Friday, November 30, 2012

US DoD and Lockheed Signs Agreement for 32 F-35 Stealth Fighters

The U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin have reached an agreement in principle to manufacture 32 F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters as part of Low-Rate Initial Production 5 (LRIP-5).

The contract will also fund manufacturing-support equipment, flight test instrumentation and ancillary mission equipment.

Under the contract, Lockheed Martin will produce 22 F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variants for the U.S. Air Force, three F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variants forthe U.S. Marine Corps and seven F-35C carrier variants (CV) for the U.S. Navy.

Aircraft production was started in December 2011 under a previously authorized undefinitized contract action.

The LRIP 5 aircraft will join 63 F-35s contracted under LRIPs 1-4. To date, 29 LRIP aircraft along with 19 previously built System Development and Demonstration aircraft have been delivered from Lockheed Martin's production facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

The most recent deliveries took place in November when three STOVL aircraft were delivered to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.

The U.S. and eight partner nations plan to acquire more than 3,100 F-35 fighters. Israel and Japan have also announced plans to purchase the jet under Foreign Military Sales agreements.

Indian and Singapore Air Forces Concludes Joint Military Training

The eighth Indo-Singapore Joint Military Training (JMT) between Indian Air Force (IAF) and Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), held annually at Air Force Station, Kalaikunda, West Bengal, concluded on Friday.

The JMT whicn began on October 16, is being held under a bilateral agreement signed between the two countries help both Air Forces gain greater understanding of each other's concept of operations.

The first JMT was held in 2006.

IAF Su-30 MKI and MiG-27 aircraft participated together with RSAF F-16D Block 52+ Fighting Falcons during the six week, day-night joint drills. The RSAF detachment comprised 30 officers and 87 personnel.

The RSAF Fighting Falcons have flown back to Singapore yesterday in the morning, said Air Officer Commanding, Air Commodore R Radhish from Kalaikunda.

FADEC Alliance to provide Digital Controls for LEAP Engines


FADEC International has established a joint venture with jet engine maker General Electric to develop, produce, and support the full-authority digital electronic control (FADEC) for aircraft engines and related specialized technologies.
A FADEC - a system consisting of a digital computer, called an engine control unit, and its related accessories - controls all aspects of aircraft engine performance,such as engine fuel flow and variable engine geometries.

The joint venture, called FADEC Alliance, will be the exclusive FADEC supplier for CFM International's next generation engine, LEAP, and GE's Passport engine.
As the sole provider, FADEC Alliance will be responsible for the design, manufacture and aftermarket support of the system. The partnership leverages FADEC International's experience of supplying FADEC systems to GE since 1984.
The LEAP engine is designed to power the next generation narrow body commercial aircraft. Designed by CFM International, a 50/50 partnership between GE and Snecma (Safran group), the LEAP engine has been selected for the Boeing 737Max, Airbus A320neo and the Comac C919.

GE's Passport engine, designed for ultra-long-range business jets, has been selected for the Bombardier Global 7000 and Global 8000 business aircraft.

FADEC International is a 50-50 joint venture between a subsidiary of BAE Systems Controls, Inc. and Sagem (Safran group), that focuses the two companies' capabilities to design, produce, and support Full-Authority Digital Electronic Controls for commercial aircraft engines. For more than 25 years, FADEC International has served airlines and aircraft maintenance and repair providers with a full range of design and aftermarket capabilities.

Skylon's SABRE Air Breathing Rocket Engine Program Achieves Major Breakthrough

UK's Reaction Engines Ltd which is developing the Skylon spaceplane announced that it has successfully demonstrated its pre cooler design that can liquidise oxygen from intake air, before mixing it with tanked liquid hydrogen to generate thrust like a normal rocket engine is effective in cooling 1000 degree air to -150 degree, which the company calls as the biggest breakthrough in aerospace propulsion technology since the invention of the jet engine.

Critical tests have been successfully completed on the key technology for SABRE, an engine which will enable aircraft to reach the opposite side of the world in under 4 hours, or to fly directly into orbit and return in a single stage, taking off and landing on a runway.

SABRE, an air-breathing rocket engine, utilises both jet turbine and rocket technology. Its innovative pre-cooler technology is designed to cool the incoming air stream from over 1,000 degree to minus 150 degree in less than 1/100th of a second (six times faster than the blink of an eye) without blocking with frost. The recent tests have proven the cooling technology to be frost-free at the crucial low temperature of -150 degree.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has evaluated the SABRE engine's pre-cooler heat exchanger on behalf of the UK Space Agency, and has given official validation to the test results.

"The pre-cooler test objectives have all been successfully met and ESA are satisfied that the tests demonstrate the technology required for the SABRE engine development." Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts said.

Well over 100 test runs, undertaken at Reaction Engines Ltd's facility in Oxfordshire, integrated the ground-breaking flight-weight cooling technology and frost control system with a jet engine and a novel helium cooling loop, demonstrating the new technologies in the SABRE engine that drive its highly innovative and efficient thermodynamic cycle.

This success adds to a series of other SABRE technology demonstrations undertaken by the company including contra-rotating turbines, combustion chambers, rocket nozzles, and air intakes and marks a major advance towards the creation of vehicles like SKYLON a new type of reusable space vehicle that will be powered by SABRE engines, designed primarily to transport satellites and cargo into space.

Australian Air Force Retires Its C-130H Fleet

C-130H Hercules A97-008 lands for the last time at RAAF Base Richmond after performing a formation flypast for the No. 37 Squadron C-130H retirement parade 

Royal Australian Air Force retired its fleet of twelve C-130H Hercules transport planes from service after 34 years. A farewell ceremony was conducted at RAAF Base Richmond in Sydney.

Since its delivery in 1978, the C-130H Hercules has provided the Australian Defence Force with a highly effective transport capability.

Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules has supported Defence personnel on operations in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, and provided peacetime and humanitarian service, including evacuating Australians from Cambodia in 1997 and returning injured Australians home from the Bali Bombings.
They have been used to help provide disaster and humanitarian assistance for the people of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and throughout the South Pacific.

Four C-130Hs will be transferred to the Indonesian Air Force to support humanitarian assistance, and two C-130Hs will be kept by Air Force–one aircraft going to the Air Force Museum at RAAF Base Point Cook and the other to be kept at RAAF Base Richmond for training purposes. Defence Ministry is investigating disposal options for the remaining six aircraft.

New capabilities are being phased in to the RAAF, including 12 C-130Js, six new C-17 Globemaster IIIs and 10 C-27J Spartans.

The 6th Boeing C-17 Globemaster Airlifter was inducted early this month.

Thales to Upgrade Nederland Navy Goalkeeper Air Defense System

The Netherland’s Ministry of Defence and Thales Nederland have signed an agreement for the update of 16 Goalkeeper Close-In Weapon Systems that are operational in the Royal Netherlands Navy.
The operational modification will bring the system to the highest operational status again, capable of dealing with current and future threats. In addition, this contract solves various obsolescence issues.
The enhanced surface target mode of Goalkeeper, in combination with a new frangible ammunition, provides Goalkeeper with the capability to act also as a highly effective defence weapon against surface targets including speed boats.
Goalkeeper’s prediction capabilities will be substantially increased through the use of new algorithms and state-of-the-art Electro-Optic tracking capabilities. This enables Goalkeeper to successfully engage the latest generation of missiles. Multi-Goalkeeper deployment capabilities will also be improved.
Goalkeeper was developed in the 1980s; these modifications enable its deployment until 2025.
The first Goalkeeper will be modified in 2015 and will be performed by Thales. All other Goalkeepers will be modified by the Royal Netherlands Navy at the naval base in Den Helder.
The contract includes an option for the two Goalkeeper systems on board of the M-class frigates of the Royal Belgian Navy. This option would ensure identical configurations and facilitate maintenance.

Goalkeeper is a close-in defence system against highly manoeuvrable missiles and aircraft. It is anautonomous and fully automatic system which detects and tracks targets, opens fire and performs kill assessment for several targets simultaneously. Continuous search with track-while-scan provides an automatic and fast switch-over to the next-priority target in multiple-target scenarios. Goalkeeper assures timely detection of small and supersonic targets, even in dense clutter and jamming environments.
Pin-point tracking of sea-skimming targets is assured by the unique dual-frequency track radar. Last but not least, the high-rate-of-fire Gatling 30-mm gun and special ammunition provide the lethal power necessary to destroy missile warheads.
A total of 63 Goalkeepershave been sold to Navies in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.

ATR -600 series aircraft certified to operate in Russia and the CIS countries

ATR has obtained Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) approval for the ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600 to operate in Russia and the Community of Independent States (CIS).
IAC’s certification validates all the major developments of the ATR -600 series, namely the new avionics suite with the full-glass cockpit.

The 70-seat ATR 72-600 and the 50-seat ATR 42-600 already received certification from European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in May 2011 and June 2012 respectively.
To validate the EASA certification of the ATR -600s for operations in Russia and the CIS countries, IAC deeply examined the new ATR -600’s glass cockpit technical characteristics and is fully satisfied with its performances and safety.

ATR is the leader among western-built turboprops in Russia and CIS with more than 50 ATR aircraft operated by customers like UTAir, UTAir-Ukraine, Nordstar Airlines (Taimyr) and Azerbaijan Airlines.

Bangladesh Army Inducts 2 Daulphin Helicopters

Bangladesh Army inducted two Eurocopter AS365 N3+ Daulphin helicopters for use in humanitarian missions and VIP airlifts.
Supplied through the Eurocopter South East Asia subsidiary, these are the first Eurocopter-built rotorcraft to join the Bangladesh Army aviation fleet, and they were presented today during a ceremony at the military services Dhaka Cantonment headquarters.
In preparation for the twin-engine Dauphin's service introduction, an initial group of Bangladesh Army pilots attended ground school classes at Eurocopter South East Asia's Singapore facility, and were trained in the subsidiary's AS365 N3+ full-flight simulator. Additional crew members are to follow, including pilots who will be qualified as instructors.
To cater to the growing Dauphin fleet in Asia, Eurocopter South East Asia was designated earlier this year as the regional hub to provide training, major inspection and heavy structural repairs for the Dauphin family of helicopters.
Eurocopter's AS365 N3+ is the company's latest member in the Dauphin helicopter family, featuring more powerful Arriel 2C turboshaft engines, an increased gross weight, a 4-axis autopilot and glass cockpit.

MEADS Sucessfully Intercepts Air Breathing Target

MEADS Launcher has been integrated onto a German MAN Prime Mover.  © MEADS International,  
The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) detected, tracked, intercepted and destroyed an air-breathing target in its first-ever intercept flight test on wednesday at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. The test achieved all criteria for success.

MEADS is a next-generation, ground-mobile air and missile defense system that incorporates 360-degree radars, netted and distributed battle management, easily transportable launchers and the hit-to-kill PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) Missile.
The system combines superior battlefield protection with new flexibility to protect forces and critical assets against tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and aircraft.

The MEADS test configuration included a networked MEADS battle manager, lightweight launcher firing a PAC-3 MSE Certified Missile Round and a 360-degree MEADS Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR), which tracked the MQM-107 target and guided the missile to a successful intercept.
The test exploited the MEADS capability for full-perimeter, 360-degree defense with the PAC-3 MSE Missile performing a unique over-the-shoulder maneuver to defeat the target attacking from behind the MEADS emplacement.

“MEADS provides advanced capabilities that detect, track and intercept evolving threats from farther away and without blind spots,” said MEADS International President Dave Berganini. “Today’s successful intercept proves MEADS’ advertised capabilities are real. Its digital designs and modern hardware and software ensure high reliability rates and dramatically reduced operational and support costs."

The MFCR is an X-band, solid-state, active electronically scanned array radar which provides precision tracking and wideband discrimination and classification capabilities. For extremely rapid deployments, the MEADS MFCR can provide both surveillance and fire control capabilities until a surveillance radar joins the network. An advanced identify friend-or-foe subsystem supports improved passive threat identification and typing.

Using its 360-degree defensive capability, the advanced MEADS radars and PAC-3 MSE Missile, MEADS defends up to eight times the coverage area with far fewer system assets and significantly reduces demand for deployed personnel and equipment, which reduces demand for airlift.

MEADS successfully completed its first flight test on November 17, 2011, against a simulated target attacking from behind. A PAC-3 MSE Certified Missile Round was employed during the test along with the MEADS lightweight launcher and battle manager.

MEADS International, a multinational joint venture headquartered in Orlando, Fla., is the prime contractor for the MEADS system. Major subcontractors and joint venture partners are MBDA in Italy and Germany, and Lockheed Martin in the United States.

Airbus Offers Improved A330 With Extended Range

Airbus has improved its wide-body twin jet airliners A330-300 and A330-200 further by providing operators both with a 242 metric tonne maximum take-off weight (MTOW) capability and, for the larger A330-300, an increased fuel capacity option.
These enhancements build on the
capability announced earlier this year for an increased 240 tonne MTOW, and will be available for operators in 2015.

The new take-off weight capability combined with the fuel capacity increase enables operators of these new A330-300s to carry additional payload on longer missions.
Overall, the full payload range now increases by around 500nm over today’s 235 tonne A330-300, and by around 350nm over today’s 238 tonne A330-200.

The A330-300’s optional fuel capacity increase will be achieved by activating the centre wing tank for the first time on this model. The centre tank and its associated systems have always been present as standard on its longer-range sibling – the A330-200. The additional fuel capacity for the A330-300 allows operators to fly new longer distance routes, such as direct flights between South-East Asia and Europe. For example, it will permit west bound direct flights such as Kuala Lumpur to Frankfurt or Paris, with the ability to carry additional cargo on the east bound return flight.

Head of the A330 programme Patrick Piedrafita commented: “The A330 is already a highly efficient and reliable airliner and we have taken it as our duty to maximise this even further, along with range and payload increases.” He added: “We are currently delivering more A330s per month than ever before, and this is set to continue, especially given the ongoing improvements we are introducing to the airframe, cabin interior, and engines.”

The A330 Family, which spans 250 to 300 seats, and includes Freighter, VIP, and Military Transport/Tanker variants, has now attracted more than 1,200 orders and around 900 aircraft are flying worldwide.

X-47B UCAS Makes First Catapult Launch

Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy have conducted the Navy's first catapult launch of an unmanned system using the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator.

The test was conducted on wednesday at a shore-based catapult facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. It marks the first of several shore-based catapult-to-flight tests that will be performed before the Navy's UCAS Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program catapult launches the X-47B from a ship.

Northrop Grumman is the Navy's prime contractor for the UCAS-D program.

"Today's successful launch is another critical milestone in the carrier-suitability testing phase of the UCAS-D program,"said Mike Mackey, Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D program director."It also provides another confidence-building step toward our rendezvous with history next year."

Following the catapult launch, the X-47B conducted a test flight over Chesapeake Bay near Patuxent River. The flight included several maneuvers designed to simulate tasks that the aircraft will have to perform when it lands on a ship, including flying in a typical ship holding pattern, and executing a carrier approach flight profile. The flight also allowed the test team to gather precision navigation data associated with each of those maneuvers.

According to Daryl Martis, Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D flight test director, the catapult event was significant for another reason:"Today's launch provided our team with another opportunity to demonstrate the precision operation of the Northrop Grumman-developed Control Display Unit [CDU], one of the key enablers of future flight deck operations for the X-47B,"he said.

The CDU is a wireless, arm-mounted controller that will allow a flight deck operator to control and maneuver the X-47B on the flight deck, including moving it into the catapult, disengaging it from the carrier's arresting wires and moving it quickly out of the landing area.

Over the next few weeks, the UCAS-D program expects to conduct several shore-based catapults at Patuxent River. On Nov. 26, an X-47B was hoisted aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Va. to begin a series of deck handling trials. The trials, expected to run through mid December, will be used to evaluate the performance of the CDU in an actual carrier environment.

In 2013, the program plans to demonstrate the ability of an X-47B to operate from a Navy aircraft carrier, including launch, recovery and air traffic control operations. The program will also mature technologies required for potential future Navy unmanned air system programs.

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.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Embraer Legacy 500 Business Jet Makes Maiden Flight

Embraer’s midsize Legacy 500 made its successful debut flight on tuesday, marking the beginning of its flight test program.
Embraer test pilots Mozart Louzada and Eduardo Camelier with flight test engineers Gustavo Paixão and Alexandre Figueiredo flew the aircraft for one hour and forty five minutes, performing handling and performance characteristics evaluation.
As a result of the extensive simulation use and ground testing, the aircraft was able to cover a significant flight envelope on the maiden flight. Aircraft systems were assessed including landing gear retraction.
“From the minute you enter the cockpit, you can tell this is clearly a remarkable, new-generation aircraft,” Capt. Louzada said. “The flight was a success, precisely according to plan. In fact, it wasflawless.” The spacious, uncluttered flight deck features a side stick controller and the most advanced avionics system available today.
Deliveries of the first aircraft are expected to begin in 2014.
The Legacy 500 is a “clean-sheet” design based on extensive input from operators and customers.“We listened enthusiastically and acted aggressively,” said Marco Túlio Pellegrini, Senior Vice President Operations & Chief Operating Officer, Embraer Executive Jets. “The Legacy 500 is truly the product of market desires and preferences.”
The Legacy 500 is the first midsize business jet incorporating a fly-by-wire control system and full six-foot, stand-up cabin with a flat floor. “It has the largest cabin in its class, by far, and provides the comfort and incorporates the technology found only in larger, more expensive aircraft,” Pellegrini said. “It is, undoubtedly, raising the bar in terms of technology, performance, style and comfort for future designs.”
The midsize Legacy 500 will be followed by Embraer’s fourth clean-sheet design, the mid-light Legacy 450, which will enter service one year later. “Clean-sheet designs are part of our DNA. They are the reason we can be so responsive to customer needs without compromise,” Pellegrini said. Embraer’s popular entry-level Phenom 100 and light Phenom 300 are also clean-sheet designs.
The Legacy 500 is powered by two advanced, fuel-efficient Honeywell HTF 7500E turbofan engines, each capable of producing 6,540 pounds of thrust. The aircraft features Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics with synthetic vision.

Legacy 500 Specifications:
​Range (NBAA Reserves, 200 nm alternate, Long Range Cruise, 4 pax) ​3,000 nautical miles
​High-Speed Cruise ​Mach 0.82
​Balanced Field Length (MTOW, ISA, SL) ​4,600 feet
​Maximum Operating Altitude ​45,000 feet
​Seating Configuration ​2 + 8/12
​Cabin Dimensions Max Height ​6 feet
​Cabin Dimensions Max Width ​6 feet, 10 inches
​Cabin Dimensions Length ​26 feet, 10 inches
​Baggage Capacity External ​110 cubic feet
​Baggage Capacity Internal ​40 cubic feet
​Baggage Capacity Total ​150 cubc feet

X-47B UCAS Demonstrator Proceed's to Carrier-Based Testing

Source: US Navy

US Navy craned an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator to board aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on Nov. 26, in preparation for an unmanned aircraft's first, carrier-based testing.

A team from the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System program office (PMA-268) embarked Truman to conduct tests and demonstrations.

The X-47B, which boasts a wingspan of more than 62 feet (wider than that of an F/A-18 Super Hornet), will demonstrate seamless integration into carrier flight deck operations through various tests.
During each demonstration, the X-47B will be controlled remotely via a hand-held control display unit (CDU).

Truman will be the first modern aircraft carrier to host test operations for an unmanned aircraft.

Capt. Jaime Engdahl, N-UCAS program manager, said the X-47B's delivery aboard Truman was among the most historic moments in the program's history.

"This is a very important moment for the X-47B,"said Engdahl."The moment the aircraft set down on Truman's deck was the moment it officially met the fleet."

Cmdr. Kevin Watkins, N-UCAS's flight test director, agreed with Engdahl's sentiment.

"Bringing the X-47B aboard Truman is a big milestone for the program,"said Watkins."We've been testing the aircraft for the last several years and to finally put it on a ship is so exciting. If these tests are successful, they will prove that the future for unmanned aircraft is wide open."

Lt. Cmdr. Larry Tarver, Truman's aircraft handling officer, who helped coordinate the X-47B's on-load, said his Sailors are eager to participate in the aircraft's testing.

"It means a lot to our crew to be part of naval history,"said Tarver."We have Sailors who received additional training to safely move the X-47B and they are excited to play a part in its testing."

While technical challenges are to be expected when introducing the new system to a carrier's flight deck, Engdahl said he expects the tests to be successful citing strong teamwork between his team and Truman's crew.

"The support from Truman has been phenomenal and it's going to continue to take close cooperation between the carrier's Sailors and the UCAS-D team to make these demonstrations successful,"said Engdahl."To operate large, unmanned aircraft off of a carrier, from anywhere in the world, will be a key capability for the Navy after these tests are successful."

The X-47B test will be conducted over a three week period which will include in-port and underway demonstrations aboard Truman.

Indonesia Takes Delivery of First Civilian Mi-171 Helicopter

Russian Helicopters, part of Russian defence holding Oboronprom and a leading global designer and manufacturer of helicopters, has made its first civil medium multirole Mi-171 helicopter delivery to Indonesia. One of the largest mining companies acquired this certificated Mi-171 built by the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant .
The new medium multirole Mi-171 can be deployed in various climates and temperature ranges – an important competitive advantage that was a deciding factor in the choice of an advanced Russian helicopter for use in Indonesia.
Mi-171 series helicopters can be used to carry passengers and cargo, for geological surveying and patrol missions, and for fire-fighting and transfers to offshore drilling platforms.
The helicopter is equipped with advanced flight and navigation systems and additional radio equipment to guarantee heightened levels of safety and improved operational characteristics.
The Asia-Pacific region is a major driver of growth for helicopters. Of the 1,200 registered Russian-built helicopters operating in the region, more than 700 are from the Mi-8/17 series and almost 20 of this type for the military use in Indonesia. Russian Helicopters is the market leader in the region, with its nearest competitors, Sikorsky and AgustaWestland, operating 500 and 400 helicopters, respectively.
The Mi-171 is an updated version of the renowned Mi-8. The helicopter was designed by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, JSC, and is manufactured by Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, JSC.
The Mi-171 can carry up to 37 servicemen on trooper benches, up to 26 passengers on passenger seats, up to 4,000 kg of cargo in the cabin and as external load, and up to 12 wounded personnel.

F-22 Raptor's Stealth Skin

Source: US Air Force

by Senior Airman Joan King
3rd Maintenance Group USAF

 Many are surprised to discover that the largest organ the human body has is the skin. Skin provides a physical barrier against harmful, external factors. The F-22 Raptor, much like the human body, has a layer of skin called low observable.

LO not only assists in retaining the jets'stealth capabilities but also prevents corrosion and other damages. Like human skin, the F-22's coating consists of several layers. The surface of the F-22 appears to be a simple gray paint, but in reality the high-tech surface renders one of the largest fighter jets virtually undetectable by radar.

"Arguably the most important capability of a fifth generation fighter, like the Raptor, is what low observable delivers - the stealth,"said Air Force Maj. Patrick Pearson, a 3rd Wing F-22 pilot.

The benefits of stealth technology may escape some in terms of air combat. The ability of the F-22 to prosecute a lethal attack while remaining undetected is why it has the highest air-to-air kill ratio of any other fighter in simulated combat. While incredible lethality has defined F-22 tactics, the aircraft has also become known for its unmatched survivability.

"Survivability is the biggest [factor], so the jet and the pilot can come back,"said Airman 1st Class Emmanuel Marioni, 3rd Maintenance Squadron LO technician.

Lethality and survivability are critical issues for the men and women in the LO shop, comprised of active duty Airmen from the 3rd Maintenance Squadron and reservists from the 477th Maintenance Squadron. Their daily work readies F-22 pilots to defeat the most advanced adversarial aircraft and surface to air missile systems.

Once a week, the LO shop conducts outer mold line inspections on the Raptor. All the information is placed into a database that rates its stealth capability, called a signature assessment system.

"The lower the SAS rating, the stealthier a jet is,"said Senior Master Sgt. Dave Strunk, 477th Maintenance Squadron fabrication flight chief.

Strunk said that LO application falls into two areas - the removal of coatings to facilitate other maintenance and the removal and replacement to bring the SAS rating down. The job of an LO technician can be a challenging one requiring a high level of attention to detail and adherence to safety precautions.

"We are working all day every day,"said Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Duque, 477th Maintenance Squadron LO technician."We have 24/7 coverage to ensure a steady flow of progress from the start of a repair to finish. Our accurate cataloging of damages and sound repairs ensure that the aircraft is performing as designed."

The skin from the body can be taken for granted until it is damaged. The behind-the-scenes efforts of the men and women of the 3rd Maintenance Squadron and the 477th Maintenance Squadron keep the Raptor at the top of its game.

"The constant attention to detail and upkeep from our LO section is essential to projecting the F-22's combat capability,"Pearson said."Knowing that our jets are fully ready to go gives me the confidence I need get the job done."

Boeing to Upgrade US cold war era B61 Nuclear Bomb

Boeing will help to modernize the B61 free-fall ballistic munition by designing a new tail kit under a $178 million contract from the U.S. Air Force.

The design, development and qualification phase of the B61 (Mod 12) Life Extension Program is expected to run for three years. The program further expands Boeing's Direct Attack weapons portfolio.

B61 (Mod 12) will replace obsolete parts and improve its reliability. Per the contract, Boeing will work with the departments of Defense and Energy on this program.
The B61 is U.S's primary tactical thermonuclear gravity bomb which can be carried aboard a variety of strategic and tactical aircraft including the B-52 and B-2A bombers and the F-16 fighter.
First deployed in 1968, an estimated 3,000 weapons in nine different versions (designed by Los Alamos National Laboratory) were ultimately built, with yields ranging from 0.3-300 kilotons. Seven of these versions remain operational, including the B61-11, deployed in 1997.

VistaJets Inks $7.8 billion Deal for 147 Bombardier Global Business Jets

Bombardier yesterday announced its largest business aircraft sale in history.
VistaJet, a world-leading luxury aviation company and exclusive operator of Bombardier business aircraft, has signed a deal for up to 142 Global business jets which includes firm orders for 56 Global jets and options for a further 86 Global jetsat a 2012 U.S. list price value of more than $7.8 billion if all options are exercised.
The value of the firm order is approximately $3.1 billion at 2012 list prices.
The firm order comprises 25 Global 5000 , 25 Global 6000 and six Global 8000 jets.
Deliveries of these aircraft will begin in 2014. The agreement also includes options for 40 Global 5000 , 40 Global 6000 and six Global 8000 jets.

Lockheed Demonstrates Laser Weapon System

Lockheed Martin announced that it has successfully demonstrated a portable, ground-based military laser system in a series of tests against representative airborne targets.
Lockheed Martin developed the Area Defense Anti-Munitions (ADAM) system to provide a defense against short-range threats, such as rockets and unmanned aerial systems.

Since August, the ADAM system has successfully engaged an unmanned aerial system target in flight at a range of approximately 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) and has destroyed four small-caliber rocket targets in simulated flight at a range of approximately 2 kilometers (1.2 miles).
Designed for short-range defense of high-value areas including forward operating bases, the ADAM system’s 10-kilowatt fiber laser is engineered to destroy targets up to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away.
The system precisely tracks targets in cluttered optical environments and has a tracking range of more than 5 kilometers (3.1 miles).
The system has been designed to be flexible enough to operate against rockets as a standalone system and to engage unmanned aerial systems with an external radar cue.
The ADAM system’s modular architecture combines commercial hardware components with the company’s proprietary software in an integrated and easy-to-operate system.

HAL Carries Out Maiden Flight of Upgraded Jaguar Aircraft “Darin III”


Indian aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) successfully carried out the maiden flight of avionics upgraded Jaguar aircraft “Darin III” here today. “This is significant moment for HAL as the upgrade will result in major operational improvement with regard to all weather air to ground, air to sea and air to air capabilities through incorporation of multi mode radar”, says Dr. R. K. Tyagi, Chairman, HAL.
Darin III upgrade, with re-engining and change over to higher capacity alternators can make Jaguar one of the most potent aircraft in the arsenal of IAF with an extended life-span.

The total design from system requirement capture, specification preparation, software, hardware, electrical, mechanical design and development has been done indigenously by HAL at its Mission&Combat System Research&Design Centre (MCSRDC) and aircraft trial modification is done by HAL’s Overhaul Division.
The fleet compliance will also be carried out by HAL. SDI of IAF is the design partner for display software development and Aircraft System Testing Establishment (ASTE) under the leadership of Air Vice Marshal Raghunath Nambiar takes care of system specification preparation, data analysis and flight testing along with Flight Test Centre of HAL.

The upgrade incorporates new state-of-the-art avionics architecture including Mission Computer (MC), Engine and Flight Instrument System (EFIS), Solid State Digital Video Recording System (SSDVRS), Solid State Flight Data Recorder (SSFDR) and additional functions in inertial global positioning system (INGPS), autopilot, radar and RWR.
The upgrade covers modern navigation, EW and weapon delivery system with INGPS using primary and reversionary modes, state-of-the –art, man-machine interface (near glass cockpit) with two smart multi function display and head-up display.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Indian Air Force to Phase Out Avro HS 748 planes

The Indian Air Force will soon phase out its old Avro HS 748 transport aircrafts.
The Avro aircraft will be replaced with modern ones. A request for proposal (RFP) has been sought by the authorities, Air Marshal Jagdish Chandra, Air Officer in-Commanding in-Chief of IAF Maintenance Command here, told reporters on the sidelines of an air show at Sonegaon Airbase.
The IAF currently operates 56 HS-748 Avro aircraft, which can carry 5-8 tonne.

The IAF is looking to team with the Indian private industry to replace aging Avro fleet as the public sector HAL has made huge delivery delays .
The Defence Ministry had earlier cleared a proposal worth over Rs 12,000 crore to procure 56 transport aircraft for the Air Force to replace its fleet of vintage Avro HS-748 planes.

Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister A K Antony has agreed for IAF proposal to issue a global tender for procuring these aircrafts.
As per the plan, the first 16 aircraft would be produced by the OEM and the remaining would be license-produced by the consortium of private Indian industries with the help of IAF.
As per IAF plans, the twin-engine aircraft is planned to have a six to eight tonne payload capacity, cruise speed of 800 kilometers per hour range of 2,500 kilometers to 2,700 kilometers.

Chinese J-15 fighter makes first carrier landing

A Chinese Shenyang J-15 fighter jet has successfully carried out the first arrested deck landing on the country’s only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, Xinhua reported on Sunday citing naval sources.

This achievement marks a crucial step in the development of China’s ambitious aircraft carrier program as landing tests of carrier-based aircraft are the most challenging to perform.

“Capabilities of the carrier platform and the J-15 have been tested, meeting all requirements and achieving good compatibility,” the Chinese Navy said.

The J-15s had made many landings on land-based mock-ups of Liaoning’s deck and performed a number of touch-and-go take-offs and landings during sea trials last month before attempting an arrested landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier, according to Chinese naval experts.

J-15 is a clone of Russian-designed Sukhoi Su-33 fighter. China acquired an unfinished Su-33 prototype, the T-10K-3, from Ukraine which was later reverse engineered.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Air India's Boeing 787 Dreamliner having frequent snags

Air India's newly inducted Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircrafts has been hit with frequent technical snags.

Unhappy with the aircraft's performance due to “recurring technical snags”, civil aviation ministry and Air India have summoned Boeing, reported the deccan herald daily.
Earlier, the maiden commercial flight of Air India's Dreamliner reported its first glitch. The cooling system meant to prevent the power generating equipment of the aircraft from getting overheated failed.
Sources said that the snag developed when the aircraft was being pushed back and its power generation was being shifted from electric generator to the engine generator.
Sources said the same part had been replaced twice in the US before AI took delivery of the aircraft.
In fact, when it landed in Delhi on September 8, sources said that another electric part, called actuator, had developed a snag and was replaced.
The aircraft, which was taxiing for take-off was forced to return back to the bay following the minor glitch.
The daily reported, either one of the three Dreamliners stay's grounded due to snags.
Air India has taken the issue seriously as it has affected its widely publicized flights.
The airline had used Dreamliner flights to regain its reputation.
With Air India gaining its foothold in the domestic market in past few months, the airline had initially deployed the plane for important domestic routes so that pilots could become familiar with its landing and take-off.
One of these Dreamliner's engine failed during a pre-delivery taxi test in Charleston, South Carolina,US. As a result of the failure, the engine reportedly left debris on the active runway at Charleston International Airport and caused a brush fire.
Current snags could be attributed to the aircraft's relatively new design.
Air India officials said Boeing would sent a team to fix the snags next week.
Air India has an order for 27 Dreamliner aircrafts. The delivery schedule was also earlier delayed considerably, for which it recieved a compensation. The first aircraft was inducted in September this year.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the first commercial jetliner made primarily of advanced composite materials.
It offers exceptional passenger comfort features, including cleaner air, a lower cabin altitude, higher humidity, bigger windows that dim electronically and more overhead storage space. It offers a 20 percent fuel efficiency, than other airplanes in its class and results in 20 percent lower carbon emissions.

Cassidian's New Transmit & Receive Modules Improve AESA Radar Performance and Reduce Production Cost

 Raytheon's AESA Radar Installed on First U.S. Air Force F-15C
Cassidian has developed a new generation of transmit&receive modules which give the new AESA radars with electronic beam scanning (AESA = Active Electronically Scanned Array) previously unattained performance.
Thanks to the new modules, the multi-mode and multi-tasking capabilities of AESA antennas can be enhanced on a sustained basis while at the same time significantly reducing production costs.

"Our new-generation modules increase radar performance, while the cost of production is reduced by more than 30 per cent,"says Dr. Elmar Compans, head of the Sensors&Electronic Warfare unit at Cassidian.

In contrast to conventional systems, radars based on AESA technology can perform several tasks practically simultaneously. The transmitting energy is generated directly in the antenna, namely in a multitude of transmit&receive modules (TRM), instead of in a delicate central transmitter.

With environmental qualification to IEC 60748, Cassidian now has completed the basic development of a new generation of transmit&receive modules.
This milestone will pave the way for using these high-tech components in particularly demanding applications in the aerospace sector. Cassidian has optimised the industrial production of these modules using a standard design based on a modular principle.
Operating Europe's largest production line for this type of radar module, Cassidian is the pioneer of this technology in Europe.

The new technology offers so many operational advantages for the customer that Cassidian can expect AESA radars to be used in many fields of reconnaissance and surveillance in future.
The Cassidian products using the new TRMs include the Eurofighter's future e-scan radar, the security radars in the Spexer family as well as spaceborne earth observation radars.

Third AgustaWestland AW169 Prototype Performs Its Maiden Flight

The third prototype of the new generation 4.5 tonne light intermediate AW169 helicopter recently successfully completed its maiden flight at Cascina Costa in Italy.
During its 35 minutes flight, the aircraft performed as expected with an assessment of the helicopter’s general handling and basic systems.
A fourth prototype in scheduled to fly in early 2013 and the AW169 programme is on schedule to achieve civil certification in 2014.
The first two AW169 prototypes, which performed their maiden flights in May 2012 and July 2012, have completed more than 100 flight hours to date.
Development activities to be undertaken by the third prototype, the first one featuring retractable landing gear, include climatic chamber tests, cold weather trials, hot & high trials, Cat.
A performance tests and certification of optional kits.
The AW169 is part of AgustaWestland’s family of new generation helicopters that includes the AW139 and AW189 models.
These helicopters all possess the same high performance flight characteristics and safety features and share the same common cockpit concept and design philosophy.
This approach will deliver real cost savings in areas such as training, maintenance and support for existing operators of the AW139 who add AW169 and/or AW189 helicopters to their fleets. Launched in July 2010, the AW169 has rapidly found continued market success, logging orders for more than 70 units so far from customers in North & South America, Asia, Middle East, Europe and Australasia for a wide range of missions including air ambulance, law enforcement, corporate transport, utility and offshore transport.
A versatile, new generation twin engine helicopter, the AW169 has been designed in response to the growing market demand for an aircraft that delivers high performance, meets all the latest safety standards and has multi-role capabilities. I
t is the first all new helicopter design in its class in decades and the only one that will meet all the latest safety requirements. The AW169 incorporates several new technology features to provide the highest levels of safety and operational benefits for its customers. New generation technologies are incorporated in the rotor system, engines, avionics, transmission and electric power generation and distribution systems.
The AW169 is powered by two 1,000 shpclass PW210A turbo shaft engines which will givethe aircraft Vertical Cat. A / Class 1 capability up toISA+20 at sea level and maximum gross weight. Latest technologies include an APU mode capability and touch screen cockpit devices.

KC-130J Harvest Hawks's Provide Effective Close Air Support to US Marines in Afgan

Courtesy: Code One Magazine
By Jeff Rhodes

The message received by the battalion watch officer in the operations center was as urgent as it was precise: “Second platoon is in sustained contact. Ground commander is requesting Harvest Hawk for an immediate priority JTAR [Joint Tactical Air Request]. Advise estimated arrival time when able.”

The US Marines taking enemy fire in Afghanistan who sent that message weren’t making a general request for close air support. They weren’t trying to flag down a fighter in the area with a couple of bombs to spare, although any help would have been appreciated. What those ground troops wanted was one specific aircraft overhead to make their problem go away—and make it go away right now.

The specially configured armed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, or ISR, variant of the KC-130J Super Hercules tanker called Harvest Hawk was soon on scene, and the crew took care of the problem. Since its combat debut in October 2010, crews flying this aircraft have been busy.

With its long loiter time, multiple radios, sensor to find and track insurgents or vehicles, and, most importantly to the Marines on the ground, its ability to launch a laser-guided Hellfire or Griffin missile and have those weapons hit exactly where and when needed, Harvest Hawk quickly became a Big Stick.

“The close air support [CAS] tasking for Harvest Hawk will make your eyes water,” noted Maj. John Butler, the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 (VMGR-252) detachment commander in Afghanistan in 2011–2012. “Our launch total was considerably more than Marine Harriers, Navy Hornets, and even Air Force A-10s. With only one aircraft, we shot close to half of all the kinetic weapons launched in theater in the nine months we were there.”

“Before Harvest Hawk got to Afghanistan, naysayers called it useless,” added Capt. Dusty Cook, a VMGR-252 Harvest Hawk pilot. “But we have effectively connected Harvest Hawk to the Marine ground force. While we were in Afghanistan, we flew just about every day watching, relaying information, or prosecuting targets. Units all over Helmand Province regularly began requesting us by name. The British began calling us the Helmand Rock Stars.”

An Urgent Need
Harvest Hawk is the latest in a series of military aircraft modification efforts developed under the broad name “Harvest.” HAWK is actually an acronym that stands for Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit, but Harvest Hawk has become the generic, and much more generally used, name.

“Harvest Hawk is an accelerated Marine Corps program to meet an urgent needs statement from the Marine ground combat element in theater,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Moses, then the commander of VMGR-252, the oldest continually active squadron in the Marine Corps. “It is MIR [multi-sensor imagery reconnaissance] tied to CAS in a permissive air environment that is persistent beyond any other platform.”

That persistence was the main reason the KC-130J was chosen. “A fighter pilot has maybe forty-five minutes on station before having to refuel,” observed Capt. Thane Norman, a VMGR-252 Harvest Hawk fire control officer, or FCO. “In Harvest Hawk, we can be up for ten or more hours. We can stay with a foot patrol from the time they start until the time they finish.”

The Super Hercules, known as a Battleherk to the Marines, also has sufficient electrical power and room for the Harvest Hawk equipment. “This platform has allowed us to add things such as video uplink and Blue Force Tracker,” noted Capt. Michael Wyrsch, an FCO and the VMGR-252 Harvest Hawk training officer. “The biggest limiting factor with Harvest Hawk is imagination.”

Using existing components, the Harvest Hawk kit was developed in eighteen months by a joint Marine Corps, Lockheed Martin, and Naval Air Systems Command team. “Development was only supposed to take six months,” noted Moses. “Integration of the separate elements proved to be a bigger challenge than expected. Still, Harvest Hawk took a lot less time to get into the field than similar programs.”

Three aircraft have been modified, with one currently assigned to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division test facility at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland; one with VMGR-352 at MCAS Miramar, California; and one with VMGR-252 at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. Current plans call for three additional Harvest Hawk kits, making a total of six operational aircraft. Four additional operational KC-130Js will be wired to accept the Harvest Hawk equipment.

Harvest Hawk 101
Externally, what sets Harvest Hawk apart from other KC-130Js is underneath the left wing. Instead of a KC-130J hose refueling pod on the outboard wing station, there is an M299 quad-mount Hellfire missile launcher from an AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter.

The AGM-114P Hellfire II, with a twenty-pound high-explosive antitank warhead, is the primary weapon. In the first two Harvest Hawk deployments, one each from VMGR-352 and VMGR-252, crews launched more than 100 Hellfires, recording nearly all direct hits.

“It’s a somewhat choreographed routine to get the four missiles loaded,” notes Sgt. Robert Elcyzym, a VMGR-252 load crew team leader. “We use a four-man team and a special trailer and load platform. Loading Harvest Hawk is different. At certain points, we have to lift the missiles over our heads.”

The electro-optical, infrared, and laser targeting sensor, called a Target Sight Sensor, or TSS, comes from an AH-1Z Super Cobra and is mounted in an empty external fuel tank on the left inboard station. The sensor can see individual targets clearly from more than ten miles away.

Internally, the fire control console, or FCC, and the mission computer from the Navy’s SH-60 Seahawk multipurpose helicopter are mounted to a reinforced 463L cargo system pallet installed in the KC-130J’s cargo compartment. Two additional display monitors are permanently installed on the flight deck primarily to allow the pilot to see the sensor images the FCO is watching and to allow the copilot to look at the FalconView display that combines aeronautical charts, satellite images, and elevation maps along with other information. The pilot also has a consent-to-lase and fire button located near the throttles.

The final component in the Harvest Hawk kit is the launcher, avionics, and associated equipment for the AGM-175 Griffin missiles. These missiles, which have a smaller warhead and less powerful rocket motor than Hellfire, were originally housed in a cargo ramp-mounted box launcher. To fire this missile, crews would have to go on oxygen and depressurize the aircraft prior to lowering the ramp for launch. Because of the increased difficulty and the missile’s shorter range, Griffins were launched against targets only about ten percent of the time.

Harvest Hawk aircraft now have a dual missile launcher for Griffin located in the left paratroop door along with what is called a wine rack that holds ten missile launch tubes. This launcher, called a Derringer Door, allows the crew to keep the aircraft pressurized during launch. A third type of weapon, the GBU-44 Viper Strike glide bomb, is now being tested on Harvest Hawk. Viper Strike, which is used primarily by Special Operations Forces, is also launched through the Derringer Door.

“With four Hellfire and ten Griffin, Harvest Hawk can carry more precision guided munitions than any other aircraft in the Marine Corps,” said Wyrsch, who, before becoming an FCO on Harvest Hawk, was a Harrier pilot. “We can still refuel other aircraft from the aircraft’s right hose if necessary. We did that several times to help fighters during poor weather. We even refueled Harriers from my old sister squadron.”

In The Sandbox

“Harvest Hawk is a roll-on/roll-off kit, but we never rolled it off,” noted Moses. “We were in such demand, we ended up making one long flight per day. We weren’t figuring that kind of demand for the aircraft. Our maintainers did an amazing job. We only missed a couple of missions and those were because of problems with the TSS, not the aircraft.”

The VMGR-252 Harvest Hawk detachment flew as hard crews during its deployment, with three FCOs, two aircraft commanders, and two copilots, with a day-on, day-off flight schedule for flight deck crews and two-days-on, two-days-off schedule for FCOs. Crews, including loadmasters and what the Marines call crewmasters, were averaging approximately 110 flight hours per month, well above the overall in-theater norm for all US forces. During poor weather, Harvest Hawk was sometimes the only aircraft airborne.

“We had been tracking a target for several hours when the call came in that a ground unit in another area needed immediate help,” recalled Wyrsch. “We got the tasking, transited to the area, got the nine-line [the standard radio format for transmitting ground target location and description information] while we were still twenty-five miles out, got the sensors correlated, made the attack plan, confirmed we were looking at the right thing, cleared the airspace, and took out the target in nine minutes. We got back to tracking the original target after about fifteen minutes elapsed time.”

The Harvest Hawk radio call sign quickly became widely known. “The ground community liked us a lot. One time, a ground unit heard us when we radioed in during a maintenance check flight,” said Cook. “They asked if we happened to have ordnance. Fortunately, we did, and were able to help them.”

Squadron crews launched approximately sixty Hellfires during their deployment with a near 100 percent success rate without a single civilian casualty. But launching missiles wasn’t all the Harvest Hawk crews did. “Even on the days we didn’t shoot, any ground Marine would tell you that just having us up there with eyes-on was enough,” noted Butler. “Many times, keeping guys out of an engagement was just as important as firing on range.”

Sometimes just showing up was enough. Harvest Hawk crews generally fly at medium altitudes to maximize time on station. On one mission, the crew was observing a group of insurgents engaging a Marine ground unit. The insurgents had a central gathering point where they were using children as a buffer and forcing the children to resupply the snipers with ammunition.

After several hours of watching this battle play out, the crew came up with a plan. They received clearance and then made a high speed pass—slightly below minimums—and popped self-defense flares normally used to defeat heat-seeking missiles. The startled insurgents dispersed, and the Marine ground unit was able to accomplish its mission.

Coordinated Crew

“We flew with the same guys over and over in Afghanistan. I knew what they were thinking, and they knew what I was thinking,” noted Wyrsch, who now has more flight time in Herks than he does in any other aircraft. “We just about got to the point that we could communicate with hand signals and grunts.”

The seven-member Harvest Hawk crews, by necessity, become an integrated team. The aircraft commander is the airborne supervisor of flying, deconflicting the airspace and clearing out friendlies—other US or coalition aircraft—prior to a missile launch. He also helps develop the target attack plan with the FCO and, once the aircraft is in position, gives consent first to fire the targeting laser and then to launch the missile.

The copilot is in charge of the basics—navigating and flying the aircraft, using the aircraft’s seven radios to communicate with air assets, ground commanders, and, as necessary, higher command headquarters. The crewmaster, a flying crew chief who normally runs the refueling panel, changes the radio frequencies and looks out the window as another set of eyes.

In the aircraft’s cargo compartment, the primary FCO locates, tracks, and designates the targets; coordinates surveillance; and talks directly with troops on the ground. The second FCO, sitting next to the primary FCO at the FCC, is the backup. “We have to swap out jobs over the course of the mission,” noted Norman. “Our job would be very difficult if we didn’t. Staring at the screen for hours, it’s very easy to fixate and miss something.”

In addition to their usual job, the two loadmasters act as scanners or as different sets of eyes to help the FCOs scan the sensor picture. They now also load the Griffin launch tubes into the Derringer Door. “There is nothing like reloading missiles in flight and then shooting them, particularly when bad guys are shooting at our guys,” noted SSgt. Debusk Lau, a Harvest Hawk loadmaster. “It’s very rewarding. We normally don’t get to see the end result unloading pallets.”

During an attack, the combined job of the flight deck crew and the FCOs is to get the aircraft in the optimal position to shoot. The aircrew adjusts each attack depending on the target.

Once the target is designated and locked, the aircraft is in position, and the pilot has received permission from battalion to fire and then has given his consent to fire, the FCO lifts the cover on the Hellfire launch button and pushes it. “After all the radio chatter and making sure we have the target correlated, it gets very quiet when the FCO says ‘Rifle’ and the missile goes off the rail,” says Capt. Josh Mallon, a Harvest Hawk pilot and the squadron weapons officer. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”

Hellfire missiles quickly reach supersonic speeds coming off the launch rail and have a very short time of flight. “The FCO has to take the sonic boom from the Hellfire into account,” noted Norman. “Shoot too far out, and the bad guys will hear it before the missile impacts.”

“After a shot, we’d get instant feedback. The messages changed from ‘We’re taking effective fire’ to ‘Yeah! Take that,’ although not in those exact words,” noted Cpl. Tom Wiklow, a Harvest Hawk loadmaster. “We know we made a difference.”

Battlefield Innovation

“I truly believe if you give a capability to professional Marine aviators, they will come up with better ways to get the job done,” said Moses.

Originally deployed to Camp Dwyer, where the Marine combat jets were based, VMGR-252 later moved to Kandahar, the main C-130 base in Afghanistan. “When we arrived in Kandahar, we found a ROVER [Remotely Operated, Video Enhanced Receiver] screen in a box,” noted Cook. “ROVER is designed for a ground control center, but it gives an incredible view of the entire battlefield. So we put the screen on the aircraft to see if it would work.

“Our airframe guys built a stand for the ROVER screen and put the antenna in the bubble [In combat, the C-130 flight deck escape hatch is often replaced with a clear bubble that gives a crew member an unrestricted view around the aircraft], zip tied the wires out of the way, and turned it on,” Cook recalled. “We were getting the Scan Eagle feeds, the Predator feeds, and even the Harrier feeds. We could follow a battle in a different area of operations. With ROVER, we were able to talk to the Forward Air Controller and the Combat Operations Center to track the firefight through the people who were fighting it. ROVER really helped us maintain situational awareness.”

The I in ISR stands for intelligence. “When we started, the Intel guys would look at our tapes and take several days to get a package back to us,” noted Wyrsch. “We put Intel troops on the aircraft, and they started looking at the tapes in near real time. We could get an intel package back in just several hours.”

“We had a table ratcheted down on a pallet in the back of the aircraft to work from,” recalled 1st Lt. Ben Reeks, one of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing intelligence specialists. “We were giving on-the-spot imagery interpretation. We could determine if the subject of interest was a person or a dog and why that subject was doing what it was doing. We would also look for what we call patterns of life. Insurgents often had ‘tells’ so that we could pretty much figure they had hidden an IED, for instance. We could build an intelligence highlight package on the aircraft and ship it off to other units shortly after landing. We were able to quickly exploit what we were seeing.”

The lessons learned by the Cherry Point crew were passed to the Miramar crews for their second Harvest Hawk deployment in 2012, just as VMGR-352 had passed lessons learned from its first deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. The two units overlapped each other for about a week to pass knowledge and complete the mission handover. “Every detachment has made this mission better,” noted Moses.

Going Forward

One major lesson learned is that, with the very heavy tasking in theater and as many as 140 flight hours in one month—the maximum allowed, more than one Harvest Hawk crew is needed on future deployments. A formal training program has now been established at both operational units.

“We want to bring the KC-130J community up to speed and depend less and less on TACAIR personnel for Harvest Hawk,” noted Wyrsch. “I left my Harrier squadron, went to Miramar for a month to train on the KC-130J, got familiar with the Harvest Hawk system, got my live training shots, and was out the door for Afghanistan. That’s not going to work anymore. We have to grow the community from within.”

“We had seven officers and six enlisted personnel on our Harvest Hawk deployment,” said Butler. “Now, we are training ten officers with only two FCOs coming from the fighter community. We know what’s needed. We will have four dedicated FCOs on the next det, for instance, so the same guys are not flying day after day. Eventually, we’ll have crew members with hundreds of hours in this aircraft before we deploy. We have quality, but we’re not there yet on quantity.”

Harvest Hawk ground school consists of twenty-two classes in three days on close air support and multi-image reconnaissance; on the FCC and the TSS; on what the forces on the ground are doing and why; on radio procedures, particularly communicating with ground forces; and on aircraft basics, such as where the crash axe is located.

A recently installed desktop FCC simulator prepares the crew members for the five qualification flights. The second simulator event for a new FCO is with the aircraft commander, and the two train side by side. The simulator schooling covers the same profiles as the actual training flights: day weapons employment; integrating with ground forces on CAS and MIR missions; and urban CAS where shot geometry and zero civilian casualties are important considerations. The capstone is a live fire mission in which each FCO launches a Hellfire and a Griffin.

The instructors, who sit on the flight deck or behind the student FCOs, often simulate communications from the ground forces. But more and more, training flights are with actual ground forces the Harvest Hawk crew will be working with in theater. “Every ground unit at Camp Lejeune wants to train with Harvest Hawk,” noted Norman, a former F/A-18 backseater. “There is high demand to train with us. One British unit is making a special trip to North Carolina to train with us.”

During a detailed debrief after a flight, students own up to mistakes, review the attack profiles with the instructors, and go over how each mission element could have been done better. Details are important. After one mission, Wyrsch told students what level to set the volume on the radios—the more important radios should be kept at a higher volume.

The urgency of the Harvest Hawk mission is emphasized during training. “It’s important for a crew to get a well-planned shot off quickly,” said Wyrsch, who will soon enter F-35 pilot training. “The consequences of a missile being on target thirty seconds late versus being on target three minutes late because the aircraft had to go around are dramatic for that Marine on the ground.”

“I helped, but I was also able to facilitate help when the ground Marines needed it,” concluded Cook, who will be one of three pilots flying Fat Albert, the C-130 support aircraft for the Navy’s Blue Angels aerobatic team in 2014. “Harvest Hawk has become a real partner to the Marine air and ground forces. But we’re just getting started. Anything we can do to make the good guys’ jobs easier, we’re going to do it.”

Friday, November 23, 2012

USAF gets first QF-16 Aerial Target Drones for Testing

The first QF-16 target drone arrived for developmental testing at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 19.

"The work done prior to today and the test work that is forthcoming will enable the Air Force to transition from a 3rd generation, Vietnam-era aerial target performance to 4th generation threat replication and beyond,"said Lt. Col. Lance Wilkins, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron commander.

The QF-16 is a supersonic reusable full-scale aerial target drone modified from an F-16 Fighting Falcon. At this time, the 53rd WEG uses QF-4s, made from 1960s F-4 Phantoms, to conduct their full-scale aerial target missions. The targets allow the Air Force and allied nations to have a realistic understanding of what they could face on the battlefield.

"In the imminent future, the QF-16 will take air-to-air testing and evaluation to the next level,"Wilkins said."It will make our American and Allied aircrew, aircraft and weapons more reliable and more lethal. It will serve a new generation of warriors."

Boeing Global Services and Support will conduct testing on the QF-16, according to a Boeing press release.

The QF-16s will undergo approximately six months of testing to validate their capabilities and ensure compatibility with the Gulf Range Drone Control System, explained group officials.
Next, the aircraft will deploy to Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., for approximately four more months of integrated testing. When all test milestones are complete, the aircraft will return permanently to the 53rd WEG to complete a transition period in order to achieve initial operational capability at Tyndall AFB.

The first production QF-16 is scheduled to be delivered in 2014.

As the Air Force prepares 5th generation fighters such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for the next battlespace, the group acts as a safety net to ensure our weapons capability is fully evaluated and understood prior to use in combat, said Col. James Vogel, 53rd WEG commander.
The 53rd WEG, which falls under the 53rd Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., provides the personnel and infrastructure to test and evaluate weapons utilized by the combat air forces of the United States and its allies. The group operates the only full-scale aerial drones in the Defense Department.

Russian Air Force Inducts Super Maneuverable Su-30SM Fighters

Russian fighter maker JSC IRKUT Corporation handed over the first 2 Su-30SM fighters to the Russian Air Force.

The delivery-acceptance act was signed on November 22 at the Irkutsk aviation plant branch of JSC IRKUT Corporation.

Su-30SM multirole supermaneuverable fighter is the further development of the Su-30MK combat aircraft family.

JSC Sukhoi Design Bureau specialists designed the fighter in accordance with the requirements of the Russian Air Force in terms of radar system, radio and recognition system, ejection seats and a number of support systems.

The weaponry configuration was changed as well. Su-30SM was inspired from the Indian Su-30 variant Su-30MKI.

The contract on 30 multirole fighters delivery by 2015 was signed between the Russian Ministry of Defence and IRKUT Corporation in March 2012.

DRDO's Akashdeep Aerostat Completes Trials Successfully

AKASHDEEP, a medium size Aerostat system indigenously designed and developed by Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment
(ADRDE), Agra, a DRDO laboratory, has been put into skies at IIT Kanpur airstrip.
Aerostat is a system of systems comprising of indigenous development of many systems including high performance PU Coated Nylon fabrics, Aerostat Balloon, Electro-Optical Tether, Electro-Hydraulic Control System,
Smart-Active Pressure Control System, Helium Gas Management System etc.
This indigenous development is a result of dedicated team of Scientists involved in designing and evaluation of the system and fabrication at Indian Industries.
The prime objective of trials at IIT, Kanpur to demonstrate endurance of the system constantly for 05 days at an altitude of 1 km without Helium top-up.
The other objectives were improvisingof integration methodologies to reduce integration time, testing of the new balloon, inflation
using improved & modified Aerostat inflation safety net assembly and validation of dynamic stability data through instrumentation.
Trails at IIT, Kanpur facilitated students and faculty of IIT Kanpur to have good exposure
and Lighter-Than-Air Systems & its associated technologies.
The trials at IIT Kanpur commenced on 16 th Oct 2012 and were completed on 07 th Nov 2012. During this duration, six numbers of trials were
carried out including an endurance trial of 05 days at 1 km and trials also with Electro-Optic (EO) payload.
IIT Kanpur also conducted a few experiments
with their own instrumentation package as payload to study and validated dynamicstability model of the Aerostat generated by IIT & ADRDE.
The experimental data was acquired at different altitudes.
On 25 th Oct 2012, former President and former DRDO Chief Dr. APJAbdul Kalam visited the
Aerostat trial site and appreciated the development efforts.
He also enquired about the indigenous control system, payload and flexible PU Coated Nylon materials used in the system.
These successful endurance trials for 05 days have demonstrated the significance of the system as a reliable aerial platform.
A 25% reduction in the integration time is also achieved during the trials.
It is being planned to demonstrate the system at AERO-INDIA 2013 at Bengaluru

Indian Air Defence Interceptor Missile successfully destroys Ballistic Missile

The  Interceptor  Missile  AAD  launched  by  the Scientists  of  DRDO  from  Wheeler’s  Island,
Odisha  successfully  destroyed  the  incoming  Ballistic  Missile  at  an  altitude  of  15  Kms. 
The interception took place at 1252hrs.
The target missile, a modified version of Prithvi, mimicking the enemy’s ballistic missile, was launchedfrom Launch Complex III, Chandipur.
Long Range Radar and MFC Radar located far away could detect the Missile from take‐off and tracked it  through its entire path.

The total trajectory of the incoming Missile was  continuously estimated by the guidance computer and subsequently the AAD Missile was launched at an appropriate time to counter and kill the ballistic missile. 

The  Ring  Laser  Gyro  based  Navigation  System  in  Target,  Fibre  Optic  Gyro  based  INS in Interceptor,  Onboard  computers,  Guidance  systems,  Actuation  Systems  and  the  critical  RF Seekers  used  for  the  terminal  phase  have  performed  excellently.
The  AAD  Missile  system initially  guided  by  Inertial  Navigation  system  was  continuously  getting  update  of the target position by the
Radar through a data link.
The Radio Frequency (RF) seeker tracked the
Missile &  Onboard  computer  guided  the  Missile  towards  the  Target  Missile  and  hit  the  target. 

The Radio Proximity Fuse (RPF) exploded the
warhead thereby destroying the target missile

In this mission, a special feature of intercepting multiple target with multiple interceptor was
demonstrated successfully.

An electronic target with a range of 1500 Kms waslaunched and the Radars picked up the targetmissile, tracked the target missile subsequently & launched an electronic interceptor missile.
This electronic interceptor missile destroyed the
electronic target missile at an altitude of 120Kms.
All the four missiles were tracked by the Radars  and all the guidance and launch computers  operated in full operational mode for handling
multiple targets with multiple interceptor. 
All the four missiles were in the sky simultaneouslyand both the interceptions took place near simultaneously.
This has proved the capability of DRDO to handle  multiple  targets  with  multiple  interceptors  simultaneously.
The complete Radar Systems, Communication
Networks, Launch Computers, Target update Systems and state of the art Avionics have been completely proven in this Mission.

Sukhoi Superjet 100 obtains Indonesian Type Certificate

Indonesian General Directorate of Civil Aviation validated the Type Certificate for the Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft (RRJ-95B).
This validation confirms compliance of the SSJ100 to the certification requirements of the Indonesian Aviation Authority, allowing its export to Indonesia and operation by Indonesian airlines without restrictions.
“The validation process has been completed through a long and careful work resulting in the obtainment of the SSJ100 Type Certificate by the Indonesian Authority. This will allow to deliver the aircraft to the first customer in the Southeast Asian market, the Indonesian airline Sky Aviation”, said Igor Vinogradov, SCAC First Vice-President for Development and Certification.
In June 2011 during Farnborough International Airshow JSC “Sukhoi Civil Aircraft” (SCAC) and Indonesian carrier Sky Aviation signed a contract for 12 SSJ100 to be delivered in 2012-2015.
The first delivery of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft is expected by the end of this year.
Sukhoi Superjet 100 Type Certificate validation process was started in February 2012 with an application for certification.
In July 2012 on the occasion of the visit of the Indonesian Ministry of Transport to Russia the document defining the scope and procedure of works to validate the Type Certificate for SSJ100 in Indonesia was signed.
In January 2011 the SSJ100 obtained the Type Certificate by the Russian Certification Authority IAC AR.
In February 2012 the aircraft achieved the EASA Type Certificate, followed by the validation of Mexican Aviation Authorities in April 2012.

Airbus A350 XWB Airframe Moves To Static Testing

Airbus’ A350 XWB static test airframe has moved into the facility where it will undergo testing to validate the structural design of this next-generation jetliner.

The airframe rolled out of the A350 XWB final assembly line at Toulouse, Blagnac Airport earlier this week and was transferred to the L34 static test hall situated across the airport in the Lagardère industrial zone – home to the A380 final assembly line.

This clears the way for the A350 XWB airframe to be integrated into a test rig for a campaign that will submit it to nearly a year of evaluations, including limit load and ultimate load validations, along with residual strength and margin research.

The L34 static test hall covers an area of 10,000 square meters, and is supported by 200 workers during peak testing activity.
It houses a rig that incorporates 2,500 tons of steel and 240 jacks/loading lines, which are used to induce structural loads. 
The testing is recorded by some 12,000 sensors.

The static test airframe was the first to be built on the A350 XWB’s new Roger Béteille final assembly line in Toulouse, and was the “star” during Airbus’ inauguration ceremony for this production facility in October. 
The airframe is sized to represent the A350-900 version of Airbus’ newest jetliner family, which is the intermediate aircraft of the three fuselage-length versions: the A350-800, A350-900 and A350-1000. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Swedish Maritime Administration Orders Seven AW139 Helicopters for Search and Rescue

AgustaWestland, announced that it has signed a contract with the Swedish Maritime Administration for seven AW139 intermediate twin helicopters. The aircraft will be equipped for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations with the first helicopter scheduled to be delivered in the spring of 2013 and the final one in 2014.
The Swedish Maritime Administration is the authority responsible for Maritime and Aeronautical Search and Rescue Services in Sweden and will operate the AW139 helicopters from 5 bases across the country. Geoff Hoon, Managing Director International Business, AgustaWestland said after the signing of the contract “We are delighted that the Swedish Maritime Administration has chosen the AW139 to meet its future SAR helicopter requirement following a detailed evaluation process. The AW139, as the world’s bestselling and most capable helicopter in its class, will provide Sweden with an excellent SAR capability.”
This order continues the success of the AW139 in the European SAR market where its long range and all-weather operational capability are key advantages.
The AW139 is also widely used in Northern Europe for passenger transportation to offshore oil and gas installations.
The AW139 delivers best-in-class performance with a maximum cruise speed of 165 knots (306 kph), a range in excess of 500 nm (927 km) and superior hover performance. With its power reserve, the AW139 delivers Category “A” (Class 1) performance from a helipad (elevated or at ground level) at maximum take-off weight which also makes it a safe helicopter whilst performing demanding SAR missions.
The Swedish Maritime Administration’s AW139s will also be equipped with the unique Full Ice Protection System (FIPS) allowing flights into known icing conditions and enabling all weather operations, when other types would be confined to the hangar.
With the largest cabin in its class the AW139 delivers abundant working space and maximum mission flexibility to support cabin FLIR station operation, medical treatment and casualty evacuation requirements.
Large sliding doors on each side of the aircraft provide clear access to the 8 m3 (283 ft3) cabin for survivors and equipment. An additional baggage compartment space that is accessible from inside or outside the helicopter and allows SAR equipment to be stowed, keeping the main cabin clear.
The AW139’s design is optimized for easy and rapid maintenance with reduced number of parts, easy access to critical systems, extended component lifecycle, exclusive HUMS (Health and Usage Monitoring System) as well as comprehensive training services also including advanced Level D Full Flight Simulators. More than 500 AW139s are now in service performing many roles including SAR, air ambulance, offshore transport, VIP/corporate transport, law enforcement and military transport missions. Almost 180 customersfrom more than 50 countries have ordered nearly 660 AW139 helicopters so far.

Australian Air Force Boeing 737 Wedgetail AEW&C Achieves Operational Capability

The Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) Wedgetail aircraft has achieved Initial Operational Capability, providing Australia with the most advanced air battlespace management capabilities in the world.