Category Archives: Air Force

Production Contract

Lockheed Martin was awarded a $414 million contract from the U.S. Navy and Air Force for Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) production. This is the largest LRASM production contract in the history of the program.

LRASM
Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile provides unmatched offensive anti-surface warfare capabilities for our U.S. warfighters

The combined Lot 4/5 contract continues production of the air-launched variant of LRASM, now operational on the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer.

«This contract reflects LRASM’s increasing significance to our customers’ missions. Focused teamwork around a shared vision with our customers and our dedicated supply partners remains key to this program’s success», said David Helsel, LRASM director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. «We look forward to continuing our important work and growing our capabilities and platforms».

LRASM is designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships by employing advanced technologies that reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. LRASM will play a significant role in ensuring military access to operate in open ocean, owing to its enhanced ability to discriminate and conduct tactical engagements from extended ranges.

LRASM is a precision-guided, anti-ship standoff missile based on the successful Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER). It is designed to meet the needs of U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force warfighters in contested environments. LRASM provides an operational capability for the U.S. Navy’s offensive anti-surface warfare Increment I requirement.

LongShot Concept

Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) Tactical Technology Office (TTO) to develop an advanced technology weapon concept designed to significantly increase engagement range and weapon effectiveness of U.S. Forces against adversary air threats.

LongShot
Northrop Grumman to Develop Advanced Air-to-Air Missile Engagement Concept

«Our collaboration with DARPA is the critical first step in the development of innovative operational concepts and solutions that will enhance our warfighter’s combat capability against a rapidly growing threat», said Jaime Engdahl, program director, kinetic weapons and emerging capabilities, Northrop Grumman. «The LongShot program enables us to combine our digital engineering skillset with our extensive knowledge in advanced technology weapons, autonomous systems and strike platforms to increase weapon range and effectiveness».

Spurred by rapid technological advancements and an ever more dangerous and disruptive battlefield, DARPA’s LongShot program will explore new lethal engagement concepts by leveraging multi-modal propulsion, weapon systems that can be operationally deployed from existing fighters or bombers.

DARPA’s advanced aerospace systems activities are focused on utilizing high pay-off opportunities to provide revolutionary new system capabilities, as opposed to incremental or evolutionary advancements, in order to achieve undeterrable air presence at dramatically reduced costs.

The LongShot program enables Northrop Grumman to combine its expertise in weapon system design, survivability, autonomy, advanced mission systems and rapid prototyping to deliver advanced solutions that help to maintain a competitive military advantage in highly contested environments.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 97,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

LongShot program

DARPA’s LongShot program, which is developing an air-launched Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) with the ability to employ multiple air-to-air weapons, has awarded contracts to General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman for preliminary Phase I design work. The objective is to develop a novel UAV that can significantly extend engagement ranges, increase mission effectiveness, and reduce the risk to manned aircraft.

LongShot UAV
Artist’s concept of LongShot UAV

Current air superiority concepts rely on advanced manned fighter aircraft to provide a penetrating counter air capability to effectively deliver weapons. It is envisioned that LongShot will increase the survivability of manned platforms by allowing them to be at standoff ranges far away from enemy threats, while an air-launched LongShot UAV efficiently closes the gap to take more effective missile shots.

«The LongShot program changes the paradigm of air combat operations by demonstrating an unmanned, air-launched vehicle capable of employing current and advanced air-to-air weapons», said DARPA program manager Lieutenant Colonel Paul Calhoun. «LongShot will disrupt traditional incremental weapon improvements by providing an alternative means of generating combat capability».

In later phases of the program, LongShot will construct and fly a full-scale air-launched demonstration system capable of controlled flight, before, during, and after weapon ejection under operational conditions.

ISR aircraft

In a modern military conflict, the amount of information flying around can be overwhelming. Signals sail in from everywhere. Some of it is intelligence. Some of it is noise. It comes from friends and from foes. And it creates chaos.

Bombardier Global 6500
The Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance system, an aircraft that collects, analyzes and delivers near real-time intelligence and a highly accurate common operating picture, will help commanders make better-informed decisions

Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, can help armed forces in the air and on the ground make sense of this increasingly crowded, complex and converged battlespace.

The company is proposing an aircraft called the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance system, or ISTAR. It would collect, analyze and deliver near real-time intelligence and a highly accurate common operating picture to help commanders make the right decisions.

«Our advanced multi-intelligence aircraft will sense, process and transmit copious amounts of information rapidly and at long range in highly contested environments», said Barbara Borgonovi, vice president of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems for RI&S.

The ISTAR would use multiple intelligence, or multi-INT, technology, in keeping with the demands of modern military technology. Multi-INT weaves in critical intelligence inputs from multiple sensors across the spectrum such as visuals, radio frequencies and electronic communications, among other signals, and it paints a clearer, multi-faceted picture of the adversary’s movements and changes in the battlespace.

«When the threat environment was a bit simpler, forces could really rely on one major sensor for their intelligence needs and capabilities», said Richard Sandifer, Korea ISTAR capture executive at RI&S. «A single, great radar was the only thing needed to understand what the enemy was doing. But it is not possible to get the total intelligence picture from just one radar anymore».

RI&S is partnering with aircraft maker Bombardier to modify its Global 6500 business jet. The airframe would be outfitted with multiple capabilities, including an advanced active electronically scanned array RF system, which combines ground moving target indicator capabilities with synthetic aperture modes; multi-spectral long range imagery, which provides visible and infrared intelligence and targeting information; and signals intelligence – an entire suite to deliver the precision and intelligence for making decisions and maintain the advantage of strategic surprise to spot and combat threats first.

In comparison to existing reconnaissance aircraft, RI&S’ ISTAR would fly longer, at higher altitudes and with more electrical power, enabling the plane to carry more capabilities.

«The increased power payload will help increase the sensing capability, as well as the capability for onboard processing and the entire platform», said Sandifer. The asset is large enough to scale, offering flexibility to the customer to add capabilities over time.

In particular, the system can employ advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to help ward off adversaries posturing from a distance and denying access to threats.

«Anti-access/Area Denial is everywhere», said Jason Colosky, ISRS business development executive, using a military term for suppressing an adversary’s movement. «So, you have to have an asset that has the time and duration to be in the air long enough to provide intelligence to commanders before deciding to queue firepower against the adversary. ISTAR has those capabilities, enabling the operators to see deep into a non-permissive environment».

The ISTAR system would offer a fully integrated battlefield management command-and-control processing capability, enabling service members at every operational level to strategically plan and cohesively execute missions in lockstep with their allies.

Additionally, the ISTAR fleet could help enforce maritime embargoes, monitor natural disasters, direct humanitarian aid, ensure border security and bolster missile defense.

«We have a heritage of providing reliable ISTAR capabilities that have been proven in contested theaters in support of allied operations by deploying the first international ISTAR-type aircraft in the United Kingdom», said Sandifer. «That operational experience and lessons learned are being applied to our latest smart ISR aircraft enabling operators to make accurate and fast decisions in the congested battlespace when it matters the most».

First Flight

The new Boeing F-15EX Strike Eagle fighter jet completed its first flight on February 2, 2021, paving the way for the early delivery of the first two jets to the U.S. Air Force later this quarter. The jet took off and landed from St. Louis Lambert International Airport, completing a 90-minute test flight before returning to the airport.

F-15EX Strike Eagle
The F-15EX Strike Eagle fighter jet demonstrates a vertical «Viking» departure during its first flight on February 2, 2021 (Boeing photo by Eric Shindelbower)

Boeing F-15 Chief Test Pilot Matt Giese checked out the multirole jet’s avionics, advanced systems and software. A test team monitoring the data collected during the flight in real time confirmed that the aircraft performed as planned.

«Today’s successful flight proves the jet’s safety and readiness to join our nation’s fighter fleet», said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager. «Our workforce is excited to build a modern fighter aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. Our customer can feel confident in its decision to invest in this platform that is capable of incorporating the latest advanced battle management systems, sensors and weapons due to the jet’s digital airframe design and open mission systems architecture».

The fighter’s digital backbone means it can serve as a testbed for future technology insertion, a key capability for the Air Force. Modern variants of the F-15 also include fly-by-wire flight controls, an all-new digital cockpit, modern Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and the ADCP-II, the world’s fastest mission computer. The F-15EX Strike Eagle, the most advanced version to date, features the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System electronic warfare system to improve mission effectiveness and survivability for operators.

In July, the Air Force awarded Boeing a contract to build the first lot of eight jets. Future plans call for as many as 144 aircraft.

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As a top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.

12 Rafales

Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, on January 29, 2021 signed a contract for the sale of 12 Rafale aircraft with Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces.

Rafale
Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, on January 29, 2021 signed a contract for the sale of 12 Rafale aircraft with Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces

These aircraft will replace the 12 Rafales of the French Air and Space Force (FASF) sold to the Hellenic Air Force.

The contract was signed during a visit by the French Minister of the Armed Forces to the Argonay plant in Haute-Savoie which has produced the flight control systems for all Dassault aircraft since 1963.

Dassault Aviation and its industrial partners would like to thank the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the French defense procurement agency DGA and the Armed Forces for their renewed confidence.

«This contract for 12 new aircraft will enable our Air and Space Force to continue the Rafale build-up while awaiting the fifth tranche, which is scheduled for delivery between 2027 and 2030. The contract is a great satisfaction for Dassault Aviation, Thales, Safran and the 500 French companies involved in the program, in the particularly difficult conditions facing our aeronautics sector in the context of the Covid crisis», said Eric Trappier.

Two more Poseidon

Air Force’s maritime patrol capability will be boosted with Australia set to acquire two more P-8A Poseidon surveillance and response aircraft, bringing the total fleet size to 14.

P-8A Poseidon
Two more P-8A Poseidon aircraft boosts maritime patrol capability

The Government has also approved sustainment funding for the current approved fleet of three MQ-4C Triton aircraft.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Honorable Linda Reynolds Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) said the announcement is part of the Morrison Government’s unprecedented $270 billion investment in defence capability over the next decade.

«Together, the P-8A Poseidon and the MQ-4C Triton will provide Australia with one of the most advanced maritime patrol and response capabilities in the world», Minister Reynolds said. «The P-8A Poseidon is a proven capability that will conduct tasks including anti-submarine warfare, maritime and overland intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and support to search and rescue missions. These additional aircraft will enhance Air Force’s flexibility to support multiple operations and will play an important role in ensuring Australia’s maritime region is secure for generations to come. The Morrison Government’s continued investment in the P-8A Poseidon program is also creating more Australian jobs and opportunities for Australian small businesses. Several Australian companies are already completing work for Boeing Defence Australia, and industry investment including facilities works is over $1 billion».

The additional P-8A Poseidon aircraft are to be purchased through our existing Cooperative Program with the United States Navy.

Minister Reynolds said being part of the Cooperative Program with the United States Navy allows Australia to share in the benefits of their technical expertise and divide project costs.

«Defence is committed to this cooperative approach; together we are striving to develop this military technology to the highest standards», Minister Reynolds said.

The P-8A Poseidon is a highly versatile, long endurance platform capable of a range of mission types including Maritime Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance and striking targets above and below the ocean’s surface.

The planned integration of the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) into Air Force capability will also allow it to strike adversary surface vessels at significantly increased ranges.

P-8A
Based at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Edinburgh, the P-8A Poseidon is an important part of Australia’s future maritime patrol and response strategy

 

P-8A Poseidon

The P-8A Poseidon has advanced sensors and mission systems, including a state-of-the-art multi-role radar, high-definition cameras, and an acoustic system with four times the processing capacity of the AP-3C Orions.

The P-8A Poseidon is built specifically as a military aircraft. It is based on the proven commercial designs of Boeing’s 737-800 fuselage, but has been substantially modified to include:

  • a weapons bay;
  • under wing and under fuselage hard points for weapons;
  • increased strengthening for low level (down to 200 feet/61 m) operations and high angle turns.

The P-8A Poseidon aircraft has an extensive communications system including radios and data links across Very High Frequency (VHF), Ultra High Frequency (UHF), High Frequency (HF) and SATellite COMmunications (SATCOM).

An internal fuel capacity of almost 34 tonnes/74,957 lbs. allows the P-8A Poseidon to conduct low level anti-submarine warfare missions at a distance of greater than 2,000 kilometres/1,243 miles/1,080 NM from base. The P-8A Poseidon will be compatible for air-to-air refueling with the Airbus KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).

Poseidon
A RAAF P-8A Poseidon supports sea trials for the HMAS Hobart (DDG-39) in the Gulf St Vincent off the coast of Adelaide

 

Specifications

Manufacturer Boeing
Role Maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and response
Crew Pilot, co-pilot, mission specialists
Engine Two CFM56-7 BE (27) engines each with 27,000 lbs./12,247 kg thrust
Length 129.6 feet/39.5 m
Height 42 feet/12.8 m
Wingspan 123.4 feet/37.6 m
Weight (maximum) 189,201 lbs./85,820 kg
Maximum Speed 490 knots/564 mph/907 km/h
Range 4,050 NM/4,660 miles/7,500 km
Ceiling 41,000 feet/12,497 m
Capacity Sonobuoys, 11 weapons stations
Weapons Self-Protection Measures, Lightweight Anti-Submarine Torpedo, AGM-84 Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles
Learmonth
The spectacular Milky Way dominates the night sky as a No. 11 Squadron P-8A Poseidon sits on the hardstand at RAAF Base Learmonth

First two M-345 delivered

On December 23, 2020, Leonardo delivered the first two M-345 jet trainer aircraft to the Italian Air Force, which to-date has ordered 18 units from a total requirement for up to 45 aircraft. The new type, designated T-345A by the Italian Air Force, will gradually replace the 137 MB-339s which have been in service since 1982.

Aermacchi T-345A
The Italian Air Force has a total requirement for up to 45 M-345s. They will gradually replace the 137 MB-339s which have been in service since 1982

Marco Zoff, Leonardo Aircraft Managing Director, said: «Building on our heritage and expertise in jet trainers, the M-345 will allow our customers to achieve a significant improvement in training effectiveness while at the same time reducing operating costs. This first delivery to the Italian Air Force is a key milestone, the result of a longstanding and productive team working closely together with the operator».

The new M-345, designed to meet basic and basic-advanced training requirements, will complement the in-service M-346, which is used for advanced pilot training. Leonardo’s integrated training system developed around the M-345 platform, is representative of the company’s technological leadership in training pilots to fly current and future generation aircraft. The system benefits from experience with, and technology developed for, the M-346, which includes a «Live Virtual Constructive» capability. This allows aircraft which are flying live training missions to incorporate simulated «friend» or «foe» elements into scenarios, allowing the pilot to be exposed to the full range of possible operational situations.

The M-345 is a high-performance aircraft which supports a pilot’s transition from basic trainers to latest-generation fighters. The Italian Air Force’s acquisition of the new aircraft is an important step forward in the modernization of its fleet, with the M-345 replacing the MB-339A in Air Force’s second and third military pilot training phases. The M-345 has also been chosen as the new aircraft of the Italian Air Force’s acrobatic team, the «Frecce Tricolori».

At the Paris Air Show 2017, Leonardo presents the Aermacchi M-345 next generation high efficiency trainer, the solution for tomorrow’s training needs

 

M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer)

The new M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) reduces the time required for air forces to train pilots. It also gives trainees the chance to fly an aircraft that features higher performance characteristics than other basic/advanced trainer aircraft currently in service around the world. The performance of the M-345 allows it to carry out the most demanding mission types found in a training syllabus, delivering high quality training at significantly lower cost.

The M-345 cockpit architecture is the same as that of frontline fighters. The aircraft is also able to perform operational roles, thanks to an extended flight envelope, with a high-speed maneuvering capability even at high altitudes, modern avionics systems, high load capacity and performance.

The M-345 is designed with a long life-cycle and a two-level approach to maintenance, eliminating the need for expensive general overhauls. The aircraft’s Health and Monitoring Usage System (HUMS) also contributes to a lower cost of ownership.

A sophisticated on-board training simulator confers a number of benefits. For instance, M-345 pilots are able to plan maneuvers before live training, allowing for higher efficiency during flight. Trainees are also able to fly in formation with other pilots in the air and those training on the ground in simulators, via a real-time data-link. The aircraft’s Mission Planning and Debriefing Station (MPDS) allows trainees to analyse the missions they have just flown.

The M-345’s engine is a Williams FJ44-4M-34 turbofan optimised for military and aerobatic use. The cockpit is based on HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) controls and features a glass cockpit with a three-colour MFD (Multi-function Display) touch screen. The aircraft’s heads-up display is mirrored on a fourth screen in the rear seat.

 

CHARACTERISTICS

SIZE

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) 7,715 lbs./3,500 kg
Take-off (Maximum) 9,920 lbs./4,500 kg
Max External Stores 2,425 lbs./1,100 kg

POWERPLANT

Engine, turbofan Williams FJ44-4M-34
Maximum Thrust, Sea Level Static (SLS), International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) 3,400 lbs./1,540 kg
Max Internal Fuel 1,545 lbs./700 kg

PERFORMANCE (Clean, ISA)

Max Level Speed (SL/20,000 feet/6096 m) 380/425 Knots True Air Speed (KTAS); 437/489 mph; 704/787 km/h
Limit Speed 400 Knots Equivalent Air Speed (KEAS)/0.8 MN; 460 mph; 741 km/h
Stall Speed (Landing, 20% fuel) 92 Knots Calibrated Air Speed (KCAS); 106 mph; 170 km/h
Rate of Climb (SL) 4,700 feet/min; 1,435 m/min
Service Ceiling 40,000 feet/12,190 m
Limit Load Factors +7/-3.5 g
Maximum Sustained Load Factor (50% fuel, SL) 4.0 g
Take-off/Landing Ground Run (SL) 2,050 feet/625 m
Ferry Range, 10% reserve, Clean 720 NM/826 miles/1,330 km
Ferry Range, 10% reserve, 2 External Tanks 1,000 NM/1150 miles/1,850 km
Endurance, 10% reserve, Clean/2 External Tanks 150 min/210 min

 

Belgian Air Force

The Belgian Air Force has taken delivery of its first of seven Airbus A400M military transport aircraft. The aircraft was handed over to the customer at the A400M Final Assembly Line in Seville (Spain) and subsequently performed its ferry flight to the 15th Wing Air Transport in Melsbroek (Belgium), where the aircraft will be based.

Airbus A400M
Airbus delivers the first A400M to the Belgian Air Force

This A400M, known as MSN106, will be operated within a binational unit composed of a total of eight aircraft, seven from the Belgian Air Force and one from the Luxembourg Armed Forces.

The second A400M for Belgium will be delivered in early 2021.

Alberto Gutierrez, Head of Military Aircraft at Airbus Defence and Space, said: «With the delivery of this aircraft all launch customers are now equipped with the A400M. MSN106 will join Luxemburg’s aircraft in the binational unit operated jointly with Belgium. Despite challenges due to Covid-19, our teams have achieved all 10 aircraft deliveries scheduled this year, bringing the global fleet in operation to 98 aircraft».

 

Specifications

DIMENSIONS
Overall Length 45.10 m/148 feet
Overall Height 14.70 m/48 feet
Wing Span 42.40 m/139 feet
Cargo Hold Length (ramp excluded) 17.71 m/58 feet
Cargo Hold Height 3.85-4.00 m/12 feet 7 inch-13 feet
Cargo Hold Width 4.00 m/13 feet
Cargo Hold Volume 340 m3/12,000 feet3
WEIGHTS
Maximum Take Off Weight 141,000 kg/310,850 lbs
Maximum Landing Weight 123,000 kg/271,200 lbs
Internal Fuel Weight 50,500 kg/111,300 lbs
Maximum Payload 37,000 kg/81,600 lbs
ENGINE (×4)
EuroProp International TP400-D6 11,000 shp/8,200 kW
PERFORMANCE
Maximum Operating Altitude 12,200 m/40,000 feet
Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS) 300 knots/345 mph/555 km/h
Cruise Speed Range 0.68-0.72 M
RANGE
Range with Maximum Payload (37,000 kg/81,600 lbs) 1,780 NM/2,050 miles/3,300 km
Range with 30,000 kg/66,000 lbs Payload 2,450 NM/2,796 miles/4,500 km
Range with 20,000 kg/44,000 lbs Payload 3,450 NM/3,977 miles/6,400 km
Maximum Range (Ferry) 4,700 NM/5,406 miles/8,700 km

 

Taxi Test

Boeing Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) have completed the first high-speed taxi test of the Loyal Wingman in preparation for first flight.

Loyal Wingman
Boeing Australia’s Loyal Wingman displays its orange flight-test livery (Boeing photo)

Boeing test personnel monitored the aircraft’s performance and instrumentation from a ground control station to verify the functionality while the vehicle reached accelerated speeds. The uncrewed aircraft has been undergoing low-, medium-, and high-speed taxi testing at a remote test location in Australia.

«Our test program is progressing well, and we are happy with the ground test data we have collected to date», said Paul Ryder, Boeing Flight Test manager. «We are working with the Air Warfare Centre to complete final test verifications to prepare for flight testing in the new year».

Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force will resume final taxi tests and preparations for flight in early 2021 when the range reopens.

RAAF Head of Air Force Capability Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts said seeing the aircraft in person during the December trials had been extraordinary.

«There is something very special about testing an aircraft that takes technology to the next level. It is iconic in its own way», said Roberts. «Experiencing the enthusiasm of the Boeing and Air Force team reminded me of my early career testing aircraft».

«This is what innovation is all about – working together to achieve many firsts», she said.

More than 35 Australian suppliers on the Australian industry team have contributed to the aircraft development, including investment partner BAE Systems Australia, which has been embedded with the Boeing test team on-site.

«In the past year alone, we have made amazing strides on this aircraft, taking it from a fuselage to a finished aircraft that has undergone rigorous testing», said Doctor Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System. «Our focus now is on conducting a safe and secure flight-test regimen for the Loyal Wingman program».

Boeing Uncrewed Loyal Wingman Conducts First High-Speed Taxi Test