Sunday, January 31, 2016

Russia deploys Su-35S fighers to Syria

Further bolstering its air defense capabilities, Russia has deployed its most capable Su-35S fighter to its Hmeymim airbase in Syria.

Four Sukhoi Su-35S fighters were deployed according to Russian defense ministry's twitter account.

The new fighters will either complement or replace the existing four Su-30SM fighters deployed to provide air defense cover to ground attack aircraft like Su-25, Su-24 and Su-34 fighters.

These fighter are equipped with the advanced wingtip mounted Khibiny electronic counter measures (jammer) systems.

The Khibiny creates a radio-electronic protective field around the aircraft, causing guided missiles to lose their target.

The deployment comes after Turkey summoned Russian envoy following an alleged airspace violation by a Russian Air Force Su-34 Fullback bomber operating from the base on Friday.

Russia mandated air defense fighter escort to all ground attack missions after an unarmed Su-24 was shot down by Turkish F-16 fighters following a brief violation of Turkish airspace on November 24.

The incident which cost life of a Russian air force pilot, escalated tensions between the countries, saw Russian deployment of the land and ship based S-300 air defense missile system to the Hmeymim airbase and Syrian coast respectively, effectively degrading Turkish and Coalition fighter's air superiority in the region.

Aerodynamically similar and based on the Su-27 Flanker, the Su-35 is an improved variant that entered Russian service in 2012 featuring superior maneuverability, modern avionics and reduced radar signature.

The Su-35 is one of the most capable fighter jets in the world and loses to the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor only in latter's superior stealth capability.

The Su-35S is equipped with the Irbis-E radar that can detect and track up to 30 air targets at a range of up to 400 km.

The fighter has an increased service life of 6000 hours and can carry 8000 kg weapon payload in its 12 hardpoints.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Raytheon's Coyote UAS to fly into hurricane

Raytheon's enhanced Coyote® Unmanned Air System will be deployed by U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for hurricane tracking and modeling mission this hurricane season, giving researchers an unprecedented perspective from inside storms that build in the Atlantic Ocean.

A team of NOAA and Raytheon scientists will use the latest version of Coyote to monitor the track and intensity of storms. The team recently completed a successful calibration flight over Avon Park, Florida, where a Coyote was launched from a P-3 hurricane hunter aircraft to prepare for deployment during storm season.

The improved Coyote, which can now fly for up to one hour and 50 miles away from the launch aircraft is a small, expendable UAS that can be tube-launched from a host vehicle on the ground or in the air.

In 2014, NOAA had successfully deployed a Coyote from a hurricane hunter aircraft into the eye of Hurricane Edouard.

Coyote is deployed from an A-size sonobuoy tube or common launch tube to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions while the host craft remains at a safe distance.

Coyote was developed by Sensintel, Inc., which was acquired in January 2015 by Raytheon Missile Systems.

Coyote can perform surveillance imagery, targeting capability, real-time damage assessment and is suitable for targeting  assistance, perimeter security, and research missions.

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.

Boeing 737 MAX complete maiden flight

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 took to the skies for the first time today, which marks the beginning of a comprehensive flight-test program leading to certification and delivery next year.

With the latest technology LEAP-1B engines from CFM International and Boeing-designed Advanced Technology winglets, the first member of the efficient 737 MAX family completed a two-hour, 47-minute flight, taking off from Renton Field in Renton, Wash., at 9:46 a.m. local time and landing at 12:33 p.m. at Seattle's Boeing Field.

During the flight, 737 MAX Chief Pilot Ed Wilson and Boeing Chief Test Pilot and Vice President of Flight Operations Craig Bomben departed to the north, reaching a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet (7,620 meters) and an airspeed of 250 knots, or about 288 miles (463 kilometers) per hour typical of a first flight sequence.

While Capts. Wilson and Bomben tested the airplane's systems and structures, onboard equipment transmitted real-time data to a flight-test team on the ground in Seattle.

With the other three members of the 737 MAX 8 flight-test fleet currently in different stages of final assembly, the 737 MAX remains on track for first delivery to Southwest Airlines in the third quarter of 2017.

The new 737 MAX 8 will deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market with 20 percent lower fuel use than the first Next-Generation 737s – and 8 percent per seat lower operating costs than the A320neo.

The 737 MAX 8 is the first member in Boeing's new family of single-aisle airplanes – the 737 MAX 7, MAX 8, MAX 200 and MAX 9 – to begin flight testing.

The 737 MAX will extend the Next-Generation 737 range advantage with the capability to fly more than 3,500 nautical miles (6,510 km), an increase of 340 - 570 nmi (629-1,055 km) over the Next-Generation 737. The 737 MAX family has 3,072 orders from 62 customers worldwide.

Friday, January 29, 2016

U.S. Navy awards Boeing contract for 20 more P-8A maritime patrol aircraft

 Boeing will further equip the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with maritime patrol capabilities, building 20 more P-8A Poseidon aircraft following a $2.5 billion U.S. Navy order announced on Thursday.

The contract, for Lot 7 of the total P-8A program of record, includes 16 aircraft for the U.S. Navy and the next four aircraft for the RAAF. The RAAF’s initial four P-8A aircraft were included in the August 2015 Lot 6 contract award.

“We continue to hear feedback from our Navy customer about the incredible capabilities of the P-8A,” said James Dodd, Boeing vice president and program manager of P-8 Programs. “The deployed squadrons tell us it’s exceeding expectations – we’re looking forward to providing even more capability to the fleet and to Australia.”

This latest award puts Boeing on contract to build 78 Poseidons for the Navy and eight for the Australian fleet, with 33 Poseidons delivered to the U.S. Navy to date. The Lot 7 aircraft will begin delivery in late 2017.

Based on Boeing’s Next-Generation 737-800 commercial airplane, the P-8A offers the worlds’ most advanced anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The Navy has deployed four P-8A patrol squadrons since operations began in 2013.

Australia’s participation in the P-8A program began in 2009 when the government signed the first in a series of memorandums of understanding to work with the U.S. Navy on system design and development.

The U.S. Navy and the RAAF also established a joint program office that operates at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. The first Australian P-8A will be delivered to the RAAF in late 2016.

Boeing delivers 8888 th 737 to Xiamen Airline

Boeing has delivered the 8,888th 737 to come off the production line to Chinese Xiamen Airlines. The airplane, a Next-Generation 737-800, features a special livery commemorating the airplane's significance.

Just as seven is considered a lucky number for Boeing, eight is considered to be a fortunate number in Chinese culture because it sounds similar to the word that means "prosperity" or "wealth."

Formed in 1984 as China's first joint venture between the Civil Aviation Administration of China and a municipal government, Xiamen Airlines is China's only all-Boeing carrier. The airline began flying passengers in 1985 with two 737-200s serving three cities.

With this delivery, Xiamen Airlines has now expanded its fleet size to 133 Boeing airplanes, including 17 737-700s, 106 737-800s, 4 757-200s and 6 787-8s. The carrier is regarded as one of the most profitable airlines in the world, with a record of 29 consecutive years of profit.

New seeker for Tomhawk missile will enable to strike moving targets

Raytheon has completed a successful captive flight test of a new seeker designed for the Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile that will enable it to engage moving targets on land and at sea.

Using company-funded, independent research and development, the test was conducted with a modified Tomahawk missile nose cone mounted on a T-39 test aircraft and equipped with a seeker integrated with Raytheon's new, modular, multi-mode processor.

Over a three-week period, the aircraft flew profiles that simulated the Tomahawk flight regime, aiming at moving targets on land and in the maritime environment.

The new seeker will allow Tomhawk to detect, discriminate and engage moving maritime and land-based targets, in all-weather, enabling precision strikes against high value targets at long ranges.

In June, 2014, RMS successfully demonstrated seeker components in a similar captive flight test. The December, 2015, captive flight test of the seeker demonstrated Technology Readiness Level 6 (Prototype in Representative Environment) of the seeker components needed to meet the moving land and maritime strike requirements. These improvements enhance the current Tomahawk long-range precision strike/land attack role.

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.  More than 500 Tomahawk flight and production validation tests have been completed.

The missile 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.

ANA confirms Airbus A380 order

Japanese Airline ANA Holdings has signed a purchase agreement with Airbus covering the firm order of three A380s.

ANA Group will take delivery of the aircraft from 2019 and has selected Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines to power the fleet.

ANA Holdings’ new order follows a recent order placed in 2014 and 2015 for 37 A320 Family single aisle aircraft.

Airbus says the A380 allows airlines to maximize their revenue potential through an optimized cabin – boosting their contribution to profit by up to 65 per cent per flight compared to its nearest competitor. Its unbeatable passenger experience leads to higher load factors and more revenue, for higher profitability.

The A380 carries 544 passengers in a typical comfortable four class configuration on routes up to 8,200 nm/15,200 km. From Tokyo this enables non-stop service to the US as well as to destinations across Europe.

Including the ANA Holdings’ order, Airbus has now received a total of 319 firm orders for the A380 from 19 airlines worldwide, of which 179 A380s have been delivered to 13 world class airlines. Currently, A380 is operated on over 100 routes to 50 destinations.

U.S. missile shield tested improved Raytheon kill vehicle

U.S. Missile Defense Agency conducted a successful non-intercept flight test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the nation’s Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) on Thursday.

The mission's objective was to observe in-flight performance of redesigned components and gain valuable information on evolving threat classes.The test objective precluded an intercept in order to collect engineering data that’s not possible in an intercept test.

A long-range ground-based interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., successfully evaluating performance of alternate divert thrusters for the system’s Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle.

During the test, a target representing an intermediate-range ballistic missile was air-launched from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft over the broad ocean area west of Hawaii.

An Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control Model 2 (AN/TPY-2) radar in Forward Based Mode, located at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, detected the target and relayed target track information to the Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communication system.

The Sea-Based X-band radar, positioned in the broad ocean area northeast of Hawaii, also acquired and tracked the target.

The GMD system received track data and developed a fire control solution to engage the target. The test also included a demonstration of technology to discriminate countermeasures carried by the target missile.

A three-stage Ground-Based Interceptor was launched from Vandenberg AFB, performed fly-out, and released a Capability Enhancement-II Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle. The kill vehicle performed scripted maneuvers to demonstrate performance of alternate divert thrusters.

Upon entering terminal phase, the Raytheon kill vehicle initiated a planned burn sequence to evaluate the alternate divert thrusters until fuel was exhausted, intentionally precluding an intercept.

The ballistic missile target was launched and purposely not intercepted to demonstrate for maximum maneuvering and data collection.

The successful mission proved the effectiveness of a recent redesign of the EKV thrusters, which provides the control necessary for lethal impact with incoming threats while safely outside of the Earth's atmosphere. 

Program officials will evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test. Engineering data from this test will be used to increase confidence for future GMD intercept missions. This test is designated Ground-based Midcourse Defense Controlled Test Vehicle-02+.

The GMD element of the integrated BMDS provides Combatant Commanders the capability to engage and destroy limited intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile threats in space to protect the United States.

EKV rendering
Raytheon is simultaneously managing four kill vehicle programs – the EKV, Standard Missile-3 kinetic vehicle, Redesigned Kill Vehicle, and Multi-Object Kill Vehicle. The Raytheon kill vehicle family has a combined record of more than 30 successful space intercepts.

The test was carried out in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing, the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, and U.S. Northern Command.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Egyptian F-16 crashes during military exercise

An Egyptian Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jet has crashed during a military exercise, killing its pilots.

The twin seat aircraft came down near a military airbase in the town of Fayed, around 120 km east of Cairo.

The crash marks the second involving the type, after one of the F-16 crashed in Arizona, United States killing its Taiwanese pilot.

The single engined F-16 forms a major portion of Egyptian Air Force with more than 200 of the type in inventory.

The fleet will be complemented by the twenty four twin engined Dassault Rafale fighters ordered in 2014, of which 6 has been delivered.

U.S. has supplied 12  F-16 fighters to Egypt last year, as part of $1.3 billion commitment to support Egypt's security.

Iran orders Airbus fleet to renew aviation sector

Iran officials have signed two agreements with Airbus covering new aircraft orders worth $ 25 billion and a comprehensive civil aviation co-operation package. The agreements were signed at the Élysée Palace, Paris, during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s official visit to France with French President François Hollande.

Iran Air has signed an agreement with Airbus for the acquisition of the full range of new Airbus airliners (73 widebodies and 45 single aisle). This includes pilot and maintenance training and support services to help the entry into service and efficient operations of these new aircraft.

The agreement for 118 new aircraft signed by Mr Farhad Parvaresh, Iran Air Chairman and CEO, includes 21 A320ceo family, 24 A320neo family, 27 A330ceo family, 18 A330neo (-900), 16 A350-1000 and 12 A380.

In parallel the Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Dr. Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi, has signed a comprehensive co-operation agreement as part of the country’s modernisation of its civil aviation sector, to support the development of air navigation services (ATM), airport and aircraft operations, regulatory harmonization, technical and academic training, maintenance, repair and industrial cooperation.

These two agreements took place as part of the implementation of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action) on January 16th 2016, and its associated rules and guidance.

The new order for A380 jumbo jets will be a major relief for Airbus as market trends are not in favor of big aircraft, with the advent of fuel efficient twin jets. The program recorded no orders last year and lost 10 orders from Skymark and Transaero airlines.

Japan unveils indigenous X-2 stealth fighter demonstrator

 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. officially unveiled the first prototype of the Japanese stealth fighter designated X-2, at Nagoya Airport in Toyoyama today.

Earlier designated Advanced Technology Demonstrator X (ATD-X), the demonstrator aircraft will develop and test fifth generation fighter technologies including stealth, supercruise, integrated avionics and thrust vectoring.

The program will lead to development of a next generation Japanese stealth fighter to replace the current fleet of F-2 fighters as early as 2028.

Maiden flight of the prototype, which is 14.2 m long and 9.1 m wide is scheduled for mid February 2016.

Radar evading features include radar absorbing coating in fuselage, canted tail fins and special cockpit canopy material that reduce radar signature.

Powered by two XF5-1 turbofan engines, the X-2 is equipped with thrust vectoring nozzles that considerably improve maneuverability of the aircraft.

The 3D thrust vectoring capable system uses 3 paddles on each engine to deflect the engine thrust. Thrust vectoring using paddles were first used by Germans on the notorious V-2 rockets during the World War II.

Development which cost $440 million, began in 2009 after U.S. refused to supply the most advanced Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighter to Japan.

The development is spearheaded by Japanese Defense Ministry's Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) as industrial partner.

Images of the fighter was first leaked in 2014.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Second H160 prototype begin flight test

The second prototype of the Airbus Helicopters H160 helicopter joined the flight test program after taking off today from Marignane, France.

The second prototype designated PT2 is the first H160 to powered by the Turbomeca Arrano engines, which will exclusively power the type.

The Pratt & Whitney PW1200 engine which powered the PT1 was discarded due to lack of option for increasing power.

Since Arrano's first ground run in February 2014, more than ten test engines have been running at Bordes (France) to demonstrate performance. Major development and certification tests now include a rigorous endurance evaluation campaign.

The turbine's fuel consumption target has already been achieved: data indicates a 10 to 15% reduction compared with current models.

Arrano is positioned at the leading-edge of the new Turbomeca generation of rotorcraft engine. The 1,100 to 1,300 shaft horse-power unit, designed for four-to-six ton helicopters, features an ideal combination of new and proven technologies that allow a significant reduction in direct maintenance and operating costs.

PT1 had accumulated more than 75 hours of flight testing by the end of 2015, allowing the aircraft to open the flight envelope and validating some of the helicopter’s excellent features and outstanding handling qualities right from the start.

The development program involves 5 development aircraft; two helicopter zeros for ground testing and three flying prototypes, to ensure a fully mature helicopter during entry into service in 2018.

The 5.5-6 ton class helicopter is the first-ever, fully-composite civil helicopter and is suited for oil and gas operations; public services, air medical and coast guard duties; along with commercial transport, private and business aviation.

The H160 features the breakthrough Blue Edge® main rotor blades, which reduce exterior noise levels by 50 percent (3 dB) and also allow a payload increase of up to 100 kg. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

F-35 to mark international debut at RAF Fairford

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II will make its much-anticipated international debut in UK this summer, after missing last years edition following safety concerns due to an engine fire.

U.S. Air Force's 56th Fighter Wing from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, will send two F-35A Lightning IIs to fly in heritage flights and to be on public display at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Royal Air Force Fairford, England, and the Farnborough International Airshow.

The Royal International Air Tattoo is scheduled for July 7 through 9, and the Farnborough International Airshow will be July 11 through 17.

"We're very excited about demonstrating this capability to the world," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "The F-35 represents a new way of thinking about data integration, weapons and tactics. We're thrilled to highlight the program and the amazing Airmen who support this cutting-edge fighter."

The Air Force Heritage Flight program features modern Air Force fighter aircraft flying alongside World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War-era aircraft in a dynamic display of our nation's airpower history.

Visitors to the Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford will be the first outside the US to see the stealthy, supersonic aircraft's state-of-the-art capabilities when it displays on all three days of the airshow (July 8-10).

UK, which contributes 15 percent of the F-35, has recently announced plan to speed up the purchase of 24 of the multi-role combat aircraft, a decision that will see two front-line squadrons operating from the UK's two new aircraft carriers by 2023.

Its appearance at RAF Fairford in July will be the latest in a long list of legendary military aircraft that have made their UK debut at the Air Tattoo.

These have included the F-14 Tomcat in 1976, the MiG-23 in 1991, the Typhoon in 1995, the V-22 Osprey in 2006 and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Kawasaki P1 in 2015.

Boeing 737 MAX maiden flight scheduled for Jan 29

The first prototype of the Boeing 737 MAX will take to air on Jan 29. from its Renton facility in Washington, Boeing announced today.

The improved and re-engined variant of the iconic Boeing 737 passenger jet which was rolled out on December 2015, will take on its European rival Airbus A320neo.

The first prototype designated 1A001 has been under going testing at Renton, for several weeks.

Exclusively powered by the CFM LEAP-1B engine, the 737 MAX will offer a 20 percent lesser fuel burn compared to the current 737 NG variant.

The aircraft is the first of four 737-8s for the flight test program, which will culminate into maiden delivery to launch customer Southwest Airline in 2017.

Assembly of the second aircraft has been completed and the third one is underway. The fourth aircraft will be built for typical airline type operations featuring full interior.

Airbus has achieved a clear lead against Boeing in the race, with the maiden delivery of A320neo to Lufthansa on January 20 and the over 4300 orders bagged representing a 60 percent market share.

Boeing reduces 747 production rate to single digit

Boeing announced further reduction in production rate of the 747-8 program due to lack of new order.

In September 2016, the production will decline from one airplane per month to 0.5 per month, producing just six aircraft per year. Boeing had previously announced that the rate would drop from 1.3 per month to one per month in March 2016.

With a backlog of 20 orders, the decision will help Boeing to keep its Everett 747 assembly line humming until 2017.

Boeing said to account for the market and production impacts, the company will recognize a $569 million after-tax charge ($0.84 per share) when it announces financial results for the fourth quarter of 2015.

On a pre-tax basis at the segment level, Boeing Commercial Airplanes will report a charge of $885 million.

"Global air passenger traffic growth and airplane demand remain strong, but the air cargo market recovery that began in late 2013 has stalled in recent months and slowed demand for the 747-8 Freighter," said Ray Conner, Boeing vice chairman and president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"While we remain confident in the 747-8's unique value-proposition and an upcoming replacement cycle for late-model 747-400 Freighters, we're taking the prudent step to further align production with current market requirements."

The four engined Boeing 747, which revolutionized the air transport industry in 1970s and its European rival Airbus A380, lost market with the advent of more fuel efficient new generation twin jets like Boeing 787 and Airbus A350.

F-35 fires AIM-9X Sidewinder missile

An F-35 fighter jet from the 461st Flight Test Squadron launched an AIM-9X missile for the first time over the Pacific Sea Test Range Jan. 12.

(Lockheed Martin photo/Chad Bellay)

The flight sciences aircraft, AF-1, of the Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Test Force, was piloted by David Nelson, the Lockheed Martin chief F-35 test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base.

The AIM-9X is an advanced infrared missile and the newest of the Sidewinder family of short-range air-to-air missiles carried on a wide range of fighter jets. The missile was launched at 6,000 feet.

The shot paves the way for the F-35 to utilize the weapon's high off-boresight and targeting capabilities, increasing lethality in the visual arena.

The Raytheon AIM-9X entered operational service in 2003. The latest  Block II version achieved initial operational capability with US Navy in March 2015.

KC-46A successfully completes maiden aerial refuelling

Boeing and U.S. Air Force aircrews successfully completed the KC-46A tanker’s first refueling flight on Jan. 24 in the skies above Washington state, marking a major step forward for the program that will serve as the backbone of USAF's global operations over the coming decades.

The KC-46A Pegasus successfully transferred fuel through its boom to an F-16C Fighting Falcon to demonstrate aerial refueling operations in advance of its first production decision later this spring.

The KC-46A is a multirole tanker Boeing is building for the U.S. Air Force that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.

Following takeoff from Boeing Field in Seattle, the KC-46A test team worked through a series of test points before smoothly offloading 1,600 pounds of fuel to the F-16 fighter aircraft flying at 20,000 feet.

The flight test milestone kicks off the Milestone C aerial refueling demonstration, which is the prerequisite for the low-rate initial production decision.

During the 5 hour and 43-minute flight, both Boeing and Air Force air refueling operators accomplished multiple contacts with the F-16 that confirmed the system was ready to transfer fuel.

Master Sgt. Lindsay Moon, a 13-year veteran boom operator, operated the boom controls passing fuel for the mission. He “flew” the tanker’s 56-foot boom downward and waited for the F-16 to move into position before fully extending the boom into its refueling receptacle.

The KC-46 offloaded fuel to the fighter and when the fuel transfer was complete, the system automatically turned off the pumps and Moon smoothly retracted the boom.

The refueling boom’s handling qualities throughout the flight were exceptional,” said Rickey Kahler, Boeing KC-46 air refueling operator who also guided the boom during contacts with the F-16 while sitting in the tanker’s state-of-the-art refueling operator station in the front of the tanker. “The boom was extremely stable – it handled like it was an extension of my arm.”

The aircraft will soon begin refueling a number of other military aircraft as well, including a C-17, F/A-18, A-10 and AV-8B. Also known as EMD-2, the tanker made its first flight September 25, 2015 and has now completed 32 flights.

The program’s first test aircraft (EMD-1), a 767-2C, has completed more than 260 flight test hours to date since its first flight in December 2014. EMD-3 and EMD-4 will begin flight testing later this year.

As part of a contract awarded in 2011 to design and develop the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft, Boeing is building four test aircraft – two are currently configured as 767-2Cs and two as KC-46A tankers.

The tanker has a robust in-flight refueling demonstration schedule over the coming weeks. The test with the F-16C fulfilled the requirement to connect to a light/fast receiver. The remaining tests with the boom will use an A-10 Thunderbolt II as the light/slow receiver and a C-17 Globemaster III as the heavy receiver.

Flight tests employing the centerline drogue system and wing aerial refueling pods will use an F-18 Hornet as the light/fast receiver and an AV-8B Harrier as a light/slow receiver. The KC-46A will also have to demonstrate its receiver capability by taking fuel from a KC-10 Extender.

The Air Force contracted with Boeing in February 2011 to acquire 179 KC-46A tankers to begin recapitalizing the aging tanker fleet. The program is currently working to meet the required assets available date, a milestone requiring 18 KC-46A aircraft and all necessary support equipment to be on the ramp, ready to support warfighter needs, by August 2017.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

First SWISS CS100 structurally completed

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft announced that its all-new C Series aircraft program has begun the ramp-up to full production.

The final assembly facility is fully equipped and production is progressing according to plan with aircraft in various stages of the build sequence.

Additionally, Bombardier also confirmed that the CS100 aircraft that is scheduled to be delivered to first operator SWISS International Air Lines (SWISS) and enter service in Q2 2016 is structurally complete.

The SWISS’ flight crews kicked off their CS100 aircraft flight training in Mirabel, Québec on Tuesday, where they will undergo intensive training to prepare for the route-proving flights they will operate alongside Bombardier’s flight crew when the CS100 route-proving aircraft flies to Europe in the coming weeks.

This follows the completion of the North American route-proving program that included more than 35 cities. During the program, the CS100 aircraft conducted flights using typical airline flight routings and operational procedures.

In addition to the C Series aircraft production ramp-up and European route proving, C Series Program and Engineering teams are working diligently alongside Customer Services team –transferring employees to various areas for cross-functional training and aircraft familiarization,” said Rob Dewar, Vice President, C Series Aircraft Program, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

“The timing is perfect as we now ready the European leg of the C Series route-proving program. We are also doing something unique to ensure that SWISS’ crews will be ready at delivery and EIS – SWISS’ flight crews, once trained, will operate the CS100 route-proving aircraft alongside Bombardier’s own flight crews from SWISS’ main base of operations. They will use SWISS’ schedule, crews, maintenance crews and aircraft destinations — all in the coming weeks.”

In December 2015, Bombardier announced that the CS100 aircraft had received its Type Certificate from Transport Canada.

Bombardier’s CS300 aircraft, the larger model, is on track to obtain its Type Certificate within the next six months as planned. Bombardier will continue to work with Transport Canada to validate the CS100 aircraft’s training syllabus.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Boeing to continue maintain USAF T-38 trainer fleet

Boeing has again won to maintain and support U.S. Air Force T-38 Talon trainer fleet  for another 10 years, through a new contract worth up to $855 million.

The company will work on avionics, cockpit displays, control panels, and communications systems for 456 of the aircraft as well as upgrading 37 aircrew training devices through 2026.

Boeing has been maintaining the fleet for the last 16 years. Originally manufactured by Northrop, the T-38 is the primary training jet for the Air Force and NATO nations. It first flew in 1959.

The Air Force plans to replace the T-38 with the new T-X pilot training system. Boeing is teamed with Saab in competing for T-X. They will offer an all-new, purpose-built system that includes the aircraft and associated ground-based training and support systems.

Two USMC CH-53 helicopters crashed after mid-air colliosion

Two U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E heavy lift transport helicopters have crashed after colliding mid air off the coast of Oahu, United States.

Search and Rescue (SAR) operation has been launched to locate survivors on the aircraft which are from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st MAW in Hawaii.

USMC says 12 Marines were on board the both helicopters.

The tripled engined Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion is the mainstay of USMC's heavy transport fleet and will be replaced by the improved CH-53K King Stallion.

MBDA to develop improved Aster missile for France

The French Ministry of Defense has launched the Aster Block 1 NT (New Technology) program to upgrade the SAMP/T ground based air defense system as well as its associated Aster missile.

The contract was notified by the French DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) to the EUROSAM consortium involving MBDA and Thales on 23rd December 2015.

This contract provides for the development of a new version of the Aster 30 Block 1 missile, referred to as Aster B1 NT with first deliveries to the French Air Force being expected in 2023.

The new variant will be capable of knocking down ballistic missiles with a range of upto 1500 km.

It also covers the modernization of the current SAMP/T system to provide enhanced capabilities particularly against ballistic missiles. These evolutions will enable SAMP/T to further enhance its contribution towards NATO’s anti-ballistic missile defense program.

In the next few months, France should be joined also by Italy whose ground based air defence units are similarly equipped with the SAMP/T system.

For quite some time, the UK, Italy and France have shared a successful cooperation covering ground and naval air defense systems based on the Aster missile. This cooperation was reaffirmed by the signing of an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) by the three nations on 11th December 2015.

US Navy retires S-3B Viking anti submarine warfare jet

U.S. Navy retired its last Lockheed Martin S-3B Viking anti submarine warfare aircraft, after more than 40 years of service. The last Viking was launched one last time from the runway at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California, on Jan. 11.

Originally introduced in 1974 as a replacement for the S-2 Tracker, the Viking has ranged far from its anti-submarine warfare roots to perform various roles such as organic tanking, electronic intelligence, and carrier onboard delivery.

The Viking officially retired from Navy service in 2009, but like many military members, the S-3B was called upon to continue to serve the Fleet in another capacity. Two S-3 aircraft joined Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 30 that spring.

In November, VX-30 retired the first of its three Vikings, flying it to the military aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. The other two, each with 40 years of service on the airframe, were not far behind.

The last Viking will give at least one more round of federal service before it retires; the final launch from Point Mugu was headed for NASA, not the boneyard. But for Rousseau and other Viking pilots and enthusiasts, the final Navy flight is bittersweet.

Several variants of the S-3 were developed. A total of 187 S-3As — eight test and 179 operational aircraft — were built between 1971 and 1978.

The significantly improved S-3B was developed in the early 1980s to better detect quiet Soviet submarines, identify targets, and carry standoff weapons. The S-3B prototype was flown for the first time in September 1984.

A total of 119 S-3As were upgraded to the S-3B configuration between 1987 and 1994. The modification work took place at Cecil Field and at North Island.

The four seater is powered by two GE TF34 turbofan engines.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Germany choose Heron TP as interim fix

Germany will lease Heron TP unmanned surveillance drones to boost its intelligence gathering capability to support ground troop deployments.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced the selection, saying contract negotiations are ongoing.

Photo: IAI

The Heron TP with its larger payload and endurance will complement the existing fleet of Heron 1 UAVs operated by German armed forces in Afghanistan.

A fleet of 3-5 of these UAVs will be leased and is expected to be operational by 2018.

The temporary fix will help German forces to improve surveillance and strike capabilities until 2025, when a armed European unmanned drone with improved capabilities will be developed.

Capable of being armed with ground attack missiles, the Heron TP has a maximum endurance of upto 52 hours depending upon the payload.

With automatic landing and take off capability and triple redundant avionics, the all weather Heron TP flies above commercial air traffic (45000 ft).

It has a maximum take off weight of 5200 kg and is powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop engine rated at 1200 hp engine enabling to carry a payload of 1000 kg.

LCA Tejus to debut at Bahrain Airshow 2016

The multi role Tejus fighter jet developed by India will mark its international debut at this year's Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS), which will be held from 21-23 January 2016.

Two of these four plus generation fighters will enthrall audience at the Sakhir Airbase with flying displays and will also be on static display.

International aviation experts will have their first look at the delta winged composite aircraft developed by Indian Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The Tejus will be parked on Pad 15, adjacent to its arch rival JF-17 fighter developed jointly by Pakistan and China.

The all metal JF-17 is operational with Pakistan since 2010 and is a knock off of the Russian MiG-21 fighter designed in 1960s.

The two fighters left the Jamnagar airbase in India for ferry flight to Bahrain on Wednesday and had a stopover at Muscat for refueling.

Powered by a single GE F404 afterburning turbofan rated at 89 kN, Tejas has a pure double delta wing configuration with no tail planes and a single dorsal fin. It is supersonic and highly maneuverable, and is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary combat aircraft.

With a maximum weight of 13,200 kg, Tejus can carry a payload of 3500 kg on eight under wing hard points including laser guided bombs and long range air to air missiles.

Development began in the early 1990s to replace the large fleet of obsolete MiG-21 operated by Indian Air Force (IAF).

Tejus completed its maiden flight in 2001. Initial Operational Clearance was achieved in 2013 and Final Operational Clearance has been delayed to mid 2016.

The 3000 km journey will help to guage and improve the operational capability of Tejus, which have completed more than 3000 incident free flight tests.

IAF received the first Tejus fighter in Feb 2015 and have decided to triple order for the type to 120. Naval and two seat trainer variants are also undergoing flight testing.

During the Bahrain Airshow 2014, DRDO displayed the Airborne Early Warning Control aircraft based on a Embraer EMB-145 business jet platform developed for Indian Air Force.

The Sarang team of IAF will be the only helicopter display team at the airshow, flying the Indian ALH Dhruv helicopter designed & developed by HAL.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pratt & Whitney to deliver last F117 engine to USAF

Pratt & Whitney will deliver the final production F117 engine to the U.S. Air Force for its C-17 Globemaster III fleet later this month.

A ceremony commemorating delivery of 1,313 production engines will be held later today at Pratt & Whitney's engine center in Middletown, Connecticut, and will include representatives from the U.S. Air Force and Boeing.

Production of the C-17 airlifter ended in 2015, when the 279th aircraft departed Boeing's Long Beach assembly line in November.

Pratt & Whitney's F117 engine is a member of the company's PW2000 family of commercial engines, known for powering the Boeing 757. Four F117 engines power the C-17, and each engine is rated at 40,440 pounds of thrust which enables the aircraft to carry a payload of 164,900 pounds and fly 2,400 nautical miles without refueling.

The F117 engine first entered service in 1993. With more than 12 million hours of proven military service and 50 million hours in commercial use, F117/PW2040 engines have consistently proven to be world-class dependable engines.

"The legacy of this production program is defined by world-class engine reliability and dependability, which would not have been possible without the talent and dedication of the present and past Pratt & Whitney employees," said Brig. Gen. Stacey T. Hawkins, director of Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection for the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command.

"The U.S. Air Force relies on the C-17 to enable our global mobility mission. The fact is, the workhorse C-17 and its F117 powerplant ensure we are able to project power around the globe during times of conflict, or to deliver aid and comfort in times of crisis."

F117 engines power nine C-17 fleets around the world, including the Royal Australian Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Qatar Emiri Air Force, the United Arab Emirates Air Force, the Indian Air Force, the NATO Airlift Management Programme, and the Kuwaiti Air Force in addition to the U.S. Air Force.

Airbus beats Boeing in backlog and order intakes

Airbus beat its U.S. rival Boeing in order intakes and backlog for 2015, but lagged on deliveries. Airbus completed 635 aircraft deliveries, while Boeing achieved 762 deliveries.

Airbus deliveries comprise: 491 A320 Family aircraft; 103 A330s; 27 A380s; and 14 A350 XWBs. This production achievement means that Airbus’ aircraft deliveries in 2015 were up for the 13th year in a row, surpassing the previous year-end delivery record of 629 aircraft – set in 2014.

Airbus also achieved 1,036 net orders from 53 customers (of which eight are new), comprising 897 single-aisle aircraft and 139 widebodies.

At 2015 year-end the overall backlog had climbed to a new industry record of 6,787 aircraft valued at US$996.3 billion at list prices.

Overall, 2015 has been a year of solid and wide-ranging Airbus accomplishments. For example, the A320neo was certified by the aviation authorities on both sides of the Atlantic just five years after its launch.

In addition, Airbus delivered 14 A350s – making good its pledge to the airlines who are now benefitting from the world’s most efficient and advanced airliner.

Important progress was also made on the A350 programme’s next variant, the A350-1000 – whose major components and structures are now taking shape across various production sites. Likewise, parts are now in production for the first A330neo – with the machining of its first engine pylon and centre wing-box components.

In addition, there has been good news for the flagship A380, 10 years after its first flight, with the program breaking-even for the first time.

Another notable highlight was of course September’s official opening of the first Airbus factory in the US, at Mobile on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, where between 40 and 50 A320 Family aircraft will be produced annually by 2018.

Furthermore, in 2015 Airbus launched three new incremental aircraft developments which include: the Long-Range version of the A321neo which will offer true transatlantic operation; the Regional version of the A330 which is optimized to seat up to 400 passengers on missions up to 3,000nm; and the Ultra-Long-Range version of the A350-900, capable of 19-hour flights.

Airbus's Chinese A320 Family final assembly line at Tianjin delivered a new record total of 50 aircraft in 2015. Planning also is moving ahead for Tianjin’s new cabin completion and delivery centre, starting with the A330 based on orders received from China last year for A330ceo (Current Engine Option) jetliners, according to Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier.

Airbus’ goal for 2016 is to deliver on its ambitious production expansion/ramp-up strategy, setting a target of delivering more than 650 aircraft to customers during the 12 months.

This objective includes the continued upswing in A320 Family production during 2016, reaching an output rate of 50 per month by early 2017 and subsequently going to 60 monthly by mid-2019; along with the delivery of at least 50 A350s in 2016 (compared to 14 in 2015).

Airbus is looking to attain another break-even year for the A380 in 2016, providing a number similar to the 27 delivered in 2015; while A330ceo production will level at a rate of six per month as the transition is made to the A330neo (New Engine Option).

The first A350-1000 version of the A350 XWB will enter the final assembly line next month, enabling its first flight before year-end; while final assembly line activity for the initial A330neo is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Monday, January 11, 2016

German Tornado's fly first recon mission against ISIS

German Tornado fighter jets flew their first reconnaissance missions against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria, today from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

The Bundeswehr has up to six Tornado jets stationed at Incirlik Air Base, in addition to an Airbus A310 MRTT for air-to-air refuelling since mid-December.

Photo: Bundeswehr/Bärwald
Since 2009 the German air force has used the "RecceLite" (Reconnaissance Litening Pod) digital reconnaissance system, which is mounted in a pod below the two-seater swing-wing Tornado.

The "RecceLite" system produces a significantly better images and better evaluation options.
Real-time transmission of surveillance data to the ground station during the flight is possible.

"RecceLite" can gather high resolution digital images by day or night, with the help of infrared and optical sensors while flying at low or medium altitudes.

Alongside the reconnaissance jets, the German air force is also operating an Airbus A310 in an air-to-air refueling role. This multi-role aircraft can be converted for use as a passenger or cargo plane, as a medical evacuation plane, or for air-to-air refueling.

When the aircraft is used for refueling, four additional centre fuel tanks are fitted along with hose and drogue pods weighing about 600 kg under the outer wings. For refueling, a 22m-long hose stowed in the pods is extended and used with a refueling basket or drogue.

The aircraft to be refueled inserts its probe in the basket or drogue. Up to 1,600 litres fuel can be transferred per minute.

On 4 January 2016, A German Air Force (Luftwaffe) plane from Hamburg flew in additional personnel for the contingent deployed in Turkey. The German troops stationed there include pilots, technicians, ground staff and specialists.

They are to evaluate the images obtained during the reconnaissance flights. The plans are to station up to 250 German soldiers in Incirlik.

Following the terrorist attacks on 13 November, the German Bundestag voted on 4 December 2015 by a large majority to approve the deployment of the Bundeswehr in the fight against the so-called IS. Up to 1,200 Bundeswehr soldiers are to support the international alliance against the terrorist organisation.

In addition to the troops stationed in Incirlik, a German frigate has been escorting the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle since 6 December 2015. France is flying airstrikes against the terrorist organisation IS from the aircraft carrier.

Dassault Rafale delivery dips to single digit in 2015

French aircraft maker Dassault said its delivery of the ominrole Rafale fighter jet dipped to a single digit number in 2015, producing just 8 aircraft.

Of which five where delivered to France and the remaining 3 to the Egyptian Air Force -marking the first export order for the aircraft.

French Air Force
The year represented a decrease of 3 units compared to 2014, during which 11 aircraft were produced.

Backlog for the type stood at 83, including 38 for France and 45 for international customers including Egypt and Qatar, both of them ordered 24 jets each in 2015.

Dassault said major work on the program in 2015, included retrofit of French Rafale fleet to the F3 configuration.

France has ordered four batches of aircraft totaling 132 aircraft for the French Air Force (63 Rafale B two-seaters and 69 Rafale C single-seaters) and 48 Rafale M naval single-seaters for the French Navy.

India is expected to sign deal for 36 Rafale fighter in this month, bringing the total order for the type to 264.

Capabilities are developed incrementally, and released in packages (“standards”). The first release (standard F1) featured only air-to-air capabilities. It became operational in 2004 with the French Navy on Rafales launched from the Charles de Gaulle nuclear aircraft-carrier during operation “Enduring Freedom”.

The second capability release (standard F2) entered service in the French Air Force and in the French Navy in 2006. It provided the Rafale with its true omnirole capability for air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

Standard F3 is the current release. It has been qualified by the French MoD in 2008. It adds air reconnaissance with the AREOS recce pod, anti-ship with the AM39 EXOCET (implemented in Rafale B, C, and M), and the nuclear capability with the ASMPA.

The first Rafale F3 was delivered to the French Air Force Operational Evaluation Centre (CEAM) in mid-2008 at Mont-de-Marsan AFB, in full accordance with the contracted delivery schedule.

In January 2014, the F3R standard development contract for the Rafale combat aircraft was announced. The F3R standard is an evolution of the Rafale “F3” standard, featuring the European METEOR long-range air-to-air missile produced by MBDA, Thales TALIOS new-generation laser designator pod and laser homing version of the Sagem AASM Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon HAMMER.

USAF B-52 flies over South Korea in response to North Korean Nuclear explosion

 (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton)

A U.S. B-52 Stratofortress from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, conducted a low-level flight in the vicinity of Osan Air Base, South Korea, in response to provocative nuclear test by North Korea on Jan 10, according to a U.S. Pacific Command news release issued Jan. 9.

The B-52 was joined by South Korean F-15 fighter aircraft and U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcons, the release said.

"This was a demonstration of the ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies in South Korea, in Japan, and to the defense of the American homeland," said Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the PACOM commander.

"North Korea's nuclear test is a blatant violation of its international obligations. U.S. joint military forces in the Indo-Asia-Pacific will continue to work with all of our regional allies and partners to maintain stability and security."

The bilateral flight mission demonstrates the strength of the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea and the resolve of both nations to maintain stability and security on the Korean Peninsula, the release said.

Headquartered in Hawaii, PACOM is responsible for all U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps forces over half the Earth's surface, stretching from the waters off the west coast of North America to the western border of India, and from Antarctica to the North Pole.

 (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dillian Bamman)
The B-52 is a long-range strategic bomber and part of the command's continuous bomber presence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. Upon completion of the flight over South Korea, the B-52 returned to Guam, the release said.

The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can fly up to 50,000 feet and has the capability to carry 70,000 pounds of nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability.

The bilateral flight mission demonstrates the strength of the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea and the resolve of both nations to maintain stability and security on the Korean Peninsula.

Swedish SHK locates black box of crashed CRJ 200 freighter

The Swedish Accident Investigation Authority (SHK) has located the Black Box of the West Atlantic Bombardier CRJ 200 PF freighter, which crashed in Sweden on last Friday, 8 January.

The heavily damaged Flight Data Recorder (FDR) which records the technical data of the flight, was located on Saturday. SHK investigators are working to determine whether the memory device is intact.

The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) which records audio in the cockpit were also found on Saturday. The unit was, however not intact, and the part that contains memory functions were missing. On Sunday, the missing parts of the CVR were retrieved.

On Saturday, the rescue services were able to pump up about 1.5 cubic meters of liquid, mainly containing jet fuel from the crater formed at the crash site.

SHK said it could take a few weeks to extract and analyze the information from the black boxes and hopes to publish a full report on the accident within twelve months.

A Mayday call was received shortly after midnight on 8 January 2016 from the cargo aircraft on route from Oslo to Tromsö in Norway with two crew on board.

The aircraft disappeared from radar screens approximately at the same time. The flight carried 4.5 tons of mail and parcels and impacted the side of a mountain northwest of Lake Akkajaure, about 10 km from Norway border.

The flight SWN 294 operated by the Bombardier CRJ 200 PF aircraft with registration SE-DUX was manufactured in 1993. The aircraft has been flown for 38,601 flight hours since then.

West Atlantic Sweden AB has operated the aircraft since 2007 and flown approximately 10 000 hours.

The 42 year old Captain, who had 2050 hours on the type and total hours 3173, the 34 year old First Officer, who had 900 hours on the type and total hours 3050 did not survive the crash.

The European mail and express freighter was founded in 1962 and is headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden. The company operated four of the type before crash.

Boeing delivers 762 aircraft in 2015

Boeing delivered 762 commercial airplanes in 2015, 39 more than the previous year and most ever for the company as it enters its centennial year.

In 2015, Boeing recorded 768 net orders, valued at $112.4 billion at current list prices. At year end, Boeing held 5,795 unfilled orders from customers worldwide.

Worldwide demand for air travel has continued to be robust, said Randy Tinseth, Vice President, Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

In addition to the orders and deliveries, the company marked a number of other milestones in 2015:
  • Five customers received their first 787 Dreamliners, including Royal Air Maroc, Scoot, American Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Vietnam Airlines.
  • The 747 team delivered the 100th 747-8, the 767 program received its largest single order ever from FedEx and the 777 program announced a 2 percent fuel improvement package.
  • The newly expanded Seattle Delivery Center opened its doors to pave the way for increased 737 production.
  • The first 737 MAX rolled out of the factory in December.
  • The 787-10 team completed detailed design of the newest member of the 787 family, while the 777X reached firm configuration, allowing the team to begin detailed design of parts, assemblies and other systems for the airplane.
Of the total delivery, the single aisle Boeing 737 topped the chart with 495 deliveries, followed by the 787 of which 135 were delivered.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Air China orders six Boeing 777 jetliners

 Boeing and Air China today announced an order for six additional 777-300ER (Extended Range) jetliners.

The order is valued at more than $2 billion at current list prices and bolsters Air China’s long-haul widebody fleet as it looks to expand its international network.

China’s flag carrier continues to modernize its long-haul fleet to replace aging aircraft and plans to expand its growing network internationally.

Air China currently operates a fleet 174 Boeing airplanes, including nearly all current Boeing production models, including the Next-Generation 737, 747-8 Intercontinental as well as 777-300ERs.

With this new order, Air China will increase its unfilled airplane orders with Boeing to 90 units, which include orders for new 787-9 Dreamliners.

The 777-300ER will receive further improvements in 2016 designed to reduce fuel use by another two percent.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

France orders 6 additional NH90 helicopters

France has placed an additional order for six NH90 helicopters in tactical troop transport (TTH) configuration, to augment troop transport capability of French Army Aviation.

The French armed forces have deployed the NH90 operationally in Mali where it demonstrated outstanding endurance, versatility and manoeuvrability.

The order to be delivered from 2017 to 2019, will bring the total no of the type ordered by France to 74.

Combat-proven since 2010, the NH90 TTH has been successfully deployed by several countries in different theatres of operation.

With a wide modular cabin, large sliding doors on each side and a rear ramp, the NH90 can be rapidly configured for such missions as troop transport with a 20-seat configuration, light vehicle transport, casualty evacuation with 12 stretchers, cargo airlift with standard NATO pallets, armed tactical transport, as well as combat search and rescue.

The NH90’s 4-axis autopilot and fly-by-wire controls contribute to safety and maximum flight performance in severe operating conditions. The NH90 is the first serial helicopter in the world to be equipped with fly-by-wire technologies, significantly reducing pilot workload and allowing for this state-of-the-art helicopter to be piloted with ease.

To date, around 270 NH90 have been delivered to 13 countries and have logged nearly 100,000 flight hours, confirming the success of this helicopter on the export market.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mi-38 achieve Russian type certification

Russian Helicopters has received type certification for the medium multirole Mi-38 transport helicopter designed by its Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant.

The new helicopter which can carry up to 30 passengers, sits between the legendary Mi-8/17 weighing up to 13,000 kg and the world's heaviest lifting Mi-26 helicopter weight up to 56,000 kg.

The certification was presented by the head of the Federal Air Transportation Agency Alexander Neradko to Russian Helicopters CEO Alexander Mikheev during a ceremony at Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant on 30 December.

The commercial helicopter has been designed to Russian AP-29 standards, which equate to CS-29 standards in Europe and FAR-29 in the US.

With a 15,600 kg maximum take off weight, the Mi-38 can cruise at 285 kmph and have a operational ceiling of 5900 m. Range varies from 420 to 1200 km with a cargo of 5000 kg to 2700 kg respectively.

The Mi-38 will enter serial production in 2016, followed by maiden delivery. The first fuselage for the serial-production model has already been assembled at Kazan Helicopters.

Flight certification testing of the Mi-38 involved two prototypes (the third and fourth) powered by two Klimov TV7-117V turboshaft engines rated with 2800 hp at take off.

The Mi-38 is fitted with an integrated IBKO-38 avionics system that displays data on five LCD screens.

It is one of the most highly automated commercial helicopters in the world, with on-board systems that allow automatic navigation along a pre-set course, as well as automated landing, hovering and stabilisation in various flight modes.

The Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant has created 12 basic models of helicopter, including the Mi-8/17, Mi-35M, Mi-26, Mi-28, Mi-38 and numerous modifications. Mil-helicopters are in operation in 110 countries worldwide and form the backbone of helicopter aviation in Russia, the CIS, as well as in countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

Monday, January 4, 2016

BAE Systems to develop new EW system for U.S. Special Ops C-130J fleet

BAE Systems has been selected by the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to develop a new electronic warfare system for the fleet of C-130J aircraft.

The contract, worth more than $20 million, is the first phase of a multi-phase program to upgrade aircraft system survivability and the capability to detect, identify, locate, deny, degrade, disrupt and defeat threat systems in operational significant environments. The life cycle value of the contract is expected to exceed $400 million.

Designed to be integrated into both the MC-130J Commando II and the AC-130J Ghostrider aircraft, the RFCM system will support the varied and critical missions of Special Operation Forces.

These missions include the use of C-130Js for armed over-watch and refueling of helicopters in denied territories, and for close air support and interdiction missions in the most sensitive and hostile of territories.

The Radio Frequency Countermeasure (RFCM) system offers fully integrated, precision geo-location, and radio frequency countermeasure capabilities. The advanced system will significantly enhance the electronic threat protection capability of the C-130J, increasing the aircraft’s ability to detect and defeat both surface and airborne threats in signal-dense and highly contested environments.

Under the terms of the contract, BAE Systems will provide product development and platform integration work over the next 12 months.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Lockheed Martin wins multi year contract for C-130J Super Hercules

Lockheed Martin will deliver 78 C-130J Super Hercules to the U.S. government through a C-130J Multiyear II contract, which was announced by the U.S. government on Dec. 30, 2015.

U.S. Department of Defense announced the award of more than $1 billion in funding for the first 32 aircraft of the Multiyear contract. The overall contract, worth $5.3 billion, provides Super Hercules aircraft to the U.S. Air Force (30 MC-130Js, 13 HC-130Js and 29 C-130J-30s) and the U.S. Marine Corps (six KC-130Js).

Also through this contract, the U.S. Coast Guard has the option to acquire five HC-130Js. Aircraft purchased through the multiyear contract will deliver between 2016 and 2020.

Constructed in alignment with the U.S. government's Better Buying Power initiative, this contract provides significant savings to the U.S. government through multiyear procurement as compared to annual buys.

Lockheed Martin provided 60 C-130Js to the U.S. government through an initial multiyear contract announced in 2003, which delivered aircraft to the U.S. Air Force and U.S Marine Corps from 2003-2008.

The C-130J Super Hercules is the standard in tactical airlift, providing a unique mix of versatility and performance to complete any mission, anytime, anywhere. It is 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. For additional information

Tatarstan Boeing 737 crash attributed to poor crew training

Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee has concluded that inexperienced crew, poor training and weak safety standards at the airline has caused the near vertical Tatarstan Airline Boeing 737 crash on 17 November 2013, that killed all the 50 on board.

The Boeing 737 pilots while landing at Kazan airport, opted to execute a go-around after unsuccessful attempts to bring the aircraft back on course and stabilize the unstable approach.

Both pilots had not realized the autopilot had disengaged as they attempted the go-around, during which the aircraft was around 270 m above the runway.

The 737-500 initially pitched up excessively, exceeding the ATC specified height of 500 m for a go-around. After stabilizing at 700 m, the aircraft entered a steep dive from which it never recovered.

The aircraft entered a 75-degree-nose-down steep dive at a speed of 242 knots (448 km/h) and exploded upon striking the ground near to the designated Runway 29.

The report says the crew failed to follow the ‘aviate, navigate, communicate’ principle, which prioritises control of the aircraft over matters such as radio communications. Unnecessary communications with the air traffic control led to prolonged co-pilot distraction from their duties and monitoring of flight parameters.

Also the captain's lack of skills to recover the aircraft from the complex spatial position (Upset Recovery) led to the creation of significant negative overload, loss of spatial orientation and transferred the aircraft into a steep dive.

The go-around was required as the aircraft was considerably off course due to map shift error (by 4 km) and the lack of active support from the ATC. The map shift error was attributed partly to incorrect positioning data fed on ground.

Investigators believe an incorrect perception of the aircraft’s attitude (somatogravic illusion) could also have played a role in the fatal crash.

The Flight 363 took off from Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow at 6:25 p.m. local time. The crash was caught on security camera in the airport.

Photo: The Kazan airport crash site

Maiden flight for new Russian SR-10 trainer jet

A new trainer jet designed by a private Russian design bureau KB-SAT has completed its maiden flight on Dec. 25 from an airfield near Vorotynsk, in the Kaluga Region, Russia.

Dubbed the SR-10, the new trainer follows the heritage of the Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut supersonic demonstrator and features an unusual moderate forward swept wing with leading edge root extension.

The aircraft is designed to achieve high maneuverability, high structural strength and minimum airframe weight. The forward swept wing enable maneuvering at wide range of angle of attack.

The all composite airframe has three sections. The nose section with the avionics, front landing gear bay and the pressurized tandem seat cockpit.

The middle part of the airframe has an equipment compartment behind the cockpit, the hull fuel tank, side air intakes. The side beams with attachment points of main gears are located along the sides.

The aft part of the fuselage includes: the engine compartment, the life support and air conditioning systems.

The jet trainer will be capable of providing both initial and basic flight training with its 200-900 kmph speed range and operating altitude of 6 km.

The present Yakovlev Yak-130 (Alenia M-346) advanced jet trainer operated by Russian Air Force can operate at an altitude of 12 km and at speeds up to 1000 kmph.

The SR-10 has landing and take off speeds of 185 and 190 kmph respectively, and is equipped with Zvevda K-93 zero-zero ejection seat that is safe up to 900 kmph speed.

Powered by a single AI-25TL turbofan engine, the SR-10 has a maximum take off weight of 2,700 kg. A more powerful AI-55 engine is also being studied.

The first prototype has an analog cockpit and a glass cockpit with LCD screens is optional. The aircraft will also have an aerobatic version for aerial display and sports events.

In 2014, SR-10 had lost a Russian Defense ministry tender for basic trainer aircraft, which was won by the Yak-152 turboprop trainer.

The first forward swept wing aircraft X-29 was developed by the Grumman Corporation in 1980s. The aircraft first flew in 1984 and was controllable at 67 degrees of AOA.

The Sukhoi developed Su-47 first flew in 1997 and aided in development of the PAK-FA stealth fighter.