Thursday, May 30, 2013

Final Operational Clearance for LCA-Tejus in 2014

LCA at Leh during winter trials

Indian Defence Minister Shri AK Antony expressed optimism that the country’s indigenously developed fighter aircraft- LCA TEJAS- will get Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of the Indian Air Force by the end of 2014.
Speaking at the Annual Awards Functions of Defence Research Development Organisation, he said, all stakeholders including the DRDO, IAF and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited must put their energy together in a focused manner to achieve this objective.
The FOC is the final nod required before an aircraft is considered to be ready for operational deployment in an air force.
Tejas has completed a total of 2175 test flights successfully as on 26 May without any incidents.
The LCA Tejas received Initial Operation Clearance (IOC) in January 2011.
Indian Air Force has ordered 40 Tejas Mark-I aircrafts, out of which 20 in IOC standards, while the rest in FOC standards.
While the first 40 Tejas Mark-I variants will be powered by the GE-404 engines, the next six Mark-II variant squadrons (16-18 jets in each) will have the more powerful GE F-414 engines.
Tejus would replace the ageing Soviet-era MiG-21s with IAF, which had earned the sobriquet ’flying coffins’ due to crashes.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

USAF MQ-1 Predator UAV Clocks 20000 Flight Hours in Afghan

An MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle takes off from Creech Air Force Base, Nev., May 11, for a training sortie over the Nevada desert. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

A US Air Force's MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft operating from Kandahar Airbase in Afghanistan recently became the first Predator to pass 20,000 flying hours, a feat equivalent to flying 15 hours every other day, for 2,667 days.
This is the first airframe to accumulate 20,000 flying hours individually.
Predator remotely piloted aircraft program had earlier surpassed one million hours of total development, test, training and combat in August 2011.
The aircraft are operated by the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, U.S. crews located stateside and Royal Air Force crews in the United Kingdom.
The MQ-1B Predator is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily against dynamic execution targets. Given its significant loiter time, wide-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite, and precision weapons, it provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination and reconnaissance (SCAR) against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets.
Predators can also perform intelligence, surveillance,reconnaissance, close air support, combat search and rescue, precision strike, buddy-lase, convoy/raid overwatch, route clearance, target development, and terminal air guidance missions.
The Predator carries the Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which integrates an infrared sensor, color/monochrome daylight TV camera, image-intensified TV camera, laser designator and laser illuminator. The full-motion video from each of the imaging sensors can be viewed as separate video streams or fused.
The aircraft can employ two laser-guided missiles, Air-to-Ground Missile-114 Hellfire, that possess highly accurate, low-collateral damage, and anti-armor, anti-personnel engagement capabilities.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

F-35 ITF Completing Night Flight Certification

F-35 with full afterburner engaged (Courtesy Photo by Tom Reynolds/Lockheed Martin)

The F-35 Integrated Test Force is completing a series of night flights, which are testing the aircraft's capability when flying in instrument meteorological conditions.

It is a necessary step in delivering a core ability to fly the jet safely when there are no external visibility references for the pilot.

For safety purposes and to ensure decision-quality data is collected, the ITF uses a build-up approach to conduct the night flights.

Pilots began with flying in visual meteorological conditions, familiarizing themselves with the F-35's leading-edge instrumentation.

Simulator flights, which occurred in February, also helped pilots prepare for the missions.
When the ITF completes the night flights, a variety of capabilities will have been tested including ground operations and the pilot's ability to maneuver the aircraft without becoming disoriented.

(Courtesy Photo by Tom Reynolds/Lockheed Martin)
The test team is also evaluating the navigation systems, data from the instrument landing system, how well the radios work.

From ground operations to landing and taxiing the aircraft, each mission is packed with test points, so the test team gets the most out of each flight.

Insitu RQ-21A Integrator Approved for Low-Rate Initial Production

RQ-21A Integrator ©INSITU

Insitu's RQ-21A unmanned air system has reached Milestone C under the Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS) contract with US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

Boeing Begins Certification Testing on 747-8 Performance Improvements

Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental wide-body jet airliner successfully completed its first test flight this week with a package of performance improvements including enhanced General Electric engines.
This package is designed to improve the fuel efficiency of the jetliner.
With Boeing Flight Test and Evaluation Capt. Kirk Viningand Chief Pilot Capt. Mark Feuerstein at the controls, the airplane took off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, on May 21 at 1:30 p.m. local time and landed at Boeing Field in Seattle approximately four hours later.
The airplane Performance Improvement Package (PIP) includes improvements to the GEnx-2B engines and Flight Management Computer (FMC) software.
These new improvements will give operators an airplane that is an additional 1.8 percent more efficient.
The test program will also validate the design changes and demonstrate the operation of the horizontal tank fuel system on the passenger version of the 747-8, which was deferred from the initial deliveries.
The new configuration will first deliver in early 2014 and be available for retrofit. Entry into service of the new engines and FMC software will take place in late 2013.
The 747-8 is the fourth-generation Boeing 747 version, with lengthened fuselage , redesigned wings, and improved efficiency. The 747-8 is the largest 747 version, the largest commercial aircraft built in the United States, and the longest passenger aircraft in the world.
The 747-8 is offered in two main variants: the 747-8 Intercontinental (747-8I) for passengers and the 747-8 Freighter (747-8F) for cargo.
In April Boeing announced that it will adjust the production rate for the 747-8 program from two airplanes to 1.75 airplanes per month because of lower market demand for large passenger and freighter airplanes.
To date, there are 110 orders for passenger and cargo versions of the 747-8, 46 of which have been delivered.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Northrop Grumman, U.S. Navy Complete Triton Unmanned Aircraft's First Flight

MQ-4C Triton (Northrop Grumman photo by Bob Brown)

The Northrop Grumman Corporation built MQ-4C Triton high-altitude unmanned aircraft successfully completed its first flight today from the company's manufacturing facility in Palmdale.        
Triton is specially designed to fly surveillance missions up to 24 hours at altitudes of more than 10 miles – allowing coverage out to 2,000 nautical miles. The advanced suite of sensors can detect and automatically classify different types of ships.
"First flight represents a critical step in maturing Triton's systems before operationally supporting the Navy's maritime surveillance mission around the world," said Capt. James Hoke, Triton program manager with Naval Air Systems Command. "Replacing our aging surveillance aircraft with a system like Triton will allow us to monitor ocean areas significantly larger with greater persistence."
A Navy and Northrop Grumman flight test team conducted about a 1.5-hour flight that started at 7:10 a.m. from Palmdale.
Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor to the Navy's MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program.
"Triton is the most advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance [ISR] unmanned aircraft system ever designed for use across vast ocean areas and coastal regions," said Mike Mackey, Northrop Grumman Triton UAS deputy program director. "Through a cooperative effort with the Navy and our industry partners, we successfully demonstrated the flight control systems that allow Triton to operate autonomously. We couldn't be prouder of the entire team for this achievement."
Additional flight tests will take place from Palmdale to mature the system before being flown to the main flight test facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., later this year.
In 2008, Northrop Grumman was awarded a systems development and demonstration contract to build two aircraft and test them in preparation for operational missions.
The Navy's program of record calls for 68 Tritons to be built.
Triton carries a variety of ISR sensor payloads that allow military commanders to gather high-resolution imagery, use radar to detect targets, and provide airborne communications and information sharing capabilities to military units across long distances.
At 130.9 feet, Triton has a wingspan larger than the world's most common commercial airliner, the Boeing 737. Combined with an efficient engine and other aerodynamic design features, Triton can fly 11,500 miles without refueling.
Northrop Grumman's Triton industry team includes Aurora Flight Sciences, BAE Systems, Curtis-Wright Corporation, L3 Communications, Raytheon, Rolls-Royce, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Vought Aircraft Industries.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

F-35B Completes First Vertical Takeoff


Lockheed Martin F-35B Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STOVL) Lightning II test aircraft recently completed the first-ever Vertical Takeoff (VTO) on May 10.
The Vertical Take off capablitiy is one of the many capabilities required for the fielding an F-35B aircraft. While not a combat capability, VTOs are required for repositioning of the STOVL in environments where a jet could not perform a short takeoff. In these cases, the jet, with a limited amount of fuel, would execute a VTO to travel a short distance.
A shaft-driven LiftFan propulsion system built by Rolls-Royce is incorporated at the aft of F-35B's cockpit to accomplish the STOVL capabilities.
The F-35B will replace the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier II fighter aircrafts currently in service with the United States Marine Corps (USMC). It will also replace GR7, GR9 and Sea Harrier aircraft deployed in the fleet of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

Saab SKELDAR V-200 Vertical Lift UAS Successfully Completes Flight Test

Swedish Saab has successfully completed flight trials of its Skeldar, medium-range UAV system.
A number a key capabilities of Skeldar V-200 vertical lift UAS were verified through flight campaigns at different sites in US and Sweden demonstrating the system’s performance for both land and sea based operations.
A number of successful customer demonstration flights have also been conducted, company said in a press release.
High complexity flight envelopes such as fully autonomous flights were conducted in both day and night conditions demonstrating convoy shadowing capability, EO/IR sensor utilization, precision landing as well as long range missions using Tactical Hand-Over between Ground Control Stations using Saab’s flexible stationary and mobile ground control station.

In addition, a heavy fuel engine has now been verified through extensive flight trials and an upgraded next generation version of the original design aviation fuel engine has been delivered and is now cleared for flight test.
The Skeldar V-200's major mission capabilities include surveillance, reconnaissance, target attainment and transfer of target data.
Designed based on the CybAero APID 55 airframe, the Skeldar V-200 features a compact layout with segments for accommodating various payload reconfigurations.
Skeldar UAV is powered by a two-cylinder, in-line, two-stroke, liquid cooled internal combustion engine. The engine is rated at 55hp and runs at a constant 6,000rpm. It is equipped with an electronic fuel injection / ignition system.
The UAV can fly at a maximum altitude of 4,500m. Its maximum speed is 130km/h and endurance is five hours. The maximum take-off weight is 200kg.
The mission radius is more than 100km.
Skeldar V-200 has a length of four metres, width of 1.2m and a height of 1.3m. The rotor diameter is 4.7m. The UAV can carry a maximum payload weight of 40kg.

Cessna Turbo Skylane JT-A™ Makes First Production Flight

Cessna Skylane JT-A
Cessna announced its first production flight of its latest Skylane variant Turbo Skylane 182 JT-A light utility aircraft on May 21 at its facility in Independence, Kansas. The aircraft has the distinction of being the first modern single engine aircraft powered by a piston engine specifically designed to run on Jet-A fuel.

“The Turbo Skylane JT-A performed just as expected,” said Cessna senior test pilot Dale Bleakney. “The weather conditions were fantastic, and we took the turbo 182 up for what turned out to be a very normal first flight. We flew for 2.3 hours, achieved a flight level of 8,000 feet, and attained a trueair speed of 158 kts. We brought it in and did some takeoffs and landings, and everything went as expected.”
The Turbo Skylane JT-A has a seating capacity for four and an estimated range at max cruise speed of 1,025 nautical miles (1,893 kilometers).
The certified ceiling will be 20,000 feet (6,096 meters). The Garmin G1000 avionics suite is pilot-friendly and highly-functional, bringing great levels of situational awareness to the cockpit.
The engine diagnostics are shown on the primary and multi-function flight displays. Fuel capacity is 87 useful gallons (329 liters),with an estimated useful load of 1,018 pounds (462 kilograms).
The Safran-made SMA engine in the Turbo Skylane JT-A uses only 11 gallons per hour of the typically lower-cost Jet-A fuel at the estimated maximum cruise speed of 156 knots. The 227 horsepower engine will offer customers increased range or payload capacity without sacrificing performance. Flight at the maximum cruise speed demonstrates greater fuel efficiency, and it is expected to burn approximately 30 percent to 40 percent less fuel than comparable avgas engines.

Syrian S-300 Batteries Would Imparts Powerful Deterrance Against Israeli Airstrikes

S300 Air Defense System

According to reliable sources, at least one shipment of Russian-made NPO Almaz S-300 missiles has been transferred to Syria.
If true, these S-300 missile batteries would give Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime a powerful detterance against foreign air strikes.
Israel is particularly concerned by the deployment of the missiles as the S-300 is reportedly able to overcome the self-defences abroad its fighter jets.
The S-300 system is regarded as one of the most potent anti-aircraft missile systems currently fielded, although not combat proven.
The system's radar is able to simultaneously track up to 100 targets while engaging up to 12. Deployment time for the S-300 is five minutes, and they have a very long life span due to canisterisation, with no maintenance needed.
On May 14 Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow to urge Russian president Vladimir Putin to halt the transfer of these state-of-the-art anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, but Moscow rejected Israeli plea.
On May 16 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defended the arms sale, claiming that these missiles are defensive systems and not offensive. In a statement that observers see as a veiled warning to Israel and the U.S., he said “Those who do not plan aggressive actions against a sovereign state have nothing to worry about, because air defense methods - and this is clear from the name - are a purely defensive system required to repel air attacks.”
The S-300 is designed to shoot down planes and missiles at 125-mile (200-km) ranges, at an altitude of 30 km. It would supplement Syria's current Russian-supplied now obsolete S-200 air defense system.
The S-300 missile is 7 metres long and weighs 1.5 ton. It's armed with a warhead weighing more than 70kg.
The Syrian strategic Surface to Air Missile (SAM) network relies primarily on Soviet-era systems.
The Syrian Air Defense Force controls twenty-five air defense brigades, each with six SAM batteries, and is one of the densest air defense networks in the region, than that of Iran.
Syria ordered four S-300 batteries from Russia for $900 million, in 2007.
The package included six launchers and 144 missiles.
But it is doubtful whether the Syrian military currently would be able to absorb these complex systems. Integration of such systems requires, significant operational training spanning years, establish facilities for operation and maintenance. Furthermore, it is doubtful about Syrian capabilities to secure these systems from Israeli sensors during transit.
Russia has already delivered Pantsyr-S1 short range mobile air defense system, for protection of mobile forces and point targets in 2009.
If deployed, it would be a quantum leap in Syria’s air defense capability and pose a strong challenge to any possible aerial adventure from Israel and US.
Israel also fears that, these advanced Russian weapons could fall into the hands of Hezbollah, a key Syrian ally in neighboring Lebanon.

Monday, May 20, 2013

More HELLFIRE Missiles For British Apache Helicopters

                                               Apache with Hellfire missiles © 2013 Lockheed Martin Corporation

UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) has signed a £15 million ($22.8) contract with Lockheed Martin to replenish the British Army's stock of supersonic Hellfire air–to–ground precision missiles used by Apache helicopters.
The 100-pound (45kg) Hellfire is the primary weapon of Apache attack helicopter.
The missile is extensively used by British forces in Afghanistan, and also proved itself repeatedly during the Libya campaign when Apaches flew from the deck of HMS Ocean against Colonel Gaddafi’s forces.
Each Apache can carry up to 16 Hellfires, which are mounted in sets of 4 beneath the helicopter’s stub-wing pylons.
Each missile has its own guidance computer, steering control and propulsion systems, which help to ensure precision targeting.
The air-to-surface missile can reach a speed of 425 metres per second; which means it takes fewer than 20 seconds to reach a target 5 miles away.
The combat proven hellfire tactical missile system can be launched from multiple air, sea, and ground platforms, offering multi–mission, multi-target capability and precision–strike lethality.
Designed to hunt and destroy tanks, the fearsome Apache helicopter is capable of flying at 205mph and boasts a mix of weapons including a wing-mounted aerial rocket, Hellfire laser-guided missiles and a 30mm chain gun.
The aircraft is operated with two crew members - a pilot and co-pilot gunner who usually operates the weapon systems.
Seen as the attack aircraft of choice in Afghanistan, it is heralded as one of the most important weapons systems to enter service with the Army since the tank in 1916, and is said to have significantly increased the force's operational capability.
It can fly in all weathers from Arctic cold to desert heat, operate day or night, and detect, classify and prioritise up to 256 potential targets in seconds.
The Apache is powered by two Rolls-Royce engines with built-in particle separators for desert operations.
The first British Apaches, built by AgustaWestland based in Yeovil, Somerset,came into service with the Army Air Corps (AAC) in 2001 and went on to be widely used in Afghanistan.
UK forces in Helmand Province have employed the aircraft to hunt and kill Taliban fighters, gather intelligence and provide cover for larger Chinook helicopters transporting troops and vital supplies.
It uses night vision systems and CCD TV target trackers and is also fitted with high-tech radar and thermal imaging equipment that allows the crew of two to pinpoint targets with great accuracy even if they are hidden behind foliage.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Raytheon Delivers Electronic Jamming Capability for Gray Eagle UAS

Raytheon has delivered two electronic attack payloads in support of the U.S. Army's Networked Electronic Warfare, Remotely Operated (NERO) system.
The payloads were delivered as part of a contract awarded by the U.S. Navy NAVSEA-Crane in 2012.
NERO is utilized on the US Army's MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS (Umanned Aircraft System) as an airborne electronic attack system capable of jamming enemy communications systems.
The NERO system builds on the success of the Army's Communications Electronic Attack with Surveillance and Reconnaissance (CEASAR) program. By migrating the same pod system and advanced capability to the Gray Eagle, NERO is capable of two- to three-times longer missions with reduced operating costs compared with the current C-12 based CEASAR system. It also reduces risk to the warfighter by being mounted onto an unmanned platform.
CEASAR, first awarded in 2010, was mounted onto a Beechcraft King Air C-12 aircraft and uses the same lightweight pod as NERO.
Both systems enable the Army to control use of the electromagnetic spectrum by providing beyond line of sight jamming capability to support ground troop operations.
CEASAR and NERO counter military and commercial communication systems in today's operations and are adaptable to counter the next generation of enemy threats.

F-35A Successfully Completes High Angle Of Attack Testing


Lockheed Martin F-35A conventional take off and landing (CTOL ) variant has successfully completed its high angle of attack (AOA) testing recently.
The testing accomplished high AOA beyond both the positive and negative maximum command limits, including intentionally putting the aircraft out of control in several configurations. This included initially flying in the stealth clean wing configuration.
High angle of attack increases the airplane's maneuvering abilities, which is crucial for dog fighting.
It was followed by testing with external air-to-air pylons and missiles and then with open weapon bay doors. The F-35A began edge-of-the-envelope high AOA testing in the fall 2012.
For all testing, recovery from out of control flight has been 100 percent successful without the use of the spin recovery chute, which is carried to maximize safety.
In November 2012 F-35A achieved its highest angle of attack (AOA) of 50 degree.

Indian Navy's First Boeing P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft Arrives in India

Indian Navy P-8I MPA
Indian Naval Aviation received a major fillip with the arrival of the first of the eight Boeing P-8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti Submarine Warfare (LRMRASW) aircraft at its Naval Air Station Rajali (Arakkonam) on 15 May 2013.

Vice Admiral Bimal Kumar Verma, Chief of Staff (Eastern Naval Command) received the aircraft in a function organized at INS Rajali.

P-8I will bolster India's maritime surveillance capability in the Indian Ocean Region, and is one of most advanced weapon system, only second to US Navy P-8A variant.

P-8I will replace the ageing fleet of Tupolev Tu-142 aircrafts that are in service with the Indian Navy.

The Indian navy is the first international customer for the P-8. Boeing signed the $2.1 billion contract on Jan. 1, 2009. The remaining seven aircrafts would be delivered over the next two years.

The P-8I Poseidon is based on the commercial Boeing 737-800(NG) airframe, is the Indian variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing has developed for the US Navy.

P-8I is capable of long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in broad-area, maritime and littoral operations.

The Indian Navy is in process of procuring an additional four P-8I aircraft under the option clause.
The forward section of the under-fuselage houses an internal weapons bay. The wings are fitted with hardpoints for carrying air-to-surface missiles.

The internal weapons bay will carry Mark 54 torpedoes, depth charges and free-fall bombs.
It will carry the deadly harpoon block II anti ship missile which has a range of 124 km. In December 2010, India requested the sale of 24 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II.

The aircraft is equipped with a CAE AN/ASQ-508A magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) system for detecting submarines, APS-143C(V)3 multimode radar and a global version of the Raytheon APY-10 surveillance radar.

The APY-10 radar provides precise information in all weather, day and night missions.
As India refused to sign the Communications Interoperability & Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) with US, advanced systems like Raytheon IFF transponder (Mode IV Crypto), SINCGARS radio, TACTERM/ADVT secure voice (HF) terminals and Rockwell-Collins SATCOM transceivers where withheld.

Indian Navy plugged the CISMOA-induced gaps on the P-8I by integrating Indian systems like BEL Data Link II communications system, Avantel mobile satellite system and a speech secrecy system from Electronics Corporation of India(ECIL).

The P-8I aircraft is powered by two CFM56-7 engines which provides a take-off thrust of 27,300lb. The engines are equipped with a new-generation full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system.

The P-8I aircraft can fly at a maximum speed of 789 km/h. It can reach a maximum altitude of 12,496m. The aircraft has a maximum range of 2,222 km with four hours on station, and has a maximum take-off gross weight of 85,139 kg.

P-8I aircraft is manufactured by a Boeing-led industry team, comprising of CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation. The aircraft is built at Boeing's production facility in Renton, Washington.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

X-47B successfully takes off from Aircraft Carrier


Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy today launched a new chapter in the history of unmanned systems by successfully catapulting the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator from the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush(CVN-77).

The launch occurred at 11:18 a.m. Eastern time while the carrier was under way off the coast of Virginia.

"Catapulting the unmanned X-47B off the USS George H.W. Bush is an event as historic as the Navy's first catapult of a manned aircraft, which occurred in Nov. 1915 from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina (ACR-12)," said Carl Johnson, vice president and Navy UCAS program manager for Northrop Grumman.

Completing another important first for the UCAS-D program, the team demonstrated the ability to precisely navigate the X-47B within the controlled airspace around an aircraft carrier at sea and seamlessly pass control of the air vehicle from a "mission operator" aboard the carrier to one located in the Mission Test Control Center at NAS Patuxent River for landing.

The tailless, strike-fighter-sized aircraft flew autonomously back to Naval Air Station Patuxent River where it landed safely 65 minutes later.
Over the next few weeks, the X-47B aircraft will fly approaches to the ship multiple times and eventually land on the pitching flight deck, said Navy UCAS Program Manager Capt. Jaime Engdahl.

Prior to the catapult launch on Tuesday, the UCAS test team also conducted deck-handling and ship-integration testing to demonstrate the capability to safely operate the X-47B in the dynamic, unforgiving environment of an aircraft carrier flight deck.

Northrop Grumman is the Navy's prime contractor for the UCAS Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The company designed, produced and is currently flight testing two X-47B air vehicles for the program. Air Vehicle 2 completed the catapult shot.

Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D industry team includes Pratt & Whitney, GKN Aerospace, Eaton, GE Aviation, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dell, Honeywell, Moog, Lockheed Martin, WindRiver, Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Turkish Airlines Finalizes Order for 70 Boeing 737s

Boeing and Turkish Airlines today finalized a firm order for 40 737 MAX 8s, 10 737 MAX 9s and 20 Next-Generation 737-800 jets, valued at $6.9 billion at list prices. The order, originally announced as a commitment last month, also includes options for an additional 25 737 MAX 8s andis the largest Boeing order in Turkish Airlines' history.
Today's announcement brings the total number of 737 MAXs ordered to date to 1,285 and Boeing currently has more than 3,100 unfilled orders for 737s.Turkish Airlines currently operates more than 85 Next-Generation 737s.
The 737 MAX builds on the strengths of the world's best-selling Next-Generation 737. The 737 MAX incorporates the latest-technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market. Airlines operating the 737 MAX will see a 13 percent fuel-use improvement over today's most fuel-efficient single-aisle airplanes.
Turkish Airlines currently serves more than 220 cities in 99 countries around the world. In March 2013, the carrier received its 100 th direct delivery from Boeing and currently operates Next-Generation 737s and 777-300ER (Extended Range) jets. With today's announcement, Turkish Airlines has 100 Boeing airplanes on order including Next-Generation 737s, 737 MAXs and 777-300ERs.

Lockheed and MDA Conduct Successful Test of New Air-Launched Missile Target Prototype

Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have successfully tested a prototype air-launched Extended Medium-range Ballistic Missile (eMRBM) target at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.

In the test, a full-scale prototype of the eMRBM target was released from the cargo bay of a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft at 25,000 feet. The system’s parachutes deployed, and the prototype successfully separated from the carriage extraction system.
The prototype is a replica of the missile target, without propulsion, that is being used to test and validate the air-launch equipment and carriage extraction system in preparation for the maiden flight of the eMRBM missile target planned for later this year. Supporting Lockheed Martin and the MDA in the test were the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army and subcontractors Orbital Sciences Corp. and Dynetics.
Lockheed is developing the air-launched eMRBM target for the MDA for testing of the Ballistic Missile Defense System to simulate performance in realistic scenario of a ballistic missile approach.
Under the Targets and Countermeasures Prime Contract, Lockheed Martin is developing and producing a total of 17 missile targets of various types and ranges, including five eMRBM targets. Since the prime contract was awarded in 2003, the company has delivered and launched 27 missile targets in tests of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. Prior to that the company produced and launched 17 missile targets under other contracts. The company has achieved an unmatched 98-percent mission success rate in providing ground-, air- and sea-launched, short-, medium- and intermediate-range missile targets since 1996.

Lockheed Martin performs Targets and Countermeasures program management and engineering in Huntsville, production and integration in Courtland, Alabama, and payload design in Ampthill, England.

First A350 XWB in Airbus Livery Rolled Out

Airbus today rolled out its first A350-900 XWB “MSN001” flight test prototype aircraft in its Airbus livery from its paintshop in Toulouse.
The MSN001 has recently completed flight-test-instrumentation (FTI) verifications.
Last month the aircraft underwent its engines installation, and passed a subsequent intensive phase of ground vibration tests.
MSN001 will soon start the final tests before its maiden flight this summer.
Airbus’ A350 XWB will be one of the most eco-efficient planes of its type in the air, burning a quarter less fuel than the previous generation of comparable long-range twin-aisle aircraft.
These savings result from the A350 XWB’s intelligent use of materials, including composites; along with its state-of-the-art aerodynamics, advanced systems – such as modular avionics, electro-hydraulic actuators and variable frequency generators for electricity – and new-generation Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.
The A350 XWB will deliver 25 per cent lower fuel burn per seat when compared to the current competing jetliner.
Airbus has orders for 616 A350s including 110 of the largest variant, the -1000, and 92 of the smaller -800, remaining for the -900.

Indian Army HAL Dhruv Crashes

An Indian Army Aviation Wing's HAL Dhruv helicopter on a routine logistical sortie in Siachan area of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir has crashed in the strategic high altitude terrain after developing a technical snag on Monday 8.00 am morning.
Both the pilots on board are safe as they successfully ejected through parachutes.
The helicopter flew from Chushul area in Ladakh and was on its way to the Indian army base on Siachan glacier.
An Inquiry has been ordered to find out reason for the technical snag.
Multi-role HAL Dhruv provides logistical support for the Indian Army in remote and inaccessible areas, specially in the Siachen Glacier.
The helicopter has a superior crashworthy design which enables the crew to survive vertical impacts of up to 30 feet per second, due to the safety seats and a design of controlled deformation of fuselage crumple zones.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Turkish Navy to Acquire 8 Maritime ATR-600 Aircrafts

Alenia Aermacchi has signed an agreement with Savunma Sanayii Müsteşarlığı (SSM), the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries to deliver two ATR 72-600 TMUA (Turkish Maritime Utility Aircraft) and six ATR 72-600 TMPA (Turkish Maritime Patrol Aircraft) to the Turkish Navy.
The contract calls for strong industrial collaboration between Alenia Aermacchi and Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) for the duration of the project.
The agreement is an amendment to a previous deal between Alenia and the Turkish government for the delivery of 10 ATR 72-500 ASW to the Turkish Navy.
The most important change into the contract amendment is the adoption of the new -600 version of the ATR 72, the best in class of regional turboprop. The original contract was based on the now out of production ATR 72-500.
Thanks to the agreement, the Turkish Navy will obtain the last generation ATR72-600 equipped with a glass cockpit as well as more powerful engines that guarantee best performance and supportability for the next 30 years.
The two ATR 72-600TMUA--already in the modification phase at Alenia Aermacchi’s plant in Naples-Capodichino--will be used by the Turkish Navy for personnel and cargo transport and will be delivered in June and July 2013 .
The six ATR 72-600TMPAs are designed as multi-role assets to satisfy the Turkish Navy maritime patrol requirement. The aircraft, named Meltem 3in Turkey, will see the integration of the Thales AMASCOS mission system and will include new functionalities such as AIS, Link 16 and the last generation weapon systems, like the Mk 54 Light Weight Torpedo.
The AMASCOS (Airborne Maritime Situation & Control System) mission system relies on multiple sensors to detect, identify and track threats, maintain real-time tactical situation awareness, manage NATO and national tactical data links and deploy onboard weapon systems.
While Alenia Aermacchi is responsible for the design and development of the transformation of the basic platform and for the mission system’s installation and integration with the on-board systems of the basic aircraft, Thales will act as lead systems integrator for the ATR 72-600’s new avionics suite which offers improved performance in terms of reduced weight and electrical power consumption as well as higher reliability and better long-term serviceability.
The work to convert the “green” ATR 72-600 in ATR 72-600TMPA will be performed by TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industry).
The first ATR 72-600 arrived at TAI’s Akinci plant in April 2013 and is currently under modification.
The first TMPA will be delivered to the Turkish Navy in February 2017. The aircraft will be certified in Italy under the responsibility of Alenia Aermacchi. The remaining five TMPA will be delivered in 2018.
The ATR 72TMPA is the Turkish Navy version of the ATR 72ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare), a highly effective, middle-size, anti-submarine aircraft with competitive acquisition and operational costs.
It is a special version of the ATR72 turboprop regional aircraft made by the French-Italian ATR joint venture (Alenia Aermacchi/EADS). The ATR 72ASW is the only modern, middle-size aircraft available in the market, equipped with state-of-the-art mission sensors, and capable of carrying out maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare tasks.
The typical missions of this version include vessel search and identification, search and rescue (SAR), drug, smuggling and piracy control, environmental control (pollution by oil and chemical substances), maritime patrol roles, economic exclusive zone patrol (fishing, off-shore platforms), and Anti-Submarine Warfare.
The ATR 72ASW is equipped with a mission system that includes:
• electro-optical sensors;
• Search radar;
• ESM sensor (Electronic Support Measures);
• MAD sensor (Magnetic Anomaly Detector);
• Integrated self-protection system, (Chaff & Flare Dispenser, Radar Warning, Missile Warning, Laser Warning);
• Sono-buoy launcher;
• Anti-submarine torpedoes carried on 2 pylons at the fuselage sides.
The ATR 72ASW is also equipped with new-generation communication systems and through the data-link system, that connects in real-time with the ground command and control centers and other platforms, both on air and on sea, for coordination and maximum operations’ effectiveness. Its ESM and MAD sensors are completely integrated within the mission system and with the on-board avionics that envisages the new glass cockpit configuration, typical of the latest ATR 72-600 series.
In addition, the aircraft features a fuselage door that can be opened in flight and two observer stations equipped with large bubble windows.
The ATR 72ASW is also able to be reconfigured with additional specific systems and missile armaments to carry out anti-ship missions.
On top of the eight ATR 72 TMUA and TMPA the Italian Air Force has ordered four ATR 72 with initial Maritime Patrol (MP) capabilities and all the configuration provisions for the ASW capabilities, which will be integrated later.

Alenia Delivers First Upgraded Tornado ECR to Italian Air Force

Alenia Aermacchi, in collaboration with BAE Systems and Cassidian, its Panavia consortium partners, has delivered the first upgraded Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat/ Reconnaissance)to the Italian Air Force.
Alenia Aermacchi, as technical and program leader, is in the process of upgrading the avionics and systems of 15 Tornado ECR.
The Tornado ECR MLU is a Mid LIfe Upgrade(MLU) of the ECR version currently in use by the Italian Air Force. Its main function is to localize and suppress hostile air defence radar emitter sources by anti-radar missiles.
The aircraft upgrade includes several subsystems and functionality additions as well as modifications to the on-board systems, avionics equipment and mission software.
The Tornado ECR MLU features an integrated IN-GPS navigation system supported by a Multi-Mode Receiver (MMR) system for approaches and ILS blind landings.
The new communication and identification system embodies the latest standards of secure communication capacities as well as a data transmission/reception capacity via Data-Link (MIDS), which integrates TACAN navigation functionalities.
The pilot and navigator cockpits feature new multifunction display suites that improve man-machine interface and reduce crew workload; the navigator cockpit features new TVTAB LCD color displays that replace former monochromatic display and the internal and external lighting systems are compatible with NVG night vision goggles.
The electronic recce capacity, a crucial componentof the Tornado ECR operating mission, has also been improved through new functionalities connected with the threat identification and localization (ELS multi-ship ranging).
The new aircraft’s software allow the integrationof new sensors and avionic systems and enables also the integration of a new version of anti-radiation missiles (HARM) and also the possibility of dropping GPS precision-guided weapons (JDAM).
The Tornado is a variable geometry, two-seat, day or night, all-weather attack aircraft, capable of delivering a wide variety of weapons.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Italian M-346 Trainer Prototype Crashes

A company flight test prototype of the Alenia Aermachi M-346 trainer jet, registration X617, crashed following a technical problem, around 20 minutes after take-off from Turin-Caselle airport, Italy.
The only pilot on board, ejected safely from the aircraft, but has some major spine injuries, after his parachute struck to a tree.
The aircraft crashed in Val Bormida, between the provinces of Cuneo and Savona, without damage to people or properties.
Alenia has set up an internal technical commission to investigate the accident.
This is the second crash involving an M-346, On 18 November 2011 a prototype, which had been on display at the Dubai Air Show crashed after departing Dubai on return to Italy.
The twin-engined M-346 is an advanced new generation lead-in fighter trainer capable of imparting fifth generation fighter training.

Indian Navy Commissions First Naval Mig-29K Fighter Squadron

Mig-29k Squadron at INS Hansa, Goa

Mig-29K Takes off from INS Hansa

Indian Defence Minister AK Antony formally commissioned the first-ever squadron of the multi-role MiG-29K carrier borne fighter jets into the Indian Navy on Saturday.
With this commissioning, the Indian Navy, which is celebrating the diamond jubilee of its aviation wing, will give itself cutting edge in force multiplier and projection.
The squadron consists 12 single-seat MiG-29K fighters, and four twin-seat MiG-29KUB aircraft trainers of the 45 fighters ordered from Russia constitutes the INSAS 303 ”Black Panthers” Squadron.
The squadron's insignia depicts the rare Black Panther, rampant on sea waves, against an azure background.
INAS 303 is commanded by Capt AD Theophilus, an accomplished and experienced Sea Harrier pilot and a qualified flying instructor.
During the ceremony, a pair of Sea Harriers jump jets (fighter aircraft attached to India's solitary aircraft carrier-INS Vikrant ) escorted a Mig-29K (K for ‘Korabelny’ meaning ‘Carrier Borne’ in Russian) during a fly-pass as they flew at the speed of 800 kms per hour.
The squadron is now based at INS Hansa naval base, Goa, until the refurbished aircraft carrier-INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov) arrives.
INS Vikramaditya is currently undergoing sea trials in Russia and expected to be delivered by the year end.
Antony later inaugurated the MiG-29K flight simulator at INS Hansa that will be utilised for training pilots flying the MiG-29Ks.
The MiG-29K is a navalized variant of the MiG-29 land-based fighter, and has folding wings, an arrester tail-hook, strengthened airframe and multirole capability. It is armed with a wide variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface weaponry.
The state of the art, all weather, carrier based, air dominance fighter is specially built for the Indian Navy. The aircraft has a maximum speed over twice the speed of sound (about 2000 kmph), can pull up to 8 times the force of gravity, can climb to an altitude of over 65000 feet. Armed with an arsenal of some of the most sophisticated weapons in the world it is fully equipped to dominate by engaging targets in air, at sea or on land. It can carry two potent Kh-35 anti-ship missiles which has a 120km range.
Latest avionics, with data link capabilities coupled with its range of armament will enable true power projection. With its air- to- air refueling capability its ranges are also extended to perform true power projection and air space dominance roles.
Under the Gorshkov aircraft carrier deal inked between the two countries in 2004, Russia is to supply 12 single-seater MiG-29K fighters and four two-seater MiG-29KUB trainer-cum-combat jets.
In March 2010, Russia and India signed another $1.5-billion contract on the supplies of 29 additional MiG-29K Fulcrum-D carrier-based fighter jets and the deliveries are scheduled to commence next year,
The first of the four MiG-29Ks and MiG-29KUBs were delivered in February 2010.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Boeing and Honeywell Teams to Develop Next Generation in-flight Connectivity

HAMBURG, Germany, Aircraft Interiors Expo
Honeywell and Boeing have signed a technical services agreement to research and develop technologies for the next generation of high-speed, in-flight wireless connectivity on Boeing platforms including the 787, 777, 737NG and 747-8.
Under the agreement, Boeing and Honeywell will jointly research, test and develop the hardware, software and potential services that will utilize GX Ka-band satellites, powered by Inmarsat’s GX Aviation constellation, and begin the necessary activities to support GX Ka-band equipment installation aboard new aircraft in 2015.
GX Aviation will offer unprecedented data rates and bandwidth, backed by Inmarsat’s quality standards, performance and global reach.
It will provide the same experience as terrestrial broadband and is the only Ka-bandnetwork designed to provide consistent global coverage. Travelers will be able to do everything from real-time social media updates to video conferencing and multimedia presentation development while in flight, virtually anywhere in the world.
Beyond passenger comfort, the Honeywell-developed hardware and system for GX Aviation will also introduce new services to aircraft operators, airlines and air traffic control such as predictive maintenance and better aircraft communications that will take advantage of a fast, reliable and global connectivity service, essentially creating a truly “connected aircraft.”
Honeywell and Inmarsat signed an agreement in 2012 to provide global in-flightconnectivity services to business, commercial and government aviation customers around the world. Under the terms of the terminal agreement, Honeywell exclusively will develop, produce and distribute the onboard hardware that will enable users to connect to Inmarsat’s GX Aviation network.
The first Inmarsat GX Ka-band satellite, being built by Boeing, is expected to launch in late 2013, and Inmarsat and Honeywell continue to track toward making global service available for commercial, business aviation and government customers in 2015.

Rolls Royce to Overhaul US Navy T56 Turboprop Engines

Rolls-Royce has been awarded a $35 million contract extension for repair and overhaul of T56 engines on US Navy aircrafts.
The services contract covers depot-level repair of the T56 Series III engine modules to support fielded P-3 Orion and derivative aircraft, as well as T56-powered Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules and Northrop Grumman C-2A Greyhound airlifters.
The repairs will be carried out at Rolls-Royce Engine Services at Oakland, US (RRESO). In addition to T56 repair and overhaul, RRESO services AE 1107C(V-22 Osprey), F405 and M250 engines for other military customers.
The 4591 shp T56-A Series III is a single shaft, modular design, turboprop engine with a 14-stage axial flow compressor driven by a four-stage turbine unit.
Since the engine entered production in 1954, over 18,000 T56/501-D turboprops have been installed on a wide variety of propeller-driven aircraft, including Lockheed Martin's ubiquitous C-130 Hercules and L-100 transports, Northrop Grumman's E-2 Hawkeye early warning aircraft and Lockheed's P-3 Orion anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
The Convair 580 and Lockheed Electra are still in commercial passenger and cargo service around the world.

Boeing Rolls Out First 787 Dreamliner at Increased Production Rate

Boeing has rolled out the first 787 Dreamliner to be built at the increased production rate of seven airplanes per month.
The airplane, which rolled out earlier this week, is the 114th 787 to be built overall and the 100th 787 to be built at the Everett, Wash., factory.
Boeing's 787 program is on track to achieve a planned 10 per month rate by year-end.
The production rate accounts for airplanes built at the Everett Final Assembly facility, the Everett Temporary Surge Line and Boeing South Carolina.
To date, 50 787s have been delivered to eight airlines. The program has more than 800 unfilled orders with 58 customers worldwide.
Meanwhile the grounded 787 fleet, worldwide has been cleared for commercial flights following approval by global regulatory agencies for Boeing’s 787 battery improvements on April 29. Ethiopian Airlines was the first to resume commercial flights on April 27. Other 787 operators has began test flights after installing improved battery systems.

Boeing 777X Development Moves To Next Stage

Boeing 777X Artistic Rendering
Boeing's board of directors has granted authority to offer the 777X jetliner to customers, a key milestone ahead of a formal launch event of the program perhaps later this year.
Boeing plans to introduce the 777X, a re-engined 777 variant with a larger composite wing for improved fuel efficiency, at the end of the decade, and likely at least a year after the scheduled certification of its General Electric GE9X engine in May 2018.
The 777X would serve long-range and high-cargo demand markets in a larger seat class (350-400 passengers) than 777. 777X is expected to provide the lowest fuel burn per seat of any airplane in commercial service now.
Boeing is now in discussions with potential customers like British Airways , Emirates , Qatar Airways and Air Lease Corp, to refine 777X's design and performance before formally launching the aircraft and booking orders. 777X would feature a Honeywell cockpit as in 787 Dreamliner.
Step by step - Randy's Journal

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

US Navy Issues RFP for Presidential Marine One Replacement

Black Hawk Marine One

US Navy on May 3 issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program (VXX), to replace the aging fleet of VH-3D Sea King and VH-60N White Hawk helicopters operated by Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1).
Proposals are due in 90 days with a goal to award a fixed-price incentive engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract, with production options, by mid-calendar year 2014.
The Marine Corps currently operates eleven VH-3D and eight VH-60N helicopters; the VH-3Ds were originally placed in service in 1974 and 1975, and the VH-60s entered service in the 1980s. Both aircraft are well past their original 20 year service life expectations.
But the VH-71 program that was intended to replace the fleet with a platform based on the AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin was cancelled in 2009 after four years of increasing development costs that were projected to hit $13 billion, double the initial budget for the project.
During the EMD phase, the selected contractor will provide six test aircraft, four of which will become operational aircraft. During the production phase, the RFP calls for 17 operational aircraft (four in low-rate initial production (LRIP) 1, five in LRIP 2 and eight in full-rate production), for a fleet total of 21 aircraft.
Meantime, AgustaWestland’s original partner on the VH-71 program, Lockheed Martin, has partnered with Sikorsky to offer an S-92 platform for the Marine One helicopter fleet.

MV-22 Osprey Debuts with US Presidential Marine One Squadron

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia
US Presidential Marine Helicopter Squadron One ( HMX-1 ), has started flying its newest addition to the squadron, the MV-22 B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
The HMX-1 Ospreys will conduct presidential support missions, like carrying presidential support staff and news media representatives traveling with the president.
The HMX-1 Osprey mission does not include carrying the President of the United States.
V-22 flight operations at HMX-1 began April 26, but flights carrying presidential support staff and news media representatives in the Ospreys will not begin until later this year.
The aircraft, built by Bell-Boeing under direction from the V-22 Joint Program Office (PMA-275), is the first of 12 to be delivered to HMX-1.
The MV-22B Osprey is a tiltrotor V/STOL aircraft designed as the medium-lift replacement for the CH-46E Sea Knight assault support helicopter.
The Osprey can operate as a helicopter or a turboprop aircraft and offers twice the speed, six times the range, and three times the payload of the CH-46E.

European Vega Orbits Multiple Satellites on Second Mission

European Space Agency’s Vega launch vehicle successfully completed its second launch from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, orbiting three satellites.
Two Earth observation satellites, ESA’s Proba-V and Vietnam’s VNREDSat‑1A, Estonia’s first satellite, the ESTCube‑1 technology demonstrator, were released into orbit.
Vega lifted off at 02:06 GMT on 7 May (23:06 localtime 6 May; 04:06 CEST 7 May).
The mission required five upper-stage boosts and lasting about twice as long as its first launch, in February 2012.
The three solid-propellant stages performed flawlessly and, after two burns of the liquid-propellant upper stage, Proba‑V was released into a circular orbit at an altitude of 820 km, over the western coast of Australia, some 55 minutes into flight.
The satellite is now being controlled by ESA’s centre in Redu, Belgium, where it is undergoing a health check and testing before the operational phase starts to monitor the vegetation coverage on Planet Earth.
After releasing Proba-V, the upper stage performed a third burn and the top half of the egg-shaped Vega Secondary Payload Adapter was ejected. After a fourth burn to circularise the orbit at an altitude of 704 km, VNREDSat-1A was released 1 hour 57 minutes into flight. ESTCube‑1was ejected from its dispenser three minutes later.
A fifth and last burn will now place the spent upper stage on a trajectory that ensures a safe reentry that complies with new debris mitigation regulations.
The flight was conducted under the Vega Research and Technology Accompaniment programme (VERTA) that aims at demonstrating the versatility of the launch system.
It also marked the start of the transition from ESA to Arianespace as launch operator. Arianespace provided flight analysis, preparation and operations, and the marketing that secured VNREDSat‑1A as Vega’s first commercial payload.
This second mission demonstrated Vega’s capability to launch multiple satellite stacks with the new VESPA multiple launch adapter, as well as its overall flexibility.
The Proba‑V primary payload is a 138,2 kg satellite built by Qinetiq Space Belgium.
Proba‑V is based on the platform flown on two previous ESA missions and carries the Vegetation imager to map global vegetation cover every twodays, as a follow-on to the first generation of Vegetation imagers on France’s Spot-4 and -5 satellites.
Proba-V is flying in the same orbit as Spot-5 in order to take over from the ageing satellite on its retirement next year. Vegetation is a high-technology optical imager designed to provide 350 m-resolution imagery in four visible and infrared bands with an impressive 2250 km swath width that will allow daily coverage of all areas within 35–75ºN and 35–56ºS. These data will be processed and provided to a wide community of international users, including the European Commission.
In addition to this primary payload, Proba also hosts a series of technology payloads such as a receiver to detect aircraft in flight around the globe, a communications amplifier based on the latest gallium nitride technology, a novel pair of radiation monitors and a photonics experiment testing fibre optics for space.
VNREDSat-1A (Vietnam Natural Resources, Environment, Disaster Satellite) is a 115,3 kg commercial remote sensing satellite built by Astrium for Vietnam’s Academy of Sciences and Technologies. Its launch was contracted through Arianespace in January.
ESTCube-1 is Estonia’s first satellite. This 1.3 kg CubeSat was designed and built by students from the University of Tartu with a contribution from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. It will deploy a 10 m-long tether to demonstrate electrostatic manoeuvring through the plasma flow, which could lead to electrostatic solar sails for propellantless interplanetary travel.
The VERTA programme covers a batch of five missions to demonstrate the flexibility of the system, promoting the smooth introduction of the vehicle for commercial exploitation.
Vega can launch payloads of upto 1.5 tonne into low polar orbits at altitudes of 300–1500 km.With a length of 30 m and a diameter of 3 m, it has three solid-propellant stages (P80, Zefiro-23 and Zefiro-9) and a liquid-propellant stage (AVUM: Attitude and Vernier Upper Module). Unlike most small launchers, it is able to place multiple payloads in orbit.
Seven ESA Member States (Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden) are contributing to the Vega programme.
The industrial prime contractor is ELVSpA, 70% of which is owned by Avio SpA and 30% by Italy’s ASI space agency.
The flight manifest for Vega is currently: Kazakhstan’s DZZ-HR high-resolution remote sensing satellite (2014), the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle reentry demonstrator (2014), the LISA Pathfinder mission to demonstrate the technologies for the future Laser Interferometer Space Antenna gravity-wave detection mission (2015), and the Aeolus satellite to map Earth’s wind profiles (2015).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

FAA Approves Sikorsky’s Automatic Platform Approach System for S-92 Helicopters

US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved a new functionality on the Sikorsky S-92® helicopter to provide offshore oil operators with an automated approach that reduces cockpit workload by 60 percent and allows safer operations under challenging weather and operating conditions.
Sikorsky developed the new safety feature in close collaboration with PHI, Inc., which operates S-92 and S-76® helicopters in the Gulf of Mexico, providing transportation to offshore oil workers to the platforms.
FAA officials flew in February for the certification review. That flight was the culmination of several years of development which began in 2007 when a pilot from PHI Inc. approached a Sikorsky pilot about collaborating to develop a safer method of approaching oil platforms and rigs.
Sikorsky conducted the bulk of its certification flight testing in 2011 and followed that with a year of working with the FAA to provide a path for certification.
“Our new Rig Approach feature takes the guesswork out of the equation when a pilot is flying out to an oil platform. It provides a ‘hands off’ approach that increases the safety of the aircraft tremendously. Sikorsky continues to hold safety as its highest priority, and we are excited to bring Rig Approach to our customers,” said Dan Hunter, Sikorsky’s Commercial Programs Director.
“Automated rig approach had never been done before so the FAA had no basis on which to compare it,” said Ron Doeppner, Sikorsky’s Project Pilot. “We couldn’t go to the FAA regulators and say we’re certifying this according to existing data. We’re writing the book on it, working with the operator (PHI) and the FAA.”
“Rig Approach” will be available as an option on the S-92 helicopters, providing a fully coupled and automated approach capability with a higher safety margin than currently is available with any other offshore approach procedure. The feature can be retrofitted to aircraft already operating.
This summer, Sikorsky will formally offer the S-92 platform to the U.S. Government, which is seeking to replace the “Marine One” helicopter fleet that transports the President of the United States.
The multi-mission S-92 helicopter incorporates numerous safety features, including a flaw-tolerant design. In February, the global fleet achieved the half-million flight-hour milestone. Off shore oil operators fly the aircraft for an average of 90 – 110 hours per month in often challenging environments. The S-92 helicopter also performs Head of State missions, search and rescue (SAR) operations as well as a variety of transportation missions for utility and airline passengers. Since entering service in September 2004, the S-92 fleet has grown to 170 aircraft and logged more than 530,000 flight hours to date.

USAF C-130J Performs XCDS Air Drop

The US Air Force's 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron based in Kandhar, Afghanistan, executed the first combat Extracted Container Delivery System, or XCDS, airdrop on April 29, successfully demonstrating the increased accuracy that this new technology provides.
The new airdrop method is designed to pull the bundles out of the aircraft at a faster rate than the current airdrop process, which improves the overall accuracy of the drop itself.
Earlier called the high speed container delivery system, this new system is designed to deliver supplies to troops on the ground from lower altitudes and higher airspeeds from a C-130J airlifter
"Normally a bundle falls out of the aircraft due to gravity, with the speed mostly dependent on the deck angle of the aircraft," said Capt. Raeanna Elms, with the 772nd EAS.
"With XCDS, there is an additional parachute attached to a group of bundles, that pulls them out of the aircraft together and at a faster speed, resulting in a smaller dispersion area on the ground".
XCDS has increased the drop airspeed from 140 knots to 245 knots and reduced the drop altitude to 250 feet above ground. It can extract upto eight 2,000-pound supply containers.
The 772nd EAS, known informally as the"Gun Runners," performs the large majority of airdrop missions in theater, averaging about two airdrop missions per day. Most airdrop missions utilize the conventional Container Delivery System, which can deliver more than 30,000 pounds of supplies to troops on the ground. Another method used less frequently is the Low-Cost, Low-Altitude system which provides a very precise and inexpensive method for resupply.

Northrop Grumman X-47B UCAS Makes First Arrested Landing

Northrop Grumman and U.S. Navy on May 4 conducted the first fly-in arrested landing of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator from the Navy's shore-based catapult and arresting gear at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
The test represents the first arrested landing by a US Navy unmanned aircraft.
It marks the beginning of the final phase of X-47B testing prior to carrier-based trials planned for later this month.
During an arrested landing, the incoming aircraft extends its landing hook to catch a heavy cable extended across the aircraft landing area. The tension in the wire brings the aircraft to a rapid and controlled stop.
The arrested landing test culminates more than three months of shore-based carrier suitability testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.
The testing included precision approaches, touch-and-go landings, and precision landings by the X-47B air vehicle.
For the arrested landing, the X-47B used a navigation approach that closely mimics the technique it will use to land on an aircraft carrier underway at sea.
"This precision, shore-based trap by the X-47B puts the UCAS Carrier Demonstration [UCAS-D] program on final approach for a rendezvous with naval aviation history," said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy's UCAS program manager. "It moves us a critical step closer to proving that unmanned systems can be integrated seamlessly into Navy carrier operations."
The X-47B is a tailless, strike fighter-sized unmanned aircraft currently under development by Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. Under a contract awarded in 2007, the company designed, produced and is currently flight testing two X-47B aircraft.
In 2013, these aircraft will be used to demonstrate the first carrier-based launches and recoveries by an autonomous, low-observable-relevant unmanned aircraft. The UCAS-D program will also mature relevant carrier landing and integration technologies.
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.
A video of landing is available on YouTube at
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Saturday, May 4, 2013

CFM Completes Design Freeze for the LEAP-1B Engine for Boeing 737 MAX

CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between jet engine makers Snecma (Safran) and GE, has completed design freeze for its advanced LEAP-1B engine, the exclusive powerplant for the Boeing 737 MAX, paving the way for the first full engine to test in mid-2014.

A "design freeze" means that no further changes can be made to the design.

This milestone is effectively the point at which the engine configuration is set, or frozen. This now allows CFM to finalize and release detailed engine design drawings, which it will do over the next six months. Parts manufacturing for the LEAP-1B engine will then accelerate through year end, leading to build-up of the first engine in early 2014.

The LEAP-1B is on schedule for CFM flight testing in 2015 and engine certification in 2016. The 737 MAX is scheduled to enter service in 2017.

Design freeze for the LEAP-1A / LEAP-1C variants was achieved in June 2012. The first full LEAP engine, the LEAP-1A, is currently being built and is on schedule to begin ground testing this fall.

"Achieving design freeze is a significant step in the program. All of our testing and design work leading to this moment demonstrates that we are on track to meet all of our program commitments," said Gareth Richards, LEAP program manager for CFM parent company GE Aviation.

Francois Bastin, LEAP program manager for Snecma added: "The extensive component tests we have completed so far, including both the core engine and full fan module testing currently underway, indicate that we are on track to deliver world-class fuel efficiency for the 737 MAX, along with the world-class reliability and durability that we established with the CFM56 engine family."

CFM has been conducting component and rig tests on LEAP hardware for more than five years; the program is now moving into an exhaustive engine ground test phase. There are twelve LEAP-1B certification engine builds schedule over the next three years.

Overall, CFM will have a total of 28 certification engine builds and 30 flight test engines across the three LEAP engine models.

The LEAP-1B engine is the result of an exhaustive six-year collaboration effort with Boeing. The entire turbomachinery and installation are customized to meet the unique requirements of the 737 MAX.

The advanced LEAP engine provides a 15 percent improvement in specific fuel consumption (SFC) compared to today’s CFM56 engines, along with an equivalent reduction in carbon emissions; nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions that are approximately 50 percent below the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP)/6 limits; and an engine noise signature well below anticipated regulatory limits. All while maintaining the benefits of CFM’s legendary reliability and low maintenance costs.

“Experience has taught us that the more testing we do before the first engine goes into service, that smoother that entry will be,” said Richards. “That’s why we are going to log more than 40,000 engine cycles – the equivalent of approximately 10 years of airline service – over the next three years to ensure that we deliver service-ready engines from day one.”

LEAP engines incorporate revolutionary technologies never before seen in the single-aisle aircraft segment.

The new engine combines advanced aerodynamic design techniques, lighter, more durable materials, and leading-edge environmental technologies, making it a major breakthrough in engine technology.

The 737 MAX continues a 32-year relationship between CFM and Boeing; CFM engines have been the sole powerplant for all 737 aircraft sold since 1981.

 To date, there have been firm orders for a total of 1,185 LEAP-1B-powered 737 MAX airplanes.

X-51A Progamme Ends with a Successfull Hypersonic Flight

USAF B-52 Bomber with X-51A
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio The final flight of the X-51A Waverider test program has accomplished a breakthrough in the development of flight reaching Mach 5.1 over the Pacific Ocean on May 1.
"It was a full mission success," said Charlie Brink, the X-51A program manager for the Air Force Research Laboratory Aerospace Systems Directorate.
The cruiser traveled more than 230 nautical miles in just over six minutes over the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range, California.
It was the longest of the four X-51A test flights and the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight ever. Two of the flight tests failed due to minor snags
"I believe all we have learned from the X-51A Waverider will serve as the bedrock for future hypersonics research and ultimately the practical application of hypersonic flight," Brink said.
The X-51A took off from the Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB, California, under the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress.
It was released at approximately 50,000 feet and accelerated to Mach 4.8 in about 26 seconds powered by a solid rocket booster. After separating from the booster, the cruiser's supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet, engine then lit and accelerated the aircraft to Mach 5.1 at 60,000 feet.
After exhausting its 240-second fuel supply,the vehicle continued to send back telemetry data until it splashed down into the ocean and was destroyed as designed. At impact, 370 seconds of data were collected from the experiment.
"This success is the result of a lot of hard work by an incredible team. The contributions of Boeing, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, the 412th Test Wing at EdwardsAFB, NASA Dryden and DARPA were all vital," Brink said.
This was the last of four test vehicles originally conceived when the $300 million technology demonstration program began in 2004.
The program objective was to prove the viability of air-breathing, high-speed scramjet propulsion.
The X-51A is unique primarily due to its use of a hydrocarbon fuel in its scramjet engine.Other vehicles have achieved hypersonic, generally defined as speeds above Mach 5, flight with the use of hydrogen fuel. Without any moving parts, hydrocarbon fuel is injected into the scramjet's combustion chamber where it mixes with the air rushing through the chamber and is ignited in a process likened to lighting a match in a hurricane.
The use of logistically supportable hydrocarbon fuel is widely considered vital for the practical application of hypersonic flight.
As a technology demonstration program, there is no immediate successor to the X-51A program. However, the Air Force will continue hypersonic research and the successes of the X-51A will pay dividends tothe High Speed Strike Weapon program currently in its early formation phase with AFRL.

Australia to Purchase 12 EA-18G Growler Electronic Warfare Aircrafts

Defence White Paper 2013, released by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Defence Minister Stephen Smith in Canberra on May 3, says it would purchase 12 Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircrafts.
The acquisition replaces the Government’s original plan to convert 12 of Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) existing F-18 Super Hornets to Growler configuration.
The 24 Super Hornets at RAAF Base Amberley will now be retained in their current air combat and strike capability configuration and supported by an additional 12 Growlers.
This decision is designed to strengthen Australia’s air combat capability during transition to the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, with the Super Hornets expected to be withdrawn in about 2030.
“We will not allow a gap to occur in our air combat capability,” Mr Smith said. “This is ourmost significant purchase since the F-111.”
Australia remains committed to acquiring the fifth-generation F-35 JSF aircraft, with three operational squadrons planned to enter service beginning around 2020 to replace the F/A-18A/B Hornet aircraft.
A decision on replacing the Super Hornets with additional JSF aircraft will be made closer to the withdrawal of the Super Hornets.
A derivative of the US Navy's maritime strike aircraft, F/A-18 Hornet, the EA-18G Growler is an airborne electronic attack aircraft, fitted with multiple jamming pods that are designed to counter enemy air defences using both reactive and pre-emptive jamming techniques that disrupt enemy aircraft electronics, land radars and communications.
RAAF acquired a total of 24 Super Hornet fighters, as part of a $6 billion deal with the US, as an interim replacement for its ageing F-111 fighter aircraft fleet, which was decommissioned from service in December 2010.
The White Paper also committed to replace the Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime surveilance fleet with the Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft, boosted by unmanned aircraft for maritime surveillance and fleet overwatch.

Friday, May 3, 2013

US Air Force KC-135 Aerial Tanker Crashes in Kyrgyzstan

A US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from a United States airbase in Kyrgyzstan on Friday, officials said, though there were no immediate reports of any injuries.
The plane took off from the US Manas airbase and crashed near the mountain village of Chaldovar, around 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the capital Bishkek and close to the border with Kazakhstan, Emergency spokesman said.
The Manas airbase is key to US military operations in Afghanistan. It is used for strategic airlift operations and as an intermediate staging base for transiting personnel and equipment in support of operations in Afghanistan.
Based on the Boeing 707 commercial airplane design, the four engined KC-135A provides the core aerial refueling capability for the United States Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

VIDEO: National Air Cargo Boeing 747 Freighter Crash in Afghan.

Video of National Air Cargo Boeing 747 crash in Bagram airbase in afghan.

Video Analysis:
Boeing 747 steadily climbs to about 200ft (60m) above airfield level, just after take-off, with an extremely high nose-up angle, usually did in hostile areas, to reach a safe altitude quickly, within the airbase perimeter.
Within about 3s of appearing on film the aircraft's port (left) wing begins to drop, and 1s later the roll reverses, the right wing dropping. Simultaneously, the 747 begins a dramatic yaw to the right, the nose dropping fast. The roll stops at an angle of about 110deg to the horizontal, by which time the forward airspeed is well below flying speed and the aircraft is just falling sideways through the air. As some airspeed is recovered in the fall, the pilots manage to roll the wings level, but the airplane stalls.

Italian Army Inducts Its First NH90 TTH Helicopter in FOC Configuration

Italian Army NH90 TTH

AgustaWestland, delivered the first NH90 TTH in FOC (Final Operational Capability) configuration for the Italian Army, during an official ceremony held at AgustaWestland’s Venice Tessera plant in the presence of Gen. Giangiacomo Calligaris, Commander of Italian Army Aviation, and Gen. Francesco Langella, ARMAEREO.
This delivery brings the number of NH90 TTHs delivered to the Italian Army to 21 from an order for 60. This latest delivery marks another major milestone for the Italian Army NH90 programme.
Five Italian NH90s currently deployed in Afghanistan have now flown 470 flight hours with outstanding performance, reliability and mission effectiveness in the extreme and demanding environmental, weather and operational conditions there.
The Italian Army also operates the NH90 programme fleet leader which has now flown approximately 900 flight hours.
AgustaWestland is also supplying integrated operational support through the PLS (Phased Logistic Support) programme scheme to ensure the Italian Army can maximize the operational effectiveness of its NH90 fleet. AgustaWestland's Venice Tessera plant, covering 24,000 m2, is the new Italian final assembly line for the 160 NH90s ordered so far by Italy (Army and Navy, 60 and 56 helicopters respectively), the Netherlands (20), Norway (14) and Portugal (10). The Venice Tessera plant has expanded becoming the NH90 programme hub for all AgustaWestland customers, including the provision of maintenance, spare parts, engineering services, upgrades and modifications as well as future developmentsof new product configurations.
The NH90 TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) variant is a 11-tonne class helicopter configured to perform tactical transport missions in all environments by day and night. The NH90 TTH helicopters’s mission flexibility allows its users to perform additional roles such as internal/external loadtransport, heliborne operations, special operations, search and rescue, casualties evacuation and training missions.
The NH90 TTH features a high level of system integration built around a dual bus core avionic system, full glass cockpit with multi-Function displays,fly-by-wire controls with a four-axis Automatic Flight Control System. The dedicated mission system includes among others: piloting forward looking infrared system, helmet mounted sight and display, obstacle warning system, electronic warfare system, tactical control and tactical communication system, weather radar, digital map generator and an on-board monitoring and diagnostic system. Up to 2 x M134D miniguns and ballistic protection further enhance its self-defence capabilities.
It also features a fully composite crashworthy fuselage. The two modern GE/AVIO T700 – T6E1 engines provide the Italian Army’s NH90s with power reserve in all environments. The NH90 helicopter has provisions for a number of role equipments to enable mission flexibility and effectiveness coupled with a high level of safety and survivability. More than 140 NH90s have been delivered to 13 countries logging almost 40,000 flight hours to date.
The twin-engine, medium-size NH90 helicopter programme is managed by the consortium NHIndustries, the Company owned by AgustaWestland (32%), Eurocopter(62.5%), and Stork Fokker (5.5%).
The NH90 helicopter programme is the largest ever launched in Europe, with firm orders now reaching 529 units for 19 armed forces of 14 nations including France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Oman, Australia, New-Zealand, Spain and Belgium.