Category Archives: Air Force

National Security

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a critical payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) denoted NROL-71 lifted off from Space Launch Complex-6 on January 19 at 11:10 a.m. PST. The mission is in support of our country’s national defense.

United Launch Alliance successfully launches NROL-71 in support of National Security
United Launch Alliance successfully launches NROL-71 in support of National Security

«Congratulations to our team and mission partners for successfully delivering this critical asset to support national security missions», said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs, «thank you to the entire team for their perseverance, ongoing dedication and focus on 100% mission success».

The Delta IV Heavy is the nation’s proven heavy lift launch vehicle, delivering high-priority missions for the National Reconnaissance Office, U.S. Air Force and NASA. With its advanced upper stage, the Delta IV Heavy can take more than 14,000 pounds/6,350 kg directly to geosynchronous orbit, as well as a wide variety of complex interplanetary trajectories.

The mission launched aboard a Delta IV Heavy, comprised of three common booster cores each powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine producing a combined total of more than 2.1 million pounds of thrust. The second stage was powered by an AR RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine.

NROL-71 is ULA’s first launch in 2019 and 132nd successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

ULA’s next launch is the WGS-10 mission for the U.S. Air Force on a Delta IV rocket. The launch is scheduled for March 13, 2019 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the world’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 130 satellites to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, and support life-saving technology.

Rafale F4 launched

Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, received the F4-standard development contract for the Rafale combat aircraft on January 14, 2019, during the visit of the Dassault Aviation Mérignac plant by Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces.

Rafale F4 standard launched
Rafale F4 standard launched

The F4 standard is part of the ongoing process to continuously improve the Rafale in line with technological progress and operating experience feedback. The F4 standard marks a new step coming in the wake of the standards F1 (specific to the first aircraft of the French Navy), F2 (air-to-ground and air-to-air capabilities), F3 and F3R (extended versatility).

In our role as industrial architect, we will be responsible for implementing innovative connectivity solutions to optimize the effectiveness of our aircraft in networked combat (new satellite and intra-patrol links, communication server, software defined radio).

New functions will also be developed to improve the aircraft’s capabilities (upgrades to the radar sensors and front sector optronics, helmet-mounted display capabilities), and new weapons will be integrated: Mica NG air-to-air missile and 1,000-kg/2,205-pound Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (AASM) Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon.

Lastly, with regard to availability, we are working under a through-life support contract which will become more «top-down» under the authority of the aircraft manufacturer. F4 will include a new Prognosis and Diagnostic Aid System introducing predictive maintenance capabilities. Other maintenance optimization features are scheduled, particularly with solutions based on Big Data and artificial intelligence. Lastly, the Rafale will be equipped with a new engine control unit.

«The F4 standard guarantees that Rafale will remain at world-class level so that our combat air forces can carry out all their missions with optimum efficiency, whether in coalition operations or completely independently, as required by the French nuclear deterrent», stated Eric Trappier. «This new standard also guarantees that Rafale will remain a credible reference on the export market. Lastly, it confirms the continuous improvement approach and helps develop the manufacturers’ skills».

Validation of the F4 standard is planned for 2024, with some functions becoming available as of 2022.

Dassault Aviation and the 500 French firms associated with the Rafale program thank the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the Defense procurement agency (DGA), the French Air Force and the French Navy for their confidence.

 

ABOUT THE RAFALE

The only totally «omnirole» aircraft in the world, able to operate from a land base or an aircraft carrier, capable of carrying 1.5 times its weight in weapons and fuel, the Rafale has been designed to perform the full spectrum of combat aircraft missions:

  • Interception and air-to-air combat using a 30-mm gun, Mica IR/EM missiles and Meteor missiles.
  • Close air support using a 30-mm gun, GBU laser-guided bombs and AASM GPS-guided bombs.
  • Deep strike using Scalp-Storm Shadow cruise missiles.
  • Maritime strike using the Exocet AM39 Block 2 missile and other air-to-surface weapons.
  • Real-time tactical and strategic reconnaissance using the Areos pod.
  • Buddy-buddy in-flight refueling
  • Nuclear deterrence using the Air-Sol Moyenne Portée (ASMP-A) missile.

The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006, gradually replacing the seven types of previous-generation combat aircraft. It has proven itself in external operations in various theatres: Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. Of the 180 aircraft ordered by France to date, 152 have been delivered. The Rafale fleet currently totals almost 270,000 flight hours, including 40,000 in operations. A total of 96 Rafale aircraft have been ordered by Egypt, Qatar and India.

First Pegasus

The U.S. Air Force has accepted the first Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft, setting the stage for the aircraft’s delivery to McConnell Air Force Base (AFB), in Wichita, Kansas, in the coming weeks.

Nick Cenci, Major, USAF Chief of Flight Operations DCMA (Seattle) (left) and Anthony Mariapain, Major, USAF KC-46 Chief Pilot DCMA (Seattle) stand in front of the KC-46A Pegasus at Boeing Field in advance of the U.S. Air Force acceptance of Boeing’s first tanker. Major Cenci and Major Mariapain led flight acceptance testing on the jet (Boeing photo)
Nick Cenci, Major, USAF Chief of Flight Operations DCMA (Seattle) (left) and Anthony Mariapain, Major, USAF KC-46 Chief Pilot DCMA (Seattle) stand in front of the KC-46A Pegasus at Boeing Field in advance of the U.S. Air Force acceptance of Boeing’s first tanker. Major Cenci and Major Mariapain led flight acceptance testing on the jet (Boeing photo)

«The KC-46A is a proven, safe, multi-mission aircraft that will transform aerial refueling and mobility operations for decades to come. We look forward to working with the Air Force, and the Navy, during their initial operational test and evaluation of the KC-46, as we further demonstrate the operational capabilities of this next-generation aircraft across refueling, mobility and combat weapons systems missions», said Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. «I want to thank the men and women of the Air Force and across the Boeing tanker team who made this happen».

During extensive flight testing, six Boeing KC-46A Pegasus completed more than 3,800 flight hours and offloaded more than four million pounds of fuel to Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender, Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, Boeing KC-46A Pegasus, McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft. The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus has been rigorously tested throughout all aspects of the refueling envelope and in all conditions, including day, night and covert.

With the signing of what’s known as the DD250 paperwork, the delivery activities can proceed. McConnell Air Force Base will receive the first four Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aircraft, all of which are ready for delivery, with four subsequent aircraft destined for Oklahoma’s Altus Air Force Base, beginning as early as next month.

Boeing is on contract for 52 of an expected 179 tankers for the Air Force. Beyond the first aircraft that was accepted today, nine aircraft are undergoing customer acceptance testing with the remaining aircraft of the contracted amount in production.

«This is an exciting and historic day for the Air Force and Boeing, as we hand over the first of many KC-46 tankers», said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg. «I’m proud of the dedication and commitment by our enterprise-wide team, and we’re honored to provide this valuable and capable aircraft to our customer. We look forward to continuing to build and support the KC-46 for the Air Force – and other customers across the globe – for decades to come».

The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is built in Boeing’s 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

 

Spanish Chinook

Boeing will upgrade all 17 of Spain’s CH-47D Chinook helicopters to the F-model configuration, adding features such as the digital automatic flight control system, common avionics architecture system and advanced cargo handling to align that country’s fleet with those of other nations.

Boeing has manufactured more than 460 CH-47F Chinooks. Spain is one of 12 nations that has ordered the most current Chinook configuration (Boeing photo)
Boeing has manufactured more than 460 CH-47F Chinooks. Spain is one of 12 nations that has ordered the most current Chinook configuration (Boeing photo)

This is the first order from a non-U.S. customer placed through a contract Boeing and the U.S. Army signed in July. That contract covers six new F-models for the U.S. and options for up to 150 more Chinooks for U.S. and international customers. Deliveries to Spain begin in 2021.

«The Chinook is a versatile aircraft flown by eight NATO nations, including Spain», said Chuck Dabundo, vice president, Cargo and Utility Helicopters and H-47 program manager. «With this contract, Spain’s Chinook crews will enjoy the platform’s current technology and capability, while the country gets an affordable upgrade that builds on its existing H-47 investment».

The CH-47F is a twin-engine, tandem rotor, heavy-lift helicopter. In addition to the U.S. Army and Special Operations Forces, Chinooks are currently in service or under contract with 19 international defense forces. It can fly at speeds exceeding 152 knots/175 mph/282 km/h and carry payloads greater than 21,000 lbs./9,525 kg. In 2017, Boeing and the U.S. Army announced development of CH-47F Block II, which will incorporate a new rotor blade, redesigned fuel system, improved drivetrain and structural improvements to the fuselage.

The second GlobalEye

The second GlobalEye aircraft took off for the first time at 11.00 am on 3 January from Saab’s airfield in Linköping. GlobalEye, which is based on a modified Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft with a suite of advanced sensors including the Erieye ER airborne radar, undertook a test flight collecting flight-test data. The flight duration was 2 hours 54 minutes.

Saab completed a successful first flight with the second GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft on 3 January
Saab completed a successful first flight with the second GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft on 3 January

«Today’s successful first flight is another major step for GlobalEye. We received the initial contract in late 2015, completed the maiden flight with the first aircraft in March 2018 and now we have the second aircraft in the air just over nine months later. This is the kind of efficiency that signifies Saab», says Anders Carp, Head of Saab’s business area Surveillance.

GlobalEye brings extended detection range, endurance and the ability to perform multiple roles, including tasks such as search and rescue, border surveillance and military operations. The launch customer for GlobalEye is United Arab Emirates, where the solution is known as the Swing Role Surveillance System (SRSS).

Indefinite quantity

Northrop Grumman Corporation has received a $3.6 billion Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) award for Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasure (LAIRCM) systems and support from the U.S. Air Force. Under the IDIQ, the Air Force may issue task or delivery order awards up to the ceiling amount specified in the contract. Work under the contract is set to conclude in 2025. The initial task order is $2.4 million for logistics support services.

Northrop Grumman has been selected to provide infrared countermeasure systems under a $3.6 billion IDIQ award from the U.S. Air Force
Northrop Grumman has been selected to provide infrared countermeasure systems under a $3.6 billion IDIQ award from the U.S. Air Force

Northrop Grumman’s LAIRCM system protects aircrews by detecting, tracking and jamming incoming infrared threats without the need for user intervention.

«This new IDIQ award extends Northrop Grumman’s multi-decade support of successful aircrew protection provided by our infrared countermeasure systems, and demonstrates our customer’s confidence in LAIRCM’s ability to address the rapidly changing threat environment», said Bob Gough, vice president, land and avionics Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) division, Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman infrared countermeasures are enabling missions worldwide, having been installed on more than 1,800 aircraft of more than 80 types worldwide.

High Efficiency Trainer

The first M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) production basic/advanced trainer aircraft successfully performed its maiden flight at Venegono Superiore airport (Varese, Italy) with pilots Quirino Bucci and Giacomo Iannelli onboard.

First M-345 production aircraft makes maiden flight
First M-345 production aircraft makes maiden flight

Quirino Bucci, Aircraft Division’s Trainer Project Test Pilot, said: «The airplane performed excellently, perfectly meeting design parameters and expectations. The engine in particular showed exceptional response to power changes, a key factor for the role the M-345 will play, particularly for aerobatic flights. We’ve also tested the advanced on-board systems and I’m extremely happy with the excellent avionics integration and man-machine interface».

The M-345 is the new basic-advanced jet trainer aircraft produced by Leonardo
The M-345 is the new basic-advanced jet trainer aircraft produced by Leonardo

Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Leonardo Aircraft Division Managing Director, said: «I am extremely happy with what we’ve done so far and the short time it took to achieve such an excellent result. Thanks to its performance and the integrated training system the M-345, which has already generated interest among many air forces worldwide, will deliver a significant enhancement in training effectiveness and operating cost reduction. It’s an aircraft that is able to combine a jet’s superior performance and effectiveness with the cost of a high power turboprop trainer».

The Italian Air Force, the launch customer, has a requirement for up to 45 M-345s
The Italian Air Force, the launch customer, has a requirement for up to 45 M-345s

The Italian Air Force (ITAF), the launch customer, has a requirement for up to 45 M-345s (designated the T-345A by ITAF) to progressively replace 137 MB-339s, which first entered service in 1982, and to become the Italian Air Force’s new aerobatic team airplane. The customer has so far placed an order for five aircraft and the first will be delivered in early 2020. The new M-345s will integrate the M-346s used during the advanced training phase of the Italian Air Force’s pilots. Through the International Flight Training School the Air Force will be able to strengthen its training school’s growth and internationalization while increasing at the same time capabilities and services offered to customers.

Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Aircraft Division Managing Director, said: «The M-345 will enable air forces to significantly enhance training effectiveness and reduce operating costs»
Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Aircraft Division Managing Director, said: «The M-345 will enable air forces to significantly enhance training effectiveness and reduce operating costs»

Training Capability

Northrop Grumman Corporation has received a $450 million, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract award to deliver Joint Threat Emitter (JTE) systems to the United States Air Force. The JTE offers realistic warfighter training and provides a modern, reactive battlespace environment that trains military personnel to identify and counter enemy missile and artillery threats.

The Joint Threat Emitter provides a modern, reactive battlespace war environment, designed to help train military personnel to identify and effectively counter enemy missile or artillery threats
The Joint Threat Emitter provides a modern, reactive battlespace war environment, designed to help train military personnel to identify and effectively counter enemy missile or artillery threats

Awarded by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, the JTE Enhanced Delivery Initiative contract includes threat emitter units, mobile and fixed command and control units as well as spares, support equipment, testing and training.

JTE is a robust and ruggedized system that is easily relocated, reactive to aircrew/aircraft for fast-jet, fixed-wing and rotary-wing defensive measures, and can be rapidly reprogrammed with new threat parameters.

«Our Joint Threat Emitter systems enable aircrews to train in environments that match actual combat situations. These training systems are critical in preparing members of the military to respond to threats», said Rob Fleming, vice president, land and avionics C4ISR, Northrop Grumman.

The JTE Enhanced Delivery Initiative includes foreign military sales to U.S. partner countries through the U.S. Air Force. All work under this contract will be performed in Buffalo.

Northrop Grumman’s JTE is the current U.S. Air Force program of record with 28 systems so far fielded both domestically and internationally.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), space, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide.

Ukrainian H225

Kick-starting the modernisation of Ukraine’s helicopter fleet, Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first two H225s, out of an order for 21 aircraft, to the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior. One aircraft is destined for search and rescue missions and the other one will be operated by the National Guard for law enforcement missions. The H225 helicopters were repurposed to suit these public service missions in just over three months. Another two H225s will join the fleet in the coming weeks.

Ukrainian Ministry of Interior takes delivery of its first H225s
Ukrainian Ministry of Interior takes delivery of its first H225s

«Further to the Intergovernmental Agreement signed between Ukraine and France earlier this year, we are pleased to be celebrating the first deliveries. This Agreement for 55 helicopters enables Ukraine to provide its population with a complete range of helicopter services from search and rescue, emergency medical services, firefighting to law enforcement missions», said Arsen Avakov, Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. «Thanks to the excellent operational cooperation with Airbus, we will also set up a local training and maintenance centre in Ukraine to support our new modernized fleet of helicopters», he added.

«We are pleased that these two H225s have landed in Ukraine in a record amount of time. Now that the pilots have completed their H225 certification training in France, Ukraine can immediately take advantage of the excellent payload and range that the multi-purpose H225 offers along with the aircraft’s state-of-the-art autopilot that provides precision while reducing crew workload in the most demanding mission conditions», said Matthieu Louvot, Executive Vice President for Support and Services at Airbus Helicopters who attended the delivery ceremony in Kiev. «One of the next steps is to accompany the Ministry of Interior in setting-up a dedicated training and maintenance centre for the helicopters in Ukraine», he added.

The first deliveries have taken place in the frame of the Intergovernmental Agreement contract signed in July 2018 for 55 aircraft – 21 repurposed H225s, 10 brand new H145s, and 24 H125s, all aimed for Search And Rescue (SAR), EMS and other public service missions.

The 11-tonne-category twin-turbine H225 is recognised as a reference in SAR operations and is relied on by organisations worldwide including the Japan Coast Guard, the Spanish Coast Guard and the Argentine Coast Guard. Benefits for these demanding missions include a takeoff sequence of less than five minutes, its all-weather capability including in full icing conditions, its SAR modes and renowned autopilot precision.

The H225 offers outstanding endurance and fast cruise speed, and can be fitted with a wide range of mission equipment to suit any role. The H225 family has accumulated over 640,000 flight hours to date.

 

Characteristics

CAPACITY
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.
EXTERNAL DIMENSIONS
Length 16.79 m/55.08 feet
Width 3.96 m/13 feet
Height 4.60 m/15.09 feet
WEIGHT
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.
ENGINES 2 TURBOMECA MAKILA 2A1
Take-off power per engine 1,567 kW/2,101 shp
PERFORMANCE AT MAXIMUM GROSS WEIGHT, ISA*, SL**
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

Multi-Role Tanker

Airbus Defence and Space has received a firm order from the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) for a further three A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.

France orders three more Airbus A330 MRTT tankers
France orders three more Airbus A330 MRTT tankers

The aircraft, known as Phénix in French service, constitute the third and final tranche of the multi-year contract for 12 A330 MRTTs signed by the French Ministry of Defence in 2014.

The first of the fleet was formally handed over in October and the remainder will be delivered by the end of 2023 under an accelerated timescale requested by France.

In French service the A330 MRTT will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines and equipped with a combination of the Airbus Refuelling Boom System and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods. The aircraft can be configured in a variety of layouts carrying up to 272 passengers as well as medevac arrangements including the French MORPHEE (MOdule de Réanimation Pour Haute Elongation d’Evacuation, or Resuscitation Module for High Elongation Evacuation) intensive care module carrying up to ten patients as well as 88 passengers.

The combat-proven A330 MRTT has been ordered by 12 nations which have now placed firm orders for 60 aircraft, of which 34 have been delivered.

The attached photo shows the first delivered Phénix.