Category Archives: Air

Polish Black Hawk

During the MSPO International Defence Industry Exhibition, PZL Mielec, a Lockheed Martin company displayed an S-70i Armed Black Hawk helicopter fitted with a single-station external stores pylon. Designed at PZL Mielec as a lighter weight, lower cost alternative to currently fielded dual-station external wings, a single-station pylon attached to one or both sides of the aircraft will be compatible with the advanced weapon system that allows Black Hawk pilot gunners to support battlefield operations using forward firing guns, rockets and air-to-ground missiles.

An S-70i Black Hawk helicopter at the MSPO trade show carries a lightweight single-station external stores pylon supporting four Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. The prototype pylon’s drop design offers a wide field of fire to the crew-served machine gun, which also can be locked into a fixed forward position for control by a pilot gunner

«We’re developing the single-station pylon in response to requests by militaries across Europe, Latin America and Asia for a battlefield support helicopter that can be armed for different types of missions that may not always need four weapons stations», said Janusz Zakręcki, president, general director of PZL Mielec. «Operators can arm the aircraft for suppressive fire, surveillance, armed reconnaissance, armed escort and air assault missions, and still carry out other utility roles whenever pylons and stores must remain on the aircraft».

At a quarter the cost and weight of a dual-station wing, a pylon can be removed or attached by two people in 15 minutes, produces less drag during flight, offers a wider field of fire to window or door gunners, and opens more space to hoist a litter into the aircraft while in a hover.

For large targets, a pylon will be able to carry HELLFIRE or Spike air-to-ground missile launchers. A pylon also can extend aircraft range with an 80-gallon/303-liters external fuel tank.

As a complementary option for the S-70i/S-70M Armed Black Hawk with dual-station wings, the single station pylon will integrate with the aircraft’s weapons management system that calculates the range and complex ballistics required for pilot gunners to engage targets with high accuracy and reliability from stand-off distances during day and night operations.

PZL Mielec expects to begin airworthiness flight testing of the prototype pylon design in 2020.

Hypersonic Weapon

On August 29, the U.S. Army awarded Lockheed Martin a contract at an estimated value of $347 million as part of a multi-year hypersonic weapons development in support of the Army’s focus in long-range precision strike missiles.

Notional hypersonic strike glide vehicle

As the prime contractor for the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) systems integration project, the Lockheed Martin-team will develop and integrate a land-based hypersonic strike prototype in partnership with the Army Hypersonic Project Office, part of the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office. The team includes: Dynetics Technical Solutions (DTS), Integration Innovation Inc. (i3), Verity Integrated Systems, Martinez & Turek, and Penta Research.

«Lockheed Martin is driving rapid technical development for these national priority programs», said Eric Scherff, vice president for Hypersonic Strike Programs for Lockheed Martin Space. «There are natural synergies with our industry teammates. We believe our relationships offer the Army unmatched expertise and puts us in the best position to deliver this critical capability to the nation. Lockheed Martin is proud to partner with the Army in integrating the common hypersonic glide body and the land-based hypersonic strike weapon system prototype. We are committed to combining the best of what our companies have to offer to deliver on this national priority program».

The Army also awarded a contract to DTS at an estimated value of $352 million to produce the first commercially manufactured set of Common-Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) systems. DTS selected Lockheed Martin to support integration and prototyping of this new C-HGB. The C-HGB will be available across military services to provide commonality to air, land and sea platform needs and requirements.

«Dynetics Technical Solutions is pleased to partner with Lockheed Martin on this national defense priority. The Common-Hypersonic Glide Body and Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon programs will modernize our national capabilities and will counter the threat from our foreign adversaries. We are looking forward to the progress our teams will make as we deliver this combat capability to the warfighter», said Steve Cook, DTS president.

The Army LRHW prototype will leverage the C-HGB and introduce a new class of ultrafast and maneuverable long-range missles with the ability to launch from ground mobile platforms. The LRHW system prototype will provide residual combat capability to soldiers by 2023.

Hypersonic strike weapons, capable of flying speeds in excess of Mach 5, are a key aspect of the long-range precision fire modernization effort for the Army and the national security strategy to compete with and outpace potential threats.

LRHW program work will be performed at Lockheed Martin’s Alabama, Colorado, California and Texas facilities.

Lockheed Martin is an established industry leader in the development of hypersonic strike technology and our experience will serve as the cornerstone for hypersonic defense systems. Lockheed Martin’s hypersonic strike awards exceed over $2.5 billion across the corporation. We are proud to partner with the Army, Air Force, and Navy on the technology development and demonstration for multiple capabilities that span all hypersonic flight disciplines.

Sea Lion

The NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter will be the successor of the Sea Lynx Mk 88A as the helicopter of the German Navy. This ensures a smooth transition and synergies in later operations.

After a long evaluation, the German Navy has finally confirmed that the NH90 Sea Lion will replace the Westland Lynx as its standard shipboard helicopter. Designated Multi-Role Frigate Helicopter, it will enter Navy service in 2025 (Airbus photo)

The Federal Ministry of Defense has prepared this decision since the end of 2018 with the support of the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and the Use of the Bundeswehr (BAAINBw). The representative of the Inspector General of the German Armed Forces, Vice Admiral Joachim Rühle, approved this proposal on 29 July.

The Navy is expected to receive from 2025 their new on-board helicopter. Its special designation is «Multi-Role Frigate Helicopter» (MRFH). It will be the German version of the NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NH90 NFH), and closest to the French variant NFH (NFRS) Caiman.

The NFH already flies for the Italian, Norwegian, Belgian and Dutch naval forces.

As the next important milestone in the MRFH procurement process, the Bundestag will deal with a corresponding bill in 2020.

On-board helicopters are an integral part of the «frigate system». Equipped with sonar, radar and torpedoes, they are the essential sensor and weapons carriers in naval warfare, below as well as above water. They can also flexibly support maritime operations through transport and rescue missions.

 

MAIN CHARACTERISTICS

Overall dimensions (rotors turning)
Length 64.18 feet/19.56 m
Width 53.48 feet/16.30 m
Height 17.42 feet/5.31 m
Weights
Maximum Gross Weight 23,369 lbs/10,600 kg
Alternate Gross Weight 24,250 lbs/11,000 kg
Empty Weight 14,109 lbs/6,400 kg
Useful Load 9,260 lbs/4,200 kg
Cargo Capacity
Cargo Hook 8,818 lbs/4,000 kg
Single or dual Rescue Hoist 595 lbs/270 kg
Rescue Hoist on ground 880 lbs/400 kg
Fuel Capacity
7-Cell Internal System 4,486 lbs/2,035 kg
Internal Auxiliary Fuel Tanks (each) 882 lbs/400 kg
External Auxiliary Fuel Tanks (each) 644 lbs/292 kg or 1,102 lbs/500 kg
Internal Dimensions
Width 6.56 feet/2.00 m
Length 15.75 feet/4.80 m
Height 5.18 feet/1.58 m
Volume 536.78 feet³/15.20 m³
Sliding doors opening 5.25 × 4.92 feet/1.60 × 1.50 m
Rear ramp opening 5.84 × 5.18 feet/1.78 × 1.58 m
NH90 General Performance (Basic Aircraft)
Maximum Cruise Speed* 162 knots/186 mph/300 km/h
Economical Cruise Speed* 140 knots/161 mph/260 km/h
Maximum Rate Of Climb* 2,200 feet/min/11.2 m/sec
One Engine Inoperative (OEI) Rate Of Climb 2 min Rating* 850 feet/min/4.3 m/sec
OEI Rate Of Climb Continuous Rating at 6,560 feet/2,000 m* 300 feet/min/1.5 m/sec
Hover Ceiling In Ground Effect (IGE)* 10,500 feet/3,200 m
Hover Ceiling Out of Ground Effect (OGE)* 8,530 feet/2,600 m
Maximum Range 530 NM/610 miles/982 km
Maximum Range with 5,511.5 lbs/2,500 kg payload 486 NM/559 miles/900 km
Maximum Endurance 5 h
Ferry Range (with Internal Aux Fuel Tanks) 864 NM/994 miles/1,600 km

* At 22,046 lbs/10,000 kg

Tactical Boost Glide

Raytheon Company and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) completed a successful baseline design review for the Tactical Boost Glide hypersonic weapons program, establishing the company’s technical approach for a critical design review and moving the system a step closer to development and use.

Raytheon, DARPA complete key design review for new hypersonic weapon

A boost glide weapon uses a rocket to accelerate its payload and achieve hypersonic speeds – velocities greater than Mach 5. During flight, the payload separates from the rocket and glides unpowered to its destination.

«We understand the urgency of the need and are working fast to deliver this advanced technology to our nation’s military», said Doctor Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president. «The goal is to keep America ahead of emerging threats, and we are well on our way».

The U.S. military will use hypersonic weapons to engage from longer ranges with shorter response times and with greater effectiveness than current weapon systems.

Earlier this year, Raytheon received a $63 million DARPA contract to further develop the Tactical Boost Glide program, a joint effort between the agency and the U.S. Air Force.

E-2D Program

Lockheed Martin’s Radar Sensor Systems market segment has been awarded a contract from Northrop Grumman worth over $600 million for Multi-Year Production (MYP) of 24 additional APY-9 radars for the U.S. Navy’s E-2D aircraft program. It’s also known as the Advanced Hawkeye program.

The E2-D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft (Photo courtesy – Navy Visual News Service)

The APY-9 radar program is nearing completion of a current five-year production contract in 2020, and this new award calls for another five years of production – with deliveries spanning from 2021 to 2025. The latest radar order will include Lockheed Martin’s new Advanced Radar Processor.

«We’re excited to have the opportunity to continue producing APY-9 radars for the Navy’s use on its Advanced Hawkeye aircraft and to continue supporting our customers with performance upgrades on a regular basis», Ken Kaminski, Airborne & National Surveillance Radar program director, said.

The APY-9 radar is an Ultra High Frequency (UHF) surveillance system that provides both mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities designed to «see» smaller targets – and more of them – at a greater range, particularly in coastal regions and over land.

«The team has performed extremely well to date in terms of delivering all of our APY-9 systems on or ahead of schedule», Kaminski said.

Production work is performed at Lockheed Martin sites in Syracuse and Owego, New York, and Clearwater, Florida.

 

General Characteristics

Wingspan 24.56 m/80 feet 7 in
Width, wings folded 8.94 m/29 feet 4 in
Length overall 17.60 m/57 feet 8.75 in
Height overall 5.58 m/18 feet 3.75 in
Diameter of rotodome 7.32 m/24 feet
Weight empty 19,536 kg/43,068 lbs
Internal fuel 5,624 kg/12,400 lbs
Takeoff gross weight 26,083 kg/57,500 lbs
Maximum level speed 648 km/h/350 knots/403 mph
Maximum cruise speed 602 km/h/325 knots/374 mph
Cruise speed 474 km/h/256 knots/295 mph
Approach speed 200 km/h/108 knots/124 mph
Service ceiling 10,576 m/34,700 feet
Minimum takeoff distance 410 m/1,346 feet ground roll
Minimum landing distance 537 m/1,764 feet ground roll
Ferry range 2,708 km/1,462 NM/1,683 miles
Crew Members 5
Power Plant 2 × Rolls-Royce T56-A-427A, rated at 5,100 eshp each
Unrefueled >6 hours
In-flight refueling 12 hours

 

Combat Aircraft

A new project to develop a novel unmanned combat aircraft has been announced by the RAF Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

Dstl to develop conceptual unmanned aircraft for RAF

The Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) concept looks to offer additional capability, deployed alongside fighter jets like the F-35 and Typhoon – offering increased protection, survivability and information for the manned aircraft – and could even provide an unmanned combat air «fleet» in the future.

Specifically, in a break with traditional approaches for combat air systems in the UK, the innovative LANCA concept aims to deliver dramatic reductions in traditional cost and development timeline.

Under LANCA, a technology demonstrator project known as ‘Mosquito’ has awarded contracts for Phase 1 of the work, which will produce a preliminary system design for an unmanned air vehicle and assessment of the key risk areas and cost-capability trade-offs for an operational concept. Initial flight test of the demonstrator air vehicle could take place as early as 2022.

Phase 1 will include the exploration of novel design, development, prototyping, manufacture, and support, to enable low-cost rapid development and evolution of a potential future unmanned combat air system. Dstl, which provides science and technology for the defence and security of the UK, is delivering the technical oversight, project management, and partnering for Project Mosquito.

For Phase 1, contracts were awarded to three teams led by Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd, Boeing Defence UK Ltd, and Callen-Lenz (Team BLACKDAWN partnered with Bombardier Belfast and Northrop Grumman UK Ltd).

LANCA originated in 2015 studies by Dstl to understand innovative Combat Air technologies and concepts that might offer radical reductions in cost and development time. Subsequently LANCA was brought into the RAF RCO as part of the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative (FCAS TI). LANCA aims to explore the utility and feasibility of unmanned capability adjuncts to existing and future Fast Jet aircraft, specifically those that offer substantial reductions in traditional cost and development timelines.

Project Mosquito has two planned phases. After the 12-month Phase 1, Phase 2 will select up to two of the Phase 1 solutions to further mature the designs, complete manufacturing of the technology demonstrator and conclude with a limited flight-test programme.

The RAF RCO, in partnership with Dstl, is adopting creative approaches to deliver this challenging project. For example, by conducting a competition to access ‘best of breed’, it has enabled non-traditional suppliers to propose their approach to meet the MOD’s ambitious aims. Additionally, subject matter experts within the MOD are assigned as technical partners to each team, supporting industry with technical and operational advice and decisions. This will enhance the opportunity of this game-changing concept in a coherent approach for future combat air systems.

Signals Intelligence

BAE Systems has been awarded funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to integrate Machine-Learning (ML) technology into platforms that decipher radio frequency signals. Its Controllable Hardware Integration for Machine-learning Enabled Real-time Adaptivity (CHIMERA) solution provides a reconfigurable hardware platform for ML algorithm developers to make sense of Radio Frequency (RF) signals in increasingly crowded electromagnetic spectrum environments.

The solution provides a reconfigurable hardware platform for developers to make sense of radio frequency signals in increasingly crowded electromagnetic spectrum environments

The up to $4.7 million contract, dependent on successful completion of milestones, includes hardware delivery along with integration and demonstration support. CHIMERA’s hardware platform will enable algorithm developers to decipher the ever-growing number of RF signals, providing commercial or military users with greater automated situational awareness of their operating environment. This contract is adjacent to the previously announced award for the development of data-driven ML algorithms under the same DARPA program (Radio Frequency Machine Learning Systems, or RFMLS).

RFMLS requires a robust, adaptable hardware solution with a multitude of control surfaces to enable improved discrimination of signals in the evolving dense spectrum environments of the future.

«CHIMERA brings the flexibility of a software solution to hardware», said Dave Logan, vice president and general manager of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Systems at BAE Systems. «Machine-learning is on the verge of revolutionizing signals intelligence technology, just as it has in other industries».

In an evolving threat environment, CHIMERA will enable ML software development to adapt the hardware’s RF configuration in real time to optimize mission performance. This capability has never before been available in a hardware solution. The system provides multiple control surfaces for the user, enabling on-the-fly performance trade-offs that can maximize its sensitivity, selectivity, and scalability depending on mission need. The system’s open architecture interfaces allow for third party algorithm development, making the system future-proof and easily upgradable upon deployment.

Other RF functions, including communications, radar, and electronic warfare, also can benefit from this agile hardware platform, which has a reconfigurable array, front-end, full transceiver and digital pre-processing stage. Work on these phases of the program will take place at BAE Systems’ sites in Hudson and Merrimack, New Hampshire, and Dallas, Texas.

Fire Scout

The U.S. Navy declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter June 28 clearing the way for fleet operations and training.

Navair says that the MQ-8C Fire Scout has flown over 1,500 hours in more than 700 sorties to date. Northrop Grumman is under contract to produce 38 MQ-8C aircraft for the U.S. Navy (Navair photo)

The MQ-8 C Fire Scout is a sea-based, vertical lift unmanned system that is designed to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, and precision targeting support for ground, air and sea forces.

«This milestone is a culmination of several years of hard work and dedication from our joint government and industry team», said Captain Eric Soderberg, MQ-8C Fire Scout program manager. «We are excited to get this enhanced capability out to the fleet».

The MQ-8C Fire Scout variant is an endurance and payload upgrade to its predecessor, the MQ-8B, offering up to twelve hours on station depending on payload, and incorporates the commercial Bell 407 airframe.

The Northrop Grumman-built Fire Scout complements the manned MH-60 helicopter by extending the range and endurance of ship-based operations. It provides unique situational awareness and precision target support for the U.S. Navy.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout has flown over 1,500 hours with more than 700 sorties to date. Over the next few years, Northrop Grumman will continue MQ-8C Fire Scout production deliveries to the U.S. Navy to complete a total of 38 aircraft.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout will be equipped with an upgraded radar that allows for a larger field of view and a range of digital modes including weather detection, air-to-air targeting and a Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI). It will deploy with Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) in fiscal year 2021 while the MQ-8B conducts operations aboard LCS in 5th and 7th Fleets.

Maritime Surveillance

Leonardo and Diamond Aircraft Industries are teaming up to offer a version of Diamond’s popular twin-engine DA62 aircraft customised for maritime surveillance missions. The new variant, designated DA62-MSA (Maritime Surveillance Aircraft) will be on show for the first time at Paris Air Show later this month. It will be outfitted with a full Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) suite based on Leonardo’s ATOS (Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance) mission system.

Leonardo and Diamond Aircraft will unveil their new, lightweight maritime patrol aircraft at the Paris Air Show; it combines the Diamond DA62 airframe with Leonardo sensors, including the ATOS mission system, radar and optical sensor ball (Leonardo photo)

The collaboration is a response to the need for cost-effective, short/medium-range land and maritime surveillance platforms in regions such as South America, Africa and Asia Pacific. The DA62-MSA meets this requirement by bringing together an affordable and pilot-friendly aircraft with a full set of state-of-the-art sensors which, through the ATOS mission system, deliver a single, intuitive operational picture to the crew.

The DA62-MSA’s baseline sensor fit will include a Leonardo Gabbiano Ultra-Light TS Radar, which comes with an extensive suite of modes including optimised maritime patrol capabilities (such as high sea state detection), high resolution ground mapping via Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) modes, Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI) and weather avoidance modes. The aircraft will also come with a High Definition Electro-Optic and InfraRed (EO/IR) turret which, like the radar, will be fully integrated into the operator’s touch-screen ATOS display in order to follow and manage the surveillance missions. Sensor options will also be offered for users who require additional capability, including Leonardo’s SAGE Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system and Spider COMmunications INTelligence (COMINT) system. SAGE provides tactical threat awareness and strategic intelligence gathering in the Radio-Frequency (RF) environment, while Spider can detect, intercept, identify and geo-locate communications of interest.

More than 110 Twin Engine Special Mission aircraft have been sold by Diamond and more than 60 ATOS systems are installed by Leonardo on 10 different platforms, including for Italy’s Air Force, Guardia di Finanza (customs police) and Coast Guard and Australian Customs. With the DA62-MSA, Leonardo and Diamond are able to offer an extremely cost-effective and user-friendly light ISR solution for maritime security needs, with a Maximum Take Off Weight (MTOW) of 2,300 kg/5,070.6 lbs., endurance of up to 8 hours and up to four crew able to operate with land and maritime radar.

Liqun Zhang, CEO of Diamond Aircraft said, «Diamond Aircraft is very proud to step into such an important strategic partnership with Leonardo to provide a cost-efficient high-performance maritime surveillance solution to the market. We all recognized the importance of such a capability and the high demand of many countries to protect their borders against illegal fishing and other criminal operations, This new airborne solution, based on our DA62 Special Mission Aircraft, will be available to the market by the end of the year, ready to deliver and provide security and surveillance tasks. During Paris Air Show 2019, Stand A6, the very first time Diamond will static display this configuration to the audience».

Fabrizio Boggiani, Senior Vice President Airborne Sensors & Mission Systems, Leonardo Electronics said, «Partnership is central to Leonardo’s way of doing business and as such we are delighted to be working with Diamond Aircraft on this venture. Our aim is always to provide the optimum solution to our customers and we believe that this combination of Diamond’s platform with a full suite of Leonardo sensors and our mission system provides an extremely compelling offer for this market segment».

Network for the Sky

Airbus has successfully completed a flight demonstration of a connected airborne battlespace scenario, centred on a Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. The test was carried out as part of the development of Airbus’ Network for the Sky (NFTS) programme. This follows on from last August’s demonstration in Canada of secure mobile communications using a stratospheric balloon to simulate a High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS), such as Airbus’ Zephyr Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

Airbus tests its Network for the Sky on a MRTT aircraft

NFTS combines various technologies – satellite and ground communications, air-to-ground, ground-to-air and air-to-air tactical links, 5G mobile communications and laser connections – in a resilient, unified, secure, highly interoperable, mesh network. Aircraft, UAVs and helicopters currently use networks with limited bandwidth and interoperability, and often little resilience. NFTS will allow them to form an integral part of high-speed military networks.

«This unique demonstration is a significant milestone in realising our vision of secure connectivity, which will enable the future air combat cloud and enhance real time execution of military missions», said Evert Dudok, Head of Communications, Intelligence & Security at Airbus Defence and Space.

The demonstration scenario simulates the establishment of multi-Mbit/s, wideband communication links between ground forces operatives, a fighter jet, a MRTT, and a Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) on the ground. Both the operatives and jet fighter had to send video in real time to provide enhanced real-time situational awareness and receive instructions from the CAOC in return.

The operative located in Getafe (Spain) was equipped with a standard handheld radio for NATO forces (ROVER). The fighter was deployed to obtain imagery of the area of interest and act as a communications node between the operative and the MRTT flying at 30,000 feet/9,144 m within a 150 km/93 miles radius in secure airspace. Communications were thus relayed between the fighter jet and the MRTT, via a wideband Line-Of-Sight (LOS) data link. The MRTT then routed the video along with its own communications via a wideband satellite link to a space teleport near Washington, D.C. The communications flow was then returned to Europe via a terrestrial link to the CAOC.

This complex scenario demonstrates the real-time operation of secure end-to-end communications across different networks and technologies: ground-air tactical link, air-air wideband link between two aircrafts, air-satellite relay and terrestrial networks. This type of configuration, known as a «hybrid network», represents the future of military communications and meets the needs of armed forces to be able to use a wide range of networks while allowing these to be managed dynamically and transparently. The solutions developed by Airbus thus allow secure Internet Protocol (IP) communications to be established, links to be reconfigured in real time and the available bandwidth to be allocated to data links based on operational priorities.

For this demonstration an MRTT aircraft has been equipped with Janus, Airbus’ new tri-band (Ku-Ka-MilKa) satellite antenna, as well as the latest version of the Proteus satellite modem, which is highly resilient against interference and jamming, and Airbus’ Aircraft Links Integration Management System (ALIMS).

This exercise paves the way for the development of the core capability for SMART MRTT connectivity, which will allow the MRTT to act as a high-end communication node. Network for the Sky (NFTS) sets the foundation for the connected airborne battlespace, with the objective to offer a full operational capability by 2020. The NFTS programme is part of Airbus’ Future Air Power project and is fully aligned with the development of the European Future Combat Air System (FCAS).