Su-30MKI sports a Russian radar and optic locator, French navigation and heads-up display systems, Israeli EW and weapon-guidance systems, and Indian computers.
Su-30SM has an improved radar, communications and identification-friend-or-foe system, new ejection seat and new weapons. It also has thrust-vectoring engine nozzles and canard foreplanes, providing supermaneuverability at low airspeeds.

Mitsubishi Ships Composite-material Wing Box for 100th Boeing 787

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) shipped a composite-material wing box for the 100th Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the next-generation super-efficient mid-size airplane, from the Oye Plant of its Nagoya Aerospace Systems Works in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture.

MHI has achieved this milestone in a span of five-and-a-half years since shipment of the first unit in May 2007.

The momentous wing box will be transported by ship from the pier adjoining the plant to Central Japan International Airport (Centrair), from which it will be flown to Boeing's Charleston Plant in South Carolina by Dreamlifter, a special cargo airplane dedicated to transporting 787 components.

The Boeing 787 is the first airliner to adopt composite-material wings. The composite material used for the wing boxes is carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). CFRP is superior in strength, rigidity and corrosive resistance compared with conventional aluminum or titanium alloys.

According to Boeing, lighter airframes enabled by the adoption of composite material, in combination with newly developed engines and an airplane design that achieves minimal drag based on today's most advanced aerodynamics, have enabled 20% improvement in fuel efficiency and superior environmental performance.

In reflection of these outstanding features, demand for the Boeing 787 has been increasing stably, and as a result MHI has been called on to expand its production of composite-material wing boxes.
In response the company has installed a second unit of the world's largest-class autoclave, which is used to bake and cure composite-material to form wing boxes; the first unit has been in operation since 2006.

MHI has also been endeavoring to increase its production rate through measures including the introduction of automatic riveters enabling further enhancement of productivity.

In tandem with its pursuit of higher productivity going forward, MHI plans to use the shipment of the wing box for the 100th 787 as a springboard toward establishing unrivaled technological expertise in the design and manufacture of large-size composite-material wing boxes, as one way of contributing to the development of new airframes for tomorrow's aerospace field.

Northrop and U.S. Navy Complete At-Sea Deck Handling Trials of X-47B UCAV


Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy have successfully completed a series of deck handling trials of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator aircraft aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75).

The exercises, conducted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 17, demonstrated the ability to maneuver the tailless, strike-fighter-sized aircraft quickly and precisely on the flight deck using a wireless handheld controller. These are the latest in a series of test activities leading up to the first carrier landings of the X-47B planned for 2013.

"The X-47B deck trials proved convincingly that the design and operation of the aircraft are fully compatible with the rhythm and operational requirements of the carrier flight deck,"said Mike Mackey, UCAS-D program director for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems."They provided a major boost to the team's confidence as we move steadily toward our first carrier landings next year."

Northrop Grumman is the Navy's prime contractor for the UCAS-Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The company designed and produced two X-47B aircraft for the program. One aircraft was on the ship; the other remains at Naval Air Station Patuxent River where it is undergoing additional shore-based carrier suitability testing.

The deck trials were conducted both while the USS Harry S. Truman was in port at Naval Station Norfolk, and while the ship was under way off the coast of Virginia.

Mackey said the testing included taxiing the X-47B on the flight deck, maneuvering the aircraft up to the ship's catapults using the Northrop Grumman-designed Control Display Unit; taxiing the aircraft over the ship's arresting cables and conducting fueling operations. The team also moved the aircraft up and down the ship's elevators between the flight deck and the hangar bay.

"We proved that the X-47B air system is mature and can perform flawlessly in the most hostile electromagnetic environment on earth, a Nimitz class Navy aircraft carrier,"added Mackey.

In 2013, the UCAS-D program plans to begin conducting shore-based arrested landings of the X-47B at Patuxent River. Carrier trials, which will include both landings and catapult launches, are planned for later in the spring.

Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D industry team includes Pratt&Whitney, Lockheed Martin, GKN Aerospace, Eaton, General Electric, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dell, Honeywell, Moog, Wind River, Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins

Indian Navy Gets its First Boeing P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft

Boeing on Dec. 19 made an on-site delivery of the first P-8I aircraft to the Indian Navy in Seattle, in accordance with the contract.India will receive this aircraft and two more of its eight contracted P-8Is in 2013.
The program is progressing on schedule as Boeing assembles the fourth and fifth P-8Is, which are designed for long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare.

The P-8I is the first of eight long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft Boeing is building for India as part of a contract awarded in January 2009. An option for four additional P-8I aircraft was included in the original contract.

Based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane, the P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the U.S. Navy.
In order to efficiently design and build P-8 aircraft, the Boeing-led team is using a first-in-industry, in-line production process that draws on the company's Next-Generation 737 production system.
The aircraft features open system architecture, advanced sensor and display technologies, and a worldwide base of suppliers, parts and support equipment.

P-8I aircraft are built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

AirAsia Order's 100 Airbus A320 Jetliners

AirAsia, the largest low cost airline in Asia, has placed a new order with Airbus for 100 more A320 Family aircraft. The contract covers an additional 64 A320neo and 36 A320ceo aircraft for operation across the carrier’s network.
The order was announced during a visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron to the Airbus wing manufacturing facility at Broughton in the UK, where Mr Cameron witnessed the signing of documents by Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer, AirAsia and Fabrice Brégier, President & CEO, Airbus.
The contract reaffirms AirAsia’s position as the largest A320 Family airline customer in the world. Altogether, the carrier has now ordered 475 single aisle aircraft from Airbus, comprising 264 A320neo and 211 A320ceo. Over 100 aircraft have already been delivered to the airline and are flying out of its bases in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Manila and Tokyo.
AirAsia’s all-A320 fleet currently flies to some 70 destinations on a route network spanning 20 countries across Asia. In addition, affiliate AirAsia X operates widebody A330-300s on longer services from Kuala Lumpur to Northern Asia and Australia.

Saab Wins Order for RBS 15 Missile

Swedish defence and security company Saab has received an order from its German partner DBD for the Surface-to-Surface Missile RBS15 Mk3. The order value is US $92 million. Deliveries will take place during the period 2014 to 2016.
The RBS15 Mk3, jointly produced and marketed by Saab and DBD, is a heavy weight Surface-to-Surface Missile system with a range of more than 200 km and the added capability to combat land targets. The system has previously been sold to Germany,Poland and Sweden.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Airbus A400M Completes Critical Flight Testing

 Airbus Military has successfully completed the 300 hours of Function & Reliability (F&R) flight-testing of the A400M new generation airlifter which is a key requirement prior to full certification.

Data from the F&R programme, which was performed entirely using the first production-representative aircraft – MSN6 / Grizzly 5 – is now being examined by the civil and military certification authorities for the A400M – respectively EASA and a committee appointed by OCCAR.

Having received the restricted Type Certification begin May this year, this phase of the flight test programme was the last major requirement prior to full Type Certification. It is expected that the aircraft will receive the full civil Type Certificate and military Initial Operating Capability in the first quarter of next year subject to the approval of the relevant authorities. First delivery to the French Air Force, of MSN7, is planned for the second quarter, and a total of four aircraft will be delivered during the year in line with the schedule.

The F&R testing was completed in just 32 days, during which the aircraft made 52 flights and visited 10 different airfields. The exercise is intended to examine the aircraft´s behavior in conditions representative of normal in-service experience, including both routine and simulated abnormal operations in a wide range of weather and locations. It helps minimize the risk to operational crews, particularly on new aircraft entering service, of malfunctions and failures that increase pilot workload.

This intensive testing demonstrated the excellent reliability of the A400M and its systems as well as its TP400 engines even under an exceptionally demanding schedule.

Airbus Military Head of Flight and Integration Tests Fernando Alonso said: “During this F&R campaign the A400M has really been put through its paces. It has flown an average of two flights and 15 flight hours per day over a 26 day timeframe with only 6 days devoted to routine maintenance activities.The crews have been greatly impressed with the performance of the on-board systems and engines, and we are confident that we have a sound basis for completing the civil and military certification in the next couple of months.”

Production Eurcopter EC 175 Debuts

© Eurocopter, Patrick Penna
Eurocopter has conducted the first flight of its no. 1 series-production EC175, and confirmed the excellent performance of this next-generation multi-role helicopter.

The maiden flight of first production prototype occurred last week at Eurocopter’s Marignane, France headquarters facility, with company pilot Augustin Dupuis at the controls.

Eurocopter announced performance figures that ensure the EC175’s competitive edge. Its recommended cruise speed is 150 kts. – 10 kts. faster than the previous figure without affecting payload range – while the maximum cruise speed exceeds 165 kts., all at extremely low vibration levels.

Eurocopter’s program flight tests to date also have confirmed the EC175’s excellent power performance including: hover out of ground effect (HOGE) at maximum take-off weight at 4,500 ft. at ISA+20°C conditions; excellent one engine inoperative (OEI) hover performance, which ensures safety during hosting for search and rescue missions ; extensive power reserve and heli-deck performance (PC1) at maximum take-off weight in ISA+20°C conditions –available with application of the latest certified version of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6C-67E engines.

The EC175 avionics extends the EC225’s undisputed superiority of in-flight envelope protection, pilot assistance and situational awareness and includes the most innovative alerting and self-monitoring system. “Helionix,” the newest avionics family being certified, meets the latest international avionics standards, and makes the EC175 the second aircraft to apply them – after the Airbus A380.

For these new state-of-the-art standards compliance to be available from the initial helicopters provided to customers, Eurocopter has shifted the EC175’s certification date – while not impacting the first deliveries, which are to begin in September 2013.

“Flying the EC175 is a fantastic experience,” concluded Eurocopter company pilot Dupuis. “The excellent avionics, power, speed and low vibrations levels make it a unique aircraft.”

The first EC175 version to receive airworthiness certification will be for the highly-demanding oil and gas market. With the designed-in attributes that meet rigorous operating conditions for off-shore missions – along with its range and speed – the EC175 is the best choice to address all missions, including search and rescue, emergency medical services, public services, VIP and executive transport.

Boeing's Reusable, Unmanned X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Begins 2nd Flight


Boeing on Tuesday successfully returned an unmanned U.S. Air Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle to orbit, continuing to demonstrate how the system provides responsive, reusable access to space.
An Atlas V rocket launched OTV-1, the first of two vehicles in the program, into a low Earth orbit at 1:03 p.m. Eastern time from Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 41.
The X-37B, which combines the best of aircraft and spacecraft design in an unmanned test platform, is testing reusable vehicle technologies dealing with space experimentation, risk reduction and concept-of-operations development.
"The second mission for OTV-1 demonstrates the vehicle is capable of multiple missions and affordable access to space," said Paul Rusnock, vice president of Boeing Government Space Systems.

OTV-1 was first launched in April 2010 and returned to Earth that December. It is the United States' first unmanned vehicle to return from space and land on its own. The space shuttle had been the only space vehicle capable of landing on a runway.
A second vehicle, OTV-2, set a record for a reusable space vehicle in June of this year when it completed a 469-day mission. Previously, Space Shuttle Discovery held that record with an accumulated total of 365 days in orbit.
Boeing's commitment to space-based unmanned vehicle technology spans a decade and includes support to the Air Force Research Lab's X-40 program, NASA's X-37 program, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's X-37 Approach, Landing and Test Vehicle program.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Maiden Flight of Fourth T-50 Stealth Fighter Prototype

Piloted by Sergey Bogdan, Hero of Russian Federation, PAK FA #4 flight lasted for 40 minutes, then it landed the plant runway.

Moscow, December 12 — Today the first flight of the 4th prototype of the fifth generation aviation complex (PAK FA) took place in Sukhoi’s KnAAPO aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The plane was piloted by distinguished test pilot of the Russian Federation, the Hero of Russia Sergey Bogdan.
The aircraft spent in the air forty minutes and landed on the factory airfield runway. The flight was successful, in full accordance with the flight plan. Stability of the aircraft test was conducted during the flight as well as evaluation of the power plant systems’ performance. The aircraft proved itself well in all phases of the planned flight program. The pilot confirmed reliable operation of all systems and components.
The first flight of the PAK FA was held on January 29, 2010 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. At present, work is underway on the full range of ground and flight tests. Three PAK FA prototypes take part in the test program. At the present time more than 200 flights have been made on the flight test program.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Russia Deliver's Upgraded Mig-29 Fighters to India

JSC Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (part of the United Aircraft Corporation) began to supply upgraded MiG-29 fighters to the Indian Air Force.
The first three aircraft are delivered to India by An-124 transport aircraft.
Modernization significantly extends the range of tasks performed by MiG-29. The upgraded aircraft, along with increased capability to fight air targets, acquire the ability to strike ground (surface) moving and stationary targets with precision weapons by day and night and in any weather conditions.

The maiden flight of the upgraded MiG-29UPG took place on February 4, 2011 at the airdrome of the Flight Research Institute named after M.M. Gromov. The contract provides repair and modification of aircraft for the purpose of extending the life up to 3,500 flight hours and service life - up to 40 years. Developments of the RAC MiG can significantly extend the life cycle of MiG-29, which was proven by the experience of modernization in a number of countries.
General Director of JSC RAC MiG Sergei Korotkov said: "The aircraft delivery, upgraded in Russia - is the first step in the contract execution for the modernization of a large fleet of the Indian Air Force MiG-29s. We are getting ready for the second phase of work, which provides modernization of fighters in India in close cooperation with the Indian industry".

Friday, December 7, 2012

Selex's Avionics to Equip Pilatus PC-21 Turboprop Trainers

SELEX Elsag, a Finmeccanica company, will provide PILATUS Aircraft Ltd with Communication and Identification (C&I) avionics systems and – through its controlled company Sirio Panel - cockpit panels, which will be installed on the PC-21 turpoprop aricraft trainers. The contract is worth about 3,2 million euro.
These new systems will allow a wide range of tactical-operational scenarios to be simulated during pilot training.
The award covers V/UHF SRT-651/N-A systems for tactical communications,IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) identification systems, next-generation M424 transponders and ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast) receivers for air traffic control.
The Pilatus PC-21 is a single-turboprop, low wing swept monoplane advanced trainer aircraft.

Maiden Flight of Indo-Russian Multirole Transport Aircraft in 2017

India and Russia has started work on the Multirole Transport Aircraft(MTA) at Russia.
A group of engineers from HAL Corporation (India) has arrived in Moscow to join the MTA collaboration.
31 engineer from India started work on last tuesday at JSC “UAC-Transport Aircraft” premises in Moscow, according to the preliminary design contract that was signed on October 12, 2012 by JSC “UAC-Transport Aircraft”, Indian Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and joint Russian-Indian enterprise Multirole Transport Aircraft Ltd (MTAL). The experts will stay in Moscow for 10 months.
The framework agreement for the creation of the MTA was signed in September 2010.
MTA is expected to perform its maiden flight in 2017 and serial production is planned to be launched in 2019.
MTA performance should reach the following targets: capacity 15-20 tons, cruise speed 800 km/h, maximum flying distance 2500-2700 km.
The two engine aircraft will be equipped with modern control systems. It is envisioned that MTA will be able to perform short take-offs and landing.
Russian group of engineers participating in the project mainly consists of Ilyushin experts.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

UK MoD's £25m Order for Paveway IV LGB Sustains 450 British Jobs

UK Ministry of Defence(MOD) has agreed to purchase additional Paveway IV bombs worth £25m from Raytheon UK.
These weapons are to be carried by Tornados jets in Afghanistan and will also provide a key capability to be carried by the Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 aircrafts.
The contract announced will sustain around 450 jobs at Raytheon UK's plants. It will secure 300 highly skilled defence sector jobs in Glenrothes, Scotland, and 150 in Harlow, Essex.
It will also sustain a number of jobs at Raytheon'ssubcontractors - Portsmouth Aviation Ltd, Exelis inBrighton, Chemring in Ardeer and Thales in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
Paveway IV proved highly effective during the 2011 air campaign over Libya. Its global positioning system technology gives the capability to conduct 24-hour precision attacks against a wide range of targets.
Aircrew also have the ability to reprogramme the weapon during a mission, offering capability to attack a wider range of targets.
In total, the MOD has this year awarded contracts worth more than £100m to Raytheon for orders of around 1,600 Paveway IV bombs.

Sikorsky MH-60R Wins Danish Maritime Helicopter Replacement Program

The U.S. Navy announced today that the Danish government signed an official letter of offer and acceptance formalizing its intent to buy nine MH-60R SEAHAWK ® helicopters and comprehensive logistics support for its Maritime Helicopter Replacement Program.

Valued at US $686 million (Kr 4 billion), the aircraft will be procured via the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales program.

Denmark is the second country to buy MH-60R helicopters following Australia’s purchase of 24 aircraft in 2011. All nine aircraft will be delivered to the Danish government by 2018.

The Danish aircraft are configured for anti-surface warfare operations, including defending Danish interests in the North Atlantic, executing anti-piracy operations, and conducting other missions during international deployments.

The U.S. Navy was supported in its winning proposal by Team Seahawk, consisting of MH-60R airframe manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft, mission systems integrator Lockheed Martin, engine manufacturer GE, sensor supplier Raytheon Corp., and training supplier CAE.

The U.S. Navy developed the MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare helicopter with Sikorsky Aircraft, mission systems integrator Lockheed Martin and other industry following a$1 billion U.S. Government test and development investment. Today, the U.S. Navy operates 100 MH-60R aircraft of a total 300 planned purchase by 2018.

Known colloquially as the ‘Romeo,’ the aircraft is the only new-generation maritime helicopter operational at sea.

The Romeo has beaten out Agusta Westland which offered its AW159 Lynx Wildcat. The third contender, the Eurocopter AS565 Panther, had already been eliminated from the competition in early 2012.

SpaceX Awarded Two EELV Missions by USAF

The United States Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center has awarded SpaceX two Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV)-class missions: DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) and STP-2 (Space Test Program 2).
To be launched on SpaceX's Falcon launch vehicles in 2014 and 2015 respectively, the awards mark the first EELV-class missions awarded to the company to date.
The DSCOVR mission will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 and is currently slated for late 2014, while STP-2 will be launched aboard the Falcon Heavy and is targeted for mid-2015. Both are expected to launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Both missions fall under Orbital/Suborbital Program-3 (OSP-3), an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the US Air Force Rocket Systems Launch Program. OSP-3 represents the first Air Force contract designed to provide new entrants to the EELV program an opportunity to demonstrate their vehicle capabilities.
The two missions will support the EELV certification process for both the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket in the world, is expected to take its first flight in the second half of 2013.
Building on reliable flight proven architecture, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles are designed for exceptional reliability, meeting the stringent U.S. Air Force requirements for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.

Eurofighter Successfully Fires MBDA Meteor BVR Missile

The Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile has been successfully launched from a Eurofighter Typhoon as part of the Future Enhancements Flight Test Programme.
The missile was eject launched from a rear fuselage missile station, which on Eurofighter Typhoon is semi-conformal for aircraft drag and radar signature reduction.
The missile motor was fired, providing data that will allow the missile launch envelope to be expanded.
This builds on an earlier series of flight trials, carried out by partner company BAE Systems on behalf of the Eurofighter programme, where unpowered missiles were used to demonstrate safe separation on the missile.
This current package of work begins the full integration of the Meteor missile with all Eurofighter Typhoon systems.
The flight trials were conducted with integrated support from QinetiQ and MBDA at a firing range in Aberporth, Wales, UK on the 4 th December.
After taking part in the Meteor trials, BAE Systems
Typhoon Test Pilot Steve Long said: “By completing these initial Meteor flight trials, Typhoon has taken a significant leap forward in operational capability. As a fighter pilot, you ultimately want the best possible combination of aircraft and advanced weapons to ensure mission success and to get you home safely. The range and performance of the Meteor weapon goes a long way to achieving this - with confidence. A potent long range missile, coupled with a highly agile aircraft gives us a very potentand very powerful mix.”
Meteor, a beyond visual range air-to-air missile manufactured by MBDA will provide the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft with the next generation of cutting edge weapons capability. Featuring advanced air breathing motor technology for maximum range and the latest electronics to deliver optimum combat performance, it will ensure that Eurofighter Typhoon remains the world’s most advanced multi role aircraft and will further complement its short and medium range air-to-air missile capabilities.
The integration of the Meteor weapon is a game-changer on the battlefield; adding another layer to Eurofighter Typhoon’s swing-role capabilities and ensuring the pilot is able to engage hostile air threats at long range at the same time as identifying and engaging targets on the ground.

Delta Airlines Orders up to 70 Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen Jetliners

Bombardier Aerospace announced today that Delta Air Lines, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia has placed a firm order for 40 CRJ900 NextGen regional jets and has taken options on an additional 30 CRJ900 NextGen aircraft.
Based on the list price of the CRJ900 NextGen aircraft, the firm order is valued at approximately$1.85 billion US, and could reach approximately$3.29 billion US if the 30 options are converted to firm orders.
The new CRJ900 NextGen regional jets will be configured with 76 seats in a two-class cabin and will be operated by Delta Connection carriers to be determined by Delta Air Lines.
Delta Connection carriers currently fly 466 CRJ Series aircraft − 286 CRJ200 , 79 CRJ700 and 101 CRJ900 jetliners − making it the world’s largest CRJ aircraft fleet. The CRJ900 airliners in the Delta Connection fleet include 57 flown by Pinnacle Airlines, 16 by ExpressJet Airlines and 28 by SkyWest Airlines.
Including the order from Delta Air Lines announced today, Bombardier has recorded firm orders for 1,775 CRJ Series aircraft, including 314 CRJ900 and CRJ900 NextGen aircraft.
Worldwide, CRJ Series aircraft are in service with more than 60 airlines and more than 30 customers operate corporate variants of the aircraft. The aircraft are operating in over 50 countries on six continents, and on average, a CRJ aircraft takes off every ten seconds somewhere in the world.
CRJ Series aircraft have transported more than 1.2 billion passengers and have logged more than 34 million flight hours and over 28 million takeoffs and landings.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

RAF Eurofighter's Undergoes Overhaul

Lincolnshire, UK

BAE Systems has completed the first ever ‘major’ maintenance on a Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon aircraft, after the aircraft had clocked up 1600 flying hours.

A ‘major’ maintenance programme is carried out as part of the Typhoon Availability Service (TAS). The TAS contract, awarded by the UK MOD to BAE Systems in 2009, consists of a joint BAE Systems and RAF team and ensures the UK’s fleet of Typhoon aircraft remain ready for operational duties, anywhere in the world.

The maintenance programme itself involves a complete ‘strip-down’ of the aircraft to enable detailed inspections to be performed by the specially trained engineers. Any repairs and modifications are also performed on the aircraft at this time before the aircraft is prepared ready to return to duty.
The first aircraft to complete the programme was ZJ921, it has now been returned to 3 Squadron, based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. 
ZJ921 was also one of the aircraft to fly out to Gioia Dell Colle in Italy, to support Op Ellamy over Libya. 
The first set of maintenance work known as a ‘primary maintenance’ is undertaken once the aircraft has flown 400 hours, followed by a ‘minor maintenance’ which is carried out at 800 flying hours. ‘Once the aircraft reaches the 1600 flying hour threshold the ‘Major’ maintenance is then carried out. 

The Typhoon Maintenance Facility at RAF Coningsby currently has a further 3 aircraft in the facility undergoing major maintenance.

Sikorsky Delivers First CH-53K Prototype Heavy Lift Helicopter to Flight Test Team


The Sikorsky team developing the CH-53K heavy lift helicopter for the U.S. Marine Corps has delivered the first prototype aircraft — the Ground Test Vehicle (GTV) — from the assembly line to the flight test team. The move will enable Sikorsky, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., to prepare and test the GTV aircraft for hundreds of hours of powered ground checks ahead of the four follow-on flight test helicopters that will take to the skies during 2014-15.
Though designed to the same footprint size as the CH-53E Super Stallion ™ helicopters they will begin to replace in 2019, CH-53K helicopters will triple the external load carrying capacity to more than 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under “high hot” ambient conditions.
Technology enablers for increased lift include 7,500-shaft-horsepower GE38-1B engines; a split torque transmission design that more efficiently distributes engine power to the main rotors; fourth-generation composite rotor blades for enhanced lift; and a composite airframe structure.
Flight test engineers will spend the coming months performing preliminary acceptance tests that include calibrating the GTV’s fuel system and attaching measuring devices at more than 1,300 test locations on the aircraft to record temperature, aerodynamic loads, pressure and vibrations.
By mid 2013, the GTV will be attached to a specially built outdoor platform to hold theaircraft in place when its three engines are powered on —a process known as a “light-off.” Initial light-off test events will be performed without rotor blades, followed by more rigorous tests with the blades attached.
Sikorsky is designing, building and testing the GTV and the four flight aircraft — designated Engineering Development Models — as part of a $3.5 billion System Development and Demonstration contract.
Two additional ground test articles are undergoing airframe structural testing at Sikorsky’s main manufacturing plant in Stratford, Conn., as part of the same contract.
The aircraft’s major fuselage sections are supplied by Aurora Flight Sciences, ITT Excelis, GKN Aerospace and Spirit Aerosystems.
The prototype assembly line is located at Sikorsky’s Florida Assembly and Flight Operations facility in West Palm Beach. Ground and flight testing will occur at the Developmental Flight Center on the same Florida campus.
Airbus Military has formally delivered the fifth and final new generation A330 MRTT multi-role tanker transport ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
The handover of the aircraft, the world´s most advanced air-to-air tanker, marks a major milestone for the A330 MRTT programme and confirms the RAAF´s global leadership role in developing modern tanker/transport operations. Designated the KC-30A by the RAAF, it was converted from an Airbus A330 commercial passenger jet by QantasDefence Services in Brisbane, and will serve withNo. 33 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley.
Air Commodore Gary Martin, RAAF Commander Air Lift Group said: “We are very pleased with the in-service testing of the KC-30A and we expect to declare IOC before the end of the year. RAAF F/A-18A and B aircraft now conduct routinerefuelling missions with the KC-30A, and the pilots are happy with the KC-30A tanking experience. The KC-30A makes a tremendous contribution to Australia’s need to move large numbers of personnel and cargo over long distances, both domestically and throughout the Asia Pacific region.”
RAAF A330 MRTT is equipped with two underwing refuelling pods, the fly-by-wire Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), and a Universal Aerial Refuelling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI) enabling it to be refuelled from another tanker.
Powered by two General Electric CF6-80E engines, the aircraft equipped with a comprehensive defensive aids suite (DAS) and fitted with 270 passenger seats.
The Airbus Military A330 MRTT is the only new generation strategic tanker/transport aircraft flying and available today.
The large 111 tonnes/ 245,000 lb basic fuel capacity of the successful A330-200 airliner, from which it is derived, enables the A330 MRTT to excel in Air-to-Air Refuelling missions without the need for any additional fuel tank.
The A330 MRTT is offered with a choice of proven air-to-air refuelling systems including an advanced Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System, and/or a pair of under-wing hose and drogue pods, and/or a Fuselage Refuelling Unit.
Thanks to its true wide-body fuselage, the A330 MRTT can also be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry 300 troops, or a payload of up to 45 tonnes/99,000 lb.
It can also easily be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC).
To-date, a total of 28 A330 MRTTs have been ordered by four customers (Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom), with one (Saudi Arabia) having already placed a repeat order.

Picture: First Converted Lockheed AC-130J Gunship Makes Maiden Flight

The first MC-130J Commando II that will be converted to a new AC-130J gunship made its first flight here this week.  The MC-130J will have a Precision Strike Package installed, then will fly as a gunship in early 2014.  The total requirement for new AC-130J gunships is 37.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Iraqi Airways Inducts its First Airbus A330

On behalf of Iraqi Ministry of Transportation, Iraqi Airways, the national carrier of Iraq, has taken delivery of its first A330-200 becoming a new operator for the type.
This will be the first Airbus widebody aircraft to be operated by Iraqi Airways. The carrier already operates two A321 aircraft.

Accommodating a two-class configuration of 24 business and 264 economy seats, the aircraft is  powered by GE CF6-80 engines and will be deployed on European routes including Germany, Austria and the UK.

German Air Force Inducts MANTIS Air Defense System

The German Air Force inducted Rheinmetall-made MANTIS air defence system at a ceremony in Husum, Germany, home of Air Defence Missile Squadron 1 “Schleswig-Holstein” on Nov 26.

An acronym standing for “Modular, Automatic and Network-capable Targeting and Interception System”, MANTIS provides the Bundeswehr with ahigh performance, automated air defence system for asset protection that is second to none.
Full integration into existing command and information systems has already been achieved, with plans in place to ensure that it meets future requirements as well. Thanks to its programmable 35mm Ahead ammunition, this cutting edge system is capable of bringing down even the smallest targets.
MANTIS is based on tried-and-tested Oerlikon Skyshield air defence technology. It is designed to protect military installations and critical civilian infrastructure from aerial threats coming in at low altitude, including manned and unmanned aircraft.
First and foremost, however, what sets MANTIS apart is its ability to neutralize incoming rockets, artillery and mortar rounds – the so-called RAM threat. Moreover, MANTIS can be deployed to defend national territory and allied nations or in military operations other than war (MOOTW). In conflict and post-conflict situations, it can be used to protect Bundeswehr forward operating bases and other facilities from attacks of the kind directed against ISAF installations in Afghanistan, for instance.
Furthermore, the system’s modular design gives MANTIS excellent growth potential. If an asset has to be protected at short notice, the radar and gun components can be transported to the area of operations on quickly deployable platforms.
In addition to its current 35mm Revolver cannons, it will be possible in future to augment MANTIS with other effectors such as anti-aircraft missiles or high-energy lasers, integrating them directly into the system.
MANTIS is set to serve as the mainstay of modern,ground-based area and air defence of assets, and thus makes a major contribution to safeguarding soldiers deployed in harm’s way.

U.S. Navy Exercises Contract Option for 52 F414 Engines

The U.S. Navy exercised a 2013 contract option for the procurement of 52 GE F414 engines in support of the Navy's planned procurement of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers.
This contract option follows the Navy's decision to purchase 82 F414 engines earlier this year. Options for the Navy could increase the total buy to more than 200 engines through 2013.
The contract, with all options, is valued at more than $800 million.
The F414 engine powers the U.S. Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft.
More than 1,200 F414 engines totaling two million flighthours power more than 500 aircraft in the fleet.
The F414 engine is rated at 22,000 pounds (98 kN) thrust and is in the 9:1 thrust-to-weight ratio class.

As a part of the U.S. Navy Task Force Energy Initiative, GE continues to focus on F414 fuel burn reduction. These environmental programs build on 2010's "Green Hornet" first flight featuring an F414-powered Super Hornet with a 50-50 biofuel blend - the first U.S. Navy fighter to take to the skies with a non-petroleum fuel source.

GE is also on an ambitious path to incorporate new designs and hardware to equip the F414 with increased thrust and improved durability. An F414 Enhanced Durability Engine (EDE) features both a new high-pressure turbine and new six-stage, high-pressure compressor to offer significant maintenance and fuel savings.
The F414 Enhanced Performance Engine (EPE) will generate up to 20% more thrust by increasing fan airflow with the EDE hardware configuration.

Northrop Delivers 250th LITENING G4 Targeting Pod

Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered its 250th LITENING G4 targeting system ahead of schedule.

LITENING G4 is currently in full rate production to accommodate separate indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts with the U.S. Air Force and the Naval Air Systems Command.
These contracts allow for procurement of new LITENING G4 pods as well as upgrades of existing LITENING Advanced Targeting Block 1 pods to the advanced LITENING G4 configuration.
LITENING G4 technologies include a true 1Kx1K forward-looking infrared and charge-coupled device, as well as short-wave infrared laser imaging sensors, color symbology, tracker improvement and enhanced zoom. These advancements deliver more accurate target identification and location at longer ranges than previous generations of LITENING targeting pod systems.
LITENING system is a self-contained, multi-sensor weapon aiming system that enables fighter pilots to detect, acquire, auto-track and identify targets for highly accurate delivery of both conventional and precision-guided weapons.
Integrated on a wide variety of aircraft including the AV-8B, A-10A/C, B-52H, EA-6Bs, F-15E, F-16 and F/A-18, LITENING is in operation with the U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command, U.S. Marine Corps and several allied nations.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Inside Raytheon's New Missile Factory

Raytheon inaugurated its new missile integration and testing facility on Nov 26 at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

The complex built the first U.S. rockets in the 1950s and later produced the massive Saturn V that launched astronauts to the moon.

The new $75 million, 70,000 square-foot facility will produce the Standard Missile-3 , a defensive weapon used to destroy short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

It will also produce the Standard Missile-6 , which defends naval vessels against fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles.

Raytheon designed the factory from scratch with the latest robotics and computer-controlled tools, said Randy Stevenson, Weapon Integration Center director.

“Nothing was left to chance and no idea was discounted,” Stevenson said. “We started with a blank sheet.”

Designers used a virtual reality chamber, the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment, at Raytheon’s Missile Systems business in Arizona to test all aspects of the factory long before the first girders were placed in the ground.

“The CAVE allowed us to remove the typical trial-and-error process,” said Manny Gamez, manager of Advanced Manufacturing.

For designing the factory, Raytheon officials studied workflow processes at Mercedes, Toyota and major appliance manufacturers. The goal was to transfer the production information learned in those industries to the missile integration and testing process.

The new plant features a fleet of laser-guided transport vehicles that silently move missiles around the factory. These vehicles run on powerful lithium batteries and have their own internal positioning systems.

The robotic, automatic guided vehicles carry up to five tons and use lasers and software to position missiles within 1/10,000 of an inch.

The vehicles have eliminated all 16 of the so-called “critical lifts” involved in building each missile, Larson said. And the factory’s machinery can handle future designs as well.

The first SM-6 is set to leave the new plant in February 2013.

SM-3s from the factory will be a critical piece of the U.S. government’s Phased Adaptive Approach for defending Europe against ballistic missile threats.  The U.S. plan calls for sea- and land-based missile interceptors as well as a range of sensors.