Sunday, July 31, 2016

KC-390 demonstrated high maturity during international debut

The first prototype of Embraer KC-390 military transport plane arrived back in Brazil after making international debut at the concluded Farnbourgh Air Show in UK and completing demonstration flights to its potential customers.

The first international mission lasted 23 days, covering 16,300 nautical miles (about 30,200 kilometers) flying for more than 48 hours.

Embraer says the aircraft demonstrated high level of maturity during the 16 flights, with availability reaching 100 percent, which also included operating from locations with temperature of 45° C (113° F).

The aircraft flew to Sal (Cape Verde), Alverca (Portugal) Odolena Voda (Czech Republic), Cairo (Egypt), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) and Malta for customer demonstrations.

“This was an excellent opportunity for some customers to take a closer look at the aircraft and its innovative features. The interest around the KC-390 during the Farnborough Airshow was fantastic, with the aircraft being visited by more than 20 international delegations”, said Jackson Schneider, President and CEO of Embraer Defense and Security.

“The positive reaction from potential customers who piloted the aircraft was of great pride for the company and its employees because the plane effectively demonstrated its versatility by fully adapting to the particular characteristics of each operation. We are very optimistic about the success of the KC-390 in the coming years.”

KC-390 in Czech
Since first flight in Feb 2015, the two KC-390 prototypes have accumulated more than 400 flight test hours.

The multi mission aircraft is capable of transporting troops, cargo and can also perform aerial refueling missions. Certification is expected for the second half of 2017 with the first delivery to Brazilian Air Force scheduled for 2018.

Powered by two IAE V-2500 turbofan engines, the KC-390 can carry 23 tons of payload including wheeled infantry fighting vehicle to a distance of 1700 miles.

Embraer has received 60 commitments from 6 customers, Argentina (6), Brazil (28), Chile (6), Colombia (12), the Czech Republic (2), and Portugal (6).

USAF release RFP for new ICBM weapon system development

U.S. Air Force issued an request for proposals (RFP) for development of a new intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system under the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program to replace the aging LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBM system.

An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM test launch on 20, Feb 2016.
Projected to be deployed in late 2020s, the new ICBM system will be adaptable and affordable to meet changing technology and threat environments through 2075.

Air Force plans to award up to two contracts in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017 for development of the integrated weapon system, including launch, command and control segments.

The launch systems and weapon system command and control physical infrastructure being used for Minuteman III today first became operational with the Minuteman I ICBM system in the mid-1960s.

While certain components and subsystems have been upgraded over the years, including a transition to Minuteman III configuration in the 1970s, most of the fundamental infrastructure in use today is original and has supported more than 50 years of continuous operation.

The Minuteman III flight systems in use today were fielded in the late 1990s and early 2000s with an intended 20-year lifespan. USAF says the current Minuteman III system will face increased operational and sustainment challenges until it can be replaced.

"The Minuteman III will have a difficult time surviving in the active anti-access, area denial environment that we will be dealing with in the 2030 and beyond time period," Gen. Robin Rand, the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, told the House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee in March 2016.

The new missile will also have ranges in excess of 6000 miles like the Minuteman III.

As of October 2015, USAF had 450 Minuteman III missiles in arsenal, operated from three missile bases.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Ukraine receive U.S. built Raven UAVs

Ukraine received a batch of U.S. built RQ-11 Raven unmanned aerial vehicles worth over US $12 million, as a part of the European Reassurance Initiative package and on-going security assistance.

A U.S. Air Force transport plane with the UAVs arrived at Boryspil International Airport in capital Kiev on Wednesday July 27.

The batch consist of 24 systems comprising 72 aircraft and associated equipment. The hand launched UAV built by AeroVironment is capable of low-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance.

Weighing 1.9 kg, the Raven has a max range of 10 km, and can transmit live airborne video images and location information to a ground control stations. This capability can provide day or night aerial intelligence and enables operators to navigate, recognize terrain, and record information for analysis.

Several dozen Ukrainian soldiers already have completed training on Raven Unmanned Aircraft System in Huntsville, Alabama.

The United States has committed more than $600 million in training and equipment to help Ukraine better defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Marine corps F/A-18 crash kills pilot

A U.S Marine Corps F/A-18C fighter crashed during a training sortie near Twentynine Plams, California on Thursday.

The pilot was killed in the crash which occurred approximately at 10:30 pm PDST, who was part of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.

SpaceX test fires landed Falcon 9 booster

SpaceX successfully carried out static test firing of a landed first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday, passing a key milestone ahead of reusing the type in a mission later this year.

The full duration firing of the booster which was recovered after lofting a commercial satellite in May, lasted nearly 150 seconds from its McGregor rocket development facility in Texas.

During the test, the kerosene fueled nine clustered Merlin 1D engine that constitute the first stage, ignited and developed more than a million pounds of thrust.

The precision landing of Falcon 9 first stage is carried out on a custom-built ocean platform known as the autonomous spaceport drone ship.

During the landing, the first stage booster reenter from space at hypersonic velocity, restart main engines, deploy landing legs and touch down at near zero velocity.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Netherlands and Luxembourg buy A330 tanker aircraft

Netherlands has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Luxembourg to acquire a shared fleet of two Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (A330 MRTT) aircraft, with options for up to six more.

The options will be exercised only if other prospective nations Belgium, Germany, Norway and Poland join the group. The contract also covers two years of initial support.

First aircraft will be delivered in 2020, the same year Royal Netherlands Air Force start decommissioning its two McDonnell Douglas KDC-10 tankers acquired in 1995.

The aircraft will be NATO property and will be stationed at Eindhoven Air Base for pooling and sharing.

The expected life span of the fleet is 30 years and the investment budget is between €250 million and €1 billion. The acquisition cost will be shared if more countries join the program.

Both countries are examining the possibility of collaborating with France and the United Kingdom for crew training and maintenance. France is set to receive its first A330 MRTT aircraft in 2018, while UK already operates the type dubbed Voyager.

The A330 MRTT can both double as a Tanker aircraft for air to air refueling and as a Transport aircraft for carrying troops and cargo. In its tanker role, it can carry 111 tonnes of fuel, while in transport role it can carry 291 troops or up to 43 tonnes of cargo.

Based on Airbus A330 commercial jetliner platfrom, the aircraft is refitted to the MRTT role by Airbus Defense and Space facility in Spain.

MRTT is equipped with three refueling points to refuel both probe and receptacle equipped aircraft.

Safran to triple Rafale's M88 engine production

To meet the export orders bagged by Dassault's Rafale fighter, Safran Aircraft Engines (formerly Snecma) is tripling its M88 turbofan engine production.

Safran Image

The ramp up will see Safran delivering 80 engines per year to meet Dassault's three Rafale per month production rate by 2020.

Rafale has won export orders from Egypt and Qatar for 24 fighters each in 2015. Negotiations with India for 36 aircraft are in final stage, with contract signing expected this year.

Two of these 16,860 lb max thrust engines power the Rafale giving good power-to-weight ratio and superior maneuverability.

The M88 engine features state-of-the-art technologies such as integrally-bladed disks (blisks), powder metallurgy, single-crystal high-pressure turbine blades with ceramic coatings, thermostructural composites.

Meanwhile Dassault delivered 7 Rafale fighters in the first half of 2016, and aims to deliver two more by year end. Of this, 4 aircraft were delivered to France, bringing total French Rafale fleet to 146 out of the 180 on order. While the remaining 3 were delivered to Egypt, doubling its fleet.

Indian Navy Searcher-2 RPA ditched after engine malfunction

An Indian Navy Searcher II remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) was ditched in the Arabian sea, while operating from INS Garuda naval base in Kochi, a port city on the south-west coast of India.

The Israeli Aerospace Industries built UAV on a routine training mission was control ditched at sea, 9 miles from Kochi at about 07:30 pm local time on Wednesday 27 Jul.

The aircraft had got airborne 06:35 pm but developed critical engine malfunction and a controlled ditching was undertaken at sea, Navy said.

Meanwhile a Navy mission to the crash area which had a depth of 24 m to locate and retrieve the ditched RPA failed to sight any wreckage. Later a part of the wing wreckage was later fished out by local fisherman operating from the Alappuzha coast.

India is one of the largest operator of these surveillance RPAs, operating close to 100 of them by its Army, Air force and Navy. These are equipped sophisticated electro optic camera and communication system that can send back real time live pictures of targets.

The Searcher 2 has an endurance of 18 hours and can fly at a ceiling of 18,000 ft. It is powered by a single 47 hp German Limbach  piston engine in pusher configuration.

A400M military capability introduction lagging and challenging

Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders revealed persisting challenges with its A400M military transport aircraft development announcing a fresh $1.1 billion (€ 1,026 million) charges against the program.

He said industrial efficiency and stepwise introduction of the aircraft’s military functionalities are still lagging behind schedule and remain challenging. But added company is making good progress.

Airbus delivered five aircraft in the first half of 2016, which also included the first aircraft ‘MSN 33’ with the much needed tactical capabilities to France in June. The capability will enable aerial delivery of troops and cargo from the aircraft.

Furthermore, the EASA’s Airworthiness Directive, linked to the engine propeller gearbox (PGB), and various PGB quality issues have adversely impacted the customer delivery.

The European Aviation Safety Agency has now certified an interim fix to the engine PGB which, once available, will give air forces at least 650 flight hours before initial inspections of the affected PGB parts, from the current 20 hours.

Airbus says technical issues related to the aluminium alloy used for some parts within the aircraft, recurring cost convergence issues and finally some delays, escalation and cost overruns in the development program resulted in the additional charges.

Company said negotiations through OCCAR for compensation to customers due to capability shortfalls and delivery delay is yet to start and warned significant potential impacts on the financial statements.

Meanwhile Airbus Defence and Space and French aerospace research lab ONERA has validated a longer hose and drogue of length ~37 m (120 ft) to refuel helicopters from A400M, through low speed wind tunnel tests.

Earlier flight tests have revealed that the ~24 m (80 ft) long hose was unstable due to vortices created by A400M's spoilers, which has to be deployed to reduce speed to 200-240 km/h required for refueling the slower helicopters.

Lack of this air to air refueling capability, which will be flight tested later this year, had forced France to order two KC-130J tankers made by Lockheed Martin.

Airbus had earlier targeted this year to introduce the tactical capability, helicopter refueling capability and self protection capabilities for the aircraft.

A400M is now operated by Air Forces of U.K, France, Germany, Turkey and Malaysia.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Russia supplied faulty MiG-29K fighters to India

The navalised MiG-29 fighters acquired by Indian Navy to arm its aircraft carriers has serious operational shortfalls, according to a audit report tabled by India's Comptroller and Auditior General (CAG) in the Parliament.

The carrier borne multi role air superiority fighter is riddled with problems in its airframe, RD-33 MK engines and fly by wire systems, the report says.

CAG slammed the Indian Navy for accepting the MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB fighters being acquired from 2009 in a $ 2.2 billion deal. According to the first deal, 16 fighters were acquired to arm the INS Vikramaditya (ex-Admiral Gorshkov) carrier, while an option clause contract for 29 additional aircraft was signed in March 2010 in which 13 would arm the indigenous INS Vikrant carrier.

The fleet demonstrated poor serviceability, ranging from 15.93 to 37.63 percent by the MiG-29K, while 21.3 to 47.14 percent for the twin seat MiG-29KUB trainers.

Even though advanced and improved than its predecessor, the RD-33MK engine still had reliability problems and design defects, which had caused ten cases of single engine landings.

Out of the 17 remedial modifications to be carried out by MiG on delivered engines by November 2014, only 4 was implemented as of September 2015, and the remaining were to be carried out during overhaul in Russia.

MiG-29KUB trainer during trials in Russia
Also despite modifications and improvements, numerous airframe defects including shearing of engine mounting side bolt, failures of INCOM mounting tray, failure of radar scanner mountings, have occurred during deck operations which had an adverse impact on Indian Navy pilots training and capability of aircraft for undertaking prolonged deployments.

The 6000 hours or 25 years (whichever is earlier) service life of the aircraft was also reduced due to longer build up time after delivery, ranging from 2 to 15 months.

Fly-by-wire system of the aircraft also demonstrated poor reliability ranging from 3.5 percent to 7.5 percent between July 2012 and June 2014.

Further, deliveries of the 13 aircraft under the Option Clause contract scheduled between 2012 and 2016 was much ahead of the delivery schedule of its INS Vikrant carrier in 2023.

The $30 million Full Mission Simulators designed for the ground training of pilot was assessed to be unsuitable for Carrier Qualification (CQ) simulator training for pilots, as the visuals did not support the profile which required high accuracy and fidelity.

Malaysian Airlines identified as new 737 MAX customer

Boeing has identified Malaysian Airlines as a customer for Boeing 737 MAX passenger plane with firm order for 25 737 MAX 8 airplanes, valued at USD 2.75 billion.

Previously attributed to an unidentified customer, the Malaysian order also includes purchase rights for another 25 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9 airplanes.

Boeing claims the new generation 737 MAX, which will enter service in 2017 with Southwest Airline, will deliver 8 percent per seat lower operating costs than the rival Airbus A320neo.

The 737 MAX will have 20 percent better fuel economy than the current Next Generation 737 variant, hence can fly more than 3,500 nautical miles (6,510 km), an increase of 340 - 570 nmi (629-1,055 km) over the NG.

The new single-aisle airplane incorporates the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets and other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market.

The first MAX prototype flew in January 2016 and the flight test program now consist four flight test aircraft.

The 737 MAX family, which also include MAX 7, MAX 200 and MAX 9 variants has bagged 3,072 orders from 62 customers worldwide.

Monday, July 25, 2016

French E-3F AWACS upgrade completed

Air France KLM Industries has completed the Mid Life Upgrade (MLU) of French Air Force E-3F AWACS radar aircraft in partnership with Boeing, delivering the last upgraded aircraft in the end of June.

The MLU upgraded the mission systems of the four aircraft to the Block 40/45 level as defined by Boeing for the US Air Force, increasing the fleet’s surveillance, communications and battle management capabilities.

The upgrade involved replacing all the on-board computer systems with latest-generation equipment: new servers, new consoles, an Ethernet network and optical fibre. This is being combined with an upgrade to the aircraft's structural systems to support the new, heavier hardware.

The first upgraded French Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft was delivered in 2014.

Boeing, as prime contractor, provided hardware, software, engineering and quality assurance support. Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance, a Boeing subcontractor on the project, upgraded the electrical, mechanical and structural systems and mission hardware on the aircraft.

The Boeing E-3 Sentry is based on a Boeing 707 airliner platform and provides all-weather surveillance, command, control, and communications, distinguished by the distinctive rotating radar dome above the fuselage.

Its pulse-Doppler radar can track low flying targets at a range of more than 250 mi (400 km) and the pulse (BTH) radar can track medium to high altitude targets at range of approximately 400 mi (650 km).

The E-3 is also operated by United States Air Force, NATO, Royal Air Force and Royal Saudi Air Force. Production ended in 1992 after 68 aircraft had been built.

Brimstone to arm UK Apache AH-64E fleet

MBDA and Boeing have successfully completed a series of firing trials of the MBDA Brimstone ground attack missile on the Boeing AH-64E attack helicopter to confirm the feasibility of integrating the missile with the United Kingdom’s future Apache AH-64E fleet.

These trials validate a prior UK MOD study contract with MBDA and Boeing that confirmed integration was expected to be low risk.

Boeing performed the platform and cockpit software modifications and managed the trials programme at Mesa and Yuma, Arizona, using a leased United States Government AH-64E in just nine months.

These firings demonstrated the capability of the weapon to guide using Brimstone’s Semi-Active Laser (SAL), Dual Mode SAL/millimetric wave (mmW) and fully autonomous mmW guidance modes.

The weapon releases were from hovering, moving and manoeuvring/banking scenarios against Main Battle Tanks and Pickup Truck targets. All of the firings utilised fully telemetered missiles instead of those with a warhead to confirm performance.

The UK MOD’s trials objectives were met with missile telemetry being gathered, confirming that the weapons separated with active fin control off the rails, with no tip-off concerns. The data collected from these missile firings will be used to enable future optimisation of Brimstone for the AH-64E capability.

Dan Girardin, Boeing Flight Test Engineer, Mesa AZ: said “The mmW autonomous shot from a moving and banking platform against an off-axis target with the missile hitting the MBT turret ring was the most aggressive shot I have seen in my 30 years of the Apache programme”

The Brimstone will replace the Lockheed Martin Hellfire missile, as the primary armament for UK Army’s 50 new AH-64E Apache contracted for $2.3 billion.

The British made missile is currently being used in operations over Syria and Iraq by the RAF.

It is used for the engagement of fast moving and manoeuvring targets, as recently demonstrated from both Tornado GR4 and Reaper RPAS, achieving direct hits against targets operating at speeds up to 70 mph and proving ideal for operations in collaterally constrained environments. Brimstone is also being integrated onto Eurofighter Typhoon for the Royal Air Force.

Tecnam P2012 Traveller complete maiden flight

Italian aircraft manufacturer Tecnam completed maiden flight of its P2012 Traveller aircraft from its Experimental Assembly Line (XAL) in Capua (Italy) on July 21.

The new eleven seat commuter aircraft designed to comply with both FAR part 23 and EASA CS-23 was test flown by Pilot Lorenzo De Stefano.

“After a smooth take-off, I climbed to a safe height to perform our pre-planned manoeuvres to check the basic behaviour of the aircraft, engine and flight controls. The aircraft responded exactly as expected. After a couple of circuits around the airfield, I landed and the Traveller stopped in a very short distance. I am really excited about the Traveller program.” said Lorenzo De Stefano.

The Traveller will first enter service with US based Cape Air as a passenger aircraft but is also designed for Hydro, VIP, cargo shipping, parachuting and medevac missions.

The aircraft is 11.8 m long and has a wingspan of 14 m. The cabin can comfortably seat 9 passengers with luggage compartments in the rear of cabin and front radome.

The high wing configuration allow easy access to cabin and allows the propellers and engines to have high clearance from the ground enabling to operate from semi prepared runways.

With a maximum take off weight of (MTOW) of 3452 kg (7610 lbs), the Traveller is powered by two wing mounted turbocharged six cylinder Lycoming TEO-540-C1A piston engines rated at 350 hp each.

The Traveller can cruise with a speed of about 175 Kts at flight altitude of 10.000 ft and fly a distance of 700 nm (1300 km) and carry a max payload of 900 kg.

The aircraft is equipped with Garmin avionics and a fixed landing gear that Tecnam claims to reduce maintenance by 70 percent.

Flight testing will lead to certification in 2018 and service entry is targeted for 2019.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

An-124 Ruslan to be upgraded with new engines

Antonov has signed an agreement with engine makers Ivchenko Progress and Motor Sich to upgrade the D-18 high bypass engines powering the Antonov Airlines An-124-100 Ruslan heavy cargo planes.

Under the program the current D-18 series 3 engines will be upgraded to the series 3M configuration, making it compliant with the new emission and noise standards.

All the 7 Ruslans operated by Antonov Airlines will be upgraded, which will increase the service life of engine from 12000 to 14000 flight hours.

Upgraded engines will provide reduced noise level and emissions enabling to operate to more western airports.

Currently the D-18 3M engines are under testing, and installation and flight testing on the Ruslans are scheduled for next year.

Antonov Airline was founded in 1989 and performs charter air transportation of out size cargoes with its Ruslan and An-225 Mriya fleet. The An-225 is the world largest aircraft, which is powered by six engines.

The Ruslan can carry cargoes of upto 120 tons to a distance of 4500 km. An upgraded variant with improved range, payload and reduced maintenance is also being developed.

AVIC rolls out AG600 amphibian

China rolled out the first prototype of its indigenous AG600 amphibious aircraft, currently largest of the kind in the world.

Designed and built by Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) the AG600 is a amphibian with a single hull fuselage that enable it to take off and land from water, high mounted cantilever wings, T tail-wing, and tricycle landing gear for operating from land.

The "twin float" design, with one float mounted beneath each wing imparts horizontal stability while operating from water.

With a length of 36.9 m, wingspan of 38.8 m and height of 12.1 m, AG600 has a maximum weight of 53.5 tonnes.

Resembling the Japanese ShinMaywa US-2 amphibian, the AG600 is powered by four Chinese WJ-6 turboprop engines, which are license built Ivchenko AI-20 engines rated at 3800 kW.

In its fire fighting role, the AG600 can scoop 12 tons of water from sea within 20 seconds and drop over fire zones from a minimum altitude of 50 m, and during sea rescue missions, it can transport 50 persons and operate during waves of 2 m high.

License built WJ-6 turboprop
The aircraft has a maximum range of 4500 km and can operate from speeds ranging from 220-560 kmph with a service ceiling of 6000 m.

AVIC says the type has receieved 17 orders and first flight is expected by year end.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Indian An-32 plane missing near Port Blair

Indian Air Force and Navy launched a full scale search and rescue operation after an Air Force An-32 transport plane went missing in the Bay of Bengal near Port Blair.

The aircraft was flying from Tambaram air force base in Chennai to INS Utkrosh naval base in the Andaman and Nicobar islands and was expected to arrive at 1130 hours local time.

Onboard was 29 personnel including six crew members.

The aircraft according to Chennai ATC, plunged from 23,000 ft before disappearing from the radar.

Navy has deployed several ships and two Boeing P-8I maritime patrol aircraft for the SAR mission. Airforce assets deployed include a C-130J Hercules and Dornier Do 228 planes.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Facebook's Acquila takes to skies

Facebook’s Connectivity Lab has reached a major milestone with the first full-scale test flight of Aquila unmanned solar-powered airplane that can be used to bring affordable internet to hundreds of millions of people in the hardest-to-reach places.

The aircraft with the wingspan of an airliner, but at cruising speed it will consume only 5,000 watts — the same amount as three hair dryers, or a high-end microwave.

This test flight from South Africa was designed to verify the operational models and overall aircraft design. To prove out the full capacity of the design, Facebook will push Aquila to the limits in a lengthy series of tests in the coming months and years.

Facebook has flown a 1/5th-scale version of Aquila for several months, but this was the first flight of the full-scale aircraft.

When complete, Aquila will be able to circle a region up to 60 miles in diameter, beaming connectivity down from an altitude of more than 60,000 feet using laser communications and millimetre wave systems. Aquila is designed to fly for up to three months at a time.

To reach the goal of being able to fly over a remote region and deliver connectivity for up to three months at time, Facebook will need to break the world record for solar-powered unmanned flight, which currently stands at two weeks.

First Australian Pilatus PC-21 trainer takes to air

The first Pilatus PC-21 turboprop trainer aircraft for Australian Defense Force has completed maiden flight from Pilatus factory in Stans, Switzerland.

This is the first of 49 aircraft ordered in December 2015, to train Australian Army, Navy and Air Force pilots under the AIR 5428 project for the next 25 years.

The aircraft registered as A54-001, will be handed over to the Royal Australian Air Force at East Sale in June 2017 after completion of testing and verification work in both Switzerland and Australia.

The PC-21 will replace both the aging PC-9 fleet, which has been in service since 1988, and also the Pacific Aerospace CT-4B aircraft currently used for basic training.

The PC-9 is due to be withdrawn in 2019 after thirty years of service and more than 500,000 flying hours. The CT-4B recently completed the 250,000 flight hour mark.

Pegasus takes first LEAP powered A320neo

Turkey’s leading low-cost airline Pegasus took delivery of the first LEAP-1A engine powered Airbus A320neo jetliner on Tuesday July 19th.

The delivery is part of the 100 A320neo family aircraft ordered by Pegasus in 2012 and was not affected by the recent military coup in Turkey.

The LEAP-powered A320neo received its Type Certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on May 31, 2016.

Airbus had selected the LEAP-1A as an option for the A320neo in 2010 and the engine flew for the first time on the A320neo on May 19, 2015.

The LEAP-1A, which powers the Airbus A319neo, A320neo, and the A321neo aircraft, features some of the industry’s most advanced technologies, including 3-D woven carbon fiber composite fan blades and fan case; a unique debris rejection system; 4th generation three dimensional aerodynamic designs; the Twin-Annular, Pre-Swirl (TAPS) combustor featuring additively manufactured fuel nozzles; ceramics matrix composite shrouds in the high-pressure turbine; and titanium aluminide (Ti-Al) blades in the low-pressure turbine.

Dassault to upgrade French Mirage 2000D fighters

French defense procurement agency DGA has awarded Dassault Aviation a contract for mid-life upgrade (MLU) of French Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000D fighters.

Under the contract, the ground attack specialized Mirage 2000D will be upgraded with a new automatic cannon, MBDA MICA short and medium range air to air missile replacing the dogfighting MBDA Magic 550 and improved avionics system.

The MICA missile which arms the Rafale fighter was also selected by Indian Air Force to upgrade its Mirage 2000 fighters.

Upgrade will be carried out on 55 of the 63 Mirage 2000D operated by France. Five of these fighters are currently part of the 14 aircraft deployed by France to provide air support in Iraq and Syria in the fight against Anti Islamic State, which also include six Rafale and three Mirage 2000N combat aircraft.

The MLU will enable the French Air Force to operate the Mirage 2000D which entered service in 1993, beyond 2030 and alongside the advanced Dassault Rafale combat aircraft.

The program will help France to maintain a force level of combined 225 combat aircraft with the Navy and Air Force, as established by a Defense and National Security White Paper.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

ATSB examining possibe MH370 wing flap debris

Australian Safety Transport Bureau (ATSB) said it has received a wing part suspected to be from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

 The wing part found on Pemba Island off the coast of Tanzania and is currently being examined by experts from Malaysia and Australia at the laboratories of the ATSB in Canberra.

The large piece of what is likely to be a wing flap was found by locals on Pemba Island on 23 June 2016.

Malaysia and Australia have worked with Tanzanian officials to assume responsibility for the wing flap.

Technical specialists from the ATSB are working with Malaysian investigators to determine if it is from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, MH370.

To date, the ATSB has examined four pieces of debris on behalf of Malaysia and determined them to be almost certainly from MH370. This is in addition to the flaperon found on La Reunion Island on 29 July 2015 and positively identified by French officials as originating from flight MH370.

Under water search of more than 110,000 square kilometres of the 120,000 square kilometre search zone in the southern Indian Ocean has been completed.

The Boeing 777 operated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared on 8 March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.

Sukhoi delivers Thai Air Force SuperJet business jets

Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) took delivery of its two Sukhoi Superjet 100 based Sukhoi Business Jet (SBJ) aircraft on July 15.

The aircraft will be providing VIP transportation services for Thai top officials and government leaders as well as to the High Command of Thailand. The two SBJs are the company’s first business jets acquired by an overseas customer.
Air Chief Marshal Treetod Sonjance, Commander-in-Chief of The Royal Thai Air Force, Ilya Tarasenko, President of SCAC, Nazario Cauceglia, CEO of SuperJet International and Marc Sorel, CEO and Chairman of PowerJet, took part in the official ceremony celebrating the aircraft roll-out and acquisition.
The version of the SBJ designed for RTAF has three sections differing in comfort level: a 4-seat VIP area, a 6-seat business class area, and a passenger compartment for 50 people. The aircraft ensure maximum passenger comfort, including communication and Inflight-Entertainment systems.
The SBJ’s flight range is over 4500 km. The aircraft, including the interior, were assembled in Russia. In-service maintenance support for the RTAF jets will be provided in Thailand.
The contract was awarded in 2014.   

UK selects Certifiable Predator B to replace Reaper drones

UK Ministry of Defense has selected the General Atomics Certifiable Predator® B (CPB) Remote Piloted Aircraft system, to replace its armed MQ-9 Reaper drones, capable of flying over national airspace.

The UK CPB will have some specific modifications, to fulfill the country's future armed Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) requirements.

The CPB will be capable to operate within unsegregated controlled airspace, featuring enhanced safety and reliability systems, meeting European airworthiness certification standards.

Based on GA's Predator B RPA, the CPB will be fully compliant with NATO's UAV System Airworthiness Requirements (STANAG 4671) with lightning protection and sense and avoid technology; performance changes include a 79 ft (24 m) wingspan that has winglets and enough fuel for a 40-hour endurance at 45,000 ft .

According to the 2015 Strategic Defense and Security Review, the Royal Air Force will operate at least 20 Protector systems by 2025, replacing all of its current 10 MQ-9 Reapers.

The procurement will occur through a hybrid Foreign Military Sales/Direct Commercial Sale agreement with the U.S. government.

Construction of CPB has begun, with fuselage integration currently underway, followed by wings and tails integration planned for late summer 2016. Flight testing of the CPB airframe is scheduled for late 2016.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Turkey's regional jet program takes off at Farnborough

Turkey's indigenous civil aircraft program got a boost at the concluded Farnborough Air Show, with the announcement of key suppliers and signing deal with two customers.

The new Ankhara based TRJet an affiliate of Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), is spearheading the program which will first produce a modernized and enhanced version of the acclaimed Dornier 328 aircraft.

The jet powered variant is dubbed the TRJ328, while the turboprop version is called TRP328. Eventually a larger and more capable domestically-designed aircraft called the TRJ628 will follow.

A Letter of Intent was signed at Farnborough with the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO) for 10 TRJ328 aircraft and Singapore's Sentinel Aerospace Group confirmed order for five TRP328™ turboprop aircraft for special mission use.

In addition an MOU was signed in May 2015 for up to 50 aircraft with the Turkish Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs & Communications.

The TRJ powered by the PW306B engine will have a typical flight range of approximately 1,120 nautical miles (2,080 km) with passenger, medevac, VIP, cargo and special mission versions. The passenger version will seat 32 and have a max cruise speed of 740 kmph.

The TRP powered by the PW127 turboprop will have maximum cruise speed of 335 knots (619 km/h) with a typical range of 900 Nm (1670 km) seating 32.

Both aircraft will have a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 15,660 kg (34,524 lbs).

The first flight of TRP328 is scheduled for 2019-20.

Liebherr-Aerospace will supply the complete air management system including design and service of the bleed air system, precooling, cabin and cockpit environmental conditioning, as well as the pressurization system.

Germany-based Heggemann AG will supply the Main Landing Gear (MLG) and Nose Landing Gear (NLG) for both aircraft. Heggemann AG will provide the complete landing gear structure, including steering actuators, retracting kinematic and actuators; downlocks; electrics and hydraulics harnesses; and the electrical steering box.

The 328 series will have Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion® integrated avionics system featuring three 14-inch touchscreen LCD flight displays and Rockwell Collins’ MultiScan™ radar.

France orders rockets for Tiger helicopter

France has signed a contract with TDA Armaments to develop and manufacturer a new laser-guided variant of the TDA Aculeus NG rocket for French Army Light Aviation.

The 68 mm induction laser guided rocket will equip Army's Airbus Helicopters Tiger HAD attack helicopter fleet.

Equipped with a laser semi-active homing, Aculeus NG can engage fixed or mobile light vehicles and light infrastructure at a range of up to 5000 m.

The warhead of rocket has been conceived to limit the collateral damages to a 20 meters  radius.

Weighing 8.8 kg, the lightweight and compact rocket has also no electrical connection to the rocket launcher: the initial information and energy it needs is transferred by an induction system, which gives it an ease of implementation and reduced recharge time.

The first deliveries are expected in 2020 with the standard 2 Tiger.

French defense procurement agency DGA and TDA Armaments SAS, a subsidiary of Thales signed the contract on June 30.

Monday, July 18, 2016

KC-46A completes flight tests required for Milestone C

The U.S. Air Force KC-46 Pegasus program completed all flight tests required for the Milestone C production decision on July 15 by offloading 1,500 pounds of fuel to an A-10 Thunderbolt II.

The successful A-10 mission was the last of six in-flight refueling demonstrations required before the tanker program can request approval from Frank Kendall, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, to award production Lots 1 and 2, totaling 19 Boeing KC-46A aircraft.

The other five required air refueling demonstrations were with the C-17 Globemaster III and F-16 Fighting Falcon using the air refueling boom, the Navy’s F-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier II using the centerline and wing drogue systems, and the KC-46 as a receiver aircraft.

"Today's flight marks the final step we needed to see on the boom fix in order to request production go-ahead,” said Brig. Gen. Duke Richardson, the Air Force program executive officer for tankers. “Our joint team's tireless efforts are paying off, preparing us for the next step of this critical need to our warfighter."

This test would not have been possible without contributions from the 412th Test Wing, 23rd Fighter Wing, 355th FW, 124th FW, 896th Test Support Squadron and 40th Flight Test Squadron, which all provided aircraft, manpower and equipment.

The Milestone C decision to begin low-rate initial production is expected in August. Based on the Boeing 767 commercial platform, the KC-46A will be USAF' next generation replacing the legacy KC-10.

Final RAF A330 Voyager Tanker delivered

Airbus Defense and Space has delivered the fourteenth and final Airbus A330-200 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft to AirTanker on July 13.

AirTanker is operating the Voyager tanker fleet for British Royal Air Force (RAF) as a part of the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft program.

The final aircraft touched down at RAF Brize Norton- its home base, following its final sunny departure from the Airbus Defence and Space facility in Getafe, Spain.

Known locally as FSTA14, this aircraft completes the fleet of nine core and five surge fleet aircraft delivered through the program and will continue on the military register as ZZ343 to carry out its Air-to-Air Refuelling and Air Transport role.

The surge fleet will be available to AirTanker for operating charter services.

With a fuel capacity of 111 tonnes, Voyager can refuel RAF's Tornado GR4 and Typhoon fighter jets, extending their reach.

In its transport role Voyager can carry up to 291 passengers with a cargo capacity of up to 43 tonnes.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Boeing wins 182 aircraft order at Farnborough

 Boeing celebrated its centennial amid a highly successful 2016 Farnborough International Airshow that has seen multi-billion dollar orders and commitments across the company, including defense platforms, commercial airplanes and services agreements.

Customers announced orders and commitments during the week for a total of 182 Boeing commercial airplanes, valued at $26.8 billion at list prices. Boeing has booked 321 net orders in 2016.

The UK Ministry of Defence announced a $2.3 billion deal to secure 50 Apache AH-64E helicopters and confirmed the purchase of nine P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Boeing and the British Government announced a long-term partnering initiative to advance growth and prosperity, including 2,000 new Boeing jobs to be created in the UK, the intent to build a new £100 million ($135 million) P-8A Poseidon facility at RAF Lossiemouth, increased Boeing capital investment in the UK and additional bidding opportunities on Boeing programs for UK suppliers.

Airbus wins 279 aircraft order at Farnborough

During the 2016 Farnborough Air Show, Airbus won $35 billion worth of business for a total of 279 aircraft, covering by single-aisle and widebody aircraft families.

The deals comprise firm orders for 197 aircraft worth $26.3 billion and commitments for 82 aircraft worth $8.7 billion.

Sales and commitments at Farnborough of the A320 Family were strong, with business accounting for a total of 269 aircraft worth $31.3 billion. This total comprises 187 firm orders worth $22.6 billion, and commitments (eg. MoUs) for 82 aircraft worth 8.7 billion.

Notably the larger A321neo model took a lion’s share of the single-aisle announcements – with firm selections from three airlines for 140 aircraft, reflecting the trend for airlines to upsize to larger single-aisle aircraft.

In the widebody segment Airbus won firm orders for 10 aircraft worth $3.4 billion comprising two A330-300s and eight A350-1000s. In addition to these new widebody orders, the show also saw the launch order from DHL Express for the A330-300 Passenger-To-Freighter conversion programme, in partnership with EFW and ST Aerospace.

John Leahy, Airbus’ Chief Operating Officer, Customers said: “Our orders this week at Farnborough confirm a buoyant industry in which we have once again surpassed our competitor. In addition, airlines upsizing to the A321neo shows that this aircraft is the undisputed ‘middle-of-the-market’ champion.”

FADEC engine control system for GE9X

GE Aviation’s all new GE9X engine for the Boeing 777X will feature full-authority digital electronic controls (FADEC) designed and produced by FADEC Alliance, a joint venture formed by FADEC International and GE.
GE9X under testing
The systems — consisting of a digital computer, called an engine control unit, and its related accessories — control all aspects of aircraft engine performance, such as engine fuel flow and variable engine geometries.

FADEC International (a BAE Systems and Safran joint venture), has established the FADEC Alliance joint venture with GE to develop, produce, and support FADECs for aircraft engines and related technologies.

FADEC Alliance will be the exclusive FADEC supplier for the GE9X engine, which is the sole engine for the 777X. FADEC Alliance will be responsible for the design, manufacture, and aftermarket support of the system. The partnership leverages the combined experience of FADEC International and its member companies, which have supplied FADEC systems to GE since 1984.

The GE9X will be the most fuel-efficient engine GE has ever produced on a per-pounds-of-thrust basis. It follows the highly successful GE90-115B engine that entered service in 2004.

The 777X is Boeing’s newest family of twin-aisle airplanes that builds on the passenger-preferred and market-leading 777. It will be largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world. The 777X is scheduled to begin production in 2017, and first delivery is scheduled for 2020.

MBDA Meteor BVRAAM operational with Swedish Gripen fighter

Swedish Saab Gripen fighter became the first aircraft to operationally field MBDA’s Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM).

The announcement was made during the Farnborough Air Show, by Major General Mats Helgesson, Chief-of-Staff of the SwAF, in the presence of the CEO of Saab AB, Håkan Buskhe and the CEO of MBDA, Antoine Bouvier.

Major General Helgesson, said, “After extensive testing by  Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) and the Gripen Operational Test and Evaluation unit, all of the new MS20 functions including the Meteor missile are now fully integrated with Gripen. The Swedish Air Force is now in its Initial Operational Capability phase with the Meteor.

Guided by an advanced active radar seeker, Meteor provides all weather capability to engage a wide variety of targets from agile fast jets to small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and cruise missiles and is capable of operating in the most severe of clutter and countermeasure environments.

Meteor uses ramjet propulsion system – solid fuel, variable flow, ducted rocket. This ‘ramjet’ motor provides the missile with thrust all the way to target intercept, providing the largest No-Escape Zone of any air-to-air missile. To ensure total target destruction, the missile is equipped with both impact and proximity fuses and a fragmentation warhead that detonates on impact or at the optimum point of intercept to maximise lethality.

Meteor has been developed by a group of European partners led by MBDA to meet the needs of six European nations: the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden. The weapon system will also equip Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale. It is also compatible with other advanced fighter aircraft and will be integrated to the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

At the end of April 2016, the FMV (Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration) introduced the latest MS20 software load to the SwAF’s Gripen fleet thus enabling the JAS 39C/D to become the first aircraft capable of operating the ramjet-powered Meteor missile.

Airbus-Roketsan to weaponize C295 transport plane

Airbus Defence & Space and Turkish missile maker Roketsan have signed a Memorandum Of Understanding to integrate a range of weapon systems on the Airbus C295W surveillance and transport aircraft.

C-295 at Farnborough 2016
Under the terms of the agreement signed at the Farnborough Airshow, the companies will collaborate on the design aspects, integration and initial testing phases of a variety of weapons from Roketsan’s existing product range.

Weapons to be integrated will include Cirit 70 mm laser-guided missile, LUMTAS laser-guided long-range anti-tank Missile and Teber laser-guided bomb.

The joint activity will begin in the coming months and will eventually lead to weapons carriage and release trials using Airbus Defence and Space’s development aircraft.

Embraer E190-E2 debuts at Farnborough

Less than 45 days after it’s inaugural flight, the first E190-E2 prototype arrived at the Farnborough Airshow for its international debut.

The ferry flight from Sao Jose dos Campos to Farnborough took 12 hours and 40 minutes, with only two hours on the ground for refueling in Recife, northeast of Brazil, and then in Sal Island, in the Cape Verde archipelago, off the coast of Africa.

“The flight was very smooth and went according to plan. Crossing the Atlantic at this stage of the flight test campaign is another great demonstration of the E190-E2 maturity, and it shows we are on the right path to a very successful program,” said Luís Carlos Affonso, COO of Embraer Commercial Aviation.

The first E190-E2 prototype has now racked up a total of 59 hours from the 23 flights performed since the first flight on the 23rd of May this year. In addition to the flight test campaign, the programme has also accumulated 18,000 hours of tests on rigs and in the iron bird, as well as many hours of simulation on the virtual aircraft.

After the show, the aircraft will return to Brazil to continue the certification campaign.
Another important and recent programme milestone was accomplished with the successful maiden flight of the second E190-E2 prototype which took place last Friday July 8th.

The aircraft flew for 2 hours and 55 minutes and will now join the flight test and certification program. The E190-E2 is scheduled to enter into service during the first half of 2018.

Embraer is the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial jets with up to 130+ seats. The Company has 100 customers from all over the world operating the ERJ and the E-Jet families of aircraft.

For the E-Jets program alone, Embraer has logged more than 1,700 orders and over 1,200 deliveries, redefining the traditional concept of regional aircraft by operating across a range of business applications.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

30000th CFM56 engine rolls off production line

CFM International has achieved another major milestone for the CFM56 engine family, producing the 30,000th CFM56 engine earlier this month.

In the 35 years since the first engines were produced, CFM has delivered more than 9,860 CFM56-5 engines to Airbus for the A320ceo and A340-200/-300 product lines and more than 17,300 CFM56-3/-7B engines for the Boeing Classic and Next-Generation 737 families.

CFM continues to maintain the highest production rate in the industry. 2016 is the peak year for the ubiquitous CFM56 family; the company plans to produce 1,700 engines this year.

CFM56 engines power the Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321, A318 Elite, A319CJ/ A320CJ/A321CJ corporate jets, and A340-200/-300 models, in addition to the Boeing Classic 737-300/-400/-500, and Next-Generation 737-600/-700/-800/-900/-900ER and BBJ airplanes. 

Boeing fixes KC-46A boom axial load issue

This week's successful aerial refuelling test by KC-46A show the boom axial loads hardware fix, designed by Boeing engineers, is performing as expected to alleviate the loads.

The KC-46A Pegasus connected in flight with an F-16 Fighting Falcon on July 8 and a C-17 Globemaster III on July 12.`

These tests with the F-16 and C-17 were in support of the Milestone C requirements to rendezvous, contact, and transfer fuel to several receiver aircraft types.

An initial attempt with the F-16 earlier this year was successful, however higher-than-expected axial loads on the boom were detected.  These loads were again present during the initial attempt with the C-17 and necessitated installation of hydraulic pressure relief valves in the boom.

"I'm encouraged by these results.  The KC-46 program continues to move forward, making important progress that will get this vital capability into the hands of the warfighter," said Deborah James, Secretary of the Air Force.

The final Milestone C flight test is to transfer fuel through the fixed boom to an A-10 Thunderbolt.  That test is also slated to occur this month.

"Once complete with the A-10, we will request approval from Mr. Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to award production Lots 1 and 2, totaling 19 KC-46A aircraft," according to Darlene Costello, Air Force Service Acquisition Executive.

"While it took some time, this week's results confirm my confidence the Boeing team will get this figured out.  It's reassuring to see the program take this important step toward the production decision in August," said Gen. Dave Goldfein, Chief of Staff.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Leonardo Falco Evo selected by two Middle East customers

The long endurance version of Leonardo Falco EVO unmanned air system (UAS), has been selected by two unidentified customers in the Middle East and Gulf region.

A surveillance and intelligence-gathering platform, the Falco EVO can fly for up to 20 hours, carrying a payload of up to 100 kg.

With access to a range of advanced sensors, including the newly-launched Leonardo Osprey radar, the Falco EVO’s new users will be able to conduct persistent missions such as stand-off target detection, classification, identification and shadowing.

A suite of Leonardo’s latest generation sensors can be fitted to the Falco and Falco EVO, including radar options such as the Gabbiano 20 multi-mode surveillance radar, the PicoSAR AESA (E-Scan) radar or the newly launched Osprey multi-mode AESA radar.

The Falco can carry the electronic warfare SAGE system, gaining the ability to geo-locate potentially hostile ground-based radars with just a single unmanned aircraft. Customers can also select third-party sensor fits if required.

Existing Falco vehicles can be converted to Falco EVO models via a retrofit package which adds the longer wings and tailbooms, allowing the unmanned aircraft to fly at an altitude of 6,000 meters while providing an operating range of more than 200 kilometres in line of sight.

The Falco is operated by five international customers operating more than 50 air vehicles around the world. One of those customers is the United Nations, to whom Leonardo provides Falco services in support of its humanitarian MONUSCO mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Some customers have bought the Falco platforms and operate them independently, while others like the UN have purchased a managed service where Leonardo flies the vehicles and delivers intelligence directly to the customer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

QinetiQ-Thales selects Scorpion Jet for UK ASDOT program

QinetiQ, Thales and Textron AirLand have announced a collaboration that will bid for the UK Ministry of Defence’s upcoming Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) program.

The ASDOT program aims to meet the air warfare support requirements across UK's air, navy, army and joint forces commands from 2020.

The three companies’ CEOs met at Farnborough International Airshow to announce the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) setting the foundation for the bid.

The team will offer an innovative, cost effective, technologically advanced reliable managed service using the Textron AirLand Scorpion jet equipped with Thales and QinetiQ sensors to provide a broad spectrum of training for all three armed services.

The Scorpion which boasts a dispatch reliability of 98 percent was select by Thales and QinetiQ after evaluating more than 50 potential aircraft.

The competitive contract, expected to be awarded in September 2018 with a service delivery start in Jan 2020, is anticipated to be worth up to £1.2bn over 15 years.

QinetiQ will offer the safe operation of a highly capable and flexible mixed fleet of Scorpion and other platforms – including maintenance and provision of pilots. 

Its proposal will include integration of sensors and jamming pods into the aerial fleet and certification of the aircraft to ensure compliance with military air worthiness regulations. The solution will include provision for the introduction of synthetic operational training and airborne aerial target capabilities.

The Scorpion is a tandem-seat twinjet aircraft with an all-composite material fuselage designed for light attack and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

The aircraft is very versatile in terms of mission flexibility with a center payload bay, six hard points, high dash speeds and extended endurance and loiter time at cruise speeds. 

It has a low operating cost of $3000 per hour and is powered by two Honeywell TFE731 turbofan engines.

RAF Typhoon test fires SPEAR missile

A UK Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft has successfully fired a SPEAR air-to-surface precision strike weapon for the first time in a flight trial conducted from BAE Systems’ site in Warton, Lancashire.

The MBDA SPEAR networked precision strike weapon was launched from Eurofighter Typhoon Production Aircraft BS116 earlier this year. The test flight was led by teams from MBDA and BAE Systems, with BAE Systems Chief Test Pilot Steve Formoso at the controls.

The SPEAR missile is being developed to meet the UK’s Selective Precision Effects At Range Capability 3 (SPEAR Cap 3) requirement for the UK’s F-35 Lightning II aircraft, with the potential to equip Typhoon.

Following the launch, which took place at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Aberporth range, in Wales, the weapon transitioned to powered flight and completed a series of manoeuvres before reaching its pre-planned point of impact.

 The trial achieved safe separation from the jet, commencement of powered flight, the manoeuvre whereby it rolled and opened its wing in free flight, navigation and the final simulated precision attack.

The Typhoon aircraft has been designated as the test aircraft for trials and development of the weapon.

SPEAR will precisely engage long range, mobile, fleeting and re-locatable targets in all weathers, day or night, in the presence of countermeasures, obscurants and camouflage, whilst ensuring a safe stand-off range between the aircrew and threat air defences.

Development of the missile will be completed by 2020. 

Lockheed Martin unveils armed Black Hawk helicopter

Lockheed Martin unveiled an armed version of its European-built S-70 BLACK HAWK helicopters at the Farnborough Air Show in UK.

The company plans to produce an armed kit scalable to the requirements of customers that procure International BLACK HAWK aircraft direct from Lockheed Martin.

The aircraft feature a total of four weapons stations, with launchers for a mix of Hellfire™ and DAGR™ air-to-ground missiles, a 19-shot Hydra-70 rocket pod, and an FN HERSTAL Belgium manufactured machine gun pod.

For laser designating of a future weapons system, the aircraft's cockpit chin features the INFIRNO™ sensor system, which recently completed its first flight on an H-60 BLACK HAWK helicopter. The INFIRNO has the ability to detect, identify and track targets from an airborne platform.

Crew-served weapons inside the displayed aircraft include an FN HERSTAL 50-caliber (12.7mm) machine gun mounted to the cabin floor, and window-mounted 7.62-mm mini-guns. The mini-guns can also swing into a fixed forward firing position operated by the pilot.

Depending on the chosen weapons configuration, the cabin will seat troops for a combined armed assault, fire suppression and support mission. Alternatively, the cabin can store additional ammunition for the guns and rocket pods, and an internal 200 gallon auxiliary fuel tank system for extended range and endurance.

Lockheed Martin is displaying outside its pavilion an armed BLACK HAWK aircraft manufactured at Sikorsky's PZL Mielec factory in Poland, and with the cockpit section manufactured at Aero Vodochody in the Czech Republic. 

Go Air orders another 72 A320neo

Indian low-cost airline Go Air has chosen Airbus for its further expansion plans by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for 72 A320neo aircraft at the Farnborough International Airshow.

Go Air, a Wadia Group company, announced its latest order following a similar agreement for 72 A320neo placed in 2011 bringing the total order book to 144 aircraft. 

The first two aircraft from this order were delivered in June. With the NEO induction, Go Air will expand its network and offer fliers better connectivity and continue its growth as one of India’s preferred low-cost airline.

Go Air is the first airline to use A320 NEO in Spaceflex configuration with 186 seats without compromising on the passenger leg room and comfort. This configuration will also enable better service and availability during peak season for the travelers.

The A320neo Family incorporates latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklet wing tip devices, which together deliver more than 15 percent in fuel savings from day one and 20 percent by 2020 with further cabin innovations.

AirAsia signs firm order for 100 A321neo

AirAsia has signed a firm order with Airbus for the purchase of 100 A321neo aircraft.

The contract was announced at the Farnborough Airshow today by AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes and Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier.

The contract marks the first order placed by AirAsia for the largest model in the best-selling A320 Family. Seating up to 240 passengers in a single class layout, the A321neo will enable the airline to increase capacity while benefitting from the lowest operating costs in the single aisle category.

The announcement sees the total number of A320 Family ordered by AirAsia rise to 575, reaffirming the carrier’s position as the largest airline customer for the Airbus single aisle product line.

To date, over 170 A320s have already been delivered to the airline and are flying with its units in Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.

Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer said. “AirAsia Group currently operates close to 1,000 flights per day to more than 120 destinations in 24 countries. We recorded a robust load factor of 85% in the first quarter of 2016, up 8 percentage points from the same period last year, and we are confident of maintaining this momentum going forward. The A321neo will help us to meet ongoing strong demand as well as further reduce our cost per Available Seat Kilometre across the group, which will translate to lower air fares for our guests. We would like to congratulate Airbus for producing the state-of-the-art A321neo aircraft that meets our requirements for efficient operations.”

Fernandes added, “The A321neo will be operated on our most popular routes and especially at airports with infrastructure constraints. It will allow us to bring higher passenger volumes with the same slots, therefore providing immediate benefits to the airports. These include, among others, more efficient operations, higher revenues from passenger service charges, and more airport retail purchases. We will also continue to maintain our 25-minute turnaround with two- or three-step boarding where permitted to ensure on-time performance.” 

Leonardo wins contract to supply King Air 350ER surveillance aircraft

Farnborough, UK

Leonardo-Finmeccanica has been selected to supply two Beechcraft King Air 350ER aircraft, including their mission systems and sensor load-outs, for an African customer.

The aircraft will be equipped with the company’s ATOS (airborne tactical observation and surveillance) mission system and a suite of sensors including the Leonardo Seaspray AESA surveillance radar, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponder and interrogator, Link 11 datalink and an integrated mission management system.

The company will provide all aircraft modifications and clearances and will own the design, development, integration and installation of mission equipment. Leonardo will also conduct ground and flight testing prior to delivery and will work with a third party company in-country to provide support services and knowledge transfer.

This is the third customer to have been provided with an ATOS system fitted to a Beechcraft King Air which has previously been selected by nations including Ecuador.

With an endurance, or ‘time on station’, of more than 5 hours, the Beechcraft 350ERs will be used for a number of roles including maritime surveillance, search and rescue and marine pollution detection.

A key part of the aircraft’s load-out is the ATOS mission system, which brings together and fuses data from the various sensors carried by the aircraft to provide a clear and easily understandable situational picture for operators.

More than 50 ATOS systems are installed and in-service worldwide, including with Italy’s Guardia di Finanza, Italy’s Coast Guard and Australian Customs. ATOS has also been selected for the Italian MoD for the ATR72.

The equipped Seaspray 7300E radar is from Leonardo’s AESA (E-Scan) surveillance radar family, in use with military forces and coast guards worldwide including in the US and Australia.

Seaspray is mounted underneath the Beechcraft 350ER, providing 360 degree coverage and will use its small target detection mode to spot tough targets in rough sea conditions.