Category Archives: Air

Production Contract

Lockheed Martin was awarded a $414 million contract from the U.S. Navy and Air Force for Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) production. This is the largest LRASM production contract in the history of the program.

LRASM
Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile provides unmatched offensive anti-surface warfare capabilities for our U.S. warfighters

The combined Lot 4/5 contract continues production of the air-launched variant of LRASM, now operational on the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer.

«This contract reflects LRASM’s increasing significance to our customers’ missions. Focused teamwork around a shared vision with our customers and our dedicated supply partners remains key to this program’s success», said David Helsel, LRASM director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. «We look forward to continuing our important work and growing our capabilities and platforms».

LRASM is designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships by employing advanced technologies that reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. LRASM will play a significant role in ensuring military access to operate in open ocean, owing to its enhanced ability to discriminate and conduct tactical engagements from extended ranges.

LRASM is a precision-guided, anti-ship standoff missile based on the successful Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER). It is designed to meet the needs of U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force warfighters in contested environments. LRASM provides an operational capability for the U.S. Navy’s offensive anti-surface warfare Increment I requirement.

Alliance Surveillance

Northrop Grumman Corporation’s RQ-4D Phoenix Global Hawk has recently enabled NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) Force to achieve a declaration of initial operating capability (IOC) from Supreme Allied Commander Europe, giving NATO commanders the ability to perform uninterrupted in-theater operations 24/7/365. The RQ-4D Phoenix Global Hawk variant provides cutting-edge Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) in support of global security.

RQ-4D Phoenix Global Hawk
NATO AGS RQ-4D Phoenix Global Hawk

«NATO AGS will help the Alliance with persistent regional defense and deterrence», said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman. «The commitment of the entire AGS team partnership – both government and industry – has shown incredible dedication, working across cultures, time zones and languages, all aiming toward one goal – providing the Alliance with this critical capability».

The NATO AGS system is comprised of five aircraft, ground and support segments, along with advanced sensor technologies. The Phoenix aircraft has met the rigorous standards required for the first large unmanned aerial vehicle – military type certification and approved by the Italian Directorate of Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness (DAAA). Companies from across NATO member nations, including Leonardo, Airbus and Kongsberg, comprise the Northrop Grumman-led industry team that developed the NATO AGS capability.

The wide area surveillance of the RQ-4D Global Hawk and the fixed, mobile and transportable ground stations will support a full range of missions, including protection of ground troops and civilian populations, border control, crisis management and humanitarian assistance in natural disasters. The platform’s high-altitude, long-endurance capability delivers sustained, uninterrupted in-theater operations providing an unprecedented amount of ISR data to the Alliance. With the state-of-the-art main operating base at the Italian Air Base, Sigonella, Italy, data can be rapidly disseminated to allied forces, providing an unmatched advantage.

Northrop Grumman’s family of autonomous High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) systems, including Global Hawk, are a critical component of networked, global ISR collection for allied nations and mutual defense organizations around the world. Global Hawk collects ISR data that enables decision makers to act with the right information at the right time.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 97,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

LongShot Concept

Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) Tactical Technology Office (TTO) to develop an advanced technology weapon concept designed to significantly increase engagement range and weapon effectiveness of U.S. Forces against adversary air threats.

LongShot
Northrop Grumman to Develop Advanced Air-to-Air Missile Engagement Concept

«Our collaboration with DARPA is the critical first step in the development of innovative operational concepts and solutions that will enhance our warfighter’s combat capability against a rapidly growing threat», said Jaime Engdahl, program director, kinetic weapons and emerging capabilities, Northrop Grumman. «The LongShot program enables us to combine our digital engineering skillset with our extensive knowledge in advanced technology weapons, autonomous systems and strike platforms to increase weapon range and effectiveness».

Spurred by rapid technological advancements and an ever more dangerous and disruptive battlefield, DARPA’s LongShot program will explore new lethal engagement concepts by leveraging multi-modal propulsion, weapon systems that can be operationally deployed from existing fighters or bombers.

DARPA’s advanced aerospace systems activities are focused on utilizing high pay-off opportunities to provide revolutionary new system capabilities, as opposed to incremental or evolutionary advancements, in order to achieve undeterrable air presence at dramatically reduced costs.

The LongShot program enables Northrop Grumman to combine its expertise in weapon system design, survivability, autonomy, advanced mission systems and rapid prototyping to deliver advanced solutions that help to maintain a competitive military advantage in highly contested environments.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 97,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

Maiden Flight

The first Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tanker destined for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) took to the skies on its maiden flight on February 8, 2021. This successful flight highlights an important milestone as the aircraft now transitions into the certification phase of development.

KC-46 Pegasus
First KC-46 Pegasus for an international customer completes successful first flight

«This is an exciting milestone for the JASDF and Boeing», said Jamie Burgess, KC-46 Pegasus program manager. «Japan is getting closer to receiving the most advanced air refueling tanker in the world».

Japan is the KC-46 Pegasus program’s first international customer and is scheduled to receive its first jet this year.

«Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus and its robust defensive systems will play an invaluable role in the security alliance between our two countries», said Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan. «This tanker’s ability to carry cargo and passengers also makes it a critical tool to support humanitarian relief efforts across the Pacific region and beyond».

The KC-46 Pegasus refueling certification encompasses U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and JASDF aircraft.

Boeing is assembling KC-46A Pegasus aircraft for both the U.S. Air Force and Japan on its 767 production line in Everett, Washington. Boeing’s Japanese partners produce 16% of the KC-46 Pegasus airframe structure.

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. 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.

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Aerial refueling and airlift
Prime Contractor The Boeing Company
Power Plant 2 × Pratt & Whitney 4062
Thrust 62,000 lbs/275.790 kN/28,123 kgf – Thrust per High-Bypass engine (sea-level standard day)
Wingspan 157 feet, 8 inches/48.1 m
Length 165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m
Height 52 feet, 10 inches/15.9 m
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 415,000 lbs/188,240 kg
Maximum Landing Weight 310,000 lbs/140,614 kg
Fuel Capacity 212,299 lbs/96,297 kg
Maximum Transfer Fuel Load 207,672 lbs/94,198 kg
Maximum Cargo Capacity 65,000 lbs/29,484 kg
Maximum Airspeed 360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h
Service Ceiling 43,100 feet/13,137 m
Maximum Distance 7,299 NM/8,400 miles/13,518 km
Pallet Positions 18 pallet positions
Air Crew 15 permanent seats for aircrew, including aeromedical evacuation aircrew
Passengers 58 total (normal operations); up to 114 total (contingency operations)
Aeromedical Evacuation 58 patients (24 litters/34 ambulatory) with the AE Patient Support Pallet configuration; 6 integral litters carried as part of normal aircraft configuration equipment

 

Airbus Survey Copter

Airbus Defence and Space mini UAS subsidiary Survey Copter signed a contract with French DGA Armament general directorate to provide the French Navy with 11 systems, (22 aircraft), of the electrically powered fixed-wing Aliaca maritime version Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) (officially called SMDM/«Systèmes de Mini Drones aériens embarqués pour la Marine» by French authorities), including training and integrated logistic support. First deliveries are expected in 2021.

Airbus Survey Copter Aliaca
French ministry for Armed Forces selects Airbus Survey Copter Aliaca fixed-wing drone systems to equip its ships

«We are honored to contribute to the missions of the French Navy which we will support with the highest standards of quality and reliability. This new contract strengthens Survey Copter’s position as a global key player for maritime mini UAS», said Nicolas Askamp, Head of Survey Copter/Airbus Unmanned Aerial Systems.

The Aliaca maritime UAS is a high endurance versatile system allowing up to 3 hours missions over a 50 km/31 miles/27 NM range, perfectly adapted to maritime missions with high gyro stabilized Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) payload performances and qualified to operate in severe environmental conditions. Launched by catapult, the Aliaca maritime UAS concludes its flight by landing automatically using a dedicated net landing solution. With a length of 2,2 m/7.2 feet and a wingspan of 3,6 m/11.8 feet for a maximum take-off weight of 16 kg/35 lbs., the Aliaca maritime UAS benefits from a powerful yet silent electric motor. The system can be deployed easily and rapidly in less than 15 minutes by 2 operators only.

Similarly, the «user-friendly» ground control station enables the operator to constantly monitor the automatic flight of the UAS while receiving in real-time day and night images and Automatic Identification System (AIS) data gathered by its on-board sensors.

It is designed to conduct several types of missions around the ships, including increasing the understanding of the tactical situation, control of illegal operations at sea, search-and-rescue, traffic monitoring, pollution detection, tracking of any suspicious behaviour in the ship environment and coastal surveillance.

This light on-board aerial solution gives the opportunity to vessels, traditionally not equipped with aerial assets, to enhance their tactical Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, support decision making and reactivity in operations.

The Aliaca maritime UAS can easily be integrated on board any ships, with or without helicopter landing-deck, and its small logistic footprint enables operations and storage on board smaller sized ships. Its integration does not require heavy on-board modification nor storage of specific fuel.

The result of 10 years of Research and Development (R&D) investments and on-board experimentations, Survey Copter’s «off the shelf» Aliaca maritime UAS is a robust and resistant system to the corrosive maritime environment, an adapted solution to the electro-magnetic constrains on board, and benefits from an efficient net recovery system, fully automated, meaning that no human action is required during the recovery phase.

LongShot program

DARPA’s LongShot program, which is developing an air-launched Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) with the ability to employ multiple air-to-air weapons, has awarded contracts to General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman for preliminary Phase I design work. The objective is to develop a novel UAV that can significantly extend engagement ranges, increase mission effectiveness, and reduce the risk to manned aircraft.

LongShot UAV
Artist’s concept of LongShot UAV

Current air superiority concepts rely on advanced manned fighter aircraft to provide a penetrating counter air capability to effectively deliver weapons. It is envisioned that LongShot will increase the survivability of manned platforms by allowing them to be at standoff ranges far away from enemy threats, while an air-launched LongShot UAV efficiently closes the gap to take more effective missile shots.

«The LongShot program changes the paradigm of air combat operations by demonstrating an unmanned, air-launched vehicle capable of employing current and advanced air-to-air weapons», said DARPA program manager Lieutenant Colonel Paul Calhoun. «LongShot will disrupt traditional incremental weapon improvements by providing an alternative means of generating combat capability».

In later phases of the program, LongShot will construct and fly a full-scale air-launched demonstration system capable of controlled flight, before, during, and after weapon ejection under operational conditions.

ISR aircraft

In a modern military conflict, the amount of information flying around can be overwhelming. Signals sail in from everywhere. Some of it is intelligence. Some of it is noise. It comes from friends and from foes. And it creates chaos.

Bombardier Global 6500
The Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance system, an aircraft that collects, analyzes and delivers near real-time intelligence and a highly accurate common operating picture, will help commanders make better-informed decisions

Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, can help armed forces in the air and on the ground make sense of this increasingly crowded, complex and converged battlespace.

The company is proposing an aircraft called the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance system, or ISTAR. It would collect, analyze and deliver near real-time intelligence and a highly accurate common operating picture to help commanders make the right decisions.

«Our advanced multi-intelligence aircraft will sense, process and transmit copious amounts of information rapidly and at long range in highly contested environments», said Barbara Borgonovi, vice president of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems for RI&S.

The ISTAR would use multiple intelligence, or multi-INT, technology, in keeping with the demands of modern military technology. Multi-INT weaves in critical intelligence inputs from multiple sensors across the spectrum such as visuals, radio frequencies and electronic communications, among other signals, and it paints a clearer, multi-faceted picture of the adversary’s movements and changes in the battlespace.

«When the threat environment was a bit simpler, forces could really rely on one major sensor for their intelligence needs and capabilities», said Richard Sandifer, Korea ISTAR capture executive at RI&S. «A single, great radar was the only thing needed to understand what the enemy was doing. But it is not possible to get the total intelligence picture from just one radar anymore».

RI&S is partnering with aircraft maker Bombardier to modify its Global 6500 business jet. The airframe would be outfitted with multiple capabilities, including an advanced active electronically scanned array RF system, which combines ground moving target indicator capabilities with synthetic aperture modes; multi-spectral long range imagery, which provides visible and infrared intelligence and targeting information; and signals intelligence – an entire suite to deliver the precision and intelligence for making decisions and maintain the advantage of strategic surprise to spot and combat threats first.

In comparison to existing reconnaissance aircraft, RI&S’ ISTAR would fly longer, at higher altitudes and with more electrical power, enabling the plane to carry more capabilities.

«The increased power payload will help increase the sensing capability, as well as the capability for onboard processing and the entire platform», said Sandifer. The asset is large enough to scale, offering flexibility to the customer to add capabilities over time.

In particular, the system can employ advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to help ward off adversaries posturing from a distance and denying access to threats.

«Anti-access/Area Denial is everywhere», said Jason Colosky, ISRS business development executive, using a military term for suppressing an adversary’s movement. «So, you have to have an asset that has the time and duration to be in the air long enough to provide intelligence to commanders before deciding to queue firepower against the adversary. ISTAR has those capabilities, enabling the operators to see deep into a non-permissive environment».

The ISTAR system would offer a fully integrated battlefield management command-and-control processing capability, enabling service members at every operational level to strategically plan and cohesively execute missions in lockstep with their allies.

Additionally, the ISTAR fleet could help enforce maritime embargoes, monitor natural disasters, direct humanitarian aid, ensure border security and bolster missile defense.

«We have a heritage of providing reliable ISTAR capabilities that have been proven in contested theaters in support of allied operations by deploying the first international ISTAR-type aircraft in the United Kingdom», said Sandifer. «That operational experience and lessons learned are being applied to our latest smart ISR aircraft enabling operators to make accurate and fast decisions in the congested battlespace when it matters the most».

First Flight

The new Boeing F-15EX Strike Eagle fighter jet completed its first flight on February 2, 2021, paving the way for the early delivery of the first two jets to the U.S. Air Force later this quarter. The jet took off and landed from St. Louis Lambert International Airport, completing a 90-minute test flight before returning to the airport.

F-15EX Strike Eagle
The F-15EX Strike Eagle fighter jet demonstrates a vertical «Viking» departure during its first flight on February 2, 2021 (Boeing photo by Eric Shindelbower)

Boeing F-15 Chief Test Pilot Matt Giese checked out the multirole jet’s avionics, advanced systems and software. A test team monitoring the data collected during the flight in real time confirmed that the aircraft performed as planned.

«Today’s successful flight proves the jet’s safety and readiness to join our nation’s fighter fleet», said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager. «Our workforce is excited to build a modern fighter aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. Our customer can feel confident in its decision to invest in this platform that is capable of incorporating the latest advanced battle management systems, sensors and weapons due to the jet’s digital airframe design and open mission systems architecture».

The fighter’s digital backbone means it can serve as a testbed for future technology insertion, a key capability for the Air Force. Modern variants of the F-15 also include fly-by-wire flight controls, an all-new digital cockpit, modern Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and the ADCP-II, the world’s fastest mission computer. The F-15EX Strike Eagle, the most advanced version to date, features the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System electronic warfare system to improve mission effectiveness and survivability for operators.

In July, the Air Force awarded Boeing a contract to build the first lot of eight jets. Future plans call for as many as 144 aircraft.

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. 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 Training System

The Naval Aviation Training System and Ranges program office (PMA-205) recently completed the first flight test of its next-generation air combat training system, the Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II), on an F/A-18F Super Hornet at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland. The second flight test, the first for this system involving two aircraft, followed in quick succession using two F/A-18E Super Hornet aircraft.

TCTS II
The Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II) pod successfully completed its first single aircraft flight test at Patuxent River December 11, followed by its first two aircraft flight test on December 15

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 conducted the test flights and the PMA-205 test team collected and analyzed the data in real time with its industry partner, Collins Aerospace Systems, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Collins).

«Our team faced software, COVID, and platform challenges but worked with urgency to stay on track for low rate initial production decision in April. The fact that the date has not changed since contract award in 2017 speaks volumes of not only our team but also the level of support from the Navy to field this capability», said Captain Lisa Sullivan, PMA-205 program manager.

The TCTS II system, developed by Collins, is an open architecture system enabling highly secure air combat training between aircraft, replacing and advancing the existing range training infrastructure. The TCTS II system is the first certified encrypted, multi-level security training pod that communicates with both airborne and ground equipment.

«This is the first time the team has been able to see the system in use in a real-world environment using an operational platform. These tests provide valuable insight into system performance, including pod-to-pod and pod-to-ground datalink performance, positional accuracy, and weapon simulations», said Jake Kiehlmeier, PMA-205 TCTS II lead test engineer.

The U.S. Air Force joined the Navy’s TCTS II program, leveraging investments made by the Navy and delivering training capabilities sooner and at a lower cost. The services are working together to develop and use this system to train against real-world threats.

«This is just the beginning of how this system and integration of additional Live, Virtual, Constructive capabilities in the portfolio will revolutionize training for the U.S Air Force and the Navy alike», said Sullivan.

PMA-205 provides full life cycle acquisition of naval aviation platform and general training systems, training range instrumentation systems, and distributed mission training centers to provide U.S. Navy and Marine Corps pilots, naval flight officers, aircrew, and maintainers with the training equipment required to provide lethal capability and operational readiness.

Training devices include flight simulators, part-task trainers, maintenance trainers, airborne and underwater training range instrumentation, threat systems, and associated curricula to ensure optimum performance for naval aviation. Responsibilities include execution of naval aviation’s Live, Virtual, and Constructive training strategy, execution of the Navy Aviation Simulator Master Plan, commonality and interoperability across training systems, procurement and sustainment of training products and services to include equipment overhaul and/or replacement, engineering changes, modernization and technology refreshes, and future technology advancements for training systems and training ranges.

12 Rafales

Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, on January 29, 2021 signed a contract for the sale of 12 Rafale aircraft with Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces.

Rafale
Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, on January 29, 2021 signed a contract for the sale of 12 Rafale aircraft with Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces

These aircraft will replace the 12 Rafales of the French Air and Space Force (FASF) sold to the Hellenic Air Force.

The contract was signed during a visit by the French Minister of the Armed Forces to the Argonay plant in Haute-Savoie which has produced the flight control systems for all Dassault aircraft since 1963.

Dassault Aviation and its industrial partners would like to thank the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the French defense procurement agency DGA and the Armed Forces for their renewed confidence.

«This contract for 12 new aircraft will enable our Air and Space Force to continue the Rafale build-up while awaiting the fifth tranche, which is scheduled for delivery between 2027 and 2030. The contract is a great satisfaction for Dassault Aviation, Thales, Safran and the 500 French companies involved in the program, in the particularly difficult conditions facing our aeronautics sector in the context of the Covid crisis», said Eric Trappier.