Category Archives: Air Force

The terror
that flaps in the night

According to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, Poland is adding a standoff cruise missile capability to its air force, signing an agreement to buy the Lockheed Martin AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) on 11 December 2014.

AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile
AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile

In addition to the purchase of the missiles, the programme will also include the upgrade of 46 Polish Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft to carry the missiles. Tomasz Siemoniak, Polish minister of national defence and deputy prime minister, stated during the signing ceremony at the 31 Tactical Air Base at Krzesiny (part of the Nowe Miasto district of Poznań, Poland) that «never in Poland’s history have we had such a modern weapon».

Poland is purchasing the new capability as part of an effort to increase its airborne, naval, and land-based long-range strike assets. This is combined with new defensive missile programmes and is intended to deter hostile actions against Poland. These efforts have been given new impetus by the crisis in Ukraine and concerns about Russia’s intentions.

Following the government-to-government letter of offer and acceptance on 11 December 2014, a contract is expected to be awarded to contractor Lockheed Martin in the first quarter of 2015, a company statement said.

The 31st Tactical Air Base
The 31st Tactical Air Base

The agreement to buy the JASSM follows US Congress approval on 2 October 2014 of the sale of up to 40 of the stealthy cruise missiles and the F-16 upgrade package. According to the Polish Ministry of Defence (MoD), the upgrade process for its F-16s will include the installation of retrofit kits and new software for the aircraft to Mid-Life Update tape M6.5 standard.

According to Nicholas de Larrinaga, IHS reporter, beginning in 2015 two Polish F-16s will have the new software integrated and will conduct flight-trials in the United States. The remaining 44 aircraft will receive the software upgrade and retrofit kits at Polish air bases from the second half of 2016 onwards, when the country also expects to receive its first batch of missiles.

When the US Defense Security Co-operation Agency notified the possible sale of the JASSM to Poland on 17 September, it estimated the maximum cost of the programme at $500 million: a figure that Polish sources previously described as «unacceptably high».

However, Polish deputy defence minister Czeslaw Mroczek, responsible for negotiating the purchase, stated that the price of the contract «was negotiated for a long time, but we received a very good price and the contract includes not only the acquisition of JASSM missiles, but also the development of customized software and training».

AGM-158 JASSM
AGM-158 JASSM

 

Overview

JASSM is a long-range, semi-autonomously guided, conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile for the U.S. Air Force. Designed to destroy high-value, well-defended, fixed and relocatable targets, JASSM’s significant standoff range keeps aircrews well out of danger from hostile air defense systems.

A 2,000-pound class weapon with a penetrator/blast fragmentation warhead, JASSM employs semi-autonomous guidance in adverse weather, day or night, using a state-of-the-art infrared seeker in addition to the anti-jam GPS to find a specific aimpoint on the target. Its stealthy airframe makes it extremely difficult to defeat.

JASSM is integrated on multiple aircraft including the B-1, B-2, B-52, F-16, and F-15E. Internationally, JASSM is certified on the Royal Australian Air Force’s F/A-18. Future integration efforts will focus on the U.S. and international versions of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft and other international platforms. With superior performance and affordable price, JASSM offers the best value of any weapon in its class.

The warhead is a WDU-42/B (1000 lbs./453.59 kg) penetrator
The warhead is a WDU-42/B (1000 lbs./453.59 kg) penetrator

 

Features

  • Simple mission planning
  • Adverse weather operable
  • Global Positioning System/Inertial Measurement Unit guidance
  • GPS jam resistant
  • Autonomous terminal guidance
  • Pinpoint accuracy
  • High lethality
  • Highly survivable
  • Supportable
  • Low cost of ownership
  • Full loadout on F-16C/D, F/A-18C/D, F-15E, B-1, B-2, and B-52 aircraft
  • Full aircraft carrier compatibility

 

Specifications

JASSM’s design incorporates proven technologies and subsystems into a stealthy air vehicle to meet today’s and tomorrow’s threats

Weight:                                   2250 lbs./1020.58 kg

Warhead:                              1000 lbs./453.59 kg (WDU-42/B)

Length:                                   168 in/4.267 m

Storage:                                 15 years

Range:                                    >200 NMI/>370.4 km

 

 

F-16 Fighting Falcon (Multirole fighter)  (http://usairforc.blogspot.ru/2014/11/f-16-fighting-falcon.html)

 

Rise of the Osprey

Bell Helicopter announced the successful demonstration of forward-firing capability for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. The exercise took place in November 2014 at the United States Army Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona.

The successful demonstration of forward-firing capability for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey
The successful demonstration of forward-firing capability for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey

«The forward-firing demonstration was a great success», said Vince Tobin, vice president and program manager for the Bell Boeing V-22. «We’ve shown the V-22 Osprey can be armed with a variety of forward-facing munitions, and can hit their targets with a high degree of reliability. Congratulations to the team who has worked hard from initial design to completion of this demonstration».

According to representatives of Bell Helicopter, V-22 Osprey is now one of the safest aircraft operated by the Marine Corps. Since its deployment in 2007, the V-22 has achieved outstanding mission success in deployments to Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. The Osprey offers operators (U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command) a wide range of mission capability including raids, Casualty Evacuation, Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief, resupply, VIP transport, and theater security cooperation.

«Integrating a forward firing capability to the V-22 Osprey will increase its mission set», Tobin continued. «These weapons, once installed, will provide added firepower and reduce reliance on Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARPs) which are sometimes necessary to supply short range attack rotorcraft in support of V-22 operations. Without the need for FARPs, V-22s can be launched more frequently, and on shorter notice».

Through the end of the third quarter of 2014, Bell Boeing has delivered 242 MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor for the U.S. Marine Corps and 44 CV-22 Osprey for U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). Note also that Bell Helicopter began initial design work on forward fire capability in mid-2013.

Integrating a forward firing capability to the Osprey will increase its mission set
Integrating a forward firing capability to the Osprey will increase its mission set

 

Description and Purpose

The V-22 Osprey is a joint service multi-role combat aircraft utilizing tiltrotor technology to combine the vertical performance of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed wing aircraft. With its engine nacelles and rotors in vertical position, it can take off, land and hover like a helicopter. Once airborne, its engine nacelles can be rotated to convert the aircraft to a turboprop airplane capable of high-speed (277 mph, 443 km/h), high-altitude flight (25,000 ft, 7,620 m). This unique combination allows the V-22 Osprey to fill an operational niche no other aircraft can approach.

The V-22 Osprey can carry 24 combat troops (Marines or Special Forces soldiers), or up to 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg) of internal cargo or 15,000 pounds (6,804 kg) of external cargo, at twice the speed of a helicopter. It features a cross-coupled drive system so either engine can power the rotors if one engine fails!

For shipboard compatibility, the rotors fold and the wing rotates to minimize the aircraft’s footprint for storage. The V-22 Osprey is the only vertical lift platform capable of rapid self-deployment to any theater of operation, worldwide.

 

Customers

The U.S. Marine Corps has a current requirement for 360 MV-22s to perform combat assault and assault support missions. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has a requirement for 50 CV-22s configured for terrain-following, low-level, high-speed flight for long-range special operations.

More than 200 Osprey tiltrotors are currently in operation across 10 Marine Corps and 2 Air Force Special Operations Command Osprey squadrons. The two services have together logged 16 successful combat, humanitarian, ship-based or Special Operations deployments since 2007. The worldwide Osprey fleet has amassed more than 190,000 flight hours, with more than half of those hours logged in the past two years (Source: Boeing).

Safety, survivability and mission efficiency have become hallmarks of the operational fleet. According to Naval Safety Center records, the MV-22 has one of the lowest Class A mishap (in which someone dies or a plane sustains more than $1 million in damage; usually such mishaps are crashes, and all are investigated) rates of any tactical rotorcraft in the Marine Corps during the past decade. Navy flight-hour cost data also show that the Osprey has the lowest cost per seat-mile (cost to transport one person over a distance of one mile) of any U.S. naval transport rotorcraft in each of the last two years.

Marine Corps MV-22s are currently deployed in Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit supporting contingency operations, while AFSOC CV-22s are deployed in support of ongoing Special Operations missions.

The V-22 can be armed with a variety of forward-facing munitions
The V-22 can be armed with a variety of forward-facing munitions

 

Production

Boeing Military Aircraft’s Mobility division is responsible for the fuselage, empennage, and all subsystems, digital avionics, and fly-by-wire flight-control systems. While Boeing partner Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., is responsible for the wing, transmissions, rotor systems, engine installation, and final assembly at its completion facility in Amarillo, Texas.

According to Boeing (as of June 2013), 34 V-22 Ospreys were delivered in 2011 and 39 aircraft were delivered in 2012.

 

Multiyear Contract Details

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey program was awarded a second V-22 Multiyear Procurement (MYPII) contract agreement to provide a total of 99 aircraft for the Marine Corps and Air Force Special Operations Command over five years with a substantial savings to the Department of Defense (DOD) and American taxpayers of nearly $1 billion.

The multiyear proposal will bring the fleet near to the full program of record: 360 MV-22s for the Marines and 50 CV-22s for the Air Force.

It should also be mentioned separately that 48 V-22s for the Navy remain part of the program of 459 but are currently unfunded.

 

General Characteristics

Propulsion     Two Rolls-Royce AE1107C; 6,150 shp (4,586 kW) each

Length         Fuselage: 57.3 ft (17.48.20 m); Stowed: 63.0 ft (19.20 m)

Width          Rotors turning: 84.6 ft (25.78 m); Stowed: 18.4 ft (5.61 m)

Height   Nacelles vertical: 22.1 ft (6.73 m); Stabilizer: 17.9 ft (5.46 m)

Rotor Diameter                   38.1 ft (11.6 m)

Vertical Takeoff Max Gross Weight             52,600 lbs (23,859 kg)

Max Cruise Speed              Sea Level (SL): 280 kts (277 mph, 443 km/h)

Ceiling                                       25,000 ft (7,620 m)

Mission Radius                     600 nm (1112 km) – MV-22 Blk B with 24 troops, ramp mounted weapon system, SL STD, 15 min loiter time

Cockpit – crew seats         2 MV/3 CV

Load                                            24 troops (seated), 32 troops (floor loaded); up to 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg) of internal cargo or 15,000 pounds (6,804 kg) of external cargo

 

MV-22B Osprey (VTOL/STOL transport)(http://usnavalaircraft.blogspot.ru/2014/11/mv-22b-osprey.html)

 

CV-22B Osprey (U.S. Special Operations Command – USSOCOM)(http://usairforc.blogspot.ru/2014/11/cv-22b-osprey.html)

 

Sikorsky flies to India

As I mentioned earlier, India is clearly moving away from the Russian arms market. The Indian government decided to mass-produce the new main battle tank Arjun instead of buying Russian T-90. The Indian Air Force announced the French Air Fighter as the preferred bidder in the competition with the Su-30MKI and contracted for 126 Rafales, services, and parts could be worth as much as $20 billion. In fine, the latest P-8I Neptune (Indian version of Boeing P-8 Poseidon) delivery was part of an eight-aircraft contract worth $2.1 billion awarded in January 2009 to replace India’s ageing Russian Tupolev Tu-142Ms.

MH-60S delivery for Thai Navy
MH-60S delivery for Thai Navy

In light of the above, the last post by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. looks like a logical continuation of this clear trend. Namely, India’s Navy has selected Sikorsky to fulfill the service’s Multi-Role Helicopter requirement for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare (ASW/ASuW), among other maritime roles. Negotiations will now begin to procure 16 S-70B Seahawk helicopters, with an option for 8 additional aircraft, along with a complete logistics support and training program (Source: Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.).

«India’s selection of the S-70B helicopter represents a major strategic win for Sikorsky in an important growth market, and positions us well for future opportunities», said Mick Maurer, President of Sikorsky Aircraft. «We look forward to a long-term collaboration with the Indian Government and local industry as we work to bring the Indian Navy the highly advanced multi-role S-70B aircraft».

The proposed Indian Navy S-70B helicopter variant will include avionics and flexible open architecture Weapons Management Systems that integrate an advanced sonar, 360-degree search radar, modern air-to-surface missiles, and torpedoes for the ASW role. A blade and tail fold capability will facilitate shipboard storage.

The new S-70B aircraft will also enhance the Indian Navy’s capabilities to perform non-combat maritime roles, including search and rescue, utility and external cargo lift, surveillance and casualty evacuation.

Sikorsky has fielded increasingly more capable variants of the S-70B helicopter since 1984 for navies that prefer to acquire a modern, fully integrated ASW/ASuW platform direct from the manufacturer. Now operational in 6 countries (in Europe, Middle East, Asia and Latin America), the S-70B platform has a solid reputation for highly reliable shipboard operations and maintenance while operating aboard frigates and larger naval vessels. The S-70B aircraft is part of Sikorsky’s Seahawk helicopter family (including the SH-60 and MH-60 models) that has accumulated almost 4 million flight hours from more than 800 operational aircraft, and is considered one of the safest platforms available.

At the same time, it should be noted that some Navy experts consider this contract as a rather «strange» deal. The fact is that India didn’t procure the latest MH-60R production standard like other navies. Instead, India’s Navy has elected to go for a direct commercial purchase of S-70B helicopters. Thus, India has lost all benefiting from a standard configuration, a larger component and spares pool, and the financial and sustainment advantages of the Foreign Military Sales channel, which has been used for India’s other recent large arms purchases from the US.

I can give as an assumption that India’s Navy is going to use the S-70B platform with flexible open architecture for specific purposes. Based on the Sikorsky S-70B, Indian engineers can create helicopters with original avionics and weapons systems.

Two multi-mission MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters fly in tandem
Two multi-mission MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters fly in tandem

 

Powerplant and fuel system

Number of Engines:                                 2

Engine Type:                                                T700-GE401C

Maximum Take Off:                                 3,426 shp (2,554 kw)

OEI Shaft horsepower (30 sec):        1,911 shp (1,425 kw)

 

Performance

Maximum Gross Weight:                       21,884 lbs (9,926 kg)

Maximum Cruise Speed:                         146 kts (270 km/h)

HIGE Ceiling:                                                  15,989 ft (4,873 m)

HOGE Ceiling:                                                11,222 ft (3,420 m)

AEO Service Ceiling:                                   11,864 ft (3,616 m)

 

Accommodations

Cabin Length:                                                   10.8 ft (3.2 m)

Cabin Width:                                                     6.1 ft (1.8 m)

Cabin Height:                                                    4.4 ft (1.3 m)

Cabin Area:                                                         65 ft2 (6.0 m2)

Cabin Volume:                                                  299 ft3 (8.5 m3)

The Indian Navy has selected Sikorsky S-70B
The Indian Navy has selected Sikorsky S-70B

 

Airframe

Marinized airframe structure for enhanced environmental protection

Multi-functional and durable cabin flooring

2 jettisonable cockpit doors

Single cabin sliding door

Recovery, Assist, Secure and Traverse (RAST) system structural provisions

Aircraft Ship Integrated Secure and Traverse (ASIST) system structural provisions

Automatic main rotor blade fold

Tail pylon fold

Foldable stabilator

Built-in work platforms, engine cowlings and hydraulic deck

External rescue hoist

Environmental control system

 

Cockpit

Advanced Flight Control System (AFCS) with 4 axis coupled flight director and SAR modes

Four 6×8 inch full color, multi-function mission and flight displays

Advanced Flight Management System

Cockpit voice/flight data recorder

Inertial navigation system

Secure HF & VHF/UHF communication

Satellite communication

Data link

NVG compatibility

 

Powerplant and fuel system

2 fully marinized T700GE401C engines

Auxiliary power unit

Fuel dump

Sealed tub design

2 external 120-gallon auxiliary fuel tanks

 

Rotor and drive system

Automatic main rotor blade fold

Dual redundant and isolated flight controls

Rotor brake

Blade de-ice

Rotor and drive system

 

Electrical

2 45KVA main generators

35 KVA APU generator

Redundant power distribution

Full suite of interior and exterior NVG compatible lights

 

MH-60S Knight Hawk (Multimission maritime helicopter) (http://usnavalaircraft.blogspot.ru/2014/11/mh-60s-knight-hawk.html)

Drone wings clipped

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would restrict Navy spending on the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program until the completion of a Pentagon review of its entire information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) portfolio and those results were reported back to Congress, as USNI News reported. The Navy’s FY 2015 budget submission included $403 million to further develop the UCLASS program.

X-47B UCAS. First Flight at Pax River, July 2012
X-47B UCAS. First Flight at Pax River, July 2012

As it is expected, the bill will have passed both the Senate and the House. This fateful document also directs the Secretary of the Navy to submit a report to Congress on how the Navy decided on the most recently stated set of requirements for UCLASS through the prism of the emerging anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) threats the military has touted as a dangerous limitation to U.S. forces and future capabilities of a carrier strike group (CSG) in 2030.

In this regard, it is worth noting the following point: the FY 2017 budget submission will include the study, which will require the Navy to outline its plan for how the UCLASS would work with the Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, the F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and the planned next generation F/A-XX naval fighter.

Congressman Randy Forbes at HASC-led press conference
Congressman Randy Forbes at HASC-led press conference

«I am very encouraged by the conference outcome on the UCLASS program. The OSD study… will not just force a second look at requirements for this platform, but also take a broader look at our plans for the carrier air wing in the 2030 time period», Congressman J. Randy Forbes (4th district of Virginia), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee told USNI News. «We need to be measuring these programs twice and cutting only once when it comes to important new investments that we will be relying on to project power in the contested environments of the future».

The report will also require the Navy to provide an UCLASS acquisition strategy, program costs and schedule information to Congress. By the way, USNI News reporter Sam LaGrone argues that the UCLASS program inside the Navy is called the RAQ-25.

The service has pitched an UCLASS with an emphasis on surveillance and light strike in the last two years – a change from a stealthy UAV capable of penetrating strikes with a payload equivalent to the F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

«The Navy may have made an appropriate set of trade-offs between costs and capabilities in deriving a set of requirements for UCLASS, but those trade-offs should be evaluated in the context of the overall CSG capability, not on the basis of individual capabilities of weapons systems or an unconstrained budget», according to a report from the bill.

An earlier House report found, «disproportionate emphasis in the requirements on unrefueled endurance to enable continuous intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to the carrier strike group, would result in an aircraft with too little survivability and too small an internal weapons payload capability». As an example, UCAV X-47B can carry up to 4,500 lbs/2,040 kg payload in contrast with F-35C – 18,000 lbs/8,160 kg total weapons payload.

Finally, we should note that four American companies – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics – have all won early contracts to develop the UCLASS concept and were expected to respond to the final request for proposal. The US Navy expects to field UCLASS by 2020.

 

The UCAS-D team moved the X-47B UCAS by elevator from the hangar bay to the flight deck
The UCAS-D team moved the X-47B UCAS by elevator from the hangar bay to the flight deck

X-47B Specifications

Wingspan:                                                    62.1 ft/18.9 m

Folded Wingspan:                                   30.9 ft/9.4 m

Length:                                                          38.2 ft/11.6 m

Height:                                                           10.4 ft/3.2 m

Wheelbase:                                                 13.9 ft/4.2 m

Altitude:                                                        >40,000 ft/12,192 m

Range:                                                            >2,100 nm/3,889 km

Max Gross Takeoff Weight:              44,000 lbs/19,958 kg

Twin Internal Weapons Bay:            4,500 lbs/2,040 kg

Top Speed:                                                   High Subsonic

Powerplant:                                                Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220U

 

 

 X-47B (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle – UCAV)(http://usnavalaircraft.blogspot.ru/2014/11/x-47b.html)

New «Scout» for the fleet

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) has delivered the first operational MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to the U.S. Navy, reported defense-aerospace.com. The new VTUAV (Vertical Takeoff and landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) system will be used by ship-based commanders to improve the Navy’s intelligence-gathering capabilities.

Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout sits on the tarmac at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu. (Photo by Northrop Grumman)
Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout sits on the tarmac at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu. (Photo by Northrop Grumman)

The MQ-8C Fire Scout is a fully autonomous, four-blade, single-engine unmanned helicopter. Like the MQ-8B, it will carry an array of reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) sensors to support warfighters’ demands for enhanced situational awareness.

The new Fire Scout supports both maritime and land-based missions, taking off and landing on aviation-capable warships, and at prepared and unprepared landing zones in proximity to ground troops. It has also been designed to operate with nearly any type of future or current military standards-based control segment, communicating as easily with shipboard controllers using the Navy’s Tactical Control Station as field commanders using the U.S. Army’s universal ground control station.

As you can see from the specifications, the new VTUAV 4,7 ft longer (with blades folded), 1,2 ft taller, 1,6 ft wider and 2850 lbs heavier than the old MQ-8B Fire Scout Vehicle.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout provides the U.S. Navy with an increased range by over 30%, twice the endurance and an increased payload capacity over the existing MQ-8B variant. Under a risk reduction and cost-savings approach, the unmanned systems architecture developed and matured for the MQ-8B is re-used in a Bell 407 helicopter to support a special operations requirement for a ship-based unmanned system, says Northrop Grumman.

The Bell 407 is a mature commercial helicopter with more than 1,000 airframes produced and over 3 million flight hours. Combined with the maturity of Northrop Grumman’s unmanned systems architecture, the MQ-8C Fire Scout uses available technology and equipment to deliver a more capable system to the Navy.

«The test program will run through the summer as we expect these aircraft to be ready for operations by year’s end», said George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems with Northrop Grumman.

The MQ-8C’s first shipboard flight tests aboard the USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) will be conducted this winter. The Navy will then assess the advanced system for operational use.

NOC is under contract to build 19 MQ-8C Fire Scouts, including two test aircraft. The US Navy plans to purchase 70 aircraft total.

An MQ-8B Fire Scout aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) in July 2013.
An MQ-8B Fire Scout aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) in July 2013.

MQ-8B Fire Scout Specifications

Fuselage Length (with Dual Payload Nose)           23.95 ft (7.3 m)

Fuselage Width                                                                      6.20 ft (1.9 m)

Fuselage Length (with Blades Folded Forward) 30.03 ft (9.2 m)

Rotor Diameter                                                                      27.50 ft (8.4 m)

Height (Top of Tail Antenna)                                          9.71 ft (2.9 m)

Gross Weight                                                                           3,150 lbs (1428.8 kg)

Engine                                          Rolls Royce 250-C20W Turboshaft Engine

Speed                                                                                      115+ Knots (213 km/h)

Ceiling                                                                                          20,000 ft (6.1 km)

Endurance

Total Flight Time with Baseline Payload                 8+ Hrs

Total Flight Time with EO/IR + Radar                       7+ Hrs

Total Flight Time with Maximum Payload              5+ Hrs

Payloads

EO/IR/LRF/Mine Detector/Comm Relay/Maritime Radar

 

Artist conception of MQ-8C Fire Scout
Artist conception of MQ-8C Fire Scout

MQ-8С Fire Scout Specifications

Length                                                                    41.4 ft (12.6 m)

Width                                                                     7.8 ft (2.4 m)

Blades Folded Hangar                  7.8 x 34.7 x 10.9 ft (2.4 x 10.6 x 3.3 m)

Height                                                                    10.9 ft (3.3 m)

Rotor Diameter                                                 35 ft (10.7 m)

Gross Takeoff Weight                                   6,000 lbs (2721.5 kg)

Engine                                                                     Rolls-Royce 250-C47B        with Full Authority Digital Electronic Control

Performance

Speed                                                           140 knots (max) (259 km/h)

Operational Ceiling                             17,000 ft (5.1 km)

Maximum Endurance                         14 hrs

Maximum Payload (Internal)         1,000 lbs (453,6 kg)

Typical Payload                                      600 lbs (272 kg) (11 hrs endurance)

Maximum Sling Load                          2,650 lbs (1202 kg)

 

Farewell to Russia

During the Cold War (or, more precisely, «during the First Cold War», as my friend says) India has worked closely with the Russian military-industrial complex. However, in the beginning of the XXI century, this old friendship cracked.

INS Vikramaditya
INS Vikramaditya

First of all, after Russian aircraft carrier Baku was deactivated in 1996 (it was too expensive to operate on a post-Cold War budget), Russia and India signed a deal for the sale of the ship. Baku was free, while India would pay $800 million for the upgrade and refit of the ship, as well as an additional $1 billion for the aircraft and weapons systems.

The announced delivery date for INS Vikramaditya was 2008; however, India finally agreed to pay an additional $1.2 billion for the project – more than doubling the original cost. Furthermore, in July 2008, it was reported that Russia wanted to increase the price by $2 billion, blaming unexpected cost overruns on the deteriorated condition of the aircraft carrier and citing a «market price» for a new ship of $3-4 billion. On 17 September 2012, malfunctions were detected during sea trials. According to official Russian report, seven out of eight steam boilers of the propulsion machinery were out of order! Because of this, the deadline of the hand over this ship to the Indian Navy was postponed again until October 2013, and INS Vikramaditya was formally commissioned only on November 16, 2013. In May 2014, the carrier was declared operationally deployed along with its embarked air group.

Arjun MBT Mk-II
Arjun MBT Mk-II

Secondly, in 1996 the Indian government decided to mass-produce the new main battle tank at Indian Ordnance Factory’s production facility in Avadi. The Arjun project experienced serious budget overruns; nevertheless, in March 2010 the Arjun tank was pitted against the T-90 in comparative trials and performed well. The Arjun MBT Mk-II is an advanced third generation main battle tank; it had outclassed the T-90 during the trials.

Thirdly, in February 2011, French Rafales flew demonstrations in India, including air-to-air combat against Su-30MKIs. On January 31, 2012, the Indian Air Force (IAF) announced the Rafale as the preferred bidder in the competition with the Eurofighter Typhoon. The contract for 126 Rafales, services, and parts could be worth as much as $20 billion.

Unfortunately, the deal was stalled from disagreements over the fighter production in India. As per the RFP issued in 2007, the first 18 jets are to be imported and the rest manufactured under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). According to the sources, French Dassault was reluctant to stand guarantee for the 108 fighters to be built by HAL as far as liquidity damages and timelines for production are concerned. This, the sources said, is the critical issue that is delaying the final inking.

Dassault Rafale
Dassault Rafale

At last, on December 1, 2014 French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian raised the issue of the multi-billion dollar deal for 126 Rafale combat aircraft during talks with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar who said it would be «resolved in a fast-tracked manner». The Defence Ministry is of the view that the guarantee clause was part of the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQR) under the RFP that was issued. Dassault had agreed to the ASQR and hence was chosen the winner, the sources maintained.

Dassault Rafale, which would replace India’s Russian-made fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-27 planes, had stood over combat aircraft manufactured by rivals like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. At present, India has only 34 fighter jet squadrons (16-18 planes in each) against the projected need of 45 squadrons.

Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force

 

Specifications and performance data

 Dimensions

Wing span:                                              10.90 m

Length:                                                      15.30 m

Height:                                                       5.30 m

 

Weight

Overall empty weight:                      10 t (22,000 lbs) class

Max. take-off weight:                        24.5 t (54,000 lbs)

Fuel (internal):                                       4.7 t (10,300 lbs)

Fuel (external):                                      up to 6.7 t (14,700 lbs)

External load:                                         9.5 t (21,000 lbs)

 

Store stations

Total:                                                           14

Heavy-wet:                                                 5

 

Performance

Max. thrust:                                             2 x 7.5 t

Limit load factors:                                -3.2 g/+9 g

Max. speed (high altitude/low):   M = 1.8 (1,912 km/h)/750 knots

Approach speed:                                   less than 120 knots

Landing ground run:                           450 m (1,500 ft) without drag-chute

Service ceiling:                                       15,235 m (50,000 ft)

Hit the bull’s-eye

According to the Jane’s (IHS Inc.), the Royal Air Force (RAF) has completed the first in-service releases of the Raytheon Paveway IV precision-guided bomb from a Eurofighter Typhoon.

Typhoon
Typhoon (British Crown Copyright 2013)

1(Fighter) Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, successfully released two live Paveway IV weapons at Cape Wrath Training Area on 25 November as part of the squadron’s work up with the new Phase One Enhancement (P1Eb) Typhoon capability upgrade.

The squadron conducted a total of eight Paveway IV drops during the week of 24 November, with a mix of profiles including GPS and laser guidance; pre-planned and target of opportunity using the pilot’s Helmet Equipment Assembly (HEA); and employing both impact and airburst fusing settings on the weapon.

The eagerly awaited P1Eb upgrade brings full air-to-surface capability for the Tranche 2 aircraft. It provides enhancements to the Litening III Laser Designator Pod (LDP) and the HEA as well as with Paveway IV. The LDP can now also be used seamlessly with the HEA to visually identify air tracks at long range, as well as identifying, tracking and targeting points on the ground. The Paveway IV offers increased precision, stand-off, and flexibility of employment, and the Typhoon can release a number of weapons to different targets in a single pass. BAE Systems test pilot Steve Formoso commented, «P1Eb standard Typhoons can carry up to six Paveway IV weapons, which can be released simultaneously against multiple targets».

Armourers prepare Paveway IV Bomb
Armourers prepare Paveway IV Bomb

 

Paveway IV (500 lb/230 kg)

Manufactured by Raytheon Systems Ltd, UK, Paveway IV dual-mode (INS/GPS and laser-guided) precision guided bomb significantly increases the RAF’s capability to deliver precision effects matched to the target set. The weapon is cockpit-programmable and allows the aircrew to select weapon impact angle, attack direction and fuzing mode to detonate in airburst, impact or post-impact delay modes. The fuze minimizes collateral damage through the ability to detonate the weapon when buried or partially buried, and is fitted with a ‘Late-Arm’ safety functionality that will not allow an off-course munition to arm. The company has also developed a penetrator warhead for the Paveway IV, through which Raytheon is aiming to provide roughly the same level of capability as a 2,000 lb penetrator in a 500 lb package. To achieve this, the warhead incorporates an inner hardened-steel penetrator surrounded by a frangible peeling shroud, operating on the same principle as a sabot round to provide a higher sectional density and reduced impact area to improve penetration.

The lighter Paveway IV’s provides greater flexibility giving the potential for a single aircraft to carry more weapons and so strike multiple targets in a single pass. The weapon can be reprogrammed with target data by the aircrew while airborne by using data from on-board sensors or from Forward Air Controllers on the ground. Paveway IV also retains the legacy laser guidance capability of its predecessors.

Other improvements over older weapons include less drag, greater accuracy, higher resistance to GPS jamming, better supportability, zero maintenance, lower cost and improved safety signatures. The weapon went straight onto an operational footing after its introduction into service being carried by Harrier GR9 in Afghanistan. It was later integrated onto Tornado GR4 with outstanding success on missions in both Afghanistan and Libya. Paveway IV is also a candidate weapon for integration into Joint Combat Aircraft.

Paveway IV (Raytheon Company)
Paveway IV (Raytheon Company)

Atlas is sent to England

While the Ukrainian project of Antonov An-70 is still lacking funding, the European Airbus A400M Atlas is gaining momentum. As UK Ministry of Defence reported, the first of the UK’s A400M Atlas aircraft has been officially unveiled at its new home at Royal Air Force (RAF) Brize Norton.

A400M Flares
A400M Flares

The aircraft will replace the existing fleet of C-130 Hercules (http://usairforc.blogspot.ru/2014/11/c-130j-super-hercules.html). Manufactured by Airbus Defence & Space, A400M Atlas will represent major advances on its predecessor, capable of flying almost twice as fast, twice as far and carrying almost twice as much cargo. With a cargo capacity of 32 tonnes and a hold optimised for carriage of heavy vehicles, helicopters or cargo pallets, the aircraft is capable of supporting a wide range of operational scenarios.

The UK is the third country to operate the aircraft, after France and Turkey and the £2.8 billion programme will see a total of 22 aircraft delivered to the RAF in the coming years, as it was reported by defense-aerospace.com.

The A400M has been rigorously designed to meet the equipment transport needs of modern armed forces. The A400M can perform missions, which previously required two – or more – different types of aircraft, and which even then provided an imperfect solution. Its fuselage external width of 5.64 metres/18 ft 6 in is equal to that of the A330/A340 wide-body. Its cargo hold has an inside usable width of 4 metres/13ft, height of up to 4 metres/13ft, and usable length of 17.71 metres/58 ft.

Extensive use of advanced 3D computational fluid dynamics tools optimised the wing shape, resulting in a low drag design and thus a high speed cruise of Mach 0.72, without compromising low speed performance and handling.

With a maximum payload of up to 37 tonnes (81 600 lb) and a volume of 340 m3 (12 000 ft3), the A400M can carry numerous pieces of outsize cargo including, vehicles and helicopters that are too large or too heavy for previous generation tactical airlifters, for example, an NH90 or a CH-47 Chinook (http://usgroundforces. blogspot.ru/2014/11/ch-47-chinook.html) helicopter, or two heavy armoured vehicles for military purposes. It can also carry a heavy logistic truck, or a rescue boat, or large lifting devices, such as excavators or mobile cranes needed to assist in disaster relief.

The A400M is able to land on, and take-off from, any short, soft and rough unprepared CBR 6 airstrip, no longer than 750 m/2,500 ft, while delivering up to 25 tonnes/55,000 lb of payload, and with enough fuel on board for a 930 km/500 nm return trip. In addition to offering optimised support to deployed military operating bases, these characteristics also allow it to ensure that swift humanitarian aid can be deployed direct to a disaster region.

The A400M can also easily and swiftly be adapted to become a Tanker, if required in a military operation. Air-to-Air Refuelling can be done either through two wing mounted hose and drogue under-wing refuelling pods or through a centre-line fuselage refuelling unit (FRU). Its built-in air-to-air refuelling capability allows it to be rapidly re-configured to become a tanker. With hard points, fuel lines and electrical connections already built into the wings, it takes under two hours to convert the A400M from an airlifter into a two-point tanker aircraft.

The A400M excels in the airdrop role, being able to drop from both high and low altitudes, (as high as 40,000 ft for special forces’ operations, and as low as 15ft for low level load deliveries). With the new A400M, which can carry more paratroopers than other Western-built military transport, Airbus Military is setting new standards in paradropping operations.

Heavy and Outsize Loads
Heavy and Outsize Loads

 

Specifications

 

Dimensions

Overall Length                                                45.10 m                     148 ft

Overall Height                                                14.70 m                     48 ft

Wing Span                                                         42.40 m                     139 ft

Cargo Hold Length (ramp excluded) 17.71 m                      58 ft

Cargo Hold Height                                       3.85-4.00 m            12 ft 7 in-13 ft

Cargo Hold Width                                        4.00 m                        13 ft

Cargo Hold Volume                                     340 m3                       12 000 ft3

 

Weights

Maximum Take Off Weight                      141 000 kg                 310 850 lb

Maximum Landing Weight                        123 000 kg                 271 200 lb

Internal Fuel Weight                                     50 500 kg                   111 300 lb

Maximum Payload                                          37 000 kg                   81 600 lb

 

Engine (x4)

EuroProp International TP400-D6       11 000 shp                  8200 kW

 

Performance

Maximum Operating Altitude                   40 000 ft                     12 200 m

Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS)                   300 kt                           555 km/h

Cruise Speed Range                                         0.68-0.72 M

 

Range

Maximum Payload (37 000 kg – 81 600 lb)       1780 nm          3300 km

Range with 30 000 kg (66 000 lb) Payload         2450 nm          4500 km

Range with 20 000 kg (44 000 lb) Payload         3450 nm          6400 km

Maximum Range (Ferry)                                                4700 nm          8700 km

 

Total orders                                                               174

Total deliveries                                                              6

Total in operation                                                         6

Number of customers-operators                        8

Number of current operators                               2

Number of countries                                                  8

 

France              Orders – 50, Deliveries – 5, In operation – 5

Germany         Orders – 53

Malaysia          Orders –   4

Spain                  Orders – 27

Turkey              Orders – 10, Deliveries – 1, In operation – 1

UK                       Orders – 22, Deliveries – 1

 

The King of the Ocean

The Boeing P-8 Poseidon is an anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare aircraft developed for the United States Navy. Nevertheless, the US Navy is not a unique operator of that powerful aircraft. India renamed P-8 Poseidon into P-8I Neptune.

Jim Anderson, Boeing Photographer
P-8I Indian Navy B1 First Flight Renton WA; Jim Anderson, Boeing Photographer

Ironically, Poseidon (Greek: Ποσειδῶν) was one of the twelve Olympian deities of the pantheon in Greek mythology. His main domain was the ocean, and he was called the «God of the Sea». The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology; both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon. So why in India sailors prefer Roman mythology Greek? I have no idea.

Notwithstanding, Boeing has delivered the sixth P-8I Neptune to the Indian Navy, the company announced in a statement on 25 November, as IHS said.

The aircraft was said to have arrived at Indian Naval Station (INS) Rajali in Arakkonam (southern India) on 24 November. It joins five other P-8Is already being used by the Indian Navy and is scheduled to begin flight trials «in the coming months», according to the statement.

The latest P-8I delivery is part of an eight-aircraft contract worth USD2.1 billion awarded in January 2009 to replace India’s ageing Russian Tupolev Tu-142Ms. The first aircraft was handed over to the Indian Navy in December 2012; the final two are scheduled for delivery in 2015.

The P-8I Neptune is based on Boeing’s 737 commercial aircraft, and can accommodate a crew of nine including five mission system operators. The aircraft has an operating range of more than 2,000 km with a four-hour on-station endurance.

The aircrafts are equipped with Raytheon’s APY-10 surveillance radar that incorporates air-to-air, air-to-sea, and all-weather modes. According to an IHS Jane’s report in May 2013, the aircraft are also armed with Raytheon’s AGM-84L Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles and Mark-54 torpedoes for submarine prosecution.

Accordingly, India shows its serious ambitions for its military presence in the Indian Ocean.

P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon
P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon

P-8A Poseidon (P-8I Neptune) Technical Specs

Wing Span:                                                   123.6 ft (37.64 m)

Height:                                                            42.1 ft (12.83 m)

Length:                                                            129.5 ft (39.47 m)

Propulsion:                                                    2 CFM56-7B engines, 27,000 lb                                                                                   thrust (12,237 kgf, 120 kN)

Speed:                                                               490 kn (564 mi/h, 908 km/h)

Range:                                                               1,200 nmi with 4 hr on station                                                                                     (2,222 km)

Ceiling:                                                              41,000 ft (12,496 m)

Crew:                                                                  9

Maximum Takeoff Gross Weight:     189,200 lb (85,820 kg)

 

P-8A Poseidon (Anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare)
http://usnavalaircraft.blogspot.ru/2014/11/p-8a-poseidon.html

Rule, Britannia!
Rule the waves!

As defense-aerospace.com reported, the U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin finalized the eighth F-35 Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP-8) contract for 43 F-35 Lightning II airframes valued at $4.7 billion, including $0.5 billion of Advance Procurement funding that was announced at the time of award.

F-35A Lightning II
2014 Darin Russell
Lockheed Martin

The 43 F-35 include 29 jets for the United States and 14 for five international countries. This agreement reflects an average airframes unit cost approximately 3.5% lower than the LRIP-7 contract signed in 2013 and a 57% reduction since LRIP-1.

Thus, LRIP-8 per variant airframe unit prices (not including Pratt & Whitney F-135 engine cost!) is as follows:

Furthermore, the LRIP 8 contract provides for the production of the first 2 F-35A for Israel and the first 4 F-35A for Japan, along with 2 F-35A for Norway and 2 F-35A for Italy.

The United Kingdom will receive 4 F-35B (STOVL). The contract also funds manufacturing-support equipment as well as ancillary mission equipment.

Lockheed Martin will begin delivering LRIP 8 units in early spring 2016. Once production of LRIP 8 aircraft is completed, more than 200 F-35s will be in operation by eight nations.

Thus, as a result of American allies will be able to explore new sophisticated stealth machines and test them in real conditions.

I guess the United Kingdom is the most interested operators of all allies to the F-35 contract. By the way, Gareth Jennings (IHS, London) says the UK already has two operational test and evaluation (BK-1 and BK-2) and one training aircraft (BK-3) delivered and flying out of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida (USA).

The order of 4 F-35B marks an initial buy from the MoD’s Main Gate 4 acquisition approval process for 14 jets to equip the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) 617 Squadron, which is scheduled to stand-up as the UK’s first operational F-35B unit in 2016.

In 2018, 617 Sqn will transfer to its future home station at RAF Marham in the UK, and in December of that year the UK will declare initial operating capability – land (IOC – Land) for its F-35B force.

Queen Elizabeth
IHS – Aircraft Carrier Alliance

The second unit – the FAA’s 809 ‘Immortals’ Naval Air Squadron – will be created ahead of the commencement of sea trials aboard the future HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in 2018, with the full operating capability (land and maritime) being declared in 2023.

The exact numbers of aircraft are yet to be decided, but with the UK having so far committed itself to just 48 F-35 it is likely that the final order will be substantially less than the 138 programme of record.