Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Syrian Air Force L-39 shot down by rebels

A Syrian Air Force L-39ZA attack aircraft was shot down by rebels using a MANPAD air to surface missile system in the northern Hama province on Tuesday.

The aircraft on a ground attack mission was shot down using a Strela man portable air defense system and it fell near Al-Hamdaniyah village.

The pilot onboard, who survived the crash was later killed by militants.

The Czech built Vodochody L-39 is a single engine fighter originally was designed as a trainer aircraft. In Syrian Air Force fleet, the aircraft has been modified for ground attack role due to its slow speed and agility.

The video grab showing the Strela MANPAD launch

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Chinese AG600 amphibian complete maiden flight

 The AVIC AG600 amphibious aircraft has completed maiden flight from the Zhuhai airport in Guangzhou, China on Sunday.

The AG600 is the first amphibious aircraft developed in China and currently the largest of the type in the world.

The aircraft can takeoff/land from sea or land and is designed for fire fighting and marine rescue missions. It is equipped with floats on either wings for stability while operating in sea.

The one hour long first flight was carried out without any clitches, and confirmed the airworthiness of the aircraft with basic maneuvers.

The AG600 features a single hull, cantilever monoplane layout equipped with retractable, tricycle-type landing gear and is powered by four domestically manufactured WJ-6 turboprop engines.

With a maximum take off weight of 53.5 tons, the aircraft is 37 meters long, 12.1 meters high, and has a wingspan of 38.8 meters.

Typical operating characteristics include a cruising speed of 500 km per hour, flight endurance of 12 hours or 4,500 km range.

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.

In addition to water searches at low altitude, the AG600 can carry out rescue operation under complicated weather conditions, such as in 2-meter-high waves, and save more than 50 people during each emergency water rescue.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

France inducts first C-130J airlifters

The first of four Lockheed Martin C-130J turboprop aircraft ordered by France has been delivered to French Air Force on Friday, 22 December.

The first aircraft, a C-130J-30, arrived at the Orléans – Bricy Air Base, which is home to the French Air Force tactical air fleet.

The four aircraft Foreign Military Sale contract signed with United States in early 2016, include two C-130J tactical airlifters and two KC-130J tanker aircraft.

A second C-130J-30 will be delivered in 2018, while the KC-130J intended to refuel helicopters will be delivered in 2019.

The C-130J-30 will complement the mid-segment of Air Force tactical transport fleet currently comprised of the C-160 Transal and older C-130H Hercules transports.

These aircraft are in fact particularly stressed and tested by the various external operations whose environmental conditions put the equipment under severe strain.

The acquisition contract awarded by the DGA also includes the support system, the training of the personnel and the maintenance in initial operational condition for a duration of 2 years.

French Air Force's newly acquired Airbus A400M’s inability to provide air-to-air refuelling support to French H225M Caracal medium lift helicopters prompted Air Force to order the two Lockheed Martin KC-130J tankers.

Since then Airbus has been testing an extended length hose and drogue design, which enable a safe distance from the H225M main rotor tip and A400M's T-tail while aerial refueling.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

First SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket revealed

 SpaceX has unveiled the first fully assembled Falcon Heavy rocket, ahead of maiden test launch later next month.

Destined to become the most powerful operational rocket in the world, the Falcon Heavy will have the ability to lift into orbit over 54 metric tons (119,000 lb)-a mass equivalent to a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel.

In Comparison it can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the ULA Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost.

Weighing 1420 tonne on lift off, the two-stage FH is based on SpaceX's proven Falcon 9 rocket, literally a Falcon 9 equipped with two Falcon 9 first stages as boosters.

The first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit.

The second stage is powered by a single Merlin 1D engine modified for vacuum operation, with a thrust of 934 kN (210,000 lbf).

At liftoff, the boosters and the center core all operate at full thrust. Shortly after liftoff, the center core engines are throttled down. After the side cores separate, the center core engines throttle back up.

Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.

Boeing unveils unmanned tanker drone for US Navy

Boeing has unveiled for the first time an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) designed for air refueling U.S. Navy jets operating from aircraft carriers.

The UAS will compete for US Navy's MQ-25 Stingray competition, that seeks an unmanned refueling aircraft to extend combat range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters.

The only photo released by Boeing MQ-25, indicate a stealthy wing-body-tail design with strengthened landing gears intended for carrier operations.

Developed by Phantom Works, the advanced prototyping arm of Boeing, like the Skunks Works of Lockheed Martin, the MQ-25 will also have to seamlessly integrate with a carrier’s catapult and launch and recovery systems.

Boeing reveals the UAS is completing engine runs before heading to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations early next year.

US Navy requires the MQ-25 to be able to carry nearly 15,000 pounds of fuel to a distance of 500 miles from a carrier, enough to extend the range of combat aircraft 300 or 400 miles beyond their typical range.

US Navy issued the final request for proposals (RFP) in October to Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics, who have to respond by January 3 2018.

Northrop Grumman who have earlier successfully demonstrated unmanned aerial refueling technology using its X-47B carrier borne aircraft, had backed out of the program shortly after RFP release.

While Lockheed Martin is yet to reveal its MQ-25 design, General Atomics's offering is based on the Avenger unmanned aircraft, equipped with wing mounted aerial refueling pod.

Bell V-280 tiltrotor complete maiden hover

Bell Helicopters has completed first flight of the V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft,which is a contender for U.S. Army's Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk replacement.

With its tiltrotor capability, the V-280 combines the cruising speed of a turboprop aircraft and the Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) ability of a helicopter.

Details about the first flight were not released by Bell Helicopters, but video and picture released indicate it was rather a very low altitude hover, and did not involve forward flight by rotating the rotors.

Unlike the larger Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, one of the unique feature of the Valor is only the drive shaft and rotors rotate 90 degree, and the engines remain static.

This key drive shaft system continues to be blurred by Bell, in videos and images in order to conceal the new technology. The first flight video released and earlier ground testing images exposing the gear system has been blurred.

The prototype is initially powered by two General Electric T64 turboshaft engiens, but will get a new advanced engine for service entry.

The V-280 can achieve a cruise speed of 280 KTAS, twice that of present helicopters, and a 500-800 nm combat range. Payload capacity is 12,000 lbs while maximum sling load is 10,500 lb.

The Bell V-280 Valor program is part of the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) initiative, which is the science and technology precursor to the Department of Defense's Future Vertical Lift program.

The V-280 program brings together the engineering resources and industrial capabilities of Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin, GE, Moog, IAI, TRU Simulation & Training, Astronics, Eaton, GKN Aerospace, Lord, Meggitt and Spirit AeroSystems—collectively referred to as Team Valor.

Sikorsky has partnered with Boeing to develop the SB-1 Defiant coaxial rotor helicopter to compete for the JMR-TD, whose first flight is expected in 2018.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dassault cancels Falcon 5X program after engine developmental delay

Dassault Aviation has cancelled its twin engine Falcon 5X business jet program, after recurring technical issues experienced by Safran to develop the Silvercrest engine.

The ultra-wide business jet will be replaced by a new Falcon program with an entry into service in 2022. The new jet will powered by a Canadian PWC engine, rather than the 11,450 lbf (50.9 kN) thrust French engine.

The delivery of compliant Silvercrest engines was originally planned for the end of 2013 in accordance with the Falcon 5X flight test schedule.

In 2015 and 2016, major technical issues have led Safran to announce a new schedule leading to engines delivery for the Falcon 5X flight tests by the end of 2017.

Consequently, Dassault Aviation had to postpone the entry into service of the Falcon 5X from 2017 to 2020, a 3 year delay which also resulted in 12 customer cancellations in 2016.

Equipped with a preliminary version of the engine, not compliant with the specifications, the Falcon 5X performed its maiden flight, on July 5, 2017, and started a preliminary flight test campaign, limited by engines capacity.

In the fall of 2017, Safran experienced issues with the high pressure compressor and informed Dassault Aviation of an additional delay and new performance shortfall, making the 2020 entry into service of the aircraft impossible.

Considering the magnitude of the risks involved both on the technical and schedule aspects of the Silvercrest program, Dassault Aviation initiated the termination process of the Silvercrest contract leading to the end of the Falcon 5X program and plans to start negotiations with Safran.

The replacement program will be powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW800 engines, which have a thrust range of 10,000–20,000 lbf (44–89 kN). The aircraft will have a 5,500 nm range and is scheduled to enter service in 2022.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Aurora demonstrate autonomous UH-1 helicopter for Marines

Aurora Flight Sciences conducted a successful demonstration of a Bell UH-1 based autonomous helicopter for resupply missions, developed under the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) program.

Held at Marine Corps Base Quantico’s Urban Training Center, the AACUS-Enabled UH-1H (AEH-1) conducted multiple flights, showcasing its ability to autonomously execute re-supply missions in relevant and austere settings.

AACUS is an aircraft-agnostic hardware and software suite which enables a Marine on the ground to
request a supply delivery via helicopter from a handheld tablet, requiring no advanced training to operate the system.

AEH-1 is fitted with onboard lidar and camera sensors that enable it to detect and  avoid obstacles and evaluate the landing zone. The system processes this information to perform onboard mission, route, and path planning to enable autonomous mission execution.

While previous demonstrations have showcased the system’s autonomy capabilities and interactions with trained operators, this is the first demonstration in which the aircraft performed cargo and utility missions in an operationally-relevant training environment with Marine interaction.

As part of the demonstration, Marines loaded supplies for the aircraft before clearing the autonomy system for autonomous takeoff.

Aurora has developed multiple technologies under the AACUS program: the digital flight control system which enables the UH-1 to fly autonomously; and the Tactical Autonomous aerial LOgistics System (TALOS) autonomy technology.

The AEH-1 was granted a Special Airworthiness Certificate by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in October, allowing the aircraft to operate autonomous with only a safety pilot onboard to monitor the controls.

The flights served as the final demonstration to ONR, Department of Defense representatives and
other senior officials, the culmination of a highly successful five-year Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) 2 program.

Having completed the third and final phase of the program, AACUS will now transition to the Marine Corps for experimentation and potential acquisition.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Pictures: Qatar A321 caught fire on ground

An Qatar Airways Airbus A321 passenger jet caught fire on December 8, while undergoing a maintenance at Hamad International Airport in Doha.

The fuselage of the aircraft was burnt after the In-flight Entertainment (IFE) Satellite Antenna caught fire during maintenance.

The fire was extinguished quickly but the roof and cabin suffered extensive damage. Reports identify the aircraft with registration A7-AIB, which was built in 2010 and powered by International Aero Engines V2500 engines.

UK-Qatar sign Eurofighter contract

BAE Systems and the Government of the State of Qatar have entered into a contract, valued at approximately £5bn, for the supply of Typhoon aircraft to the Qatar Emiri Air Force along with a bespoke support and training package.

The contract is subject to financing conditions and receipt by the Company of first payment, which are expected to be fulfilled no later than mid-2018.

The contract provides for 24 Typhoon aircraft with delivery expected to commence in late 2022.

BAE Systems is the prime contractor for both the provision of the aircraft and the agreed arrangements for the in-service support and initial training.

The deal will secure work for the BAE's production line at Warton into the next decade.

The contract comes a week after Qatar signed a contract with France to acquire an additional 12 Dassault Rafale jets in addition to the 24 aircraft already contracted.

Qatar Emiri Air Force which currently operates just 9 Dassault Mirage 2000 aircraft, has also ordered 36 Boeing F-15 strike fighters from United States.

Israel Operationalise F-35 Stealth jets

Israel became the second country to declared Initial Operational Clearance for its Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II stealth fighter fleet, less than a year after taking delivery of the first aircraft.

The IOC gives Israeli Air Force an strategic combat advantage over rival Arab Air Forces in the region, who operate fourth generation generation combat jets, while the F-35 is a fifth generation radar evading jet.

Since delivery of the first aircraft in December 2016, IAF carried out extensive training flights to quickly operationalise the aircraft and expand the flight envelope.

Based at the Nevatim Air Force Base, the Israeli F-35 fleet currently consist of 9 aircraft, of which five where chosen for the inspection. Eventually IAF will operate 50 aircraft.

Christened Adir in Israeli fleet, the F-35 will receive custom Israeli avionics modifications in the country, which will then be designated F-35I.

Unique features of the aircraft include, reduced radar signature, sensor fusion, supercruise, internal weapon bays and incredible 8 ton weapon payload including on external weapon stations.

Since 2006, more than 250 F-35 aircraft has been produced for US and its allies, with around 2,400 aircraft to be produced in total.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Qatar orders additional 12 Dassault Rafale fighter jets

Qatar has placed an additional order for 12 more Dassault Rafale fighters jets, in a move to considerably expand defensive/offensive capability of the country.

The deal is follow on to the contract signed on 4 May 2015 between Qatar and Dassault Aviation for acquisition of 24 Rafale.

The agreement was signed in the presence of the French President Mr. Emmanuel Macron, and his Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Qatar Armed Forces and Dassault Aviation.

Traditionally a French ally, Qatar has also bolstered its international ties by placing combat aircraft deal with United States and United Kingdom, amid an severed relation and blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia and UAE.

The country has placed an order for 36 Boeing F-15QA strike aircraft from United States for 21.1 USD in November 2016.

In September 2017, a Letter of Intent for acquisition of 24 Eurofighter Typhoon jets were signed between British BAE Systems. The Eurofighter is a consortium of companies from UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The Eurofighter Typhoon was a pan European effort in the 1990s, but France exited the program and developed the Rafale indigenously.

Currently the Qatar Emiri Air Force operates just 9 single engine Dassault Mirage 2000 multi-role fighters, which will be replaced by 96 twin engined high performance jets from Europe and USA.

The first Dassault Rafale will be delivered to Qatar in mid-2018, with at least three aircraft undergoing flight testing in France.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

USAF KC-46A completes maiden flight

The first Boeing KC-46A tanker that will be delivered to the U.S. Air Force next year successfully completed its first flight and airborne tests today, taking off from Paine Field at 10:32 a.m. PST and landing approximately three-and-one-half hours later.

During the flight, Boeing test pilots took the tanker to a maximum altitude of 39,000 feet and performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved flight profile. Prior to subsequent flights, the team will conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation.

The newest tanker is the KC-46 program’s seventh aircraft to fly to date. The previous six are being used for testing and certification and to date have completed 2,200 flight hours and more than 1,600 “contacts” during refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, KC-10 and KC-46 aircraft.

The KC-46, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is built in the company’s Everett facility. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 34 of an expected 179 tankers for the U.S. Air Force.

The KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.

Air New Zealand 787 returns back after engine trouble

An Air New Zealand Flight NZ99 returned to airport after one of its engine performed abnormally after take off on Tuesday.

The Boeing 787-9 with registration ZK-NZE was climbing after departing from Auckland to Tokyo when the crew were alerted to abnormal indications on one of the two Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines.

Onboard passengers reported the aircraft began to shake violently, clunking sounds, and electrical power went temporarily out.

The accident engine

The crew shut the suspected engine down and returned back to Auckland. The aircraft landed safely on single engine power without any further issues after 50 minutes.

Air New Zealand operated 9 Boeing 787s and have 4 more on order.

This is the second engine vibration incident involving the Rolls Royce Trent series engines in 2017, after an Air Asia A330 returned to base after severe inflight shaking in August 2017.

Sukhoi Su-57 flies with new engine

Russian Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter has completed first flight with the improved Izdeliye 30 turbofan engine, featuring increased thrust and reliability.

The flight which took off on Tuesday, lasted 17 minutes and was flown by Sukhoi chief test pilot Sergei Bogdan from the M.M. Gromov flight test center.

The engine replaces the interim 117S or AL-41F1S engine, which was developed to power the Sukhoi Su-35 multi-role fighter.

The second prototype, with hull No. 52 is powered by the new engine, which is said to be a clean sheet design and drop-in replacement to the 117S with minimal changes to the airframe. The Su-57 flight testing is expected to continue through 2018, with first delivery to Russian Air Force expected in 2019.

The fifth generation engine have thrust increased to 11,000 kgf (~108 kN) without afterburner and 19,000 kgf (186 kN) with afterburner.

The Izdeliye 30 also features fewer parts, lower maintenance costs and increased fuel efficiency.

Like the AL-41FS, the Izdeliye 30 is also equipped with the 3D thrust vectoring nozzles and is capable of attaining supersonic speed without using the afterburner (Supercruise).

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hybrid-Electric Airbus EFan-X demonstrator to fly in 2020

Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and Siemens have formed a partnership to develop a near-term flight demonstrator of an hybrid-electric propulsion commercial aircraft.

The E-Fan X hybrid-electric technology demonstrator is anticipated to fly in 2020 following a comprehensive ground test campaign, provisionally on a BAe 146 flying testbed, with one of the aircraft’s four gas turbine engines replaced by a two megawatt electric motor.

Provisions will be made to replace a second gas turbine with an electric motor once system maturity has been proven.

The E-Fan X demonstrator will explore the challenges of high-power propulsion systems, such as thermal effects, electric thrust management, altitude and dynamic effects on electric systems and electromagnetic compatibility issues.

The objective is to push and mature the technology, performance, safety and reliability enabling quick progress on the hybrid electric technology. The programme also aims at establishing the requirements for future certification of electrically powered aircraft while training a new generation of designers and engineers to bring hybrid-electric commercial aircraft one step closer to reality.

The EFanX will be a four engine aircraft, with its turbofan engine being a 2 MW Siemens motor coupled to a Rolls Royce AE3007 turbofan engine's fan and nacelle.

The hybrid aircraft will be equipped with a 2 MW generator powered by a Rolls Royce AE2100 turboprop engine. 

As part of the E-Fan X programme, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and Siemens will each contribute with their extensive experience and know-how in their respective fields of expertise:

  • Airbus will be responsible for overall integration as well as the control architecture of the hybrid-electric propulsion system and batteries, and its integration with flight controls.
  • Rolls-Royce will be responsible for the turbo-shaft engine, two megawatt generator, and power electronics. Along with Airbus, Rolls-Royce will also work on the fan adaptation to the existing nacelle and the Siemens electric motor.
  • Siemens will deliver the two megawatt electric motors and their power electronic control unit, as well as the inverter, DC/DC converter, and power distribution system. This comes on top of the E-Aircraft Systems House collaboration between Airbus and Siemens, launched in 2016, which aims at development and maturation of various electric propulsion system components and their terrestrial demonstraion across various power classes.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

US Navy C-2A crashes in Philippine Sea

A United States Navy C-2A Greyhound aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers crashed into the ocean approximately 500 nautical miles southeast of Okinawa at 2:45 p.m. today.

The aircraft was en-route to the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), which is currently operating in the Philippine Sea.

Search and rescue operations recovered eight personnel and were transferred to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for medical evaluation and are in good condition at this time

Search and rescue efforts for three personnel continue with U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships and aircraft on scene.     

The aircraft was conducting a routine transport flight carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).  Reagan is operating in the Philippine Sea as part of an exercise with JMSDF. 

The C2-A is assigned to the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Three Zero, Detachment Five, forward deployed in NAF Atsugi, Japan. Detachment Five's mission includes the transport of high-priority cargo, mail, duty passengers and Distinguished Visitors between USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and shore bases throughout the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia theaters.   

Indian Su-30 MKI fires 2.5 ton BrahMos supersonic cruise missile

India became the first country to test fire a supersonic cruise missile from an aircraft, with the test firing of the air-launched version of the BrahMos cruise missile on Tuesday.

The BrahMos-A was successfully flight-tested from an modified Indian Air Force Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jet against a sea based target in the Bay of Bengal.

The missile carried on a centerline fuselage pylon, was gravity dropped from the Su-30, and the two stage missile’s engine fired up and straightway propelled towards the intended target at the sea in Bay of Bengal.

The successful maiden test firing of Brahmos Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) from Su-30MKI will significantly bolster the IAF’s air combat operations capability from stand-off ranges.

Brahmos ALCM weighing 2.5 ton is the heaviest weapon to be carried by the Su-30 MKI, and the aircraft wings and fuselage has been strengthened by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd to carry the weapon.

With a range of 290 km, the BrahMos can carry out precision strikes against ground targets within seconds, as speed can reach close to Mach 3.

This will enable IAF Su-30MKIs to strike precisely from standoff distances, high-value strategic infrastructure and terrorist camps etc.

The test complete the tactical cruise missile triad for India, with the Brahmos now having the air, naval(both submarine and ship) and land based versions developed.

The land attack and ship borne versions are already operational with Indian Army and Indian Navy.

Compared to its land/naval variants, the air launched missile have reduced weight and is shortened to 8 m and have additional fins for stabilization during horizontal flight.

Brahmos was developed as a joint venture between DRDO of India and NPOM of Russia, based on the Russian P-700 Onik supersonic missile.

Captive flight trials commenced in June 2016. Two Su-30 MKI fighters has been modified to carry out the flight trials.

Indian Air Force plans to modify 40 of its eventual fleet of 272 Su-30 MKIs to carry the BrahMos ALCM.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Indian Air Force C-130J clocks longest flight time

An Indian Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules airlifter has clocked the longest flight time by the type on November 18.

The aircraft flew 13 hours and 31 minutes non-stop without any aerial refueling, setting a global endurance record for the type.

The Crew got airborne from Hindon Air Force in Delhi and circumnavigated the Indian Subcontinent.

Indian Air Force currently operates 5 C-130Js of the 6 six delivered, after one crashed in 2014. IAF is also acquiring a replacement plus an additional 6 C-130Js to augment its tactical airlift capabilities.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Russian Beriev A-100 AWACS complete maiden flight

The first prototype of Russia's new generation Beriev A-100 airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft has completed first flight on November 18.

The aircraft flew from Beriev's Taganrog Aviation Scientific and Technical Complex, and completed the flight without any issues.

The A-100 is based on the improved IL-78MD-90A platform, intended to replace the Soviet era A-50 and A-50U Russian Air Force AWACS fleet based on the first generation IL-76 transport plane.

The improved Il-76MD-90A first flown in 2012, is equipped with new PS-90A-76 turbofan engines that are efficient and 15% more powerful than the D-30KP used by the Il-76.

The platform also sports improved avionics system, a glass cockpit and reduced weight that improve the overall flight characteristics of the aircraft.

The A-100 is equipped a new generation Premier Active Phased Array Radar developed by the Vega Concern, housed in a rotating dome mounted on two struts above the fuselage.

The Vega Premier AESA radar have electronic steering in elevation while azimuth is controlled by the rotation of the dome. The radar has improved ability to track fast moving targets, as the rotodome now rotate once every 5 seconds.

The A-100 can detect aircraft, ships and vehicles at long ranges greater than 500 km and perform command and control of the battlespace in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack aircraft strikes.

As the performance of the A-100 is still unknown, for comparison the A-50U aircraft flying at an altitude of  9 km can detect all objects in air and ground in a radius of 500 km. It is also about 30 tons heavier than the regular IL-76 which have a max take of weight of 190 tonne.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Russia rolls out first newly built Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber

Russia has restarted the production of the Soviet era Tupolev Tu-160 long range strategic bomber after 25 years.

The first newly built aircraft was rolled out from the Kazan Aircraft Factory, where production ceased in 1992 following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The aircraft designated Tu-160M2 features improved performance characteristics due to the new engines, avionics, glass cockpit, control and communication systems and weapons.

The swing-wing supersonic heavy bomber was first flown in 1981 and is the largest supersonic bomber and heaviest of all strategic bombers in the world.

Flight testing is planned to commence in early 2018, with delivery to Russian Air Force scheduled for 2019.

The first aircraft is intended to establish the plant's capability to produce the aircraft, including for solving the problems of reproduction of the Tu-160 in a new guise: restoration of final assembly technology, testing of certain new technological solutions.

The design and development was completely carried out using computers, unlike it predecessor.

The Tu-160 had a max take off weight of 275 tonnes and can carry a 40 tonne weapon payload of missiles and bombs in its two tandem under fuselage internal weapon bays.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Airbus C295 armed ISR variant debuts at #DAS17

Airbus Defence and Space is showcasing its new C295 Armed ISR (Intelligence Surveillance & Reconnaissance) version at the Dubai Airshow.

A C295 is exhibited on static display flanked by a wide range of weapons which have been selected to be integrated onto this versatile platform.

The company has signed a series of agreements with air-to-surface weapon suppliers paving the way for flight-trials to qualify their products to equip the C295.

Since the previously announced memorandum of understanding with Roketsan of Turkey, similar arrangements have been reached with Expal, Escribano and Equipaer of Spain, as well as Rheinmetall of Germany, and the US suppliers Nobles Worldwide and US Ordnance.

Aircraft have already been delivered to an unidentified customer including two 12.7mm light machine guns and mounts, supplied by Nobles Worldwide and US Ordnance, to be mounted in the paratroop side doors.

The next weapon to undergo airborne carriage trials is planned to be Roketsan’s L-UMTAS anti-tank missile. Roketsan is also providing the Cirit laser-guided missile and Teber-82 laser bomb-guidance kit.

Rheinmetall’s BK 27 auto cannon provides a heavier door-mounted option, targeted by Escribano’s Door Gun System.

Expal is displaying its CAT-70 (2.75 inch) rockets and Mk 82 warhead, and Equipaer has its CAT 70 Multiple Rocket Launcher in the exhibition.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Emirates commits to 40 Boeing 787 Dreamliners #DAS17

Boeing and Emirates, one of the world's largest airlines, announced a commitment to purchase 40 787-10 Dreamliners at the 2017 Dubai Airshow.

The deal, including airplanes and related equipment, is valued at $15.1 billion at current list prices.

Emirates is the world's largest Boeing 777 operator and will be the first to receive the new 777X in 2020. In selecting the 787-10, Emirates complements their 777 fleet with a medium twin-aisle airplane that offers 25 percent better fuel efficiency per seat and emissions than the airplanes it replaces.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce formula, a deal of this size would support more than 75,000 direct and indirect US jobs.    Today’s order comes on top of Emirates’ historic purchase of 150 Boeing 777X aircraft equipped with GE9X engines at the 2013 Dubai Air Show, to be delivered from 2020 onwards.

Emirates’ partnership with Boeing spans decades. Emirates is by far the largest Boeing 777 operator on the planet with 165 777s in service today. With today’s announcement, Emirates will have committed to future delivery of 204 Boeing wide-body aircraft.

The 787-10 is the largest member of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner family, which is the fastest-selling twin-aisle airplane in history. More than 65 customers have ordered more than 1,275 Dreamliners to date thanks to the family's ultra-fuel efficiency and passenger-preferred experience. Emirates' commitment pushes the total number of new 787 orders and commitments this year to more than 180; and more than 210 orders and commitments for the 787-10 overall.

Boeing has delivered more than 600 787s since deliveries began in 2011. The 787 fleet has flown more than 200 million passengers while saving over 19 billion pounds of fuel, enabling airlines to open more than 170 new nonstop routes around the world. 

The 787-10 Dreamliner is 5.5 meters (18 ft) longer than the 787-9 yet shares more than 95% commonality with its smaller sibling. With its unprecedented low fuel use and operating costs, the 787-10 is the most efficient replacement for older twin-aisle jets such as the A330-300.

QinetiQ JV to manufacture aerial/maritime targets in UAE

QinetiQ and Middle East General Enterprises (MGE) have announced a joint venture (JV) partnership in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to manufacture aerial and maritime targets to be used for test & evaluation, acceptance, during the Dubai Air Show, being held from Nov 12-16.

Leveraging the technological and scientific expertise from both parties, the JV will invest in the UAE to build and develop specialist engineering and manufacturing capability in country, providing an opportunity to recruit and develop UAE technicians and graduates.

QinetiQ and MGE, will combine proven expertise to test, manufacture and distribute specialist targets. The range of products produced will include the Banshee aerial target and the Hammerhead fast attack craft maritime target, and will present an opportunity to be exported within the Middle East and international markets.

From the supply of targets through full “turn-key” services inclusive of launchers and ground control stations to specialist personnel, the newly formed venture will look to satisfy increasing local and regional demand to service training and rehearsal requirements. and training purposes.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Antonov flight tests new UAV for Ukraine Army

Antonov has completed first flight of a new tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed to equip Ukrainian armed forces.

Dubbed BPLA, the first prototype successfully completed first flight from the Hostomel Airport in Kyiv on November 8, performing a series of maneuvers in the air.

Powered by a piston engine in pusher configuration, the combat capable UAV can fly in all weather conditions, day and light to carry out armed intelligence and surveillance missions, with a range of 1050 km.

Weighing 200 kg, the UAV is 4.4 m long, 6.7 m wide and has a height of 1.5 m. It is equipped with fixed landing gear and a inverted V-tail.

BPLA can cruise at a speed of 150-180 kmph at an altitude of 1800-2400 m. The UAV can carry a 50 kg payload, including a electro-optic sensor turret for ISR missions and two air to ground missiles integrated on two under wing weapon stations.

Each tactical unmanned air system consist of four aircraft and a ground control station.

The UAV is also being showcased at the Dubai Air Show, being held from 12-16 November at Al Makhtoum Intl airport in Dubai.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Airlink RJ85 loses two engines mid-flight

An Avro/BAE RJ85 airliner operated by South African Airlink Airlines was involved in an uncontained engine failure incident during a flight on November 8.

The airliner was operating flight SA8103 from Harare to Johannesburg on Wednesday evening, while one of the four engines experienced an uncontained engine failure.

The debris from the Honeywell LF507 turbofan also damaged the adjacent engine, forcing the pilots to shut down both port engines.

Following the incident, the aircraft made an emergency landing at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, shortly after 20.40 local time.

All 34 passengers and the four crew members are safe and unharmed.

Airlink has notified the South African Civil Aviation Authority, which will launch an investigation into the event in order to determine its likely cause.

The Honeywell LF507 engine has been dogged with uncontained failure issues in the past. A similar accident has occurred to a Swiss Air RJ100 aircraft in August 2014, in which the outboard engine was damaged due to debris from the uncontained failure of the inboard port engine.

The Johanasberg based airline act as a feeder airliner connecting smaller towns with larger hub airports.

Embraer KC-390 almost crashes during flight test

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer revealed that, the first prototype of the KC-390 military transport plane has sustained minor damages during flight testing on 12 October.

The incident happened while the aircraft was performing stall speed flight tests, which resulted in aircraft losing altitude due to decreased lift force.

The flight assessed low speed flying qualities with simulated ice shapes installed on wings of the prototype 001. It experienced an event beyond the planned limit for the test point with one of the several configurations tested.

According to reports, the aircraft lost control as an onboard equipment detached free during a maneuver, which suddenly caused change in Center of Gravity (CG) of the aircraft. But the pilots were able to regain the controls.

As being a stall test, the aircraft will lose altitude. According to Flightradar24 the aircraft flying at 20,000 lost more than 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) in altitude before leveling off at around 3,000 feet.

Reports indicate the aircraft was recovered at an altitude around 1000 ft (300 m), as the area its was flying do not have ADS-B transponder coverage below 2,800 ft. The 3000 ft indicated could have been after climbing to a safe altitude after recovery.

The crew applied the recommended recovery procedures and was able to bring the aircraft back to the normal flying angle of attack range but the maneouvre characteristics and duration resulted in a substantial altitude loss and exceeded both airspeed and load factor operating limitations.

The flight was interrupted and crew requested an early return to the base, landing safely at the company’s aerodrome in Gavião Peixoto (SP) where the flight test campaign is being carried out.

After detailed inspections, no damage to the primary aircraft structure was found. Some external fairings and access hatches were damaged and need to be repaired before the aircraft resumes flying.

Embraer said the KC-390 certification schedule is not affected and entry into service is confirmed for 2018 with the delivery of the first production aircraft to the Brazilian Air Force.

Following the incident, Embraer has grounded the aircraft. The two aircraft flight test fleet have accumulated more than 1,300 flight hours, since first flight in 2015.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

FedEx to operate ATR-72 Freighters

FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company, and ATR have signed a major contract for the firm purchase of 30 ATR 72-600s plus 20 options.

These aircraft will be the first new ATRs to be directly delivered from the factory in a freighter configuration.

This new aircraft version, designated as the ATR 72-600F, has a brand new windowless fuselage and is equipped with a forward Large Cargo Door (LCD) and a rear upper hinged cargo door.
Deliveries of the ATR 72-600Fs to FedEx Express will begin in 2020. These new ATRs are also the first ATR 72-600s that will operate in a cargo configuration, as well as being the first ones equipped with an LCD directly from the factory.

The ATR 72-600F features a class E main cabin for cargo operations, and will support both bulk cargo and Unit Load Device (ULD) configurations. The ATR 72-600F has a bulk capacity of 74.6 m3, and when in ULD mode, can accommodate up to seven LD3 containers, or five 88” x 108”, or nine 88” x 62” pallets. The aircraft is also equipped with new reinforced floor panels.

Commenting on the signing of the contract, David L. Cunningham, President and CEO of FedEx Express, declared: “ATR aircraft have been successfully operating in FedEx service for many years. We worked with ATR to develop this new aircraft, which include special features to help us grow our business, especially in the air freight market where shipments are larger and heavier. The 72-600F will play an important role in our global network by helping us deliver fast, economical service to small and medium sized markets.”

Second fatal crash involving Icon A5 light sport aircraft

A second fatal crash involving the Icon A5 Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) on Tuesday has marred the newly introduced amphibious adventure aircraft.

Former American professional baseball player Roy Halladay was killed, Yesterday afternoon when his A5 went down in the Gulf of Mexico.

The incident happened less than a month after Halladay took delivery of the 2018 model A5 on 12 October. His A5 was found inverted in the shallow water, close to the Gulf of Mexico shoreline.

The fatal crash on May 8, 2017 killed lead designer of A5 aeronautical engineer Jon Karkow and a Icon employee Cagri Sever. A NTSB accident investigation report blamed the pilot for the crash.

The report concluded that the probable cause of the accident was “the pilot's failure to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's mistaken entry into a canyon surrounded by steep rising terrain while at a low altitude for reasons that could not be determined.”

Following the May crash, Icon had introduced an improved low level flight training for the aircraft.

In April 2017, an Icon A5 was involved in a hard water landing incident in which no one was hurt.

The two seat amphibious LSA is capable of landing and taking off from waterways powered by a single 100 hp Rotax piston engine in pusher configuration.

The high wing monoplane have carbon fiber made spin-resistant airframe and retractable landing gear housed in the Dornier style sponons that provide stability in water. The aircraft wing can be folded for road transport and storage.

The crash proves, greater care has to be taken while flying the aircraft despite numerous safety features and ease to fly the aircraft.

India tests Nirbhay cruise missile successfully

India has test fired successfully its indigenous Nirbhay cruise missile for the second time after three failed missions.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test fired the cruise missile from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, Odisha.

The missile has the capability to loiter and cruise at 0.7 Mach, at altitudes as low as 100 m. The flight test achieved all the mission objectives completely from lift-off till the final splash, boosting the confidence of all scientists associated with the trial.

The missile majestically cruised for a total time duration of 50 minutes, achieving the range of 647 km, even though it is designed for a 1000 km range.

The missile took-off in the programmed manner and all critical operations viz. launch phase, booster deployment, engine start, wing deployment and other operational parameters demonstrated through autonomous way point navigation.

The guidance, control and navigation system of the missile is configured around the indigenously designed Ring Laser Gyroscope (RLG) and MEMS based Inertial Navigation System (INS) along with GPS system.

Currently Indian arsenal consist of the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic crusie missile with a range of 290 km. India had tested an extended 400 km range version of the BrahMos in March 2017.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lockheed to develop laser weapon for tactical fighter jet

U.S. Air Force's Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to develop a compact laser weapon for tactical fighter jets.

The $26.3 million contract for the design, development and production of a high power fiber laser will be tested on a tactical fighter jet by 2021.

The contract is part of AFRL's Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program, and is a major step forward in the maturation of protective airborne laser systems.

The SHiELD program includes three subsystems:

  • SHiELD Turret Research in Aero Effects (STRAFE), the beam control system, which will direct the laser onto the target
  • Laser Pod Research & Development (LPRD), the pod mounted on the tactical fighter jet, which will power and cool the laser
  • Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments (LANCE), the high energy laser itself, which can be trained on adversary targets to disable them

LANCE is designed to operate in a compact environment, and as such, the Lockheed Martin team focused on developing a compact, high efficiency laser within challenging size, weight and power constraints.

Earlier this year, Lockheed has delivered a 60 kW-class laser to be installed on a U.S. Army ground vehicle. A laser weapon developed by Raytheon have been tested from a Apache attack helicopter in June 2017.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Airbus A350-1000 nears certification and first delivery

The A350-1000, the newest member of Airbus’ leading Widebody family, has successfully completed its Functional & Reliability testing, bringing the aircraft a step closer to Type Certification in November 2017. The first customer delivery to Qatar Airways will follow in the coming weeks.

The Functional and Reliability Testing took the flight test aircraft, MSN065, across Europe and South America. The A350-1000 completed its exercise after landing in Toulouse, France on November 1st (07:00 UTC) coming from Barranquilla, Colombia.

In less than two weeks the aircraft flew approximately 35,200 nm / 65,200 km representing 150 flight hours, as per certification requirements.

These latest tests were part of an intensive Flight Test campaign which started less than one year ago designed to demonstrate readiness for airline operations. These included: high airfield performance, auto-landing trials, airport turnaround and handling services, cabin systems, navigation and connectivity function performance.

The A350-1000 test flight was operated by Airbus flight test crews with the participation of Airworthiness Authority pilots from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The A350-1000 is the latest member of Airbus’ leading widebody family, showing high level of commonality with the A350-900 with 95% common systems part numbers and Same Type Rating.

As well as having a longer fuselage to accommodate 40 more passengers than the A350-900 (in a typical 3-class configuration), the A350-1000 also features a modified wing trailing-edge, new six-wheel main landing gears and more powerful Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines.

Along with the A350-900, the A350-1000 is shaping the future of air travel by offering unprecedented levels of efficiency and unrivalled comfort in its ‘Airspace’ cabin. With its additional capacity the A350-1000 is perfectly tailored for some of the busiest long-haul routes.

To date 11 customers from five continents have placed orders for a total of 169 A350-1000s.

Textron Scorpion jet undergoing trials in Saudi Arabia

Textron Airland Scorpion close air support aircraft have been revealed undergoing trials in Saudi Arabia, according to pictures surfaced online.

Textron has been in preliminary talks with the Kingdom for sale of the aircraft, according to Textron chief executive Scott Donnelly.

According to flight tracking website, Scorpion has carried out trials from the King Faisal Air Force Base in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia from November 1-2.

Following the trials, the production standard aircraft registered N532TX will mark its Middle East debut at the Dubai Air Show, which is being held from November 12-16.

First flown in 2013, the Scorpion jet has been developed as a low cost multi role twin jet aircraft, ideal for light ground/air attack, border patrol and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

Royal Saudi Air Force air combat fleet currently consist of the heavy twin engined combat fighters like the Boeing F-15 and Eurofighter Typhoons, which are expensive to operative for longer periods along the porous border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, where an armed conflict is being going on between the Saudi-UAE led coalition forces and Yemen based Houthi rebels backed by Iran.

Saudi intends to bolster its ISR, border patrol and ground attack capabilities with the acquisition of the Scorpion which have a low operating cost.

Powered by two Honeywell TFE731 turbofan engines, rated 18 kN each, the Scorpion has a maximum speed of 833 km/h and have a ferry range of 2,963 km.

With its two engine wide apart, the center fuselage have an internal weapon/sensor bay which can carry a 1400 kg payload. The remaining 2,800 kg payload is carried on the six external hardpoints.

External stores include precision guided munitions, fuel tanks, infrared air to air missiles, laser guided ground attack missiles and rocket pods.

The twin seat light weight aircraft have an composite airframe and structure that reduce corrosion and fatigue issues with a service life of 20,000 flight hours.

With a maximum take off weight of 22,000 lb (9979 kg), Scorpion has a service ceiling of 45,000 ft and a maximum speed of 450 KTAS.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

China flight tests largest unmanned cargo aircraft AT200

China has flight tested an unmanned cargo aircraft based on a Pacific Aerospace (PAC) Cresco turboprop aircraft platform.

Dubbed AT200, the aircraft is currently the largest unmanned cargo aircraft in the world. Designed by the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics, which is under Chinese Academy of Sciences, the aircraft has been modified to fly without a pilot and carry the cargo in its cabin.

Equipped with advanced flight control and command system, the aircraft can autonomously fly a predetermined flight path, which can be rerouted in-flight.

During the first flight which lasted 26 minutes, the aircraft took off from the Shaanxi province and climbed to a predetermined height to cruise and also executed a circular flight path.

The AT200 is capable of carrying a 1,500 kg cargo in its 10 cubic meter cabin and can climb to an altitude of up to 6098 meters. With a take off weight of 3,400 kg, it has a cruise speed of 313 km per hour with an endurance of 8 hours and a range of 2183 km.

Powered by a 750 hp Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop, the AT600 have an under belly modification to house the autonomous flight control system. The aircraft is 11.84 meters long, have a wingspan of 12.80 meters and is 4.04 meters high.

The AT200 also have very good short take off and landing capability and can takeoff/land from a 200 m long airstrip.

An aerial delivery capability with an accuracy of 5 meters is being developed for the aircraft to air drop supplies to ground.

Chinese courier company SF Express intends to operate a fleet of AT200 to expand its delivery services to mountainous regions of the country.

Pacific Aerospace is a New Zealand based company that manufactures light turboprop aircraft for utility and agricultural roles.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

F135 engine demonstrate full life capability

Pratt & Whitney today announced that the F135 engine, which powers the fifth generation F-35 Lightning II, has successfully demonstrated full-life capability of its cold section (components consisting of the fan and compressor) during accelerated mission testing (AMT) at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex, located on Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tenn.

This achievement of  9,400 total accumulated cycles (TAC) – the equivalent of approximately fourteen years of operation or approximately 2,000 F-35 missions – was completed while running the engine at extreme conditions to simulate operational engines.

"Demonstrating the full life capability of the F135 engine's cold section represents a key milestone for the program," said John Wiedemer, vice president, F135 Program, Pratt & Whitney. "This milestone follows the successful full-life testing of the F135's hot section in 2015 and validates the excellent engine durability we're seeing in early fleet exposure. This shows we have a robust propulsion system capable of providing full mission capability to the warfighter."

AMT is conducted as a means of testing and validating reliability and maintainability performance for the engine over the span of its life. It also helps identify any potential issues well before they would be encountered by the operational fleet. 

Made possible by the U.S. Air Force Component Improvement Program, this test was focused on the Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) engine variant which powers both the F-35A and F-35C models. Testing took place between August 2014 and October 2017, and consisted of two hot section intervals, which is equivalent to the cold section life.

During AMT, F135 engines accumulate equivalent flight hours under monitored conditions and at a faster rate than in operating aircraft.

The advanced data collection from this program identifies improvement opportunities aimed at maximizing readiness within the life cycle cost expectations for the entire F135 CTOL powered F-35 fleet.