KC-46 flight tests

The KC-46 Pegasus program completed all flight tests required for the Milestone C production decision July 15 by offloading 1,500 pounds/680 kg of fuel to an A-10 Thunderbolt II.

A KC-46 Pegasus refuels an A-10 Thunderbolt II with 1,500 pounds/680 kg of fuel July 15, 2016 (Boeing photo/John D. Parker)
A KC-46 Pegasus refuels an A-10 Thunderbolt II with 1,500 pounds/680 kg of fuel July 15, 2016 (Boeing photo/John D. Parker)

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.

«It is great to see the KC-46 boom back in action and the program moving forward to a production decision», said Colonel John Newberry, the KC-46 system program manager.

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 Brigadier General 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 (LRIP) is expected in August.

The mission was the last of all flight tests required for the tanker’s Milestone C production decision (Boeing photo/John D. Parker)
The mission was the last of all flight tests required for the tanker’s Milestone C production decision (Boeing photo/John D. Parker)

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Aerial refueling and airlift
Prime Contractor The Boeing Company
Power Plant 2 × Pratt & Whitney 4062
Thrust 62,000 lbs/275.8 kN/28,123 kgf – Thrust per High-Bypass engine (sea-level standard day)
Wingspan 157 feet, 8 inches/48.1 m
Length 165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m
Height 52 feet, 10 inches/15.9 m
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 415,000 lbs/188,240 kg
Maximum Landing Weight 310,000 lbs/140,614 kg
Fuel Capacity 212,299 lbs/96,297 kg
Maximum Transfer Fuel Load 207,672 lbs/94,198 kg
Maximum Cargo Capacity 65,000 lbs/29,484 kg
Maximum Airspeed 360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h
Service Ceiling 43,100 feet/13,137 m
Maximum Distance 7,299 NM/8,400 miles/13,518 km
Pallet Positions 18 pallet positions
Air Crew 15 permanent seats for aircrew, including aeromedical evacuation aircrew
Passengers 58 total (normal operations); up to 114 total (contingency operations)
Aeromedical Evacuation 58 patients (24 litters/34 ambulatory) with the AE Patient Support Pallet configuration; 6 integral litters carried as part of normal aircraft configuration equipment

 

Laying the Keel

The Lockheed Martin-led industry team officially laid the keel for the U.S. Navy’s 17th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Indianapolis, in a ceremony held at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin.

A welder authenticates the keel of LCS-17, the future USS Indianapolis, by welding the initials of ship sponsor Jill Donnelly. The Keel Laying is the formal recognition of the start of the ship’s module construction process
A welder authenticates the keel of LCS-17, the future USS Indianapolis, by welding the initials of ship sponsor Jill Donnelly. The Keel Laying is the formal recognition of the start of the ship’s module construction process

Ship sponsor Mrs. Jill Donnelly, the wife of U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, completed the time-honored tradition and authenticated the keel by welding her initials onto a steel plate that will be placed in the hull of the ship.

«It is a tremendous honor to serve as the sponsor of the future USS Indianapolis», Donnelly said. «The keel-laying ceremony is a great milestone, and I look forward to supporting the ship and its crew throughout the building process. I know the people of Indianapolis and all Hoosiers will proudly support her when she is commissioned and enters the Navy fleet».

The LCS’s modular design and affordable price achieves increased capacity and capability so the U.S. Navy can provide presence where and when needed, with a level of force that will deter and defeat threats.

«We are proud to build another proven warship that allows our Navy to carry out their missions around the world», said Joe North, vice president and general manager of Littoral Ships and Systems. «We look forward to working with the U.S. Navy to continue building and delivering highly capable and adaptable Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ships to the fleet».

The Lockheed Martin-led industry team is currently in full-rate production of the Freedom-variant of the LCS, and has delivered three ships to the U.S. Navy to date. The future USS Indianapolis is one of seven ships in various stages of construction at Fincantieri Marinette Marine, with three more in long-lead production.

«On behalf of Marinette Marine, we are incredibly proud to build these ships for the U.S. Navy», said Jan Allman, MMC president and CEO. «We continue to streamline our processes and leverage the craftsmanship and skills of our employees in producing these high quality vessels for our warfighters».

LCS-17 will be the fourth ship to bear the name USS Indianapolis. A previous Indianapolis (CA-35) is best known for its role in World War II, where it operated throughout the Pacific escorting convoys and attacking enemy submarines. Indianapolis’ service ended when it was sunk by a Japanese torpedo on July 30, 1945. Only 317 of the 1,196 sailors serving aboard the ship survived after five days afloat in the Pacific Ocean. Richard Thelen, a USS Indianapolis (CA-35) survivor, attended the keel laying ceremony as a representative of all who sailed on CA-35.

The Lockheed Martin-led LCS team is comprised of shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine, naval architect Gibbs & Cox, and more than 500 suppliers in 37 states. The Freedom-variant’s steel monohull design is based on a proven, survivable design recognized for its stability and reliability. With 40 percent reconfigurable shipboard space, the hull is ideally suited to accommodate additional lethality and survivability upgrades associated with the Freedom-class Frigate.

Infographic: Laying the Keel
Infographic: Laying the Keel

 

Ship Design Specifications

Hull Advanced semiplaning steel monohull
Length Overall 389 feet/118.6 m
Beam Overall 57 feet/17.5 m
Draft 13.5 feet/4.1 m
Full Load Displacement Approximately 3,200 metric tons
Top Speed Greater than 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range at top speed 1,000 NM/1,151 miles/1,852 km
Range at cruise speed 4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km
Watercraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 4
Aircraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 5
Propulsion Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
Power 85 MW/113,600 horsepower
Hangar Space Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters
One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)
Core Crew Less than 50
Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet
Integrated Bridge System Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation
Core Self-Defense Suite Includes 3D air search radar
Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) gunfire control system
Rolling-Airframe Missile Launching System
57-mm Main Gun
Mine, Torpedo Detection
Decoy Launching System
The USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) departs Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard for the last time as LCS crew 104 guides her to Lake Michigan
The USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) departs Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard for the last time as LCS crew 104 guides her to Lake Michigan

 

Freedom-class

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Freedom (LCS-1) 06-02-2005 09-23-2006 11-08-2008 San Diego, California
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) 07-11-2009 12-07-2010 09-22-2012 San Diego, California
USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) 10-27-2011 12-18-2013 11-21-2015 San Diego, California
USS Detroit (LCS-7) 08-11-2012 10-18-2014
USS Little Rock (LCS-9) 06-27-2013 07-18-2015
USS Sioux City (LCS-11) 02-19-2014 01-30-2016
USS Wichita (LCS-13) 02-09-2015
USS Billings (LCS-15) 11-02-2015
USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) 07-18-2016
USS St. Louis (LCS-19)
USS Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS-21)
USS Cooperstown (LCS-23)
Slicing its way through the choppy waters of Lake Michigan, the future USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) passed its final test, earning high marks and a thumbs-up from the U.S. Navy after successfully completing its acceptance trial September 18
Slicing its way through the choppy waters of Lake Michigan, the future USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) passed its final test, earning high marks and a thumbs-up from the U.S. Navy after successfully completing its acceptance trial September 18

 

Sea trials of SIGMA

According to Ridzwan Rahmat, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent, Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL has begun sea trials of the country’s first SIGMA 10514 Perusak Kawal Rudal (PKR) guided-missile frigate on order for the Indonesian Navy.

Indonesia has begun sea trials of its most complex indigenously assembled warship to date
Indonesia has begun sea trials of its most complex indigenously assembled warship to date

The vessel, which will be the future KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata (331), began its sea trials in the week starting 11 July in waters off Ujung, Surabaya. The trials included a speed test, a crash stop test, and turning manoeuvres.

Raden Eddy Martadinata was launched by PT PAL on 18 January at the company’s shipyard in Surabaya. The frigate is one of two platforms being constructed jointly by Dutch shipbuilder Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) and PT PAL under a contract signed with the Indonesian Ministry of Defence in June 2012.

According to specifications provided by PT PAL, the PKR frigate has a standard displacement of approximately 2,400 tonnes, can accommodate a crew of 120, and it can hold a 10-tonne helicopter on its flight deck. The platform has a top speed of 28 knots/32 mph/52 km/h, a maximum range of 5,000 nautical miles/5,754 miles/9,260 km at 14 knots/16 mph/26 km/h, and a standard range of 4,000 nautical miles/4,603 miles/7,408 km at 18 knots/21 mph/33km/h.

Raden Eddy Martadinata ‘s weapons include an Oto Melara 76-mm main gun, launchers for MBDA MM40 Exocet Block II anti-ship missiles, six (two triple) 324-mm Eurotorp B515 torpedo launchers, the Rheinmetall Defence Millennium 35-mm close-in weapon system, and a 12-cell Vertical Launch System (VLS) that can deploy the MBDA VL-MICA surface-to-air missiles.

The weapon systems will be completed with a modified version of Thales’ TACTICOS Combat Management System (CMS).

The platform is on track for delivery to the TNI-AL in January 2017.

SIGMA FRIGATE 10514
SIGMA FRIGATE 10514

 

SIGMA FRIGATE 10514

GENERAL
Customer Indonesian Navy
Basic functions Naval Patrol Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), deterrence, Search and Rescue (SAR), ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare), AAW (Anti-Aircraft Warfare), ASUW (Anti-Surface Warfare), EW (Electronic Warfare)
Hull material Steel grade A/AH36
Standards Naval/Commercial, naval intact/damaged stability, noise reduced, moderate shock
Classification Lloyd’s Register of Shipping (supervision)
DIMENSIONS
Length overall (o.a.) 344.85 feet/105.11 m
Beam Moulded (mld) 45 feet/14.02 m
Depth no.1 deck 28.7 feet/8.75 m
Draught Design Waterline (dwl) 12.14 feet/3.7 m
Displacement Design Waterline (dwl) 2,365 tonnes
PERFORMANCE
Speed (Maximum power) 28 knots/32 mph/52 km/h
Range at 14 knots/16 mph/26 km/h 5,000 nautical miles/5,754 miles/9,260 km
Endurance 20 days at sea
PROPULSION SYSTEM
Propulsion type CODOE (Combined Diesel or Electric)
Diesel engines 2 × 10,000 kW MCR (Maximum Continuous Rating) Propulsion type
Electric motors 2 × 1300 kW
Gearbox 2 × double input input/single output
Propellers 2 × Controllable Pitch Propeller (CPP) diameter 11.65 feet/3.55 m
AUXILIARY SYSTEMS
Generator sets 6 × 715 kWE (kilowatts electrical)
Emergency generator set 1 × 180 kWE (kilowatts electrical)
Chilled water system 2 × units, redundant distribution
Fire fighting 4 × main pumps + 1 × service pump
Degaussing System
DECK EQUIPMENT
Helicopter deck maximum 10 tons helicopter, with lashing points
Heli operations day/night with refueling system
Helicopter hangar
RAS (Replenishment at Sea) on helicopter deck PS&SB, astern fuelling
Boats 2 × RHIB (Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat)
ACCOMMODATION
Fully air-conditioned accommodation for 120 persons
Commanding Officer 1
Officers 26
Chief Petty Officers 10
Petty Officers 36
Junior Ratings 29
Trainee Officers 18
Provisions for NBC citadel/decontamination
WEAPON & SENSOR SUITE
3D-Surveillance & target indication radar & IFF (Identification Friend or Foe)
Radar/electro optical fire control
Hull Mounted Sonar
Combat Management System (CMS)
Medium calibre gun 76-mm
1 × Close In Weapon System (CIWS)
2 × SSM (Surface-to-Surface Missile) launcher
12 cell VL (Vertical Launch) SHORADS
2 × triple 324-mm Torpedo launcher
ESM & ECM (Electronic Support Measures and Electronic Countermeasures systems)
2 × Decoys/chaff
Integrated internal & external communication system
NAUTICAL EQUIPMENT
Integrated bridge console, 2 × Radar, ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display & Information System), GMDSS-A3 (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System), reference gyro

 

SIGMA PKR 10514

Armed Black Hawk

Lockheed Martin is exploring options to bring its weapons integration expertise to bear on the European S-70 Black Hawk helicopters made by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company. The goal is to produce an armed kit scalable to the requirements of customers that procure Black Hawk aircraft direct from Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin unveiled a European-built Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter at the Farnborough International Airshow
Lockheed Martin unveiled a European-built Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter at the Farnborough International Airshow

«Last year’s acquisition of Sikorsky by Lockheed Martin has widened the aperture of possibilities for arming the Black Hawk helicopter», said Bill Gostic, vice president, Sikorsky Global Military Systems & Services. «Lockheed Martin brings integration expertise that will allow us to customize an armed configuration – for defensive or offensive operations – to the specific preferences of current and future Black Hawk customers, and with weapons of their choice».

During the ongoing Farnborough International Airshow, 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. The display represents the types of weapons Lockheed Martin can integrate onto the medium-lift military utility platform that’s renowned for its multirole capabilities.

Armed external wings on either side of the displayed aircraft feature a total of four weapons stations for fire suppression and elimination of armored targets, with launchers for a mix of Hellfire and Direct Attack Guided Rocket (DAGR) air-to-ground missiles, a 19-shot Hydra-70 rocket pod, and an FN Herstal Belgium manufactured rocket machine gun pod. For laser designating of a future weapons system, the aircraft’s cockpit chin features the INFIRNO sensor system.

Crew-served weapons inside the displayed aircraft include an FN Herstal .50-caliber (12.7-mm) 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 to be for operated by the pilot.

Depending on the chosen weapons configuration, the cabin can seat troops for armed assault and close air support of ground troop missions. Alternatively, the cabin can store additional ammunition for the guns and rocket pods, and an internal 200 gallon/757 L auxiliary fuel tank system for extended range and endurance required for armed escort missions.

Armed solutions are scalable – from crew served door guns to a fully integrated weapons system controlled from the cockpit by either pilot
Armed solutions are scalable – from crew served door guns to a fully integrated weapons system controlled from the cockpit by either pilot

Superior strike capability

Raytheon Company and Norway’s Kongsberg Defence Systems are finalizing plans to assemble, integrate and test the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) in the United States. The two companies also plan to produce NSM launchers in the U.S.

A Naval Strike Missile (NSM) is launched from the Littoral Combat Ship USS Coronado (LCS-4) during a September 23, 2014, test off the coast of Southern California (US Navy photo)
A Naval Strike Missile (NSM) is launched from the Littoral Combat Ship USS Coronado (LCS-4) during a September 23, 2014, test off the coast of Southern California (US Navy photo)

«NSM production in America is the latest evolution of our decades-long relationship with Kongsberg», said Doctor Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president. «We will assemble the missile and launchers in the same Raytheon factories where we produce many of the world’s most advanced missiles and other weapons systems».

Raytheon expects to perform final assembly, integration and test of NSM at the company’s Tucson, Arizona facility. Launchers would be manufactured at Raytheon’s factory in Louisville, Kentucky.

With a range of more than 100 nautical miles/115 miles/185 km, NSM is a long-range, anti-ship missile that provides superior strike capability against land and sea targets. Raytheon and Kongsberg believe NSM is an ideal solution for navies around the globe and the best over-the-horizon missile for the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).

«Warfighters around the globe will benefit from the Kongsberg-Raytheon partnership on NSM», said Harald Ånnestad, President Kongsberg Defence Systems. «Production of NSM in the United States will secure ramp up and sustainability of NSM, the world’s only Fifth Generation Naval Strike Missile with Land Target capabilities, for the US and our allies. Increased volume of NSM creates and secures jobs in both the US and Norway».

The companies are also teamed on the development of the Joint Strike Missile and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems also known as NASAMS.

 

About NSM

Provides excellent penetration capability against enemy air defense systems.

Features an advanced Imaging Infrared Seeker with Autonomous Target Recognition.

Has high survivability against modern and future air defense systems.

Can fly at extremely low sea-skimming altitude, and has terrain-following flight capability.

 

700-Ton Deckhouse

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division has successfully installed the deckhouse on the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7). The lifting of the deckhouse is a major event in the ship’s construction schedule and begins the integration of the three largest sections of the ship. The deckhouse was installed on Saturday, on July 9 – three weeks ahead of schedule.

Ingalls Shipbuilding lands the 700-ton deckhouse on the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) on July 9 (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)
Ingalls Shipbuilding lands the 700-ton deckhouse on the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) on July 9 (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)

«Ingalls Shipbuilding continues to be the builder of choice when it comes to the construction of amphibious warships for the U.S. Navy», said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. «We are benefitting from serial production, including our process of rolling over the same shipbuilding crews to work on the large-deck amphibious ships. It’s a busy time on LHA-7, and our construction milestones continue to clock in ahead of schedule. We look forward to delivering another quality amphibious ship to our customer in 2018».

Like USS America (LHA-6), which was delivered in 2014, Tripoli will have an increased aviation capacity to include an enlarged hangar deck, realignment and expansion of the aviation maintenance facilities, a significant increase in available stowage for parts and support equipment, and increased aviation fuel capacity. Similar to its predecessors, the ship will be able to operate as the flagship for an Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). Ingalls Shipbuilding has built five Tarawa-class (LHA-1) ships as well as eight Wasp-class (LHD-1) ships. Ingalls was recently awarded a contract for LHA-8.

This deckhouse installation on Tripoli was no small feat, according to Premo Sabbatini, LHA-7 program director. «The deckhouse is comprised of five deck levels and includes radio and radar spaces, the primary flight control station, and the pilot house», he said. «The estimated lift weight for the deckhouse is 701 short tons and required three cranes to complete this task. Performing this milestone ahead of schedule is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our shipbuilders».

Tripoli will be the third ship to bear the name that commemorates the capture of Derna in 1805 by a small force of U.S. Marines and approximately 370 soldiers from 11 other nations. The battle, memorialized in the Marines’ Hymn with the line «to the shores of Tripoli», brought about a successful conclusion to the combined operations of the First Barbary War.

America has an extended hangar bay and additional aviation support spaces and fuel capacity to accommodate the MAGTF's entire Air Combat Element (ACE) comprising the USMC's larger successor aircraft to the AV-8B Harrier II jet and CH-46E Chinook helicopter – the F-35B and MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor respectively – as well as the CH-53E/K Sea Stallion heavylift helicopter, the UH-1Y Huey utility helicopter, the AH-1Z Super Cobra attack helicopter, and the MH-60S Seahawk multimission helicopter
America has an extended hangar bay and additional aviation support spaces and fuel capacity to accommodate the MAGTF’s entire Air Combat Element (ACE) comprising the USMC’s larger successor aircraft to the AV-8B Harrier II jet and CH-46E Chinook helicopter – the F-35B and MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor respectively – as well as the CH-53E/K Sea Stallion heavylift helicopter, the UH-1Y Huey utility helicopter, the AH-1Z Super Cobra attack helicopter, and the MH-60S Seahawk multimission helicopter

 

General Characteristics

Builder Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., Ingalls Operations, Pascagoula, Mississippi
Date Deployed Delivered to the fleet in on April 10, 2014
Propulsion Two marine gas turbines, two shafts, 70,000 total brake horsepower/52,199 kW, two 5,000 horsepower/3,728 kW auxiliary propulsion motors
Length 844 feet/257.3 m
Beam 106 feet/32.3 m
Displacement Approximately 43,745 long tons full load/44,449 metric tons
Speed 20+ knots/23+ mph/37+ km/h
Crew 1,059 (65 officers)
Load 1,687 troops (plus 184 surge)
Armament 2 RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) launchers
2 NATO Sea Sparrow launchers with ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile)
2 20-mm Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System) mounts
7 twin 12,7-mm/.50 cal. machine guns
Aircraft 9 F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) STOVL (Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing) aircraft
4 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters
4 CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters
12 MV-22B Osprey VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) tiltrotors
2 MH-60S Sea Hawk Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters
UH-1Y Huey helicopters

 

Ships

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS America (LHA-6) 07-17-2009 06-04-2012 10-11-2014 San Diego, California
USS Tripoli (LHA-7) 06-22-2014
LHA-8

 

The lifting of the deckhouse is a major event in the ship’s construction schedule and begins the integration of the three largest sections of the ship

 

Laser Air Speed

In an aviation first, British scientists in Chelmsford have successfully trialled a highly accurate laser airspeed sensor for use in the next generation of high altitude aircraft which will increase survivability while improving performance and fuel efficiency.

BAE Systems develops laser airspeed sensor for aircraft
BAE Systems develops laser airspeed sensor for aircraft

The Laser Air Speed Sensing Instrument (LASSI) which is being exhibited at this year’s Farnborough International Airshow sets itself apart from conventional methods as it accurately measures velocity even at low speeds.

Conventionally, air speed is determined using pitot tubes – which protrude from aircraft and sense variations in air pressure with speed. Although usually heated, these tubes are vulnerable to blockage in icy conditions. They could also be damaged by collisions with birds and when the aircraft is on the ground.

Operating on the same principle as roadside speed-guns, the new technique works by bouncing ultraviolet laser light off air molecules and measuring the change in «colour» of the reflections caused by the Doppler Effect. In layman’s terms, the further away from the ultraviolet light the reflection is, the faster the aircraft is travelling. Although invisible to the human eye, the detector can identify minute changes in colour – which indicate the aircraft’s airspeed.

Doctor Leslie Laycock, Executive Scientist at BAE Systems said, «LASSI is a ground-breaking piece of technology which is challenging the conventional method of measuring air speed. Conventional air data sensors which protrude from the sides of aircraft must be carefully located to work properly and are inaccurate at low airspeeds. LASSI can be located completely inside the aircraft and is accurate at low airspeeds. It can even measure negative air velocities. These features should ensure that the equipment is robust against damage, require less maintenance and be easier to operate at lower airspeeds. A significant benefit is that LASSI has the potential to detect air speed at a distance, meaning an aircraft could predict oncoming turbulence and change course accordingly».

BAE Systems has successfully trialled LASSI in a low speed wind tunnel and on ground vehicles. Engineers from the Company predict the component technology could be miniaturised and be in use within the next five years and are now investigating how it could be integrated in future aircraft.

Beyond Visual Range

The Swedish Air Force (SwAF) announced during a ceremony at the Farnborough International Airshow on July 11 that MBDA’s Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM) has now officially entered service on its Gripen combat aircraft.

MBDA‘s Meteor enters service with the Swedish Air Force
MBDA‘s Meteor enters service with the Swedish Air Force

The announcement was made 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 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. The Meteor missile is currently the most lethal radar-guided missile in operational service, and the Swedish Air Force is the only operational user so far. I am very proud and satisfied to have the Meteor in the inventory of my air force».

Antoine Bouvier, MBDA CEO in responding to the announcement said: «Today is a very special day for the Swedish Air Force, for Saab and Gripen, for Meteor, for MBDA and particularly for multi-national industrial cooperation in defence. Meteor is a missile that no nation could have developed or produced alone. Sweden and the five other Partner Nations in the programme – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – can be both proud and confident that they have a missile that ensures unquestionable air superiority for their pilots in the defence of their respective countries’ sovereign interests. Along with that, and thanks to their involvement in the programme, they also have the freedom and independence to deploy and develop this unique missile capability as they see fit and as their requirements evolve. MBDA looks forward to continuing its extremely close cooperation with Sweden and Swedish industry in developing world-class military capabilities in support of the sovereignty and freedom of action of both Sweden and other cooperating nations».

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.

 

BVRAAM

Meteor is a next generation, Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) system that will revolutionise air-to-air combat in the 21st Century. The weapon’s development has brought together six nations with a common need to defeat the threats of today as well as those of the foreseeable future. Initially developed for Europe’s new generation of combat aircraft: Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale, Meteor is also being integrated on the F-35 Lightning II.

Meteor’s stunning performance is achieved through its unique ramjet propulsion system – solid fuel, variable flow, ducted rocket. This throttleable ramjet motor ensures that the missile has maximum thrust when it is most required, namely at the end game leading up to target intercept. As a result, Meteor features the largest No-Escape Zone of any other current or planned air-to-air missile system. 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. It is designed to meet the most stringent of requirements and is capable of operating in the most severe of clutter and countermeasure environments.

With a significant presence in five European countries and within the USA, in 2015 MBDA achieved a turnover of 2.9 billion euros with an order book of 15.1 billion euros. With more than 90 armed forces customers in the world, MBDA is a world leader in missiles and missile systems.

MBDA is the only European group capable of designing and producing missiles and missile systems that correspond to the full range of current and future operational needs of the three armed forces (land, sea and air). In total, the group offers a range of 45 missile systems and countermeasures products already in operational service and more than 15 others currently in development.

MBDA is jointly held by Airbus Group (37.5%), BAE Systems (37.5%), and Leonardo-Finmeccanica (25%).

 

Decoy-Jammer

The U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon Company $34.8 million to demonstrate upgraded electronic warfare capabilities for the Miniature Air Launched Decoy-Jammer missile. Development of the new version of the MALD-J, called MALD-X, will be completed in only 24 months and will culminate in two flight demonstrations.

MALD weighs less than 300 pounds/136 kg and has a range of approximately 500 nautical miles/575 miles/926 km
MALD weighs less than 300 pounds/136 kg and has a range of approximately 500 nautical miles/575 miles/926 km

«MALD-X will build on the successful MALD platform to demonstrate the advanced electronic warfare capabilities needed today and in the future», said Mike Jarrett, Raytheon vice president of Air Warfare Systems. «MALD-X creates an upgrade path for the current MALD-J program of record and meets the requirements for the MALD-N, a net-enabled decoy/jammer for the U.S. Navy».

MALD is a flying vehicle that confuses adversaries by posing as friendly aircraft. MALD-X, a modular weapon designed for the Strategic Capabilities Office under the U.S. Secretary of Defense, will demonstrate an improved electronic warfare payload, low-altitude flight and a datalink that will allow the weapon to communicate with other net enabled systems.

«MALD-X will allow the Air Force and Navy to quickly move on to the next generation of MALD, providing a substantial increase in capability and potential mission areas», said Dr. Will Roper, director of the Special Capabilities Office at the Office of the Secretary of Defense. «The program will provide the combatant command with a flexible capability that will address key needs in multiple regions of the world».

MALD-X is a uniquely collaborative effort, contracted and managed by the MALD Program Office at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, with program oversight from the SCO and shared technical management by both the Air Force and Navy.

 

About MALD and MALD-J

MALD is a state-of-the-art, low-cost, expendable flight vehicle that is modular, air-launched and programmable. It weighs less than 300 pounds/136 kg and has range/endurance of approximately 500 nautical miles/575 miles/926 km and 90 minutes. MALD-J adds radar-jamming capability to the basic MALD platform.

MALD confuses enemy air defenses by duplicating friendly aircraft flight profiles and radar signatures.

MALD-J maintains all capabilities of MALD and adds jamming capabilities.

Raytheon began delivery of MALD-Js in the fall of 2012.

Demonstrating how the MALD enhances penetrating airspace for combat aircraft in an Anti-Access Aerial Denial scenario

Official debut

World’s first for the Aermacchi M-346FT aircraft of Leonardo-Finmeccanica that will make its official debut at Farnborough Air Show that will open next July 11th. The M-346FT is the multi-role version of the M-346 whose characteristic is to pass very easily from the trainer aircraft configuration to the operational mission.

Leonardo-Finmeccanica Unveils the New M-346FT at the Farnborough Air Show
Leonardo-Finmeccanica Unveils the New M-346FT at the Farnborough Air Show

Mauro Moretti, Leonardo’s CEO and General Manager, has declared: «We Invest in the technological development of highest-added-value activities so that we can stay one step ahead of our competitors. The technological excellence of our trainers is acknowledged worldwide and today we are ready to offer our customers an aircraft capable of combining the operational and training requirements of the Air Forces all over the world, assuring top performances and remarkably lower costs».

Based on the advanced trainer M-346, the FT (Fighter Trainer) variant integrates a wide range of systems and sensors for tactical support and air defence, a tactical data link, a self-defence system, recognition and targeting sensors and a series of weapon systems. This aircraft’s configuration is representative of a basic version with operational capabilities that can be integrate with additional sensors in the future.

The Aermacchi M-346 is the most advanced trainer aircraft currently available on the market and is the only in the world conceived purposefully to train pilots destined to high-performance latest-generation military aircraft. 68 units have been ordered by the Air Forces of Italy (18), Singapore (12), Israel (30) and Poland (8) and it has been selected by the United Arab Emirates.

Aermacchi M-346FT – Fighter Trainer – will be the name of the new Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s aircraft
Aermacchi M-346FT – Fighter Trainer – will be the name of the new Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s aircraft

Thanks to its advanced technical design and adoption of modern «design-to-cost» and «design-to-maintain» concepts, the M-346 has reduced acquisition and operation costs. Furthermore, reducing the maintenance hours requirement of the aircraft has increased its cost-effectiveness.

The Aermacchi M-346 features innovative design solutions. It is an aircraft with a full-authority quadruplex Fly-by-Wire control system that, thanks to the optimisation of its aerodynamic configuration, allows the aircraft to remain fully controllable at angles of attack of over 30 degrees. This, combined with the aircraft’s twin-engine configuration, the duplication and redundancy of its electric and hydraulic systems and a choice of state-of-the-art equipment, makes the M-346 the most modern pre-operational tactical training aircraft in the world.

The M-346 is equipped with a digital avionics system, fully modelled on those of latest-generation military aircraft such as the Eurofighter, Gripen, Rafale, F-16, F-18, F-22 and the future F-35. It is therefore well-suited for every phase of advanced and pre-operational training, downloading flight hours from the more expensive frontline aircraft.

The M-346’s wide flight envelope, its very high thrust/weight ratio and extreme manoeuvrability make it an aircraft capable of reproducing, for the trainee pilot, flight conditions similar to those they will find on the combat aircraft they will go on to operate, thus maximizing the effectiveness of training.

The M-346 also integrates the Embedded Tactical Training Simulation (ETTS) with the ability to simulate a complete suite of sensors, countermeasures and armaments and also to create a virtual tactical scenario, simulating air, naval and land forces, friend or foe, interacting in real time with the aircraft during the training missions.

The M-346 features hard points, allowing external loads to be carried, as well as a Helmet Mounted Display, vocal commands and an in-flight refuelling probe.

The M-346 Integrated Training System (ITS) includes, alongside the aircraft, an exhaustive Ground Based Training System (GBTS). This enables the student pilot to learn and rehearse the entire aircraft syllabus and training objectives on the ground, before replicating them in flight. This provides significant cost savings when comprehensively training “fast jet” military pilots.

A core element of the ITS is the Live-Virtual-Constructive (LVC), linking simulators to live sorties, allowing pilots flying a training device on the ground to be linked with those flying on real aircraft. It allows trainee pilots to add complexity to training exercises while reducing the risks and costs associated with flying several aircraft during training missions.

Multi-role capabilities, from trainer to fighter aircraft, leading-edge technology and excellent cost-effectiveness
Multi-role capabilities, from trainer to fighter aircraft, leading-edge technology and excellent cost-effectiveness

 

Aermacchi M-346FT’s main characteristics:

  • Carefree handling in every aspect of the flight envelope to guarantee to the pilot the best possible concentration on the mission;
  • Twin-engine configuration and fly-by-wire commands, quadrupled to assure redundancy and the best operational security;
  • In flight-refuelling capability for long-range missions or extended operational persistence;
  • High speed at low altitude and high climb rate;
  • Big handling capability, also at full load and with only one active engine;
  • Suite of advanced net-centric communication;
  • Tactical Data Link;
  • Defensive Aids Sub-System;
  • Radar Warning Receiver (RWR);
  • Chaff & Flare Dispenser (CFD);
  • kit for the reduction of the radar cross section.

 

Integration capability:

  • GBU-12 (500 lbs) Paveway II Laser Guided Bomb (LGB);
  • GBU-49 (500 lbs) Enhanced Paveway II GPS/LGB;
  • Lizard 2 LGB;
  • GBU-38 (500 lbs) Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM);
  • Lizard 4 LGB (500 lbs);
  • Small Diameter Bomb (SDB);
  • Rocket launchers;
  • 82 (500 lbs) general-purpose bomb;
  • 82HD Snakeye (500 lbs) general-purpose bomb;
  • Gun pod;
  • Air-to-Air IR missiles;
  • 630 lt – auxiliary tank;
  • Reconnaissance Pod;
  • Laser Designation Pod.
The M-346 Integrated Training System includes, together with the aircraft, an exhaustive Ground Based Training System, enabling the student pilot to learn and rehearse the entire aircraft syllabus and all training objectives on the ground, before replicating them in flight
The M-346 Integrated Training System includes, together with the aircraft, an exhaustive Ground Based Training System, enabling the student pilot to learn and rehearse the entire aircraft syllabus and all training objectives on the ground, before replicating them in flight