Category Archives: Air

AN-124 in Czech

On 31 March, at 17.35 local time, an AN-124 landed in Pardubice Airport carrying tons of medical supplies that the Czech government will use to fight COVID-19.

Unloading cargo at Pardubice airport (Credits: Czech Ministry of Defence)

This is the third flight arranged by the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS in support to Czech Republic. In total, SALIS airlifted 106 tons of medical supplies from China to the Czech Republic.

This flight followed a similar itinerary than the previous ones, taking off from Leipzig/Halle airport, SALIS Operating Base, and arriving to Shenzhen Airport, in southeaster China on the following day. On 31 March 2020, the plane landed in the city of Pardubice, where the equipment was unloaded and transported to the warehouse of the Ministry of the Interior in Opočínek.

Precautionary measures were put in place to ensure the safety of the crew during the operation.

The Czech Republic has been a member of the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) since its beginning in 2006. SALIS provides participating nations with a strategic air transport capability. Nine NATO Allies (Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) currently participate in the programme, managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA).

Through SALIS, nations obtain assured access of up to five AN-124 aircraft within few days. In addition, the current contract with Antonov Logistics SALIS also provides access to AN-22, AN-225 and IL-76 Chap IV aircraft.

VORTEX engine

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, reached a major milestone in the advancement of hypersonic propulsion with its patented VORTEX engine, advancing to the next phase of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Operational Fires (OpFires) program.

SNC Leverages VORTEX Engine Technology for DARPA’s OpFires Program

Through OpFires, SNC is extending its hybrid VORTEX engine capabilities to advanced, deep throttling, restartable propulsion systems. The system utilizes benign solid fuel with a liquid oxidizer, both of which are storable on Earth and in space. Recent testing shows positive results in being able to package significant energy into a small volume that will have the ability for deep throttling and smooth restart capabilities on command. «The VORTEX flows integrated into the hybrid significantly improves performance of the hybrid engine», said Doctor Marty Chiaverini, director of Propulsion Systems at SNC.

«This program opens up a new market for SNC for preplanned or on-demand propulsion control capabilities that are applicable to both military and beyond Earth orbit propulsion capabilities», said Tom Crabb, vice president of SNC’s Propulsion & Environmental Systems business unit. «Deep throttling and restart capabilities expand the tools for smart and unpredictable trajectories for various vehicles and systems».

The first two phases of DARPA’s OpFires program focus on the propulsion technologies required to deliver diverse payloads to a variety of ranges. Since Phase 1 contract award, SNC has made critical discoveries in advanced rocket motor technology for the OpFires upper stage, completing more than 30 motor trials from subscale through full size. SNC hopes to demonstrate these engines in flight and offer the engines to new, promising vehicle systems.

In addition to the deep throttling, restartable, storable system for DARPA, SNC is expanding its propulsion capabilities and products with near-term flight for its Dream Chaser spaceplane Reaction Control System, maturation of upper stage engines and development of other liquid storable engines for spacecraft, lunar, and other exploration and protection applications. SNC is also co-investing with the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for development of the engine for USAF needs.

Dutch Chinook

Boeing recently delivered the first CH-47F Chinook with an upgraded cockpit to the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), continuing a track record of on-time deliveries to customers. The RNLAF will operate a fleet of 20 CH-47F Chinooks, the newest configuration in use by countries around the world.

The first new CH-47F Chinook was delivered to the Royal Netherlands Air Force from Boeing’s Philadelphia production facility (Fred Troilo, Boeing photo)

«The RNLAF made it clear to us that they need the advanced, proven capability of the CH-47F now», said Andy Builta, vice president of Cargo & Utility Helicopters and H-47 program manager. «I want to thank our phenomenal team for working hard during a difficult situation to safely deliver these aircraft. This is a reminder to all of us of how important Chinooks are to our customers».

The 20 CH-47F Chinooks will be a fleet equipped with the same state-of-the-art technology as the U.S. Army, including digital automatic flight controls, a fully-integrated Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) glass cockpit, and advanced cargo handling capabilities. The common configuration leads to lower overall life cycle costs.

The RNLAF currently flies a mix of F-model Chinooks with the Advanced Cockpit Management System (ACMS) and CH-47D Chinooks.

«It has been a pleasure to work closely together with the U.S. Army and Boeing teams to achieve this milestone», said Colonel Koen van Gogh, Netherlands Defence Materiel Organisation. «The Chinook helicopter is a vital asset for our missions and the in-time delivery certainly supports our operational planning. I salute the Boeing workforce for their continued efforts to make this happen in these troubling times, as well as the U.S. Army officials that helped keep us on track».

Deliveries to the RNLAF are expected to continue into 2021. Chinooks are currently in service or under contract with 20 international defense forces, including the U.S. Army, U.S. Special Operations Forces and eight NATO member nations.

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As a top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries. Boeing employs more than 160,000 people worldwide and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.

Combat King

Lockheed Martin delivered the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s first HC-130J Combat King II on April 2, 2020 to a crew from the 920th Rescue Wing (RQW) from Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. This HC-130J will be operated by the 39th Rescue Squadron (RQS), which is part of the 920th RQW.

The U.S. Air Force Reserve’s first HC-130J Combat King II takes flight from Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia, production facility (Lockheed Martin photo by Amanda Harwell)

These Reservists are long-time operators of legacy HC-130 P/N Combat King combat search-and-rescue aircraft, flying and maintaining HC-130s since the 1960s – using HC-130s to save more than 3,000 lives. The HC-130J is the sole dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform operated by the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.

The 920th RQW and 39th RQS also have the distinction of being the Air Force Reserve’s only HC-130J operators and will eventually have an HC-130J fleet to support mission requirements.

Like others in the U.S. Air Force Rescue community, the 920th RQW and the 39th RQS live by the motto, «That Others May Live», which reflects the mission of supporting combat search and rescue anywhere in the world. These crews rely on HC-130s to also extend the range its HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopters, which were manufactured by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky business in Stratford, Connecticut.

Often tasked for airdrop, airland, and helicopter air-to-air refueling and forward-area ground refueling missions, the HC-130’s mission capabilities also include humanitarian aid operations, disaster response, security cooperation/aviation advisory, emergency aeromedical evacuation and noncombatant evacuation operations.

«From supporting humanitarian relief efforts on the Florida coast to making combat rescues in Southeast Asia, the 920th’s HC-130s have exemplified the reputation of being tried and true workhorses for 60 years», said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin. «As we salute one fleet for a lifetime’s worth of work, we are also excited to commemorate a new era with the arrival of the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s first HC-130J Combat King II. This HC-130J provides the Citizen Airmen with increased power, capability and performance to continue to support critical missions close to home and around the world».

Compared to legacy platforms, the HC-130J Combat King II offers significant performance and capabilities advancements, to include fuel efficiencies, improvement in payload/range capabilities, an integrated defensive suite, automated maintenance fault reporting, high-altitude ramp and door hydraulics, and unmatched situational awareness with its digital avionics and dual Head Up Displays.

The HC-130J is one of nine production variants of the C-130J Super Hercules, the current production model of the legendary C-130 Hercules aircraft. With more than 450 aircraft delivered, the C-130J is the airlifter of choice for 20 nations. The global Super Hercules fleet has more than 2 million flight hours of experience supporting almost any mission requirement – any time, any place.

The U.S. government operates the largest C-130J Super Hercules fleet in the world. This delivery continues the U.S. government’s transition to the C-130J as the common platform across Air Mobility Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps. The Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command currently operate a mixed fleet of C-130J and older Hercules aircraft.

Assault Aircraft

Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. company, has been selected as a project agreement holder for the Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) effort as part of the U.S. Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program. Under the agreement Bell will deliver a refined V-280 Valor design, with supporting technical documentation, that builds on the data captured during the more than two years and 170 hours of flight testing under the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) program to inform the FLRAA program of record.

U.S. Army awards Bell a contract for competitive demonstration and risk reduction work on a program engineered to deliver exceptional operational capabilities to warfighters at a sustainable cost

«Bell and Team Valor are excited to continue working on a system that has proven its ability to bring exceptional capabilities to warfighters», said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO at Bell. «The JMR TD and V-280 show that rapid maturation of new technology is possible with a solid government-industry partnership fueled by our talented and innovative workforce. We look forward to the FLRAA competition».

This contract follows the successful U.S. Army led JMR TD program. As part of that program, Bell managed collaboration with the twelve leading companies that make up Team Valor to enable rapid production, systems integration, and deliberate program schedule to validate the V-280’s flight capabilities and operational relevance. The V-280 achieved all program goals, demonstrating its speed by flying above 300 knots/345 mph/555 km/h and demonstrating low speed agility attitude quickness per ADS-33F-PRF. These characteristics are important to inform FLRAA program requirements to ensure the program will help warfighters meet the challenges of future multi-domain fights.

«This is an important milestone in the history of Bell and Army aviation. We are honored to be part of it», said Keith Flail, vice president, Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. «The next phase is an opportunity for this team to build on the success of the last six years and continue to bring the proof that we can provide transformative capabilities to our Army in line with their stated goal of 2030».

The V-280 Valor was developed in support of the government Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, the Army’s number three modernization priority area. The FLRAA program is meant to produce a medium-lift utility rotorcraft replacement with transformational speed, power, and maneuverability, at a sustainable cost, to active duty and reserve aviation units.

500th F-35 Aircraft

Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office delivered the 500th F-35. In February, the F-35 Lightning II enterprise surpassed 250,000 flight hours.

The 500th F-35 Lightning II delivered by Lockheed Martin takes flight from the company’s Fort Worth, Texas, factory. The multi-role fighter will be delivered to the Air National Guard in Burlington, Vermont

The 500th production aircraft is a U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II, to be delivered to the Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont. The 500 hundred F-35s include 354 F-35A Lightning II Conventional TakeOff and Landing (CTOL) variants, 108 F-35B Lightning II Short TakeOff/Vertical Landing (STOVL) variants and 38 F-35C Lightning II Carrier (CV) variants for the U.S. and international customers. The 250,000 flight hours include all F-35s in the fleet comprised of developmental test jets, training, operational, U.S. and international aircraft.

«These milestones are a testament to the talent and dedication of the joint government, military and industry teams», said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin, vice president and general manager of the F-35 Lightning II program. «The F-35 is delivering an unprecedented 5th Generation combat capability to the warfighter at the cost of a 4th Generation legacy aircraft».

The F-35 Lightning II operates from 23 bases worldwide. More than 985 pilots and over 8,890 maintainers are trained. Nine nations use the F-35 Lightning II from their home soil, eight services have declared Initial Operating Capability and four services have employed F-35s Lightning II in combat operations.

Future Attack Aircraft

Boeing is offering the U.S. Army an agile, fully integrated, purpose-built system for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) prototype competition.

Boeing FARA is an all-new, purpose-built helicopter designed specifically for the U.S. Army’s attack reconnaissance mission (Boeing photo)

Boeing FARA is designed to meet the Army’s current mission needs while evolving as technologies and missions change. The thrust compounded single-main rotor helicopter boasts a six-bladed rotor system, a single engine, tandem seating and a modular, state-of-the-art cockpit with a reconfigurable large area display and autonomous capabilities.

«We’re offering more than a helicopter – we’re offering an affordable and fully integrated system for the Army, the mission and the future. We’ve blended innovation, ingenuity and proven rotorcraft experience with extensive testing and advanced analysis to offer a very compelling solution», said Mark Cherry, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Phantom Works.

The fly-by-wire design leverages more than 65 years of rotorcraft experience, proven advanced and additive manufacturing technology, and product commonality driving down risk and costs. The system will provide seamless capability within the Army ecosystem to include Long-Range Precision Fires and air-launched effects.

«We listened to the Army, assessed all alternatives, and optimized our design to provide the right aircraft to meet the requirements», said Shane Openshaw, Boeing FARA program manager. «We are offering a very reliable, sustainable and flexible aircraft with a focus on safety and the future fight».

FARA will fill a critical gap in Army aviation for an advanced light attack and reconnaissance capability, previously held by the now-retired Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior.

Jolly Green II

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, will build 12 additional HH-60W Jolly Green II Combat Rescue Helicopters (CRH) following a second Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract award by the U.S. Air Force, known as Lot 2, and valued at over $500 million. The award follows a string of significant program milestones in 2019, including first flight, a Milestone C decision by the Air Force, and award of the first Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract for 10 aircraft. The HH-60W Jolly Green II is an all-new helicopter based on the proven UH-60M Black Hawk and customized for the U.S. Air Force’s rescue mission.

Barbara M. Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, assigned Jolly Green II as the name of the new HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter during the annual Air Force Association (AFA) Air Warfare Symposium (Photo courtesy Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company)

«This second contract award demonstrates the confidence the U.S. Air Force has in Sikorsky’s proven ability to deliver and support the next generation combat search and rescue helicopter», said Greg Hames, Sikorsky’s CRH Program Director. «Our team works daily – and in close collaboration with our customer – to ensure we build and deliver this highly capable and much-needed helicopter to the warfighter».

Since achieving the Milestone C decision from the Air Force in September 2019, which moved the CRH program into low rate initial production, the program continues to progress, reaching key milestones and executing an aggressive flight test schedule. Currently seven CRH aircraft are in flight, two of which are with the Air Force at Duke Field, Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, with all aircraft engaging in expanded flight tests to support the path forward to Required Assets Available (RAA). Low rate initial production of CRH Lot 1 aircraft major assembly is underway, with Lot 2 assembly to follow. The program remains on track to meet contract delivery of RAA in 2020.

The HH-60W Jolly Green II arrived on February 27, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, the site of the annual Air Force Association (AFA) Air Warfare Symposium, offering a first-hand look of the much-anticipated aircraft to service members who perform critical search and rescue operations. The Air Force also assigned the new helicopter its proper name – Jolly Green II – in a name reveal event hosted by Barbara M. Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force.

«We respect the long tradition of assigning a moniker that communicates the Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) mission. Jolly Green II is a fitting tribute to its history and to airmen and women worldwide», said Dana Fiatarone, Sikorsky’s Vice President, Army and Air Force Systems. «The name is greatly respected by our workforce – past and present – and it’s an honor to build this critical aircraft for the Air Force and bring it to the symposium today to provide our customer with the opportunity to view the Jolly Green II in person. We look forward to continued production and executing on the recent Lot 2 contract award».

The HH-60W Jolly Green II Combat Rescue Helicopter is significantly more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk. The aircraft hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the main fuel tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk, giving the Air Force crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. The HH-60W Jolly Green II specification drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, weapons, cyber-security, environmental, expanded adverse weather sensor capabilities, and more comprehensive net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.

The U.S. Air Force program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the Pave Hawks, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services. A total of nine aircraft will be built at Sikorsky’s Stratford, Connecticut, facility during the Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the program – four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA).

Presidential Helicopter

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, will build six production VH-92A Presidential Helicopters under a contract from the U.S Navy. These helicopters are part of the 23 aircraft program of record for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Sikorsky receives second contract to build Presidential Helicopters

Under the terms of the contract, known as Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot II, Sikorsky will begin deliveries of six VH-92A helicopters in 2022. The remaining production aircraft will be delivered in 2022 and 2023.

«The program continues to progress on budget and within our planned acquisition timeline», said Colonel Eric Ropella, PMA-274 presidential helicopter program manager. «The award of LRIP Lot II reinforces the importance of this Marine Corps no-fail mission especially as we move into the next phase of government testing this year».

 

Helicopter on Track to Meet Milestones

The VH-92A test aircraft at Patuxent River, Maryland, have proven their production readiness by undergoing rigorous U.S. government testing and operational assessments, including more than 1,000 flight test hours establishing the aircraft’s technical maturity and readiness of its mission systems.

Sikorsky has transferred five VH-92A helicopters into government test with the sixth completing modification and entering into government test this spring. The VH-92A program is on track to enter Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) later this year.

«Now that we are ramping up production, the VH-92A program is gaining momentum», said Dave Banquer, Sikorsky VH-92A program director. «This second contract award demonstrates the confidence the U.S. Marine Corps has in Sikorsky’s proven ability to deliver and support the next generation Presidential helicopter».

 

Production of VH-92A Helicopters Underway

All six of the production aircraft from the first Low Rate Initial Production contract are undergoing modifications at Sikorsky’s Stratford, Connecticut plant and are on schedule to begin deliveries in 2021.

Sikorsky and the U.S. Navy integrate mature mission and communication systems into the aircraft. This aircraft provides communication capability to perform the duties of Commander in Chief, Head of State and Chief Executive.

The VH-92A aircraft will provide safe, reliable and capable transportation for the President and Vice President.

This program ensures long term affordability and maintainability by utilizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified S-92 aircraft which has industry leading reliability and availability. The S-92 fleet surpassed 1.5 million flight hours in 2019 and averages 14,400 hours of safe flight per month.

«The men and women of Sikorsky treasure our legacy of building and providing helicopter transportation for every President and Commander in Chief since Dwight D. Eisenhower», said Banquer. «We are proud to continue that legacy with the VH-92A helicopter».

Solar Aircraft

PHASA-35, a 35 meters/115 feet wingspan solar-electric aircraft, has successfully completed its maiden flight. The landmark flight paves the way to this new aircraft becoming a game changer in the air and space market, plugging the gap between aircraft and satellite technology.

Ground-breaking solar powered unmanned aircraft makes first flight

PHASA-35 has been designed, built and now flown in less than two years as part of a collaboration between ourselves and Prismatic Ltd, which we agreed to acquire last year. Designed to operate unmanned in the stratosphere, above the weather and conventional air traffic, PHASA-35 offers a persistent and affordable alternative to satellites combined with the flexibility of an aircraft, which could be used for a range of valuable applications including forest fire detection and maritime surveillance.

Sponsored by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and Australian Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), the successful flight trials took place at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Woomera Test Range in South Australia.

The trials marked the first fully integrated flight test of the PHASA-35 system, delivering rapid proof of capability from design to flight in just 20 months. They are the culmination of efforts from a collaborative team of British experts from Prismatic in Hampshire – where two full-sized concept aircraft were built last year – working alongside our engineers in Lancashire, where the aircraft underwent further integration testing prior to flight trials.

 

Going the distance

As a High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) vehicle, PHASA-35 is powered by the Sun during the day and by batteries overnight. The long-life battery and highly efficient solar technology could allow the aircraft to maintain flight for up to a year operating in the stratosphere (65,000 feet/19,812 m), the upper regions of the Earth’s atmosphere.

PHASA-35 is designed to provide a persistent, stable platform for monitoring, surveillance, communications and security applications. When connected to other technologies and assets, it will provide both military and commercial customers with capabilities that are not currently available from existing air and space platforms. The Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) also has the potential to be used in the delivery of communications networks including 5G, as well as provide other services, such as disaster relief and border protection, at a fraction of the cost of satellites.

Ian Muldowney, Engineering Director here at BAE Systems, said: «This is an outstanding early result that demonstrates the pace that can be achieved when we bring the best of British capability together. To go from design to flight in less than two years shows that we can rise to the challenge the UK Government has set industry to deliver a Future Combat Air System within the next decade».

Our acquisition of Prismatic forms part of the Company’s strategy to develop breakthrough technologies, making bolt-on acquisitions where they complement existing capabilities and provide an opportunity to accelerate technology development in key areas.

Further flight trials are scheduled for later this year, with the possibility that the aircraft could enter initial operations with customers within 12 months of the flight trials programme completion.