Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Indian Indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage Engine

Indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage of GSLV-D5 Copyright ISRO

CE-12 cryogenic rocket engine is developed by India to power the upper stage of its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle. It will replace the Russian KVD-1(RD-56) cryo stage of GSLV.

A cryogenic rocket stage is more efficient and provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant it burns compared to solid and earth-storable liquid propellant rocket stages. Specific impulse (a measure of the efficiency) achievable with cryogenic propellants (liquid Hydrogen and liquid Oxygen) is much higher compared to earth storable liquid and solid propellants, giving a substantial payload advantage.

However, cryogenic stage is technically very complex system compared to solid earth-storable liquid propellant stages due to its use of propellants at extremely low temperatures and the associated thermal and structural problems. Oxygen liquifies at –183 deg C and Hydrogen at –253 deg C.

The propellants, at these low temperatures are to be pumped using turbo pumps running at around 40,000 rpm. It also entails complex ground support systems like propellant storage and filling systems, cryogenic engine and stage test facilities, transportation and handling of cryo fluids and related safety aspects.

ISRO’s Cryogenic Upper Stage Project (CUSP) envisaged the design and development of the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage to replace the stage procured from Russia which was earlier used in GSLV flights. The main engine and two smaller steering engines of CUS together develop a nominal thrust of 73.55 kN in vacuum.

During the flight, CUS fires for a nominal duration of 720 seconds. Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Liquid Hydrogen(LH2) from the respective tanks are fed by individual booster pumps to the main turbopump to ensure a high flow rate of propellants into the combustion chamber. Thrust control and mixture ratio control are achieved by two independent regulators. Two gimbaled steering engines provide for control of the stage during its thrusting phase.

Source: ISRO

Embraer Legacy 450 Executive Jet Makes Maiden Flight

Embraer Legacy 450 Jet          Copyright Embraer SA.

Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer, successful completed maiden flight of its new executive jet- Legacy 450. Embraer test pilots Eduardo Camelier and Eugênio Cará, supported by flight test engineer Carlos Kobayashi, flew the aircraft for one hour and thirty-five minutes, conducting the evaluation of handling and performance.

FAA Announce Six Sites for Unmanned Aircraft Research

Northrop Global Hawk UAS

US Federal Aviation Administration announced its selection of six research and test site operators for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) across United States after a 10 month long selection process.

GSLV D5 With Indigenous Cryogenic Engine Ready For Launch


Indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage

  • The Mission Readiness Review (MRR) team and the Launch Authorisation Board (LAB) have cleared the GSLV-D5/GSAT 14 launch at 16:18 hrs (IST) on Jan 05, 2014
  • A 29-hour countdown is set to commence on Jan 04, 2014 at around 11 hrs (IST)
More info: ISRO Site

Monday, December 30, 2013

Turbomeca Ardiden 3C\ AVIC WZ16 Engine Completes Maiden Test Run

Turbomeca Ardiden 3 Turboshaft; photo© SAFRAN

The maiden test run of the Ardiden 3C turboshaft engine, named WZ16 in China, jointly developed by Turbomeca (Safran) and Chinese AVIC Engines was successfully carried out at Turbomeca's Bordes (France) plant.

Turbomeca To Support British RTM 322 Turboshaft Engines

An RAF Merlin helicopter takes off with an underslung load in Afghanistan ( [Picture: Sergeant Andy Reddy, Crown copyright

French helicopter engine maker Turbomeca will support the fleet of RTM 322 turboshaft engines powering the British military AW 101 Merlin and Apache helicopters under an six year contract, worth £367 million with UK Ministry of Defence.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Boeing - A Year in Review 2013

Russia Launches New Lighter Soyuz 2.1v Rocket

Russia successfully tested its new lighter Soyuz rocket from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia on Saturday.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

LCA Tejus Achieves Record 500 Sorties in 2013

In its sprint to achieve the Initial Operational Clearance-2 (IOC-2), LCA Tejus prototypes achieved a record breaking 500 sorties in 2013.The previous highest was 280 sorties in the year 2009.
TEJAS attained the significant 500th sortie milestone on 27th Dec 2013. The Indian designed and developed multi role fighter was granted IOC on 20 Dec 13.
Year 2013 has been exceptionally successful year for Tejas in achieving key milestones while participating in seven detachments all over country.
Noteworthy accomplishments are In-flight relight (shutting off and then reigniting the single engine), high energy brake testing, flight envelope expansion, R-73E air to air missile firing with radar guidance, Air to ground weapon tests, Emergency jettisoning of entire store, Aircraft in wake tests, Wet Runway trials, demonstration of Swing Role capability during exercise IRON FIST in Feb 2013.
The LCA is designed to ultimately replace the aging Mig 21 fleet of Indian Airforce.
IOC-2 enable Air Force to carry out air superiority and offensive air support missions, forward air field operations, all weather multi role operations.
The fourth generation Tejas, is the smallest, light weight, single engine, single seat, supersonic, multirole, combat aircraft in its class in the world.The quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system ensures acceptable handling qualities while ensuring adequate safety throughout the flight envelope. The advanced Glass cockpit open architecture system complements piloting.
Tejus is being developed in Airforce, Trainer and Naval variants for land and carrier borne operations. A more capable airforce variant-Tejus Mk2 will follow after the development of Mk1 variant is completed by 2014. The Mk2 variant will feature a more powerful GE 414 IN20 engine, and would be slightly bigger in size.
The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) is targeted to be achieved by the end of 2014, which will make the Tejus true combat ready.

GPM Satellite Launch Set To Feb 27

Artist concept of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory satellite.
Image Credit:NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA and Japanese space agency-JAXA has selected Thursday, Feb. 27 EST (Friday, Feb. 28 JST) as the launch date and for the Japanese H-IIA rocket carrying the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory satellite from JAXA's Tanegashima Space Center.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Emirates sign for 50 A380 Superjumbo's

Emirates Airline and Airbus signed the firm contract for 50 additional A380 superjumbo's originally announced at the Dubai Airshow on 17th November 2013. The contract documents were finalised by Tim Clark, Emirates Airline President, during a visit to Airbus’ Headquarters in Toulouse, France.

The additional A380s will be used for expanding its route coverage and to replace older jets.
Emirates operates the world's largest fleet of A380s, flying one in three of these modern jets
Since induction in July 2008, Emirates now operates 44 A380s.

Emirates received its 43rd and 44th A380 aircraft last month, with a double delivery from Airbus' Finkenwerder facility in Hamburg, Germany.

The latest A380s have been fitted with bigger high definition LCD TV screens to enhance the inflight entertainment experience and new touch-screen tablets that allow passengers to control all their seat functions and movie selections with just one swipe.

Since first entering service in 2007, to date 122 A380s have been delivered, to ten world class carriers. The aircraft flies 8,500 nautical miles or 15,700 kilometres non-stop, carrying more people at lower cost and with less impact on the environment.

 The spacious, quiet cabin and smooth ride have made the A380 a firm favourite with both airlines and passengers, resulting in higher load factors wherever it flies.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

AgustaWestland Signs Norwegian SAR Helicopter Contract For 16 AW101 Helicopters

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AgustaWestland has won the Norwegian All Weather SAR Helicopter Contract for 16 AW101 helicopters plus support and training, valued at approximately £1 billion (€1.15 billion). The contract also includes an option for six further aircraft.

Pratt & Whitney Delivered First PW4062 Engine For First KC-46A Prototype

Engine maker Pratt & Whitney delivered the first PW4062 jet engines for the first KC-46 test aircraft during an event at Boeing’s Everett, Washington, facility this week.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Final USAF B-52G Bomber Eliminated Under New START Treaty


The final US Air Force B-52G Stratofortress strategic bomber accountable under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was eliminated on Dec. 19 at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group here, commonly referred to as the boneyard.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saab Gripen NG Wins Brazilian FX-2 Fighter Deal

Brazil on Wednesday announced its selection of Saab's Gripen NG fighters to replace its aging fighter aircraft fleet. Under the $4.5 billion contract, Saab AB will supply 36 Gripen NG fighters to Brazilian Air Force by 2020.

Airbus signs MoU with Honeywell and Safran to develop electric taxiing for the A320

As part of developing futuristic and eco friendly technologies, Airbus has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with EGTS International, a joint venture between Safran and Honeywell Aerospace, to further develop and evaluate an autonomous electric push back and taxiing solution for the A320 commercial aircraft family.

LCA Tejus Achieves IOC-2, Cleared For Induction To IAF

India’s indigenously designed and developed fourth generation fighter aircraft, LCA Tejus reached an important milestone on December 20, by achieving the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC-II), clearing the fighter for induction into Indian Air Force.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Australia Extends Heron RPA Mission In Afghan


Australia’s Heron Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) deployment to Afghanistan has been extended until July 2014, providing high resolution Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) support to coalition troops.

Sierra Nevada Corporation Begins Dream Chaser Flight Test Program

Sierra Nevada Corporation(SNC) announced that the company has successfully completed all milestones under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev2) phase. Milestones achieved include a systems requirement review, flight simulator development, creation of a vehicle avionics integration laboratory, system definition review, flight control integration laboratory, preliminary design review and the first free-flight test of the Dream Chaser®spacecraft.

Mi-38 Helo Flies With New Russian TVZ-117V Turboshaft Engine

©Russian Нelicopters
Russian Helicopters and United Engine Corporation (UEC), subsidiaries of Oboronprom, part of State Corporation Rostec, announced the successful test flight of the third prototype Mi-38 helicopter fitted with Russian-built TV7-117V turboshaft engines. The new engines have been specially developed for the new transport and passenger helicopter by Klimov, a UEC company.

Airbus Military Details C295 Firefighter Programme

photo: Airbus Military

photo: Airbus Military
Airbus Military has completed a second round of tests of its prototype C295 firefighting aircraft which will provide detailed data on the performance of its water dropping system.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sikorsky Teams Skunk Works For DARPA VTOL-X Plane Development

Sikorsky Innovations is teamed with Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works(R) for the VTOL X-Plane development of its Unmanned Rotor Blown Wing concept. (PRNewsFoto/Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation)

Sikorsky Innovations, the technology development organization of Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., has won a contract for Phase 1 of the Vertical Take-Off and Landing Experimental Aircraft (VTOL X-Plane) program by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Skunk Works® -- 70 Years of Mission Driven Innovation

Iraqi AirForce To Induct 24 KAI T-50 Jets

South Korean Aerospace major, Korea Aerospace Industries, has signed a contract with Iraq for exporting 24 T-50 light strike aircrafts.
The deal valued at $1.1 billion was announced on the 12th December and also includes training for Iraqi pilots.

Lockheed Celebrates 100th F-35 Fighter

© 2013 Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin celebrated production of 100th F-35 stealth fighter. The 100th aircraft, an F-35A designated AF-41, is the first of 144 F-35s scheduled for delivery to Luke AFB beginning in 2014.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III called the event “a big deal for the Air Force” during a Pentagon news conference.

Welsh discussed the service’s need for the JSF, a need that became even more acute, he said, after the Defense Department truncated the total buy of F-22 Raptor fighters.

The F-22 was to provide theater wide air superiority, Welsh said. But with too few F-22s to provide this umbrella, F-35s must pick up the slack. “You have to have the F-35 to augment the F-22 to do the air superiority fight at the beginning of a high-end conflict to survive against the fifth-generation threats we believe will be in the world at that point in time.”

Even with upgrades, Welsh said, current air superiority fighters, F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons, cannot survive against a fifth-generation threat.

In June, the Air Force announced its decision to increase the number of squadrons at Luke AFB to six with 144 aircraft assigned. By 2015, Luke AFB will be training pilots, including international pilots, destined for deployment to combat units around the world.

The first 100 F-35s include 44 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variants, 42 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variants, and 14 F-35C carrier (CV) variants. The U.S. Department of Defense will receive 95 of the first 100 jets from the F-35 assembly line here. The remaining five jets were delivered to two of the program’s partner countries.

The United Kingdom received three F-35B aircraft and two F-35As have been delivered to the Netherlands.

“The 100th F-35 symbolizes the maturation of the F-35 program by the collective government and industry partner team as we prepare to ramp up production,” said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin F-35 Program General Manager.

“It took the collaboration of thousands of people – customers, employees and suppliers – from all over the world to make this day possible. Working together with the F-35 Joint Program Office, the team is focused on delivering the F-35’s 5th generation capabilities to the U.S. armed forces and our allies. This is a proud day for the entire F-35 community.”

The joint strike fighter program is the most expensive in American military history. The Air Force will fly the F-35A variant, the Navy will fly the F-35C, and the Marine Corps will fly the F-35B. The initial operating capability for the Air Force is set for December 2016.

The program has had growing pains. Costs have risen, and the flyaway cost for the Air Force version is around $150 million per aircraft.

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, advanced mission systems, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and cutting-edge sustainment.

Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries.

The F-35A is comprised of 280,000 individual parts while the F-35B is made up of 300,000. The F-35C consists of 290,000 individual parts. Despite their differences, the three variants are actually 80 percent common.

Russia Grounds Mig-31 Fighter Fleet Following Crash

Russian Air Force has grounded its MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor fighter fleet following a crash on Saturday, while investigators establish the cause of a crash of one of the planes, RIA Novosti reported.

The temporary suspension was imposed after a MiG-31 crashed near the Tsentralnaya Uglovaya airbase outside Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East on Saturday, an Air Force source said. The two-man crew guided the aircraft to a deserted area before ejecting to safety and they were released from hospital on Monday.
The crashed fighter was on its first qualifying flight after a major overhaul. The Defense Ministry announced that one of the MiG-31’s two engines failed just before the accident. Probably both engines could have failed, as most fighters are designed to land single engined.
The Mikoyan MiG-31 is a supersonic interceptor aircraft developed to replace the MiG-25 "Foxbat". The MiG-31 was designed by the Mikoyan design bureau based on the MiG-25.

Textron AirLand Scorpion ISR/Strike Aircraft Makes Maiden Flight

© Textron

Textron AirLand successfully completed the maiden flight of the new tactical twinjet Scorpion Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Strike aircraft, which was announced earlier this year. The Scorpion took off from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas, and flew for 1.4 hours.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Indian Air Force Bids Adieu To Its First Supersonic Aircraft- Mig-21 FL

Indian Air Force (IAF) phased out its first Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-21 fighter variant- Mig-21 FL, an iconic delta-wing fighter aircraft that heralded the 'supersonic era' in IAF.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tranche 3 Eurofighter Begin Flight Tests

The first of the latest Tranche 3 Eurofighter Typhoon made its maiden flight from BAE Systems Warton, Lancashire assembly line. British Single Seat aircraft no.116 took to the skies with pilot Nat Makepeace in the cockpit.
The Tranche 3, represents a major stepping stone in the evolution of Typhoon and will allow it to take on additional capability in the future including e-scan radar, conformal fuel tanks and a high speed data network.

The first Tranche 3 has been produced for the Royal Air Force by the Eurofighter consortium and assembled by BAE.
Mark Kane, BAE Systems Managing Director - Combat Air said: “For casual observers the aircraft is little changed from its sleek predecessor but it has a number of provisions that will allow it to take on additional capability in the future. One of the few visual clues is a number of small panels on the fuselage which are there to accommodate the fitting of conformal fuel tanks.
“Once fitted, these would give the aircraft greater range and free up positions under the aircraft for larger or additional weapons.
“At the nose a new internal structure has been built and work has been carried out on power, cooling and electronics so that a new E-Scan radar could easily be accommodated.”
In November the first in a major series of flight tests to integrate the MBDA Storm Shadow missile onto the aircraft took place. Earlier this year Eurofighter Typhoon announced a contract to develop the integration of the Meteor weapon system.
During the same period another development aircraft has been modified to take an E-Scan radar and is currently being prepared, at Warton, ahead of its first flight.
Under the Tranche 3A contract signed in 2009, a total of 112 aircraft have been ordered for the four European partner nations of Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, with 40 aircraft bound for the Royal Air Force.

Powered by two Eurojet EJ200 engines Typhoon is a multi-role aircraft which can switch easily between being a fighter aircraft as well as a bomber aircraft and can pull up to 9gs..

Boeing Begins B777X Wind Tunnel Testing

Boeing announced today that low-speed wind tunnel tests have begun for the Boeing 777X, a major milestone in airplane development.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

LCA Tejus Successfully Hits Aerial Target

Tejas, India’s first indigenously designed developed and productionised 4th generation+ Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) achieved yet another milestone on Saturday by successfully destroying a towed aerial target with a infrared air to air missile, probably the Russian Vymbel R-73.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Eurofighter Begins Storm Shadow Cruise Missile Integrated Flights

Peru Selects C-27J Spartans

C-27J Spartan. Photo by Tech Sgt. Erin McNamara ©Alenia Aermacchi

Italian Alenia Aermacchi, has won contract to supply the Peruvian Ministry of Defense with 2 C-27J Spartan tactical airlifters valued around 100 million euro inclusive of a substantial logistic support package for the two aircraft.

The C-27J outclassed the strong competition from the Airbus Military C295 airlifter

The C-27J selection process held by the Peruvian MoD was meticulous and lasted almost 3 years. The requirement asked for an aircraft able to operate in total safety in the most difficult conditions as those found over the Andes.

During the operational evaluation run in Peru, the C-27J demonstrated its capability to perform a variety of missions including transport of civilians, troops, materials and medicines, logistical re-supply, MEDEVAC, airdrop operations, search and rescue (SAR), humanitarian assistance and operations in support of homeland security and Civil Protection, with the capability to operate on a large number of airfields where its competitor is unable to land.

The Spartan has already been ordered by the air forces of: Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, Morocco, Mexico, United States, Australia and by an undisclosed African country for a total of 74 aircraft. The aircraft has also been selected by Slovakia and the contract is under negotiation.​

First A400M Prototype Retired

Airbus Military retired its first A400M airlifter prototype nearly four years after its maiden flight.
The development aircraft MSN1 – known as Grizzly 1 – made its final flight from Toulouse, France on 4 November, manned by exactly the same crew that first took it airborne from Seville on 11 December 2009. The aircraft will be now put for public display.
The flight crew included, Experimental Test Pilot Nacho Lombo, Chief Test Pilot Military Ed Strongman, Test Flight Engineer Gerard Leskerpit, Head of A400M Flight Test Eric Isorce, Senior Flight Test Engineer Didier Ronceray, and Senior Flight Test Engineer Jean-Philippe Cottet.
In addition, the third prototype- MSN3 has been placed in long-term storage in flyable condition. Airbus said it could be returned to flight-test duties if required.
The first three aircraft were produced for the core certification programme, requiring extensive test instrumentation for measuring and recording aircraft and systems performance. As that activity winds down, only one of those aircraft – MSN2 – which is fitted with the optimum instrumentation for the remaining work, is now required.
In addition, MSN4 and MSN6 (Grizzly 4 and 5 respectively) will continue to support the flight test activities, now concentrated on the further development of military capabilities, with their specific flight test instrumentation.
MSN1 ultimately flew for 1,448hr 25min in 475 flights and its final mission was a one hour sortie to validate procedures for landing with the ramp and door failed in the open position.
Discussions on its final display site are underway, led by the Airbus Heritage Department, and will lead to a decision next year.
After the flight, Chief Test Pilot Military, Ed Strongman, who commanded the first and last flights, said: “MSN1 has had a relatively short but very arduous life, and it has taken us to the extreme parts of the flight envelope where, I hope, most other A400Ms will not go.
“It has done superb service for Airbus Military and the customers who will benefit from everything that we have learned. It was a great honour for this crew to fly it first on that historic day in 2009, and it is only fitting that the same crew should say good bye to their old friend – Grizzly 1 – today. We trust it will have many more years of productive service, educating the aviation public and inspiring a new generation to seek careers in aerospace.”

The A400M was launched in 2003 to respond to the combined needs of seven European Nations regrouped within OCCAR (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Spain, Turkey and the UK), with Malaysia joining in 2005.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


by Captain PVS Satish
Commander Indian Navy

At the time of attaining our Independence our visionary leaders saw the centrality of a powerful Navy and set us on the right course by envisaging an Indian Navy centred on aircraft carriers for sea control in our expansive areas of maritime interest. INS Vikrant, India’s first aircraft carrier was acquired from Great Britain and commissioned on 04 Mar 1961. INS Vikrant was a Majestic class CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take Off but Arrested Recovery) carrier and operated Sea Hawk fighters, Alize (Anti-Submarine Warfare) aircraft and Seaking helicopters. Consistent with its vision, India next acquired HMS Hermes, a Centaur class STOVL carrier and a veteran of the Falkland War. INS Viraat was commissioned on 12 May 1987 as India’s second aircraft carrier and India’s first STOVL carrier operating the Sea Harrier aircraft. Soon after the acquisition of INS Viraat, INS Vikrant was also converted from a CATOBAR carrier to a STOVL (Short Take-off and Vertical Landing) carrier. INS Vikrant was decommissioned on 31 Jan 1997, after 36 years of glorious service under the Indian ensign. For almost a decade India had two aircraft carriers and the Indian Navy was fully cognisant of the criticality of having an aircraft carrier available for deployment on each seaboard to fulfil the Navy’s assigned tasks. In recognition of the importance of aircraft carriers, the Indian Navy had already started exploring the possibility of indigenously designing and constructing an Aircraft Carrier, this project took off in right earnest in the late 90s as the Air Defence Ship was conceived. However, given the long gestation period of such projects, the search for a replacement for INS Vikrant gained momentum as its decommissioning drew closer.
It was at this juncture that Russia offered Admiral Gorshkov to the Indian Navy. Negotiations over acquiring the 44,500 ton Admiral Gorshkov started in 1994. Various high level delegations who had assessed the ship had independently concluded that the ship’s hull was in good material state and would be worth considering for exploitation in the Indian Navy with a suitable mix of aircraft.

Signing of the Contract
After detailed negotiations the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in Dec 1998 during a visit by Russian PM Yevgeny Primakov. The Inter-Governmental Agreement which included acquisition of Project 11430 (Admiral Gorshkov) was signed between the Federation of Russia and the Union Government of India on 04 Oct 2000. After a Detailed Project Development Review, contractual negotiations and thereafter price negotiations, Government approved the acquisition on 17 Jan 04 at a cost of Rs 4881.67 Cr for the complete package of R&R of the ship, spares, infrastructure augmentation and documentation. The deal was signed on 20 Jan 04 and the effective date of the contract was established as 24 Feb 04. The R&R of the ship commenced from 09 Apr 04.
The repair and refit was being undertaken by FSUE Sevmash, the state owned shipyard at Severodvinsk, Russia. The R&R was scheduled to have been completed within 52 months. Though the refurbishment process was started in right earnest, soon it was realized that the work and equipment requiring replacement was significantly higher than originally estimated. Entire length of cable, large portions of steel hull, motors, turbines and boilers, etc. would have to be completely replaced with resulting in cost escalation and time slippage.
A protracted renegotiation for arriving at a mutually acceptable price for refurbishment was held in the ensuing months. Finally, in Dec 2009, the Indian and the Russian sides arrived at an agreement on the final price of delivery of this ship. More significantly, it was agreed that the delivery of the ship would take place only in the year 2012. Though the re-negotiated price was significantly higher than what was originally agreed upon, the fillip that the addition of Gorshkov would give to the Blue water requirements of Indian Navy compensated the greater price.

The Journey of Admiral Gorshkov (nee Baku)
The journey of ‘Vikramaditya’ began as the Kiev class aircraft carrying cruiser ‘Baku’. Developed from the Moskva class helicopter carrying guided missile cruisers the Kiev class was a pioneering Soviet era design, featuring a flight deck arrangement capable of operating fixed wing VTOL fighters for the first time in the Soviet Navy. Baku was constructed by Chernomorsky Ship Building Enterprise, Nikolayev (now in Ukraine). About 400 enterprises and nearly 1,500 - 2,000 workers from different republics of USSR took part in building of the ship. The ship was commissioned on 20 Dec 1987. Conceived as an armed cruiser, Baku was heavily armed with twelve Anti-Ship Missile launchers, ten gun mounts of differing calibre and rocket launchers and depth charges. The air element comprised Yak-38 aircraft.
‘Baku’ was envisioned to be a full-fledged aircraft carrier by Admiral SG Gorshkov, however, due to conflicting dynamics at that time, the ship turned out as the last ‘compromise’ ship of the Kiev series. After her development and construction, it became clear to the Soviet leadership that the vision of Admiral Gorshkov of a classical aircraft carrier with ship borne aircraft as the primary weapons was indeed the most logical way ahead to develop the surface forces. On 07 Nov 1990, the ship was named after Admiral Sergey Georgiyevich Gorshkov.
Baku/Admiral Gorshkov began its active operational service with the Northern Fleet and was deployed in the Mediterranean Sea and remained in active service till 1992 and thereafter continued in service albeit with limited operational deployments. The ship was finally decommissioned in 1996.

The Transformation Project 11430
Admiral Gorshkov was put in hibernation after her last sailing in 1995. With most of her equipment lying un-utilised since then, the task of breathing life and converting her from a VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) missile cruiser carrier to a STOBAR aircraft carrier involved substantial degutting, equipment removal, refit and re-equipping. The major works envisaged were modification of flight deck to include ski-jump and arrester gear; modification of bulbous bow, aft aircraft lift & ammunition lifts; modification of 1750 out of 2500 compartments; installation of new main boilers; installation of new and additional Diesel Generators; replacement of existing distilling plants; fitment of Reverse Osmosis plants, new AC plants and Refrigeration plants and installation of new sensors and equipment. In 2007, as the refit and repair of the ship was in progress, the yard realized that the scope of work was much larger than initially estimated and so a revised timeline for completion of the task of modernization was agreed upon by both Russian and Indian sides. With a revised timeline the delivery of ship was expected by end 2012.

A Peek at the Scope of Work

The Transition

Creation of Ski Jump

Creation of the flight deck with structural modification to convert the VTOL carrier to a STOBAR carrier was the most intricate and arduous. The task involved installation of Sponsons to increase the breadth at the Flight Deck and a fitment of a new 14 degree Ski jump, strengthening of arresting gear area, strengthening of run way area and elongation of the aft end to generate the required length of landing strip aft of the arresting gear. In all 234 new hull sections were installed to achieve the desired shape. Total steel work for carrying out structural modification on flight deck amounted to 2500T.
Modification of Super structure
The superstructure was modified to accommodate a host of sensors and equipment such as radars, Electronic Warfare suite and Action Information Organisation system and other systems to suit the requirements of ship borne fighters and rotors. A very unique structural modification that was carried out on board the ship was the installation of the aft mast for accommodating various communication antennae.
Machinery Modification
Vikramaditya in its older avatar was powered by boilers fuelled by heavy oil, FFO. The re-equipping included replacement of these old boilers with state of the art boilers utilizing LSHSD and providing a steam capacity of 100 Tonnes per Hour each.

Electrical re-cabling
The initial estimate included replacement of only 1400 kms of old cable with new cables. However, as degutting progressed and confined spaces were accessed it was realised that an additional 900 kms of cable will need to be replaced. Finally the mammoth task involved replacing 2300 kms of cable, which is a little short of half of the entire coastline of India.

The modification plan of Vikramaditya was not restricted to the gears and sparks alone. The change also necessitated revamp of the living spaces and galleys to cater to the needs of the Indian men in uniform. Of 2500 a total of 1750 compartments were completely re-fabricated. A host of new galley equipment suited for preparation of Indian food like dosas and chapatis was also installed.

Arrestor and Restraining Gears

The conversion of VTOL carrier to STOBAR involved fitment of three 30m wide arrester gears and three restraining gears. Installation of these equipment not only involved modification and strengthening of the flight deck but also changes to internal layout of compartments.
To sum it up, a total of 234 new hull sections were fabricated using 2500 tonnes of steel which is almost equivalent to the standard displacement of a mid-size frigate. Repair and re-equipping of Vikramaditya to give a new lease of life as a full- fledged carrier was no mean task and was probably as demanding a task as constructing a similar tonnage ship from the drawing board. The task was enabled by the expertise and experience of the Russian designers and yard workers working hand in glove with Indian experts. The extreme cold weather conditions of winter only made the work environment harder. At the end of this refit, spanning a little short of a decade, Vikramaditya has metamorphosed into a fully capable and potent platform.
Rise of the Phoenix …
Vikramaditya sailed for the first time under own power at 1200 hrs on 10 Jun 12, after a gap of about 17 years.

The New Avtar ‘Vikramaditya’
photo: Sevmash
An aircraft carrier carrying potent long range multi-role fighters is a platform inherently deigned for power projection. In as much as ‘Gorshkov’ was transformed to create ‘Vikramaditya’, so also Vikramaditya will transform the face of the Fleet Air Arm of the Indian Navy.
Vikramaditya, the floating airfield has an overall length of about 284 meters and a maximum beam of about 60 meters, stretching as much as three football fields put together. Standing about 20 storeys tall from keel to the highest point, the sheer sight of this 44,500 tonnes mega structure of steel is awe inspiring. The ship has a total of 22 decks. 

With over 1,600 personnel on board, Vikramaditya is literally a ‘Floating City’. Associated with this large population is a mammoth logistics requirement - nearly a lakh of eggs, 20,000 litres of milk and 16 tonnes of rice per month. With her complete stock of provisions, she is capable of sustaining herself at sea for a period of about 45 days. With a capacity of over 8,000 tonnes of LSHSD, she is capable of operations up to a range of over 7,000 nautical miles or 13000 kms.
To enable this 44,500 tonnes floating steel city to cut through the choppy seas with speeds of up to 30 knots, she is powered by 08 new generation boilers of steam capacity of 100 TPH at a very high pressure of 64 bars, generating a total output power of 180,000 SHP. Vikramaditya heralds in a new generation of boiler technology with a very high level of automation. These high pressure and highly efficient boilers power four enormous propellers, each greater in diameter than twice the height of an average male. Such a four propeller - four shaft configuration is another first in the Indian Navy.
The 06 turbo alternators and 06 diesel alternators onboard generate a total electricity of 18 megawatts to power various equipment of the ship, enough to cater to the lighting requirement of a mini city. The ship also houses 02 Reverse Osmosis plants providing an uninterrupted supply of 400 Tons per day of fresh water.
An extensive revamp of sensors including fitment of Long range Air Surveillance Radars, Advanced Electronic Warfare Suite makes the ship capable of maintaining a surveillance bubble of over 500 kms around the ship.
Russian MIG-29K onboard Vikramaditya

The ship has the ability to carry over 30 aircraft comprising an assortment of MiG 29K/Sea Harrier, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Sea King, ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters. The MiG 29K swing role fighter is the main offensive platform and provides a quantum jump for the Indian Navy’s maritime strike capability. These fourth generation air superiority fighters provide a significant fillip for the Indian Navy with a range of over 700 nm (extendable to over 1,900 nm with inflight refueling) and an array of weapons including anti-ship missiles, Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missiles, guided bombs and rockets.
The ship is equipped with state of the art launch and recovery systems along with aids to enable smooth and efficient operation of ship borne aircraft. Major systems include the LUNA Landing system for MiGs, DAPS Landing system for Sea Harriers and Flight deck lighting systems.
The heart of the operational network that infuses life into the combat systems onboard the ship is the Computer aided Action Information Organisation (CAIO) system, LESORUB-E. LESORUB has the capability to gather data from ship’s sensors and data links and to process, collate and assemble comprehensive tactical pictures. This state of the art system has been specifically designed keeping in mind the essential requirement on the carrier for fighter control and direction.
One of the most prominent equipment fitted on the super structure is the Resistor-E radar complex. Resistor-E is the automated system designed for providing air traffic control, approach/landing and short range navigation for ship borne aircraft. This complex along with its various sub-systems provides navigation and flight data to ship borne aircraft operating at extended ranges from the mother ship. The precision approach guidance system aids the fighters on approach to be directed down to a distance of 30 meters short of flight deck. Vikramaditya also boasts of a very modern communication complex, CCS MK II, to meet her external communication requirement. Installation of Link II tactical data system allows her to be fully integrated with the Indian Navy’s network centric operations.
Once integrated, INS Vikramaditya will bring transformational capabilities to the Indian Navy and will be a ‘game changer’.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

PSLV Successfully Orbits Indian Mars Spacecraft

India's first interplanetary mission to planet Mars- Mars Orbitor Mission (MOM) with an orbiter craft Mangalyaan, designed to orbit Mars, successfully made its lift-off abroad the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
The Mars Orbiter Spacecraft lifted off at 14:36 hrs IST, onboard PSLV-C25 (in its XL version), from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.
The orbiter will remain in Earth orbit till December 1 when it starts its 300-day voyage to Mars. The probe is expected to reach Mars orbit by September 24, 2014 and go around in an elliptical orbit with a perigee 366 km and apogee of 80,000 km after traversing 400 million km.
The Mars Orbiter carries five indigenous scientific instruments — Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP), Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM), Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA), Mars Colour Camera (MCC) and Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS).
PSLV-XL version, carries more solid fuel in its strap-on motors than the standard version, was also used to launch the ISRO's maiden moon mission Chandrayan in 2008.
More here

Payload Details

Launch Vehicle Details

Mission Profile

Monday, November 4, 2013

First Tranche 3 Eurofighter Completes Engine Ground Runs


The first Tranche 3 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter, BS116 has successfully completed engine ground runs at BAE Systems de-tuner facility at Warton, United Kingdom.
The final Tranche 3 series jets offers additional capability in the future including e-scan radar, conformal fuel tanks and a high speed data network.
The engine ground runs were carried out in 3 distinct phases:
Green Screens
Involving a final check of the airframe for foreign object debris (FOD) using a wire mesh screen attached directly to the front of the engine. The engines are then started up and any FOD that has not been found in the production process, through manual and X-ray searches, is sucked towards the engine and caught on the green screen.
Installation runs
Carried out by the on-site Rolls Royce representative, each engine is operated individually before both are fired up together and run through the full performance range all the way up to maximum re-heat. These are the final checks and sign-off to ensure the engines meet all of the performance and design criteria.
Stage Cs
Once the engines have been certified as fully serviceable, tests were carried out to check the environmental control system, that’s cooling for the avionic equipment and also for the pilot, the fuel system to make sure the engine receives fuel in the correct way, life support to make sure the pilot’s oxygen generation system works, the electrical power generation to ensure it’s working correctly and also the hydraulic system that supplies the flying control system.
Engine ground runs are the last stage of testing before the aircraft makes its first flight which is currently on target to take place before the year end.
Tranche 3 capability includes over 350 modified parts designed, engineered and assembled ready to incorporate the most advanced capability enhancements.
Under the Tranche 3A contract signed in 2009, a total of 112 aircraft have been ordered for the four European partner nations of Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, with 40 aircraft bound for the Royal Air Force.
Typhoon is a multi-role combat aircraft, capable of being deployed in the full spectrum of air operations, from air policing, to peace support, through to high intensity conflict. It is powered by 2 Eurojet EJ200 turbojet engines with a thrust of 20,000lbs each.

Final A350 XWB Flight Test Aircraft Enters Final Assembly

Airbus has began assembly of the fifth and final A350 XWB flight test prototype aircraft and which is now underway with the fuselage joining process. This follows the recent arrival of the three fuselage sections at the A350 XWB final assembly line in Toulouse, France.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

SkunkWorks Propose Hypersonic SR-72 as Successor to SR-71 Blackbird

                     Photo:©Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin’s elite aircraft design house- Skunk Works® is developing a new hypersonic aircraft for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions with optional strike capability, as a successor to the SR-71 Blackbird, which was retired in 1998.

The twin engined aircraft dubbed the SR-72, is envisioned as an unmanned aircraft, that would fly at speeds up to Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound. At this speed, the aircraft would be so fast, an adversary would have no time to react or hide, that is hypersonics is the stealth.

“Hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles, could penetrate denied airspace and strike at nearly any location across a continent in less than an hour,” said Brad Leland, Lockheed Martin program manager, Hypersonics.

“Speed is the next aviation advancement to counter emerging threats in the next several decades. The technology would be a game-changer in theater, similar to how stealth is changing the battlespace today.”

The SR-72’s design incorporates lessons learned from the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2), which flew to a top speed of Mach 20, or 13,000 mph, with a surface temperature of 3500°F.

SkunkWorks engineer's in partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA), developed the rocket-launched Falcon HTV-2.

© Lockheed Martin
The HTV-2 research and development project was designed to collect data on three technical challenges of hypersonic flight: aerodynamics; aerothermal effects; and guidance, navigation and control.

Lockheed proposes the SR-72 as a affordable hypersonic plane that does not have to be an expensive, distant possibility and could be operational by 2030.

For the past several years, Skunk Works® has been working with Aerojet Rocketdyne to develop a method to integrate an off-the-shelf turbine with a supersonic combustion ramjet air breathing jet engine to power the aircraft from standstill to Mach 6.

The result is the SR-72 that Aviation Week has dubbed “ son of Blackbird,” featuring integrated engine and airframe that is optimized at the system level for high performance and affordability.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Raytheon SM-3 Block IIA Missile Completes Critical Design Review

A new, more powerful version of the missile-hunting Standard Missile-3 has passed from design to the testing phase, Raytheon announced during a conference in Poland on Wednesday, Oct. 30.
The new Standard Missile-3 Block IIA, developed in cooperation with Japanese Mitsubishi, features a larger kinetic warhead and bigger rocket motors that allow it to defend broader areas from ballistic missile threats. The SM-3 Block IIA is also the centerpiece of the European missile defense system.
The Critical Design Review verified that the missile’s design will meet the stringent performance requirements necessary to defeat threats and keep the program on track for 2015 flight testing.
This announcement followed the recent 26th successful intercept of another variant, the SM-3 IB, in early in October.
The Standard Missile-3 Block IIA will be deployable on land as well as at sea. It will have two distinct new features: larger second and third stage rocket motors and a different version of the kinetic warhead, which destroys threats by slamming into them.
The announcement was made on the sidelines of the 2013 AIAA Multinational Ballistic Missile Defense Conference in Warsaw. More than 300 participants from 20 nations gathered at the conference to discuss the increased role of missile defense on a global scale.
Potentially, ships using either SMART-L radars or the Aegis system could carry SM-3, Kremer said.
Beyond the current cooperative development agreement between the U.S. and Japan for SM-3 Block IIA, other navies have expressed interest in the interceptor, including the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Denmark.
To date, more than 155 SM-3s have been delivered to the U.S. and Japanese navies.

Tyndall F-22 Raptor Crash Due to Internal Fire

A chafed electrical wire, which arced and led to an internal fire, caused an USAF F-22A Raptor stealth fighter to crash at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, on Nov. 15, 2012, according to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report.

Mexican Superjets Report Successful Operation

Starting from their Entry Into Service on September 18, 2013, the first two Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft operated by the Mexican airline Interjet have confirmed outstanding results in terms of operations.
In the first 4 weeks of operations both aircraft (MSN 95023 and MSN 95024) have operated with an average daily utilization of 9.74 block hours and a dispatch reliability of 99.03%.
According to the airline’s operational reliability report, to date the two Interjet SSJ100 have completed almost 600 flight hours and over 580 flight cycles during their commercial operations. The aircraft registered 7 delays with an average delay time of 23 minutes in the first month of operations. Both aircraft are operating from Mexico City to various Mexican destinations: Torreon, Aguascalientes, Campeche, Minatitlan, Zacatecas, Mazatlan.
The longest flight performed is Mazatlan-Mexico City (1H 43’), while the shortest one is Mexico City- Aguascalientes (0 H 42’). The maximum utilization in a day was over 11 flight hours.
Interjet is the first Western airline operating the SSJ100 aircraft. The third aircraft (MSN 95028) is expected to be delivered shortly from SuperJet International’s hangar in Venice (Italy).
The Sukhoi Superjet 100, designed and produced by Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company, in partnership with Alenia Aermacchi, incorporates the most modern Western systems technology and is powered by two PowerJet SaM146 turbofan engines. As of today 20 SSJ100 aircraft have been delivered to different customers.

Pilot Error Caused USAF F-16D Crash in June

U.S Air Force officials released the investigation report of an F-16D Fighting Falcon crash on June 26 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.
The investigation determined the mishap was due to the pilot’s decision-making error after the aircraft suffered low-altitude bird strikes following takeoff.
The mishap instructor pilot and mishap student pilot, assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing’s 309th Fighter Squadron, were executing a planned touch-and-go training exercise when the aircraft’s engine ingested several birds resulting in degraded engine performance.
The Accident Investigation Board found evidence that the cause of the mishap was a result of the pilot erroneously electing to make an immediate turn that robbed the aircraft of altitude and airspeed, rather than climbing straight ahead to achieve minimum maneuvering speed for aircraft recovery. The mishap instructor pilot’s channelized attention and breakdown of visual scan limited the time to fully analyze the situation and successfully recover flight. All of the factors substantially contributed to the aircraft mishap.
Both pilots were able to safely exit the aircraft, suffering only minor injuries. There were no fatalities or significant injuries, and only limited damage to civilian property. The estimated damage costs are approximately $22 million.

F-35A Launches AMRAAM Successfully

The F-35 Lightning II executed its first live-fire launch of a guided air-to-air missile over a military test range off the California coast on Oct. 30.

Boeing 737 Production to Reach 47 Per Month by 2017

RENTON, Washington,
Boeing announced today that production the B737 program will increase to 47 airplanes per month in 2017, the highest rate ever for the best-selling airliner in history.
Once implemented, the 737 program will build more than 560 airplanes per year, and will have increased output by nearly 50 percent since 2010.
"We're taking this step to make sure our airplanes get into the hands of our customers when they need them," saidBeverly Wyse, vice president and general manager, 737 Program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Our employees and our suppliers have successfully increased the production rate to unmatched levels over the last three years. This increase will lay a solid foundation as we bridge into production on the 737 MAX."
Boeing currently produces 38 airplanes per month from its Renton, Wash., factory and will increase the rate to 42 per month in the first half of 2014. First delivery of the 737 MAX is on track for third quarter of 2017.
"With the continuing strong demand we are seeing in the market for the 737, we expect to keep employees busy in Renton making this amazing airplane for years to come," said Wyse.
The rate increase announced today is not expected to have a significant impact on 2013 financial results.
Boeing's highly efficient and reliable 737 family is the proven market leader. To date, 266 customers worldwide have placed more than 11,200 orders for the single-aisle airplane – including more than 6,500 orders for the Next-Generation 737 and more than 1,600 orders for the 737 MAX. Boeing currently has more than 3,400 unfilled orders across the 737 family.