Thursday, October 31, 2013

Northrop Grumman, U.S. Navy Complete First Flight of Fire Scout MQ-8C

POINT MUGU, California.
Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy successfully completed the first flight of the next-generation MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, Calif.
At 12:05 p.m. the MQ-8C Fire Scout took off and flew for seven minutes in restricted airspace to validate the autonomous control systems. A second flight that took off at 2:39 p.m. for nine minutes was also flown in a pattern around the airfield, reaching 500 feet altitude.
The aircraft was operated by a ground-based Navy/Northrop Grumman flight test team also located at Naval Base Ventura County.

"First flight is a critical step in maturing the MQ-8C Fire Scout endurance upgrade before using the system operationally next year," said Capt. Patrick Smith, Fire Scout program manager, Naval Air Systems Command. "The systems we've developed to allow Fire Scout to operate from an air-capable ship have already amassed more than 10,000 flight hours with the MQ-8B variant. This system's evolution enhances how unmanned air systems will support maritime commanders."

The MQ-8C Fire Scout is designed to fly twice as long and has three times the payload capacity of the current MQ-8B variant. Based on a larger commercial airframe with additional fuel tanks and an upgraded engine, the MQ-8C will be able to fly up to 12 hours or carry up to 2,600 pounds.
"Operating the MQ-8B Fire Scout from Navy ships has proved extremely successful. During at-sea deployments, operators saw the need for a system that carried the same intelligence-gathering capabilities of the MQ-8B, but fly longer and carry additional payloads," said George Vardoulakis, Northrop Grumman's vice president for medium range tactical systems. "Changing out the airframe, installing control systems and avionics, and then conducting a first flight of the system in a year is truly remarkable. I couldn't be more proud of the team."
Currently, the MQ-8B Fire Scout is on its seventh at-sea deployment supporting antipiracy missions on board Navy frigates. The system has also been used extensively in Afghanistan since early 2011 to provide airborne surveillance to ground commanders.
Using on-board sensors to capture full-motion video, Fire Scout can identify targets and then distribute the information in real time to various users. This capability allows ship-based commanders to maintain awareness of a specified area or keep an eye on a target of interest for long periods of time.
Production of the MQ-8C Fire Scout is being completed at the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss.
The MQ-8C Fire Scout industry team includes Bell Helicopter, Rolls-Royce, Summit Aviation, Cubic Corporation, General Electric Aviation, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Honeywell.

ADEX 2013: India Unveils Pragati Tactical Missile For Export Market

Pragati at ADEX 2013

India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) unveiled its Pragati tactical battlefield missile, at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX 2013).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Airbus Launches Sharklet Retrofit For In-Service A320s

Sharklets of A320

Airbus has launched the Sharklet retrofit programme for in-service A320 Family aircraft.s This option will be available in 2015. Operators of older in-service A320 Family aircraft will thus be able to benefit from the significant cost savings and performance improvements which the Sharklets are already delivering on new-build aircraft.
This retrofit includes reinforcing the wing structure and adding the Sharklet wingtip device. As part of the upgrade, the retrofit will lengthen the aircraft’s service life and thus maximise the operators’ return on investment for the Sharklet retrofit.
Didier Lux, Airbus Executive Vice President, Customer Services said: “Customers of new A320 Family aircraft are unanimously enthusiastic about the benefits which Sharklets already bring to their operations. Now we can also offer this value-adding technology for upgrading their in-service aircraft, to increase range, reduce fuel-burn, while saving over 900 tonnes of CO2per year, per aircraft.”
Operators of Sharklet retrofitted aircraft will benefit from a reduction in fuel costs by up to four per cent and increased mission range by up to 100 nautical miles. Over 4,000 A320 Family in-service aircraft are eligible to be retrofitted with Sharklets and Airbus has already secured commitments from airlines for around 200 shipsets. Airbus will offer the retrofit initially for A320 and A319 models and will evaluate a retrofit for the A321 at a later stage.
Airbus has been delivering Sharklets as an option on new-build A320 Family aircraft since December 2012.
In addition, the Sharklet retrofit option is being sold for newer aircraft delivered with the wings structurally reinforced in production. All members of the A320neo Family will be fitted with Sharklets as standard. The A320neo will enter into service in October 2015.
The A320 Family is the world’s best-selling and most modern single aisle aircraft Family. To date, over 10,000 A320 Family aircraft have been ordered and over 5,700 delivered to more than 388 customers and operators worldwide. With proven reliability and extended servicing periods, the A320 Family has the lowest operating costs of any single-aisle aircraft.

Monday, October 28, 2013

HAL Dhruv Clocks 1,00,000 Flying Hours

India's indigenous chopper, Advanced Light Helicopter(ALH)–Dhruv, designed, developed, produced and maintained by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) to meet the requirement of military and civil operators, achieved a new milestone of flying one lakh hours on 9 Oct.
The land mark has been achieved in the early hours of 9 Oct with the flying of helicopter IA 3104 of 301 Army Aviation Sqn (Spl ops).

“It is a proud moment for us that Dhruv has proved its mettle over the years. India is the sixth nation in the world to have the capability to develop helicopters of this class. Dhruv has been exported to Ecuador, Mauritius, Nepal and Maldives”, said Dr. R.K. Tyagi, Chairman, HAL. He also thanked Indian armed forces, BSF and other precious customers for their continued support to this product.
“One lakh hours flown by the machine is an awesome feat to achieve. It is a dream machine for any pilot”, said Lt Col Kapil Agarwal who completed the landmark flying hours.
ALH is being operated by Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian Navy, Coast Guard, BSF and state governments since 2002. Currently, more than 132 Dhruv helicopters are serving the Indian Defence Forces. HAL has also built 12 civil variant Dhruv helicopters and they are being used by its customers. The Ecuador Air Force (FAE) operates six Dhruv helicopters with their President choosing to fly in them.
Dhruv is extremely useful to the Indian defence forces in meeting the arduous tasks in difficult terrains of Himalayas like Siachen Glacier and Kashmir. It played a key role in rescue operations during Tsunami (2004), flash floods at Leh (2010), earth quake at Sikkim (2011) and the biggest ever helicopter based rescue operation undertaken by Indian defence forces in flood & rain-hit areas of Uttarakhand recently.
ALH Dhruv is an all weather helicopter which can carry 10-16 people at heights of 10,000 feet. It is a multi-role, multi-mission new generation helicopter in the 5.5 tonne weight class and meets Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) specifications. It has demonstrated its capability in long distance flights, vertical climb and in manoeuvring.
The advanced technology features incorporated in the design of Dhruv include hinge-less main rotor and bearing-less tail rotor, integrated dynamic system encompassing main gear box and upper controls in a single housing, higher powered Shakti engines, integrated architecture display system (glass cockpit), duplex automatic flight control system, redundancy with twin-engine, dual hydraulics and controls, 30 minute dry- run capability of gear boxes, crashworthy bottom structure, landing gear, crew seat and fuel tanks with self-sealing capability, extensive use of composite material on fuselage and rotor system, integration of role and optional equipments such as rescue hoist, stretchers and cargo-hook.
Dhruv also has advanced avionics (communication, navigation & surveillance) and mission systems. All this makes Dhruv, a versatile multi-mission, multi-role helicopter capable of operating in all-weather and extreme climatic conditions with high degree of reliability and survivability

Eurofighter Achieves Full Air-to-Surface Capability

Eurofighter Typhoon IPA7 Swing Role Config

Cassidian, the defence division of EADS, has successfully finalized its flight testing of the Eurofighter Typhoon Phase 1 Enhancements (P1E) programme. After an intensive test programme of this First Batch of Enhancements on Instrumented Production Aircraft 4 and 7, this enhancement is confirmed to deliver a robust simultaneous multi-/swing-role capability to the Nations' Air Forces. It will be ready for the customers by the end of 2013.
The testing took place at Cassidian´s Military Air Systems Centers in Manching/Germany and Getafe/Spain, in cooperation with BAE Systems and Alenia Aermacchi.
"The Phase 1 Enhancements will provide a significant leap in Eurofighter's operational capabilities. Deploying multiple weapons with attack constraints simultaneously in all weather has never been easier", said Chris Worning, Cassidians Eurofighter Project pilot.
P1E implements full Air-to-Surface capability on Eurofighter Typhoon - including Laser Designator Pod -, full smart bomb integration, modern secure Identification Friend or Foe (Mode 5), improved Radios and Direct Voice Input, Air-to-Surface Helmet Mounted Sight System, improved Air-to-Air capabilities including digital integration of Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles and updated MIDS (Multifunctional Information Distribution System) Datalink functionalities for enhanced interoperability with Coalition Forces.
The Enhancements cover the design, development, qualification and clearance of the first major upgrade after the Main Development Contract. It is a major milestone in the development of Eurofighter Typhoon giving seamless air-to-ground integration to the weapon system and forming the baseline for further enhancements such as AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar and Meteor missile.

Lockheed Martin Powers up Orion Crew Module

For the first time, Lockheed Martin and NASA engineers powered on the Orion crew module at Kennedy Space Center last week. The test successfully demonstrated the crew module avionics were integrated properly and are in good health.
During the test, operators in the Test Launch and Control Center (TLCC) introduced software scripts to the crew module’s main control computers via thousands of wires and electrical ground support equipment. During this process, the foundational elements, or the “heart and brains” of the entire system were evaluated. The main computers received commands from the ground, knew where to send them, read the data from different channels, and successfully relayed electrical responses back to the TLCC.
The crew module power systems will continue to undergo testing for six months as additional electronics are added to the spacecraft.
This critical milestone brings together hundreds of separate electronic elements that have been designed, built, and tested by dozens of companies across the country involved in the Orion program.
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is NASA’s first spacecraft designed for long-duration, human-rated, deep space exploration. Orion will transport humans to interplanetary destinations beyond low Earth orbit, such as asteroids, the moon and eventually Mars, and return them safely back to Earth. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor to NASA for Orion, and is responsible for the design, build, testing, launch processing and mission operations of the spacecraft.
About one year from now, Orion will complete its first mission. Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) will launch an uncrewed spacecraft from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center 3,600 miles beyond low Earth orbit. That same day, Orion will return to Earth at a speed of approximately 20,000 mph for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. EFT-1 will provide engineers with critical data about Orion's heat shield, flight systems and capabilities to validate designs of the spacecraft before it begins carrying humans to new destinations in the solar system.

Lockheed Martin Receives Production Contract for U.S. Marine Corps Cobra Helicopter Targeting System

AH-1Z Cobra Helo© 2013 Lockheed Martin

TSS            © 2013 Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin received a $33.9 million follow-on production contract from the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division, for the Target Sight System (TSS), the fire control system for the U.S. Marine Corps’ AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopter.
TSS’ advanced sensors provide pilots with enhanced capabilities to acquire, track and designate targets. TSS Lot 10 deliveries will be complete in December 2015.
NSWC Crane awarded the initial TSS production contract in March 2008, followed by additional production contracts in June 2010, August 2011 and May 2012. Lockheed Martin delivered the first TSS in June 2009, and recently began early delivery of production units to support Lot 8 AH-1Z aircraft. TSS is produced at Lockheed Martin facilities in Ocala and Orlando, Florida.
The highly stabilized sensor suite includes a laser designator, color video display and a third-generation, mid-wave, forward-looking infrared sensor with advanced image processing. In 2011, the AH-1Z deployed operationally with TSS.
TSS is one of several high-performance stabilized targeting systems designed, manufactured, tested and supported by Lockheed Martin.
The company’s fielded solutions for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft include Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensorfor the U.S. Army, Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod for the U.S. Air Force and the AN/AAQ-39 targeting system for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command.

TSS is the multi-sensor electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) fire control system (AN/AAQ-30). It is a large-aperture midwave forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor, color TV, laser designator/rangefinder (with eyesafe mode), and on-gimbal inertial measurement unit integrated into a highly stabilized turret. The turret mounts to the nose of the aircraft via the Lockheed Martin-developed aircraft interface structure. TSS provides the capability to identify and laser-designate targets at maximum weapon range, significantly enhancing platform survivability and lethality.

Fifth PAK FA Fighter Prototype Joins Flight Test

Moscow, Russia

Sukhoi T-50 Fighter
The fifth prototype of the prospective 5th— generation aviation complex (PAK FA, T-50) made its maiden flight in Komsomolsk-on-Amur at the Y.A.Gagarin KnAAZ aircraft plant of the Sukhoi Company. The plane was piloted by distinguished test pilot of the 1stclass Roman Kondratiev.
The flight lasted 50 minutes in the air and landed safely on the factory airfield runway. The test flight was a success and in full accordance with the flight plan. The stability of the aircraft and the propulsion system were tested during the flight. The aircraft performed well in all phases of the planned flight program. The pilot confirmed reliability of all systems and equipment.
Upon completing the test flights program in Komsomolsk the aircraft will join the flight tests in the city of Zhukovsky near Moscow.
Four prototype fighter aircrafts have already joined these tests. Two more planes are involved in ground tests — one as a complex ground stand and the other undergoes static tests.
The first flight of the PAK FA took place on January 29, 2010 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Currently work is underway on the full range of ground and flight tests. To date, more than 450 flights were carried out under the flight test program.
The T-50, which will be the core of Russia's future fighter fleet, is a fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft featuring stealth and nano-technology, super-maneuverability, supercruise capability (supersonic flight without use of afterburner), and an advanced avionics suite including an X-band active phased-array radar, according to Sukhoi.
The aircraft is equipped with a fifth-generation avionics with integrated function of “Electronic pilot” and next-generation radar with a phased antenna array. This equipment reduces the pilot’s workload and helps him concentrate on tactical objectives. The on-board equipment of the new aircraft allows the exchange of data in real time with ground control systems and other aircraft. The PAK-FA is made of composite materials with innovative technologies. Its aerodynamic design and measures to reduce the engine’s visibility provide very low level of radar, optical and infrared visibility while significantly improving combat effectiveness on air and ground targets, at any time, in both visible and adverse weather conditions.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Austria Selects Cassidian's "TRACKER" MINI UNMANNED AIR SYSTEM

The Austrian Ministry of Defence revealed the order for 6 Tracker mini unmanned air systems (18 aircraft). After evaluation of the mini-UAS operation in accordance with the Austrian Armed Forces capability development plan, a further procurement of mini-UAS is intended between 2016 and 2017.

Turkish Hurkus Basic Trainer Continues Flight Tests

Turkish Basic Trainer Aircraft "HÜRKUŞ", which is designed to meet the training and Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance aircraft requirements of Turkish Armed Forces, successfully continues its test flights at Turkish Aerospace Industrie's premises in Ankara.
Following the completion of ground and taxi tests, HÜRKUŞ made its maiden flight on August 29, 2013.
First Flight: Consequent to the flight permission of SHGM (Turkish Civil Aviation General Directorate) and EASA (European Civil Aviation Authority), the first flight, which was performed on August 29, 2013, lasted 33 minutes.
Following the engine start at 07:30 am, HÜRKUŞ, which took off at 07:35 am, completed its maiden flight with open landing gear position at a height of 9500 ft. During the flight, the first checks were performed on control surfaces and a successful landing was realized.
2ndflight was performed on September 12, 2013 at a height of 9950 ft and 135 knots. Static control tests were performed during the 2ndflight.
3rd flight was performed on September 19, 2013 at a height of 10,200 feet and 140 knots. During the 3rd flight, which lasted 33 minutes, trim controls, flap configuration changes and direct approach tests were performed.
The fourth flight was performed on September 20, 2013 at a height of 10,200 feet and 140 knots. Static stability controls with different flap configurations were checked during the 4thflight that lasted 58 minutes.
Flight tests will continue in the forthcoming period.
Within the framework of the program; two aircraft configurations are being developed.
HÜRKUŞ-A: Basic version which is to be certified with EASA according to CS-23 requirements.
HÜRKUŞ-B: Advanced version with integrated avionics (including HUD, MFDs, and Mission Computer).

HPW 3000 Turboshaft Engine Successfully Completes Intial Testing

The Advanced Turbine Engine Company, LLC (ATEC), a Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney joint venture, has successfully completed testing of its first HPW3000 engine, which is being offered as a solution for the U.S. Army's Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP).
The goal of ITEP is to develop and qualify an advanced 3000 horsepower turboshaft engine, primarily for UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache helicopters, that provides better performance for the warfighter at a lower operating cost.
The first HPW3000 engine performed extremely well in performance tests, demonstrating improved fuel efficiency which will allow for extended range and increased payload capabilities for the Black Hawk and Apache fleets.
US Army aims to operate an engine that has 50 percent additional power, with an increase of 25 percent in fuel efficiency and a 20 percent increase in engine life. Additionally, the Army program intends to reduce production and maintenance costs by 20-35 percent, while maintaining installation compatibility with the Black Hawk and Apache.
"The direct impact of fielding a 25 percent more fuel-efficient engine for the entire fleet represents an annual savings of $1 billion in operating and support costs versus the current engine," said Madden. "Providing extended range and payload also reduces the need for forward area refueling, which also saves time to perform the mission and reduces risks to troops in harm's way."
Black Hawk and Apache rotorcraft comprise approximately 75 percent of the Army's helicopter fleet, and ITEP is essential to ensuring these helicopters remain mission capable worldwide for the next 30 years or more. In addition to solving capability gaps for current rotorcraft, the ITEP engine provides the basis for the Army's planned Future Vertical Lift light and medium variants, which are eventually planned to replace current armed reconnaissance, utility, and attack helicopters.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

BAE Taranis UCAV Makes Maiden Flight

The BAE Systems Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator has made its maiden flight and is currently conducting initial flight trials, according to UK Ministry of Defence officials.

Named after the Celtic god of thunder, the concept demonstrator will test the possibility of developing the first ever autonomous stealthy Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) that would ultimately be capable of precisely striking targets at long range, even in another continent.
The United Kingdom is highly secretive about the Taranis UCAV, which is known to have been seen in public on only two occasions.
Representing the pinnacle of UK engineering and aeronautical design, Taranis is an informal partnership of the UK MoD and industry talents including BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, QinetiQ and GE Aviation.

About the size of a BAE Systems Hawk Jet, Taranis is jointly funded by the UK MOD and UK industry and is managed by the UK MOD’s Unmanned Air Systems Project Team in the Defence Equipment and Support Organisation based in Bristol.
Taranis was formally unveiled at a ceremony in July 2010. Initial ground testing commenced in 2010.

Gray Eagle UAV Completes 20,000 Automated Takeoffs and Landings

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), tactical reconnaissance radars, and electro-optic surveillance systems, announced that its Gray Eagle® Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) has reached a record 20,000 successful automatic launch and recoveries with the Automatic Takeoff and Landing System (ATLS).
This milestone was achieved on September 25 and comes just 15 months after reaching 10,000 events in June 2012.
ATLS has been deployed at eight sites worldwide, including three overseas, with four additional sites planned by January 2015. Recently, successful ATLS flight testing was performed in support of a reduced Takeoff and Landing pattern for operations in limited air space.
"In addition to providing the Army with significant cost savings through optimized operator workload and training, Gray Eagle's ATLS continues to increase the aircraft's reliability," said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI. "These last 10,000 takeoffs and landings were achieved without a single event of significant damage."
Currently flying 3,200 flight hours per month, the Army's Gray Eagle Block 1 aircraft has accumulated more than 80,000 flight hours since it was first deployed in 2009. The fleet has grown to 75 aircraft delivered, with another 34 planned within the next 14 months. Within the last year, cumulative flight hours were up 64 percent as Gray Eagle continues to provide unrivaled and innovative capabilities to the war fighter.
A technologically advanced derivative of the combat-proven Predator® RPA, Gray Eagle is dedicated to direct operational control by Army field commanders. Its expansive mission set includes persistent, broad-area Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA); convoy protection; Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection; providing aerial imagery to combat patrols; pattern of life analysis; and precision weapons delivery.
A key force multiplier, Gray Eagle has an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)-only endurance of 25 hours, an operating altitude of up to 25,000 feet, and a payload capacity of over 1,000 lb.

Friday, October 25, 2013

TATA Sikorsky JV Delivers First Fully Indian S-92® Helicopter Cabin

Hyderabad, India

US helicopter maker Sikorsky's Indian joint venture established between Tata Advanced Systems announced that its S-92® helicopter cabin production in India has become 100 percent indigenous.

The India operation is not only assembling cabins but also producing all parts needed for the assembly, before shipping the cabins to the U.S. for aircraft completion and customer delivery.

The S-92 helicopter cabin and more than 5,000 associated precision components are made at Hyderabad through a strategic collaboration between Sikorsky and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL).

The Tata Sikorsky India JV also announced the Hyderabad facility of TASL completed another significant milestone in October by producing its 50th S-92 helicopter cabin. The TASL facility now has the capacity to produce up to four cabins a month and is responsible for future design modifications.

In June 2009, Sikorsky and TASL entered into an agreement for production of S-92 helicopter cabins in India, and in November 2009, Sikorsky and TASL entered into a joint-venture for production of more than 5,000 detailed aerospace components in India, thereby establishing two manufacturing facilities in Hyderabad.

Both facilities commenced production within two years of signing the agreements and today constitute an important part of Sikorsky’s global supply chain. The S-92 helicopter cabins from India are shipped to the U.S. for final assembly, and the completed helicopters are delivered to customers globally.

Boeing And Lockheed Teams For USAF's LRS-Bomber

Boeing and Lockheed announced their teaming to compete for the United States Air Force's Long-Range Strike Bomber program, with Boeing acting as the prime contractor and Lockheed Martin as the primary teammate.

The stealthy, high-tech, next-generation Long Range Strike-Bomber will replace portions of the aging fleet of B-2 and B-52 strategic bombers.

The long-range strike capability, while eluding detection, is considered to be a key element of the Pentagon’s much-discussed Air-Sea Battle operating concept.

The Air Force plans to build 100 LRS-B aircraft, at a per unit price of about $550 million per plane. The LRS-B will be nuclear-capable and potentially have the technological capability to be unmanned.

To this critical mission, the team brings together nearly two centuries of combined experience designing, developing and testing aircraft for defense customers around the world.

The companies also bring expertise in integrating proven technologies, and their skilled workforces and critical infrastructure and scale, to meet the U.S. Air Force’s cost and schedule requirements.

Separately the companies are developing two of the Air Force's top priorities, the KC-46 tanker and F-35 Lightning II, respectively, and they partnered on the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter.

Each has delivered key Air Force capabilities including the B-1B bomber, F-15E strike fighter, and F-117 and F-16 fighters. The team will be able to produce unique and affordable solutions that could not be achieved without partnering.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

BAE APKW Laser-Guided Rocket Successfully Qualified For Apache

NASHUA, New Hampshire
Copyright © 2013 BAE Systems

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lockheed Hosting C-130 Hercules Operators Meet


Lockheed Martin is hosting the 25th C-130 Hercules Operators Council (HOC) here, Oct. 21-24. More than 900 representatives from 36 nations are attending to discuss C-130 Hercules support, operations, upgrades and new fleet acquisition.
This year’s theme of “Proven and Still Proving It” provides insight into how the C-130 Hercules has not only proven that it is the world’s most versatile airlifter, but also continues to set new standards for flexibility and multi-mission capabilities.
The HOC environment enables worldwide Hercules operators and partners an opportunity to share insights and perspectives on pertinent C-130 topics as they apply to both legacy and C-130J Super Hercules models. During the HOC, attendees will hear from operators, industry partners, suppliers and Lockheed Martin subject matter experts about operational, technical, modification and maintenance topics of interest to the C-130 community.
To learn more about the HOC, visit its official website. Photos from the HOC will be shared on Lockheed Martin’s Flickr account and you can follow Lockheed Martin’s Twitter feed and #C130 for event updates. For more information about the C-130, visit the official Lockheed Martin C-130 webpage or Code One Magazine.

A400M Clocks 2000 Flight Test Hours

Airbus Military’s five-strong development fleet of A400M new generation airlifters has completed its 2,000th flight. The aircraft that made the milestone flight, a routine flight-test sortie from Manching to Toulouse on 18 October, was the 5th aircraft, known as MSN6 and nicknamed Grizzly 5. Since the first flight of the A400M on 11 December 2009, the development fleet has clocked up 5,665 flight hours. The photo shows the crew of the aircraft with supporting ground crew in front of Grizzly 5 immediately after the flight.

Airbus Military Begins Trials Of C295 Firefighter

photo:Airbus Military

Airbus Military has begun trials of water bombing with a specially modified C295 aircraft at a site near Cordoba, Spain specialized in firefighting. The flights went well and further tests are planned in the near future to make a more detailed analysis of the C295 as a firefighter aircraft.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Northrop to Upgrade French Navy E-2C Hawkeye Fleet

Under a $34.5 million U.S. Navy contract, Northrop Grumman will modify the French Navy's fleet of three E-2C Hawkeyes with an upgraded Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system, further increasing commonality and interoperability with U.S. Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.

Boeing Reduce 747-8 Production Rate

Airplane maker Boeing announced that it will cut the production rate of its 747-8 program from 1.75 airplanes to 1.5 airplanes per month through 2015 because of lower market demand for large passenger and freighter airplanes.
This is the second production cut this year, after one in April in which the production rate for the program was reduced from two airplanes to 1.75 airplanes per month.

"This production adjustment better aligns us with near-term demand while stabilizing our production flow, and better positions the program to offer the 747-8's compelling economics and performance when the market recovers," said Eric Lindblad, vice president and general manager, 747 Program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Although we are making a small adjustment to our production rate, it doesn't change our confidence in the 747-8 or our commitment to the program."
The company expects long-term average growth in the air cargo market to begin returning in 2014, and forecasts global demand for 760 large airplanes (such as the 747-8) over the next 20 years, valued at $280 billion.
The 747-8 family provides airlines with improvements in fuel efficiency, operating costs and emissions.
The 747-8 Freighter give cargo operators the lowest operating costs and best economics of any freighter airplane while providing enhanced environmental performance. It is 250 feet, 2 inches (76.3 m) long, which is 18 feet and 4 inches (5.6 m) longer than the 747-400 Freighter.
The 747-8 Intercontinental have the lowest seat-mile cost of any large commercial jetliner, with double-digit improvements in fuel economy and carbon emissions per passenger, while generating 30 percent smaller noise footprint than the 747-400.
To date, the 747-8 has accumulated 107 orders for passenger and cargo versions, 56 of which have been delivered.
The 747-8 Freighter will give cargo operators the lowest operating costs and best economics of any freighter airplane while providing enhanced environmental performance. It is 250 feet, 2 inches (76.3 m) long, which is 18 feet and 4 inches (5.6 m) longer than the 747-400 Freighter. The 747-8 Intercontinental will have the lowest seat-mile cost of any large commercial jetliner, with double-digit improvements in fuel economy and carbon emissions per passenger, while generating 30 percent smaller noise footprint than the 747-400.
The first delivery at the new production rate is expected in early 2014. The production rate change is not expected to have a significant financial impact.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Crashed Lao Airlines ATR-72 Was Brand New

The ATR 72-600 turboprop airliner operated by Lao Airlines which crashed on Wednesday 16 Oct near Pakse (Laos) registered under RDPL-34233, with MSN (Manufacturing Serial Number) 1071, was delivered from the production line in March 2013.
The flight QV301 was operating between Vientiane and Pakse with 44 passengers and 5 crew members on board.
Flight QV301 departed Vientiane for Pakxe at 2:45pm on Wednesday and plunged into the Mekong River just over an hour later while approaching Pakxe airport for landing, after running into bad weather in the wake of Tropical Storm Nari.
Lao Airlines said the aircraft hit "extreme" bad weather while witnesses described seeing the plane buffeted by strong winds.

First MRJ Flight Test Prototype Aircraft Final Assembly Commences

Final assembly of the first MRJ flight test aircraft under development by Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) got underway today at the Komaki South Plant of MHI's Nagoya Aerospace Systems Works located in Aichi Prefecture on October 15.
The start of final assembly follows the October 13 transfer of the aircraft's mid fuselage fabricated at the Tobishima Plant also in Aichi Prefecture. Assembly of the aircraft will progressively advance as other sections of the fuselage, main wings and other structural components arrive, after which electrical wiring, hydraulic and other systems will be installed, followed by other necessary equipment.
In step with final assembly, plans call for the vertical tail and horizontal stabilizer – built at MHI's Oye Plant in Nagoya – as well as the aircraft's remarkably fuel-efficient cutting-edge engine – supplied by Pratt & Whitney – to be integrated to the airframe.
The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), Japan's first-ever commercial passenger jet, is a family of 70- to 90-seat next-generation aircraft featuring Pratt & Whitney's revolutionary PurePower® engine and state-of-the-art aerodynamics enabling drastic reductions in fuel consumption, noise and emissions while offering top-class operational benefits and an outstanding cabin with large overhead bins and other features designed for heightened passenger comfort.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Second A350 XWB Prototype Joins Flight Test

The second A350 XWB prototype- MSN3, joined the A350 flight test program with successful first flight that lasted approximately five hours on Monday and landed back at Toulose-Blagnac Airport, France.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New ESM Seeker For Tomahawk Block IV Missile Adds Moving Target Engagement Capability

Raytheon completed a successful field test of an advanced Electronic Support Measure (ESM) seeker installed in a Block IV Tomahawk cruise missile as part of the company's new product improvement program.
The ESM seeker incorporates a state-of-the-art processor and antenna to locate and track moving and fixed emitting targets. The seeker's capability was validated in a realistic high-density environment after seven months of testing in anechoic chambers.
"This new moving target capability would enhance Tomahawk's already exceptional land attack mode capability by allowing it to engage moving targets on land," said Roy Donelson, Tomahawk program director for Raytheon Missile Systems. "We believe this evolution would align with DOD's vision of increasing capability while maintaining development costs."
Raytheon continues to work with the U.S. Navy to evaluate Tomahawk's technical and operational capabilities, while using cost-efficient manufacturing processes. A major enhancement introduced with the Tomahawk Block IV missile includes a two-way satellite data-link that enables a strike controller to redirect the missile in-flight to preprogrammed alternate targets or more critical targets.
The new multi-mode seeker technology would allow the Navy's Surface Action Group to fire Tomahawks from sanctuary and defeat mobile threats at long range.

With a range of approximately 1,000 statute miles, the Tomahawk Block IV missile is a surface- and submarine-launched precision strike stand-off weapon. Tomahawk is designed for long-range precision strike missions against high-value and heavily defended targets. More than 2,000 Tomahawks have been employed in combat. Tomahawk is integrated on all major U.S. surface combatants, as well as U.S. and U.K. sub-surface platforms, including the Los Angeles, Virginia, Ohio, Astute and Trafalgar-class submarines.

NASA Seeks Instruments For Its Mars 2020 Rover Mission

NASA has released its announcement of an open competition for the planetary community to submit proposals for the science and exploration technology instruments that would be carried aboard the agency's next Mars rover, scheduled for launch in July/August of 2020.
The Mars 2020 rover will explore and assess Mars as a potential habitat for life, search for signs of past life, collect carefully selected samples for possible future return to Earth, and demonstrate technology for future human exploration of the Red Planet.
Officially called the Mars 2020 Mission Investigations Announcement of Opportunity (AO), this competition solicits flight investigations for which each principal investigator or scientist is responsible for a complete space flight investigation, including instrument hardware, mission operations and data analysis. The total allocated cost for development of all the investigations selected and funded by NASA is approximately $130 million.
The competitively selected instruments will be placed on a rover similar to Curiosity, which landed on Mars in August 2012. Using Curiosity's design will help minimize mission costs and risks and deliver a rover that can accomplish the mission objectives. The Mars 2020 mission also would build upon the scientific accomplishments of Curiosity and other previous Mars missions.
In January 2013, NASA appointed a Science Definition Team to outline objectives for the Mars 2020 mission. The team, composed of 19 scientists and engineers from universities and research organizations, proposed a mission concept that could accomplish several high-priority planetary science goals and be a major step in meeting President Obama's challenge to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.
According to the Science Definition Team, looking for signs of past life is the next logical step.
"The Mars 2020 mission will provide a unique capability to address the major questions of habitability and life in the solar system," said Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division in Washington. "The science conducted by the rover's instruments also would expand our knowledge of Mars and provide the context needed to make wise decisions about whether to return any collected samples to Earth."
This rover will make measurements of mineralogy and rock chemistry down to a microscopic scale, so that we might be able to understand the Martian environment surrounding the rover's landing site and identify evidence of possible past life.
The 2020 rover could also make measurements and conduct technology demonstrations to help designers of a human expedition understand any hazards posed by Martian dust and demonstrate how to collect carbon dioxide, which could be a resource for making oxygen and rocket fuel.
"The Mars 2020 rover will test technologies that are key to one-day landing human explorers on the Red Planet," said Jason Crusan, director of NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems Division. "New technologies could allow astronauts to live off the land as they explore the ancient valleys of Mars. The capability to manufacture breathable air, rocket fuel, water and more may forever change how we explore space."
To view the Announcement of Opportunity online, visit: /Mars2020.

UK Watchkeeper UAV Receives Type Design Assurance

Thales UK announced that its Watchkeeper Unmanned Air System (UAS) has received a Statement of Type Design Assurance (STDA) from the UK’s Military Aviation Authority (MAA). The MAA’s STDA provides assurance that the Watchkeeper air vehicle and software has reached an acceptable level for design safety and integrity to meet the current stage of the system’s development. It is a key component of the process that allows the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) to continue towards the initial Release To Service (RTS). Watchkeeper is the first UAS to receive such an STDA from the MAA, and represents a major step forward for the acceptance of UASs in the airspace environment. This underpins military flying globally in appropriate airspace. The MAA is the independent regulatory authority responsible for all aspects of military air safety, and was formed in 2010 following the recommendations of the Haddon-Cave report.

Embraer selects Thales IFF systems for Brazilian military aircraft upgrades

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has awarded Thales a contract to supply IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) transponders for the upgrade of A1M fighters and E-99 AEW surveillance aircraft in service with the Brazilian Air Force. A total of 48 aircraft will be retrofitted with the new IFF transponders.
Thales will supply its TSC 2030 and TSC 2050 transponders, which are part of the company's BlueGate range of IFF products and provide a digital identification capability in line with NATO's MKXA standard. The aircraft equipped with the new IFF systems will be fully interoperable to overcome risks of friendly fire.
The panel mounted TSC 2030 transponders and the remote 2050 transponders rely on the latest technologies and meet all the most recent standards and regulations defined by NATO and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). They are designed to operate either in national secure cryptographic mode or in the secure identification modes used by NATO forces (Modes 4 and 5).

UK MOD places new order for Thales’s STARStreak missiles

Thales UK today has signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) for a further 200 STARStreak short-range surface-to-air missiles,a key component of the UK’s Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) capability.

The multi-million pound contract was announced by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. David Cameron MP, in a speech to the Northern Ireland Investment Conference in Belfast.

The order has been placed to increase STARStreak stocks as part of the Government’s transformation agenda for the Armed Forces, Force 2020, to equip both the Regular and Reserve forces with the STARStreak systems.

The STARStreak missile systems, and its Air Defence Alerting Device, were deployed in the UK by the British Army during London 2012, where they were considered essential to the delivery of a safe and secure Olympic Games.

F-35 Lightning II Program Surpasses 10,000 Flight Hours

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter program continues its operational maturation, surpassing 10,000 flight hours in September with more than half of the total hours were accumulated in just the past 11 months.
Through September, F-35s flew 6,492 times for a total of 10,077 flight hours. The new milestone effectively doubles the safe flight operations of the F-35 in a year, compared to reaching 5,000 flight hours in six years.
This milestone was achieved by operational production aircraft operating at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, where F-35 pilots and aircraft maintainers conduct training and the combined F-35 System Development and Demonstration (SDD) and Operational Test (OT) aircraft operating at Edwards AFB, California, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland., and Nellis AFB, Nevada.
All three variants: the F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL), the F-35B Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STOVL), and the F-35C Carrier Variant (CV) participated in the program milestone.
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced 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.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dassault Sign Atlantique 2 upgrade contract

Dassault Aviation and Thales welcome the award by the French Ministry of Defence of the contract to modernise the French Navy’s fleet of Atlantique 2 (ATL2) maritime patrol aircraft.

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian signed the contract at a ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Thales facility in Brest (French Brittany), in the presence of Laurent Collet-Billon (DGA), Eric Trappier (Dassault Aviation), Jean-Bernard Lévy (Thales), Patrick Boissier (DCNS) and Patrick Dufour (SIAé).

The contract was negotiated with the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) and calls for the modernisation of the mission systems of fifteen ATL2s.

The main aims of the programme are to develop, then integrate on board the aircraft, next-generation technologies for a new tactical mission system and state-of-the-art sensor subsystems and display consoles.

The integrated systems will be among the most sophisticated in the entire aerospace industry. France is the only country apart from the United States to produce maritime patrol aircraft capable of deploying both advanced sensor suites (optronic, radar, acoustic) and a wide range of weapon systems (anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, laser-guided weapons).

The upgrade programme will improve the ATL2′s ability to deal with new and emerging threats under all weather conditions, both in strategic deterrence roles and in asymmetric conflicts involving quiet and stealthy submarines, high-speed craft, land vehicles, etc. The aircraft will be equipped to remain in operational service beyond 2030.

The programme will be conducted by Dassault Aviation and Thales (co-contractors) in partnership with DCNS and working with the SIAé.

Dassault Aviation will be in charge of developing the core system, including the LOTI mission software developed by DCNS. Dassault Aviation will also be responsible for subsystems integration and the conversion of a “prototype” aircraft for flight testing.

Thales will develop the radar/IFF subsystem and the latest-generation digital acoustic processing subsystem (STAN). The radar will benefit from the latest technologies based on those developed for the Rafale.

The STAN subsystem will process signals from all existing and future sonobuoys, detecting targets over a wider frequency range and making it possible to counter new types of threats.
DCNS will develop the LOTI software, which will establish an overall tactical picture based on data from different sensors, and manage the deployment of torpedoes, missiles and other weapons. This collaborative system enables several operators to interact at the same time.

The SIAé will be responsible for developing the upgraded tactical display consoles and managing full-rate aircraft upgrade operations.

The programme will help to maintain key skills required by the defence industry in areas ranging from undersea warfare and next-generation acoustics to radars for combat and surveillance roles and complex systems architecture and integration. The development and production work will support jobs in several regions of France for both the main contractors and their partner SMEs.

Sensor developments will build on the results of government-funded advanced study programmes in underwater detection and combat aircraft radars, including the RBE2 active electronically scanned array radar (AESA) developed for the Rafale.

Dassault Aviation delivered the French Navy’s fleet of ATL2 aircraft during the 1990s to conduct air missions in support of France’s deterrence capabilities (for the FOST strategic ocean force and its fleet of nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines) and the country’s other strategic missions (knowledge, anticipation, prevention and protection) in a diverse threat environment.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Iran Unveil Reverse Engineered Boeing ScanEagle UAV

Iranian Reverse Engineered ScanEagl
Iran officialy unveiled its reverse engineered version of Boeing ScanEagle UAV.
Commander of Iran’s Army Ground Force Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan unveiled the UAV dubbed ‘Yasir’.
Interestingly, the Iran have modified the ScanEagle, by adding a twin-tail boom empennage and an inverted v-tail rudder similar to that of the RQ-7 Shadow.
The drone can fly at an altitude of 15,000 feet, has a flight endurance of eight hours and effective operational radius of 200 kilometers.
The portable uav, is equipped with state-of-art and light cameras for reconnaissance.
In December 2012, Iran stated it had captured an American ScanEagle that allegedly violated its airspace over the Persian Gulf. Iran later stated it had also captured two other ScanEagle's, which the U.S. Navy denied.
The Boeing Insitu ScanEagle is a small, low-cost, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing.
Boeing ScanEagle
Iran had also put into service a long-range drone called Shahed 129, with a range of 1,700 kilometres (or 1,050 miles). The drone is capable of flying for up to 24 hours and carrying eight missiles.The Shahed 129 was unveiled in September 2012.

Snecma Tests Futuristic Vinci Cryogenic Engine

Snecma has began a new series of tests of the Snecma (Safran) Vinci® cryogenic rocket engine intended for the upper stages of the new Ariane launchers, the upgraded Ariane 5ME (Midlife Evolution) and the brand-new Ariane 6. The first two tests of the No. 5 development engine, on September 10 and 26, were a complete success.
The Vinci® M5 variant features a hydrogen turbopump that incorporates the latest configuration changes. Lasting ten months, this series of tests will include a total of 16 firing tests and will enable validating the latest modifications in order to freeze the design by the end of 2014.
"The fifth example of our Vinci® engine confirms the maturity of the technologies used, and the tests show the engine’s excellent performance," said David Quancard, director of Snecma’s Space Engines division.
Four Vinci® development engines were already successfully ground tested from 2005 to 2012, logging over 15,500 seconds of operation during 61 firing tests. With the kickoff of the current series of tests, the development of the Vinci® engine is on track to meet the technical objectives and timetable set by the European Space Agency (ESA), which should culminate in the qualification of the engine in 2017.
The Vinci® cryogenic engine (fueled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen) is restartable in flight, and offers three times more thrust than the HM7B engine used on the upper stage of the current Ariane 5 ECA launcher. It is being developed by Snecma (Safran) as prime contractor, leading a team of European partners.
The Vinci® engine will combine high performance and reliability with economical operation. Because it can be reignited multiple times in orbit, it facilitates the orbital positioning of satellites launched on the same mission.
 Ariane 5 ME and Ariane 6 are ESA programs, with Astrium ST as industrial prime contractor in charge of the development of these new launch vehicles.

BAE LRLAP Completes Qualification Tests

BAE Systems, with support from its subcontractor Lockheed Martin Corporation, successfully completed qualification testing for the 155-mm Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP).
During the recent tests, nine LRLAPs were successfully fired at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. These tests were designed to demonstrate accuracy, reliability, lethality, and time of arrival control. In addition, six of the nine rounds were subjected to an environmental qualification, which included temperature variation and vibration tests that proved the LRLAP’s reliability after exposure to different transportation situations and storage environments. Test requirements were met or exceeded, and all objectives were successfully demonstrated.
BAE Systems’ 155-mm LRLAPis effective against a variety of targets in multiple mission areas. The LRLAP is guided by a GPS and Inertial Measurement Unit, allowing for high levels of accuracy at ranges up to, and in excess of, 63 nautical miles. This capability reduces costs by requiring fewer rounds to achieve desired effects on targets and is effective where collateral damage is an issue.
Completing several successful test fires in 2005, the 155-mm AGS with LRLAP will support U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps expeditionary and joint operations warfighters in the littorals and deep inland.
Drawing from a fully-automated weapon handling and storage system for up to 600 rounds, AGS will employ a family of GPS/inertial measurement unit-guided and ballistic 155-mm munitions capable of delivering a unitary, high-explosive warhead at extreme range.

Sikorsky S-97 Raider Prototype Enters Final Assembly

Helicopter maker Sikorsky has began final assembly of its first prototype S-97 RAIDER™ helicopter following acceptance of the composite fuselage structure from Aurora Flight Sciences.
Consisting of an integrated cockpit, cabin and tail cone, the composite fuselage arrived September 20 at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the company will complete a light tactical rotorcraft designed to outmatch conventional military helicopters in speed, maneuverability, payload, range, and high altitude operations.
Sikorsky will convert the fuselage into a 36-foot-long, 11,000-lb.-gross weight S-97 RAIDER prototype aircraft. Configured to Sikorsky’s X2® coaxial design, the fly-by-wire controlled helicopter will feature counter-rotating rigid main rotor blades for lift and forward flight, and a pusher propeller for high speed acceleration and deceleration.
Sikorsky proved the efficiency of the rigid rotor co-axial design in 2010 when its 6,000-lb. gross weight X2 demonstrator helicopter achieved 250 knot flight speed, or twice the speed of conventional helicopters. It also demonstrated low pilot workload and low acoustic signature. The RAIDER prototype aircraft will improve on the X2 demonstrator by showcasing precision maneuvers in low flight speed, high G turning maneuvers at over 200 knots, hot day hover performance at altitudes up to 10,000 feet, and significant improvements in payload and flight endurance compared with conventional light tactical helicopters.
Aurora Flight Sciences is one of 36 industry teammates fabricating components for the Sikorsky-led RAIDER program. The mostly carbon fiber fuselage structure was fabricated at Aurora’s manufacturing facility in Bridgeport, W. Valencia.
From the start of conceptual design in late 2010, Sikorsky has pushed development of the S-97 RAIDER helicopter within a rapid timeline. Sikorsky intends to begin demonstrating the RAIDER helicopter’s game-changing flight capabilities to the U.S. military and other potential customers in 2015.

Snecma Continues Open Rotor Aircraft Engine Tests

The Open Rotor type aircraft engine, a futuristic concept with counter-rotating high-speed propellers, underwent a new series of tests in mid-July in the large S1 wind tunnel operated by French aerospace research agency Onera in Modane, Savoy region.

These tests used a 1/5 scale model that enabled engineers to check out several types of propeller pairs. Carried out within the scope of the European research program Clean Sky (a partnership between the European Commission and the aviation industry), this latest series of tests focused on the engine's low-speed aerodynamic and aeroacoustic performance.

 Results were promising according to Marc Doussinault, propeller module manager at Snecma.

"This was the third series of tests for the setup we have dubbed HERA (hélice rapide, the French acronym for "high-speed propeller), which is dedicated to maturing the design of the open rotor's counter-rotating propellers," explained Marc Doussinault.

"The test rig comprises two compressed air turbines, each driving one propeller. We performed two different test series, one using the baseline propeller pair, which had already been tested, the other 
with a new configuration reflecting the architecture selected for the target engine. This configuration allows the propellers to rotate at different speeds, giving the engine greater operating freedom and enhancing both aeroacoustic and aerodynamic performance. The tests proceeded smoothly, without any major problems. We used a number of different settings, giving us a complete profile of the propeller pair's acoustic and aerodynamic performance."

Based on this data Snecma's teams were able to validate the design codes and better understand the physical phenomena involved in reducing propeller noise – especially reducing vortices around the blade tips and the wake intensity.

According to Marc Doussinault, this latest series of tests settled a number of issues concerning the Open Rotor's acoustic performance. "Noise has always been the major problem with the Open Rotor. But we have made a lot of progress in this area, and today we demonstrated that we can meet the new noise standards for certification," he added.

Full-scale propeller tests planned in 2015. The Open Rotor engine still has a long way to go before entering service, perhaps in 2025-2030. A new series of tests is already scheduled for September-October 2013, also using Onera's wind tunnel in Modane.

But as Marc Doussinault explains, "This time it will be a high-speed test, since we want to demonstrate the engine's potential for reducing fuel consumption. Our objective on the Open Rotor is to reduce fuel burn by 25 to 30 percent compared with the CFM56 – and we are very confident we can reach this goal."

Tests using full-scale propellers are slated for 2015 on the test stand in Istres, southern France. The demonstrator will be based on a gas generator (core) from the M88, the engine powering the Rafale fighter.

These tests will be used to characterize the performance of full-size blades made of a 3D woven composite, like the fan blades on the LEAP commercial aero-engine, now under development. In turn, this means that the blade design will have to be frozen very shortly.

"We will start manufacturing the molds in early 2014, then we will need nearly a year to produce the first blades," notes Marc Doussinault.

Snecma will then have another 15 years or so to develop the complete Open Rotor engine and show that it is ready to power aircraft in revenue service.