Category Archives: Air

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)

SM-6 Intercepts
Ballistic Missile

A Raytheon-built Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target at sea in its final seconds of flight, after being fired from the USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53).

A medium-range ballistic missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, during Flight Test Standard Missile-27 Event 2 (FTM-27 E2) on August 29 (HST). The target was successfully intercepted by SM-6 missiles fired from the USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53)
A medium-range ballistic missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, during Flight Test Standard Missile-27 Event 2 (FTM-27 E2) on August 29 (HST). The target was successfully intercepted by SM-6 missiles fired from the USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53)

The SM-6 missile can perform anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare and – now – even more advanced ballistic missile defense at sea.

«Earlier this year, our customer requested an enhanced capability to deal with a sophisticated medium-range ballistic missile threat», said Mike Campisi, Raytheon’s SM-6 senior program director. «We did all this – the analysis, coding and testing – in seven months; a process that normally takes one to two years».

This was the third time that the SM-6 missile successfully engaged a ballistic missile target in its terminal phase. It was first tested in a successful flight test mission in August 2015, and then again in late 2016.

Deployed on U.S. Navy ships, SM-6 delivers a proven over-the-horizon offensive and defensive capability by leveraging the time-tested Standard Missile airframe and propulsion system. It’s the only missile that supports anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare and sea-based terminal ballistic missile defense in one solution – and it’s enabling the U.S. and its allies to cost-effectively increase the offensive might of surface forces. Raytheon has delivered more than 330 SM-6 missiles with continuing production.

The U.S. Department of Defense has approved the sale of SM-6 to several allied nations.

Production of LCH

Mr. Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs (DAC), declared the launch of production of HAL designed 5.8-ton category Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and dedicated the HAL’s role changer design upgrade program of Hawk-I to the nation in HAL premises here, in Bengaluru, on August 26. Senior officials from Ministry of Defence, Indian Air Force and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited were present on the occasion.

Light Combat Helicopter designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics. Beyond the current initial order, the Indian Army has committed to ordering 114 LCHs, and the Indian Air Force another 65 (HAL photo)
Light Combat Helicopter designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics. Beyond the current initial order, the Indian Army has committed to ordering 114 LCHs, and the Indian Air Force another 65 (HAL photo)

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Jaitely hailed HAL’s confidence in bringing Hawk-I and LCH indigenously. He said Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU) work culture and performance have highest standards of professionalism. «We are moving in the right direction in evolving ourselves into a major manufacturing hub. In this context today’s experience has been encouraging», he said.

HAL’s Rotary Wing R&D Centre designed the LCH whereas Mission & Combat System R&D Centre (MCSRDC) designed the Hawk-I in association with the Aircraft Division.

The basic version of LCH has been cleared by Center for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC). The DAC has accorded approval for procurement of 15 LCH from HAL under Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured (IDDM) category. Accordingly, the production is launched on August 26.

HAL designed the twin engine Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) of 5.8-ton class featuring narrow fuselage and tandem configuration for pilot and co-pilot/ weapon system operator. The helicopter has indigenous state of the art technologies like integrated dynamic system, bearing less Tail Rotor, anti-resonance vibration isolation system, crash worthy landing gear, smart glass cockpit, hinge less main rotor, Armour Protection and stealth features from visual, aural, radar and InfraRed (IR) signatures. The helicopter is equipped with 20-mm Turret gun, 70-mm Rocket, Air to Air Missile, Electro-Optical Pod (EO-Pod) and Helmet pointing system. The helicopter can carry out operational roles under extreme weather conditions at different altitudes from sea level, hot weather desert, cold weather and Himalayan altitudes. The LCH has demonstrated capability to land and take off from Siachen Range with considerable load, fuel and weapons that are beyond any other combat helicopter.

HAL produced its 100th Hawk jet trainer aircraft with designation as Hawk-I; (Hawk-India). HAL took up the indigenous role change development program to convert the jet trainer into a Combat-Ready platform. The aircraft is upgraded with indigenously designed avionics hardware, software and system architecture enhancing operational role from a trainer aircraft into a Combat-ready platform with improved quality and depth of training by Large Force Engagement (LFE) tactics through Electronic Virtual Training System (EVTS). Hawk-I is capable of delivering precision Munitions including Air to Ground and close combat weapons, self defence capabilities through Electronic Warfare (EW) systems, digital map generator and operational reliability through new Dual Hot stand-by Mission Computer Avionics architecture supported by indigenous high accuracy and high-altitude Radio Altimeter, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) MKXII, Data Transfer system, CounterMeasure Dispensing System (CMDS) and Radar Warning Receiver (RWR). The aircraft was flown during 2017 Aero India at Bangalore with lot of appreciation from users. The integration of indigenous Head-Up display (HUD), Ring Laser Gyroscope (RLG) based Inertial Navigation System (INS) and Anti Airfield Missile is in advance stage.

Mr. Ashok Kumar Gupta, Secretary (Defence Production), outlined the contributions made by Defence PSUS. Mr. T. Suvarna Raju, CMD, HAL in his welcome address said maintaining its excellent track record HAL today has come-up with two new products that would strengthen India’s defence services.

FAA approval

On August 16th General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) flew a MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) from Laguna Airfield at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, through National Airspace, to its Gray Butte Flight Operations facility near Palmdale, California. The MQ-9B is a STANAG 4671 (NATO airworthiness standard for Unmanned Aircraft Systems)-compliant version of the Predator B product line. The 275-mile/443-km trip lasted approximately one hour, 45 minutes and required Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to fly through various classes of non-restricted airspace.

Flight through Multiple Classes of Non-Segregated Airspace Represents another Step towards Certification
Flight through Multiple Classes of Non-Segregated Airspace Represents another Step towards Certification

«This flight is another milestone in our progression towards delivering an RPA system that meets NATO airworthiness requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)», said Linden Blue, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), GA-ASI. «MQ-9B SkyGuardian will be the first RPA system of its kind with a design-assurance level compliant with international type-certification standards, and can therefore be integrated more easily than legacy RPAs into civil airspace operations around the world».

A weaponized variant of the system is being acquired by the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) under the MQ-9B PROTECTOR program. A maritime patrol variant, SeaGuardian, is designed to support open-ocean and littoral surface surveillance. All variants are designed to fly in excess of 35 hours with airspeeds up to 210 knots/242 mph/389 km/h, and to reach altitudes of more than 40,000 feet/12,192 m.

Development of MQ-9B began in 2012 as a company-funded effort. Program highlights include first flight in November 2016 and an endurance flight in May 2017 of 48.2 hours.

Qualification testing for type-certification will continue over the next two years, with deliveries to the RAF expected to begin early next decade.

Tracking Data

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the NASA’s Tracking Data and Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 August 18 at 8:29 a.m. EDT. The TDRS-M is the third and final mission in the series of these third-generation space communication satellites to orbit, as part of the follow-on fleet being developed to replenish NASA’s space Network.

The TDRSS is capable of providing near continuous high bandwidth (S, Ku and Ka band) telecommunications services for Low Earth orbiting spacecraft (including the International Space Station) and expendable launch vehicles like ULA’s Atlas V and Delta IV rockets that use the network to receive and distribute telemetry data during flight
The TDRSS is capable of providing near continuous high bandwidth (S, Ku and Ka band) telecommunications services for Low Earth orbiting spacecraft (including the International Space Station) and expendable launch vehicles like ULA’s Atlas V and Delta IV rockets that use the network to receive and distribute telemetry data during flight

«ULA uses the TDRS system as a primary means of receiving and distributing launch vehicle telemetry data during every flight. In fact, the TDRS-K and TDRS-L spacecraft, launched by ULA in 2013 and 2014 tracked today’s launch», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. «We are absolutely honored to have delivered this core NASA capability and critical national resource for our country».

All six of the newest TDRS satellites have been delivered to orbit on Atlas V vehicles.

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 13-foot/4-meter extended payload fairing. 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 5th launch in 2017 and the 120th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

«Congratulations to our entire ULA team and mission partners at NASA on another successful launch that will enable so many to explore and operate in space», said Maginnis.

The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) is a space-based communication system used to provide tracking, telemetry, command and high-bandwidth data return services. Microwave communications equipment and gimbaled antennae are the primary payload of each TDRS. The system is capable of providing near continuous high-bandwidth telecommunications services for Low Earth orbiting spacecraft and expendable launch vehicles including the International Space Station (ISS).

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 115 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.

An Atlas V rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex-41 with NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M). The addition of TDRS-M to the Space Network (SN) provides the ability to support space communication for an additional 15 years