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 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.
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
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 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;
spare and repair parts;
publications and technical documentation;
personnel training and training equipment;
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
Length (rotor rotating)
44.72 feet/13.63 m
38.35 feet/11.69 m
13.12 feet/4 m
Main rotor diameter
36.09 feet/11 m
Width (blades folded)
8.89 feet/2.71 m
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)
8,157 lbs/3,700 kg
3,900 lbs/1,769 kg
3,307 lbs/1,500 kg
1/2 pilots + 10/9 troops
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
357 NM/411 miles/662 km
Hover ceiling OGE (TOP), ISA
8,858 feet/2,700 m
Command, Control, Communications and intelligence (C3i)
10 troops capability
Excellent access from both sides and rear
Unobstructed flat floor with rails
Excellent exterior visibility
STABLE AND ACCURATE FIRING PLATFORM
Multi-purpose pylons with slaving and release units
IR/TV Electro Optic System
Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible
Laser range finder/designator/pointer
Agile, low signature
Self-Sealing Supply Tanks
High crashworthiness (fuselage, seats and fuel cells)
Electronic Warfare System (EWS)
BALLISTIC & GUIDED WEAPONS
12- or 7-tube rocket launcher
20-mm cannon pod
7-mm machine gun pod
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)
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.
«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.
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.
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:
Lynx Multi-mode Radar;
Multi-mode maritime surveillance radar;
Electronic Support Measures (ESM);
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.
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)
66 feet/20 m
36 feet/11 m
Maximum Gross Take-Off Weight (GTOW)
10,500 lbs/4,763 kg
3,900 lbs/1,769 kg
850 lbs/386 kg internally
3,000 lbs/1,361 kg externally
11.0 kW/45.0 kVA (Block 5) (redundant)
50,000 feet/15,240 m
Maximum Air Speed
240 KTAS/276 mph/444 km/h
GBU-12 laser-guided bombs
Lynx Multi-mode Radar
Multi-mode maritime radar
Automated Identification System (AIS)
Perform multi-mission Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and “Hunter-Killer” missions over land or sea
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.
«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.
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.
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.
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.
«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
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 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».
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.
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.
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.
Boeing, Northrop Grumman
Boeing 737-700 Increased Gross Weight (IGW) airframe
Northrop Grumman «MESA» electronically scanned array radar system with 360 degrees/Air and Maritime modes/200+ NM range (230 miles/370 km)/All Weather
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced on May 26 that the newest Virginia-class submarine, USS John Warner (SSN-785), successfully completed its initial sea trials on Saturday. Sea trials are aggressive operational tests that demonstrate the submarine’s capabilities at sea. John Warner, the first Virginia-class submarine to be named for a person, is being built as part of a teaming arrangement between HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division and General Dynamics Electric Boat.
«Alpha sea trials represent the first underway test of the quality of the craftsmanship that went into the construction of this great vessel and the skill of the crew that operates her», said Jim Hughes, Newport News’ vice president of submarines and fleet support. «Both the ship and the crew performed incredibly well, resulting in extremely successful trials that enable the ship to advance directly into its next set of tests. The USS John Warner is now well on its way to being another successful and early Virginia-class delivery».
All systems, components and compartments were tested during the trials. The new submarine submerged for the first time and operated at high speeds on the surface and underwater. USS John Warner (SSN-785) will undergo several more rounds of sea trials before delivery to the U.S. Navy by Newport News.
«The sea trials were a huge success», said Commander Dan Caldwell, the submarine’s prospective commanding officer. «The ship is in great material condition, and I could not be more proud of the way the crew performed. They have worked tirelessly for the last two years preparing to take this ship to sea, and it showed during sea trials. We look forward to completing the ship’s delivery and joining the operational fleet».
Construction of John Warner began in 2010. The boat is 99 percent complete and on schedule to deliver next month – more than three months ahead of its contracted delivery date.
Nuclear Submarine Lineup
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-777 North Carolina
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-778 New Hampshire
SSN-779 New Mexico
SSN-784 North Dakota
SSN-785 John Warner
SSN-790 South Dakota
SSN-795 Hyman G. Rickover
SSN-796 New Jersey
EB – Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut
NNS – Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a United Technologies Corp. subsidiary, on May 22 announced the successful first flight of the S-97 Raider helicopter, a rigid coaxial rotor prototype designed to demonstrate a game-changing combination of maneuverability, hover ability, range, speed, endurance and survivability. The first flight was conducted at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center (DFC) where the two-prototype Raider helicopter test program is based.
«Sikorsky has a long tradition of pioneering new aviation technologies including the first practical helicopter. Today’s first flight of the S-97 Raider represents the latest leap forward for Sikorsky, our customers, and the rotorcraft industry», said Sikorsky President Bob Leduc. «The industry has demanded high performance and high value from the products that execute critical missions, and, today, the Raider has given us an exciting look at the future of vertical flight».
During the first test flight, which lasted approximately one hour, S-97 Raider Pilot Bill Fell and Co-Pilot Kevin Bredenbeck took the aircraft through a series of maneuvers designed to test the aircraft’s hover and low-speed capability. With first flight achieved, the Raider now moves into more progressive flight-testing to demonstrate key performance parameters critical to future combat operations including armed reconnaissance, light assault, light attack and special operations. The Raider program is part of the portfolio of Sikorsky Innovations, the technology development organization within Sikorsky Aircraft’s Research & Engineering division.
«It is the Sikorsky Innovations charter to identify the toughest challenges in vertical flight, and to demonstrate solutions to them», said Mark Miller, Vice President of Research & Engineering. «Getting an all-new aircraft into flight, especially one with game-changing capabilities, is a remarkable feat. With this first flight of the S-97 Raider helicopter, Sikorsky Aircraft is proving once again that the tough challenges will always propel us forward».
«This exemplifies the very DNA of Sikorsky Aircraft: to explore, to challenge, to pioneer, and in doing so, to ultimately change what is possible for our customers», Miller said. «It is exciting that the S-97 Raider helicopter leverages a mix of evolutionary rotorcraft technologies that, when combined in this new way, results in revolutionary capability».
Sikorsky launched the S-97 Raider helicopter program in September 2010, with objectives of maturing the Collier-Award winning X2 rotorcraft configuration and demonstrating a helicopter that meets current U.S. Army special operations and armed reconnaissance needs, while maturing technologies for Future Vertical Lift (FVL). The program is 100 percent industry-funded by Sikorsky Aircraft and its 53 industry partners.
Based on the X2 coaxial rotor design, the Raider helicopter is capable of being developed into a unique multi-mission configuration that is able to carry six troops and external weapons. The coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and pusher propeller are expected to provide cruise speeds up to 240 knots/276 mph/444 km/h.
«Based on the capabilities that were demonstrated today, Sikorsky is positioned to develop the S-97 Raider helicopter’s game-changing capabilities to enable helicopter forces to out-perform on the battleground of tomorrow», said Samir Mehta, President of Sikorsky Defense Systems & Services. «With the Raider aircraft’s unmatched combination of speed, maneuverability and acoustic signature, Sikorsky Aircraft is ideally positioned to provide the military with essential mission-specific capabilities. With this flight, we have started the demonstration of solutions to not only near-term capability gaps but also solutions for future vertical lift needs».
The second S-97 Raider helicopter prototype is on track to complete final assembly in 2015. A demonstration tour of the Raider helicopter is planned for 2016.
Low acoustic signature
Exceptional hover capability
High cruise speed
Agility for close air support
Fly-by-wire flight controls
Multi-Mission for Operational Flexibility
Internal aux fuel tank for extended range/increased endurance
Additional ammunition capacity
Six seat cabin
Aerial refueling capable
Maximum gross weight: 11,400 lbs/5,171 kg
HOGE* capability: >6K/95
Endurance (standard fuel): >2.7 h
Range: >373 miles/600 km
Cruise speed: >240 knots/276 mph/444 km/h
C-17 loadout: 4 aircraft
70-mm 2.75″ rockets
12,7-mm .50 cal gun
* HOGE – Hover-Out of Ground Effect. This is the absolute limit of the helicopter’s ability to hover. Factors that contribute to this limit are density altitude, atmospheric temperature, available engine torque, and payload.
The S-97 Raider helicopter successfully achieved its first flight at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida on May 22. Congratulations to Chief Pilot Bill Fell, Co-pilot Kevin Bredenbeck and the entire Raider team