The first C295 for India has successfully completed its maiden flight, marking a significant milestone towards its delivery by the second half of 2023. The tactical aircraft took off from Seville, Spain, on the 5 May at 11.45 local time (GMT+1) and landed at 14.45 after 3 hours of flight.
«This first flight represents a significant accomplishment for the first Make in India aerospace programme. With the Indian Air Force (IAF) set to become the largest operator of the C295 in the world, this programme exemplifies our commitment to improve the Indian Air Force operational capabilities», said Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space.
India acquired 56 C295 aircraft in September 2021 to replace the (IAF) legacy AVRO fleet. The first 16 aircraft will be assembled in Seville, Spain, and delivered to the customer in ‘fly-away’ condition. The following 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by the Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India as part of an industrial partnership between the two companies.
This programme will significantly contribute to developing the country’s military industrial ecosystem from the manufacturing to assembly, testing, to delivery and maintenance of the complete lifecycle of the aircraft.
The C295 programme comprises a total of 281 orders from 39 operators, making it an unmatched aircraft in its weight and mission class.
Lockheed Martin delivered the first of five C-130J-30 Super Hercules tactical airlifters to the Indonesian Air Force (IDAF) during a ceremony here on February 21, 2023, commemorating a new era in Hercules operations for this longtime C-130 operator.
The IDAF’s new C-130J-30s offer increased cargo capacity, speed, range, power, performance and lower operating costs over its legacy C-130s to support the IDAF’s wide range of mission requirements for decades to come. These new C-130J-30s expand the IDAF’s ability to partner on missions and training opportunities with allies and regional forces that also operate Super Hercules.
«Indonesian Air Force crews have long trusted the C-130 to support the most challenging of missions facing Indonesia and other nations in the Pacific», said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions programs at Lockheed Martin. «This new era of Super Hercules operations supports Indonesia in achieving mission success with a highly tailored airlift fleet that ensures IDAF crews can support any task – anywhere, anytime – with more power, strength and capability for decades to come».
Indonesia has operated C-130s since the 1960s, using its Hercules fleet for critical national and regional missions such as delivering humanitarian aid and disaster relief, as well as providing military and peacekeeping support around the Pacific Rim.
The C-130J Super Hercules is the worldwide choice in tactical airlift, serving 26 operators in 22 nations. To date, more than 520 C-130Js have been delivered and the Super Hercules remains unmatched in its ability to support 18 different mission requirements.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched the Liberty Lifter project to demonstrate a leap in operational logistics capabilities by designing, building, and flying a long-range, low-cost X-plane capable of seaborne strategic and tactical lift. The new vehicle concept seeks to expand upon existing cargo aircraft by proving revolutionary heavy air lift abilities from the sea.
The envisioned plane will combine fast and flexible strategic lift of very large, heavy loads with the ability to take off/land in water. Its structure will enable both highly controlled flight close to turbulent water surfaces and sustained flight at mid-altitudes. In addition, the plane will be built with a low-cost design and construction philosophy.
Although current sealift is very efficient in transporting large amounts of payload, it is vulnerable to threats, requires functional ports, and results in long transit times. Traditional airlift is much faster, but has limited ability to support maritime operations. Additionally, today, such aircraft suffer payload limitations or require long runways.
There is a history of attempting to develop aircraft created to fly with «wing-in-ground effect», which means the aircraft is flying no more than the length of its wingspan above ground or water. The most well-known examples are the Soviet «ekranoplans». These vehicles were high speed and runway-independent, but were restricted to calm waters and had limited maneuverability.
«This first phase of the Liberty Lifter program will define the unique seaplane’s range, payloads, and other parameters», said Alexander Walan, a program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. «Innovative advances envisioned by this new DARPA program will showcase an X-plane demonstrator that offers warfighters new capabilities during extended maritime operations».
To address the shortcomings of existing vehicles and operational concepts, the Liberty Lifter program focuses on addressing three main challenges.
Extended Maritime Operations: Emphasis will be placed on operating in turbulent sea states by creating high-lift abilities at low speeds to reduce wave impact load during takeoff/landing, and innovative design solutions to absorb wave forces. In addition, the project will address risks of vehicle collision during high-speed operation in congested environments. Finally, the aim is for the vehicle to operate at sea for weeks at a time without land-based maintenance activities.
Full-Scale Affordable Production: Construction will prioritize low-cost, easy-to-fabricate designs over exquisite, low-weight concepts. Materials should be more affordable than those in traditional aircraft manufacturing and available to be purchased in large quantities.
Complex Flight and Sea Surface Controls: Advanced sensors and control schemes will be developed to avoid large waves and to handle aero/hydro-dynamic interactions during takeoff/landing.
The Liberty Lifter program aims to design, build, float, and fly an affordable, innovative, and disruptive seaplane that operates efficiently in ground effect (less than 100 feet/30.5 meters above surface), can sustain flight altitudes up to 10,000 feet/3,048 meters Mean Sea Level (MSL), and enables efficient theater-range transport of large payloads at speeds far exceeding existing sea lift platforms. Liberty Lifter will use low-cost manufacturing akin to ship fabrication in building a highly innovative seaplane capable of meeting Department of Defense (DoD) heavy lift requirements (100+ tons/200,000+ lbs.) that operates with runway and port independence.
Hercules history is made once again, with the announcement that Lockheed Martin recently delivered its 500th C-130J Super Hercules airlifter. This Super Hercules (Lockheed Martin aircraft #5934) is a C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 130th Airlift Wing located at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base in Charleston, West Virginia. The 130th Airlift Wing is a longtime C-130 operator that is currently modernizing its legacy Hercules fleet with C-130Js.
The U.S. government operates the largest C-130J Super Hercules fleet in the world. This delivery represents the U.S. government’s continued transition to the C-130J Super Hercules as the common platform across the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard.
«This delivery represents the thousands of people – past and present – that design, build, fly, maintain and support C-130Js around the world», said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Air Mobility & Maritime Missions (AMMM) line of business. «Like its namesake, the C-130J Super Hercules is a legend defined by its strength and power. Yet, it is the people who are part of the C-130J operator, production, supplier and industry partner communities who truly define the Super Hercules and helped the C-130J Program reach this monumental achievement».
The C-130J Super Hercules is the current production model of the legendary C-130 Hercules aircraft. The airlift choice of 26 operators in 22 nations, the global C-130 fleet has surpassed more than 2 million flight hours and holds more than 54 world records.
Defined by its versatility, there are 17 different mission configurations of the C-130J Super Hercules that includes transport (military and commercial), humanitarian aid delivery, aerial firefighting, natural disaster relief support, medevac, search and rescue, weather reconnaissance, and aerial refueling.
As the most advanced C-130 ever produced, the C-130J-30 Super Hercules (which is 15 feet/4.6 m longer than legacy C-130 models) offers these enhancements and advancements compared to legacy models:
30% more passengers and cargo;
50% more CDS bundles;
44% more paratroopers;
30% crew reduction;
14% more fuel efficient;
20% improvement in payload/range capability;
Integrated defensive suite and 250 knot ramp/door;
Automated maintenance fault reporting;
Unmatched situational awareness with digital avionics and dual HUD.
Airbus A400M Atlas, the world’s most advanced multi-role airlifter utilised by military forces around the globe, has demonstrated an airborne launch of a drone fulfilling a vital function for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
During a recent test, an A400M Atlas deployed a drone from its opened rear cargo ramp door whilst airborne, validating its ability to air-launch drones. In the future such unmanned aircraft, called Remote Carriers, can serve as force multipliers for various missions, while keeping the pilots out of harm’s way. Manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) will allow the Remote Carriers to operate in concert with manned aircraft, opening new fields of tactics to surprise, deceive, deter, saturate and strike opponents.
During the A400M Atlas flight test, an Airbus-built Do-DT25 drone, acting as a surrogate Remote Carrier, was released over a test range in Northern Germany. Shortly after the launch, the drone’s parachute opened, delivering it safely to the ground. Throughout the test, the drone was connected and transmitting data to the A400M Atlas «mother aircraft». This data transfer illustrates how Remote Carriers can be connected to a combat cloud network, providing vital information by serving the role of «eyes and ears» over the battlefield, whilst also enabling them to be tasked by the manned aircraft’s operators during their missions.
Building up the expertise in manned-unmanned teaming
The A400M Atlas air-launch demonstration involved a joint flight test crew from the German Air Force and Airbus. The new Modular Airborne Combat Cloud Services (MACCS), also an Airbus product, enabled full connectivity between the airlifter and the drone.
Airbus will continue validation of the A400M Atlas as an airborne launch platform for Remote Carriers, envisioning the ability to deploy large numbers of these drones. The multi-role airlifter’s large cargo bay is expected to be able to hold 40 or more Remote Carriers. By bringing Remote Carriers closer to the fight, an A400M Atlas will provide the numbers in terms of flying platforms for a Future Combat System to serve multiple missions, even in a well-protected environment. The next flight test is planned to happen this year.
In addition, Airbus contribution to the 2021 German Air Force’s Timber Express exercise saw an important development step being cleared. A Eurofighter networking with and tasking two Do-DT25 drones in real-time, became the successful first application of MUM-T with operational military aircraft in Europe.
Previously, Airbus also demonstrated the control of five Do-DT25 drones by a mission group commander who was airborne in a manned command and control aircraft. Validating such elements, as connectivity, human-machine interface, and the concept of teaming intelligence through mission group management, also constitute key steps towards using Remote Carriers as force multipliers within the Future Combat Air System.
The U.S. Navy announced Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the CMV-22B Osprey, confirming the platform’s operational readiness following the successful completion of its maiden deployment, on February 18, 2022.
The aircraft was formally declared IOC on December 14, 2021, aligning with the scheduled first-quarter fiscal year requirement.
«The CMV-22’s maiden deployment with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 and the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) team is an operational success, giving me the confidence necessary to make the declaration», said Rear Admiral Andrew Loiselle, Director, Air Warfare Division, N98, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. «As we continue to deliver the advanced platforms that will make up the Air Wing of the Future, the CMV-22B Osprey provides the necessary support and more to carry our future force».
Loiselle’s designation marks a key milestone in the design, development, acquisition and testing of the CMV-22B Osprey and confirms its relevance and readiness to meet the needs of the Navy’s Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) mission. The aircraft transports personnel, mail, supplies and cargo from shore bases to aircraft carriers at sea, and will eventually replace the C-2A Greyhound.
«IOC designation is more than a stamp of approval», said U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Brian Taylor, V-22 Joint program manager. «It is a vote of confidence from top Navy leadership that the design, testing and production of this aircraft meet the logistical needs of the carrier air wings designated to fly the CMV-22B Osprey».
This past summer marked the first deployment for the CMV-22B Osprey. Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30 embarked on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) alongside the F-35C Lightning II and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye squadrons. The first deployed detachment has executed a mission completion rate of 98% and a mission capable rate of 75%. The CMV-22B Osprey is a crucial element of future carrier airwings due to the cargo capacity needed to transport F-35 power modules and additional logistics support for future carrier air wing deployments with next-generation platforms.
«This aircraft went from first flight to first deployment in 19 months; a feat possible through the dedication of the Navy’s acquisition, engineering, test and operational communities, as well as industry, all working in tandem, toward a common goal», said Taylor.
With 50% more internal fuel than the Marine Corps’ Osprey variant, CMV-22B Osprey can transport up to 6,000 pounds/2,721.5 kg of cargo and personnel over a 1,150 nautical mile/1,323 mile/2,130 km range. The U.S. Navy redesigned the forward sponson fuel tanks and added two wing fuel tanks to add capacity and extend the flight range.
«As our fighter/attack and surveillance aircraft expand in both capability and size to extend the range of the carrier air wing, we must also evolve our support aircraft, in tandem, to supply those platforms. The CMV-22B Osprey will transport cargo and personnel to outfit the most advanced aircraft carrier strike groups as we continue to meet the needs of our missions worldwide», said Taylor.
The program will continue to refine and test capabilities on the aircraft, addressing the agile needs of the fleet. To date, Bell Boeing has delivered 14 aircraft with 44 on contract and full operational capability expected in 2023.
India has formalised the acquisition of 56 Airbus C295 aircraft to replace the Indian Air Force (IAF) legacy AVRO fleet. It is the first ‘Make in India’ aerospace programme in the private sector, involving the full development of a complete industrial ecosystem: from the manufacture to assembly, test and qualification, to delivery and maintenance of the complete lifecycle of the aircraft.
Under the contractual agreement, Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in ‘fly-away’ condition from its final assembly line in Seville, Spain. The subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by the Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India as part of an industrial partnership between the two companies.
The first 16 aircraft will be delivered over four years after the contract implementation. All the IAF C295s will be handed over in transport configuration and equipped with an indigenous Electronic Warfare Suite.
«This contract will support the further development of India’s aerospace ecosystem, bringing investment and 15,000 skilled direct jobs and 10,000 indirect positions over the coming 10 years», said Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. «The C295 has proven again as the segment leader, and with the addition of India as a new operator, the type will enlarge its footprint even more, not only on the operational aspects but on its own industrial and technological development».
Sukaran Singh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tata Advanced Systems Limited, said, «This is a moment of pride for Tatas and a milestone for the Indian military manufacturing ecosystem. For the first time, an Indian private company will be wholly manufacturing an aircraft in India. This endeavour demonstrates Tata Advanced Systems’ capabilities as a defence manufacturer to build globally competitive complex platforms in India».
‘Make in India’ is at the heart of Airbus strategy in India, with the company constantly increasing the country’s contribution to its global product portfolio. The C295 programme will see Airbus bring its complete bouquet of world-class aircraft manufacturing and servicing to India in collaboration with our industrial partners, including the Tatas and leading defence public sector units such as Bharat Electronics Ltd. and Bharat Dynamics Ltd, as well as private Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
With a proven capability of operating from short or unprepared airstrips, the C295 is used for tactical transport of up to 71 troops or 50 paratroopers, and for logistic operations to locations that are not accessible to current heavier aircraft. It can airdrop paratroops and loads, and also be used for casualty or medical evacuation (medevac), as demonstrated during the COVID-19 crisis, using either basic litters or mobile Intensive Care Units (ICU) with life support equipment. The aircraft can perform special missions as well as disaster response and maritime patrol duties.
The IAF becomes the 35th C295 operator worldwide, with the programme reaching 278 aircraft, 200 of which are already in operation and have booked more than half a million flight-hours.
The Republic of Kazakhstan has placed an order for two Airbus A400M Atlas aircraft and becomes the ninth operator together with Germany, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, Belgium, Malaysia and Luxembourg.
With delivery of the first aircraft scheduled in 2024, the contract includes a complete suite of maintenance and training support. Together with the agreement a Memorandum of Understanding has also been signed to collaborate on Maintenance and Overhaul services and with a first step of creating a local Airbus C295 maintenance centre.
«The A400M Atlas will become the cornerstone of Kazakhstan’s tactical and strategic airlifting operations», said Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. «This new export contract brings the total number of A400M Atlas orders to 176 aircraft, a figure that we expect to increase in the near future. With more than 100 aircraft delivered and 100,000 flight hours in operation, the A400M Atlas has proven its capabilities, reaching a state of maturity that many potential customers were waiting for».
With the capacity to accommodate the country’s inventory and conduct military, civil and humanitarian missions, the A400M Atlas will enable Kazakhstan to quickly respond to any mission by rapidly deploying game-changing capabilities over long distances and enabling effective access to remote areas.
Airbus has reached 100 A400M Atlas deliveries with MSN111, the tenth A400M Atlas for the Spanish Air Force. The aircraft performed its ferry flight on 24th May from Seville to Zaragoza, where the Spanish A400M Atlas fleet is based.
In the same week, the A400M Atlas global fleet also achieved the 100,000 flight-hours landmark performing missions worldwide for all eight customer nations.
All A400M Atlas operators have been able to operate the aircraft intensively for Covid-19 emergency response missions, as well as conduct joint, collaborative operations.
These milestones clearly demonstrate the maturity of the A400M Atlas programme on all fronts.
Recently the A400M Atlas successfully conducted a major helicopter air-to-air refuelling certification flight test campaign in coordination with the DGA (French Directorate General of Armaments), completing the majority of its certification objectives, including the first simultaneous refueling of two helicopters.
The A400M Atlas is already able to drop up to 116 paratroopers, via simultaneous dispatch from the side doors with automatic parachute opening, or from the ramp with automatic parachute opening or in freefall, day and night. Recent tests were completed in Spain, in collaboration with the UK Royal Air Force parachute test team, to expand up to 25,000 feet (7,600 metres) for automatic parachute opening – and up to 38,000ft (11,582 metres) for free fall.
The A400M Atlas also completed additional tests to expand its air drop capability, including multiple platforms with parachute extraction (23 tonnes). France and Spain participated in these flights. Another way to deliver cargo on austere airstrips without handling equipment was also certified: Combat offload of up to 19 tonnes of pallets (one pass) or 25 tonnes (two passes) on paved or unpaved airstrips.
The A400M Atlas also achieved a new decisive milestone after the certification flights of its Automatic Low Level Flight capability for Instrumental Meteorological Conditions (IMC). Using navigation systems and terrain databases, without the need of a terrain-following radar, this is a first for a military transport aircraft. This makes the aircraft less detectable in hostile areas and less susceptible to threats while conducting operations in hostile environments.
In terms of collaborative missions, the Spanish Air Force supported the French Armée de l´Air in the transport of a Caracal helicopter from Cazaux (France) to Tucson (USA), using a Spanish A400M Atlas. The flight was used by CLAEX (Spanish Logistics Center for Armament and Experimentation) and CECTA (Air Transport Cargo Evaluation Cell) to validate the loading process on Spanish A400Ms.
Key military missions last year included the delivery of almost 40 tonnes of food, water, fuel and ammunition by a single French A400M Atlas to troops based in the Sahel region of Africa, the first A400M Atlas to airdrop supplies in a country outside of Europe.
In addition, Germany became the first A400M Atlas customer to use the A400M Atlas as a tanker in real missions providing support in the «Counter Daesh» operation in Jordan.
Life-saving medevac missions during COVID-19
2020 and 2021 also saw the use of the A400M Atlas in civil emergency response roles during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, not least for civil medical evacuation (medevac) duties – with Airbus providing critical support for air force operators – as well as for transporting key medical relief supplies. The versatility of the aircraft also allowed a rapid conversion to medevac configuration, where installed critical care modules provided airborne intensive care units.
With the maturity, versatility and unique capabilities proven in operations all around the world, A400M Atlas is proving to be a game changer for military airlift and humanitarian missions in the 21st century.
The U.S. Marine Corps received its 60th KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft in March; the aircraft includes improved navigational performance, a modernized cockpit, and other key upgrades.
The Tactical Airlift Program Office (PMA-207) accepted delivery of the aircraft outfitted with the Block 8.1 updated cockpit and AN/AAQ-24 DoN Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasure (DoN LAIRCM). These upgrades address obsolescence issues and improve survivability.
Produced by Lockheed Martin, the KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft have undergone numerous adaptations since entering Marine Corps service in September 2000.
The Block 8.1 cockpit upgrade includes a new flight management system that complies with Communications, Navigation, Surveillance and Air Traffic Management mandates. It also boasts enhanced GPS capabilities, improved communications systems, and improvements to the KC-130J’s friend-or-foe identification technology.
The addition of DoN LAIRCM, a laser-based self-protection system designed to defend against surface-to-air infrared missile threats, increases survivability of the aircraft and aircrew in the event of an airborne attack.
«Both these systems increase the aircraft’s combat effectiveness to perform the KC-130J Super Hercules core mission essential tasking», said Navy Captain Steve Nassau, PMA-207 program manager. «The KC-130J Super Hercules is a global workhorse, and the Block 8.1 upgrade clears the path for the aircraft to have world-wide access, while the DoN LAIRCM allows the aircraft to operate under expanded threat environments».
The aircraft will become part of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 252 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.
«Our team has worked hard to make sure the Marine Corps is ready to utilize and support this aircraft», said Joanna Sockoloskie, PMA-207 KC-130J Super Hercules integrated product team lead. «We have been involved from the start and it is our mission to ensure our Marines have the latest and finest equipment available».
The Marine Corps will receive the remaining 26 aircraft over the next five years reaching their program of record 86 KC-130Js.
Tactical air-to-air refueling, assault support and cargo airlift