Category Archives: Air

Next-Generation Sensor

Lockheed Martin received $337 million in orders to supply Apache Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M‑TADS/PNVS) systems and services to the United States, United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Lockheed Martin delivering next-generation Apache Sensor Systems under new U.S. army contract (Photo credit: Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin delivering next-generation Apache Sensor Systems under new U.S. army contract (Photo credit: Lockheed Martin)

The awards are part of an initial task order under a new Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (ID/IQ) contract signed with the U.S. Army. The ID/IQ, with at least $2 billion in potential orders and a five-year period of performance, serves as the contracting vehicle to provide M‑TADS/PNVS systems and services to U.S. and international customers.

«Lockheed Martin is committed to a strong and sustained partnership with our customers in the United States and around the world», said Paul Lemmo, vice president of Fire Control/Special Operations Forces Contractor Logistics Support Services at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. «This contract enables us to respond rapidly to their emerging defense needs, including requirements for new M-TADS/PNVS systems and upgrades».

Under an order for the U.S. Army, Lockheed Martin is providing upgrade kits for the M‑TADS/PNVS Modernized Day Sensor Assembly (M-DSA) and Modernized Laser Range Finder Designator. For the U.K. Ministry of Defence, it is delivering M-DSA upgrade kits for M-TADS/PNVS refurbishment as part of a remanufacture effort to upgrade D-model Apaches to E models. For the Saudi Ministry of National Guard, it is providing M‑TADS/PNVS systems for new E-model Apaches.

M-TADS/PNVS, known as the «eyes of the Apache», provides pilots with long-range, precision engagement and pilotage capabilities for safe flight during day, night and adverse weather missions. M-DSA increases M-TADS/PNVS designation and ranging capabilities to fully accommodate current weapons and those planned for the future. The upgraded sensor enables Apache pilots to see high-resolution, high-definition, near-infrared and color imagery on cockpit displays. M-DSA also provides a new laser pointer marker that improves coordination with ground troops, and an updated multi-mode laser with eye-safe range designation that supports flight in urban environments and critical training exercises.

Autonomous Guidance

In line with its strategy of innovation for the future of vertical flight, Airbus Helicopters is developing an experimental on board image processing management system aimed at performing automatic approaches and landing in challenging conditions, as well as paving the way for future sense & avoid applications on autonomous Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) systems.

Project Eagle aims at improving safety and automation capabilities for existing and future platforms
Project Eagle aims at improving safety and automation capabilities for existing and future platforms

Codenamed Eagle, for Eye for Autonomous Guidance and Landing Extension, this system federates the entire helicopter’s image processing functions and feeds them into the avionics system, thus improving the crew’s situation awareness and reducing the pilot’s workload by automating and securing approaches, take-off and landing in the most demanding environments. Ground tests of Eagle have been ongoing since May this year and initial flights tests on a testbed helicopter will begin shortly.

«While existing missions such as search and rescue and offshore transportation will benefit from Eagle’s capabilities, the system will also help address future requirements for operations in urban environments», said Tomasz Krysinski, Airbus Helicopters Vice-President Research & Technology. «Ultimately, thanks to its ability to provide increased situation awareness, Eagle will also contribute to improve the safety, autonomy and performance of future unmanned vehicles».

The system, which could be embedded in a variety of existing and future Airbus VTOL vehicles, relies on a gyro-stabilized optronics package, which includes three high resolution cameras and state-of-the-art processing units, as well as on-board video analytics providing advanced functionalities such as object detection and tracking, digital noise reduction as well as deep learning.

Future versions of the Eagle system will also integrate a laser, which combined with the high processing capability could open the door to other applications such as a new generation of search lights, obstacles detection and 3D terrain reconstruction.

3-D printed SUAS

U.S Marines with 2nd Marine Division tested remote controlled craft made through additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, September 26-27, 2017.

Marines prepare to test a small unmanned aerial system at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, September 27, 2017. Technicians from the United States Army Research Lab demonstrated to the Marines how easy the system is to create and have it fully operational with little to no training (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Taylor W. Cooper)
Marines prepare to test a small unmanned aerial system at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, September 27, 2017. Technicians from the United States Army Research Lab demonstrated to the Marines how easy the system is to create and have it fully operational with little to no training (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Taylor W. Cooper)

The technicians and engineers with U.S. Army Research Lab gathered Marines from different military occupational specialties to demonstrate the usefulness and convenience of the additive manufactured Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS).

Unlike systems the military has in use already, the additive manufactured SUAS has the flexibility to adhere to all types of different missions, and can be created much faster.

«At this point we are focusing on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions», said Eric Spero, a team leader in the vehicle technology directorate of the U.S. Army Research Lab. «We have different cameras such as an infrared and a day camera; there are different things we can do like stream the video to systems or a heads-up display and record it for later viewing».

Researchers have created a catalog for the crafts that allows service members to select an SUAS that is tailored to fit the needs of the mission.

Troops simply pick the SUAS that fits their mission objectives and download the information that allows the parts to be 3-D printed.

An additive manufactured SUAS can be created, constructed and ready for operations in approximately 24 hours.

«Basically, what we are doing is combining two emerging technologies», said John Gerdes, a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Army Research Lab. «We have taken 3-D printing and quad-copters and created a means of giving troops a customized vehicle right when they need it, with the capabilities they need from it, on demand».

Instead of fitting troops to systems that are already in use such as the RQ-11 raven or the RQ-20 puma and forcing them to compromise to complete the mission, they can instead take their needs and create a vehicle specific to the job, said Gerdes.

«These craft are the future because they’re protected by obsolescence», said Gerdes. «We are able to give troops the technology almost immediately by printing new parts and making slight adjustments so they will always have a craft that is able to complete the mission».

U.S Marines with 2nd Marine Division tested remote controlled craft made through additive

Maiden Flight

Leonardo is pleased to announce the successful maiden flight of the first of eight upgraded Brazilian Navy Super Lynx Mk21B helicopters at its Yeovil facility, in southwest England, on 28th September 2017. The upgraded Lynx helicopters will give Brazil’s Naval Aviation a significant improvement in its capabilities, with much increased aircraft performance and mission effectiveness.

Leonardo Helicopters has flown the first of eight Brazilian Navy Super Lynx Mk21A helicopters to undergo a major upgrade; the first three upgraded aircraft will be delivered in 2018 (LH photo)
Leonardo Helicopters has flown the first of eight Brazilian Navy Super Lynx Mk21A helicopters to undergo a major upgrade; the first three upgraded aircraft will be delivered in 2018 (LH photo)

The Super Lynx Mk21B is powered by two new generation CTS800-4N engines, already used on the Super Lynx 300 and the AW159 helicopters, which provide the helicopters with major performance improvements, especially in hot environments, increasing payload and mission effectiveness. A new glass cockpit will be complimented by an advanced avionic suite comprising a tactical processor, satellite based navigation system, civil navigation aids including a Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), Automatic Identification System (AIS), radar warning receiver/electronic surveillance measures integrated with countermeasures dispensers and a full Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible cockpit, together with a new electrically powered rescue hoist.

The maiden flight marks another milestone in the long-standing partnership between Leonardo and the Brazilian Navy, which has been operating Lynx helicopters since 1978.

National security

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3 on September 23, at 10:49:47 p.m. PDT. Designated NROL-42, the mission is in support of national security.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3. Designated NROL-42, the mission is in support of national security (United Launch Alliance/Jeff Spotts)
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3. Designated NROL-42, the mission is in support of national security (United Launch Alliance/Jeff Spotts)

«Congratulations to the entire team for overcoming multiple challenges throughout this launch campaign. From Hurricane Irma schedule impacts to replacing to a first stage battery this week – the team maintained a clear focus on mission success», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. «NROL-42 marks the 25th ULA-launched NRO mission, building upon our legacy of partnership with the NRO in providing reliable access to space for our nation’s most critical missions».

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 541 configuration vehicle, which includes a 5-meter/16-feet PayLoad Fairing (PLF) and four solid rocket boosters. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C engine.

This is ULA’s sixth launch in 2017 and the 121st successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3. Designated NROL-42, the mission is in support of national security (United Launch Alliance/Jeff Spotts)
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3. Designated NROL-42, the mission is in support of national security (United Launch Alliance/Jeff Spotts)

ULA’s next launch is the NROL-52 for the National Reconnaissance Office. The launch is scheduled for October 5 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the legacy launch systems.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 120 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.

Atlas V NROL-42 Launch Highlights

5th OTV mission

The 45th Space Wing successfully launched a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle September 7, 2017, from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.

In a testing procedure, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle taxis on the flightline in June 2009 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (Courtesy photo)
In a testing procedure, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle taxis on the flightline in June 2009 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (Courtesy photo)

Approximately eight minutes after the launch, SpaceX successfully landed the Falcon 9 first-stage booster at Landing Zone 1 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Brigadier General Wayne Monteith, the 45th SW commander, thanked the entire Orbital Test Vehicle 5 (OTV-5) mission team for their efforts in ensuring a successful launch.

«I’m incredibly proud of the 45th Space Wing’s contributions to the X-37B program», Monteith said. «This marks the fifth successful launch of the OTV and its first onboard a Falcon 9. A strong relationship with our mission partners, such as the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, is vital toward maintaining the Eastern Range as the world’s premiere gateway to space».

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is led by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), with operations overseen by Air Force Space Command’s 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron. The OTV is designed to demonstrate reusable spacecraft technologies for America’s future in space and operate experiments, which can be returned to and examined on Earth.

 

General Characteristics

Primary Mission Experimental test vehicle
Prime Contractor Boeing
Height 9 feet, 6 inches/2.9 meters
Length 29 feet, 3 inches/8.9 meters
Wingspan 14 feet, 11 inches/4.5 meters
Launch Weight 11,000 pounds/4,990 kilograms
Power Gallium Arsenide Solar Cells with lithium-Ion batteries
Launch Vehicle United Launch Alliance Atlas V (501)

 

100% Completion

The Bell V-280 Valor has achieved 100% build completion and moved one step closer to its first flight this fall. The V-280 is the newest revolutionary aircraft in the tiltrotor family. The V-280 Valor was selected in August 2014 to advance, build and fly an aircraft within the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) program.

Bell Helicopter has completed assembly of its new tilt-rotor, the V-280 Valor, at its plant in Amarillo, Texas. It is due to make its first flight during the fall (Bell photo)
Bell Helicopter has completed assembly of its new tilt-rotor, the V-280 Valor, at its plant in Amarillo, Texas. It is due to make its first flight during the fall (Bell photo)

The V-280 has been designed to provide our military with the speed, range and operational productivity needed to complete any mission successfully and outmatch every opponent. New innovations incorporated in the V-280 include stationary nacelles, which increases the ease of aircraft maintenance and safety of the ingress and egress. The newest tiltrotor offers fixed-wing high speed performance and low speed agility, giving soldiers and operators the option to select the best pace and maneuverability for their mission.

Contract for 41 ALH

September 4, 2017, Bengaluru, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) signed one more contract for supply of Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH). The contract is for 40 ALH to the Indian Army and one to the Indian Navy (IN).

HAL Gets Orders for 41 Advanced Light Helicopters
HAL Gets Orders for 41 Advanced Light Helicopters

«The latest order reflects the trust on HAL’s capabilities and gives an impetus to make-in-India campaign. It reposes faith of Indian Defence forces in indigenous ALH which has been serving them with distinction for a long time», says Mr. T. Suvarna Raju, CMD-HAL.

The contracts for supply of 41 ALHs amounting around Rs 6100 crores will be executed in a period of 60 months. The contract was signed between MoD and HAL in New Delhi recently. Officials from MoD, Indian Army, Indian Navy and HAL were present during the event.

In March this year HAL had signed a contract for supply of 32 ALH to boost the maritime security capabilities of the Indian Navy (IN) and Indian Coast Guard (ICG).

An Indian Army ALH lifts off near an Indian Navy model, fitted with a chin-mounted surface-search radar. HAL today was awarded a contract for 41 additional Advanced Light Helicopters (HAL photo)
An Indian Army ALH lifts off near an Indian Navy model, fitted with a chin-mounted surface-search radar. HAL today was awarded a contract for 41 additional Advanced Light Helicopters (HAL photo)

Low Rate
Initial Production

Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, has awarded Lockheed Martin a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 1 contract to build two production CH-53K King Stallion helicopters. This contract follows the April 4, 2017, Milestone C decision by the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) approving LRIP production.

The CH-53K King Stallion helicopter on a test flight at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida
The CH-53K King Stallion helicopter on a test flight at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida

«Gaining the U.S. Marine Corps approval to enter into production and the award of the first contract are milestones made possible by the tremendous achievements of the joint Sikorsky, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and U.S. Marine Corps team», said Dr. Mike Torok, vice president, CH-53K programs. «This is what we have been striving for – to deliver this amazing capability to the U.S. Marine Corps».

Under the $303,974,406 million contract, Sikorsky will deliver two production aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps in 2020 along with spares and logistical support. Aircraft assembly will take place at Sikorsky’s headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut.

«We have just successfully launched the production of the most powerful helicopter our nation has ever designed. This incredible capability will revolutionize the way our nation conducts business in the battlespace by ensuring a substantial increase in logistical through put into that battlespace. I could not be prouder of our government-contractor team for making this happen», said Col 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 capability with three times the lift capability of its predecessor, the CH-53E Super Stallion. The helicopter cabin, a full foot wider, gives increased payload capacity to internally load 463L cargo pallets, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) or a European Fenneck armored personnel carrier while still leaving the troop seats installed. The CH-53K’s external hook system provides the capability to lift three independent external loads simultaneously. These true heavy lift internal and external cargo improvements give the Marine Corps tremendous mission flexibility and efficiency in delivering combat power in support of the Marine Air Ground Task Force or in delivering humanitarian assistance or disaster relief to those in need.

The CH-53K King Stallion also brings enhanced safety features for the warfighter. Full authority fly-by-wire flight controls and mission management reduce pilot workload enabling the crew to focus on mission execution. 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. These features permit the pilot to focus confidently on the mission at hand while operating in degraded environments.

The CH-53K’s internal health monitoring systems with fault detection/fault isolation, coupled with a digital aviation logistics maintenance system that interfaces with the Fleet Common Operating Environment for fleet management, provides improved combat readiness for the Marine Corps.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Program of Record remains at 200 CH-53K King Stallion aircraft. The U.S. 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

 

Dream Chaser

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser underwent a captive carry test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center here August 30. The test was part of the spacecraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight, according to an SNC press release.

The Dream Chaser prepares for a captive carry test August 30, 2017, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The test was part of the spacecraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)
The Dream Chaser prepares for a captive carry test August 30, 2017, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The test was part of the spacecraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)

A Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter carried the Dream Chaser over Edwards for about an hour. The goal was to reach an altitude and flight conditions the spacecraft would experience before being released on a free flight test, said company officials.

The Dream Chaser was delivered to Armstrong January 25 to undergo several months of testing at the center in preparation for its upcoming approach and landing flight on one of Edwards Air Force Base’s (AFB) runways.

The test series is part of a developmental space act agreement SNC has with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The test campaign will help SNC validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser, according to NASA.

Lee Archambault, SNC director of flight operations for the Dream Chaser program, said in a press release, «We are very pleased with the results from the captive carry test and everything we have seen points to a successful test with useful data for the next round of testing».

The August 30 captive carry test is one of two planned at Edwards for this year. The test obtained data and evaluated both individual and overall system performance, said the release. If the second captive carry test is a success, it will clear the way for a free-flight test.

The Dream Chaser is also being prepared to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract beginning in 2019. The data that SNC gathers from this test campaign will help influence and inform the final design of the cargo Dream Chaser, which will fly at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024, according to NASA.

A Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter carries the Dream Chaser over Edwards Air Force Base, California, for a captive carry test August 30, 2017 (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)
A Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter carries the Dream Chaser over Edwards Air Force Base, California, for a captive carry test August 30, 2017 (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)