U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed the first rendering of the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B), designated the B-21, at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium February 26 in Orlando, Florida, and announced the Air Force will be taking suggestions from Airmen to help decide the name of the bomber.
«This aircraft represents the future for our Airmen, and (their) voice is important to this process», James said. «The Airman who submits the selected name will help me announce it at the (Air Force Association) conference this fall».
While there are no existing prototypes of the aircraft, the artist rendering is based on the initial design concept. The designation B-21 recognizes the LRS-B as the first bomber of the 21st century.
The reveal comes just weeks after both James and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III delivered the fiscal year 2017 posture statement before the Senate Appropriations Committee, making it clear modernization is a top priority for the Air Force.
«The platforms and systems that made us great over the last 50 years will not make us great over the next 50», Welsh said during his testimony on Capitol Hill February 10. «There are many other systems we need to either upgrade or recapitalize to ensure viability against current and emerging threats… the only way to do that is to divest old capability to build the new».
James said the B-21 will allow the U.S. Air Force to operate in tomorrow’s high end threat environment, and give the Air Force the flexibility and the capability to launch from the continental United States and deliver airstrikes on any location in the world.
James also explained why the B-21 shares some resemblance to the B-2.
«The B-21 has been designed from the beginning based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology», James said.
The program recently entered into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase and the U.S. Air Force plans to field the initial capability of the aircraft in mid-2020s.
Northrop Grumman Corporation successfully flew a SYERS-2 intelligence gathering sensor on an RQ-4 Global Hawk high altitude long endurance Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), marking the first time the legacy U.S. Air Force sensor has been demonstrated on a high altitude unmanned aircraft.
With the success of the SYERS-2 flight, Northrop Grumman plans to fly an Optical Bar Camera (OBC) sensor and an MS-177 multi-spectral sensor later in the year. Payload integration is not new to Global Hawk. NASA has successfully integrated and flown over 30 different information-gathering payloads on Global Hawk.
Existing models of the U.S Air Force Global Hawk are capable of carrying an Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite (EISS), Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP) and Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP). The addition of legacy and future sensors is made possible by Northrop Grumman’s innovative Universal Payload Adapter (UPA), a bracket that mounts to an existing Global Hawk airframe, allowing it to support a wide variety of payloads.
«This SYERS-2 flight is only the beginning. We firmly believe that with the addition of the UPA, Global Hawk is capable of flying any mission the U.S. Air Force requires», said Mick Jaggers, vice president and program manager, Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system programs, Northrop Grumman. «Northrop Grumman is funding this study in order to prove that the system can affordably carry the same sensors as any other Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft. We look forward to continuing to work with our Air Force partners on this groundbreaking solution».
Flight tests are taking place at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, California facility in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force. Northrop Grumman and the Air Force reached a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) last year that allows the company to test previously unavailable sensors on the Global Hawk.
Northrop Grumman’s high altitude long endurance UAS series have exceeded more than 160,000 total flight hours. The system’s cost per flight hour has fallen to half that of the manned competitor.
General Dynamics Mission Systems AN/PRC-155 MUOS-Manpack radio was the communications hub connecting soldiers located in the U. S. Army Pacific region with the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) communications network. Multiple two-channel AN/PRC-155 MUOS-Manpack radios, located in and around the Hawaiian Islands, helped soldiers talk, share information and maintain communications aboard Army vessels and in various land-based locations. Equipped with a MUOS high-power amplifier and running the MUOS waveform, the radios helped soldiers share enroute mission command, creating a common operational picture via the MUOS communications network among participating soldiers.
«This successful demonstration, in addition to the joint U.S. Army-Navy evaluation in November 2015, exhibits the military readiness of the MUOS communications network and that the AN/PRC-155 MUOS-Manpack radio is the only radio to successfully connect military personnel with the new MUOS network in multiple operational settings», said Mike DiBiase, a vice president of General Dynamics Mission Systems. «As the Army prioritizes where the AN/PRC-155 MUOS-Manpack radios go, soldiers can count on it to provide the connectivity and crystal clear voice communications wherever they are deployed, particularly in areas where the landscape or geographic location seriously impedes network connectivity».
Held in the Army Pacific area of interest, the demonstration continues to validate how the AN/PRC-155 MUOS-Manpack radio using the MUOS network provided consistent, persistent communications connectivity, solving a challenge for Army operations in isolated and austere locations.
Using the Manpack radios with a MUOS applique and the Joint Battle Command Platform (JBC-P) system, soldiers onboard a Logistics Supply Vessel (LSV) that travelled between two islands communicated and transferred data and images to soldiers in Oahu and Hawaii. In addition to communicating continuously via voice and data from the LSV back to land, commanders tracked the ship’s location using the JBC-P. The exercise showed how the networked systems can provide communications and situational awareness data to small units and United States Army Pacific (USRPAC) logistical operations.
The General Dynamics AN/PRC-155 MUOS-Manpack radio is equipped with a MUOS high-power amplifier that provides the radio-signal strength needed to reach the MUOS satellites that are in geo-synchronous orbit. Using both channels, the AN/PRC-155 is the bridge that connects different radios and waveforms used by soldiers across a mission area. The AN/PRC-155 MUOS Manpack receives a call from a tactical radio on one channel, routes and retransmits the call using the second channel, sending the call to a satellite communications network, like MUOS or other tactical communications network.
There are currently 5,326 AN/PRC-155 Manpack radios delivered to the U.S. Army providing secure line-of-sight and satellite communications connectivity for Army personnel deployed in places where other communication networks are unavailable or inaccessible.
The MUOS waveform is the digital dial tone that connects personnel using the AN/PRC-155 MUOS-Manpack radio with the MUOS communications network, allowing them to talk, text and share mission information seamlessly. As the Army moves to a more expeditionary force, soldiers need to be connected to the network at all times, in every environment and during every stage of an operation.
The Lockheed-Martin-built MUOS communications network provides military and government personnel smartphone-like access to the network with the voice clarity civilians enjoy using their cellphones every day.
PRC-155 Manpack Radio Datasheet
2 MHz – 2.5 GHz (banded)
121.5 VHF and 243.0 UHF
236 inch³/3,867 cm³ (378 inch³/6,194 cm³ with battery);
3.0 inch/76 mm × 10.1 inch/256 mm × 7.8 inch/198 mm (without battery bucket);
3.0 inch/76 mm × 10.1 inch/256 mm × 12.5 inch/317 mm (with battery bucket)
PRC-155 Manpack Radio is the first two-channel voice and data radio to connect both soldiers on the ground and vehicles downrange to the U.S. Army’s Tactical Network. With the ability to connect to SATCOM, SINGARS, SRW and the MUOS satellite network, the PRC-155 ensures Soldiers will never be out of contact again
Raytheon Company is offering an integrated, next-generation training solution for the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Pilot Training competition. Raytheon, one of the world’s preeminent training and avionics companies, is the prime contractor, with principal partners Finmeccanica, CAE USA and Honeywell Aerospace.
«The success of our nation’s future pilots depends on a comprehensive trainer to prepare them to take full advantage of the capabilities unique to advanced 4th and 5th generation fighters», said Rick Yuse, president of Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems. «Our affordable, low risk, open systems solution combines a proven aircraft with a suite of fully integrated training technologies. Our team is best positioned to bring the essential experience, capabilities and core competencies together to meet the United States Air Force’s mission requirements».
Nearly 45,000 pilots and crew have earned their wings on the training systems designed, developed and fielded by this Raytheon led-team. This solution combines the T-100, an advanced variant of the Aermacchi M-346, with a leading-edge Ground Based Training System.
«The T-100 offers dynamic kinetic performance, while also delivering an embedded, tactical training system that immerses pilots in realistic mission scenarios», said Filippo Bagnato, managing director of Finmeccanica Aircraft Division. «The M-346, the basis for the T-100, is already operational and preparing pilots around the world for the challenges of today’s complex fighter platforms».
CAE USA designs and develops some of the world’s most sophisticated, simulation-based training systems for lead-in fighter trainer aircraft.
«Our system will prepare Air Force pilots to safely and efficiently fly the most advanced fighter aircraft», said Gene Colabatistto, group president – Defense & Security, CAE. «Our integrated simulation technologies will play an increasingly critical role in ensuring sophisticated, safe, cost-effective training for the United States Air Force».
Honeywell Aerospace will provide twin, F124 turbofan engines to power the T-100 via the International Turbine Engine Company (ITEC) joint venture. With more than 800,000 operating hours across the entire F124/F125 turbofan engine family to date, the F124 delivers best-in-class thrust-to-weight ratio, proven reliability and enhanced efficiency.
«Honeywell’s F124 turbofan engine ensures training and light combat aircraft have the best power, easiest maintenance, flexibility and low life-cycle cost to support all types and roles of missions», said Carey Smith, president, Defense and Space, Honeywell Aerospace. «The F124 engine reduces pilot workload with new automation features that allow a pilot to focus on flying the aircraft for its mission».
A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 91st Missile Wing (MW) at Minot Air Force Base (AFB), North Dakota, and the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron (STOS) at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, aboard the Airborne Launch Control System, launched an unarmed Minuteman III InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) equipped with a test reentry vehicle at 11:34 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, February 20, from Vandenberg AFB, California.
The ICBM’s reentry vehicle, which contained a telemetry package used for operational testing, traveled approximately 4,200 miles/6,759 km to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent. All MMIII test launches are supported by a team from the 576th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) at Vandenberg AFB.
«The flight test program demonstrates one part of the operational capability if the ICBM weapon system», said Colonel Craig Ramsey, 576th FLTS commander. «When coupled with the other facets of our test program, we get a complete picture of the weapon system’s reliability. But perhaps most importantly, this visible message of national security serves to assure our partners and dissuade potential aggressors».
Minot AFB is one of three missile bases with crew members standing alert 24 hours a day, year-round, overseeing the nation’s ICBM alert forces.
«It has been an amazing experience for the operations and maintenance members of Team Minot to partner with the professionals from the 576th FLTS, 30th SW and 625th STOS», said Major Keith Schneider, 91st MW Task Force Director of Operations. «Everyone involved has worked hard and dedicated themselves to the mission».
The ICBM community, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and U.S. Strategic Command uses data collected from test launches for continuing force development evaluation. The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational credibility of the Minuteman III and ensures the United States’ ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.
This specific test will provide accuracy and reliability data that is essential to on-going and future modifications to the weapon system, which are key to improving the already impressive effectiveness of the Minuteman III force
Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
Three solid-propellant rocket motors: first stage ATK refurbished M55A1; second stage ATK refurbished SR-19; third stage ATK refurbished SR-73
Technologies chemical systems division thrust
first stage: 203,158 pounds/92,151 kg; second stage: 60,793 pounds/27,575 kg; third stage: 35,086 pounds/15,915 kg
79,432 pounds/36,030 kg
5.5 feet/1.67 m
5,218 NM/6,005 miles/9,664 km
approximately Mach 23/15,000 mph/24,000 km/h at burnout
A key weapon system training platform for the Royal Australian Navy’s new Hobart class destroyers has reached the final stage of certification. Leading Seaman Electronics Technician Jacob Ward took to the firing panel recently during a weapons certification firing trial of the Mk-25 25-mm Typhoon at West Head Gunnery Range, Flinders Victoria.
The event marked the final stage of the acceptance of the Air Warfare Destroyer Close Range Defence System part task trainer comprising of the Mk-25 Mod 2 Typhoon, operating console and simulator. On completion of the firing certification process, the system will be available to provide initial training to weapon system operators and maintainers posted to the HOBART Class guided missile destroyer (DDG).
Leading Seaman Ward said being part of a project for the most advanced destroyer Australia has ever built was a great experience. «As an electronics technician I am much more used to maintenance and fault diagnosis than I am to testing a brand new capability», he said. «It was a pretty good experience to be part of the team certifying a key weapons system and knowing that it will be used for years to come in sailor training».
The Royal Australian Navy is planned to have three Hobart Class destroyers to provide air defence for accompanying ships in addition to land forces and infrastructure in coastal areas, and for self-protection against missiles and aircraft.
The West Head Gunnery Range occupies an area of approximately 16 hectares on the Mornington Peninsula, and is located approximately 43.5 miles/70 km south of Melbourne. The Range was originally used by the Army in the 1890s as a shore battery and was taken over by the Royal Australian Navy in 1958.
The Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs) will be capable across the full spectrum of joint maritime operations, from area air defence and escort duties, right through to peacetime national tasking and diplomatic missions. The AWD project will provide the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) with one of the world’s most capable multi-mission warships.
The AWDs, equipped with the SM-2 missile, will provide air defence for accompanying ships in addition to land forces and infrastructure in coastal areas, and for self-protection against missiles and aircraft. They will also be equipped with the SM-6 long-range anti-aircraft missile, the most advanced weapon of its type, with a range of more than 200 NM/230 miles/370 kilometers.
The missiles combined with the Aegis Weapon System, incorporating the state-of-the-art phased array radar AN/SPY 1D(V), will effectively extend the air defence protection offered by these superior ships.
The AWDs will carry a helicopter for surveillance and response to support key warfare areas. The surface warfare function will include long-range anti-ship missiles and a naval gun capable of firing extended range munitions in support of land forces.
As they enter service, the AWDs will be equipped with a sophisticated Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), which will enable each vessel to act as a part of a wider «grid» of sensor and weapon platforms that can share surveillance and targeting information.
The Hobart Class AWDs will also conduct undersea warfare and be equipped with modern sonar systems, decoys, surface-launched torpedoes and an array of effective close-in defensive weapons.
These capabilities will ensure the AWDs have the layered defensive and offensive capability required to counter conventional and asymmetric threats. When the Hobart Class AWDs (HMAS Hobart 39, HMAS Brisbane 41 and HMAS Sydney 42) enter service, there will be around 100 Aegis equipped ships operating across the globe.
481.3 feet/146.7 m
61 feet/18.6 m
23.6 feet/7.2 m
Full load displacement
36 MW/48,276 hp
28+ knots/32 mph/52 km/h
Range at 18+ knots/21 mph/33 km/h
5,000+ NM/5,779 miles/9,300 km
Aegis Weapon System Baseline 7.1
AN/SPY-1D(V) Phased Array Radar (81 NM/93 miles/150 km)
Rheinmetall and the German Bundeswehr have successfully tested a high-energy laser effector installed on a German warship operating on the high seas.
To carry out the test, Rheinmetall mounted a 10-kilowatt High-Energy Laser (HEL) effector on a MLG 27 light naval gun.
The test programme included tracking of potential targets, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and very small surface craft. Furthermore, the HEL effector was also tested against stationary targets on land.
Besides the successful mounting of a 10-kW HEL effector on an MLG 27, the test programme demonstrated for the first time the effectiveness of Rheinmetall HEL effector technology in maritime operations. The test programme revealed insights important for the development of future HEL naval effectors.
Having joined forces to form the ARTEC consortium, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) manufactures the Boxer in cooperation with fellow German defence contractor Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) under a bi-national programme, in which Rheinmetall holds a 64% stake.
The HEL variant of the Boxer vehicle shown at IDEX 2015 is equipped with a High-Energy Laser weapon system. HEL Boxer can defeat modern asymmetric aerial threats by neutralizing optics, antennas or radars, ammunition or energy supplies of complete weapon systems without destroying them.
Maximum flexibility and an optimized capability for further upgrades guarantee a quick adaption to changing requirements. Also the protection of the turret is adaptable for a wide range of missions and to face different threats.
According to Defense-aerospace.com, the first prototype of the new Embraer KC-390 jet transport aircraft has logged more than 100 flight hours since resumed its flight test program in October 2015. A second prototype will fly in the first half of this year.
The Brazilian manufacturer says it is on the path to certification in the second half of 2017, with first deliveries to the Brazilian Air Force in 2018, two years later than originally planned due to an interruption of flight testing because of pressures on government budgets in the wake of Brazil’s economic crisis.
«We are happy with the aircraft, which had good availability for the tests, sometimes making two flights a day», said vice president Paul Gaston Silva. «The plane is behaving very well and we were able to cover the entire flight envelope. We tested speed limits, Mach number and altitude, and tested all positions of slats, flaps and landing gear. We also made an on-board shutdown, with engine and APU restart. We can confirm all our predictions for the flying qualities and performance».
The Brazilian Air Force plans to purchase 28 units. He declined to comment on Embraer’s ongoing campaign to interest other countries, but said that the statements of intention of five foreign partners (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic for 32 additional aircraft remain intact. Embraer also recently joined the bidding in Canada.
According to Silva, there are good prospects for the KC-390 in the Asia-Pacific market. «It is a multi-mission aircraft and so is suitable for many missions, including transport and aerial refueling. It can carry all kinds of cargo, including vehicles and helicopters, and is very competitive in terms of life cycle costs».
Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (VMM-365) conducted section confined area landings and a M2 Browning .50-Cal machine gun shoot from Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, February 10. Marines with the unit flew two MV-22B Ospreys to a landing zone for familiarization flight training, which allowed pilots to practice landings. After practicing CALs, the crew flew off the coast to a safe distance in order to practice shooting the machine gun from the back of the aircraft.
Prior to their flight, the pilots and crew gave a brief which covered information about the aircraft’s capabilities, as well as factors that may affect the flight, such as current and expected weather conditions. The crew conducted a thorough inspection of their Osprey and after the aircraft was deemed safe and ready for flight, they took to the sky. «Section CALs is just one of the biggest basic building blocks into what we do», said Captain Edward K. Williams, a pilot with the unit. «You have got to master that before you can get three or four aircraft into a zone and then move on to doing that at night».
The pilots and crew traveled to a nearby landing zone to practice landings and take-offs. For this part of the flight there were two MV-22B Ospreys landing within close vicinity. «The purpose of the training today was mainly proficiency», said Lance Corporal Jarod L. Smith, a crew chief with the unit. He explained how of the two aircraft, one had fairly experienced pilots and crew but the other aircraft had a newer pilot who was getting his initial code.
Smith explained that pilots acquire different codes for the flights they conduct. Once the initial CALs flight was completed, the Marines returned to the hangar to refuel and then flew out for a .50-caliber machine gun shoot. «The tail guns are important because they are our primary weapon», said Williams. «If there is a threat in the zone the crew chiefs need to be proficient to be able to engage a threat without prior notice».
The .50-caliber machine gun was mounted on a pivot in the back of the Osprey. The pivot allows the weapon operator to take advantage of a wide angle to effectively engage any target. Smith explained how firing these larger rounds offer more penetration than other munitions and allow the gunner to engage enemies at greater distances.
The Osprey made several passes allowing each of the crew members in the back to practice firing the weapon system. Each pass involved firing into an area of the ocean while keeping a tight group on the rounds fired.
Williams explained how despite this training being conducted on a regular basis it is still not routine. Every time Marines fly, the training requires the same amount of preflight planning and briefing. A lot of work goes into preflight planning as well as debriefs.
Debriefs allow pilots and crew chiefs to assess their flights and determine how to improve their next flight. Even if the flight goes according to plan, Marines always look for ways to improve for future operations. «Training is important because as Marines we pride ourselves in readiness», said Smith. «We need to be proficient in confined area landings because that is what you’re going to conduct when you’re anywhere».
Widely regarded as the «Swiss Army Knife» of combat engineering vehicles, BAE Systems’ Terrier has been fitted with new technologies and systems by its defence engineers. The updated vehicle offers a new telescopic investigation arm and the ability to wade through 6.5-foot/2-meter wave surges.
The telescopic investigation arm extends over 26 feet/8 m from the vehicle – one of the longest in the world available for such a vehicle – allowing crews to probe and unearth buried devices from a safe distance. Additionally, the vehicle can now be exported with a rock hammer, ripper and earth augur – hugely extending its capabilities. The hammer can split rocks and penetrate concrete, while the ripper can tear up roads or runways, preventing their use. The earth augur can drill holes for use in combat engineering.
Terrier will also be able to wade through significantly deeper waters, withstanding up to 6.5-foot/2-meter wave surges. Rory Breen, Export Sales Manager for BAE Systems Land (UK) said: «The greater wading depth and surge protection will make Terrier even better suited for use in coastal or low-lying areas, where it can play an important role in disaster relief as well as combat situations. Along with the new telescopic arm and other attachments, Terrier remains the most technologically advanced and flexible combat engineer vehicle in the world. Due to the modular nature of the vehicle, it could also be quickly adapted for a range of other situations, such as clearing paths through jungle or thick foliage».
Terrier’s existing capabilities include complete remote control from up to 0.6 mile/1 km away, along with a variety of lifting, grabbing and moving capabilities. Its front loader system can lift weights of up to five tonnes and can shift 300 tonnes of earth per hour. In addition, its recently trialled sub-surface mine plough can penetrate to recognised safe depths while travelling at up to 9.3 mph/15 km/h, quickly creating a path free of mines and improvised explosive devices.
Terrier was designed to provide the British Army with maximum flexibility from a single vehicle, allowing them to reduce their equipment and logistic footprint. BAE Systems’ engineers continue to develop new modular attachments, meaning that Terrier customers can upgrade their vehicles to meet new requirements without changing platforms.
Terrier is the most advanced combat engineer vehicle – delivering uncompromising performance from a medium weight chassis