Category Archives: Air Force

Enter the Dragon

All three variants of the F-35 Lightning II continue on a path toward full weapons certification by successfully completing numerous milestones during the previous four months. Highlights included validating 2B weapons software and successfully executing several weapons separation and engagement tests. The most recent accomplishments are in support of the first military service Initial Operational Capability (IOC) declaration by the U.S. Marine Corps in July.

An F-35A, at Edwards AFB, California, is pictured with its F-35 Systems Development and Demonstration Weapons Suite the aircraft is designed to carry. The F-35 can carry more than 35-hundred pounds of ordinance in Low Observable (stealth) mode and over 18-thousand pounds uncontested (Lockheed Martin Photo by Matt Short)
An F-35A, at Edwards AFB, California, is pictured with its F-35 Systems Development and Demonstration Weapons Suite the aircraft is designed to carry. The F-35 can carry more than 35-hundred pounds of ordinance in Low Observable (stealth) mode and over 18-thousand pounds uncontested (Lockheed Martin Photo by Matt Short)

The program also surpassed 25,000 combined flight hours in December with F-35 military fleet aircraft (16,200 hours) nearly doubling the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) test aircraft (8,950) hours. Comprehensive flight test on the F-35A variant GAU-22 25-mm gun system is scheduled to begin mid-year at Edwards AFB, California, and will include ground fire tests, muzzle calibration, flight test integration and in-flight operational tests. The 25-mm missionized gun pod carried externally, centerline mounted on the F-35B and F-35C also begins testing this year to meet U.S. service’s desired schedule for full warfighting capability software known as 3F. The 3F software is currently planned for delivery with the Low Rate Initial Production 9 (LRIP 9) U.S. aircraft in 2017.

«The weapons development program continues to track forward on the plan laid out by the Technical Baseline Review approved in 2010», said Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer. «All weapons tests needed for 2B software, the software the U.S. Marine Corps will use to declare IOC, is complete and will be ready to go for their combat capability certification».

F-35 Weapons Stations
F-35 Weapons Stations

Specific F-35 Flight Test accomplishments during the past four months include:

  • First F-35 day and night Mission Effectiveness Close Air Support (CAS) flights completing 2B CAS testing (October 21).
  • Completion of live fire testing on an F-35B ground test article. (September 9).
  • Successful first (September 9) and night flight (September 18) with the Generation III helmet-mounted display with 3iR4 software.
  • Completion of final buffet, loads and high-angle-of-attack testing required for F-35A Block 2B software (November 18).
  • Successfully launched an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) from an F-35C, marking the last weapon separation test needed for Block 2B software (September 30).
  • F-35C set a record for 17 sorties in a day for a single F-35 aircraft (November 5) and a record 22 sorties with F-35C aircraft CF-3 and CF-5 combined aboard USS Nimitz for F-35C Sea Trials off the coast of San Diego (November 3-14).
  • First separation test of a GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, a 250-lb. precision-guided glide weapon (October 21) and multi-separation test (November 20).
  • First F-35 external flutter tests flown with the AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) (October 29) and Paveway IV missiles (November 13).
  • Three Weapon(s) Delivery Accuracy (WDA) live fire events completed in a week. The F-35 employed two AIM-120 AMRAAMs and one Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). These events included the first supersonic-guided missile launch and the first JDAM release on target coordinates generated from the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) (November 18-25 ).
Weapons Carriage Requirements
Weapons Carriage Requirements

Kawasaki, not a bike

According to Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo, Reuter’s correspondents, Japan is asking Britain to buy its Kawasaki P-1 submarine-hunting jet in a deal that could top $1 billion, a major step in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to arms exports after decades of self-imposed restrictions.

Kawasaki P-1 is equipped with a magnetic anomaly detector housed in its rear «sting», which the US Navy dropped from its Boeing P-8 for cost reasons and which is of huge importance for anti-submarine missions
Kawasaki P-1 is equipped with a magnetic anomaly detector housed in its rear «sting», which the US Navy dropped from its Boeing P-8 for cost reasons and which is of huge importance for anti-submarine missions

Meanwhile, Britain has not formally decided it will buy new maritime patrol planes, having canceled an order for nine built by BAE Systems in 2010 due to delays and cost over-runs, and the P-1, made by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, would face stiff competition from Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon, the three sources told Reuters. Japanese officials raised the issue of London buying the P-1 to replace the British-made Hawker Siddeley Nimrod, which was retired in 2011, when they met their UK counterparts to discuss defense-equipment cooperation at the Farnborough Air Show near London in July, the sources said.

After Abe eased curbs on military exports in April 2014, his Defense Ministry has been looking to tap foreign markets for its cocooned weapons makers, including potential deals to sell the new submarines to Australia and the ShinMaywa seaplanes to India. A Kawasaki P-1 sale to Britain would be Japan’s first major military deal outside the Asia-Pacific region. Abe wants Japan’s defense suppliers to move into the global arms market through tie-ups that will help bring down procurement costs and strengthen the nation’s military to counter China’s growing military might.

Even if Britain does not buy, the P-1 could benefit from being treated as a genuine contender. «If the UK gives it serious consideration, then the P-1 will garner attention internationally», one Japanese source said. «It has potential customers beyond the UK, like New Zealand, Norway and Canada, with large maritime areas», said UK consultant Simon Chelton, a former BAE Systems Plc executive and defense attache at the British Embassy in Tokyo.

Kawasaki P-1 is handicapped by the high fuel consumption of its four jet engines, where maritime patrol aircraft generally have two turbofans (Boeing P-8) or two or four turboprops
Kawasaki P-1 is handicapped by the high fuel consumption of its four jet engines, where maritime patrol aircraft generally have two turbofans (Boeing P-8) or two or four turboprops

Senior Japanese and UK officials will have a chance to discuss the idea at a strategic dialogue in London organized by independent British and Japanese think-tanks. The P-1, designed to patrol Japan’s territorial waters from the Pacific to the East China Sea, where Beijing claims small islands held by Tokyo, will be the country’s principal sub hunter for decades to come.

Japan’s navy plans to buy around 20, costing about 20 billion yen ($170 million) each, over the next five years, though cracks in the fuselage and wing and engine problems have delayed its entry into service. No announcement from Britain of any replacement for the Nimrod, which tracked Soviet undersea activity during the Cold War, is expected before May’s general election.

Its least risky option could be the Boeing P-8, already built and operated by the United States, the closest ally to both Britain and Japan, the sources said. Deployed by the U.S. Navy last year, the first squadron armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles operates from Okinawa in southwestern Japan near China. Boeing officials in Tokyo were unavailable for comment.

With its four engines P-1 is probably operational over-kill for British requirements
With its four engines P-1 is probably operational over-kill for British requirements

In its most recent order in February, the U.S. Navy said it would buy 16 additional P-8s at a cost of $150 million each. If Japan can offer a P-1 variant tailored for the British military that is competitive on price and capability, it could represent a viable alternative. Jointly building a P-1 that taps into Britain’s experience building the Nimrod would allow London to retain rights over radar and sensing technology it would lose by buying a U.S. aircraft regulated by the Pentagon, one source said. Last year Japan and Britain agreed on a deal that will see Mitsubishi Electric Corp partner with European missile maker MBDA to develop a medium-range air-to-air missile for the F-35 stealth fighter, which both countries plan to deploy.

Gun on Schedule

It is said in the Defense News, the gun on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter remains on schedule to go operational in 2017. The Daily Beast reported on December 31, 2014 that the gun would not be able to be used until 2019, but in a statement F-35 joint program office spokesman Joe DellaVedova described that story as a «misreporting» of the facts.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)

The gun in question is a 25-mm system known as the GAU-22, developed by General Dynamics. It is internal on the F-35A model and carried in an external pod of the F-35B and F-35C designs. GAU-22 testing for all three models is scheduled to start this year. Since 2005, DellaVedova said, the GAU-22 was planned to go operational with the block 3F software. That software is scheduled to go online in 2017, with Low-Rate Initial Production lot 9.

«Delivering the gun capability in the block 3F software is well known to the military services, International Partners and our Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers», DellaVedova said. «That has always been the stated requirement and plan and it hasn’t varied since the technical baseline review in 2010». DellaVedova did acknowledge a «minor low-level issue» with the gun’s software, but said that issue was identified as part of testing and would be resolved by spring of 2015, without affecting the timetable for the gun’s fielding.

While the gun is currently on schedule, that does leave a gap between when the first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II squadrons go operational and when the gun can be used. Thus, the F-35B jump-jet variant is scheduled to go operational for the Marines in mid-2015, while the F-35A conventional take-off and landing model will go operational for the Air Force in the fall of 2016. The Navy’s carrier variant F-35C is scheduled to go operational in 2018, with a more up-to-date software package.

GAU-22 testing for all three models is scheduled to start this year
GAU-22 testing for all three models is scheduled to start this year

In the meantime, the F-35 will conduct Close-Air Support (CAS) operations with a mix of air-to-ground precision weapons, including the AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile), JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) and GBU-12 (Guided Bomb Unit).

Major Gen. Jay Silveria, who commands the USAF Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and is developing tactics for the jet, told reporters in a December 2014 interview that the plane will rely much more on its Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs) than the gun for close air support. «I think, so far, it looks like the PGMs will be more useful in the CAS role», Silveria said, before noting «we have not really completed all of the operational testing on the CAS».

 

F-35 Lightning II 25mm Gun System

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems has been awarded a system development and demonstration contract by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company to design, produce and integrate the gun systems for the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter.

GD-OTS is devel­oping the GAU-22/A for the internal and external gun systems based on a derivative of its GAU-12/U 25-mm Gatling gun. An internally mounted gun system will arm the F-35A Conventional TakeOff and Landing aircraft variant and a removable or «missionized» externally mounted gun system will arm the F-35B Short TakeOff and Vertical Landing and F-35C Carrier-Based aircraft variants.

 

Internal Gun System

The F-35A Lightning II gun system will include the GAU-22/A derivative gun; a linear linkless ammunition feed system, a gun system control unit and a 4,000-pounds-per-square-inch hydraulic drive assembly.

CTOL (Conventional TakeOff and Landing) Gun System
CTOL (Conventional TakeOff and Landing) Gun System

 

External Gun System

The «missionized» gun system designed for the F-35B and F-35C will be hard-mounted to the cen­terline station of the aircraft. This gun system will include the CTOL-common GAU-22/A derivative gun, a gun system control unit and drive assembly, and a helical linear linkless ammunition feed system contained in a conformal pod.

STOVL/CV (Short TakeOff and Vertical Landing and Carrier-Based) Gun System
STOVL/CV (Short TakeOff and Vertical Landing and Carrier-Based) Gun System

 

Specifications

Gun type:             Four-barrel, 25-mm, externally powered Gatling gun

Weight (without ammunition)

Internal system:                    416 pounds/189 kg

External system:                   735 pounds/334 kg

Rate of fire:                              3,000 shots per minute

Dispersion:                               5 milliradians diameter, 80 percent circle

Muzzle velocity

TP (Target Practice), HEI (High-Explosive Incendiary) ammunition:                                                              3,560 feet/1,085 m per second

API (Armor Piercing Incendiary) ammunition:        3,400 feet/1,036 m per second

Average recoil force:          4,000 pounds/17.8 kN

Feed system:                           Conventional linear linkless (CTOL), helical

Drive system:                         Hydraulic

 

Commando II

The MC-130J Commando II is replacing the retiring MC-130P Combat Shadow assigned to the 353rd SOG’s 17th Special Operations Squadron. The newest aircraft touched down at Kadena Air Base, Japan after a flight across the Pacific to its new home (Source: US Air Force).

The MC-130J is a special operations versatile multi-mission tactical airlifter
The MC-130J is a special operations versatile multi-mission tactical airlifter

«The Commando II represents a giant leap forward for specialized air mobility», said Major Michael Perry, 17th SOS assistant operations officer. «The MC-130J can carry more, further and faster than any of its predecessors».

According to Defense-aerospace.com, Special operations began using the Combat Shadow in the mid-1980s, conducting air-refueling missions during Operation Just Cause in Panama and in the 1990s during Operation Desert Storm. In the Pacific region, the Combat Shadow aircrafts have supported more than a dozen named operations, from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom to humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations.

«The MC-130J is part of Air Force Special Operations Command’s fleet-wide C-130 recapitalization», said Major Matthew Bartlett, 17th SOS operations officer. The recapitalization began in 2011 with the first MC-130J delivery to Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, in conjunction with the progressive retirements of the MC-130E, AC-130H and MC-130P fleets. The AC-130U, AC-130W and MC-130H are all eventually scheduled to be replaced by Lockheed Martin C-130J aircraft. «The J-model aircraft will be executing the same missions as their predecessors», said Bartlett. «The newer airframes, with their increased efficiency and fleet-common technology, will reduce operational costs to the Air Force».

Perry said the technology sets new standards for safety and accuracy in executing their specialized airdrop, low-level, infiltration and exfiltration, and helicopter/tilt-rotor aerial refueling missions. «We are all excited about the increased capability this brings to our SOF partners as we carry on the 17th SOS legacy of ‘No Mission Too Demanding,’» Perry said.

Formerly known as the Combat Shadow II, it delivers increased combat performance to the warfighter with its more powerful engines and MC-130J-unique features
Formerly known as the Combat Shadow II, it delivers increased combat performance to the warfighter with its more powerful engines and MC-130J-unique features

 

MC-130J Commando II

Mission

The MC-130J Commando II (formerly known as the Combat Shadow II) flies clandestine, or low visibility, single or multiship, low-level air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft, and infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of Special Operations Forces (SOF) by airdrop or airland intruding politically sensitive or hostile territories. The MC-130J Commando II primarily flies missions at night to reduce probability of visual acquisition and intercept by airborne threats. Its secondary mission includes the airdrop of leaflets.

 

Features

The MC-130J includes: advanced two-pilot flight station with fully integrated digital avionics; fully populated Combat Systems Operator (CSO) and auxiliary flight deck stations; 13 color multifunctional liquid crystal displays; head-up displays; fully integrated navigation systems with dual inertial navigation system and global positioning system; integrated defensive systems; low-power color radar; digital moving map display; new turboprop engines with six-bladed, all-composite propellers; digital auto pilot; improved fuel, environmental and ice-protection systems; enhanced cargo-handling system; Universal Air Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI), air refueling pods, Electro Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) System; dual SATCOM (Satellite Communications) for voice/data; 60/90 kVA generators; increased DC electrical output, loadmaster/scanner restraint system; and LAIRCM (Large Aircraft Infrared Counter-Measure) provisions.

 

Background

The MC-130J Commando II is replacing the aging SOF fleet of 37 MC-130E and P tankers. The first aircraft was delivered in September 2011 to Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, with final delivery expected in fiscal year 2017.

The MC-130J Commando II supports such missions as in-flight refueling, infiltration/exfiltration, and aerial delivery and resupply of special operations forces
The MC-130J Commando II supports such missions as in-flight refueling, infiltration/exfiltration, and aerial delivery and resupply of special operations forces

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function:   Air refueling of SOF helicopter/tilt rotor aircraft, infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of SOF by airdrop or airland

Builder:                          Lockheed Martin

Power Plant:               4 Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 Turboprops

Thrust:                            4,591 shaft horsepower/3,425 kW

Wingspan:                    132 feet, 7 inches/39.7 meters

Length:                           97 feet, 9 inches/29.3 meters

Height:                           38 feet, 10 inches/11.9 meters

Speed:                            362 knots/416 mph/670 km/h at 22,000 feet/ 6,705 meters

Ceiling:                          28,000 feet/8,534 meters with 42,000 lbs/ 19,051 kg payload

Maximum Takeoff Weight:   164,000 lbs/74,389 kg

Range:                            3,000 miles/4,828 km

Crew:                              Two pilots, one Combat Systems Officer (officers), and two Loadmasters (enlisted)

Date Deployed:        2011

Unit Cost:                     $67 million (fiscal 2010 dollars)

Inventory:                    Active duty, 37 by fiscal 2017

 

 

Baltic typhoon

NATO has rotated its air policing mission in the Baltic with the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana – AMI) assuming the lead on 2 January, said Gareth Jennings, Jane’s Defence Weekly reporter.

Typhoon in multi-role fit with Brimstone missile and Paveway IV
Typhoon in multi-role fit with Brimstone missile and Paveway IV

For the next four months, 4 AMI Eurofighter Typhoons will lead the mission out of Siauliai Airbase in Lithuania. These will be supported at the same location by 4 Polish MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters, as well as by 4 Spanish Typhoons at Amari Airbase in Estonia and 4 Belgian Lockheed Martin F-16s at Malbork in Poland.

This ‘enhanced’ Baltic Air Policing Mission was stood up in May 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the crisis with Ukraine, and will continue through to at least the end of 2015. During a recent visit to Amari Airbase, the commander of the German detachment based there from September through to January told reporters that Russian Air Force activity in the region had been at an unprecedented high. In the four months that it was assigned to the mission, the German Air Force flew some 255 sorties, which was far more than previously the case before the current tensions with Russia.

Typhoon with Meteor
Typhoon with Meteor

According to NATO, aside from raising tensions, this increased air activity is posing a danger to commercial air traffic as Russian aircraft are invariably flying without flight plans or even transponder, and are not communicating with Air Traffic Control (ATC). To try to mitigate this increased risk, military authorities in Estonia and Finland are now sharing their primary radar data with civilian ATC operators.

The Baltic Air Policing Mission began in 2004 as a temporary measure to safeguard the airspace of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania until they developed their own air defence capabilities. However, in 2012 the alliance declared the mission to be permanent. Including this latest 37th rotation, 16 NATO nations have taken part.

 

Eurofighter Typhoon: general characteristics

(Single seat twin-engine, with a two-seat variant)

First Paveway IV Release for RAF Typhoons
First Paveway IV Release for RAF Typhoons

Dimensions/Mass

Wingspan:                                                10.95 m/35 ft 11 in

Length overall:                                      15.96 m/52 ft 4 in

Height:                                                       5.28 m/17 ft 4 in

Wing Area:                                              51.2 m2/551.1 ft2

Basic Mass Empty:                             11,000 kg/24,250 lbs

Maximum Take-off:                           >23,500 kg/>51,809 lbs

Maximum external load:                 >7,500 kg/>16,535 lbs

 

Design characteristics

Weapon Carriage:                              13 Hardpoints

G’ limits:                                                    +9/-3 g

Engines:                                                     2 Eurojet EJ200 reheated turbofans

Maximum dry thrust class:            60 kN/13,500 lb/6,118 kgf

Maximum reheat thrust class:     90 kN/20,000 lb/9,177 kgf

 

General performance characteristics

(With a full Air-to-Air Missile Fit)

Ceiling:                                                                               >55,000 ft/16,764 m

Brakes off to 35,000 ft (10,668 m)/M1.5:     <2.5 minutes

Brakes off to lift off:                                                    <8 seconds

At low level:                    200 knots/370 km/h to Mach 1.0 in 30 seconds

Maximum Speed:                                                          Mach 2.0

Operational Runway Length:                                <700 m/2,297 ft

Eurofighter Typhoon is the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft providing simultaneously deployable Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface capabilities
Eurofighter Typhoon is the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft providing simultaneously deployable Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface capabilities

Helicopters to Poland

According to Jaroslaw Adamowski, DefenseNews.com correspondent, Poland’s Ministry of Defense has obtained three offers in its much-awaited tender to acquire some 70 new helicopters for the country’s armed forces. The bidders include:

  • Airbus Helicopters;
  • Sikorsky;
  • PZL-Swidnik – a Poland-based subsidiary of AgustaWestland.
Airbus Helicopters EC-725 Caracal (also named Super Cougar)
Airbus Helicopters EC-725 Caracal (also named Super Cougar)

«The next phase of the tender will be to perform an analysis of the submitted documents by the commission which is carrying out this procedure, and to select the best offer and test the helicopter», Col. Jacek Sonta, the spokesperson for the Defense Ministry, said in a statement.

A consortium led by Airbus Helicopters is offering the EC-725, while Sikorsky wants to supply its S70i Black Hawk, and AgustaWestland is offering the AW-149.

The Airbus Helicopters EC-725 Caracal (also named Super Cougar) is a long-range tactical transport helicopter developed from the Super Puma/Cougar family for military use. It is a twin-engined aircraft and can carry up to 29-seated troops along with 2 crew, depending on customer configuration. The helicopter is marketed for troop transport, casualty evacuation, and combat search and rescue duties, and is similar to the civilian EC-225.

The Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk is an international military version assembled by Sikorsky subsidiary, PZL-Mielec in Poland. It was developed for the U.S. Army in the 1970s, winning a competition to be designated the UH-60 Black Hawk and spawning a large family in United States military service. New and improved versions of the UH-60 have been developed since. Civilian versions and some military versions of this medium transport/utility helicopter are produced under various S-70 model designations.

S-70i Black Hawk is an international military version assembled by Sikorsky subsidiary, PZL-Mielec in Poland
S-70i Black Hawk is an international military version assembled by Sikorsky subsidiary, PZL-Mielec in Poland

The AgustaWestland AW149 is a medium-lift military helicopter being developed by AgustaWestland. On 20 June 2011, AgustaWestland announced the AW189, a civilian development of the AW149, for service in 2013.

The new helicopters are designed to replace the Polish military’s Soviet-designed Mil Mi-8, Mi-14 and Mi-17 old helicopters.

Local newspaper Rzeczpospolita reported that the planned deal is estimated to be worth up to 10 billion zloty ($2.8 billion).

According to the ministry, the helicopters are to be supplied in three variants, including:

  • Multi-Task Transport;
  • Search-And-Rescue;
  • Anti-Submarine.

«Following the signature of an offset deal, it will become possible for us to sign a contract for the delivery of the helicopters. Under the plan, this will happen in the second half of 2015», Sonta said.

Deliveries are scheduled for 2017 to 2022.

The AgustaWestland AW149 is a medium-lift military helicopter
The AgustaWestland AW149 is a medium-lift military helicopter

Big Three

It is said in The Aerospace Daily & Defense Report that Airbus and Boeing are jointly attempting to unseat Lockheed Martin from South Korea’s KF-X indigenous fighter program, offering stealth know-how from Europe that could not be supplied from U.S. sources.

F/A-18E/F Super Hornets in flight over mountains, snow. In route to India Aero Show.
F/A-18E/F Super Hornets in flight over mountains, snow. In route to India Aero Show.

With Korean Airlines as the local partner, the pair are likely to be proposing the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as a base design for the KF-X. The defense ministry’s procurement office, the Defense Acquisition Program Agency (DAPA), issued a request for proposals for KF-X development on December 23, 2014.

The Boeing-Airbus KF-X proposal should be an economical alternative to a fighter design of the defense ministry’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD) that Korea Aerospace Industries has been expected to build with technical assistance from Lockheed Martin.

According to DefenseNews.com, Seoul aims to produce 120 KF-X jets between 2023 and 2030. The state-funded ADD has long studied a twin-engine concept, either of the C103 design that looks somewhat like the F-35 or the C203 design following the European approach and using forward canards in a stealth-shaped airframe. Both of the twin-engine platforms would be powered by two 18,000-pound (80 kN/8,165 kgf) engines, ADD officials said.

The Agency for Defense Development has long studied a twin-engine concept, either of the C103 design that looks somewhat like the F-35
The Agency for Defense Development has long studied a twin-engine concept, either of the C103 design that looks somewhat like the F-35

Korea Aerospace Industries, on the other hand, prefers a single-engine concept, dubbed C501, which is to be built based on the FA-50, a light attack aircraft version of the T-50 supersonic trainer jet co-produced by Lockheed Martin. The C501 aircraft, powered by a 29,000-pound (129 kN/13,154 kgf) engine, is designed to be fitted with a limited low-observable configuration and advanced avionics.

The U.S. limits the technology that its companies can transfer abroad. Thus, South Korea lacks technology in many fields, such as active, electronically scanning radar. Nevertheless, Airbus, as an airframe company, is probably involved in the Boeing bid as a supplier of stealth know-how that the U.S. company is not authorized to provide.

A budget of 8.6991 trillion won ($7.9171 billion) approved by the finance ministry this month must be intended to pay for development of the ADD KF-X. However, parliament has not yet authorized that spending or the launch of full-scale development, nor can it do so before it votes on the government’s 2016 budget next December.

Korea Aerospace Industries, on the other hand, prefers a single-engine concept, dubbed C501, which is to be built based on the FA-50, a light attack aircraft version of the T-50 supersonic trainer jet co-produced by Lockheed Martin
Korea Aerospace Industries, on the other hand, prefers a single-engine concept, dubbed C501, which is to be built based on the FA-50, a light attack aircraft version of the T-50 supersonic trainer jet co-produced by Lockheed Martin

In the meantime, KAL (Korean Air Lines) looks likely to submit the cheaper alternative, based on the Super Hornet, to DAPA in response to its request for proposals.

Industry officials previously told Aviation Week that Boeing was proposing the Advanced Super Hornet, an update of the F/A-18E/F with a weapons pod and conformal tanks. Other industry officials said Boeing was working with Korean Airlines. Now different officials say that Airbus is also on the team.

This is not the first time that Boeing has offered non-U.S. technology to South Korea. When proposing an advanced F-15 version called the Silent Eagle for the separate F-X Phase 3 fighter program, Boeing suggested technology transfer from Israel Aerospace Industries, an industry official says. Lockheed Martin won F-X Phase 3 with the F-35 and in return is supposed to back KF-X development.

Boeing suggested F-15 Silent Eagle for the separate F-X Phase 3 fighter program
Boeing suggested F-15 Silent Eagle for the separate F-X Phase 3 fighter program

Unmanned Aircraft

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk
Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk
MODEL/DESIGNATION LENGTH (FT./M) SPAN (FT./M) GROSS WEIGHT (LB./KG) POWERPLANT (NO./TYPE) POWER/THRUST PAYLOAD, LB./KG (WT./TYPE) SPEED (KT./KM/H) ENDURANCE MAX. ALTITUDE (FT./M)
AAI Corp.
RQ-7Bv2 Shadow 11.8/3.596 20.4/6.217 467/211.8 1 × UEL AR741 rotary 38 hp/28.3 kW 45-80/20.4-36.2 (EO/IR/LD) 90-110/ 166-203 9 hr. 15,000/4,572
AeroVironment Inc.
RQ-11B Raven 3/0.914 4.5/1.371 4.2/1.9 1 × electric 200 W 6.5 oz./184.2 gram (EO/IR) 17-44/31-81 60-90 min. 500/152.4
RQ-20A Puma AE 4.6/1.402 9.2/2.804 13/5.8 1 × electric 600 W EO/IR 20-45/37-83 2 hr. 500/152.4
Elbit Systems
Hermes 450 20/6.096 34.5/10.515 1,200/544.3 1 × UEL AR801 rotary 60 hp/44.7 kW 400/181.4 (EO/IR/LD) 70-95/129-175 17 hr. 18,000/5,486.4
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
MQ-1C Gray Eagle 28/8.534 56/17.068 3,200/1,451.5 1 × Thielert Centurion 2.0 HFE 135 hp/100.6 kW 1,075/487.6 internal/external 167/309 25 hr. 29,000/8,839.2
MQ-9 Reaper 36/10.972 66/20.116 10,500/4,762.7 1 × Honeywell TPE331-10 900 shp/671.1 kW 3,850/1,746.3 internal/external 240/444 27 hr.+ 50,000/15,240
Insitu
RQ-21A Blackjack 7.2/2.194 16/4.876 135/61.2 1 × NWUAV gas/HFE 8 hp/5.9 kW 37.5/17.0 (EO/IR/LRF) 55-80+/ 101-148+ 24 hr. 15,000+/4,572+
ScanEagle 2 5.6/1.706 10.2/3.108 51.8/23.4 1 × N20 (gas), N21 (HFE) 2.7 hp/2.0 kW 7.7/3.4 (EO/IR+) 50-80/92-148 16 hr.+ 19,500/5,943.6
Israel Aerospace Industries
Heron TP 45.9/13.990 85.3/25.999 10,230/4,640.2 1 × P&WC PT6A 1,200 shp/894.8 kW 4,400/1,995.8 (EO/IR, SAR, Elint, comm) 242/448 36 hr. 45,000/13,716
Super Heron HF 55.8/17.007 3,200/1,451.5 1 × HFE 200 hp+/149.1+ kW 990/449.0 (EO/IR, SAR, Elint, comm) 60-150+/ 111-277+ up to 45 hr. 30,000+/9,144
Lockheed Martin
Fury 1500 14.3/4.358 300+/136.0+ 1 × HFE 75-125/34.0-56.6 (ISR + EW) 65-95/120-175 15 hr.+ 15,000/4,572
Northrop Grumman
MQ-4C Triton 47.6/14.508 130.9/39.898 32,250/14,628.4 1 × R-R AE3007H 9,500 lb./42.25 kN 3,200/1,451.5 internal 2,400/1,088.6 external 357/661 24 hr. 56,500/17,221.2
MQ-8C Fire Scout 41.4/12.618 35/10.668 (rotor diameter) 6,000/2,721.5 1 × R-R M250-C47E 700 shp/521.9 kW 1,000/453.5 internal 2,600/1,179.3 sling load 140/259 12 hr. 17,000/5,181.6
Piaggio Aero
P.1HH HammerHead 47.3/14.417 51.2/15.605 13,500/6,123.5 2 × P&WC PT6A-66B 850 shp/633.8 kW each 500/226.7 (EO/IR, SAR) 395/731 16 hr. 45,000/13,716
Turkish Aerospace Industries
Anka 26.2/7.985 56.8/17.312 3,530/1,601.1 1 × HFE 155 hp/115.5 kW 440/199.5 (EO/IR/LD, SAR) 110/203 24 hr. 30,000/9,144

Pegasus on the rise

The Boeing KC-46 Pegasus development program completed its first flight of Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) aircraft №1 on December 28. Boeing EMD №1 is a provisioned 767-2C freighter and the critical building block for the KC-46 missionized aerial refueler. The maiden flight took off at 9:29 AM PST from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, and landed at 1:01 PM PST at Boeing Field in Seattle.

The maiden flight took off at 9:29 AM PST from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, and landed at 1:01 PM PST at Boeing Field in Seattle
The maiden flight took off at 9:29 AM PST from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, and landed at 1:01 PM PST at Boeing Field in Seattle

«Getting in the air is a critical step in the development of this important capability for the warfighter», said Brig. Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, the program executive officer for tankers at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. «The team at Boeing has done a remarkable job creating an entirely new aircraft that will soon become the backbone of our ability to project power anywhere in the world».

The 767-2C freighter is the initial step toward producing a KC-46. The aircraft will undergo additional finishing work s at the Boeing facility such as installing the refueling boom and other military specific equipment. The first flight of a Boeing KC-46 Pegasus (EMD №2) is expected in the spring of 2015.

«Today’s flight is a key step in the next generation of tankers», said Col. Christopher Coombs, the KC-46 system program manager. «We know flight testing will lead to some discovery; today’s flight kick-starts that work. There is an aggressive schedule going forward into the Milestone C decision point for approval to start Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP), but we remain cautiously optimistic we can meet the mark».

The Air Force contracted with Boeing in February 2011 to acquire 179 Boeing KC-46 refueling tankers to begin recapitalizing the aging tanker fleet. This flight is an early but important step toward meeting the required assets available date – a milestone requiring 18 KC-46 aircraft and all necessary support equipment to be on the ramp, ready to support warfighter needs, by the August 2017 timeframe.

 

Mission

The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus is intended to replace the U.S. Air Force’s aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers, which has been the primary refueling aircraft for more than 50 years. With more refueling capacity and enhanced capabilities, improved efficiency and increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation, the KC-46A will provide aerial refueling support to the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps as well as allied nation coalition force aircraft.

The KC-46A is intended to replace the United States Air Force's aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers and provides vital air refueling capability for the United States Air Force
The KC-46A is intended to replace the United States Air Force’s aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers and provides vital air refueling capability for the United States Air Force

 

Features

The KC-46A will be able to refuel any fixed-wing receiver capable aircraft on any mission. This aircraft is equipped with a modernized KC-10 refueling boom integrated with proven fly-by-wire control system and delivering a fuel offload rate required for large aircraft. In addition, the hose and drogue system adds additional mission capability that is independently operable from the refueling boom system.

Two high-bypass turbofans, mounted under 34-degree swept wings, power the KC-46A to takeoff at gross weights up to 415,000 pounds/188,240 kg. Nearly all internal fuel can be pumped through the boom, drogue and wing aerial refueling pods. The centerline drogue and wing aerial refueling pods are used to refuel aircraft fitted with probes. All aircraft will be configured for the installation of a multipoint refueling system.

MPRS (Multi-Point Refueling System) configured aircraft will be capable of refueling two receiver aircraft simultaneously from special «pods» mounted under the wing. One crewmember known as the boom operator controls the boom, centerline drogue, and wing refueling «pods» during refueling operations. This new tanker utilizes an advanced KC-10 boom, a center mounted drogue and wing aerial refueling «pods» allowing it to refuel multiple types of receiver aircraft as well as foreign national aircraft on the same mission.

A cargo deck above the refueling system can accommodate a mix load of passengers, patients and cargo. The KC-46A can carry up to 18 463L cargo pallets. Seat tracks and the onboard cargo handling system make it possible to simultaneously carry palletized cargo, seats, and patient support pallets in a variety of combinations. The new tanker aircraft offers significantly increased cargo and aeromedical evacuation capabilities.

The aircrew compartment includes 15 permanent seats for aircrew, which includes permanent seating for the aerial refueling operator and an aerial refueling instructor. Panoramic displays giving the ARO (Aerial Refueling Operator) wing-tip to wing-tip situational awareness.

 

Background

The Boeing Company was awarded a contract for the EMD phase of the KC-46 program on February 24, 2011. The first flight of a Boeing KC-46 Pegasus (EMD №2) is expected in the spring of 2015. The current contract, with options, provides the Air Mobility Command an inventory of 179 KC-46 tankers.

Boeing KC-46 Pegasus
Boeing KC-46 Pegasus

 

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 meters)

Length:                                                165 feet, 6 inches (50.5 meters)

Height:                                                52 feet, 10 inches (15.9 meters)

Maximum Takeoff Weight:    415,000 pounds (188,240 kilograms)

Maximum Landing Weight:    310,000 pounds (140,614 kilograms)

Fuel Capacity:                                 212,299 pounds (96,297 kilograms)

Maximum Transfer Fuel Load: 207,672 pounds (94,198 kilograms)

Maximum Cargo Capacity:     65,000 pounds (29,484 kilograms)

Maximum Airspeed:                   360 KCAS (knots calibrated airspeed)/ 0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h

Service Ceiling:                              43,100 ft/13,137 m

Maximum Distance:                    8400 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

The KC-46A will be able to refuel any fixed-wing receiver capable aircraft on any mission
The KC-46A will be able to refuel any fixed-wing receiver capable aircraft on any mission 

 

Fifth Globemaster

The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence, announced that the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) will acquire a fifth aircraft to augment the current CC-177 Globemaster (Boeing C-17 Globemaster III) fleet.

The CC-177 Globemaster performs touch and goes at Mountain View.On 25 April 2012, at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, 429 Squadron validated techniques, aircraft systems and training while performing the first Canadian Heavy Equipment Drop from a CC-177, Globemaster
The CC-177 Globemaster performs touch and goes at Mountain View.On 25 April 2012, at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, 429 Squadron validated techniques, aircraft systems and training while performing the first Canadian Heavy Equipment Drop from a CC-177, Globemaster

The additional CC-177 will improve the Canadian Armed Forces’ response capability to both domestic and international emergencies and provide support to a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance, peace support and combat. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the men and women of Canada’s Armed Forces have the equipment they need to carry out their missions around the world.

The additional Boeing Globemaster will ease the burden on the current fleet and extend the life expectancy of the entire fleet by about seven and a half years.

With the purchase of an additional aircraft, the RCAF is projected to have at least three CC-177 aircraft available more than 90 per cent of the time to respond to concurrent international or domestic crises. This represents an increase of approximately 25 per cent.

The current fleet of Globemaster CC-177s has been playing an integral role in ferrying supplies and troops to Kuwait to establish and resupply the Canadian camp through «Operation Impact». It has also delivered essential armaments and materiel to CF-18s deployed in Lithuania in support of NATO as part of «Operation Reassurance» and the international response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

The CC-177s have also been used domestically to provide support to «Operation Nanook» where they transported both equipment and personnel in Canada’s largest arctic sovereignty operation, and on «Operation Boxtop», where they provide a critical lifeline and resupplies on a semi-annual basis Canadian Forces Station Alert.

The C-177 Globmaster III carrying re-supplies lands at Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert in support of Operation Boxtop
The C-177 Globmaster III carrying re-supplies lands at Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert in support of Operation Boxtop

Canada’s defence sector will continue to benefit from the purchase of the fifth Globemaster C-17 through the Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy. Boeing’s value proposition includes strong commitments in areas such as supplier development and research and technological development to improve the competitiveness of Canada’s defence sector.

Using existing defence budgets, the acquisition project cost is estimated at $415 million, in addition to 12 years of integrated in-service support valued at $30 million.

«Our Government has made the rebuilding of Canada’s defence capability a cornerstone of our policy agenda at a time when the world remains volatile and unpredictable. Having a fifth Globemaster C-17 will significantly augment the flexibility of the Canadian Armed Forces’ strategic airlift, allowing our men and women in uniform to respond quickly when and where necessary», said Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence.

«The CC-177 fleet has proven to be an extremely effective fleet, one which enables large numbers of simultaneous operations even on short notice. Canada’s addition of a fifth aircraft increases the Royal Canadian Air Force’s flexibility and availability to respond to international or domestic crises», added General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff.

 

Air – Cargo – C-17 Globemaster III