Preparing the F-35 Lightning II, the U.S. Navy’s most advanced fighter, for missions in today’s complex electromagnetic spectrum environment requires an equally advanced test environment. Northrop Grumman’s multispectral testing solution recreates the most accurate mission-like conditions in the laboratory and on the range. Recently, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) Point Mugu took delivery of the most sophisticated test environment the company has ever created.
The environment consists of Northrop Grumman’s Combat Electromagnetic Environment Simulator (CEESIM), Signal Measurement System (SMS) and other stimulators, all under control of the Synchronizer Controller System (SCS).
«Keeping the F-35’s systems ready requires a fully integrated test environment like we have developed with CEESIM, SMS and SCS», said Joe Downie, director, land and avionics C4ISR division, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. «These systems work together to provide the environment complexity and density, measurement and analysis capability, and test control capability necessary to evaluate the F-35 in a realistic mission scenario».
At the center of the environment is the CEESIM, which simulates multiple, simultaneous Radio Frequency (RF) emitters as well as static and dynamic platform attributes to faithfully model true-to-war conditions. CEESIM’s Advanced Pulse Generation high speed direct digital synthesizer technology is used to generate realistic electronic warfare mission scenarios.
The SMS provides wide bandwidth signal measurement, recording and analysis capability which is used to validate the test environment and evaluate the system under test performance.
The SCS provides the tools to program an integrated multispectral test scenario, including threat radars, communications signals, radar and Electro-Optical/InfraRed (EO/IR) signatures. The SCS also manages the execution of the scenario by all of the stimulators to ensure a coherent multispectral test environment.
The Marine Corps’ F/A-18 Hornet squadrons recently flew with the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), a highly accurate 2.75-inch/70-mm rocket that provides air-to-ground weapon support.
APKWS allows the F/A-18A-D Hornet to maintain a forward-firing, moving-target capability while increasing available ordnance per aircraft and provides a more efficient weapons match versus target sets currently seen in theater.
«This is an incredible weapons system that our most experienced pilots down to the newest pilots can effectively employ», said Lieutenant Colonel Jon «TAG» Curtis, commanding officer of one of the F/A-18 Hornet squadrons.
The low-cost 2.75-inch/70-mm rocket has a laser guidance kit that gives it precision-kill capability. It has ability to destroy targets while limiting collateral damage in close combat.
Curtis’ squadron received the new weapon system in February and completed ground training and in-flight training to ensure the weapon worked effectively. All of the weapons fired during training directly impacted the final aim point.
«The PMA-242 APKWS and PMA-265 F/A-18 Hornet joint Integrated Product Team (IPT), with key stakeholders (Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft and Weapons Divisions, VX-31/VX-9, Marine Corps headquarters and BAE Systems), rapidly developed and executed an integration plan, cutting normal integration time by nine months and saving $4.9 million of allocated funds», said Lieutenant Commander Daniel Ropp, APKWS deputy program manager
The team established a land-based integration program to expedite fielding with a limited employment envelope using a tailored approach in engineering, logistics, and contracting to deliver units to theater as quickly as possible. This effort supported on time training and operational employment of APKWS for the deploying squadron in Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), exemplifying «Speed to the Fleet», he said.
The F/A-18 Hornet is the second U.S. Navy fixed-wing platform to carry APKWS. It is also employed from the AV-8B Harrier II as well as rotary-wing platforms including the UH-1Y Venom, AH-1Z Viper and MH-60S/R Seahawk. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have fired thousands of combined fixed- and rotary-wing shots and hundreds in combat scenarios.
The F-35 program has accomplished the final developmental test flight of the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the program.
«Completing F-35 SDD flight test is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication from the joint government and industry team», said Vice Adm. Mat Winter, F-35 Program Executive Officer. «Since the first flight of AA-1 in 2006, the developmental flight test program has operated for more than 11 years mishap-free, conducting more than 9,200 sorties, accumulating over 17,000 flight hours, and executing more than 65,000 test points to verify the design, durability, software, sensors, weapons capability and performance for all three F-35 variants. Congratulations to our F-35 Test Team and the broader F-35 Enterprise for delivering this new powerful and decisive capability to the warfighter».
The final SDD flight occurred 11 April 2018 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland when Navy test aircraft CF-2 completed a mission to collect loads data while carrying external 2,000-pound/907-kg GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) and AIM-9X Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles.
From flight sciences to mission systems testing, the critical work completed by F-35 test teams cleared the way for the Block 3F capability to be delivered to the operational warfighter. More than a thousand SDD flight test engineers, maintainers, pilots and support personnel took the three variants of the F-35 to their full flight envelope to test aircraft performance and flying qualities. The test team conducted 6 at-sea detachments and performed more than 1,500 vertical landing tests on the F-35B variant. The developmental flight test team completed 183 Weapon Separation Tests; 46 Weapons Delivery Accuracy tests; 33 Mission Effectiveness tests, which included numerous multi-ship missions of up to eight F-35s against advanced threats.
«The F-35 flight test program represents the most comprehensive, rigorous and the safest developmental flight test program in aviation history», said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. «The joint government and industry team demonstrated exceptional collaboration and expertise, and the results have given the men and women who fly the F-35 great confidence in its transformational capability».
Developmental flight test is a key component of the F-35 program’s SDD phase, which will formally be completed following an Operational Test and Evaluation and a Department of Defense decision to go into full-rate aircraft production.
While SDD required flight test is now complete, F-35 flight testing continues in support of phased capability improvements and modernization of the F-35 air system. This effort is part of the Joint Program Office’s Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2) framework, which will provide timely, affordable incremental warfighting capability improvements to maintain joint air dominance against evolving threats to the United States and its allies.
With stealth technology, advanced sensors, weapons capacity and range, the F-35 is the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter aircraft ever built. More than a fighter jet, the F-35’s ability to collect, analyze and share data is a powerful force multiplier that enhances all airborne, surface and ground-based assets in the battlespace and enables men and women in uniform to execute their mission and return home safe.
Lockheed Martin delivered the first HC-130J Combat King II combat search and rescue tanker to the California Air National Guard on April 5 at the company’s site here.
This HC-130J will be operated by the 129th Rescue Wing (RQW) at Moffett Air National Guard Base, California. The 129th RQW currently operates a fleet of MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft, which will be replaced by four new HC-130Js, and a fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, which are built by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky business in Stratford, Connecticut.
Like others in the U.S. Air Force Rescue community, the 129th RQW lives by the motto, «These Things We Do, That Others May Live», which reflects its mission of supporting combat search and rescue anywhere in the world. The 129th also performs a wide variety of civilian search and rescue missions, including distressed persons aboard ships, lost or injured hikers, and medical evacuations.
«The 129th Rescue Wing has long relied on its MC-130Ps to exemplify the National Guard’s commitment to being, ‘Always Ready, Always There,’» said George Shultz, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin. «The arrival of these new HC-130Js ensure these Airmen will have the increased power, enhanced capabilities and proven performance that will continue to help save lives – in California, throughout the Pacific region and around the world».
The HC-130J is the only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force and Air National Guard 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, and 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 one of eight production variants of the C-130J Super Hercules, the current production model of the legendary C-130 Hercules aircraft. With more than 400 aircraft delivered, the C-130J is the airlifter of choice for 18 nations, with more than 1.7 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.
Fixed-wing Personnel Recovery platform
Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
Four Rolls Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engines
4,591 Propeller Shaft Horsepower, each engine
132 feet, 7 inches/40.4 meters
97 feet, 9 inches/29.57 meters
38 feet, 9 inches/11.58 meters
89,000 pounds/40,369 kilograms
Maximum Takeoff Weight
164,000 pounds/74,389 kilograms
61,360 pounds/9,024 gallons/34,160 liters
35,000 pounds/15,875 kilograms
316 knots indicated air speed at sea level/364 mph/585 km/h
beyond 3,478 NM/4,000 miles/6,437 km
33,000 feet/10,000 meters
Three officers (pilot, co-pilot, combat system officer) and two enlisted loadmasters
Supersonic commercial travel is on the horizon. On April 3, 2018, NASA awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works a contract to design, build and flight test the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator, an X-plane designed to make supersonic passenger air travel a reality.
«It is super exciting to be back designing and flying X-planes at this scale», said Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics. «Our long tradition of solving the technical barriers of supersonic flight to benefit everyone continues».
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works will build a full-scale experimental aircraft, known as an X-plane, of its preliminary design developed under NASA’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) effort. The X-plane will help NASA establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current regulations banning commercial supersonic travel over land.
«We’re honored to continue our partnership with NASA to enable a new generation of supersonic travel», said Peter Iosifidis, Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. «We look forward to applying the extensive work completed under QueSST to the design, build and flight test of the X-plane, providing NASA with a demonstrator to make supersonic commercial travel possible for passengers around the globe».
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and NASA have partnered for more than a decade to enable the next generation of commercial supersonic aircraft. NASA awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works a contract in February 2016 for the preliminary design of the supersonic X-plane flight demonstrator.
The aircraft will be built at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, and will conduct its first flight in 2021.
The Latvian National Armed Forces (NAF) Land Force Infantry Brigade Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) held their annual qualification development course March 20-29, 2018, at the Latvian Defense Academy, Riga, Latvia for both certified Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) and candidates for this position. This year, the ten-day academic refresher course – which meets the annual Joint Fires core competency requirements – is being attended by JTACs from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Canada, United Kingdom, Poland, Italy, Spain, and Slovenia.
Latvian TACP instructors lead the course, augmented by State Partnership Program (SPP) colleagues from Michigan, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Lithuania – along with subject matter experts from Poland and France. This course is a knowledge-based academic refresher mandated by the U.S. and NATO JTAC Memorandum of Agreement.
JTACs – defined, as qualified service members who direct the action of combat aircraft engaged in close air support and other offensive air operations from a forward position – are a crucial component of a nation’s modern war fighting toolbox.
«The Joint Terminal Attack Controller job is to integrate air power with the ground power. They are the nexus for combined fires», said Colonel Andrew Roberts of the Michigan Air National Guard, who was instrumental in the formation of the JTAC partnership in Latvia. «When we started out with the Latvians, a good way to explain it was, ‘Yes, you’re in the Army. Yes, you have this machine gun and that’s great. As a JTAC, your bullet weighs 500 pounds.’ That’s what you’ve got to think about – large impact, highly lethal, very precise ability to take on enemy forces».
Today, equipment is not always standardized across NATO, although similarities do exist. Conversely, the methods of controlling aircraft and calling strikes into tactical environments must be standardized. This course provides a forum for JTACs from each country to understand how operations are conducted with the additional aim of standardizing techniques, incorporating technological advances, and providing enhanced understanding of air support operations and communication procedures.
Even though this course is conducted in a classroom environment and not in the field, it gives each JTAC the ability to engage with one another, share thoughts on the training, and learn from mutual experience.
«The annual CAS Course offers our NATO JTACS, Joint Fires Observes (JFOs) and aspiring JTACs the opportunity to re-cage their knowledge in a multi-national classroom setting», said Major David Dennis, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot from the 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard. «As the course has matured over the years, it has established itself as a premier education and standardization opportunity that is as deep with experience as it is broad in its understanding of the latest Close Air Support (CAS) tactics, techniques, and procedures».
The course also allows access to Latvia’s world-class JTAC training simulator, dually accredited by the U.S. Joint Fire Support executive steering committee and NATO air command. It is able to simulate a wide range of situations and is accredited to replace actual aircraft controls in all weather conditions and day-night operations from various platforms and functions. It also replicates the function of CAS-enabling equipment.
Just as the battleground and mission requirements are ever changing, so are the requirements of the JTAC and TACP. This recertification process helps JTACs continue to improve, which is vital in the theater of operations.
«Close Air Support is an essential part of every Joint Fires kinetic mission. It becomes even more important if one analyses the spectrum of synchronization that requires CAS experts to conduct every step from framing the request to commander’s approval and from coordination of all involved agencies down to control of an actual delivery of weapon or an effect», said Lieutenant Colonel Edmunds Svens, Latvian combat support branch chief. «The mere fact that in Latvia this time there are over 50 CAS experts: pilots, planners and controllers create great deterrence effect. No question that this course equalizes knowledge and experience across more than 8 nations taking part in CAS Course – all speaking same language and performing identical procedures – it is a unity of many into the strength on one organization».
All partners benefit from this course. It enables systematic and progressive development of military capabilities and capacity, providing added value to the training environment for units and countries taking part in the SPP.
«JTAC capabilities give a country like Latvia the ability to fight way above its weight class», said Major General Gregory Vadnais, Adjutant General of the Michigan National Guard. «I brag about Latvia’s JTACs all the time. They’ve got real deterrent, real fighting capability».
The SPP evolved from a 1991 U.S. European Command decision to initiate the Joint Contact Team Program in the Baltic Region with reserve component soldiers and airmen. With a subsequent National Guard Bureau proposal that paired U.S. states with three nations from the former Soviet Union, the SPP was created, becoming a key U.S. security tool that facilitates cooperation across international civil-military affair and fosters relationships at all levels.
Latvia and Michigan were the first official partnership established under the State Partnership Program umbrella with an agreement signed on April 27, 1993. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of that partnership.
«Without our state partnership, this course may not even be possible», said Major Armands Rutkis, TACP commander of the Latvian Land Force Infantry Brigade Combat Support Battalion. «If I didn’t know Lieutenant Colonel Bart Ward a Michigan Air National Guard subject matter expert it would be very difficult to make this happen».
There has been discussion to extend the course with two weeks of academics and a subsequent period of close air support operations in the Baltic region. While there are challenges, the planning, cooperation, and support from partnering states and countries is strong.
«We have over 50 JTACs here from nine different countries, said Rutkis, so the coordination to make all of this happen will take a lot of planning, but our partnership is growing every day and we are improving each year».
Under DARPA’s Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program, Raytheon BBN Technologies is developing technology to direct and control swarms of small, autonomous air and ground vehicles. The technology includes:
a visual interface that allows «drag and drop» creation and manipulation of drone tactics;
a game-based simulator to evaluate those tactics;
a physical swarm testbed to perform live tactics evaluations.
«Operators use speech or gestures to control the swarm. This is a tremendous advantage during operations», said Shane Clark, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and principal investigator on the program. «The system provides sensor feeds and mission status indicators for complete situational awareness».
The flexible, scalable programming software and simulation environment means users can coordinate drone behaviors in teams composed of different vehicle types that use various sensors.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is inviting additional organizations to participate in OFFSET as «sprinters» through an open Broad Agency Announcement. Sprinters can create their own novel swarm tactics and the Raytheon BBN team will work with them to evaluate the tactics in simulation, and possibly field them for live trials.
In 2016, Raytheon, as part of the Office of Naval Research Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) program, conducted demonstrations that successfully netted together 30 Coyote Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in a swarm. Raytheon BBN Technologies is a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon Company.
Schiebel has successfully demonstrated the heavy fuel variant of the Camcopter S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) as part of its customer acceptance program with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
Under the directive of the Navy Minor Project (NMP) 1942 to procure a vertical takeoff and landing Maritime Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System – Interim Capability (MTUAS-IC), RAN sought a platform for shipborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). Selected for its maturity and demonstrated capability, Schiebel’s Camcopter S-100 UAS successfully completed its flying program for the RAN validation and verification customer acceptance program at the Jervis Bay Airfield facilities in New South Wales, Australia.
In a comprehensive series of tests, the JP-5 (NATO F-44) heavy fuel powered Camcopter S-100, equipped with a Wescam MX-10S payload and at operational ranges of up to 60 nautical miles as well as altitudes above 10 000 feet, presented its ability to deliver world-class imagery to commanders.
As the RAN Contract Manager Kevin Beare noted, «The heavy fuel variant of the S-100 has performed very well during the validation and verification program and the RAN looks forward to utilising this platform to achieve NMP1942 project objectives over the coming years».
«The S-100 will prove to be an effective asset in enhancing the Navy’s ISR capabilities», said Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group. «We are excited about the positive feedback we are receiving from RAN and are looking forward to continued cooperation in the future».
Founded in 1951, the Vienna-based Schiebel Group focuses on the development, testing and production of state-of-the-art mine detection equipment and the revolutionary Camcopter S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS). Schiebel has built an international reputation for producing quality defense and humanitarian products, which are backed by exceptional after-sales service and support. Since 2010, Schiebel’s composite division supplies high-tech customers with products of supreme carbon fiber technology – all quality-controlled to meet ISO 9001 standards. With headquarters in Vienna (Austria), Schiebel now maintains production facilities in Wiener Neustadt (Austria) and Abu Dhabi (UAE), as well as offices in Washington DC (USA) and Phnom Penh (Cambodia).
About the Camcopter S-100
Schiebel’s Camcopter S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) is an operationally proven capability for military and civilian applications. The Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS requires no prepared area or supporting equipment to enable launch and recovery. It operates in day and night, under adverse weather conditions, with a beyond line-of-sight capability out to 108 NM/124 miles/200 km, over land and sea. Its carbon fiber and titanium fuselage provides capacity for a wide range of payload/endurance combinations up to a service ceiling of 18,000 feet/5,486 m. In a typical configuration, the Camcopter S-100 carries a 75 lbs./34 kg payload up to 10 hours and is powered with AVGas or JP-5 heavy fuel. High-definition payload imagery is transmitted to the control station in real time. In addition to its standard GPS waypoint or manual navigation, the S-100 can successfully operate in environments where GPS is not available, with missions planned and controlled via a simple point-and-click graphical user interface. The high-tech unmanned helicopter is backed by Schiebel’s excellent customer support and training services.
All the major elements of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope now reside in a giant clean room at Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Redondo Beach facility, setting the stage for final assembly and testing of the giant space telescope that will explore the origins of the universe and search for life beyond our solar system.
The Optical Telescope and Integrated Science instrument module (OTIS) arrived at Northrop Grumman in February. It was previously at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where it successfully completed cryogenic testing.
OTIS and the spacecraft element, which is Webb’s combined sunshield and spacecraft bus, now both call Northrop Grumman home. Webb is scheduled to launch from Kourou, French Guiana in 2019.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space observatory of the next decade. Webb will solve mysteries of our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion completed an external lift of a 36,000-pound/16,330-kg payload at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center, achieving a maximum weight on the single center point cargo hook. This milestone marks completion of critical flight envelope expansion activities for the CH-53K King Stallion as Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company prepares to deliver the first aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps this year.
The CH-53K King Stallion lifted the external load of 36,000 lbs./16,330 kg into a hover followed by flight demonstrating satisfactory handling qualities and structural margins. The gross weight of the aircraft topped out at just over 91,000 lbs./41,277 kg, making this the heaviest helicopter ever flown by Sikorsky.
«The successful completion of these last critical envelope expansion tests further demonstrates the maturity of the CH-53K aircraft», said Doctor Michael Torok, Sikorsky Vice President, Marine Corps Systems. «We look forward to bringing this unique and exceptional heavy lift capability to the United States Marine Corps and our international customers».
Prior to the 36,000-lb./16,330 kg lift, the CH-53K King Stallion lifted various external payloads up to 27,000 lbs./12,247 kg including a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). The CH-53K can carry a 27,000 lb./12,247 kg external load over 110 nautical miles/126.6 miles/203.7 km in high/hot conditions, which is more than triple the external load carrying capacity of the legacy CH-53E Super Stallion aircraft. Other flight envelope accomplishments include tethered hover demonstrating flight speeds to 200 knots/230 mph/370 km/h, angle of bank to 60 degrees, takeoffs and landings from sloped surfaces up to 12 degrees, external load auto-jettison, and gunfire testing.
«The payload capability of this helicopter is unmatched, triple that of its predecessor and better than any other heavy lift helicopter in production», said Colonel Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps Program Manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s Heavy Lift Helicopters Program. «The CH-53K program continues on pace to deploy this incredible heavy lift capability to our warfighters».
The CH-53K King Stallion is also garnering international interest. Rheinmetall and Sikorsky recently signed a strategic teaming agreement to offer the CH-53K King Stallion for Germany’s new heavy lift helicopter competition. Additional teammates will be announced in the coming weeks leading up to the aircraft’s debut at the ILA Berlin Air Show in April.
Number of Engines
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
141 knots/162 mph/261 km/h
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
30 feet/9.1 m
9 feet/2.7 m
6.5 feet/2.0 m
264.47 feet2/24.57 m2
1,735.36 feet3/49.14 m3
* All Engines Operating
** Hover Ceiling In Ground Effect
*** Hover Ceiling Out of Ground Effect
The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion completed an external lift of a 36,000-pound/16,330-kg payload at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center, achieving a maximum weight on the single center point cargo hook