Initial Flight Tests

According to Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times correspondent, Boeing concluded the first phase of airworthiness testing of its 767 tanker prototype on June 2, 2015. This time the plane even looked like a real KC-46 tanker, though it is not quite there yet. This first prototype plane is testing the airframe and how it flies. The second test plane, which will be a real KC-46 tanker outfitted with working aerial-refueling systems, is to fly in summer.

Boeing said its Air Force tanker prototype completed a 4.3-hour flight on June 2, 2015, with a refueling boom and wing refueling pods installed, although that equipment was not functional (By: John D. Parker/John D. Parker/Boeing)
Boeing said its Air Force tanker prototype completed a 4.3-hour flight on June 2, 2015, with a refueling boom and wing refueling pods installed, although that equipment was not functional (By: John D. Parker/John D. Parker/Boeing)

On Tuesday’s flight, the Boeing KC-46 tanker prototype for the first time carried a refueling boom, a rigid tube extended back from the plane’s underside that is used to pass fuel to an aircraft flying behind and below the tanker. The prototype was also fitted with wing-refueling pods, which are used to refuel aircraft with different in-flight fuel-docking systems that fly behind and to the side of the tanker.

This equipment was not wired up and was not functional. However, the flight provided data on how these external attachments affect the jet’s behavior.

After the prototype’s maiden flight in December 2014, Boeing worked on the plane for five full months before it flew again. Then it flew three test flights on successive days last week. Tuesday’s flight lasted 4.3 hours and went well, said tanker spokesperson Chick Ramey.

Boeing has a contract to deliver to the U.S. Air Force the first 18 operational KC-46 tankers in 2017. The Air Force plans to buy a total 179 tankers under a $49 billion contract.

This first test plane will now enter planned ground testing, including Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification testing of the fuel systems. After that, it will return to the air for the next phase of airworthiness testing, which will push the limits of speed and altitude and support follow-on testing. The final two test airplanes in the flight-test program are expected to fly by the end of the year, Ramey said.

The KC-46 program office requested the warhead be custom-designed by the Weapons Division to evaluate the highest threat scenario possible (U.S. Navy photo)
The KC-46 program office requested the warhead be custom-designed by the Weapons Division to evaluate the highest threat scenario possible (U.S. Navy photo)

Moreover, it is said in the Defense-aerospace.com that the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) successfully supported the Boeing KC-46 tanker with the most detailed, advanced weapons survivability test series ever conducted at the Weapons Survivability Lab (WSL), China Lake, California on April 7.

«Excellent tests», said KC-46 lead engineer Scott Wacker, weapons survivability expert. «These have never been done before, so I’m happy to say that we met all our objectives. I believe that we are advancing the state of the art in understanding vulnerability in aircraft». (Source: US Naval Air Systems Command)

The tests, outlined by the KC-46 Live Fire Test and Evaluation Program (LFT&E), will be used to assess KC-46, system-level survivability in high fidelity, operational environments against ballistic and advanced threats. The results provided a wide range of data instrumental in mitigating worst-case scenarios for the aircraft, which directly improves and preserves warfighting capability. «There were over 330 channels collecting raw data, 10 high speed cameras recording 10,000 to 100,000 frames per second and 30 real time video feeds», said Eric Brickson, KC-46 LFT&E engineer. «We had a very extensive list of requirements and NAWCWD met them all».

Representatives from NAWCWD, Boeing, the U.S. Air Force and the Institute for Defense Analysis were among several of the organizations and stakeholders present to witness the event at the WSL. «It was a very successful test», said Col. Chris Coombs, Air Force. «We designed these tests against the aircraft to see how it would perform, so we’d know if the people, whether they are pilots, operators or passengers, could survive on this plane under the most relevant of circumstances».

According to the KC-46 Program Office, plans call for the procurement of 179 KC-46s to replace one third of the existing aerial refueling fleet.

The KC-46A is intended to replace the United States Air Force's aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers and provides vital air refueling capability for the United States Air Force
The KC-46A is intended to replace the United States Air Force’s aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers and provides vital air refueling capability for the United States Air Force

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function:                              Aerial refueling and airlift

Prime Contractor:                             The Boeing Company

Power Plant:                                         2 Pratt & Whitney 4062

Thrust:                                                      62,000 lbs/275.790 kN/28,123 kgf – Thrust per High-Bypass engine (sea-level standard day)

Wingspan:                                              157 feet, 8 inches (48.1 meters)

Length:                                                     165 feet, 6 inches (50.5 meters)

Height:                                                     52 feet, 10 inches (15.9 meters)

Maximum Takeoff Weight:         415,000 pounds (188,240 kilograms)

Maximum Landing Weight:         310,000 pounds (140,614 kilograms)

Fuel Capacity:                                     212,299 pounds (96,297 kilograms)

Maximum Transfer Fuel Load:  207,672 pounds (94,198 kilograms)

Maximum Cargo Capacity:         65,000 pounds (29,484 kilograms)

Maximum Airspeed:                     360 KCAS/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h

Service Ceiling:                                  43,100 feet/13,137 m

Maximum Distance:                        8,400 miles/13,518 km

Pallet Positions:                                 18 pallet positions

Air Crew:                                                15 permanent seats for aircrew, including aeromedical evacuation aircrew

Passengers:                                           58 total (normal operations); up to 114 total (contingency operations)

Aeromedical Evacuation:           58 patients (24 litters/34 ambulatory) with the AE Patient Support Pallet configuration; 6 integral litters carried as part of normal aircraft configuration equipment

Boeing KC-46 Pegasus
Boeing KC-46 Pegasus

Lithuanian Dauphin

On June 2 the Eurocopter AS365 N3+ Dauphin, the new helicopter of the Lithuanian Air Force landed at Šiauliai Airbase. This is the first of the three Search And Rescue (SAR) helicopters contracted for by the Lithuanian Armed Forces together with the Ministry of Environment from European Union (EU) funds. Eurocopter is planned to deliver and hand over the second and the third helicopters to the Lithuanian Armed Forces by the end of the year.

Technical improvements developed by Airbus Helicopters on the AS365 N3+ include a modular design of the mechanical assemblies, use of composite materials (i.e. Starflex rotor head, blades, airframe, etc.) and use of the latest generation of avionics
Technical improvements developed by Airbus Helicopters on the AS365 N3+ include a modular design of the mechanical assemblies, use of composite materials (i.e. Starflex rotor head, blades, airframe, etc.) and use of the latest generation of avionics

«We are retiring dated Russian-manufactured helicopters and continue to fit up our armed forces with western equipment. It matters to us that our pilots will fly more up-to-date, new and more efficient aircraft», Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas says. Minister also underscored that the first helicopter will also serve to fulfil Lithuania’s commitment to the nations completing the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission by ensuring SAR function.

As laid out in the arrangement of cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, the Lithuanian Armed Forces is committed to use no less than 75 flight hours for environmental observation and control annually. The AS365 N3+ Dauphin rotorcraft, delivered to the Lithuanian Air Force by the Airbus Helicopter, will complete environmental monitoring and control from the air tasks and SAR missions: search for people lost at sea, extinguish fires, transport patients or organs for transplantation, support state and municipal institutions in emergencies.

The Lithuanian Armed Forces signed the procurement contract with Airbus Helicopter on three Eurocopter AS365 N3+ Dauphins in October 2013. The total value of the contract amounts to roughly EUR 52 million. The price includes purchasing price of the three helicopters, all related equipment, training of pilots and maintenance personnel, and three-year after-sales services.

Lithuania is not the first European Union member state that has used EU funding for purchasing helicopters. Earlier, Spain bought rotary-wing aircraft in the same manner. Also, many European countries practise buying dual use goods to save and to the end of an economical effect.

The AS365 N3+ also incorporates cutting-edge technologies and the all-composite Fenestron tail rotor, which features high maneuverability, low external sound level and optimal safety for passengers and ground personnel
The AS365 N3+ also incorporates cutting-edge technologies and the all-composite Fenestron tail rotor, which features high maneuverability, low external sound level and optimal safety for passengers and ground personnel

 

AS365 N3+ Dauphin

The AS365 N3+ belongs to the Dauphin family, which is well known for its unique design. This medium helicopter has proven its ability to perform any kind of mission, anywhere in the world. It even excels in the most severe climatic conditions, such as high altitudes or hot temperatures.

The standard AS365 N3+ is fitted with the unique Airbus Helicopters 4-axis autopilot to ease crew workload and help simplify the most demanding missions, including SAR. It also features excellent forward visibility during an approach.

The AS365 N3+ is powered by two Turbomeca Arriel 2C turbine engines fitted with a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system. Not only can this aircraft take off in ground effect at maximum weight and in temperatures of up to +50°C, but it is also capable of taking off with a full load from sea level in Category A conditions.

The AS365 N3+ incorporates the all-composite Fenestron tail rotor, which provides safety, high manoeuvrability, exceptional efficiency and low sound level during flight. The Fenestron is also an unparalleled safety equipment for ground crew. Its sound emission is rated at 3.1 EPN decibels below the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, making it the quietest helicopter in its category.

In addition to flying at very high speeds, its high power reserve and excellent One Engine Inoperative (OEI) performance make it a safe aircraft to fly over urban areas or to perform SAR operations in poor weather conditions
In addition to flying at very high speeds, its high power reserve and excellent One Engine Inoperative (OEI) performance make it a safe aircraft to fly over urban areas or to perform SAR operations in poor weather conditions

Characteristics

CAPACITY
Crew single/dual-pilot Visual Flight Rules (VFR) or single/dual-pilot Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)
Passenger transportation 2 pilots + up to 12 passengers with comfort seats
Corporate transportation 2 pilots + up to 8 passengers with Executive layout
VIP transportation 2 pilots + up to 7 passengers with VIP layout
Casualty evacuation 1 or 2 pilots, 2 stretchers and 4 seats
WEIGHT
Maximum Takeoff weight (internal or external load) 4,300 kg/9,480 lbs (All configurations)
External load capacity 1,600 kg/3,527 lbs
Useful load 1,926 kg/4,246 lbs
ENGINE
2 Turbomeca Arriel 2C, turboshaft engines, FADEC
Maximum power per engine (OEI 30-second rating) 717 kW/961 shp
PERFORMANCE AT MAXIMUM GROSS WEIGHT, SL, ISA
Maximum speed (Vne – never exceed speed) 155 knots/178 mph/287 km/h
Recommended Cruise Speed (RCS) 145 knots/167 mph/269 km/h
Rate of climb 1,321 feet/min/6.7 m/s
Range with optional auxiliary tanks (at RCS 145 knots/167 mph/269 km/h) 498 NM/573.5 miles/923 km
Endurance 4 h 45 min

 

Its low vibration level and high flight stability provide working comfort for medical attendants and a smooth ride for patients

Swappable package

Changing, integrating or upgrading sensors on a military aircraft can be an expensive, time-consuming and complex endeavor. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s new OpenPod sensor system, unveiled at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., overcomes these challenges by making it possible for maintainers to swap sensors in theater.

The first swappable package for Northrop’s new OpenPod will be an IRST sensor provided by Italy’s Selex, but in future other sensors are to include LIDAR or datalinks (Northrop photo)
The first swappable package for Northrop’s new OpenPod will be an IRST sensor provided by Italy’s Selex, but in future other sensors are to include LIDAR or datalinks (Northrop photo)

The OpenPod system consists of line-replaceable units and a set of interchangeable sensors that can be swapped out in minutes. Enabled by open architecture principles, OpenPod is the first of its kind to accommodate a range of sensors with one pod.

«The battlespace can change quickly. OpenPod keeps the complexity of the mission in mind by allowing warfighters to match the sensors to the mission quickly, giving them flexibility they have never had before», said James Mocarski, vice president, Airborne Tactical Sensors business unit, Northrop Grumman. «When you have OpenPod, you can have Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST), you can have targeting, and you can have communications without having to acquire multiple pods. That gives our customers a significant affordability advantage».

OpenPod will be available with targeting and IRST packages at launch, followed by communications, Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR), 5th-to-4th generation communications and other options in in the future. Because the pod allows for sensor changes without modifications to the aircraft or mission computer, OpenPod can be upgraded independent of the aircraft. That allows for more rapid and affordable upgrades and integration of new technologies.

OpenPod is the next step in sensor evolution for users of the AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING family of advanced targeting systems. Any LITENING Targeting pod can be converted to an OpenPod, so operators can take full advantage of their existing investments, training and operational experience.

Opening a world of mission flexibility
Opening a world of mission flexibility

 

OpenPod: Enabled by open architecture

  • Building modular designs and disclosing data
  • Enabling competition and collaboration
  • Building interoperable joint warfighting applications – using OA frameworks
  • Identifying or developing reusable application software components & capabilities
  • Ensuring lifecycle affordability and planning for technology refresh

Next Generation of Podded Sensor Systems

Airborne Early Warning

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan for E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $1.7 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on Jun 1, 2015.

The E-2D introduces a rotating, UHF-band, Lockheed Martin APY-9 radar designed to track objects as small as cruise missiles against the background clutter of a coastal environment
The E-2D introduces a rotating, UHF-band, Lockheed Martin APY-9 radar designed to track objects as small as cruise missiles against the background clutter of a coastal environment

The Government of Japan has requested a possible sale of:

  • four (4) Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft;
  • ten (10) Rolls-Royce T56-A-427A engines (8 installed and 2 spares);
  • eight (8) Multifunction Information Distribution System Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVT);
  • four (4) Lockheed Martin APY-9 Radars;
  • modifications;
  • spare and repair parts;
  • support equipment;
  • publications and technical documentation;
  • personnel training and training equipment;
  • ferry services;
  • aerial refueling support;
  • S. Government and contractor logistics;
  • engineering and technical support services;
  • other related elements of logistics and program support.

The estimated cost is $1.7 billion.

A completely new radar featuring both mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities
A completely new radar featuring both mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States. Japan is one of the major political and economic powers in East Asia and the Western Pacific and a key partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability in that region. It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives and the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.

The proposed sale of E-2D AHE aircraft will improve Japan’s ability to effectively provide homeland defense utilizing an AEW&C capability. Japan will use the E-2D AHE aircraft to provide AEW&C situational awareness of air and naval activity in the Pacific region and to augment its existing E-2C Hawkeye AEW&C fleet. Japan will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of these aircraft and support will not alter the basic military balance in the Pacific region.

The principal contractor will be Northrop Grumman Corporation Aerospace Systems in Melbourne, Florida. The acquisition and integration of all systems will be managed by the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Fully Integrated «All Glass» Tactical Cockpit
Fully Integrated «All Glass» Tactical Cockpit

 

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is a game changer in how the Navy will conduct battle management command and control. By serving as the «digital quarterback» to sweep ahead of strike, manage the mission, and keep our net-centric carrier battle groups out of harms way, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is the key to advancing the mission, no matter what it may be. The E-2D gives the warfighter expanded battlespace awareness, especially in the area of information operations delivering battle management, theater air and missile defense, and multiple sensor fusion capabilities in an airborne system.

Hardware with system characteristics that provides:

  • Substantial target processing capacity (>3,000 reports per second)
  • Three highly automated and common operator stations
  • High-capacity, flat-panel color high-resolution displays
  • Extensive video type selection (radar and identification friend/foe)
  • HF/VHF/UHF and satellite communications systems
  • Extensive data link capabilities
  • Inertial navigational system and global positioning system navigation and in-flight alignment
  • Integrated and centralized diagnostic system
  • Glass Cockpit allows software reconfigurable flight/mission displays
  • Cockpit – 4th tactical operator
  • Open architecture ensures rapid technology upgrades and customized configuration options
The Hawkeye provides all-weather airborne early warning, airborne battle management and command and control functions for the Carrier Strike Group and Joint Force Commander
The Hawkeye provides all-weather airborne early warning, airborne battle management and command and control functions for the Carrier Strike Group and Joint Force Commander

 

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

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

True 360-degree radar coverage provides uncompromised all-weather tracking and situational awareness
True 360-degree radar coverage provides uncompromised all-weather tracking and situational awareness

Special Forces Command

The German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) have awarded Airbus Helicopters a full-service contract for the new H145M rotorcraft – which is to make its military debut with the German Air Force later this year. This seven-year comprehensive co-operative support and services agreement will ensure optimal availability, reliability and readiness for the German Air Force’s fleet of 15 H145M helicopters (previously designated the EC645 T2), which are to be used primarily in missions with the country’s Special Forces Command (Kommando Spezialkräfte).

The H145M is equipped with a modern digital glass cockpit, Night Vision Goggle compatibility, and Airbus Helicopters’ advanced Helionix avionics suite with a 4-axis digital autopilot
The H145M is equipped with a modern digital glass cockpit, Night Vision Goggle compatibility, and Airbus Helicopters’ advanced Helionix avionics suite with a 4-axis digital autopilot

Airbus Helicopters´ responsibility includes e.g. the management and implementation of maintenance and repair activities, material supply and airworthiness. The company will locate a dedicated team at the Laupheim Air Base in Baden-Württemberg, South Germany, creating a close cooperation with the Bundeswehr technicians who will support these helicopters during their missions around the world.

«We are committed to providing high-quality, comprehensive coverage in this first full-service contract for the new H145M», said Klaus Przemeck, the Head of Airbus Helicopters’ German Military Support Center. «It will build on our track record of successful support for the EC135s used to train its pilots at the German Army Aviation School in Bueckeburg, where the fleet’s operational availability is at over 90 percent».

The twin-engine multi-role H145M is based on Airbus Helicopters’ enhanced H145 civilian and parapublic rotorcraft (previously designated the EC145 T2). In its military version, depending on customer´s configuration, the helicopter is suited to a wide range of military operations – including transportation, reconnaissance, Search And Rescue (SAR), fire support and evacuations of wounded personnel.

Airbus Helicopters completed the H145M’s on-time certification process this month, enabling further military qualification this summer and the start-up of initial deliveries to the German Armed Forces before year-end as the initial customer for this rotorcraft version.

The H145M’s power, range, endurance and payload capability provide a multitude of deployment possibilities, especially when operating in high-and-hot conditions at altitudes of 6,000 feet/1,829 m and temperatures of 95 deg. F
The H145M’s power, range, endurance and payload capability provide a multitude of deployment possibilities, especially when operating in high-and-hot conditions at altitudes of 6,000 feet/1,829 m and temperatures of 95 deg. F

With a maximum take-off weight of 3.7 metric tons/8,157 lbs, the H145M rotorcraft can be outfitted with mission equipment that includes a pintle-mounted door gun and the ability to carry weapons on external stores; electro optical/infrared sensors with targeting capability; as well as military avionics for communications, navigation and flight management.

A rope-down system is available for special operations, and overall survivability is enhanced by the H145M’s ballistic protection, its self-sealing fuel tanks, and electronic warfare self-protection against missile threats.

The H145M benefits from the robustness, low operating costs and high operational availability of Airbus Helicopters’ proven EC145/H145 family, with enhancements including Turbomeca Arriel-2E engines with dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Controls (FADEC), a Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, along with upgraded main and tail rotor gearboxes.

This rotorcraft’s maximum Gross Take-Off Weight (GTOW) has been increased by 50 kg/110 lbs, while its outstanding hover performance – even in One-Engine Inoperative (OEI) situations – is crucial for flight safety and mission success, especially during special operations and combat search & rescue duties.

Equipped with an incremental modular weapon system, the H145M can handle all types of operational scenarios, from conventional to asymmetric conflicts
Equipped with an incremental modular weapon system, the H145M can handle all types of operational scenarios, from conventional to asymmetric conflicts

 

Characteristics

DIMENSIONS
Length (rotor rotating) 44.72 feet/13.63 m
Fuselage length 38.35 feet/11.69 m
Height 13.12 feet/4 m
Main rotor diameter 36.09 feet/11 m
Width (blades folded) 8.89 feet/2.71 m
CAPABILITIES
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 8,157 lbs/3,700 kg
Useful Load 3,900 lbs/1,769 kg
Sling load 3,307 lbs/1,500 kg
Maximum seating 1/2 pilots + 10/9 troops
ENGINE
2 Turbomeca ARRIEL 2E turboshaft engines
Maximum Continuous Power (MCP) 2×771 shp/2×575 kW
Take-Off Power (TOP) 2×894 shp/2×667 kW
2 min One Engine Inoperative (OEI) 1×1,038 shp/1×775 kW
30 sec OEI-power 1×1,072 shp/1×800 kW
PERFORMANCE AT MTOW
Speed (Vne – never exceed speed) 135 knots/155 mph/250 km/h
Fast Cruise speed (Vh – maximum speed) 132 knots/152 mph/244 km/h
Maximum range 357 NM/411 miles/662 km
Hover ceiling OGE (TOP), ISA 8,858 feet/2,700 m
Special operations teams can quickly access the aircraft thanks to its spacious cabin, which has two large sliding side doors and double clamshell doors at the rear
Special operations teams can quickly access the aircraft thanks to its spacious cabin, which has two large sliding side doors and double clamshell doors at the rear

 

MISSION VERSATILITY

  • Armed Scout
  • Special Operations
  • Light Attack
  • SAR
  • MEDEVAC/CASEVAC
  • Maritime
  • Command, Control, Communications and intelligence (C3i)

 

ROOMY CABIN

  • 10 troops capability
  • Excellent access from both sides and rear
  • Unobstructed flat floor with rails
  • Excellent exterior visibility

 

STABLE AND ACCURATE FIRING PLATFORM

  • Mission computer
  • Multi-purpose pylons with slaving and release units
  • IR/TV Electro Optic System
  • Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible
  • Laser range finder/designator/pointer

 

HIGH SURVIVABILITY

  • Agile, low signature
  • Ballistic Protection
  • IR Suppressor
  • Self-Sealing Supply Tanks
  • High crashworthiness (fuselage, seats and fuel cells)
  • Electronic Warfare System (EWS)
  • Redundancy

 

BALLISTIC & GUIDED WEAPONS

  • 12- or 7-tube rocket launcher
  • 20-mm cannon pod
  • 7-mm machine gun pod
  • Air-to-ground missiles
  • Growth potential for laser guided rocket

 

The H145M represents a significant addition to the German Air Force’s capabilities and offers a host of features that make it particularly well suited to missions carried out by the Special Forces Command (KSK – Kommando SpezialKräfte)

Third French Predator

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, announced on May 29 that it has delivered a third Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper RPA to the French Ministry of Defense. Delivered less than two months after contract award, the aircraft joins two other French Reapers in service, which together have accumulated over 4,000 flight hours since operations began in January 2014.

USAF MQ-9 Reaper
USAF MQ-9 Reaper

«This latest order from the French Defense Procurement and Technology Agency (Direction Générale de l’Armement – DGA) is a testament to Reaper’s ability to enhance the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) of the French Air Force in support of national, NATO, and other coalition operations», said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI.

Pilots and sensor operators from Drone Squadron 1/33 ‘Belfort,’ 709 Air Base Cognac-Château Bernard are performing mission operations to include delivering increased battlefield situational awareness, augmenting combat search and rescue, and providing ground troop support. A total of 12 aircraft are planned to be in service by 2019.

The multi-mission Predator B is a long-endurance, medium-high-altitude RPA that can be used for ISR as well as targeting missions. The current aircraft configuration features an extensive payload capacity (850 lbs/386 kg internally, 3,000 lbs/1,361 kg externally), with a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet/15,240 meters, and can stay aloft for up to 27 hours.

Predator B is currently operational with the U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force as MQ-9 Reaper and with the Italian Air Force as MQ-9. Predator B provides unparalleled close air support and persistent situational awareness over land or sea to coalition forces, demonstrating proven NATO interoperability. Some 240 Predator B aircraft have amassed more than one million flight hours since its first flight in 2001.

Italian Air Force MQ-9
Italian Air Force MQ-9

 

Predator B RPA

Designated MQ-9 Reaper by its U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force customers, the turboprop-powered, multi-mission Predator B RPA was developed with GA-ASI funding and provides significantly greater capabilities than Predator. First flown in 2001, Predator B is a highly sophisticated development built on the experience gained with the company’s battle-proven Predator RPA and is a major evolutionary leap forward in overall performance and reliability.

Featuring unmatched operational flexibility, Predator B has an endurance of over 27 hours, speeds of 240 KTAS/276 mph/444 km/h, can operate up to 50,000 feet/15,240 meters, and has a 3,850-pound (1,746 kilogram) payload capacity that includes 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of external stores. Twice as fast as Predator, the aircraft carries 500% more payload and has nine times the horsepower. It provides a long-endurance, persistent surveillance/strike capability for the war fighter.

An extremely reliable aircraft, Predator B is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple redundant avionics system architecture. It is engineered to meet and exceed manned aircraft reliability standards.

Predator B is powered by the flight-certified and proven Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine, integrated with Digital Electronic Engine Control (DEEC), which significantly improves engine performance and fuel efficiency, particularly at low altitudes.

NASA Predator B ("Ikhana")
NASA Predator B (“Ikhana”)

The aircraft is highly modular and is configured easily with a variety of payloads to meet mission requirements. Predator B is capable of carrying multiple mission payloads to include:

  • Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR);
  • Lynx Multi-mode Radar;
  • Multi-mode maritime surveillance radar;
  • Electronic Support Measures (ESM);
  • Laser designators;
  • Various weapons packages.

Predator B continues to improve and evolve, making it more relevant for its customers’ emerging needs. A new variant, Predator B ER, has been designed with field-retrofittable capabilities such as wing-borne fuel pods and a new reinforced landing gear that extends the aircraft’s already impressive endurance from 27 hours to 34 hours while further increasing its operational flexibility.

In 2016, the aircraft will evolve again when its wingspan will grow from 66 feet/20 meters to 79 feet/24 meters to hold the fuel that was previously stored in the fuel pods. This configuration will deliver 42 hours of endurance.

This aircraft has been acquired by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Royal Air Force, the Italian Air Force, the French Air Force, and soon others.

Guardian (Maritime Predator B Variant)
Guardian (Maritime Predator B Variant)

 

Features

  • Triple-redundant flight control system
  • Redundant flight control surfaces
  • Remotely piloted or fully autonomous
  • MIL-STD-1760 stores management system
  • 7 external stations for carriage of payloads
  • C-Band line-of-sight data link control
  • Ku-Band Beyond Line-of-Sight (BLOS)/SATCOM data link control
  • Over 90% system operational availability
  • C-130 transportable (or self-deploys)
Predator B ER
Predator B ER

Characteristics

Wing Span 66 feet/20 m
Length 36 feet/11 m
Powerplant Honeywell TPE331-10
Maximum Gross Take-Off Weight (GTOW) 10,500 lbs/4,763 kg
Fuel Capacity 3,900 lbs/1,769 kg
Payload Capacity 850 lbs/386 kg internally
3,000 lbs/1,361 kg externally
Power 11.0 kW/45.0 kVA (Block 5) (redundant)
Maximum Altitude 50,000 feet/15,240 m
Max Endurance 27 hours
Maximum Air Speed 240 KTAS/276 mph/444 km/h
Weapons Hellfire missiles
GBU-12 laser-guided bombs
GBU-38 JDAM
GBU-49 laser-JDAM
Payloads MTS-B EO/IR
Lynx Multi-mode Radar
Multi-mode maritime radar
Automated Identification System (AIS)
SIGINT/ESM system
Communications relay

 

Perform multi-mission Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and “Hunter-Killer” missions over land or sea

Forward Deployed

The guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) departed from San Diego May 28 for Yokosuka, Japan, where the ship will join U.S. 7th Fleet’s Forward Deployed Naval Forces. Chancellorsville will enhance presence in 7th Fleet as part of the U.S. Navy’s long-range plan to send the most advanced and capable units to the Asia-Pacific region.

USS Chancellorsville is named for the Confederate victory over Union forces under Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia
USS Chancellorsville is named for the Confederate victory over Union forces under Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia

«It is Navy policy to forward deploy our most capable ships and there is no ship more capable than Chancellorsville», said Captain Curt Renshaw, Chancellorsville’s commanding officer. «That capability is not just a result of recent modernization, but is also a function of the readiness of the crew; and this crew has worked very hard to prepare for this day to ensure we are able to arrive immediately prepared for any mission».

USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) completed a combat systems update through the Navy’s Cruiser Modernization program, making her among the most capable ships of her class. She is fitted with the latest Aegis Baseline 9 combat system, and will be the first to be forward deployed with that capability.

The Cruiser Modernization program is designed to upgrade in-service ships to keep pace with evolving threats while enabling ships to meet service life requirements and future operational commitments. Cruiser modernization enhances overall combat systems capability through numerous system improvements.

Future missions will include maritime security operations and cooperative training exercises with allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region. This ship, along with her counterparts in the Japan Self-Defense Forces, makes up part of the core capabilities needed by the alliance to meet our common strategic objectives.

Chancellorsville carries guided missiles and rapid-fire cannons, with anti-air, anti-surface and anti-subsurface capabilities
Chancellorsville carries guided missiles and rapid-fire cannons, with anti-air, anti-surface and anti-subsurface capabilities

Guided Missile Cruisers – CG

Modern U.S. Navy guided missile cruisers perform primarily in a Battle Force role. These ships are multi-mission [Air Warfare (AW), Undersea Warfare (USW), Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) and Surface Warfare (SUW)] surface combatants capable of supporting carrier battle groups, amphibious forces, or of operating independently and as flagships of surface action groups. Cruisers are equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles giving them additional long range Strike Warfare (STRW) capability. Some Aegis Cruisers have been outfitted with a Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) capability.

Technological advances in the Standard Missile coupled with the Aegis combat system in the Ticonderoga class cruisers have increased the Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) capability of surface combatants to pinpoint accuracy from wave-top to zenith. The addition of Tomahawk in the CG-47 has vastly complicated unit target planning for any potential enemy and returned an offensive strike role to the surface forces that seemed to have been lost to air power at Pearl Harbor.

The Cruiser Modernization program aims to improve the Ticonderoga class by modernizing the computing and display infrastructure, and the Hull, Mechanical and Electrical (HM&E) systems. Weapons and sensor sets will also be improved, in order to upgrade their anti-submarine capabilities, add short-range electro-optical systems that can monitor the ships surroundings without the use of radar emissions, as well as routine machinery upgrades to improve all areas of ship functionality.

Family and friends bid farewell from the pier as the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) departs Naval Base San Diego bound for Yokosuka, Japan to join the forward-deployed naval forces in the Western Pacific (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Trevor Welsh/Released)
Family and friends bid farewell from the pier as the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) departs Naval Base San Diego bound for Yokosuka, Japan to join the forward-deployed naval forces in the Western Pacific (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Trevor Welsh/Released)

General Characteristics

Builder Ingalls Shipbuilding: 52-57, 59, 62, 65-66, 68-69, 71-73
Bath Iron Works: 58, 60-61, 63-64, 67, 70
Date Deployed 22 January 1983: USS Ticonderoga (CG-47)
Unit Cost About $1 billion each
Length 567 feet/172.82 m
Beam 55 feet/16.76 m
Displacement 9,600 long tons (9,754 metric tons) full load
Propulsion 4 General Electric LM 2500 gas turbine engines
2 shafts
80,000 shaft horsepower/60 MW total
Speed 30+ knots/34.5 mph/55.5 km/h
Crew 330: 30 Officers, 300 Enlisted
Armament Mk-41 Vertical Launching System Standard Missile (MR)
Vertical Launch ASROC (VLA) Missile
Tomahawk Cruise Missile
Mk-46 torpedoes (from two triple mounts)
2 Mk-45 127-mm/5-inch/54 caliber lightweight guns
2 Phalanx Close-In-Weapons systems
Aircraft 2 SH-60 Seahawk (LAMPS III)
She also carries two Seahawk Light airborne multi-purpose system (LAMPS) helicopters, focused on anti-submarine warfare
She also carries two Seahawk Light airborne multi-purpose system (LAMPS) helicopters, focused on anti-submarine warfare

 

Ships

USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), San Diego, California

USS Mobile Bay (CG-53), San Diego, California

USS Antietam (CG-54), Yokosuka, Japan

USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), Norfolk, Virginia

USS San Jacinto (CG-56), Norfolk, Virginia

USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), San Diego, California

USS Philippine Sea (CG-58), Mayport, Florida

USS Princeton (CG-59), San Diego, California

USS Normandy (CG-60), Norfolk, Virginia

USS Monterey (CG-61), Norfolk, Virginia

USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), San Diego, California

USS Cowpens (CG-63), San Diego, California

USS Gettysburg (CG-64), Mayport, Florida

USS Chosin (CG-65), Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

USS Hue City (CG-66), Mayport, Florida

USS Shiloh (CG-67), Yokosuka, Japan

USS Anzio (CG-68), Norfolk, Virginia

USS Vicksburg (CG-69), Mayport, Florida

USS Lake Erie (CG-70), Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

USS Cape St. George (CG-71), San Diego, California

USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), Norfolk, Virginia

USS Port Royal (CG-73), Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

 

 

Certified Dragon

Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, Commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space, has announced the certification of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s (SpaceX) Falcon 9 Launch System for national security space missions.

Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit
Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit

SpaceX is now eligible for award of qualified national security space launch missions as one of two currently certified launch providers. The first upcoming opportunity for SpaceX to compete to provide launch services is projected to be in June when the Air Force releases a Request for Proposal for GPS III launch services.

«This is a very important milestone for the Air Force and the Department of Defense», said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. «SpaceX’s emergence as a viable commercial launch provider provides the opportunity to compete launch services for the first time in almost a decade. Ultimately, leveraging of the commercial space market drives down cost to the American taxpayer and improves our military’s resiliency».

This milestone is the culmination of a significant two-year effort on the part of the Air Force and SpaceX to execute the certification process and reintroduce competition into the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. The Air Force invested more than $60 million and 150 people in the certification effort which encompassed 125 certification criteria, including more than 2,800 discrete tasks, 3 certification flight demonstrations, verifying 160 payload interface requirements, 21 major subsystem reviews and 700 audits in order to establish the technical baseline from which the Air Force will make future flight worthiness determinations for launch.

Dragon is a free-flying spacecraft designed to deliver both cargo and people to orbiting destinations
Dragon is a free-flying spacecraft designed to deliver both cargo and people to orbiting destinations

«The SpaceX and SMC teams have worked hard to achieve certification», said Greaves. «And we’re also maintaining our spaceflight worthiness process supporting the National Security Space missions. Our intent is to promote the viability of multiple EELV-class launch providers as soon as feasible».

Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Lead Designer, stated, «This is an important step toward bringing competition to National Security Space launch. We thank the Air Force for its confidence in us and look forward to serving it well».

The certification process provides a path for launch-service providers to demonstrate the capability to design, produce, qualify, and deliver a new launch system and provide the mission assurance support required to deliver national security space satellites to orbit. This gives the Air Force confidence that the national security satellites being delivered to orbit will safely achieve the intended orbits with full mission capability.

The SMC, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the U.S. Air Force’s center for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes GPS, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.

 

With its nine first-stage Merlin engines clustered together, Falcon 9 can sustain up to two engine shutdowns during flight and still successfully complete its mission

Go to HELLADS

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, announced on May 21, 2015 that the High-Energy Liquid Laser (HELLADS) completed the U.S. Government Acceptance Test Procedure and is now being shipped to the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), New Mexico. At WSMR, the laser will undergo an extensive series of live fire tests against a number of military targets.

The recently certified Generation 3 laser assembly is very compact at only 1.3 × 0.4 × 0.5 meters. The system is powered by a compact Lithium-ion battery supply designed to demonstrate a deployable architecture for tactical platforms
The recently certified Generation 3 laser assembly is very compact at only 1.3 × 0.4 × 0.5 meters. The system is powered by a compact Lithium-ion battery supply designed to demonstrate a deployable architecture for tactical platforms

The HELLADS Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS) is designed to demonstrate the efficacy of a tactical laser weapon in Counter-Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (CRAM), Counter-Air and Counter-Missile applications, as well as a number of special applications. The 150 kW Class HELLADS laser has been developed over a number of years to create a completely new approach to electrically powered lasers with sufficiently low size, weight, and power consumption to enable deployment on a number of tactical platforms.

«HELLADS represents a new generation of tactical weapon systems with the potential to revolutionize sovereign defenses and provide a significant tactical advantage to our war-fighters», said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. «It is remarkable to see high-power laser technology mature into an extremely compact weapons system and be deployed for field tests. It will be even more remarkable to witness the impact that this will have on U.S. Defense capability».

The HELLADS laser was developed through a series of stage/gate phases beginning with a physics demonstration and progressing through a series of laser demonstrators at increasing power levels. At each stage, DARPA required beam quality, laser power, efficiency, size, and weight objectives to be demonstrated. The program also developed the world’s highest brightness laser diodes, compact battery storage, and thermal storage systems, and improved the manufacturing process and size of specialized laser materials and optics.

The HELLADS DLWS holds the world’s record for the highest laser output power of any electrically powered laser. Doctor Michael Perry, vice president of Laser and Electro-Optic Systems for GA-ASI, credits DARPA with a unique capability to foster, nurture, and support such a development. «The HELLADS team of program managers, technical support, and DARPA senior management has worked to address the challenges of developing a completely new technology. Additionally, if it were not for the hard work of our scientists and engineers, we could not have succeeded. This is the most challenging program that I have been associated with», said David Friend, HELLADS Program Manager, GA-ASI. «This program has advanced the state-of-the-art in so many areas».

The pioneering HELLADS DLWS represents the first generation of the technology. Through other U.S. Government programs separate from the DARPA-supported work, GA-ASI has demonstrated, second and third Generation versions of the technology, which significantly increase the efficiency and reduce the size, weight, and power consumption for the system while increasing the beam quality.

The third Generation system is currently being incorporated into a Tactical Laser Weapon Module designed for integration into both manned and unmanned aircraft systems. «Even as we begin development of the fourth Generation system, I am looking forward to seeing HELLADS perform in the live fire tests», said Doctor Perry. «The laser technology is a means to an end. What matters is the new and cost-effective capability that we can bring to our country».

Featuring a flexible, deployable architecture, the TLWM is designed for use on land, sea, and airborne platforms and will be available in four versions at the 50, 75, 150, and 300-kilowatt laser output levels
Featuring a flexible, deployable architecture, the TLWM is designed for use on land, sea, and airborne platforms and will be available in four versions at the 50, 75, 150, and 300-kilowatt laser output levels

Final Operational

Australia now has the most advanced air battle space management capability in the world, with the Royal Australian Air Force’s Boeing E-7A Wedgetail aircraft achieving Final Operational Capability. The fleet of six Wedgetail aircraft reached the milestone this month with the entire capability, from physical aircraft to logistics, management, sustainment, facilities and training, now fully operational and able to support ongoing operations.

Several years after they first entered service, and after flying over 1,200 hours on combat missions, Australia’s six Boeing E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft have attained Full Operational Capability (FOC)
Several years after they first entered service, and after flying over 1,200 hours on combat missions, Australia’s six Boeing E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft have attained Full Operational Capability (FOC)

The Wedgetail has already proven to be highly reliable and effective on operations and this achievement will further Australia’s capabilities. The aircraft deployed on Operation Okra in the Middle East region, completing over 100 surveillance sorties with our coalition partners, flying more than 1,200 hours. The Wedgetail also provided coordination and flight safety capability for the air search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean.

The Wedgetail is tailored to meet the specific Air Force requirements, with six Boeing 737 aircraft modified to accommodate sophisticated mission systems and advanced multi-role radar. The aircraft significantly enhances the effectiveness of Australia’s existing Australian Defence Force and civil surveillance agencies and helps maintain an advanced technological capability.

Squadron Leader Andrew Boeree (foreground) shows the Minister for Defence, The Hon Kevin Andrews MP, and the Member for Solomon, Mrs Natasha Griggs MP, the onboard Mission System on the situational display in a No 2 Squadron E-7A Wedgetail aircraft
Squadron Leader Andrew Boeree (foreground) shows the Minister for Defence, The Hon Kevin Andrews MP, and the Member for Solomon, Mrs Natasha Griggs MP, the onboard Mission System on the situational display in a No 2 Squadron E-7A Wedgetail aircraft

Deputy Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Davies, AO, CSC said the E-7A Wedgetail provides Australia with the ability to control and survey vast areas of operation, and contribute to Australia’s modern and fully integrated combat force under Plan Jericho.

«The aircraft’s advanced multi-role radar gives the Air Force the ability to survey, command, control and coordinate joint air, sea and land operations in real time», Air Vice-Marshal Davies said. «As we transition into a more technologically advanced force as part of Plan Jericho, the Wedgetail will be able to support future aircraft and surveillance systems».

The home operating base for the E-7A Wedgetail aircraft is Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown in New South Wales.

The Minister for Defence, The Hon Kevin Andrews MP (bottom of the stairs), and the Deputy Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Gavin 'Leo' Davies, AO, CSC exit a No 2 Squadron E-7A Wedgetail aircraft after being shown the onboard Mission System
The Minister for Defence, The Hon Kevin Andrews MP (bottom of the stairs), and the Deputy Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Gavin ‘Leo’ Davies, AO, CSC exit a No 2 Squadron E-7A Wedgetail aircraft after being shown the onboard Mission System

 

Technical Specifications

Contractor Boeing, Northrop Grumman
Airframe Boeing 737-700 Increased Gross Weight (IGW) airframe
Radar Northrop Grumman «MESA» electronically scanned array radar system with 360 degrees/Air and Maritime modes/200+ NM range (230 miles/370 km)/All Weather
Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) 300 NM/345 miles/555 km
System Architecture Open
Consoles Open
Operational ceiling 41,000 feet/12,496.8 m
Range 3,500 NM/4,028 miles/6,482 km
Flight Crew 2
Mission Crew 6 to 10
Inventory Total force, 6
Australian Aviation Journalist, Anthony Moclair is the first journalist to go flying on the A30 E-7A Wedgetail
Australian Aviation Journalist, Anthony Moclair is the first journalist to go flying on the A30 E-7A Wedgetail