A technology kit developed by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, was used for the first time to operate a Black Hawk helicopter with full-authority, fly-by-wire flight controls. The May 29 flight marked the official start to the flight test program for the soon-to-be optionally piloted aircraft. Follow-on flight testing aims to include envelope expansion throughout the summer leading to fully autonomous flight (zero pilots) in 2020.
«This technology brings a whole new dimension of safety, reliability and capability to existing and future helicopters and to those who depend on them to complete their missions», said Chris Van Buiten, Vice President, Sikorsky Innovations. «We’re excited to be transforming a once mechanically controlled aircraft into one with fly-by-wire controls. This flight demonstrates the next step in making optionally piloted – and optimally piloted – aircraft, a reality».
This is the first full authority fly-by-wire retrofit kit developed by Sikorsky that has completely removed mechanical flight controls from the aircraft.
Through DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program, Sikorsky is developing an OPV approach it describes as pilot directed autonomy to give operators the confidence to fly aircraft safely, reliably and affordably in optimally piloted modes enabling flight with two, one or zero crew. The program aims to improve operator decision aiding for manned operations while also enabling both unmanned and reduced crew operations.
Sikorsky has been demonstrating its MATRIX Technology on a modified S-76B called the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA). The aircraft, which has been in test since 2013, has more than 300 hours of autonomous flight.
Sikorsky announced in March that its S-92 helicopter fleet update will include the introduction of phase one MATRIX Technology that will bring advanced computing power to the platform. This foundation enables adoption of autonomous landing technology.
Northrop Grumman Corporation demonstrated its in-production, innovative solution for the U.S. Army’s Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) program during an open «Sense Off» competition at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico from May 16 – June 1.
«Our mature, gallium nitride (GaN)-based design demonstrated an advanced system with our current capabilities aligned with the Army’s requirements», said Christine Harbison, vice president, land and avionics C4ISR division, Northrop Grumman. «Our solution supports the need for rapid deployment with an architecture that allows for significant margin of capability growth to protect our warfighters today and in the rapidly changing threat environment».
Northrop Grumman’s LTAMDS solution demonstrated a mission capable system with growth potential leveraging advanced, affordable, low-risk, in-production and fielded technologies from across the company’s Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) portfolio. The system provides a 360-degree full-sector mission capability. Designed from the outset to meet the warfighters’ current and future needs, Northrop Grumman’s LTAMDS solution aligns with the Army’s top requirements, including speed to field. An embedded logistics capability enables quicker and more affordable modernization and better sustainability over the life-cycle of the program.
Northrop Grumman’s LTAMDS solution builds upon the company’s decades of expertise in sea, land, air and space-based military radar technology and high-performance microelectronics. The company’s offering is the latest Northrop Grumman sensor product to incorporate and use GaN high power density radio frequency components for greater performance.
Having successfully completed the demonstration phase, the company will deliver its final LTAMDS proposal to the Army in the coming weeks for evaluation.
Raytheon Company and the U.S. Navy completed the final developmental test of the latest generation of the Ship Self Defense System, or SSDS, Integrated Combat System for the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78). The test was conducted off the coast of California from the Navy’s unmanned Self Defense Test Ship simulating a scenario CVN-78 may encounter once deployed.
During the raid scenario exercise, two anti-ship missile surrogate targets were located, classified, tracked and engaged using the SSDS Integrated Combat System adapted for CVN-78.
«This successful dual-target test demonstrates the maturity of the Ship Self Defense System ICS and paves the way for operational testing to begin», said Mike Fabel, Raytheon’s SSDS program manager. «SSDS is a critical capability that enables CVN-78 to defend herself and her crew against current and emerging threats».
The Raytheon Ship Self-Defense System ICS includes:
Dual Band Radar: This technology searched for, located and tracked the targets. DBR then provided uplink and radar illumination to the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile to support missile guidance.
Cooperative Engagement Capability, or CEC: The capability validated and processed the Dual Band Radar data for SSDS. CEC is responsible for providing a single, integrated air picture by fusing data from multiple sensors to improve track accuracy.
Ship Self Defense System: SSDS processed the CEC data, classified the targets, determined the appropriate engagement ranges, passed launch commands to the interceptor missiles, and scheduled Dual Band Radar support for the engagements.
Evolved SeaSparrow Missile and Rolling Airframe Missile: Successfully engaged and defeated both targets using live and simulated interceptors.
The Ship Self-Defense System ICS for CVN-78 has now successfully engaged three of three targets over the course of its first two test exercises.
Background on SSDS
Proven and deployed, SSDS is an open, distributed combat management system in service on US carriers and amphibious ships, including CVN, LSD, LPD, LHA and LHD classes. SSDS MK 2 is the premier self-defense system for the U.S. Navy. SSDS is integrated with Raytheon’s Cooperative Engagement Capability for the seamless extraction and distribution of sensor-derived information. This further enhances each ship’s anti-air warfare capability through sharing of available data to all participating CEC units, improving situational awareness, increasing range, and enabling cooperative, multiple, or layered engagement strategies.
In the upcoming Paris Air Show, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will unveil the new tactical Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) of the Heron Family: the T-Heron.
Designed for tactical missions on the battlefield, the T-Heron is expected to be used extensively by ground troops and coastal guards, as well as by other protection forces. With a versatile design and suitable for a variety of payloads, it features the most advanced IAI technologies.
The T-Heron joins IAI’s Heron UAS Family, which boasts rich know-how and extensive experience of over 40 years, over 1,700,000 combat flight hours and over 50 operational customers, which use IAI UAS’s in a range of missions, environmental conditions and warfare theatres across the globe.
The T-heron features one of the highest levels of flight safety and reliability and is resistant to extreme weather conditions. Its advanced, certified and proven Rotax engine takes it to a maximum altitude of 24,000 feet/7,315 m, speed of 120 knots/138 mph/222 km/h and supports useful payloads of up to 180 kg/397 lbs.
Capable of carrying several payloads concurrently, and equipped with IAI’s best sensors, the T-Heron complies with global standards, including STANAG 4671 requirements.
Moshe Levy, IAI EVP and CEO of the Military Aircraft Division, said, «We are proud to introduce the most recent UAS developed by IAI. Our T-Heron tactical UAS rounds up the range of operational UAS solutions IAI offers to all forces on the battlefield: marine, air, ground, and intelligence. IAI preserves its leadership position in UAS’s with a continuous stream of solutions for the challenges posed by the field».
IAI Ltd. is Israel’s largest aerospace and defense company and a globally recognized technology and innovation leader, specializing in developing and manufacturing advanced, state-of-the-art systems for air, space, sea, land, cyber and homeland security. IAI also designs and manufactures business jets and aerostructures, performs overhaul and maintenance on commercial aircraft and converts passenger aircraft to refueling and cargo configurations.
Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, announced on May 30, 2019, that the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) has awarded Oshkosh Defense and partner, Broshuis B.V., a contract to produce semitrailers for the Heavy Equipment Transporter (HET). The contract award is in response to an Operational Needs Statement (ONS) from the U.S. Army Europe for a semitrailer that can deliver increased payload capability while gaining European road permissions.
The contract, initially awarded at $13.3M, has a maximum value of $109.8M and calls for 170 semitrailers to be delivered between FY20 and FY21.
The HET was designed by Oshkosh Defense to provide rapid movement of mission-critical equipment including tanks, armored vehicles, and recovery vehicles. Oshkosh Defense has been producing the HET for the U.S. Army since 1976. Broshuis B.V., has over 130 years of experience providing innovative semitrailers for specialized commercial and military transport.
«Oshkosh Defense and our partner, Broshuis B.V., each bring a unique set of skills and experiences to this program», said Pat Williams, Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps Programs for Oshkosh Defense. «As the OEM of the HET, not only do we understand this vehicle inside and out, but we also have a proven record of success delivering critical vehicle accessories and upgrades that our troops rely on. By combining our experience with the trailer expertise of our partner, Broshuis B.V., we were able to provide the U.S. Army with an efficient, durable semitrailer that can be relied upon to ensure heavy equipment arrives in mission-ready condition».
The U.S. Army’s selection comes after two prototypes successfully completed a 3-month test and evaluation phase at Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. The semitrailers were evaluated on their payload capacity, transportability, loading and unloading efficiency of operational and disabled vehicles, and overall logistics capability.
«We are proud that the U.S. Army has trusted us to produce the HET ONS semitrailer, and we look forward to getting these fielded with our Soldiers in Europe», Williams continued.
About the Semitrailer
(8) hydraulically controlled power steered independent PL2 pendular axles
Compensating hydraulic gooseneck for optimal weight distribution
Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) provides independent power
Provides storage for tractor and trailer Basic Issue Items (BII) and spare tires
Digital technology marked the exact location where Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) landed the island onto the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) during a ceremony on May 29, 2019, at the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division. The event coincided with the birthday of the ship’s namesake, former President John F. Kennedy.
«Landing the island is a key milestone in preparing the ship for launch in the fall», said Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding. «Reaching this milestone on schedule demonstrates the significant lessons learned we are applying to this ship’s construction, as well as the strides we’ve made to use new technologies to gain efficiencies».
The 588-ton island, which will serve as the command-and-control center for flight deck operations, is one of the last steel structures, known as a superlift, to be placed onto the ship, signifying that Kennedy is one step closer to being launched.
The ship is being built in sections with more outfitted equipment – valves, pipe, electrical panels, mounting studs, lighting, ventilation and other components – than any other aircraft carrier built at Newport News. The use of new technologies, including digital work instructions that provide shipbuilders digital 3-D data versus traditional paper drawings, has increased efficiency and productivity.
With the island, Kennedy is more than 90% structurally complete. The island stands 72 feet/22 m above the flight deck and is 56 feet/17 m long and 33 feet/10 m wide.
In keeping with the Navy tradition, Capt. Todd Marzano, the ship’s prospective commanding officer, placed his aviator wings underneath the island during the ceremony. This custom, known as mast-stepping, recognizes an ancient maritime custom of placing a coin at the base of a mast of a ship under construction to bring good fortune.
«It’s an absolute honor and privilege to be selected as the first commanding officer of the new aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, and I’m truly humbled to be joining such an impressive team of highly talented shipbuilders who have worked so hard to make this historic event possible», Marzano said. «Landing the island on the flight deck is a significant construction milestone, bringing John F. Kennedy one very important step closer to being commissioned into the fleet, where its value to our nation cannot be overstated».
Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s daughter, serves as the ship’s sponsor. She could not participate in today’s event but shared a 1964 silver Kennedy half dollar that Marzano placed under the island house.
«The island landing is an important milestone in the life of this ship», Kennedy wrote in a letter. «I know how proud my father would be of the ship that will bear his name and the patriotism and dedication of all who sail in her».
Boykin placed a Newport News Shipbuilding president’s coin, which was designed to recognize dedication, service and leadership – three qualities that the ship and its crew will demonstrate when they set sail in our nation’s defense, she explained.
The other ceremony participants – James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition; Rear Admiral Roy J. Kelley, commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic; and Rear Admiral Brian Antonio, program executive officer for aircraft carriers – also placed coins.
A time capsule containing all of items placed under the island will be welded into the ship at a later time.
Kennedy is scheduled to move from the dry dock to an outfitting berth in the fourth quarter of 2019, three months ahead of schedule. The ship’s christening is planned for later this year.
More than 4,500 shipbuilders and 2,000 suppliers from across the country are supporting the construction of Kennedy.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Spacecraft Element (SCE) successfully completed its last environmental test, thermal vacuum testing, at Northrop Grumman Corporation in Redondo Beach.
Thermal vacuum testing exposes Webb’s SCE to the extreme hot and cold temperatures it will experience in space. To test these extreme temperature ranges, the chamber uses liquid nitrogen shrouds and heater panels to expose the SCE to cold temperatures as low as -300 degrees Fahrenheit/-184.4 degrees Celsius and hot temperatures as high as 220 degrees Fahrenheit/101.4 degrees Celsius. Real-time data collection via flight sensors on the SCE allow engineers to monitor Webb’s electrical/unit functionality and ensures the structure will withstand the rigors of its cold journey to and operation at the second Lagrange point.
«The world’s largest space telescope has to perform in extreme temperatures», said Scott Willoughby, vice president and program manager, James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman. «Successful completion of thermal vacuum testing ensures the SCE can endure the volatile conditions it will face and further validates Webb’s readiness for launch».
Webb’s SCE completed its two prior environmental tests (acoustic and sine vibration). After thermal vacuum testing, the SCE will return to Northrop Grumman’s clean room to begin post-environmental testing, including deployments. Later this year, the Webb telescope will become a fully integrated observatory for the first time through integration of the SCE to the Optical Telescope Element/Integrated Science Instrument Module.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world’s premier space science observatory of the next decade. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and the origins of our universe. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
Northrop Grumman Corporation successfully conducted a full-scale static fire test of the first stage of its new OmegA rocket on May 30, 2019, in Promontory, Utah. This milestone keeps OmegA on track to perform its first launch in 2021 and begin operational launches of national security payloads in 2022.
«The OmegA rocket is a top priority and our team is committed to provide the U.S. Air Force with assured access to space for our nation’s most critical payloads», said Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager, flight systems, Northrop Grumman. «We committed to test the first stage of OmegA in spring 2019, and that’s exactly what we’ve done».
During today’s test, the first stage motor fired for approximately 122 seconds, producing more than two million pounds of maximum thrust – roughly the equivalent to that of eight-and-a-half jumbo jets. The test verified the performance of the motor’s ballistics, insulation and joints as well as control of the nozzle position.
Last October, the U.S. Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $792 million contract to complete detailed design and verification of OmegA and launch sites. Today’s test verified performance of the first stage solid rocket motor for the intermediate version of OmegA.
The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act specified that a domestic next-generation rocket propulsion system «shall be developed by not later than 2019». With today’s successful test fire, Northrop Grumman demonstrated the company is on track to meet this Congressionally-mandated schedule.
«Congratulations to the entire team on today’s successful test», said Kent Rominger, OmegA vice president, Northrop Grumman. «OmegA’s design using flight-proven hardware enables our team to meet our milestones and provide an affordable launch system that meets our customer’s requirements and timeline».
A full-scale static fire test of OmegA’s second stage is planned for this fall.
OmegA’s design leverages flight proven technologies from Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus, Minotaur and Antares rockets as well as the company’s interceptors, targets and strategic rockets. Northrop Grumman has conducted nearly 80 successful space launch missions and has decades of experience launching critical payloads for the U.S. Department of Defense, civil and commercial customers.
The company’s vehicle development team is working on the program in Arizona, Utah, Mississippi and Louisiana, with launch integration and operations planned at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The program will also support thousands of jobs across the country in its supply chain.
According to Reuters, Poland plans to buy 32 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighters to replace Soviet-era jets, Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Tuesday (May 28, 2019), amid the growing assertiveness of neighbour Russia.
«Today we sent a request for quotation (LOR) to our American partners regarding the purchase of 32 F-35A Lightning II aircraft along with a logistics and training package», Blaszczak tweeted.
The United States is expected to expand sales of F-35 Lightning II fighters to five nations including Poland as European allies bulk up their defenses in the face of a strengthening Russia, the Pentagon said last month.
Poland is among NATO member countries that spend at least 2% of GDP on defence. Warsaw agreed in 2017 to raise defence spending gradually from 2% to 2.5% of GDP, meaning annual spending should nearly double to about 80 billion zlotys ($21 billion) by 2032.
U.S. arms sales to foreign governments rose 13 percent to $192.3 billion in the year ended September 30, the U.S. State Department said in November. F-35A Lightning II fighters are estimated to cost $85 million each.
During a televised statement on Tuesday, Blaszczak also said Poland was making progress in convincing the United States to increase its military presence on Polish soil.
51.4 feet/15.7 m
14.4 feet/4.38 m
35 feet/10.7 m
460 feet2/42.7 m2
Horizontal tail span
22.5 feet/6.86 m
29,300 lbs/13,290 kg
Internal fuel capacity
18,250 lbs/8,278 kg
18,000 lbs/8,160 kg
70,000 lbs class/31,751 kg
Standard internal weapons load
Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles
Two 2,000-pound/907 kg GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs
The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has announced that the launch of the Joint Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger; HIL) programme has been brought forward to 2021. The HIL programme, for which the Airbus Helicopters’ H160 was selected in 2017, was initially scheduled for launch in 2022 by the current military budget law. Launching the programme earlier will enable delivery of the first H160Ms to the French Armed Forces to be advanced to 2026.
During a visit to the Airbus Helicopters headquarters, the Minister also revealed the full-scale mock-up of the H160M that will be presented on the Ministry of the Armed Forces stand at the next Paris Air Show. The helicopter was also given its official name and will be designated as «Guépard» («Cheetah») by the French Armed Forces.
The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force through the HIL programme.
«We are proud that the HIL is considered a strategic programme. I would like to thank the Ministry, the French Defence Procurement Agency DGA and the armed forces for their trust and for the close collaboration which helped create the conditions for the programme to be brought forward within the framework of the current military budget law. This will make it possible to speed up the replacement of the older generation of aircraft, while optimising the support and availability of the French State’s helicopter fleet», said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. «Our teams are committed to delivering an aircraft in 2026 that meets the needs of the French armed forces in terms of availability, performance and capability, thus enabling it to rapidly become the new benchmark on the world’s medium-lift military helicopter market».
Built around a platform that will enter service next year, the HIL programme will benefit from many of the advantages inherent in the civil H160, particularly in terms of support, with simplified maintenance and lower operating costs than the previous generation of helicopters in this category.