Category Archives: Air Force

Wind Tunnel 9

Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 in White Oak, Maryland, is on the verge of delivering an unprecedented capability.

Rob Hale, engineering technician, left, Parth Kathrotiya, system engineer, center, and Zack Russo, engineering technician, pose with the Mach 18 nozzle at AEDC Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 in White Oak, Maryland. The team at Tunnel 9 recently completed an initial shakeout of the Mach 18 system, and the calibration to bring Mach 18 to full operating capability is set to occur later this year (U.S. Air Force photo by A.J. Spicer)

In late April, the team at Tunnel 9 completed an initial shakeout of the Mach 18 system and, later this year, facility engineers are set to begin a full calibration on Mach 18. If successful, this would allow for testing at Mach Numbers never before realized in an AEDC facility.

«For years, important programs have asked for a validated capability in this Mach range to reduce risk in vehicle designs», said Tunnel 9 Site Director Dan Marren. «With this accomplishment, the team has added something new to the fight and quite possibly cemented continued battlespace dominance by the USA».


Early Research

Researchers have been working for decades to achieve a higher Mach capability, and the desire to attain such Mach Numbers dates back to the inception of Tunnel 9.

Tunnel 9, which became operational in 1976, was originally conceptualized to achieve Mach Numbers of 10, 15 and 20.

Initially, Tunnel 9 was only able to deploy Mach 10 and Mach 14 capabilities. It would be some time before the significant leaps in technology needed to eclipse Mach 14 would come around due to a lack of understanding of the physics required to operate at that level.

During the late 1980s and into the 1990s, the National Aerospace Plane Program was seeking data above Mach 14 and, believing the technology was ready, provided some funding to Tunnel 9 to develop Mach 18.

However, the nozzle design methodology and the diagnostics that would be used to examine the physics of the flow were immature. The flow quality of the nozzle was deemed poor, and the design was scrapped.

Around 30 years ago, Marren and current Tunnel 9 Technical Director John Lafferty were beginning their careers at what was then known as Naval Surface Warfare Center Tunnel 9. The young engineers worked with Doctor Wayland Griffith from North Carolina State University, who was a visiting summer professor at Tunnel 9. The trio researched a phenomenon called supercooling, which they believed could be used to relax the need to have the facility heater operate up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit/2,760 degrees Celsius to achieve higher Mach Numbers.

Marren, Lafferty and Griffith found that the supercooling method worked, though they did not yet have access to the advanced diagnostics needed to verify the flow physics. Although their tests were not completely conclusive, the trio published their conclusions anyway. This data would later become the foundation of the Mach 18 capability, as researchers at NASA read the report and began their own research into the supercooling phenomenon.

As NASA continued to study that process, those at Tunnel 9 moved on to missile defense projects and other sub-Mach 20 priorities.

In the mid-2000’s, higher Mach Number hypersonics once again became a priority. The Office of the Secretary of Defense, or OSD, turned to AEDC to push the boundaries of hypersonic test capabilities.


Advancements in technology and equipment

Fortunately for those at AEDC, computer-based Modeling and Simulation and diagnostic technologies had greatly advanced in the more than two decades since the capability was first sought, and many of those at Tunnel 9 who had worked the original request for the National Aerospace Program were still employed at the facility. A team was assembled and a program was designed.

Initial risk reduction efforts began in 2014 and focused on the development of three state-of-the-art efforts: a new material for the nozzle, new laser diagnostics to verify the understanding of the flow physics, and a new nozzle contour based on that understanding. This three-year effort leveraged two Small Business Innovation Research programs and investment funds from AEDC to successfully achieve its goals.

Following this risk reduction effort, Lafferty convinced Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to construct the new capability for $6.5 million. With that, the team at Tunnel 9 set out in 2017 to achieve Mach 18 capability. Their goal was to accomplish this in three years.

Prior to Lafferty proposing the Mach 18 program to the OSD, Lafferty and Tunnel 9 Chief Facility Engineer Nick Fredrick had proposed a low-level technology effort, funded with an approximately $200,000 fallout from the AEDC budget, to investigate and demonstrate the feasibility of all the technologies required for Mach 18. The project received around $3 million in additional funding through the Small Business Innovation Research program. Half of this funding came from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Commercialization Readiness Program to investigate new throat materials, and the remaining $1.5 million was to be used to develop new advanced laser-based diagnostics to probe non-intrusively into the flowfield.

«Early in the Mach 18 nozzle design process, we at Tunnel 9 quickly realized that the existing technologies used in our facility would be inadequate to develop a Mach 18 capability with the flow quality that we required», Fredrick said. «The work with SBIR allowed us to bring the experts that would eventually work with us to achieve our goals. Their work was critical to the success of the Tunnel 9 Mach 18 capability».

In the years since Marren and Lafferty had first worked with Griffith, what Marren had referred to as «three miracles of science» had occurred. First, materials technology had progressed significantly. To accomplish testing at higher Mach Numbers, the team at Tunnel 9 needed a high-temperature nozzle throat material four times stronger than anything that had previously existed. That material, developed as part of this program, is now available.

The second «miracle» was advancements in diagnostics. Available non-intrusive laser diagnostics had become fast enough and with sufficient signal to noise to verify the understanding of the flow during supercooling. Two efforts converged to provide this understanding. First, Jeff Balla, a researcher at NASA Langley, had completed the research started by Lafferty and Marren more than two decades prior using modern tools and diagnostics. Balla delivered that information to Tunnel 9 personnel that verified the flow density. Second, an SBIR with PlasmaTec was completed that allowed measurements of the flow velocity and temperature. The data from all three of these measurements verified the understanding of the flow physics including its required chemical makeup.

«The recent development of ultra-short pulse-width laser systems has made low-density velocity and temperature measurements possible», said Michael Smith, Tunnel 9 advanced diagnostician and physicist. «These diagnostics provide the verification that the Mach 18 facility is truly providing the flow quality for which it was designed».

The third miracle was the advancement of nozzle design tools. Working with Ken Tatum and Derik Daniel, AEDC counterparts at Arnold Air Force Base, and John Korte, a subject matter expert in high Mach nozzle design who had recently retired from NASA Langley and now works for Analytical Mechanics Associates, the Tunnel 9 team was able to include this new understanding of the flow physics into the design of a new high Mach Number wind tunnel nozzle contour for the first time.

«This promises to produce the best possible flow quality for any nozzle at these Mach Numbers», Lafferty said.


Team’s efforts pay off

Those at Tunnel 9 scoped out the construction of the Mach 18 undertaking that began in 2017.

With the funding and the assistance Tunnel 9 engineers were receiving on nozzle design, the Mach 18 project looked feasible. The OSD pushed for completion and implementation of the capability as quickly as possible.

Eventually, Tunnel 9 would receive $6.5 million in additional funding from the Hypersonic Test Capability Improvement Project, an OSD investment program that aims to improve capabilities for hypersonic weapon systems development, to move the Mach 18 project forward.

The nozzle design and build, the successful incorporation of the new nozzle throat material, and the diagnostic demonstration all occurred within the three-year timeframe and were completed within budget and on-schedule.

The shakeout of the Tunnel 9 capability has occurred in phases. Around two years ago, diagnostic and supercooling checkouts were done by applying to the Tunnel 9 Mach 14 nozzle the pressure and temperature conditions similar to those of Mach 18.

A full checkout of the throat technologies using the Mach 14 nozzle occurred last year.

In April, Tunnel 9 took advantage of an opportunity to accelerate a portion of the Mach 18 calibration. Those at the facility are in the process of repairing one of the four compressor motors used to create a vacuum source and proper pressure ratio required to maintain fully operationally test capability.

While that motor is out for repair, the facility can still perform a subset of conditions. For example, the validation of Mach 18 design condition, the highest part of the simulation envelope for the Mach 18 test capability is possible without the fourth motor.

The Tunnel 9 team performed the initial calibration using the final Mach 18 hardware. To accomplish this, they aligned the facility to ready it for a test, validated the survival and performance of the new throat design, verified the thermodynamic quality of the test medium, and confirmed the facility flow is of a high quality for future acquisition customers.

«To date, there have been four test entries at Tunnel 9 to demonstrate the feasibility of the Mach 18 capability», Fredrick said. «The first three of these tests were performed in the existing Mach 14 nozzle and were used to validate the assumptions that the flow would be condensation-free at the proposed Mach 18 freestream conditions and that the new nozzle throat material can survive and is shape-stable at both Mach 14 and Mach 18 nozzle supply conditions. The most recent test entry validated the new Mach 18 nozzle with the new nozzle throats at the design condition. This validation included measurements of the flow uniformity for comparison to computational fluid dynamics results, measurements of the nozzle freestream velocity and temperature, and measurements to detect condensation. Only one test remains – the calibration of the nozzle at all of the desired test conditions».

The full calibration to bring Mach 18 to full operating capability is set to occur in the fall.

«Mach 18 is a long time coming and will fill a real gap», Lafferty said. «However, I never thought we would have multiple test customers lined up to collect data even before we had finished the shakeout and calibration. It is satisfying to know it will be used once complete».

Maiden flight

The first Airbus C295, purchased by the Government of Canada for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) Fixed Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft Replacement (FWSAR) program, has completed its maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards delivery by the end of 2019 to begin operational testing by the RCAF. The aircraft, designated CC-295 for the Canadian customer, took off from Seville, Spain, on 4 July at 20:20 local time (GMT+1) and landed back on site one hour and 27 minutes later.

The photo above shows the first RCAF C295 during its maiden flight


FWSAR program facts and figures

The contract, awarded in December 2016, includes 16 C295 aircraft and all In-Service Support elements including, training and engineering services, the construction of a new Training Centre in Comox, British Columbia, and maintenance and support services.

The aircraft will be based where search and rescue squadrons are currently located: Comox, British Columbia; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Trenton, Ontario; and Greenwood, Nova Scotia.

Considerable progress has been made since the FWSAR program was announced two and a half years ago: the first aircraft will now begin flight testing; another five aircraft are in various stages of assembly; and seven simulator and training devices are in various testing stages.

In addition, the first RCAF crews will begin training in late summer 2019 at Airbus’ International Training Centre in Seville, Spain.

The FWSAR program is supporting some $2.5 billion (CAD) in Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) to Canada, through high-value, long-term partnerships with Canadian industry.

As of January 2019, 86 percent of key Canadian In-Service Support (ISS) tasks have been performed in-country by Canadian companies in relation to establishing the FWSAR ISS system. Airbus is thus on track in providing high value work to Canadian industry and has demonstrated a successful start to the development and transfer of capability to Canadian enterprises for the support of the FWSAR aircraft.

Beyond direct program participation, Airbus is generating indirect business across Canadian military, aeronautical and space industry including Small and Medium Businesses in support of the ITB program.

Multirole Tanker

On 2 July 2019, the Directorate General of Armament (DGA) received the second A330-MRTT Phénix multi-role tanker aircraft (MultiRole Tanker Transport) at Air Base 125 in Istres. This aircraft was delivered to the Air Force three months early and with a first MedEvac (Medical Evacuation) capability, so as to reach full operational capability in the fall.

The French Air Force’s second A330 tanker/transport aircraft at Istres air base. Visible in the background are two of the aircraft it will replace: the upgraded C-135F Stratotanker (right) and the Airbus A310 transport (FR AF photo)

It will allow medicalized transport of a dozen very seriously injured patients, or the medical transport of 40 lightly-injured patients requiring less medical assistance.

The MRTT Phénix is based on the airframe of the Airbus A330 airliner, militarized to allow it to meet its specific mission requirements: support of the air component of the nuclear deterrent; contribution to the permanent security posture; projection of forces and medicalized transport in case of emergency medical evacuation.

Thanks to its versatility, the MRTT Phoenix replaces two distinct fleets for this entire range of missions: the current in-flight refueling fleet of C135-FR and KC135R, and the strategic personnel and freight transport fleet of A310 and A340.

The military programming law 2019-2025 provides for the acceleration of the modernization of the equipment of the forces, and in particular of the tanker aircraft fleet. It will bring forward to 2023, two years earlier than planned, the delivery of the first twelve aircraft, and creating the conditions allowing a subsequent increase of the fleet to fifteen aircraft in following years.

Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomes this early delivery: «The Phoenix is an essential aircraft for the French forces, and for and our deterrence. It will replace aircraft, some of which are 60 years old, and represents a real revolution for the Air Force. Its versatility makes it a technological marvel, and it is an undeniable industrial success and an example of what a great European company – Airbus – knows how to build».

Falcon Heavy

SpaceX is targeting Monday, June 24 for a Falcon Heavy launch of the STP-2 mission from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The primary launch window opens at 11:30 p.m. EDT, or 3:30 UTC on June 25, and closes at 3:30 a.m. EDT on June 25, or 7:30 UTC. A backup launch window opens on June 25 at 11:30 p.m. EDT, or 3:30 UTC on June 26, and closes at 3:30 a.m. EDT on June 26, or 7:30 UTC. Deployments will begin approximately 12 minutes after liftoff and end approximately 3 hours and 32 minutes after liftoff.

At 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 25, SpaceX launched the STP-2 mission from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida

Falcon Heavy’s side boosters for the STP-2 mission previously supported the Arabsat-6A mission in April 2019. Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters will attempt to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Falcon Heavy’s center core will attempt to land on the «Of Course I Still Love You» droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Space and Missile Systems Center teamed with multiple commercial, national, and international mission partners for the historic DoD Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) launch. SMC procured the mission to provide spaceflight for advanced research and development satellites from multiple DoD research laboratories, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and universities.

The STP-2 mission will use a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle to perform 20 commanded deployment actions and place 24 separate spacecraft in three different orbits. The spacecraft include the Air Force Research Laboratory Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) satellite; the NOAA-sponsored Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC-2) constellation; four NASA experiments; and many other missions. For more detailed descriptions of the experiments on STP-2, visit our website at

The DoD Space Test Program accelerates space technologies into operational capabilities by providing space access for cutting edge, DoD-sponsored experiments and demonstrations. STP, through its Johnson Space Center location, is the single face to NASA for all DoD payloads on the International Space Station and other human-rated launch vehicles, for both domestic and international partners.

STP-2 Mission

Future Air Systems

MBDA presents for the first time its vision of the capabilities that will lie at the heart of the next generation of European air combat systems.

MBDA unveils its vision of Future Air Systems

As threats evolve and access denial strategies become ever more complex, with diversified effects combining surface-to-air and air-to-air assets in large scale, air superiority will need to be created on a local and temporary basis. Aircraft and air effectors will need to be able to enter denied areas, see threats before being seen, force hidden threats to uncover early enough to suppress them and to always react quicker than the adversary.

In these ever-faster operations, networked effectors will take an essential part in the combat «cloud», exchanging tactical information and target co-ordinates in real-time with platforms and other network nodes, in order to carry out the desired operational effects. These will also have to deploy robust survivability strategies in front of highly evolving threats. The fight will not only take place between platforms but between enemy networks, and only the most agile and adaptable will win. The engagement of these networked effectors will rely on resilience to any form of aggression (eg: Electronic Warfare, Cyber) as well as on rapid decision aids able to compute complex situations.

MBDA is a key actor able to bring answers to these significant challenges, thanks to its decades long experience in supplying armament capabilities to all Europe’s air combat platforms and to its in-depth understanding of operational and technological issues. This is evidenced by the concepts presented at Paris Air Show, which result from ongoing studies in its domestic nations, whether in cooperation or in the framework of individual national roadmaps. These concepts form a coherent set of capabilities and demonstrate that MBDA can shape innovative responses for the benefit of its customers for their Future Air System projects.

These concepts cover the whole field of key domains:

  • Deep Strike with cruise missiles using the most advanced options in order to penetrate and open breaches in the most efficient Anti Access Area Denial (A2AD) deployments in the future, for the benefit of friendly forces.
  • Tactical Strike with stand-off, networked and compact armaments, delivering precision effects but also able to saturate enemy defences thanks to pack or swarm behaviours.
  • Air-to-Air Combat with, Meteor, which today has no equivalent and will keep its lead and remain a powerful asset for next-generation fighter aircraft.
  • Self-Protection with the «Hard Kill» anti-missile system that will counter incoming missiles and so provide essential protection during «stand-in» combat, when soft-kill counter-measures and decoys are no longer sufficient. Such a system is able to reverse the balance of power against saturating defences.
  • Enablers for the penetration of adversary defences thanks to the «Remote Carriers» that deliver multiple effects, whether lethal or non-lethal, as well as new services for munitions such as intelligence, targeting, and deception of enemy sensors.

MBDA Remote Carriers are compact, stealthy, co-operate with other armaments and platforms, and can be launched from combat or transport aircraft, or surface ships. They work as capability extenders for the platforms and the armaments that they accompany.

MBDA is the only European player in the domain of complex weapons able to master all technologies needed for the development of these concepts and their operational chain:

  • Stealthy or supersonic long-range vehicles;
  • Very compact airframes and sub-systems for high loadouts, without compromising effects and connectivity performance;
  • Networking, infrared and radio frequency sensors with data fusion and artificial intelligence for automated target identification in complex environments, threat detection, complex engagements planning, and decision aids.

As it masters these essential technologies as well as all steps in the OODA (Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action) loop, from detection and localisation to damage assessment, MBDA positions itself as the architect of this decision-action chain, which will experience significant breakthroughs in concept and doctrine.

Referring to this presentation, Éric Béranger, CEO of MBDA, stated: «MBDA’s vision for future air armaments is exhaustive and ambitious, and we are ready to take on the challenge to deliver to our domestic nations the full sovereignty of their future air combat systems by taking part in the definition and development of the armaments that these systems will operate. MBDA has demonstrated that pulling together the best expertise in propulsion, guidance, connectivity and system integration have made Meteor the world best air-to-air missile, giving the pilots of European combat aircraft a decisive operational advantage. Thanks to its decades long culture of co-operation, MBDA will be equally able to develop the next weapons that will ensure European nations can sustain their air superiority in the long term».

French Caracal

The French Defence Procurement Agency DGA has signed an order to purchase an additional H225M which will be operated by the French Air Force. The aircraft will be delivered in a configuration that allows it to be interoperable with the existing fleet of 10 H225Ms in the French Air Force and in particular it will be capable of inflight refuelling, an essential operational advantage that this helicopter offers.

French Air Force bolsters its fleet of H225Ms

The aircraft will be based in Cazaux and will be used for Special Forces and Search and Rescue missions.

«We are very proud that the French Air Force is renewing its trust in the reliable multirole H225M, having been the first to deploy the type in an operational theatre in 2006», said Alexandra Cros, Vice President and Head of Governmental Affairs France at Airbus Helicopters. «The H225M is a real military asset thanks to its versatility and its excellent range. Operational from ships and land with an all-weather capability and takeoff in less than five minutes, it’s always ready for assignment», she added.

The H225M, with more than 180 aircraft ordered, 97 helicopters delivered, and 110,000 flight hours accumulated to date, is a recognized combat-proven, versatile and reliable workhorse for military missions worldwide. The 11-tonne member of the Super Puma family is relied upon as a force multiplier by France, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. Indonesia has recently placed a follow-on order for an additional eight aircraft. Other recent customers for the H225M include Kuwait, Singapore, and Hungary who signed a contract for 16 H225Ms in December last year.



Troop transport 2 pilots + 1 chief of stick + 28 seats
VIP transport 2 pilots + 8 to 12 passengers
Casualty evacuation 2 pilots + up to 11 stretchers + 4 seats
Sling load 4,750 kg/10,472 lbs.
Length 16.79 m/55.08 feet
Width 3.96 m/13 feet
Height 4.60 m/15.09 feet
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 11,000 kg/24,251 lbs.
MTOW in external load configuration 11,200 kg/24,690 lbs.
Empty weight 5,715 kg/12,600 lbs.
Useful load 5,285 kg/11,651 lbs.
Maximum cargo-sling load 4,750 kg/10,472 lbs.
Standard fuel capacity 2,247 kg/4,954 lbs.
Take-off power per engine 1,567 kW/2,101 shp
Maximum speed (Vne***) 324 km/h/175 knots
Fast cruise speed (at MCP****) 262 km/h/142 knots
Rate of climb 5.4 m/s/1,064 feet/min
Service ceiling (Vz = 0.508 m/s = 100 feet/min) 3,968 m/13,019 feet
Hover ceiling OGE***** at ISA*, MTOW, take-off power 792 m/2,600 feet
Maximum range without reserve at Economical Cruise Speed 909 km/491 NM
Endurance without reserve at 148 km/h/80 knots >4 h 20 min

* International Standard Atmosphere

** Sea Level

*** Never Exceed Speed

**** Mode Control Panel

***** Out of Ground Effect

Rapid Response

The U.S. Air Force successfully conducted the first flight test of its AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, on a B-52H Stratofortress aircraft on June 12 at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

A B-52H Stratofortress bomber similar to the one used by the US Air Force to flight-test the sensors of the AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon hypersonic missile it is developing. The weapon was not launched, and carried no warhead (USAF file photo)

A sensor-only version of the ARRW prototype was carried externally by a B-52H Stratofortress during the test to gather environmental and aircraft handling data.

The test gathered data on drag and vibration impacts on the weapon itself and on the external carriage equipment of the aircraft. The prototype did not have explosives and it was not released from the B-52H Stratofortress during the flight test. This type of data collection is required for all Air Force weapon systems undergoing development.

«We’re using the rapid prototyping authorities provided by Congress to quickly bring hypersonic weapon capabilities to the warfighter», said Doctor Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. «We set out an aggressive schedule with ARRW. Getting to this flight test on time highlights the amazing work of our acquisition workforce and our partnership with Lockheed Martin and other industry partners».

The Air Force is leading the way in air-launched hypersonic weapon prototyping efforts. As one of two rapid prototyping hypersonic efforts, ARRW is set to reach early operational capability by fiscal year 2022.

«This type of speed in our acquisition system is essential – it allows us to field capabilities rapidly to compete against the threats we face», Roper said.

The flight test serves as the first of many flight tests that will expand the test parameters and capabilities of the ARRW prototype.

The ARRW rapid prototyping effort awarded a contract in August 2018 to Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Florida, for critical design review, test and production readiness support to facilitate fielded prototypes.

A request for quotation

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.

A Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II aircraft takes part in flying display during the 52nd Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 25, 2017 (REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo)

«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.



Length 51.4 feet/15.7 m
Height 14.4 feet/4.38 m
Wingspan 35 feet/10.7 m
Wing area 460 feet2/42.7 m2
Horizontal tail span 22.5 feet/6.86 m
Weight empty 29,300 lbs/13,290 kg
Internal fuel capacity 18,250 lbs/8,278 kg
Weapons payload 18,000 lbs/8,160 kg
Maximum weight 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
Propulsion (uninstalled thrust ratings) F135-PW-100
Maximum Power (with afterburner) 43,000 lbs/191,3 kN/19,507 kgf
Military Power (without afterburner) 28,000 lbs/128,1 kN/13,063 kgf
Engine Length 220 in/5.59 m
Engine Inlet Diameter 46 in/1.17 m
Engine Maximum Diameter 51 in/1.30 m
Bypass Ratio 0.57
Overall Pressure Ratio 28
Speed (full internal weapons load) Mach 1.6 (~1,043 knots/1,200 mph/1,931 km/h)
Combat radius (internal fuel) >590 NM/679 miles/1,093 km
Range (internal fuel) >1,200 NM/1,367 miles/2,200 km
Maximum g-rating 9.0


Flight Test

Northrop Grumman Corporation, in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory Sensors Directorate, demonstrated the first Software Defined Radio (SDR)-based, M-code enabled GPS receiver on production-capable hardware during a recent flight test. In real-time, the SDR acquired and tracked the modernized GPS military signal, known as M-code, during a live-sky demonstration.

Northrop Grumman Demonstrates GPS Software Defined Radio Navigation Solution During Flight Test

Additionally, Northrop Grumman achieved a security certification milestone by attaining Certification Requirements Review approval for the SDR-based GPS receiver from the GPS Directorate. This milestone constitutes a critical step on the way to fielding an M-code enabled GPS receiver that can be operated in an unclassified environment.

«Northrop Grumman’s secure software defined GPS solution provides an unprecedented level of agility and enables our customers to outpace the threat», said Vern Boyle, vice president, advanced technologies, Northrop Grumman.

Using a system-on-a-chip SDR approach, in lieu of the traditional fixed application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design, enabled the platform to make rapid real-time field changes, an important capability in an evolving threat environment.

First Flight

The Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter achieved first flight today at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach, Florida site, an important step toward bringing this all-new aircraft to service members to perform critical search and rescue operations. The aircraft, developed by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company and based on the proven UH-60M Black Hawk, is customized for the U.S. Air Force ‘s rescue mission and will ensure the Air Force fulfills its mission to leave no one behind.

Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter Achieves First Flight

Total flight time was approximately 1.2 hours and included hover control checks, low speed flight, and a pass of the airfield.

«This achievement is yet another vital step toward a low rate initial production decision and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced capabilities to the warfighter», said Dana Fiatarone, vice president, Sikorsky Army & Air Force Systems. «We are very pleased with the results of today’s flight and look forward to a productive and informative flight test program».

Today’s flight paves the way for a Milestone C production decision in September 2019, per the original baseline schedule, to which both Sikorsky and the Air Force are committed. A second HH-60W helicopter is expected to enter flight test next week, with a third and fourth aircraft entering flight test this summer. These aircraft will provide critical data over the course of the program which will enable the Air Force to make an informed production decision.

«The HH-60W’s first flight is the culmination of significant development and design advances. We are excited to now move forward to begin full aircraft system qualification via the flight test program», said Greg Hames, director of the Combat Rescue Helicopter program. «Together with the Air Force, our team is motivated and committed to advancing this program and delivering this superior aircraft to our airmen and women».

The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter is significantly more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk. The aircraft hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk, giving the Air Force crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. The HH-60W specification drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, weapons, cyber-security, environmental, and net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.

«With the Combat Rescue Helicopter’s successful first flight now behind us, we look forward to completion of Sikorsky’s flight test program, operational testing and production of this aircraft to support the Air Force’s critical rescue mission», said Edward Stanhouse, Chief, U.S. Air Force Helicopter Program Office. «Increased survivability is key and we greatly anticipate the added capabilities this aircraft will provide».

The U.S. Air Force program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the Pave Hawks, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services. A total of nine aircraft will be built at Sikorsky’s Stratford, Connecticut, facility during the Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the program – four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA).