Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Northrop to develop US Navy's new ISR and strike UAV

Northrop Grumman has been awarded the third phase of the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN) unmanned aerial systems program contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research.

Tern seeks to develop an autonomous, unmanned, long-range, global, persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and strike system intended to safely and dependably deploy and recover from small-deck naval vessels with minimal ship modifications.

The program aims to give small-deck ships such as destroyers and frigates, their own unmanned air systems (UASs) to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and other capabilities at long range around the clock.

Northrop Grumman, world leader in unmanned maritime surveillance platforms will leverage experience, expertise, and lessons from development of its MQ-8B/C Fire Scout, MQ-4C Triton, X-47A Pegasus and X-47B UCAS unmanned platforms.

DARPA plans to build a full-scale demonstrator system of a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS in this phase. The first two phases successfully focused on preliminary design and risk reduction.

Initial ground-based testing, if successful, would lead to an at-sea demonstration of takeoff, transition to and from horizontal flight, and landing—all from a test platform with a deck size similar to that of a destroyer or other small surface-combat vessel.

The Tern Phase 3 design envisions a tailsitting, flying-wing aircraft with twin counter-rotating, nose-mounted propellers. The propellers would lift the aircraft from a ship deck, orient it for horizontal flight and provide propulsion to complete a mission.

They would then reorient the craft upon its return and lower it to the ship deck. The system would fit securely inside the ship when not in use.

The Tern demonstrator will bear some resemblance to the Convair XFY-1 Pogo, an experimental ship-based VTOL fighter designed by the Navy in the 1950s to provide air support for fleets.

Despite numerous successful demonstrations, the XFY-1 never advanced beyond the prototype stage, in part because the Navy at the time was focusing on faster jet aircraft and determined that pilots would have needed too much training to land on moving ships in rough seas.

The Northrop Grumman Tern team includes its wholly owned subsidiary Scaled Composites, as well as General Electric (GE) Aviation, AVX Aircraft Company and Moog. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Maiden MRJ delivery delayed to 2018

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation has announced another delay to its Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) passenger aircraft, the fourth since program launch in 2008.

The delay will change the maiden delivery schedule to Japanese ANA airline from the second quarter of 2017 to approximately one year later.

Mitsubishi said the first flight and the subsequent two flight tests have confirmed the basic characteristics to be satisfactory. However, several issues were identified during the engineering work with experts in the United States.

One of the major issue is with the aircraft's main wing, which has to be strengthened. Currently the wing is not capable to withstand the 50 percent more load than encountered during normal flight, required to achieve type certification.

Further upgrades are required to its wheels and landing gear, which has to be re-designed to improve safety. The flight control system needs more testing and requires an improved software.

The 70 to 90 seat MRJ is the first Japanese airliner designed after the YS-11 turboprop developed in the 1960s. Maiden flight was completed on Nov 11, from Nagoya, Japan.

Mitsubishi has received orders for more than 400 of the type, which is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW1200G geared turbofan engines.

Airbus begin Beluga XL production

Airbus has started production of the first Beluga XL outsized cargo transport aircraft, which is based on its A330-200 Freighter.

The first cut of the Beluga XL MSN001 rear fuselage was achieved in Spain, paving the way for the final assembly to begin in early 2017.

The rear fuselage, produced by Aernnova, will be the first part to be delivered to the Beluga Final Assembly Line in Toulouse. The Beluga XL entry into service is planned in mid-2019.

The Beluga XL was launched in November 2014 to address the transport capacity requirements in view of the A350 XWB ramp-up and other aircraft production rate increases.

The Beluga XL will be powered with Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines. The fleet of five Beluga XL aircraft will provide Airbus with an additional 30 percent extra transport capacity.

The Beluga fleet is used to transport large aircraft parts across Airbus's European assembly line in Hamburg, Germany and Toulouse, France. Current fleet of five Beluga aircraft is based on the Airbus A300 aircraft, whose production ended in 2007.

Australia requests Chinook military helicopters

U.S State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale of Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters to Australia.

Australia has requested sale of three CH-47F helicopters and six T55-GA-714A turboshaft engines. The deal estimated to cost $180 million, also include related equipment and support.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying U.S. Congress of this possible sale on December 18, 2015.

The CH-47F aircraft will replace Australia’s retiring CH-47D variant and improve Australia's heavy lift capability.

The principal contractor will be the Boeing Helicopter Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There are no known offset agreements at this time associated with this proposed sale.

The Chinook is operated by Australian army for troop movement, artillery emplacement and battlefield re-supply.The twin-engined, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter has a top speed of 170 knots (315 km/h).

It has a wide loading ramp at the rear of the fuselage and three external-cargo hooks underneath. With a maximum take off weight of 21 ton, the Chinook has a range of 600 km and can carry 33 fully equipped troops.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Images: Mahan Air A310 crashes into airport fence

A Mahan Air Airbus A310 passenger aircraft crashed into a guard rail at the Ataturk Airport, Istanbul today at 08:35 local time after a brake malfunction.

While taxing to apron at a very low speed, the aircraft failed to stop due to a faulty hydraulic brake and came to rest after crashing into the fence. The crash caused the front landing gear to fail, collapsing the aircraft on to a vacant bus.

There were 166 people on board including passengers and crew. No injuries were reported and all on board exited normally from the aircraft.

The Iranian airline was operating Flight 112 from Tehran to Istanbul. The single aisle aircraft with registration EP-MNP was built in 1991.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

France orders 7 additional Tiger HAD attack helicopters

The French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) has ordered seven additional Tiger HAD attack helicopters, bringing to 67 the total number of Tigers that will eventually be operated by the French Army Aviation. The additional Tigers will be delivered in 2017-2018.

Since July 2009, Tigers have been deployed continuously by the French Army in different areas, such as Afghanistan, Libya and Sahel. While deployments in Afghanistan and Libya have come to an end, Tigers are still supporting missions in Sahel where, despite the hostile operating conditions, the helicopter has shown a very high level of availability and logged more than 2,000 flight hours since the start of deployment in January 2013.

With its flat and narrow silhouette the Tiger HAD’s advantages include low detectability, low vulnerability, high survivability, high agility and manoeuvrability making it the attack helicopter best adapted to both symmetric and asymmetric battlefields with unique capabilities whether for air-to-ground or air-to-air combat.

It is equipped with an extremely accurate 30mm turret cannon and a range of wing-mounted missiles and rockets together with a highly efficient electronic warfare system. The Tiger HAD is also navalised and can be fully operated from sea, as was demonstrated in 2011 by the French Army Aviation operating off the Libyan coastline.

The Tiger is a key asset in any operation, whether for direct combat or escort missions. It can be deployed anywhere thanks to its robustness and simplicity of use. It is easy to maintain and does not require heavy infrastructure.

To date, Airbus Helicopters has delivered more than 120 Tiger helicopters to France, Germany, Spain and Australia and the aircraft has accumulated more than 68,000 flying hours.

Lockheed meets F-35 production goal for 2015

Lockheed Martin has delivered the 45th F-35 Lightning II aircraft to U.S. Dept of Defense, meeting the program's production goal for 2015.

The delivery bring the total F-35 delivered to 154 operational aircraft to the DOD and partner nations since program inception.

The 45 F-35 deliveries include:

•  26 F-35A - U.S. Air Force

•  2 F-35A - Royal Norwegian Air Force (first two)

•  1 F-35A - Aeronautica Militare (first Italian Air Force)

•  8 F-35B - U.S. Marine Corps

•  8 F-35C – 4 U.S. Navy /4 U.S. Marine Corps

The 45 F-35 Lightning II aircraft are assigned to the following installations:

• 17 - Luke Air Force Base, Glendale, AZ – including all international jets

•  8 - Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, SC

•  8 - Eglin Air Force Base, Valparaiso, FL

•  5 - Hill Air Force Base, Ogden, UT

•  7 - Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, NV

 “Delivering the most F-35s in program history is a clear demonstration of our growing maturity and stability,” said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin F-35 Program General Manager. “Congratulations to the entire government and industry team for their work to deliver 45 aircraft.”

Lockheed targets to achieve 17 aircraft per month production rate by 2020 from the current 3 per month. More than 3000 of the type will be produced through 2035.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Maiden flight for NATO Global Hawk AGS

The first Global Hawk unmmaned surveillance aircraft for NATO's Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) program arrived at Edwards Air Force Base, California on Dec. 19 completing its first flight.

The test flight marks the start of six months of ground and airborne testing at Edwards before the aircraft is ferried to its main operating center in Italy.

NATO AGS is a derivative of the wide-area surveillance Global Hawk, with a few small changes in the communications software to meet certain criteria for operation in Europe.

Launched in 2012, the AGS program uses remotely piloted aircraft, sensors, ground stations and mission support to conduct real-time surveillance. The system will include five aircraft and European Selex ES supplied mobile and transportable ground stations that will provide data link connectivity, data processing and exploitation capabilities to multiple deployed and non-deployed operational users.

The unmanned air vehicles rolled off the Northrop Grumman factory line in San Diego in June 2015. The system will go live in Italy from 2017 at the Italian Air Force’s Sigonella base in Sicily.

The Global Hawk with its 30 hours endurance will perform persistent surveillance over wide areas from high-altitude in any weather or light condition. The system will give commanders a comprehensive picture of the situation on the ground.

The aircraft is equipped with leading-edge technology, including the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program AESA radar that can generates high-resolution remote sensing imagery and track moving targets in ground.

The AGS system is being acquired by 15 Allies (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States).

The NATO-owned and -operated AGS core capability will enable the Alliance to perform persistent surveillance over wide areas from high-altitude long-endurance aircraft in any weather or light condition. The system will give commanders a comprehensive picture of the situation on the ground.

Updated: Indonesian KAI T-50 trainer crashes during airshow

An Indonesian KAI T-50 trainer jet has crashed while taking part in a aerobatic show at the Adi Sucipto Airport in Yogyakarta, Java killing its two pilots.

The trainer was carrying out solo aerial display as a part of 70th anniversary of the Air Force Flight School in Yogyakarta, when its lost control and crashed into a building, before hitting ground, bursting into flames.

It has been confirmed that both pilots have not ejected from the jet. One of the pilot was the commander of Squadron 15, based at the Iswahyudi Air Base in Madiun, East Java.

Footage of the event shows the aircraft stalling while performing a barrel roll maneuver. The low altitude could have made recovery from the stall, impossible.

The trainer built by South Korean Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI), was inducted into Indonesian fleet in 2013 to enhance fighter pilot training. This is the first crash involving the type, which entered service with South Korean Air Force in 2005.

Indonesia signed a deal for 16 T-50 trainer jets in 2011 for $400 million. The delivery was completed in 2014.

Jointly developed with Lockheed Martin, the T-50 has won export orders from Philippines, Iraq and Thailand.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Russia-China contract to develop AHL heavy helicopter by mid-2016

AHL Advanced Heavy Lift Russian-Chinese helicopter

Russia hopes to sign the contract for development of a heavy transport helicopter with China by mid-2016, says said Dmitry Shugaev Deputy CEO of Rostec.

Both sides have signed a framework agreement for cooperation on the project in May 2015.

Russian Helicopters and the Chinese corporation AVIC (China Aviation Industry Corporation) are jointly developing the helicopter designated AHL (Advanced Heavy Lift).

He said an intergovernmental agreement is expected by the middle of next year, which was earlier planned for this year end.

The AHL with a maximum takeoff weight of 38.2 tons, will be equipped with a seven-bladed main rotor and five-blade tail rotor. Operating altitude will be 5,700 meters and will have a range of 630 km and a maximum speed of 300 km/h.

Even though based on the world's largest helicopter, the Mi-26, AHL's payload capacity will not be higher than the Mi-26. It will be capable of carrying 10 tons of cargo inside the cabin and 15 tons on the external sling.

Earlier in November 2015, Russian Helicopters CEO Alexander MIkheev have said that, the Russian side would be responsible for the helicopter’s transmission and tail rotor system.

Possibility of developing a helicopter engine based on the Russian new generation PD-14 turbofan engine which is being flight tested, is also under consideration.

Turkey develops armed Bayraktar drone

Turkey joined handful of countries capable of developing an armed drone, with the successful testing of an air to ground munitions from its indigenous Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aircraft system on Thursday.

Bayraktar TB2 flying at 16000 ft, successfully engaged a ground target with a Roketsan UMTAS long range anti tank missile from 8 km.

The Bayraktar can be armed with two UMTAS missiles, weighing 37.5 kg each on its each under wing pylons.The laser guided UMTAS has an range of 8 km and is effective against an 160 mm armour.

Bayraktar has a blended wing body design with its inverse V-Tail structure. The fuselage extensively uses carbon fiber composites.

The Medium Altitude and Long Endurance (MALE) class UAV has a wingspan of 12 m and 650 kg maximum take off weight, and can fly up to 22,500 feet and loiter for more than 24 hours.

The Bayraktar is powered by a single Rotax 912 piston engine rated at 100 hp in pusher configuration. First flown in 2009, the drone is operational with Turkish armed forces.

Bayraktar is developed by the Kale-Baykar joint venture between the Kale Group and Baykar Technologies. Bayraktar has set a record for autonomous flight endurance when it flew 24 hours and 34 minutes at 18,000 feet on 5 August 2014.

Other countries who have developed armed drone include U.S., Israel, China, Iran and South Africa.

Friday, December 18, 2015

NASA awards second mission for Boeing CST-100 Spacecraft

NASA awarded a second commercial human spaceflight mission to Boeing for transporting crew to the International Space Station (ISS) with flights beginning in 2017.

Boeing will transport the crews using its Commercial Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) “Starliner” spacecraft, that will be launched upon an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida.

The award is technically a task order to Boeing’s $4.2 billion Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract. Boeing could provide as few as two and as many as six missions to the space station after completing human rating certification.

Boeing met a series of development milestones in order to receive NASA’s “Authority to Proceed.” Several of these milestones were accomplished in 2015 including those demonstrating integrated design maturity, qualification test vehicle readiness and reviews demonstrating flight software and checkout and control systems maturity.

Launch vehicle provider United Launch Alliance recently completed construction on the main column of the Starliner crew access tower at Space Launch Complex-41, the first crew tower to be built at Cape Canaveral, Fla., since the 1960s.

NASA has selected Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to launch astronauts to the International Space Station, ending its reliance on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

This is the third in a series of four guaranteed orders NASA will make under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts. Boeing and SpaceX received their first orders in May and November, respectively, and have started planning for, building and procuring the necessary hardware and assets to carry out their first missions for the agency. NASA will identify at a later time which company will fly a mission to the station first.

A standard commercial crew mission to the station will carry up to four NASA or NASA-sponsored crew members and about 220 pounds of pressurized cargo. The spacecraft will remain at the station for up to 210 days, available as an emergency lifeboat during that time.

Aerojet completed design review of AR1 rocket engine

Aerojet Rocketdyne completed a key design milestone for its U.S. made AR1 rocket engine this week, which is being developed as a direct replacement for the Russian-made RD-180 engines that currently power the ULA Atlas V rocket for orbiting majority of U.S. national security satellites..

During this design review, each of the 18 components and subsystems on the AR1 engine were thoroughly analyzed to ensure that each works properly and that once integrated, will function together seamlessly.

With this review successfully completed, the company will continue with AR1 development in preparation for full-scale engine testing in 2017, and delivery of a flight-qualified engine ready for certification by 2019.

To date, AR1 has undergone more than 155 staged-combustion tests, built and successfully hot-fire tested additively manufactured components, conducted turbomachinery and valve tests, and began procurements for long-lead items.

Aerojet has earlier delivered large liquid rocket engines, like the RS-25 for NASA’s Space Launch System and the RS-68 for the Delta IV launch vehicle.

The AR1 engine is powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants that use an advanced oxidizer-rich staged combustion cycle to generate 500,000 pounds of thrust. A set of two AR1 engines will generate one million pounds of thrust for the Atlas V launch vehicle.

Configurable to multiple launch vehicles, AR1 is also a booster propulsion option for the proposed Vulcan launch system and other launch vehicles in development. The AR1 engine incorporates the latest advances in rocket engine technology, materials science and modern manufacturing techniques to deliver an affordable and reliable booster engine.

Saudi Arabia commits to 30 Antonov An-178 military transport aircraft

Saudi Arabia will acquire 30 Antonov An-178 medium lift military transport aircraft, according to an MoU signed between Tagnia Aeronautics and Antonov.

The under-development An-178, which first flew in May 2015 is based on the Antonov An-148 passenger aircraft.

The deal marks growing relationship between the Kingdom and Ukrainian airframer, as they are already engaged in joint development of the An-132 turboprop freighter based on the An-26 transport plane.

The An-178 will bolster airlift capabilities of Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) with its 18 ton payload capacity, complementing RSAF's existing fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules and Airbus CN-235 turboprop airlifters.

With its typical airlifter design including a high mounted wing and T-tail, the An-178 can operate from any runway including unpaved airfields and poorly equipped airfields. It is powered by two Ivchenko Progress D-436 turbofan engines enabling cruise at altitudes of up to 12.2 km.

The An-178 is equipped with a kneeling landing gear which enable to adjust the aircraft's cargo floor to truck-bed height.

Antonov has already received orders for An-178 from Chinese and Azerbaijan companies for 2,10 aircraft respectively. China has also signed agreement for serial production of An-178 locally.

The An-178 was designed to replace the large no of vintage An-12 four engined turboprop freighters operated in African countries. Antonov forecasts a market demand for up to 1100 aircraft of the type until 2035. 

CS100 achieve Canadian Type Certification

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft announced today that its all-new CS100 aircraft received Transport Canada Type Certification, paving way for maiden delivery to launch customer SWISS in second quarter of 2016.

The clean sheet design aircraft offers operators potential savings of between US$ 7.5 to 12 million per aircraft.

Heavily instrumented cabin of a flight test CS100
The certification was awarded following a comprehensive and rigorous testing program, which included more than 3,000 flight test hours, the validation of thousands of test results and the authentication of extensive design and performance data.

Flight Engineer station in a flight test CS100
Bombardier will continue to work with Transport Canada to validate the CS100 aircraft’s training syllabus.

The CS100 along with the stretched CS300 will cater to the 100 to 150 seat segment, challenging the duopoly of Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family.

The C Series aircraft’s larger seats, overhead bins and windows create a widebody feel that offers passengers unparalleled comfort.

In single class the CS100 can seat 120 passenger and 108 passengers in dual class. With 28 inch pitch, seating can be increased to a maximum of 133 passengers.

The cockpit features Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion® advanced avionics with five large 15.1” LCD displays, side stick controls, advanced fly-by-wire with full envelope protection & speed stabilization, Cat IIIa Autoland capability, Graphical flight management system and an advanced multi-scan weather radar.

Optional features inlude the CAT IIIb Autoland, Single or dual Head-Up Display system (HUD), Class 2 electronic flight bag, Integrated flight information system and SATCOM voice and data link.

Noise performance testing on the CS100 aircraft has been completed and data confirms it is the quietest in-production commercial jet in its class. The aircraft’s noise performance and its outstanding short-field capability make it ideal for varied types of operations. The C Series aircraft’s maximum range has also been confirmed to be up to 3,300 NM (6,112 km), some 350 NM (648 km) more than originally targeted.

The aircraft is delivering more than a 20 per cent fuel burn advantage compared to in-production aircraft, and a greater than 10 per cent advantage compared to re-engined aircraft, along with 50 per cent fewer NOX emissions.

CSeries is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PurePower® PW1500G gearerd turbofan engines rated at thrust ranging from 93.3 kN to 103.6 kN. The engine features a state of the art gear system separates the engine fan from the low pressure compressor and turbine, allowing each of the modules to operate at their optimum speeds.

This enables the fan to rotate slower and while the low pressure compressor and turbine operate at a high speed, increasing engine efficiency and delivering significantly lower fuel consumption, emissions and noise.

CS100 during water ingestion test
The CS100 has completed route proving flights to over 30 city pairs across North America in November, which included 70 legs with the aircraft flying over 50,000 nautical miles (92,600 km) – the equivalent of over twice the Earth’s circumference.

The aircraft can operate up to 41,000 ft.(12,497 m) and has a Normal Cruising Speed of 0.78 Mach (447 kts). With a maximum take off weight of 60 ton, the CS100 can carry a payload of 15 ton including 3.6 ton cargo.

The stretched CS300 is on track to obtain its Type Certificate within the next six months as planned. Both aircraft have over 95 per cent parts commonality, as well as the same type rating.

Bombardier has booked orders and commitments for 603 C Series aircraft, which include firm orders for 243.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

India selects targeting sensor for Apache attack helicopters

Lockheed Martin Image
India became the 15th international customer to select the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) systems for its Apache attack helicopters.

U.S. Army has awarded Lockheed Martin a $107.8 million foreign military sale contract to provide the M-TADS/PNVS) systems to the Indian Army.

Under the contract, $107.8 million is obligated to Lockheed Martin with a total value not to exceed $215.7 million. The contract includes 23 M-TADS/PNVS systems and spares for India, which extends production at Lockheed Martin facilities in Orlando and Ocala, Florida, through 2019.

The sensors will equip the 22 Apache attack helicopters contracted with Boeing along with 15 Chinook transport helicopters for $3.1 billion in September 2015.

The M-TADS/PNVS sensor system is used to acquire, engage and destroy adversary threats from extended ranges. It provides Apache pilots with long-range, precision engagement and pilotage capabilities for safe flight during day, night and adverse weather missions.

The lower M-TADS turret contains the targeting system, which has both day and night sensor assemblies.

The forward-looking infrared sensors enhanced image resolution enable Apache aircrews to accurately identify targets and provide situational awareness to ground troops outside of detection ranges.

Designed for two-level field maintenance, M-TADS/PNVS reduce operation and support costs by 50 percent over the 40-year system life.

Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 1,300 M-TADS/PNVS systems and spares to the U.S. Army and international customers.

Modernized Day Sensor Assembly (M-DSA) is the next step in the modernization of the M-TADS/PNVS system, also known as Arrowhead. The M-DSA incorporates updated Laser Rangefinder Designator, TV Sensor, and Laser Spot Tracker components, elements of which were designed in the 1970s.

KAI-Lockheed rolls out T-X demonstrator trainer

Korean Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin rolled out the first prototype trainer jet to be offered for U.S. Air Force T-X next generation trainer competition.

The demonstrator is based on the T-50 trainer/light-attack aircraft developed by KAI for South Korean armed forces, with assistance from Lockheed Martin.

The most striking structural difference from the T-50 trainer is the dorsal hump. Major features include cockpit with large area display, embedded training system and aerial refueling capability.

KAI says ground test and first flight are targeted in 2016. The aircraft is powered by the same GE F404 afterburning turbofan engine with dual channel FADEC system.

The USAF T-X program aims to replace the ageing fleet of 431 Northrop Grumman T-38 Talon trainers, which have been serving since the 1960s. The requirement is estimated for 350 aircraft.

The T-38 which was built in 1961 is inadequate to prepare pilots for the advanced fifth generation aircraft like the F-35. Even though the T-38 has been upgraded with a glass cockpit, the inability to upgrade the T-38’s performance and simulated sensor capability hampered teaching critical skills essential to today’s military pilots.

A second issue with the T-38 was aircraft sustainment. The T-38s have not met training command’s requirement for 75-percent availability since 2011, meaning many are not mission capable and unavailable for training.

Currently, 12 of 18 advanced pilot training tasks can’t be completed with the T-38, relying on fighter and bomber formal training units to complete the training at a much greater cost.

kai-lockheed martin t-x demonstrator
KAI Photo
USAF intend to award the T-X contract in the fall of 2017, with initial operational capability planned by the end of 2023.

The T-X requirements identify three key performance characteristics for the advanced pilot training mission: sustained G, simulator visual acuity and performance, and aircraft sustainment. A highlight in the requirements is embedded training with synthetic sensors and data link.

Other competitors for the program include the Northrop Grumman, Boeing-Saab team -both offering a clean sheet design and the Italian Alenia Aermacchi offering the T-100 based on its M-346 lead in fighter/trainer aircraft.

Lockheed Martin had earlier revealed a backup clean sheet design for the T-X competition, developed by its famous Skunk Works division in-case USAF opts for a bespoke system.

First ASW configured NH90 delivered to Sweden

Airbus Helicopters delivered the first Swedish NH90 in full anti-submarine warfare (ASW) configuration to the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration FMV (Försvarets Materielverk).

The fully-qualified rotorcraft has an entirely customized mission system including underwater sonar, tactical radar and high cabin for improved interior space.

In total, Sweden has ordered 18 NH90, 13 equipped for search-and-rescue missions (SAR) and five in ASW configuration. In the frame of today’s delivery, FMV and the manufacturer NHIndustries have also signed a contract to modify four already delivered NH90 from SAR to ASW configuration, bringing the total Swedish NH90 fleet to nine ASW and nine SAR aircraft.

Prior to delivery, the aircraft has been thoroughly tested by the Swedish acceptance team in Donauwörth and over water in Marignane.

Several military services around the globe are already operating the NH90 in search & rescue, tactical transport, ASW or surveillance missions over sea. About 260 of combat-proven helicopter has been delivered to 13 different nations and nearly 100,000 flying hours in operation.

Management of the NH90 program is handled by the NHIndustries consortium, which is owned by Airbus Helicopters (62.5%), AgustaWestland (32%), and Stork Fokker (5.5%).

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tecnam P2010 achieve US certification

Italian airframer, Tecnam has secured Federal Aviation Administration Type Certification for its P Twenty Ten piston engined general aviation aircraft.

The high wing, four-seat aircraft brings together an advanced technology all carbon fibre fuselage with a metal wing and stabilator.

The wide composite cabin allows for a large instrument panel with three avionics options; analogue IFR, a Garmin G500 IFR or twin-screen Garmin G1000 IFR with integrated GFC700 autopilot.

It is powered by a 180 hp Lycoming IO-360-M1A piston engine driving a two bladed fixed pitch propeller. The engine that can run on both Mogas and Avgas, consumes 9.14 US Gal/h (34.6 lt/h) and enables a top speed of 140 kts (260 kmph).

With a maximum take-off weight of up to 2557 lb (1160 kg), the P2010 can carry a useful load of 992 lb (450 kg). The wing box mounted 240 litres fuel tank gives a maximum range of 715 nautical miles.

Tecnam has setup a customer delivery center, assembly facility and its U.S. subsidiary headquarters at the Sebring Regional Airport in Florida.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Airbus Helicopters complete H135 delivery to Japan

Airbus Helicopters has successfully handed over the 14th and 15th H135 training helicopters to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

This marks the delivery completion of 15 H135s over the last six years. Designated as TH-135 by JMSDF, the 13 units delivered prior have been in operation since 2011.

The TH-135 is a variant of Airbus Helicopters’ light twin-engine H135, specially customized for JMSDF’s specific requirements for advanced training missions.

The H135 is one of Airbus Helicopter’s most successful light twin-engine helicopters in the 3-ton class, with a seating capacity of seven to eight passengers (five for TH-135). It provides higher payload over longer distances than other rotorcraft in its category, and delivers supreme performance envelope along with low fuel consumption.

Other features include the use of a bearingless main rotor and Airbus Helicopters’ signature Fenestron® shrouded tail rotor. The results are enhanced cost effectiveness, noise reduction and ground safety.

In Japan, there are currently 80 H135s operating for emergency medical services, police work, electronic news gathering, VIP transport and business aviation.

Airbus Helicopters has a 54 percent market share overall in Japan (civil and parapublic sectors).

Southwest Flight 31 skids off runway

A Southwest Airlines Flight 31 skidded from the runway while taxing in the Nashville International Airport.

At approximately 5:20 p.m. local time, the plane exited the taxiway shortly after arriving into Nashville, as the airplane was approaching the arrival gate.

A Southwest spokesperson said the the nose landing gear of the Boeing 737 aircraft had collapsed.

The flight which originated from Houston Hobby Airport, carried 133 passengers and five Crewmembers, who were safely evacuated from the plane and bussed into the airport.

Eight onboard suffered minor injuries.

France confirms second tranche of A330 MRTT aircraft

Airbus Defence and Space has received a firm order from the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) for a further eight A330 MRTT Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft.

The aircraft constitute the second tranche of the multi-year contract for 12 A330 MRTTs signed by the French Ministry of Defence in November 2014 and bring the total firm order to nine.

The remaining three are scheduled to be confirmed in 2018, permitting deliveries of the 12 aircraft before 2025.

The first A330 MRTT will be delivered to France in 2018, followed by the second in 2019, and the remainder at a rate of one or two per year.

In French service the A330 MRTT will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines and equipped with a combination of the Airbus Refuelling Boom System and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods.

It will also be possible to configure them in a variety of layouts carrying up to 271 passengers as well as medevac arrangements including the French MORPHEE intensive care module carrying up to ten patients as well as 88 passengers.

The combat-proven A330 MRTT has been ordered by seven nations which have now placed firm orders for 49 aircraft, of which 26 have been delivered.

Monday, December 14, 2015

HAL launches indigenous helicopter engine development

Indian state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd launched design and development of a new indigenous turboshaft engine to power helicopters.

Dubbed the Hindustan Turbo Shaft Engine (HTSE-1200), the engine will end HAL's reliance on the French Turbomeca Ardiden engines for its helicopters. The engine will develop a power of 1200 kW at sea level and could operate up to an altitude of 7 km.

In single engine configuration, the HTSE-1200 can power helicopters in the 3.5 ton class like the Light Utility Helicopter being developed by HAL.

In twin engine configuration, the HTSE-1200 can power 5 to 8 ton class helicopters like the HAL Dhruv multi-role helicopter and the HAL Light Combat Helicopter.

The development will leverage HAL's experience gained through co-production of the Turbomeca Ardiden 1H1/HAL Shakti turboshaft engine in India.

The engine will enable Indian Air Force to operate from demanding high altitude regions like Siachen, with ease.

Image: Shakti engine

China Postal orders 10 Boeing converted 737 freighters

Boeing announced an agreement with China Postal Airlines for 10 Next-Generation 737 Boeing Converted Freighters (BCFs), pending a program launch.

Through its converted freighter programs, Boeing extends the valuable service life of a passenger airplane by modifying it to function as a freighter.

The 737-800 is the first Next-Generation 737 that Boeing will offer for conversion. Through the 737 BCF program, Boeing will support customers in the narrow-body freighter market, a segment of the freighter market growing quickly around the world.

China Postal Airlines joins Hangzhou-based YTO Airlines as a launch customer for the Boeing BCF program.

China Postal's agreement with Boeing – which also includes the purchase of seven Boeing 757-200s that the airline plans to convert into freighters – marks the largest purchase order in the airline's history.

The China air express market is forecast to be among the fastest growing segments of the world air cargo market. According to the Boeing World Air Cargo Forecast, world air cargo traffic will grow 4.7 percent per year over the next 20 years, with domestic China and intra-Asia markets expanding 6.7 percent and 6.5 percent per year, respectively.

CTS800 to power Turkish LUH helicopter

Turkey has selected the CTS800 turboshaft engine to power the the Turkish Light Utility Helicopter, which also powers the Turkish A129 attack helicopter.

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and the Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company  (LHTEC), a 50-50 partnership between Honeywell International Inc. and Rolls-Royce, have signed an agreement to supply CTS800 turboshaft engines.

The agreement, which confirms a memorandum of understanding signed at this year’s Paris Air Show, consists of a five-year development program to integrate and certify the CTS800-4AT engine model on the TLUH platform.

The agreement is expected to result in a production program that will provide helicopters to the local Turkish military and civil market, as well as globally.

In addition to the development program, LHTEC will work with local Turkish companies to manufacture the CTS800 engine as well as establish a local depot with maintenance and repair capabilities.

The engine will also power a 5-ton, twin-engine utility helicopter that is being developed by TAI, which will be delivered by 2020.

The CTS800 family of engines ranges from 1,360 to 1,700 shp with the CTS800-4N equipped with a full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) that reduces pilot workload and facilitates the engine’s on-condition maintenance program.

Low engine removal rates, excellent “hot and high” performance, and durable maritime capabilities with reduced fuel flows all characterize the CTS800.

HAL begin HTFE 25 turbofan engine testing

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has carried out maiden run of core of the 25 kN thrust turbofan engine being developed indigenously in Bengaluru, India.

Dubbed the Hindustan Turbo Fan Engine (HTFE-25), the engine is designed to power basic, intermediate and advanced trainer aircraft.

The engine can also be used on business jets and five ton weight class aircraft in single engine configuration and on aircraft of up to nine ton weight class with twin engine configuration.

The program began in 2013 and HAL hopes to complete the development by 2018. The program was first unveiled at the Aero India 2015, where a engine mock up was revealed.

In the first phase of the program, the design of the full engine and manufacture and testing of the technology demonstrator of the core engine will be demonstrated. In the subsequent phases the manufacture and testing of the full engine will follow.

The HFFE-25 is a low bypass twin spool, mixed flow turbofan engine with a length of  1.73 m, diameter of 0.590 m. The 350 kg engine is controlled by full authority digital engine control (FADEC).

The engine could power the delayed IJT-36 Kiran Intermediate Jet Trainer aircraft being developed by HAL.

Egyptian facility to overhaul Mi-17 helicopters

Russian Helicopters has reached an agreement to facilitate overhaul of Egyptian fleet of Russian built Mi-17 and Mi-8T helicopters in Egypt.

The repair base in Heluane (Egypt) will be retooled in order to provide technical support for repairs to Mi-8T and Mi-17-1V helicopters operated by the Egyptian Air Force.

The plant will carry out comprehensive repairs on Egyptian Air Force’s fleet of 41 Mi-8Ts and 3 Mi-17-1V helicopters. According to the agreement, the spare parts and components will be sourced from Russian suppliers.

To support comprehensive repair work to the frames, components, gears and rotor systems in helicopters operated by Egypt’s Air Force, Russian Helicopters will deliver equipment for the production line, carry out commissioning work, and transfer all the necessary documentation to the Egyptian side. 

Egyptian specialists will be trained to carry out comprehensive repairs to Mi-8T, Mi-17-1V and Mi-17V-5 at Russian Helicopters’ Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant. Russian Helicopters will provide design and technical support for these repairs for a two year period.

The legendary Mi-8/17 helicopters, developed by Russian Helicopters’ Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, are renowned world-over and more than 12,000 helicopters in this series have been produced and delivered to 100 countries.

Russia delivers five Mi-171Sh helicopters to Bangladesh

Russian Helicopters delivered a batch of five Mi-171Sh  military transport helicopters to Bangladesh's Defense Ministry.

The delivery is part of contract signed with Rosoboronexport in late 2013, and is financed by Russia. The Mi-171Sh is equipped with the latest avionics, enabling them to land safely at any time of day or night in any weather conditions.

In addition to regular cargo transportation operations and border security provision, the new Mi-171Sh will be used in UN humanitarian missions and in regions facing complex crime problems.

The helicopters are equipped with additional fuel tanks to increase range and length of flight, as well as an external sling for large cargo transportation. They boast enhanced efficiency thanks to the powerful spotlights and winches that can lift 150 kg, can be fitted with medevac equipment to evacuate up to 12 injured people.

They are equipped with armour and protection systems for operation in areas that see heightened activity by terrorist or organised crime groups.

The Мi-171Sh – military transport helicopter is developed on the basis of the Mi-171Sh (Mi-8AMT) and is designed to combat armored ground, surface, immobile and mobile small targets, to destroy enemy forces, transport military cargo, troop delivery, day and night, in regular or complex weather conditions, in a variety of climates.

The helicopter can be equipped with the latest small arms, rocket, bomb and gun weapons systems, and protection against attack. The helicopter is designed to transport up to 37 paratroopers, and to transport cargo of up to 4,000 kg, up to 12 injured on streatchers, and to carry out search and rescue operations (including CSAR).

Northrop improves B-2 bomber availability

Northrop Grumman has delivered on a commitment to the U.S. Air Force to increase the availability of the B-2 stealth bomber fleet by completing a periodic "wingtip-to-wingtip" overhaul of the jet in a record 359 days.

The company returned B-2 Spirit of Kitty Hawk to the bomber's operational home at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, on Sept. 23. The shorter cycle for programmed depot maintenance (PDM), a process that has averaged more than 400 days in the past, is part of a new B-2 maintenance approach expected to save taxpayers about $900 million over the life of the fleet.

Northrop Grumman is the U.S. Air Force's prime contractor for the B-2, the most powerful and most survivable weapon system in the nation's long range strike arsenal.

Under a B-2 contract modification signed in April, Northrop Grumman will overhaul each jet once every nine years, versus the previous frequency of once every seven years. The company will maintain only two jets in PDM at any one time instead of the historical three and will complete PDM in an average of 365 days.

PDM includes a complete restoration of the B-2's outer surfaces; servicing of many of its major moving parts such as landing gear, control surfaces and ejection seats; and installation of software or hardware upgrades. The process is performed at Northrop Grumman's B-2 Depot & Modification Center in Palmdale.

The B-2 bomber is the only aircraft in the U.S. inventory that combines stealth, long range, large payload and precision weapons delivery. It can fly 6,000 nautical miles unrefueled and more than 10,000 nautical miles with just one aerial refueling, giving it the ability to reach any point on the globe within hours, and hold at risk an enemy's most heavily defended targets.

The bat winged B-2 stealth bomber can penetrate any air defense system and can deliver a 23 ton weapon payload on to its target.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Russia inducts upgraded IL-76 military transport plane

The first serially produced IL-76MD-90A military transport aircraft was delivered to Russian Defense Ministry on December 2.

The Il-76MD-90A strategic airlifter is a modernised version of the proven IL-76MD transport plane, featuring improved reliability, fuel efficiency, performance, range and payload capacity.

Named after the Russian aircraft designer Viktor Livanov, the aircraft (serial number 0105) was produced by Aviastar from its Ulyanovsk plant.

The aircraft marks the first IL-76 ever produced in Russia, which were earlier produced at the Tashkent plant in Uzbekistan.

The upgrade include a new wing, strengthened airframe, modernized avionics with glass cockpit and new engine. The new avionics system considerably increases flight safety by improving situational awareness and reducing crew workload. Cargo handling and airdrop precision has also been improved.

Il-76MD-90A can carry an increased cargo of up to 60 tons.

The four D-30KP-2 engines has been replaced by the newer Aviadvigatel PS-90A-76 turbofan engines that increases aircraft fuel efficiency, reliability and conforms to the modern ICAO European noise and emission limitations.

Russian Defense Ministry has placed order for 39 of the type for $ 4.5 billion in 2012, which are to be delivered by 2020.

Aviastar is also assembling an aerial refueling tanker based on the IL-76MD-90A.

The type first flew in 1971 and more than 900 aircraft were built. The IL-76 has the typical airlifter design consisting a high wing and a T tail.

Russian Air Force is the major operator of the type, with more than 200 in fleet. A Commercial freighter, aerial refueling variant designated IL-78, Airborne Early Warning  & Control aircraft designated A-50 are the major variants of the IL-76.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lockheed delivers 2500 C-130 Hercules transport planes

Lockheed Martin delivered 2,500th C-130 Hercules transport aircraft from its production line in Marietta, Georgia on Friday, a milestone for the 60+ year old program.

This landmark Hercules is an HC-130J Combat King II personnel recovery aircraft assigned to the U.S. Air Force's 71st Rescue Squadron, which is part of the 347th Rescue Group.

A U.S. Air Force crew ferried the HC-130J to its new home at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia.

USAF accepted first Hercules aircraft on Dec. 9, 1956, and is the largest operator of the type, which includes legacy C-130 and the latest C-130J Super Hercules.

C-130s today are operated from 68 nations and the global fleet has collectively logged more than 22 million flight hours. The current production model is the C-130J Super Hercules, the airlifter of choice for 16 nations and 19 different operators. The Super Hercules worldwide fleet has more than 1.3 million flight hours to its credit.

To date, C-130s have been produced to support 100 different mission requirements and is available in 17 different configurations.

Lockheed has also developed a commercial freighter variant of the C-130 designated L-100. About 113 of these were delivered from mid 1960s to early 1990. In 2014, Lockheed introduced the LM-100J based on the C-130J Super Hercules.

HC-130J arrive at Moody AFB (U.S. Air Force photo)

C-130J variants currently in production include the C-130J/C-130J-30 combat-ready aircraft; KC-130J aerial refuelers; HC-130J search and rescue aircraft; MC-130J special operations aircraft; and the LM-100J commercial freighter.

The C-130J is capable of operating from a 2,000 foot-long dirt strips in high mountain ranges and can transport more than 40,000 pounds of cargo and supplies.

It is powered by four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines rated at 4,691 pshp each, driving GE-Dowty Aerospace R391 6-bladed all composite propellers.

With a Max take-off weight (2.5g) of 164,000 lb/74,389 kg, the C-130J has a range of 2,450 nautical miles with a 40,000 lb. payload.

Russia launches Sineva submarine launched ICBM

Russian successfully test fired the submarine launched Sineva intercontinental ballistic missile from a submerged submarine in the Barents Sea.

The crew of Verkhoturye strategic missile submarine of the Northern Fleet under the command of Captain I rank Dmitry Zelikov, successfully launched the 8000+ km range Sineva missile.

According to the objective monitoring data, the warhead impacted in the Kura range in the Kamchatka peninsula.

This was the 27th successful ballistic missile launch from the board of Verkhoturye strategic missile submarine cruiser.

The 40 tonne missile can carry four warheads, which can strike four independent targets. About 100 of these missiles are in Russian arsenal and the Delta IV class submarine can carry 16 of them.

Pakistan test fires Shaheen III ballistic missile

Pakistan successfully test-fired nuclear-capable Shaheen III surface to surface ballistic missile for the second time on Friday (Dec 11).

With a maximum range of 2750 km (1, 700 miles), the Shaheen III is the longest range missile developed by Pakistan and brings almost all Indian cities within its range.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the test flight was aimed at validating the various design and technical parameters of the weapon system.

The two stage solid fueled missile was first test fired in March 2015. The missile was developed in response to Indian development of the 3000 km range Agni III ballistic missile.

The Shaheen ballistic missile family include the operational Shaheen-I with a range of 900 km and the Shaheen-II with a 1,500 km. Pakistan also operates the liquid fueled Ghauri I and Ghauri II  strategic ballistic missiles with a range of 1500 and 2000 km respectively. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Raptor, Rafale and Typhoon train in contested airspace

USAF Photo
The U.S. Air Force, British Royal Air Force and French Air Force carrying out a Trilateral Exercise from Dec 2 to 18, to share and develop training, tactics and procedures, enabling interoperability among allies.

Hosted by USAF 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, RAF Eurofighter Typhoon, USAF F-22 Raptor and French Dassault Rafale fighters horned their skills to operate in a highly-contested operational environment through a variety of simulated adversary scenarios.

The fifth generation F-22 Raptor fighter flew realistic combat missions together with the fourth generation Rafale and Typhoon.

The exercise simulated a highly-contested, degraded and operationally-limited environment where U.S. and partner pilots and ground crews can tested their readiness.

USAF Photo

The intent of the exercise is to gain an understanding of the logistics, support requirements, capabilities, tactic, techniques and procedures associated with the integrated operation of coalition fighters.

The adversary aircraft were simulated by the USAF T-38 Talon and F-15E Strike Eagle jets. French and British aerial refueling aircraft and U.S. Air Force Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft also supports the exercise.

USAF Photo
The exercise will help allied jets to develop tactics to counter S-400 and S-300 anti-access/area denial air defense system deployed by Russia in Syria.