Category Archives: Air Force

First Indian AEW&C

The first indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) in IOC configuration shall be handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF), on 14th February during Aero India 2017 at Yelahanka Air base in Bengaluru. This was announced by Chairman Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Secretary Department of Defence (R&D), Doctor S. Christopher while addressing the media in Bengaluru today, during the curtain raiser on DRDO’s participation in Aero India-2017.

First Indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) in IOC Configuration to be Handed over to IAF During Aero India 2017
First Indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) in IOC Configuration to be Handed over to IAF During Aero India 2017

The Airborne Surveillance System is a game changer in air warfare. The AEW&C System is a system of systems populated with state-of-the art Active Electronically Scanned Radar, Secondary Surveillance Radar, Electronic and Communication Counter Measures, LOS (Line of Sight) and beyond LOS data link, voice communication system and self-protection suite, built on an Embraer EMB-145 platform, having an air to air refueling capability to enhance surveillance time. A Complex tactical software has been developed for fusion of information from the sensors, to provide the air situation picture along with intelligence to handle identification/classification threat assessment. Battle management functions are built in house to work as a network centric system of Integrated Air Command & Control System (IACCS) node.

This system has been developed and evaluated through collaborative efforts between DRDO and the IAF, with coordination for certification clearance and quality assurance by Center for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) and Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA). The AEW&C system has undergone all weather and environmental trials and has been accepted by the IAF for induction.

The primary mission of an AEW platform is to detect, track and identify targets in its patrol area and forward these data so as to give friendly forces an accurate and comprehensive operational picture. The Embraer EMB-145 AEW&C performs these tasks with excellent results. With an instrumented range of 280 miles/450 km, the AEW radar will detect and track targets long before they may become a threat. The Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogator, associated with supporting C2 databases, provides fast and reliable target identification. Finally, the advanced data-links allow all these vital data to be disseminated in a timely manner throughout the battle space to all units that need them. In the end, decision makers have the information they need at the time they need it.

 

External dimensions

Wingspan 68 feet 11 in/21 m
Length 98 feet/29.87 m
Height 22 feet 2 in/6.75 m
Horizontal tail span 24 feet 9 in/7.55 m

 

Block 8.1 upgrades

Airmen conducted a training flight using the first C-130J Super Hercules with a Block 8.1 upgrade at Little Rock Air Force Base (AFB) February 3, 2017.

Captain Kyle Gauthier, a 61st Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules pilot and the flight commander, conducts a preflight checklist for a training sortie flight February 3, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. During the flight, aircrews tested the operability of recent hardware and software upgrades (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)
Captain Kyle Gauthier, a 61st Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules pilot and the flight commander, conducts a preflight checklist for a training sortie flight February 3, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. During the flight, aircrews tested the operability of recent hardware and software upgrades (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

The Block 8.1 upgrade enhances GPS capabilities, communications systems, updated friend-or-foe identification and allows the C-130J Super Hercules to comply with worldwide air traffic management regulations. Additionally, the upgrade program will standardize aviation systems to improve interoperability.

«This update will truly allow us to have unhindered global access», said Captain Kyle Gauthier, a 61st Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules instructor pilot and the flight commander. «It will also provide pilots improved situational awareness, and a greater ability to communicate with command and control around the world».

Over the next two years Airmen from the 19th and 314th Airlift Wings will team together to test the only two Block 8.1 upgraded C-130J’s in the world at Little Rock AFB. Loadmasters, pilots and maintainers will work with Lockheed Martin to report any bugs or potential issues.

«We have put thousands of maintenance hours into this plane since it arrived», said Master Sergeant Brian Johnson, the 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent. «We’re excited to see it finally up in the air».

Gauthier said, «Flying with such a new system can be difficult, but it is exciting to know you’re shaping the future of C-130J operations worldwide».

 

C-130J Super Hercules

Power Plant Four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprops; 4,691 horsepower/3,498 kW
Length 97 feet, 9 inch/29.3 m
Height 38 feet, 10 inch/11. 9 m
Wingspan 132 feet, 7 inch/39.7 m
Cargo Compartment Length – 40 feet/12.31 m; width – 119 inch/3.12 m; height – 9 feet/2.74 m
Rear ramp Length – 123 inch/3.12 m; width – 119 inch/3.02 m
Speed 362 knots/Mach 0.59/417 mph/671 km/h at 22,000 feet/6,706 m
Ceiling 28,000 feet/8,615 m with 42,000 lbs/19,090 kg payload
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 155,000 lbs/69,750 kg
Maximum Allowable Payload 42,000 lbs/19,090 kg
Maximum Normal Payload 34,000 lbs/15,422 kg
Range at Maximum Normal Payload 1,800 NM/2,071 miles/3,333 km
Range with 35,000 lbs/15,876 kg of Payload 1,600 NM/1,841 miles/2,963 km
Maximum Load 6 pallets or 74 litters or 16 CDS bundles or 92 combat troops or 64 paratroopers, or a combination of any of these up to the cargo compartment capacity or maximum allowable weight
Crew Three (two pilots and loadmaster)

 

Inlet Coating Repair

Lockheed Martin Corp. completed the first F-22 Raptor at the company’s Inlet Coating Repair (ICR) Speedline facility and delivered the aircraft back to the U.S. Air Force ahead of schedule.

Technicians inspect an F-22 Raptor at the F-22 Speedline in Marietta, Georgia (Lockheed Martin photo by Andrew McMurtrie)
Technicians inspect an F-22 Raptor at the F-22 Speedline in Marietta, Georgia (Lockheed Martin photo by Andrew McMurtrie)

The U.S. Air Force contracted Lockheed Martin to establish the Speedline in Marietta, Georgia, in August 2016 and the first F-22 Raptor arrived there in early November 2016. A second aircraft arrived in early December 2016 and a third in late January 2017. Lockheed Martin is on contract to perform this work on a total of 12 aircraft and a follow-on contract is anticipated. Additionally, Lockheed Martin is providing modification support services, analytical condition inspections, radar cross section turntable support and antenna calibration.

Periodic maintenance is required to maintain the special exterior coatings that contribute to the 5th Generation Raptor’s Very Low Observable (VLO) radar cross-section. The increase in F-22 Raptor deployments, including ongoing operational combat missions, has increased the demand for ICR.

«The inlet coatings work, coupled with future improved Low Observable materials and repair improvements, is a critical part of increasing the 325th Fighter Wing’s repair capacity and combat readiness», said Lieutenant Colonel Argie Moore, deputy commander of the 325th Maintenance Group.

Lockheed Martin provides sustainment services to the F-22 Raptor fleet through a U.S. Air Force-awarded Performance Based Logistics contract and a comprehensive weapons management program called Follow-on Agile Sustainment for the Raptor (FASTeR). As the original equipment manufacturer and support integrator for the F-22 Raptor, Lockheed Martin works closely with the U.S. Air Force to integrate a total life-cycle systems management process to ensure the Raptor fleet is ready to perform its mission.

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor depot work is part of a public-private partnership agreement between the Air Force and Lockheed Martin that has been in place for nearly a decade.

 

About the F-22 Raptor

The F-22 Raptor defines air dominance. The 5th Generation F-22’s unique combination of stealth, speed, agility, and situational awareness, combined with lethal long-range air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry, makes it the best air dominance fighter in the world.

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Air dominance, multi-role fighter
Contractor Lockheed-Martin, Boeing
Crew 1
Length 62 feet/18.90 m
Height 16.7 feet/5.09 m
Wingspan 44.5 feet/13.56 m
Wing area 840 feet2/78.04 m2
Horizontal tail span 29 feet/8.84 m
Weight empty 43,340 lbs/19,700 kg
Maximum take-off weight 83,500 lbs/38,000 kg
Internal fuel 18,000 lbs/8,200 kg
Fuel Capacity with 2 external wing tanks 26,000 lbs/11,900 kg
Speed Mach 2 class
Ceiling >50,000 feet/15,000 m
Range* >1,600 NM/2,963 km
Power plant Two F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles
Armament One M61A2 20-mm cannon with 480 rounds, internal side weapon bays carriage of 2 AIM-9 infrared (heat seeking) air-to-air missiles and internal main weapon bays carriage of 6 AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-air loadout) or two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and two AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-ground loadout)
Unit Cost $143 million
Initial operating capability December 2005
Inventory Total force, 183

* With 2 external wing tanks

 

Tanker Production Lot

The U.S. Air Force today awarded Boeing $2.1 billion for 15 KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft, spare engines and wing air refueling pod kits. This order is the third low-rate initial production lot for Boeing. The first two came in August 2016 and included seven and 12 planes, respectively, as well as spare parts.

The KC-46A Pegasus is a multirole tanker that can refuel allied and coalition military aircraft and also carry passengers, cargo and patients (Boeing photo)
The KC-46A Pegasus is a multirole tanker that can refuel allied and coalition military aircraft and also carry passengers, cargo and patients (Boeing photo)

Boeing plans to build 179 of the 767-based refueling aircraft for the U.S. Air Force to replace its legacy tanker fleet. Tanker deliveries will begin later this year.

«This award is great news for the joint Boeing-Air Force team and reinforces the need for this highly efficient and capable tanker aircraft», said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker vice president and program manager. «Our Boeing industry team is hard at work building and testing KC-46 Pegasus aircraft, and we look forward to first delivery».

«Placing an order for another 15 aircraft is another important milestone for the KC-46 Pegasus program», said Colonel John Newberry, U.S. Air Force KC-46 Pegasus System program manager. «I know the warfighter is excited about bringing this next generation capability into the inventory».

Boeing received an initial contract in 2011 to design and develop the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft. As part of that contract, Boeing built four test aircraft – two configured as 767-2Cs and two as KC-46A Pegasus tankers. Those test aircraft, along with the first production plane, have completed nearly 1,500 flight hours to date.

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

Boeing is assembling KC-46 Pegasus aircraft at its Everett, Washington, facility.

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Aerial refueling and airlift
Prime Contractor The Boeing Company
Power Plant 2 × Pratt & Whitney 4062
Thrust 62,000 lbs/275.790 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

 

SBIRS GEO Flight

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 3 satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 January 20 at 7:42 p.m. ET. SBIRS GEO Flight 3 is considered one of the nation’s highest priority space programs.

An Atlas V rocket lifts off carrying the Air Force's third Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite
An Atlas V rocket lifts off carrying the Air Force’s third Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite

«ULA is proud to deliver this critical satellite which will improve surveillance capabilities for our national decision makers», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. «I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year».

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter diameter Large Payload Fairing (LPF). The Atlas V booster propulsion for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C engine.

«The Atlas V 401 configuration has become the workhorse of the Atlas V fleet, delivering half of all Atlas V missions to date», said Maginnis. «ULA understands that even with the most reliable launch vehicles, our sustained mission success is only made possible with seamless integration between our customer and our world class ULA team».

The Space Based Infrared System is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st century demands in four national security mission areas: missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness.

This is ULA’s first launch of 11 planned launches in 2017 and the 116th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006. ULA’s next East Coast launch is the Delta IV WGS-9 satellite for the U.S. Air Force. The launch is scheduled for March 8 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 115 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, and enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

Atlas V SBIRS GEO Flight 3 Launch Highlights

 

Space Based Infrared System

Missile Warning:

Reliable, unambiguous, timely and accurate warning for theater and strategic missile launches.

Missile Defense:

Delivery of critical information supporting the effective operation of missile defense systems.

Technical Intelligence:

Ability to characterize infrared (IR) event signatures, phenomenology and threat performance data.

Battlespace Awareness:

Delivery of comprehensive IR data to help characterize battlespace conditions.

An Atlas V rocket stands ready to launch the Air Force's third SBIRS satellite
An Atlas V rocket stands ready to launch the Air Force’s third SBIRS satellite

 

Atlas V 401

Payload Fairing (PLF):

The SBIRS satellite is encapsulated in the 14-foot/4-meter diameter large payload fairing (LPF). The LPF is a bisector (two-piece shell) fairing consisting of aluminum skin/stringer construction with vertical split-line longerons. The vehicle’s height with the LPF is approximately 194 feet/59 meters.

Centaur:

The Centaur second stage is 10 feet/3 m in diameter and 41.5 feet/12.65 m long. Its propellant tanks are constructed of pressure-stabilized, corrosion resistant stainless steel. Centaur is a liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen-(cryogenic-) fueled vehicle. It uses a single RL10C-1 engine producing 22,900 lbs/10,387 kg of thrust. The cryogenic tanks are insulated with a combination of helium-purged insulation blankets, radiation shields, and Spray-On Foam Insulation (SOFI). The Centaur Forward Adapter (CFA) provides the structural mountings for the fault-tolerant avionics system and the structural and electronic interfaces with the spacecraft.

Booster:

The Atlas V booster is 12.5 feet/3.8 m in diameter and 106.5 feet/32.46 m long. The booster’s tanks are structurally stable and constructed of isogrid aluminum barrels, spun-formed aluminum domes and intertank skirts. Atlas booster propulsion is provided by the RD-180 engine system (a single engine with two thrust chambers). The RD-180 burns RP-1 (Rocket Propellant-1 or highly purified kerosene) and liquid oxygen, and delivers 860,200 lbs/390,180 kg of thrust at sea level. The Atlas V booster is controlled by the Centaur avionics system which provides guidance, flight control and vehicle sequencing functions during the booster and Centaur phases of flight.

The third Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite, encapsulated inside a 4-meter payload fairing, is mated to an Atlas V rocket inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex-41
The third Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite, encapsulated inside a 4-meter payload fairing, is mated to an Atlas V rocket inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex-41

An initial batch of
Aermacchi M-345

Leonardo has signed, with the Italian National Armaments Directorate of the Italian Defence Ministry, two contracts for an initial batch of five Aermacchi M-345 trainer aircraft and for the first phase of development and delivery programme of the new exploration and escort helicopter (NEES) for the Italian Army. The combined value of the contracts is in excess of 500 million euro/530 million dollars.

M-345 Highly Efficient Trainer
M-345 Highly Efficient Trainer

Mauro Moretti, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of Leonardo, said: «The signing of these two contracts is the result of constructive discussions between the Italian Government and industry, which helped identify the requirements and the best technological answers. Thanks to this joint understanding, we’ll be able to deliver advanced solutions to our national customer by optimizing available financial resources and developing new technologies, skills and industrial processes in our country».

The Italian Air Force has a total requirement for around 45 M-345s (designated as T-345 by the Italian Armed Forces) to progressively replace the 137 in-service MB-339 aircraft which entered into operation in 1982. The new aircraft will work alongside the fleet of 18 twin-engine Aermacchi M-346s already ordered and currently used by the Italian Air Force for the advanced phase of pilot training. Together, the two aircraft types will form the world’s most advanced training system for military pilots. The M-345, thanks to its high performance and advanced ground-based training systems, will provide the Italian Air Force with a significant boost in the effectiveness of training, improved efficiency and a reduction in operational costs. The first delivery is expected by 2019.

The multiyear contract for the new exploration and escort helicopter (NEES) of the Italian Army envisages the study, development, industrialization, production and testing of a prototype and three initial production aircraft. Through this new programme, based on a total requirement for 48 units, the Italian Army will be able to replace the current fleet of AW129 which are expected to be retired from service by 2025 following over 35 years in operations. The NEES programme will benefit from the long operational expertise gained by the Italian Army thanks to the AW129 and from the know-how of Leonardo in this specific helicopter sector. It will allow the service to introduce an even more technologically advanced product, with greater performance and lower operating costs, to meet arising needs in evolving scenarios for the next 30 years.

 

M-345HET

DIMENSION
Wing span 27.78 feet/8.47 m
Length 32.32 feet/9.85 m
Height 12.27 feet/3.74 m
Wing area 135.6 feet2/12.6 m2
WEIGHTS
Take-off (Trainer) 7,275 lbs/3,300 kg
Take-off (Maximum) 9,920 lbs/4,500 kg
POWER PLANT
Engine, turbofan Williams FJ44-4M-34
Maximum Thrust 3,400 lbs/1,540 kg
Internal fuel 1,545 lbs/700 kg
PERFORMANCE (CLEAN, ISA)
Max level speed (SL/20,000 feet/6,096 m) 380/420 KTAS/437/483 mph/704/778 km/h
Limited Speed 400 KEAS/460 mph/741 km/h (0.8 MN)
Stall speed (landing, 20% fuel) 88 KCSA/101 mph/163 km/h
Rate of climb (SL) 5,200 feet/min/1,585 m/min
Service ceiling 40,000 feet/12,192 m
Take-off/Landing ground run (SL) 1,720 feet/520 m
Ferry range 760 NM/876 miles/1,410 km
Ferry range (clean/2 ext. thanks – 10% reserve) 1,000 NM/1,150 miles/1,850 km

Atmospheric lens

Within the next fifty years, scientists at BAE Systems believe that battlefield commanders could deploy a new type of directed energy laser and lens system, called a Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens which is capable of enhancing commanders’ ability to observe adversaries’ activities over much greater distances than existing sensors.

Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens (LDAL)
Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens (LDAL)

At the same time, the lens could be used as a form of «deflector shield» to protect friendly aircraft, ships, land vehicles and troops from incoming attacks by high power laser weapons that could also become a reality in the same time period.

The Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens (LDAL) concept, developed by technologists at the Company’s military aircraft facility in Warton, Lancashire, has been evaluated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and specialist optical sensors company LumOptica and is based on known science. It works by simulating naturally occurring phenomena and temporarily – and reversibly – changes the Earth’s atmosphere into lens-like structures to magnify or change the path of electromagnetic waves such as light and radio signals.

LDAL is a complex and innovative concept that copies two existing effects in nature; the reflective properties of the ionosphere and desert mirages. The ionosphere occurs at a very high altitude and is a naturally occurring layer of the Earth’s atmosphere which can be reflective to radio waves – for example it results in listeners being able to tune in to radio stations that are many thousands of miles away. The radio signals bounce off the ionosphere allowing them to travel very long distances through the air and over the Earth’s surface. The desert mirage provides the illusion of a distant lake in the hot desert. This is because the light from the blue sky is ‘bent’ or refracted by the hot air near the surface and into the vision of the person looking into the distance.

LDAL simulates both of these effects by using a high pulsed power laser system and exploiting a physics phenomena called the «Kerr Effect» to temporarily ionise or heat a small region of atmosphere in a structured way. Mirrors, glass lenses, and structures like Fresnel zone plates could all be replicated using the atmosphere, allowing the physics of refraction, reflection, and diffraction to be exploited.

«Working with some of the best scientific minds in the UK, we’re able to incorporate emerging and disruptive technologies and evolve the landscape of potential military technologies in ways that, five or ten years ago, many would never have dreamed possible», said Professor Nick Colosimo, BAE Systems’ Futurist and Technologist.

Professor Bryan Edwards, Leader of STFC’s Defence, Security and Resilience Futures Programme said of the work: «For this evaluation project, STFC’s Central Laser Facility team worked closely with colleagues at BAE Systems and by harnessing our collective expertise and capabilities we have been able to identify new ways in which cutting edge technology, and our understanding of fundamental physical processes and phenomena, has the potential to contribute to enhancing the safety and security of the UK».

Craig Stacey, CEO at LumOptica added: «This is a tremendously exciting time in laser physics. Emerging technologies will allow us to enter new scientific territories and explore ever new applications. We are delighted to be working with BAE Systems on the application of such game-changing technologies, evaluating concepts which are approaching the limits of what is physically possible and what might be achieved in the future».

BAE Systems has developed some of the world’s most innovative technologies and invests in research and development to generate future products and capabilities. The Company has a portfolio of patents and patent applications covering approximately 2000 inventions internationally. Earlier this year, the Company unveiled two other futuristic technology concepts, including envisaging that small Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) bespoke to specific military operations, could be ‘grown’ in large-scale labs through chemistry and that armed forces of the future could be using rapid response aircraft equipped with engines capable of propelling those aircraft to hypersonic speeds to meet rapidly emerging threats.

Atmospheric lens could revolutionize the future of battlefield observation

Micro-drone swarms

In one of the most significant tests of autonomous systems under development by the Department of Defense (DoD), the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), partnering with Naval Air Systems Command, successfully demonstrated one of the world’s largest micro-drone swarms at China Lake, California. The test, conducted in October 2016 and documented on Sunday’s CBS News program «60 Minutes», consisted of 103 Perdix drones launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornets. The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing.

Perdix was developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory in 2013 based on an initial design from MIT’s AeroAstro Department
Perdix was developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory in 2013 based on an initial design from MIT’s AeroAstro Department

«I congratulate the Strategic Capabilities Office for this successful demonstration», said Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who created SCO in 2012. «This is the kind of cutting-edge innovation that will keep us a step ahead of our adversaries. This demonstration will advance our development of autonomous systems».

«Due to the complex nature of combat, Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature», said SCO Director William Roper. «Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team».

The demonstration is one of the first examples of the Pentagon using teams of small, inexpensive, autonomous systems to perform missions once achieved only by large, expensive ones. Roper stressed the department’s conception of the future battle network is one where humans will always be in the loop. Machines and the autonomous systems being developed by the DoD, such as the micro-drones, will empower humans to make better decisions faster.

Originally designed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering students, the Perdix drone was modified for military use by the scientists and engineers of MIT Lincoln Laboratory starting in 2013. Drawing inspiration from the commercial smartphone industry, Perdix software and hardware has been continually updated in successive design generations. Now in its sixth generation, October’s test confirmed the reliability of the current all-commercial-component design under potential deployment conditions – speeds of Mach 0.6, temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius, and large shocks – encountered during ejection from fighter flare dispensers.

The «60 Minutes» segment also featured other new technology from across the Department of Defense such as the U.S. Navy’s unmanned ocean-going vessel, the Sea Hunter, and the Marine Corps’ Unmanned Tactical Control and Collaboration program.

As SCO works with the military Services to transition Perdix into existing programs of record, it is also partnering with the Defense Industrial Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, to find companies capable of accurately replicating Perdix using the MIT Lincoln Laboratory design. Its goal is to produce Perdix at scale in batches of up to 1,000.

 

DETAILS

Propellers 2.6 inches/66 mm
Body 6.5 inches/165 mm
Wing span 11.8 inches/300 mm
Weight 10 oz/290 g
Endurance >20 min
Air speed >40‐60 knots/46-69 mph/74-111 km/h

 

DoD Announces Successful Perdix Micro-Drone Demonstration

 

French Spy’Ranger

Thales’s latest-generation Spy’Ranger mini surveillance and reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has been chosen by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to equip the French forces. Up to 70 mini-UAV reconnaissance systems (SMDR) will be made available from 2018. Each system consists of three mini-UAVs, a ground segment and the associated technical support.

Spy’Ranger is a latest-generation mini-UAS with the only EO/IR imaging system in the world capable of transmitting high-definition electro-optical and infrared imagery in real time
Spy’Ranger is a latest-generation mini-UAS with the only EO/IR imaging system in the world capable of transmitting high-definition electro-optical and infrared imagery in real time

Key Points:

  • Starting in 2018, Thales will provide French forces up to 210 mini reconnaissance UAVs;
  • The Spy’Ranger is the new «eye in the sky» for the combined arms tactical group, able to be operated in a standalone mode or connected to a Command, Control, Computers, Communications and Intelligence (C4I) system;
  • The Spy’Ranger is specifically tailored to the needs of the armed forces, as well as to those of essential operators.

The Armed forces require real-time access to ever more reliable imagery. Spy’Ranger will provide them with a decisive tactical advantage by offering the capacity to observe day or night, for long periods of time and at a distance of up to 30 km. Spy’Ranger is used in particular to carry out the following missions: provide support to a combined arms tactical group maneuver or to an offensive reconnaissance mission; provide a cover mechanism, support the neutralization of strong points and contribute to firing maneuvers by providing a «remote airborne eye» able to adjust shooting rounds on a target.

Developed by Thales in cooperation with French SMEs Aviation Design and Merio in under 13 months, Spy’Ranger will offer French Forces a number of innovations that provide real capability gains. Spy’Ranger will therefore markedly contribute to the gathering of frontline intelligence and to the protection of forces in operation.

Designed to operate in extreme, non-permissive environments, this new-generation system gathers and transmits accurate, operational beyond-line-of-sight image intelligence for joint battlegroup and brigade-level units
Designed to operate in extreme, non-permissive environments, this new-generation system gathers and transmits accurate, operational beyond-line-of-sight image intelligence for joint battlegroup and brigade-level units

The Spy’Ranger, developed by Thales in collaboration with several French SMEs, is a mini-UAV designed and manufactured in France. Spy’Ranger packs state-of-the-art technologies that provide much better performance:

  • Transportable in a backpack, Spy’Ranger can perform observation missions over a period of 2 hours 30 minutes, covering a range of 18.64 miles/30 km: a much larger surveillance area than those covered by systems currently in service;
  • Its gyrostabilized multi-sensor optronic payload has the highest resolution in the world for this range of platform, facilitating the positive identification of zones or objects over which it has flown;
  • Its tactical data link, protected to the highest standard, offers high speeds allowing the transmission of a high-definition image streams;
  • Its command and control software (C2) provides an effective user interface;
  • A mobile and digital support management system, based on Thales’s Smartfleet solution, that enables efficient execution and piloting of the Through Life Support’s.

Fully adapted to frontline air-land intelligence missions in battlefields in hostile environments (climate, electromagnetic, physical, etc.), the Spy’Ranger has been designed to optimize life cycle costs.

Thales Spy’Ranger: Mini-UAV system for reconnaissance roles

Pilatus for French AF

Pilatus Aircraft Ltd is delighted to announce the signing of three PC-21 fleet orders by end of December 2016, for a total of 21 PC-21s, of which 17 are for the French Air Force and two each for the Royal Jordanian Air Force and QinetiQ, a British company which operates the «Empire Test Pilots’ School». Together, these orders are worth over 300 million Swiss francs and will help to ensure jobs at Stans.

The PC-21 far surpasses all other turboprop trainers in terms of aerodynamic performance, cockpit equipment, flexibility and ease of maintenance
The PC-21 far surpasses all other turboprop trainers in terms of aerodynamic performance, cockpit equipment, flexibility and ease of maintenance

French Air Force

The French Air Force (Armée de l’air française), one of the world’s most prestigious air forces, has opted for the 21st century training system: the 17 PC-21s will be used to train future military pilots who will transfer to the Alpha Jet prior to their conversion on to the Dassault Rafale, a multi-purpose 5th generation fighter aircraft.

The contract signed on the 30th December 2016 by the French Air Force is with Babcock Mission Critical Services France (BMCSF), with Pilatus as a sub-contractor, in which role our PC-21 and other ground-based training material will contribute to completion of the overall contract.

In addition to the Swiss Air Force, France is now the second European nation to opt for the PC-21 as part of the world’s most advanced, most efficient integrated training system.

 

QinetiQ UK

Under the contract concluded with QinetiQ, a British company, Pilatus will provide two PC-21s to the «Empire Test Pilots’ School» (ETPS) based in Wiltshire, in the south of England. Operated by QinetiQ, ETPS functions as a training center for flight test engineers and test pilots, and enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide. The PC-21s with their modified flight instruments will be used to train test pilots and flight test engineers for customers from the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

 

Royal Jordanian Air Force

The Royal Jordanian Air Force, having placed an initial order for the PC-9 M in August 2015, re-evaluated their requirement in early 2016 due to previously unforeseen issues with their Lead in Fighter Trainer (LIFT) platform. The procurement decision was revised following a modification of the training concept, introducing the PC-21 all-through training model – currently the most advanced training system available anywhere on the market. The contract amendment was initially for eight aircraft but with an option for additional units, if required. The option was now executed for two more PC-21s’, with a total of ten PC-21s’ now providing the backbone of the nation’s future pilot training regime. The first deliveries will be undertaken mid-2017.

The use of state-of-the-art technologies increases both the efficiency and quality of training
The use of state-of-the-art technologies increases both the efficiency and quality of training

Oscar J. Schwenk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pilatus, comments on the contracts as follows: «I am delighted we have finally won another European air force for our PC-21. An exceptionally rigorous selection process based on the strictest of criteria provides further proof that the PC-21 is the first choice worldwide for training military pilots. I am proud that our best-selling PC-21 is now destined to fly for ‘la Grande Nation’. France is already the 8th air force to choose the PC-21: these orders included, we will soon have a total of 209 PC-21s flying successfully from bases around the world. I’m confident that other European air forces will follow France’s example»!

Markus Bucher, CEO of Pilatus, adds: «Pilatus is pleased to be part of the programme of modernisation at QinetiQ Test Aircrew Training. Our PC-21 will provide a training platform for the next generation of test pilots worldwide. That a global leader in the test flight sector decides to replace ageing Hawks and Alpha Jets with the PC-21 is a tribute to our product’s performance and flexibility».

Pilatus feels obligated, and will endeavour, to provide our PC-21 customers with the Swiss quality and outstanding customer service which they deserve, delivering them with the world’s most up-to-date pilot training system – the Pilatus PC-21.

Training hours flown in expensive jets can now be done entirely in the PC-21, which saves a substantial amount of life-cycle cost
Training hours flown in expensive jets can now be done entirely in the PC-21, which saves a substantial amount of life-cycle cost

 

Aircraft Data

PERFORMANCE
Take-off distance over 50 feet/15 m obstacle at sea level 2,618 feet/789 m
Landing distance over 50 feet/15 m obstacle at sea level 3,383 feet/1,031 m
Maximum rate of climb, sea level 4,091 feet/min/20.78 m/sec
Maximum operating speed (Velocity, Maximum Operating – VMO) 370 knots equivalent airspeed (KEAS)/426 mph/685 km/h
Maximum horizontal speed (Horizontal Velocity – VH) at sea level 323 knots true airspeed (KTAS)/372 mph/598 km/h
Max. horizontal speed (VH) at 10,000 feet/3,048 m 337 KTAS/388 mph/624 km/h
Stall speed
– flaps and gear up (Vs) 92 knots calibrated airspeed (KCAS)/106 mph/170 km/h
– flaps and gear down (VSO) 81 KCAS/93 mph/150 km/h
G loads
– Maximum positive 8.0 g (aerobatic category); 5.0 g (utility category)
– Maximum negative -4.0 g (aerobatic category); -2.5 g (utility category)
Maximum range 720 NM/828 miles/1,333 km
WEIGHTS
Basic empty weight (typical, dep. on configuration) 5,026 lbs/2,280 kg
Maximum take-off weight, acrobatic category 6,834 lbs/3,100 kg
DIMENSIONS & GEOMETRY
Fuselage length 36 feet 11 inches/11.233 m
Wing span 29 feet 11 inches/9.108 m
Other PC-21 attributes include significantly lower fuel consumption and noise emissions
Other PC-21 attributes include significantly lower fuel consumption and noise emissions