Category Archives: Air

Final land test

The U.S. Navy successfully executed a test of the surface-to-air Standard Missile-6 Block IA (SM-6 Blk IA) at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), New Mexico, June 7.

A SM-6 missile is loaded into a specialized container at the Raytheon Redstone Missile Integration Facility for delivery to the U.S. Navy
A SM-6 missile is loaded into a specialized container at the Raytheon Redstone Missile Integration Facility for delivery to the U.S. Navy

This test demonstrated SM-6 Blk IA’s improved capabilities and integration with the Aegis weapon system. The event was the third of three required flight tests successfully executed at WSMR. At-sea testing of the SM-6 Blk IA is planned to commence in the fall of 2017.

«This final land test is a critical milestone which demonstrates Blk IA’s improved capability», said Captain John Keegan, Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) major program manager for surface ship weapons. «I am very proud of the entire test team for their extensive planning and technical rigor that went into execution of this event».

The SM-6 Blk IA provides an over-the-horizon engagement capability when launched from an Aegis-equipped warship and uses the latest in hardware and software missile technology to provide needed capabilities against evolving air threats. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for SM-6 Blk IA is planned for the end of 2018.

PEO IWS is an affiliated program executive office of Naval Sea Systems Command. PEO IWS is responsible for spearheading surface ship and submarine combat technologies and systems, and for implementing Navy enterprise solutions across ship platforms.

Combat King

Airmen from the Alaska Air National Guard on Jun 1, 2017 accepted the first HC-130J Combat King II assigned to an U.S. Air National Guard unit at the Lockheed Martin facility here.

The U.S. Air National Guard received its first HC-130J Combat King II on Jun 1, 2017 (Photographer Amanda Mills, Lockheed Martin)
The U.S. Air National Guard received its first HC-130J Combat King II on Jun 1, 2017 (Photographer Amanda Mills, Lockheed Martin)

This HC-130J will be operated by the 211th Rescue Squadron (RQS), 176th Wing stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The 211th RQS previously operated legacy HC-130P aircraft to support personnel recovery missions in Alaska and the Pacific Theater. These aircraft also act as aerial refuelers, providing support to the HH-60 Pave Hawk search-and-rescue helicopters that are also assigned to the 176th Wing. This is the first of four HC-130Js that will be delivered to the Alaska Guard.

«The delivery of this HC-130J Combat King II represents a new era for both the Air National Guard and the Alaska Guard. This aircraft provides the increased capabilities and enhanced performance that is essential for these Airmen to support their search and rescue mission», said George Shultz, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin. «These men and women live their motto – ‘That Others May Live.’ We’re proud the HC‑130J Combat King fleet plays an essential role in supporting this commitment».

The HC-130J replaces HC-130N/P aircraft as the only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force inventory. The HC-130J supports missions in all-weather and geographic environments, including reaching austere locations. The HC-130J is also tasked for airdrop, airland, helicopter air-to-air refueling and forward-area ground refueling missions. It also supports humanitarian aid operations, disaster response, security cooperation/aviation advisory, emergency aeromedical evacuation and noncombatant evacuation operations. The HC-130J is also operated by active duty Air Combat Command personnel recovery units.

The HC-130J is one of eight production variants of the C-130J Super Hercules, which is the world’s most proven and versatile airlifter. The C-130J is the airlifter of choice of 17 nations.

HC-130J Combat King II
HC-130J Combat King II



The HC-130J Combat King II replaces HC-130P/Ns as the only dedicated fixed-wing Personnel Recovery platform in the Air Force inventory. It is an extended-range version of the C-130J Hercules transport. Its mission is to rapidly deploy to execute combatant commander directed recovery operations to austere airfields and denied territory for expeditionary, all weather personnel recovery operations to include airdrop, airland, helicopter air-to-air refueling, and forward area ground refueling missions. When tasked, the aircraft also conducts humanitarian assistance operations, disaster response, security cooperation/aviation advisory, emergency aeromedical evacuation, and noncombatant evacuation operations.



Modifications to the HC-130J Combat King II have improved navigation, threat detection and countermeasures systems. The aircraft fleet has a fully-integrated inertial navigation and global positioning systems, and Night Vision Goggle, or NVG, compatible interior and exterior lighting. It also has forward-looking infrared, radar and missile warning receivers, chaff and flare dispensers, satellite and data-burst communications, and the ability to receive fuel inflight via a Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI).

The HC-130J Combat King II can fly in the day; however, crews normally fly night at low to medium altitude levels in contested or sensitive environments, both over land or overwater. Crews use NVGs for tactical flight profiles to avoid detection to accomplish covert infiltration/exfiltration and transload operations. To enhance the probability of mission success and survivability near populated areas, crews employ tactics that include incorporating no external lighting or communications, and avoiding radar and weapons detection.

Drop zone objectives are done via personnel drops and equipment drops. Rescue bundles include illumination flares, marker smokes and rescue kits. Helicopter air-to-air refueling can be conducted at night, with blacked out communication with up to two simultaneous helicopters. Additionally, forward area refueling point operations can be executed to support a variety of joint and coalition partners.



The HC-130J Combat King II is a result of the HC/MC-130 recapitalization program and replaces Air Combat Command’s aging HC-130P/N fleet as the dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force inventory. The 71st and 79th Rescue Squadrons in Air Combat Command, the 550th Special Operations Squadron in Air Education and Training Command, the 920th Rescue Group in Air Force Reserve Command and the 106th Rescue Wing, 129th RQW and 176th Wing in the Air National Guard will operate the aircraft.

First flight was 29 July 2010, and the aircraft will serve the many roles and missions of the HC-130P/Ns. It is a modified KC-130J aircraft designed to conduct personnel recovery missions, provide a command and control platform, in-flight-refuel helicopters and carry supplemental fuel for extending range or air refueling.

In April 2006, the personnel recovery mission was transferred back to Air Combat Command at Langley AFB, Va. From 2003 to 2006, the mission was under the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Previously, HC-130s were assigned to ACC from 1992 to 2003. They were first assigned to the Air Rescue Service as part of Military Airlift Command.


General Characteristics

Primary function Fixed-wing Personnel Recovery platform
Contractor Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
Power Plant Four Rolls Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engines
Thrust 4,591 Propeller Shaft Horsepower, each engine
Wingspan 132 feet, 7 inches/40.4 meters
Length 97 feet, 9 inches/29.57 meters
Height 38 feet, 9 inches/11.58 meters
Operating Weight 89,000 pounds/40,369 kilograms
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 164,000 pounds/74,389 kilograms
Fuel Capacity 61,360 pounds/9,024 gallons/34,160 liters
Payload 35,000 pounds/15,875 kilograms
Speed 316 knots/364 mph/585 km/h indicated air speed at sea level
Range beyond 3,478 nautical miles/4,000 miles/6,437 km
Ceiling 33,000 feet/10,000 meters
Armament countermeasures/flares, chaff
Basic Crew Three officers (pilot, co-pilot, combat system officer) and two enlisted loadmasters
Unit Cost $66 million (fiscal 2010 replacement cost)
Initial Operating Capability (IOC) 2013


Enhance the Swordfish

Defence and security company Saab continues to enhance the Swordfish Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). Detailed design studies have expanded operational capabilities, adding new mission equipment and a significantly expanded operational payload. The Swordfish MPA is the smart solution for the full range of real-world maritime missions that modern customers demand.

Saab Swordfish MPA delivers true multi-role maritime air power
Saab Swordfish MPA delivers true multi-role maritime air power

Saab’s Swordfish MPA is a strategic, multi-role asset that combines the latest, operationally proven sensors with Bombardier’s ultra-long range, Global 6000 platform. It is a MPA system that can fly further, stay longer on station and deliver superior results in every task that MPAs are required to fulfil across the complete spectrum of national, international and coalition missions.

Recent product development milestones at Saab and Bombardier have validated a significant increase in the available payload carried on Swordfish’s four, NATO-compatible hard points. Swordfish can now be armed with up to six lightweight-torpedoes for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role. Swordfish can also carry the Saab RBS 15EF anti-ship missile or a mix of missiles and torpedoes to assure total sea control in every aspect. The Swordfish can equally carry a load of four search-and-rescue pods underlining its true multi-mission capability across the maritime domain.

Another capability that sets Swordfish apart from competitors is its ASW suite with a world-leading acoustics processor, Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD), gravity-launching systems and an operational load of around 200 A, F and G size sonobuoys. This complete and highly-capable ASW suite enables Swordfish to locate, track and classify the most advanced, high-threat sub-surface targets for several hours, with a higher probability of detection.

«We have invested heavily to produce an MPA at the peak of operational capability today and future-proofed for decades to come when new technologies, such as unmanned systems, come online. Anti-submarine warfare is the cornerstone of any MPA and we can draw on Saab’s unique design insight into submarines and airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), underwater weapons and sensors, together with decades of experience from our valued partners including GDMS-Canada, CAE and leading sonobuoy specialists Ultra Electronics UK. The result is an MPA optimised for the demands of ASW, especially at low-level, which is where the game is truly won or lost. The need to classify targets from a passive source remains as relevant as ever and is enhanced by confirmation from other sensors such as the MAD», says Gary Shand, sales director at Saab business unit Airborne ISR.

In parallel with Swordfish, Saab’s multi-role and swing-role GlobalEye AEW&C system continues its successful progress with three units in production and scheduled for on-time delivery. Swordfish shares around 70 per cent commonality with its GlobalEye sistership including the Global 6000 platform, mission management system, electronic warfare and self-protection systems, Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, electro-optics, Automatic Identification System (AIS) and the majority of communications systems.

Swordfish was launched at the 2016 Singapore Air Show and Saab has since received substantial interest from potential users in every corner of the world, many of whom are already experienced MPA operators.

«We are very encouraged by the increasing interest shown in the Swordfish MPA. We have a fantastic product that offers a high-end, strategic capability with much lower acquisition and operating costs compared to airliner equivalents. Our dialogue with the market and the wider anti-submarine warfare community shows there is a clear requirement for a fast, long-range, multi-mission MPA that performs across a range of profiles with smarter ways of operating to reduce costs. Saab continues to invest in this programme and we know that we can deliver a system that will change forever the way users think and act in in the maritime domain», says Emilien Saindon, head of sales and marketing, Saab business unit Airborne ISR”

The proliferation of submarines around the world continues to increase and many countries have a growing need to replace existing, ageing MPA platforms. Regional maritime disputes, anti-piracy, terrorism and security of national waters, borders and lines of commerce mean that the demand for multi-role ISR air power has never been more pressing. Saab is committed to expanding its presence in Asia Pacific and working with local industries in the region to deliver, support and sustain the Swordfish MPA far into the future.

The Swordfish MPA is a high-end, multi-role platform that offers strategic ISR capabilities over both sea and land
The Swordfish MPA is a high-end, multi-role platform that offers strategic ISR capabilities over both sea and land

First Flight from LCS

Northrop Grumman Corporation’s autonomous helicopter, MQ-8C Fire Scout, took to the air for the first time from a U.S. Navy independence-class Littoral Combat ship, USS Montgomery (LCS-8). The flight took place off the coast of California during the second phase of Dynamic Interface testing, once again demonstrating Fire Scout’s stability and safety while operating around the ship.

MQ-8C Fire Scout Completes Successful First Flight from Littoral Combat Ship
MQ-8C Fire Scout Completes Successful First Flight from Littoral Combat Ship

The two week at-sea event allowed the U.S. Navy to test the MQ-8C Fire Scout’s airworthiness and ability to land and take off from a littoral combat ship throughout a broad operational envelope. The MQ-8C Fire Scout conducted its initial at-sea flight test aboard the guided missile destroyer, USS Jason Dunham (DDG-108) in December 2015.

«Fire Scout’s successful testing aboard USS Montgomery (LCS-8) and USS Dunham (DDG-108) proves its capability to fly from multiple air capable ships», said Captain Jeff Dodge, program manager, Fire Scout, Naval Air Systems Command. «We plan to have the MQ-8C Fire Scout deployed aboard multiple ships in the near future giving the fleet the persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting asset they need».

With the completion of Dynamic Interface testing, the MQ-8C Fire Scout is one step closer to Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) and full operational deployment.

«Fire Scout’s autonomous technology coupled with the range and endurance of the MQ-8C airframe is truly a game-changer», said Leslie Smith, vice president, tactical autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. «When the MQ-8C deploys with its advanced AESA maritime radar, the U.S. Navy will have unmatched situational awareness and the ability to provide sea control in any contested maritime environment».

The MQ-8C Fire Scout builds on the ongoing accomplishments of the MQ-8B Fire Scout program. Helicopter Squadron 23 is currently operating onboard the deployed littoral combat ship, USS Coronado (LCS-4), with two MQ-8B Fire Scouts in the South China Sea.



Length 41.4 feet/12.6 m
Width 7.8 feet/2.4 m
Blades Folded Hangar 7.8×34.7×10.9 feet/2.4×10.6×3.3 m
Height 10.9 feet/3.3 m
Rotor Diameter 35 feet/10.7 m
Gross Takeoff Weight 6,000 lbs/2,721.5 kg
Engine Rolls-Royce M250-C47B with FADEC (Full Authority Digital Electronic Control)



Speed 140 knots/161 mph/259 km/h (maximum)
Operational Ceiling 17,000 feet/5,182 m
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/1,202 kg


Engine Specifications

Power 651 shp/485.45 kW
Pressure ratio 9.2
Length 42.95 inch/1.09 m
Diameter 24.81 inch/0.63 m
Basic weight 274 lbs/124.3 kg
Compressor 1CF (centrifugal high-pressure)
Turbine 2HP (two-stage high-pressure turbine), 2PT (two-stage power turbine)


Low Rate
Initial Production

Lockheed Martin on April 4, 2017, announced the CH-53K King Stallion program successfully passed its Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) review and achieved a Milestone C decision that enables Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) funding.

U.S. Marines established the King Stallion's capability during initial operational assessment in October 2016
U.S. Marines established the King Stallion’s capability during initial operational assessment in October 2016

«This affirmative Milestone C decision validates the maturity and the robust capability of the King Stallion in meeting the United States Marine Corps mission requirements», said Doctor Michael Torok, Sikorsky vice president, CH-53K King Stallion Programs. «This establishes the CH-53K King Stallion as a production program and marks another critical step toward our goal of delivering this tremendous capability to the USMC».

Numerous, successfully completed pre-requisites preceded the Milestone C decision. Supplier as well as prime contractor Production Readiness Reviews took place throughout 2016 to establish the program’s readiness to move into low rate initial production. Aircraft maturity was established well in advance with over 400 flight hours achieved, and the October 2016 initial Operational Assessment by the USMC fully established the ability of the CH-53K King Stallion to achieve critical mission flight and ground scenarios in the hands of active duty Marines. Overall, post evaluation interviews of aircrew, ground crew and flight surgeons revealed a high regard for the operational capability demonstrated by the CH-53K King Stallion.

«We have just successfully launched the production of the most powerful helicopter our nation has ever designed. This incredible positive step function in capability is going to revolutionize the way our nation conducts business in the battlespace by ensuring a substantial increase in logistical throughput into that battlespace. I could not be prouder of our government-contractor team for making this happen», said Colonel Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s Heavy Lift Helicopters program, PMA-261.

The CH-53K King Stallion provides unmatched heavy lift capability with three times the lift of the CH-53E Super Stallion that it replaces. With more than triple the payload capability and a 12-inch wider internal cabin compared to the predecessor, the CH-53K King Stallion’s increased payloads can range from multiple U.S. Air Force standard 463L pallets to an internally loaded High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) or a European Fennek armored personnel carrier, to up to three independent external loads at once. This provides extraordinary mission flexibility and system efficiency.

The CH-53K King Stallion also offers enhanced safety features for the warfighter, including full authority fly-by-wire flight controls and mission management that reduce pilot workload and enable the crew to focus on mission execution as the CH-53K King Stallion all but «flies itself». Other features include advanced stability augmentation, flight control modes that include attitude command-velocity hold, automated approach to a stabilized hover, position hold and precision tasks in degraded visual environments, and tactile cueing that all permit the pilot to focus confidently on the mission at hand.

Further, the CH-53K King Stallion has improved reliability and maintainability that exceeds 89% mission reliability with a smaller shipboard logistics footprint than the legacy CH-53E Super Stallion.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Program of Record remains at 200 CH-53K King Stallion aircraft. The first six of the 200 are under contract and scheduled to start delivery next year to the USMC. Two additional aircraft, the first LRIP aircraft, are under long lead procurement for parts and materials, with deliveries scheduled to start in 2020. The Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron, and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.


General Characteristics

Number of Engines 3
Engine Type T408-GE-400
T408 Engine 7,500 shp/5,595 kw
Maximum Gross Weight (Internal Load) 74,000 lbs/33,566 kg
Maximum Gross Weight (External Load) 88,000 lbs/39,916 kg
Cruise Speed 141 knots/162 mph/261 km/h
Range 460 NM/530 miles/852 km
AEO* Service Ceiling 14,380 feet/4,383 m
HIGE** Ceiling (MAGW) 13,630 feet/4,155 m
HOGE*** Ceiling (MAGW) 10,080 feet/3,073 m
Cabin Length 30 feet/9.1 m
Cabin Width 9 feet/2.7 m
Cabin Height 6.5 feet/2.0 m
Cabin Area 264.47 feet2/24.57 m2
Cabin Volume 1,735.36 feet3/49.14 m3

* All Engines Operating

** Hover Ceiling In Ground Effect

*** Hover Ceiling Out of Ground Effect


F-35 Lightning II simulator

A world-leading flight engineering simulator created by BAE Systems is ready to be «flown» by F-35 Lightning II pilots for the first time as they prepare for flight trials on the UK’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier next year.

Pilots begin flights in new F-35 Lightning II simulator in preparation for trials on carrier
Pilots begin flights in new F-35 Lightning II simulator in preparation for trials on carrier

The refurbished simulator will test pilots’ skills to the limits as they practice landing on the deck of the new aircraft carrier in a range of difficult sea and weather conditions provided by the simulator.

The bespoke £2M simulator facility offers a 360-degree immersive experience for pilots to fly the jet to and from the UK carrier. It comprises a cockpit moved by an electronic motion platform and a full representation of the ship’s Flying Control Tower (FLYCO), where a Landing Signal Officer on board the carrier will control aviation operations.

The 360-degree view for pilots is vital as potential obstacles on an aircraft carrier are often behind the pilots as they land. Over the coming months, the simulator will be used by UK and U.S. military test pilots who have experience of flying F-35s on U.S. carriers.

The pilots will practice thousands of ski jump short take-offs and vertical landings that use both the vertical thrust from the jet engine and aerodynamic lift from the wings, allowing the aircraft to take-off and land on the carrier with increased weapon and fuel loads compared to predecessor aircraft.

Peter ‘Wizzer’ Wilson, BAE Systems’ test pilot for the short take-off and vertical landing variant on the F-35 Lightning II programme, said the simulator trials will provide engineers with the data to begin flight trials on HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), the First of Class aircraft carrier in 2018.

He said: «The immersive experience is as near to the real thing as possible. The data will show us exactly what will happen when F-35 Lightning II pilots fly to and from the Queen Elizabeth carriers. The trials we can run through the simulator are far more extensive than what we will do in the actual flight trials because we can run and re-run each trial until we have all the data we need. The simulator provides greater cost efficiency for the overall programme and is extremely important to the success of the first flight trials».

Over the last 15 years, BAE Systems’ flight simulation has been used to support the design and development of the interface between the F-35 Lightning II and the UK’s next generation of aircraft carriers.

The new simulator replaces a previous version which was first built in the 1980s to develop technology for the Harrier jump-jet and the Hawk advanced jet trainer before being converted for F-35 Lightning II.

VX-1 Pioneers

The Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1 Pioneers recently returned from a detachment at Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu, California, where they successfully conducted two ATM-84 Harpoon live fire missile events in the P-8A Poseidon aircraft.

Sailors from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1 at NAS Patuxent River prepare to conduct an ATM-84 Harpoon live fire missile event in a P-8A Poseidon aircraft at Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu, California
Sailors from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1 at NAS Patuxent River prepare to conduct an ATM-84 Harpoon live fire missile event in a P-8A Poseidon aircraft at Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu, California

The detachment was the culmination of testing, training, and data collection for the P-8A Operational Test Team performing follow-on operational test and evaluation. The successful events were a direct result of the hard work of the VX-1 aircrew, maintenance and ordnance team.

«The whole process from the simulator and captive carry events in Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, to ferrying the aircraft across the country with ATM-84s and completing the shots on the Sea Range, was an incredible combined effort from maintenance, the aircrew and the U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Range Support team», said Lieutenant Michael Reynders, VX-1 project officer.

Prior to the live fire events, multiple captive carry events were flown out of Pax River, resulting in 26 missile uploads and downloads to the aircraft. The dry run events provided a way to ensure ordnance hardware and aircraft software were synchronized.

Despite complications from critical ground support equipment and the missiles themselves, the ordinance team skillfully overcame obstacles presented to them and quickly adapted.

«The Aviation Ordnanceman (AO) detachment worked together and overcame these obstacles and executed our mission flawlessly», said AO3 Cornelius Knox, from Thousand Oaks, California. The exceptional work conducted by the ordnance team supported smooth execution of all flight events.

The successful test provides new capabilities for the fleet to employ Harpoon from the P-8A Poseidon.

Atlantic Resolve

Four of the Army’s most lethal attack helicopters from Fort Bliss, Texas, arrived at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Wednesday, February 22, 2017, in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Four Apache helicopters were transported and downloaded from two C-5M Galaxy airplanes at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, February 22. The Apache helicopters came to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve as part of the United States' commitment to the security of Europe (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Tamika Dillard)
Four Apache helicopters were transported and downloaded from two C-5M Galaxy airplanes at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, February 22. The Apache helicopters came to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve as part of the United States’ commitment to the security of Europe (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Tamika Dillard)

The Apache AH-64 were transported there in the bellies of two U.S. Air Force C-5M Galaxy aircraft.

«We must be able to rapidly deploy a unit at a moment’s notice to deter any potential aggressions in today’s ever-changing environment», said Brigadier General Phillip S. Jolly, U.S. Army Europe’s deputy commanding general for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs.

After transport, it takes just a short amount of time to get the helicopters mission-capable again, according to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Courtney Roundtree, the production control officer for 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment.

«From the time the helicopters are downloaded from the aircraft to the time they take flight is anywhere between 24 to 48 hours», Roundtree said. «We first have to make sure that the aircraft’s blades are airworthy and that the operations systems are running properly».

Once the crews receive the green light, they will fly the helicopters to their headquarters in Illesheim, Germany. In the coming weeks, more helicopters and aviation assets will arrive through three seaports and two airports located throughout the region.

Over the next nine months, the 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 1st Armored Division will augment the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, from Fort Drum, New York, in support of OAR missions.

Missions will include medical transport, exercise support and aviation operations throughout Europe, particularly in Romania, Latvia and Poland.

«Today’s operations demonstrated the strength of our military forces», Jolly said. «We have the world’s greatest forces enabling U.S. Army Europe to do their mission, which is to assure security to our European allies and friends».

U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51-country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.

An AH-64 Apache helicopter is unloaded from a C-5M Galaxy airplane at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, February 22 in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve (Photo Credit: SSG Tamika Dillard, U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs)
An AH-64 Apache helicopter is unloaded from a C-5M Galaxy airplane at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, February 22 in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve (Photo Credit: SSG Tamika Dillard, U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs)

Wind Tunnel Tests

Supersonic passenger airplanes are another step closer to reality as NASA and Lockheed Martin begin the first high-speed wind tunnel tests for the Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) X-plane preliminary design at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

Mechanical technician Dan Pitts prepares the model for wind tunnel testing (Credit: NASA)
Mechanical technician Dan Pitts prepares the model for wind tunnel testing (Credit: NASA)

The agency is testing a nine percent scale model of Lockheed Martin’s X-plane design in Glenn’s 8’ × 6’ Supersonic Wind Tunnel. During the next eight weeks, engineers will expose the model to wind speeds ranging from approximately 150 to 950 mph/241 to 1,529 km/h (Mach 0.3 to Mach 1.6) to understand the aerodynamics of the X-plane design as well as aspects of the propulsion system. NASA expects the QueSST X-plane to pave the way for supersonic flight over land in the not too distant future.

«We’ll be measuring the lift, drag and side forces on the model at different angles to verify that it performs as expected», said aerospace engineer Ray Castner, who leads propulsion testing for NASA’s QueSST effort. «We also want make sure the air flows smoothly into the engine under all operating conditions».

The Glenn wind tunnel is uniquely suited for the test because of its size and ability to create a wide range of wind speeds.

«We need to see how the design performs from just after takeoff, up to cruising at supersonic speed, back to the start of the landing approach», said David Stark, the facility manager. «The 8’ × 6’ supersonic wind tunnel allows us to test that sweet spot range of speeds all in one wind tunnel».

Recent research has shown it is possible for a supersonic airplane to be shaped in such a way that the shock waves it forms when flying faster than the speed of sound can generate a sound at ground level so quiet it will hardly will be noticed by the public, if at all.

«Our unique aircraft design is shaped to separate the shocks and expansions associated with supersonic flight, dramatically reducing the aircraft’s loudness», said Peter Iosifidis, QueSST program manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. «Our design reduces the airplane’s noise signature to more of a ‘heartbeat’ instead of the traditional sonic boom that’s associated with current supersonic aircraft in flight today».

According to Dave Richwine, NASA’s QueSST preliminary design project manager, «This test is an important step along the path to the development of an X-plane that will be a key capability for the collection of community response data required to change the rules for supersonic overland flight».

NASA awarded Lockheed Martin a contract in February 2016 for the preliminary design of a supersonic X-plane flight demonstrator. This design phase has matured the details of the aircraft shape, performance and flight systems. Wind tunnel testing and analysis is expected to continue until mid-2017. Assuming funding is approved, the agency expects to compete and award another contract for the final design, fabrication, and testing of the low-boom flight demonstration aircraft.

The QueSST design is one of a series of X-planes envisioned in NASA’s New Aviation Horizons (NAH) initiative, which aims to reduce fuel use, emissions and noise through innovations in aircraft design that depart from the conventional tube-and-wing aircraft shape. The design and build phases for the NAH aircraft will be staggered over several years with the low boom flight demonstrator starting its flight campaign around 2020, with other NAH X-planes following in subsequent years, depending on funding.

Augmentation System

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals are critical tools for industries requiring exact precision and high confidence. Now, Geoscience Australia, an agency of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Lockheed Martin have entered into a collaborative research project to show how augmenting signals from multiple GNSS constellations can enhance positioning, navigation, and timing for a range of applications.

Second-Generation Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS)
Second-Generation Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS)

This innovative research project aims to demonstrate how a second-generation Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) testbed can – for the first time – use signals from both the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Galileo constellation, and dual frequencies, to achieve even greater GNSS integrity and accuracy. Over two years, the testbed will validate applications in nine industry sectors: agriculture, aviation, construction, maritime, mining, rail, road, spatial, and utilities.

«Many industries rely on GNSS signals for accurate, safe navigation. Users must be confident in the position solutions calculated by GNSS receivers. The term ‘integrity’ defines the confidence in the position solutions provided by GNSS», explained Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive Vince Di Pietro. «Industries where safety-of-life navigation is crucial want assured GNSS integrity».

Ultimately, the second-generation SBAS testbed will broaden understanding of how this technology can benefit safety, productivity, efficiency and innovation in Australia’s industrial and research sectors.

«We are excited to have an opportunity to work with Geoscience Australia and Australian industry to demonstrate the best possible GNSS performance and proud that Australia will be leading the way to enhance space-based navigation and industry safety», Di Pietro added.

Basic GNSS signals are accurate enough for many civil positioning, navigation and timing users. However, these signals require augmentation to meet higher safety-of-life navigation requirements. The second-generation SBAS will mitigate that issue.

Once the SBAS testbed is operational, basic GNSS signals will be monitored by widely-distributed reference stations operated by Geoscience Australia. An SBAS testbed master station, installed by teammate GMV, of Spain, will collect that reference station data, compute corrections and integrity bounds for each GNSS satellite signal, and generate augmentation messages.

«A Lockheed Martin uplink antenna at Uralla, New South Wales will send these augmentation messages to an SBAS payload hosted aboard a geostationary Earth orbit satellite, owned by Inmarsat», explains Rod Drury, Director, International Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. «This satellite rebroadcasts the augmentation messages containing corrections and integrity data to the end users. The whole process takes less than six seconds».

By augmenting signals from multiple GNSS constellations – both Galileo and GPS – second-generation SBAS is not dependent on just one GNSS. It will also use signals on two frequencies – the L1 and L5 GPS signals, and their companion E1 and E5a Galileo signals – to provide integrity data and enhanced accuracy for industries that need it the most.

Partners in this collaborative research project include the government of Australia. Lockheed Martin will provide systems integration expertise in addition to the Uralla radio frequency uplink. GMV-Spain will provide their ‘magicGNSS’ processors. Inmarsat will provide the navigation payload hosted on the 4F1 geostationary satellite. The Australia and New Zealand Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information will coordinate the demonstrator projects that test the SBAS infrastructure.

Lockheed Martin has significant experience with space-based navigation systems. The company developed and produced 20 GPS IIR and IIR-M satellites. It also maintains the GPS Architecture Evolution Plan ground control system, which operates the entire 31-satellite constellation.