Category Archives: Air

Renewal Contract

Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support (NAVSUP WSS) renewed a $2.3 billion H-60 Seahawk Performance Based Logistics (PBL) contract with Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission System (LMRMS) located in Owego, New York, February 1.

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 1st Class Mikhail Levin, left, and Aviation Electrician’s Mate Airman Tamara Shinhearl, both assigned to the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20), attach cargo to and MH-60S Seahawk assigned to the «Dragon Whales» of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 during a vertical replenishment while underway in the Caribbean Sea, October 23, 2019. Comfort is working with health and government partners in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean to provide care on the ship and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems, including those strained by an increase in cross-border migrants (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Morgan K. Nall/Released)

The H-60 Seahawk PBL renewal is NAVSUP WSS’ fourth PBL contract with LMRMS since 2004, and runs from February 2020 to January 2027 (a five-year period of performance and an option to extend for two years). This contract will continue to provide value to the fleet and demonstrate the benefits of long-term contractual arrangements, allowing the government to roll out best practices into follow-on contracts.

This PBL contract, based on Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 15 (Contracting by Negotiation), provides supply support for the MH-60R/S helicopter platform. It will cover almost a thousand individual items comprised of Weapon Replaceable Assemblies (WRAs) and Shop Replaceable Assemblies (SRAs) and includes the main rotor blade, main gearbox and the Airborne Low Frequency Sonar (ALFS).

ALFS is a new system add that was not previously supported under the original Seahawk PBL. The ALFS allows for rapid search rate, longer detection range over a wider area and is high performing in both deep and shallow water.

The Seahawk PBL is organically sourced with three Fleet Readiness Centers: Southeast, East and Southwest, along with Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport and Tobyhanna Army Depot.

The renewal will continue to include demand bands, which are a pricing adjustment mechanism utilized to mitigate the risk associated with demand fluctuation in a long term, firm-fixed price contract.

According to Stephen Van Note, NAVSUP WSS contracting officer, «The demand band structure is utilized to incentivize the contractor to implement product and process improvements to increase time-on-wing and reliability, reduce failures, and improve supply chain processes».

The objective of the PBL contract is to increase reliability and availability of H-60 components, as well as the potential to improve Mean Time Between Depot Demand (MTBDD). By decreasing the MTBDD, parts will be available sooner and reduce the number of backorders to the fleet.

Contracting officer Tara Hartung explains that this contract is integral to the NAVSUP WSS mission of keeping the H-60 platform performing at optimal levels as well as improving material availability for fleet readiness.

«This innovative $2.3 billion contract will ensure the H-60 platform is always mission ready», said Hartung.

Keeping in line with Secretary Geurts’ initiatives to be more agile and innovative in our contracting approach and the Naval Aviation Enterprise’s push to improve fleet readiness, the Seahawk PBL continues to set the standard for exceptional support to the H-60 fleet, which includes US Navy, nine Foreign Military Sales partners and the US Coast Guard.

In addition, the NAVSUP WSS H-60 Integrated Weapon Systems Team was awarded the 2019 Secretary of Defense PBL award for innovative sustainment solutions that yield improved lethality. This award will be presented at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland in April 2020.

NAVSUP WSS is one of eleven commands under Commander, NAVSUP. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP’s mission is to provide supplies, services, and quality-of-life support to the US Navy and joint warfighter.

Demonstrator phase

The governments of France and Germany have awarded Dassault Aviation, Airbus, together with their partners MTU Aero Engines, Safran, MBDA and Thales, the initial framework contract (Phase 1A), which launches the demonstrator phase for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

Demonstrator phase launched: Future Combat Air System takes major step forward

This framework contract covers a first period of 18 months and initiates work on developing the demonstrators and maturing cutting-edge technologies, with the ambition to begin flight tests as soon as 2026.

Since early 2019, the industrial partners have been working on the future architecture as part of the programme’s so called Joint Concept Study. Now, the FCAS programme enters into another decisive phase with the launch of the demonstrator phase.

This phase will, in a first step, focus on the main technological challenges per domains:

  • Next Generation Fighter (NGF), with Dassault Aviation as prime contractor and Airbus as main partner, to be the core element of Future Combat Air System;
  • Unmanned systems Remote Carrier (RC) with Airbus as prime contractor and MBDA as main partner;
  • Combat Cloud (CC) with Airbus as prime contractor and Thales as main partner;
  • Engine with Safran and MTU as main partner.

A Simulation Environment will be jointly developed between the involved companies to ensure the consistency between demonstrators.

The launch of the Demonstrator Phase underlines the political confidence and determination of the FCAS partner nations and the associated industry to move forward and cooperate in a fair and balanced manner. The increased momentum enables industry to deploy the necessary resources and best capabilities to develop this decisive European defence project. FCAS will be the cornerstone project guaranteeing Europe’s future operational, industrial and technological sovereignty.

The next important step in the FCAS programme will be the onboarding of Spain and the involvement of additional suppliers from Phase 1B onwards, which will succeed Phase 1A after its successful conclusion.

Aerial Refueler

Lockheed Martin delivered the second of two KC-130J Super Hercules aerial refuelers to representatives from France’s Armée de l’Air on February 4, at the company’s Aeronautics facility in Marietta, Georgia.

France’s second KC-130J Super Hercules aerial refueler takes off from Lockheed Martin’s facility in Marietta, Georgia

France has received a total of four Super Hercules aircraft – two C-130J-30 Super Hercules combat delivery airlifters and two KC-130J Super Hercules aerial refuelers – through a Foreign Military Sale with the U.S. government. The two C-130J-30 Super Hercules airlifters were delivered in 2017 and 2018, and first KC-130J Super Hercules delivered in September 2019. All of these Super Hercules are operated in conjunction with France’s existing C-130H fleet.

«France’s C-130 crews have long demonstrated the unmatched and proven performance of the Hercules aircraft in support of critical missions», said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin. «This additional KC-130J Super Hercules expands the Armée de l‘Air’s already robust airlift and refueling resources to not only serve as a national asset, but a global resource as well».

France is the 17th country to choose the C-130J Super Hercules for its airlift and refueling needs. The C-130J Super Hercules is the most advanced tactical airlifter in operation today, offering superior performance and enhanced capabilities with the range and versatility for every theater of operations and evolving requirements.

As the preeminent tactical aerial refueling tanker, the KC-130J Super Hercules is a battle-tested solution that takes full advantage of the tremendous technological and performance improvements inherent in the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. A true force multiplier, the KC-130J Super Hercules refuels both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft as well as conducts rapid ground refueling.

With this delivery, France joins a global community of KC-130J Super Hercules operators. In 2018, Germany announced the acquisition of a C-130J-30/KC-130J Super Hercules fleet, to be operated in partnership with France – making this the first operator relationship of this type in C-130J Super Hercules history.

The C-130J Super Hercules is the global standard in tactical airlift, providing a unique mix of versatility and performance to complete any mission – anytime, anywhere. The Super Hercules worldwide fleet has more than 2 million flight hours and is the airlifter of choice for 20 nations.

 

Fast Facts

Length 97 feet 9 inches/29.61 m
Height 38 feet 10 inches/11.84 m
Wingspan 132 feet 7 inches/40.41 m
Powerplant 4 Rolls-Royce AE 2100D-3 GE-Dowty Aerospace R391 6-blade propellers, all composite
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 164,000 lbs./74,389 kg
Payload (2.5 g)* 50,000 lbs./22,670 kg
Operating Weight Empty 81,000 lbs./36,740 kg
Zero Fuel Weight** 131,000 lbs./59,420 kg
Landing Distance (135,000 lbs./61,235 kg) 3,100 feet/945 m
Range (40,000 lbs./18,144 kg payload) 2,390 NM/2,750 miles/4,425 km
Maximum Cruise Speed 355 KTAS/410 mph/660 km/h

* Higher payload allowable with wing relieving fuel

** Higher zero fuel weight allowable with wing relieving fuel

Glide Breaker

Aerojet Rocketdyne has been awarded a contract worth up to $19.6 million by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop enabling technologies for an advanced hypersonic defense interceptor known as Glide Breaker.

Artist’s concept of Glide Breaker (Credit: DARPA)

«Advancing hypersonic technology is a national security imperative», said Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. «Our team is proud to apply our decades of experience developing hypersonic and missile propulsion technologies to the Glide Breaker program».

According to DARPA, the Glide Breaker program intends to advance the United States’ means to counter hypersonic vehicles. The effort aims to develop and demonstrate a technology that is critical for enabling an advanced interceptor capable of engaging maneuvering hypersonic threats in the upper atmosphere.

Aerojet Rocketdyne supplies both solid-fueled and air-breathing propulsion systems for hypersonic flight. The company provided both types of systems for the joint Air Force-DARPA-NASA X-51A WaveRider, which completed the first practical hypersonic flight of a hydrocarbon-fueled and -cooled scramjet-powered vehicle. More recently, the company successfully completed a series of subscale propulsion-system test firings as part of DARPA’s Operational Fires (OpFires) program, which is an effort to develop a ground-launched hypersonic missile for tactical use.

Model Aircraft

Airbus has revealed MAVERIC (Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls) its «blended wing body» scale model technological demonstrator.

Airbus reveals its blended wing aircraft demonstrator

At 2 metres/6.56 feet long and 3.2 metres/10.5 feet wide, with a surface area of about 2.25 m²/24.2 square feet, MAVERIC features a disruptive aircraft design, that has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up-to 20 percent compared to current single-aisle aircraft. The «blended wing body» configuration also opens up new possibilities for propulsion systems type and integration, as well as a versatile cabin for a totally new on-board passenger experience.

Launched in 2017, MAVERIC first took to the skies in June 2019. Since then the flight-test campaign has been on-going and will continue until the end of Q2 2020.

«Airbus is leveraging emerging technologies to pioneer the future of flight. By testing disruptive aircraft configurations, Airbus is able to evaluate their potential as viable future products», said Jean-Brice Dumont, EVP Engineering Airbus. «Although there is no specific time line for entry-into-service, this technological demonstrator could be instrumental in bringing about change in commercial aircraft architectures for an environmentally sustainable future for the aviation industry».

Airbus is using its core strengths and capabilities of engineering and manufacturing, in close collaboration with an extended innovation ecosystem, to accelerate traditional research and development cycles. By doing this Airbus is able to achieve proof of concepts, at a convincing scale and speed, thereby driving forward maturity and increasing their value.

Through AirbusUpNext, a research programme, Airbus is currently working on a number of demonstrator projects in parallel; E-FAN X (hybrid-electric propulsion), fello’fly (v-shaped «formation» flight) and ATTOL (Autonomous Taxi Take-Off & Landing).

An innovative shape for improved performance & an enhanced passenger experience

Militarisation of the H160

Airbus Helicopters and the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) are pursuing a new set of studies to further the militarisation of the H160 and to define its associated support ecosystem in the frame of the Joint Light Helicopter program (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) This contract launches pre-development activities for the military version of the H160, also called the Guépard by the French armed forces, in order to meet the delivery schedule that was brought forward in May 2019 by the French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly.

Airbus Helicopters continues the militarisation of the H160 and its support framework

The new set of studies will also focus on defining the optimal set-up for supporting the tri-service H160M fleet. Airbus Helicopters, Safran Helicopter Engines, and the DGA will work closely together in order to maximize the availability rate of the helicopters, as well as optimizing the cost of supporting the fleet.

«Launching this collaborative work between Industry and the Ministry of the Armed Forces in order to define the support framework for the Guépard and the associated processes, as early as the pre-development phase, is essential. The output will provide us with all the levers necessary to ensure a high level of availability at the H160M’s entry into service in the French armed forces», said Alexandra Cros, Vice President and Head of Governmental Affairs France at Airbus Helicopters. «The studies build upon the work and commitments taken recently in the global support contracts for the Cougar, Caracal, and Tiger fleets of the French armed forces».

The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force through the HIL programme. Bringing the launch of the HIL programme forward to 2021 will enable first deliveries to the French armed forces in 2026.

Maritime Trial Flights

Elbit Systems UK has been selected by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to conduct maritime demonstration flights in the UK using a number of its Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) including the Hermes 900. The demonstration flights are designed to demonstrate the advantages of using long-range unmanned capabilities in civilian airspace, with the ability to utilise multiple sensors on a single platform.

Elbit Systems UK Selected by the UK MCA to Conduct UAS Maritime Trial Flights

Elbit Systems UK will collaborate closely with the UK Civil Aviation Authority, supported by additional UK companies, including Inzpire and Aviation Systems Group.

Martin Fausset, CEO of Elbit Systems UK commented: «We are proud to partner with the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency on this valuable demonstration of the wide range of unmanned capabilities Elbit Systems UK can offer. We look forward to providing the best possible support for the lifesaving work of the MCA. This is the latest example of how Elbit Systems UK is delivering proven technologies to support operational needs of UK customers».

With a wingspan of 15 metres/49 feet, the 1.2 Ton/2,400 lbs. Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol is a long-range maritime surveillance system tailored for littoral and blue water operations. It features maritime radar, an Electro Optic payload, Satellite Communication, an Automatic Identification System receiver and an Emergency Position-indicating Radio Beacon receiver. The Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol enables persistent monitoring of vast swathes of sea and long coastlines with effective advanced search capabilities to support with valuable search and rescue work as well as the identification of potential hazards. Elbit Systems’ Skylark I-LEX will also be taking part in the demonstration flights.

This will support the MCA in their existing efforts, providing a 24-hour maritime search and rescue service around the UK coast and in the international search and rescue region through HM Coastguard.

Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani said: «Drone technology has enormous potential for our search and rescue teams, who save lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This ground-breaking project will not only hope to boost the capabilities of our already fantastic teams but will also boost our ability to spot pollution hazards and protect our precious marine environment».

Maritime Patrol Aircraft

The RAF’s (Royal Air Force) new submarine-hunting Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) has touched down for the first time in the UK.

The first Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft has arrived in the UK

The aircraft is the first of a new £3 billion programme, including the purchase of nine state-of-the-art P-8A Poseidon jets, which will improve the UK’s ability to track hostile targets below and above the waves.

P-8A Poseidon aircraft will protect the UK’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent and be central to NATO missions across the North Atlantic, co-operating closely with the US and Norwegian Poseidon fleets.

The UK’s purchase of the P-8A Poseidon is in response to increased threats such as Russian submarine activity in the Atlantic returning to Cold War levels, while China is also investing heavily in new Arctic facilities, infrastructure and ice-capable ships.

Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: «Our Poseidon fleet will soon join an integrated UK force of fighter jets, ships, submarines, helicopters and highly-trained Royal Marines, ready to operate in Arctic conditions. The UK will not stand by if peace in the Arctic region is threatened. RAF Lossiemouth’s strategic northerly location makes it one of the most important air stations in the UK: already home to half of the UK’s Typhoon Force, and now sitting at the heart of our anti-submarine operations».

The P-8A Poseidon is designed to carry out extended surveillance missions at high and low altitudes. The aircraft is equipped with cutting-edge sensors which use high-resolution area mapping to find both submarines and surface vessels.

Each aircraft carries sonobuoys which are dropped from the aircraft into the sea to search for enemy submarines, surveying the battlespace under the sea and relaying data back to the aircraft.

Poseidon will also be armed with Harpoon anti-surface ship missiles and Mk-54 torpedoes capable of attacking both surface and sub-surface targets.

Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, said: «The Poseidon MRA1 is a game-changing Maritime Patrol Aircraft. I am delighted and proud to see the ‘Pride of Moray’ and her crews returning to maritime patrol flying from Scotland, working alongside the Royal Navy to secure our seas and protect our nation».

First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, said: «The arrival of the first Poseidon marks a significant upgrade in the UK’s ability to conduct anti-submarine operations. This will give the UK the ability to conduct long range patrols and integrate seamlessly with our NATO allies to provide a world-leading capability. This will maintain operational freedom for our own submarines and apply pressure to those of our potential foes. I look forward to working with the RAF and our international partners on this superb aircraft».

All nine UK Poseidons will be delivered to the RAF by the end of 2021 and achieve full operational capability from RAF Lossiemouth in 2024. The aircraft will be flown initially by 120 Squadron, the leading anti-submarine warfare squadron in World War 2, with 201 Squadron joining the programme in due course.

Named the ‘Pride of Moray’, the first UK Poseidon arrived at Kinloss Barracks, used previously by the RAF Nimrod MPA fleet, and now home to the Army’s specialist air support engineers, 39 Engineer Regiment.

P-8A Poseidon will temporarily operate from Kinloss until October 2020 while £75 million of planned runway and taxiway resurfacing works is completed at Lossiemouth by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation. Routine Typhoon training will also temporarily relocate from Lossiemouth to Kinloss in June and July while the intersection of the runways there is resurfaced.

Michelle Sanders, DE&S P-8A Poseidon Delivery Team Leader, said: «Seeing the first RAF Poseidon MRA Mk1 landing in the UK is an incredibly proud moment for all of the team at DE&S. Close, collaborative working with colleagues in Air Capability, the US Navy and industry has helped us deliver this very capable aircraft. Moray’s RAF Lossiemouth is one of the most important air stations in the UK: it is already home to four RAF Typhoon squadrons – half of the RAF Typhoon Force – and will become the centre of operations for the UK Poseidon fleet».

UK defence is investing £470 million in upgrading RAF Lossiemouth’s infrastructure, including a new £132 million strategic facility for the P-8A Poseidon fleet, upgraded runways and operating surfaces, a new Air Traffic Control Tower, upgraded facilities for IX (Bomber) Squadron which moved to Scotland in 2019, new personnel accommodation, upgraded drainage and electrical supplies.

When these developments are complete there will be 550 additional military personnel based at RAF Lossiemouth, taking the total number of military personnel employed there to 2,532.

Coast Guard

Lockheed Martin representatives joined U.S. Coast Guard leaders and crew members for a ceremony on January 31 at the Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, celebrating the completion of operational testing of the first Coast Guard HC-130J Super Hercules outfitted with the Block 8.1 upgrade.

The first U.S. Coast Guard HC-130J Super Hercules outfitted with the Block 8.1 upgrade takes flight

This upgrade was installed on a previously delivered HC-130J Super Hercules at the Lockheed Martin facility in Greenville, South Carolina. The aircraft recently completed initial operational testing and will be placed into operational service. Lockheed Martin is currently contracted to deliver a minimum of six Block 8.1 upgrade kits to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The U.S. Coast Guard HC-130J Block 8.1 upgrade adds new and advanced capabilities:

  • a new flight management system that complies with Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS)/Air Traffic Management (ATM) mandates, and includes vertical navigation with coupled auto throttle;
  • Civil GPS;
  • Ground power modes;
  • Updated Identification Friend or Foe (IFF);
  • CNS/ATM Data Link;
  • Enhanced inter-communication system;
  • Enhanced approach and landing systems;
  • Expanded diagnostics;
  • Improved PA system;
  • Additional covert lighting;
  • International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) compliant search pattern programming.

«The U.S. Coast Guard has relied on its Hercules fleet for more than 60 years to support complicated missions that ensure our nation’s safety and security», said Peter London, director of Tactical Airlift Programs for Lockheed Martin’s Air Mobility & Maritime Missions line of business. «The advanced features and purpose-built design enhancements found in the Block 8.1 upgrade ensure that Coast Guard crews will rely on the HC-130J Super Hercules for mission support for many more decades to come».

In addition to the Block 8.1 upgrade, the Coast Guard is also integrating Minotaur mission system architecture into its fixed-wing aircraft. Missionization includes post-production modification of new C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to incorporate the specialized equipment necessary to carry out Coast Guard missions.

The Coast Guard’s HC-130J Super Hercules long-range surveillance aircraft provides heavy air transport and long-range maritime patrol capability. Each aircraft is capable of serving as an on-scene command and control platform or as a surveillance platform with the means to detect, classify and identify objects and share that information with operational forces.

The Coast Guard is acquiring a fleet of 22 new, fully missionized HC-130J Super Hercules aircraft to replace its older HC-130Hs.

The C-130J Super Hercules is the current production model of the C-130 Hercules airlifter. The Super Hercules is the global standard in tactical airlift, providing a unique mix of versatility and performance to complete any mission – anytime, anywhere. The global C-130J Super Hercules fleet has more than 2 million flight hours and is the airlifter of choice for 20 nations.

Unmanned Growlers

Boeing and the U.S. Navy successfully flew two autonomously controlled EA-18G Growlers at Naval Air Station Patuxent River as Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) using a third Growler as a mission controller for the other two.

Test show ability of F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler pilots to remotely control fighter and attack platforms from the cockpit

The flights, conducted during the U.S. Navy Warfare Development Command’s annual FLeet EXperiment (FLEX) exercises, proved the effectiveness of technology allowing F/A-18 Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers to perform combat missions with unmanned systems.

«This demonstration allows Boeing and the Navy the opportunity to analyze the data collected and decide where to make investments in future technologies», said Tom Brandt, Boeing Manned-UnManned Teaming demonstration lead. «It could provide synergy with other U.S. Navy unmanned systems in development across the spectrum and in other services».

Over the course of four flights, 21 demonstration missions were completed.

«This technology allows the Navy to extend the reach of sensors while keeping manned aircraft out of harm’s way», Brandt said. «It’s a force multiplier that enables a single aircrew to control multiple aircraft without greatly increasing workload. It has the potential to increase survivability as well as situational awareness».