Boeing for the first time is showing what it believes is the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) best suited for refueling U.S. Navy jets operating from aircraft carriers.

Boeing’s MQ-25 Unmanned Aircraft System is completing engine runs before heading to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations next year. The aircraft is designed to provide the U.S. Navy with refueling capabilities that would extend the combat range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters (Boeing photo by Eric Shindelbower)
Boeing’s MQ-25 Unmanned Aircraft System is completing engine runs before heading to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations next year. The aircraft is designed to provide the U.S. Navy with refueling capabilities that would extend the combat range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters (Boeing photo by Eric Shindelbower)

Through its MQ-25 competition, the U.S. Navy is seeking unmanned refueling capabilities that would extend the combat range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters. The MQ-25 will also have to seamlessly integrate with a carrier’s catapult and launch and recovery systems.

«Boeing has been delivering carrier aircraft to the Navy for almost 90 years», said Don ‘BD’ Gaddis, a retired admiral who leads the refueling system program for Boeing’s Phantom Works technology organization. «Our expertise gives us confidence in our approach. We will be ready for flight testing when the engineering and manufacturing development contract is awarded».

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

The U.S. Navy issued its final request for proposals in October. Proposals are due January 3.

First Flight

On December 18, 2017, Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, announced that its V-280 Valor has achieved first flight. The V-280 Valor is a next-generation tiltrotor that is designed to provide unmatched agility, speed, range and payload capabilities at an affordable cost. This milestone represents exceptional progress on the V-280 development program and brings Bell Helicopter one step closer to creating the next generation of vertical lift aircraft for the U.S. military.

Bell V-280 Valor Achieves First Flight
Bell V-280 Valor Achieves First Flight

«This is an exciting time for Bell Helicopter, and I could not be more proud of the progress we have made with first flight of the Bell V-280», says Mitch Snyder, President & CEO for Bell Helicopter. «First flight demonstrates our commitment to supporting Department of Defense leadership’s modernization priorities and acquisition reform initiatives. The Valor is designed to revolutionize vertical lift for the U.S. Army and represents a transformational aircraft for all the challenging missions our armed forces are asked to undertake».

«We are thrilled to share in this success of the V-280 first flight with Team Valor», added Snyder. «The V-280 intends to completely transform what is possible for the military when it comes to battle planning and forward operations».

The Bell V-280 Valor program is part of the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) initiative. The JMR-TD program 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, General Electric (GE), Moog, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), TRU Simulation & Training, Astronics, Eaton, GKN Aerospace, Lord, Meggitt and Spirit AeroSystems – collectively referred to as Team Valor.

The Bell V-280 Valor is postured to provide the U.S. Army with the highest levels of maturity and technical readiness. The aircraft is designed to provide the best value in procurement, operations and support, and force structure, while delivering desired leap-ahead performance capabilities with increased maintainability, reliability and affordability to the Department of Defense (DoD). With twice the speed and range of conventional helicopters, the Valor is designed to offer maneuver commanders unmatched operational agility to self-deploy and perform a multitude of vertical lift missions currently unachievable in one aircraft. The Bell V-280 is a combat force multiplier with superior performance, payload, survivability, and reliability to give the warfighter the decisive advantage.


Operational Viability:

  • Reduced downwash to facilitate fast rope and hoist ops;
  • Landing Zone = UH-60/UH-1Y comparable;
  • 12˚ slope landings;
  • Enhanced situational awareness & sensing in cockpit/cabin;
  • More medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) options during the golden hour;
  • Pilotage Distributed Aperture Sensor (Degraded Visual Environment enabler);
  • Scalability;
  • Fixed engines maximize cabin ingress/egress clearance.



  • 2 × productivity at comparable cost of AH-64E/Spec Ops UH-60;
  • Reduced complexity & cost;
  • Increased performance & manufacturability;
  • Unprecedented variant commonality;
  • Reliable, Line-Replaceable Unit (LRU) based, field maintainable aircraft;
  • Reduced sustainment costs.



Speed 280 Knots True AirSpeed (KTAS)/322 mph/518 km/h
Combat Range 500-800 NM/575-921 miles/926-1,481 km
Strategically Self-Deployable 2,100+ NM/2,417 miles/3,889 km Range
Troop Capacity Crew of 4 and 14 troops
Useful Load 12,000+ lbs/5,443+ kg
Sling load 10,500 lbs/4,763 kg
Situational Awareness Enhanced situational awareness and sensing technologies
Flight Control System Triple redundant fly-by-wire
Hover Out of Ground Effect (HOGE) Achieves 6k/95F
Ingress/Egress Two 6′ wide large side doors for ease of rapid ingress/egress
Landing Gear Conventional, retractable landing gear


Bell Helicopter announced that its V-280 Valor has achieved first flight


BAE Systems and The University of Manchester set to change the future of aircraft design with unique flight control technology.

Successful first flight trial completion of unmanned aerial vehicle, MAGMA
Successful first flight trial completion of unmanned aerial vehicle, MAGMA

Together with The University of Manchester, we have successfully completed the first phase of flight trials with MAGMA – a small scale Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), which will use a unique blown-air system to manoeuvre the aircraft – paving the way for future stealthier aircraft designs.

The new concept for aircraft control removes the conventional need for complex, mechanical moving parts used to move flaps to control the aircraft during flight. This could give greater control as well as reduce weight and maintenance costs, allowing for lighter, stealthier, faster and more efficient military and civil aircraft in the future.

The two technologies to be trialled first using the jet-powered UAV, MAGMA, are:

  • Wing Circulation Control, which takes air from the aircraft engine and blows it supersonically through the trailing edge of the wing to provide control for the aircraft
  • Fluidic Thrust Vectoring, which uses blown air to deflect the exhaust, allowing for the direction of the aircraft to be changed.

The flight trials are part of an ongoing project between our two organisations and wider long-term collaboration between industry, academia and government to explore and develop innovative flight control technology. Further flight trials are planned for the coming months to demonstrate the novel flight control technologies with the ultimate aim of flying the aircraft without any moving control surfaces or fins. If successful, the tests will demonstrate the first ever use of such circulation control in flight on a gas turbine aircraft and from a single engine.

Clyde Warsop, Engineering Fellow here at BAE Systems, said: «The technologies we are developing with The University of Manchester will make it possible to design cheaper, higher performance, next generation aircraft. Our investment in research and development drives continued technological improvements in our advanced military aircraft, helping to ensure UK aerospace remains at the forefront of the industry and that we retain the right skills to design and build the aircraft of the future».

Bill Crowther, a senior academic and leader of the MAGMA project at The University of Manchester, adds: «These trials are an important step forward in our efforts to explore adaptable airframes. What we are seeking to do through this programme is truly ground-breaking».

Additional technologies to improve the performance of the UAV are being explored in collaboration with the University of Arizona and NATO Science and Technology Organisation.

Innovation is a key focus for us here at BAE Systems, having invested £4.4 billion in Research and Development (R&D) over the past five years, representing a major asset to the UK defence industry. Our company has spent £1 billion on R&D in 2016 alone, including £10.7 million partnering with leading UK universities in areas such as novel materials, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, air vehicles and avionics testing. We have also made strategic investments in a range of evolving technologies in the aerospace sector including the SABRE (Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) air-breathing rocket engine with Reaction Engines Ltd and mixed reality cockpit technology in partnership with The University of Birmingham as well as unique flight control technology with The University of Manchester.

Reconfigurable ship

The Navy commissioned its newest Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Little Rock (LCS-9), during an 11 a.m. EST ceremony Saturday, December 16, at the Canalside waterfront in Buffalo, New York.

The future USS Little Rock (LCS-9) underway during a high-speed run in Lake Michigan during Acceptance Trials. Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine successfully completed acceptance trials on the future USS Little Rock (LCS-9), August 25 (Photo by Lockheed Martin)
The future USS Little Rock (LCS-9) underway during a high-speed run in Lake Michigan during Acceptance Trials. Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine successfully completed acceptance trials on the future USS Little Rock (LCS-9), August 25 (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

The future USS Little Rock, designated LCS-9, is the 10th littoral combat ship to enter the fleet and the fifth of the Freedom-variant design. It is the second warship named for the Arkansas state capital and will be commissioned alongside the first USS Little Rock (CL-92), which serves as a museum at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park.

Arkansas Senator John Boozman delivered the ceremony’s principal address. Mrs. Janee L. Bonner, spouse of the Honorable Josiah «Jo» Bonner, a former U.S. representative from Alabama, is serving as the ship’s sponsor. In a time-honored Navy tradition, she gave the order to «man our ship and bring her to life»!

«The future USS Little Rock represents much more than the state capital of Arkansas, it represents service», said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. «This ship would not exist without the dedicated service of the men and women of Marinette Marine, who can be proud of the accomplishment of putting another warship to sea. Once commissioned, this ship will provide presence around the globe for decades to come».

LCS is a modular, reconfigurable ship, designed to meet validated fleet requirements for Surface Warfare (SUW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Mine CounterMeasures (MCM) missions in the littoral region. An interchangeable mission package is embarked on each LCS and provides the primary mission systems in one of these warfare areas. Using an open architecture design, modular weapons, sensor systems and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles to gain, sustain and exploit littoral maritime supremacy, LCS provides U.S. joint force access to critical areas in multiple theaters.

The LCS-class consists of the Freedom variant and Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered ships, e.g. LCS-1). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA (for LCS-6 and follow-on even-numbered ships). Twenty-nine LCS ships have been awarded to date: 11 have been delivered to the U.S. Navy, five are in various stages of construction and three are in pre-production states.


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



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 10-22-2016 San Diego, California
USS Little Rock (LCS-9) 06-27-2013 07-18-2015 12-16-2017 San Diego, California
USS Sioux City (LCS-11) 02-19-2014 01-30-2016    
USS Wichita (LCS-13) 02-09-2015 09-17-2016    
USS Billings (LCS-15) 11-02-2015 07-01-2017    
USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) 07-18-2016      
USS St. Louis (LCS-19) 05-17-2017      
USS Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS-21)        
USS Cooperstown (LCS-23)        
USS Marinette LCS-25        
USS Nantucket (LCS-27)        


Fully Autonomous

Aurora Flight Sciences conducted a successful demonstration of the company’s autonomous helicopter system 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.

Autonomous UH-1H successfully demonstrates flight and operational capabilities at Marine Corps Base Quantico
Autonomous UH-1H successfully demonstrates flight and operational capabilities at Marine Corps Base Quantico

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.

«The Marines’ vision for the future of vertical lift operation and support is optionally-piloted aircraft», said AACUS Program Manager Stephen Chisarik. «Aurora’s system enables any rotary-wing aircraft to detect and react to hazards in the flight path, and make appropriate adjustments to keep the aircraft safe».

«We’ve developed this great capability ahead of requirements and it’s up to us to determine how to use it», said Lieutenant General Robert Walsh, commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command. «The young marines today have grown up in a tech-savvy society, which is an advantage. We’ve got to keep pushing and moving this technology forward».

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.

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

Test event

The U.S. Navy is closer to delivering its new Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) after completing another milestone test flight from an Air Force B-1B Lancer December 8 over Point Mugu Sea Test Range in California.

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer releases the Navy's Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) during a test event December 8 off the coast of California (U.S. Navy photo)
A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer releases the Navy’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) during a test event December 8 off the coast of California (U.S. Navy photo)

During the test, aircrew aboard the B-1B Lancer simultaneously launched two missiles against multiple moving maritime targets for the first time.

«The completion of this test marks another significant accomplishment for the innovative team of government and industry professionals committed to fielding dominant surface warfare capability on an accelerated timeline», said Captain Todd Huber, LRASM program manager.

When operational, LRASM will provide flexible, long-range, advanced, anti-surface capability against high-threat maritime targets. It will play a significant role in ensuring military access to operate in open ocean and the littorals due to its enhanced ability to discriminate and conduct tactical engagements from extended ranges.

Early operational capability for the LRASM is slated for 2018 on the U.S. Air Force B-1 Lancer and 2019 on the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Navy completes LRASM milestone test event (U.S. Navy photo)
Navy completes LRASM milestone test event (U.S. Navy photo)

Border Patrol

Leonardo announced on December 11 further orders for its AW139 intermediate twin engine helicopter for public service and security operations in Italy, with contracts for eight aircraft valued at approximately 112 million euro.

Eight more AW139s to strengthen rescue and border patrol services in Italy
Eight more AW139s to strengthen rescue and border patrol services in Italy

The Italian Coast Guard has signed a contract for two AW139s to perform search and rescue missions, with deliveries to be completed by the end of 2018, while the Italian Customs and Border Protection Service (Guardia di Finanza) has ordered six to perform patrol operations, with deliveries to be completed by 2020.

With these aircraft deliveries both operators will have a fleet of 14 AW139s each, allowing a further enhancement in mission capability and simplified logistics as they replace ageing AB412 aircraft. The Italian Coast Guard recently passed the 10,000 flight hours milestone with its AW139 fleet, having saved many lives in operation and providing evidence of the outstanding effectiveness, reliability of the aircraft and successful partnership with Leonardo. Italian Customs and Border Protection Service has been using its AW139s for a range of roles across the nation including mountain and maritime patrol and reconnaissance, law enforcement, Search and Rescue (SAR) and homeland security.



Overall length* 16.66 m/54 feet 8 inch
Overall height* 4.98 m/16 feet 4 inch
Rotor diameter 13.8 m/45 feet 3 inch
Powerplant 2 × Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67C Turboshafts with FADEC
Engine Rating
All Engines Operative (AEO) Take off power 2 × 1,252 kW/2 × 1,679 shp
OEI 2.5 min contingency power 1,396 kW/1,872 shp
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)
Internal load** 6,400 kg/14,110 lbs
External Load 6,800 kg/14,991 lbs
Crew 1-2
Passenger seating Up to 15 in light order, or 8 deployable troops in combat order and 2 armed cabin crew for aircraft protection
Stretchers Up to 4 (with 5 attendants)
Baggage compartment 3.4 m3/120 feet3
Performance: International Standard Atmosphere (ISA); Sea Level (S.L.); Maximum Gross Weight (MGW)
Velocity Never Exceed (VNE); Indicated Air Speed (IAS) 167 knots/192 mph/310 km/h
Cruise Speed 165 knots/190 mph/306 km/h
Rate of Climb 2,145 feet/min/10.9 m/s
Hovering Out of Ground Effect (HOGE) 8,130 feet/2,478 m
Service Ceiling 20,000 feet/6,096 m
OEI service ceiling 11,600 feet/3,536 m
Maximum range*** 573 NM/659 miles/1,061 km
Maximum endurance*** 5 h 13 min

* Rotors turning

** An optional MTOW (internal) of 6,800 kg/14,991 lbs is available as kit

*** No reserve, with Auxiliary fuel

Net centric radar

Northrop Grumman Corporation has received a contract from the U.S. Army’s Lower Tier Program Office (LTPO) to perform risk reduction for radar technology and associated mission capabilities intended to replace the Army’s 50-year-old Patriot radars.

Northrop Grumman to perform risk reduction for radar technology under Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) contract
Northrop Grumman to perform risk reduction for radar technology under Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) contract

LTAMDS will be the Army’s first net centric radar to be added to the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense enterprise controlled by the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS), which Northrop Grumman also develops. IBCS is the advanced command and control system that integrates air and missile defense sensors and weapons, including Patriot, to generate a real-time comprehensive threat picture and enable any-sensor, best-shooter operations.

Northrop Grumman’s next-generation sensors will potentially benefit from decades-long experience in delivering rapidly deployable ground based radars, such as the high performance AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR active electronically scanned array production radar to the United States Marine Corps. G/ATOR capabilities include comprehensive, real-time, 360-degree multi-threat detection and tracking.

«We are excited about this award and the overall mission capabilities we can provide the Army», said Roshan Roeder, vice president, global ground based radars, Northrop Grumman. «We have more than forty years of experience in providing proven surveillance and threat engagement capabilities to more than 35 global customers».

Laser on UAV

The Boeing Co., Huntington Beach, California is being awarded an $8,966,976 competitive, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) Phase 1 effort. No options are contemplated.

Boeing to Demonstrate Low-Power Laser on UAV
Boeing to Demonstrate Low-Power Laser on UAV

Under this new contract, the contractor will perform the next step for the LPLD effort that addresses laser power and aperture size by integrating and testing a low power laser on an unmanned aerial vehicle.

The work will be performed in Huntington Beach, California; and Albuquerque, New Mexico, with an estimated completion date of September 3, 2018.

The period of performance is nine months from December 6, 2017, through September 3, 2018. This contract was competitively procured via publication on the Federal Business Opportunities website through an Advanced Technology Innovation Broad Agency Announcement HQ0147-15-ATI-BAA.

Fiscal 2018 research, development, test and engineering funds in the amount of $2,000,000 are being obligated at the time of award.

The Missile Defense Agency, Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the contracting activity (HQ0277-18-C-0003).

Qatar Agrees 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.

Qatar agrees contract for Typhoon aircraft
Qatar agrees contract for Typhoon aircraft

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.

Charles Woodburn, BAE Systems Chief Executive said: «We are delighted to begin a new chapter in the development of a long-term relationship with the State of Qatar and the Qatar Armed Forces, and we look forward to working alongside our customer as they continue to develop their military capability».

Eurofighter Typhoon Statistics
Eurofighter Typhoon Statistics


General characteristics

Wingspan 35 feet 11 inch/10.95 m
Length overall 52 feet 4 inch/15.96 m
Height 17 feet 4 inch/5.28 m
Wing Area 551.1 feet2/51.2 m2
Basic Mass Empty 24,250 lbs/11,000 kg
Maximum Take-Off >51,809 lbs/23,500 kg
Maximum External Load >16,535 lbs/7,500 kg
Single seat twin-engine, with a two-seat variant
Weapon Carriage 13 Hardpoints
G’ limits +9/-3 ‘g’
Engines Two Eurojet EJ200 reheated turbofans
Maximum dry thrust class 13,500 lbs/6,124 kgf/60 kN
Maximum reheat thrust class 20,000 lbs/9,072 kgf/90 kN
Ceiling >55,000 feet/16,764 m
Brakes off to 35,000 feet(10,668 m)/Mach 1.5 <2.5 minutes
Brakes off to lift off <8 seconds
At low level, 200 knots/230 mph/370 km/h to Mach 1.0 in 30 seconds
Maximum Speed Mach 2.0
Operational Runway Length <2,297 feet/700 m
Carbon Fibre Composites (CFC) 70%
Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) 12%
Aluminium Alloy, Titanium Alloy 15%
Acrylic (Röhm 249) 3%
United Kingdom 232 Aircraft
Germany 180 Aircraft
Italy 121 Aircraft
Spain 87 Aircraft
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 72 Aircraft
Austria 15 Aircraft
Sultanate of Oman 12 Aircraft
Kuwait 28 Aircraft
Total 747 Aircraft