Tag Archives: Boeing

Laser on UAV

The Boeing Co., Huntington Beach, California is being awarded an $8,966,976 competitive, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) Phase 1 effort. No options are contemplated.

Boeing to Demonstrate Low-Power Laser on UAV
Boeing to Demonstrate Low-Power Laser on UAV

Under this new contract, the contractor will perform the next step for the LPLD effort that addresses laser power and aperture size by integrating and testing a low power laser on an unmanned aerial vehicle.

The work will be performed in Huntington Beach, California; and Albuquerque, New Mexico, with an estimated completion date of September 3, 2018.

The period of performance is nine months from December 6, 2017, through September 3, 2018. This contract was competitively procured via publication on the Federal Business Opportunities website through an Advanced Technology Innovation Broad Agency Announcement HQ0147-15-ATI-BAA.

Fiscal 2018 research, development, test and engineering funds in the amount of $2,000,000 are being obligated at the time of award.

The Missile Defense Agency, Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the contracting activity (HQ0277-18-C-0003).

First Tanker

The first Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker that will be delivered to the U.S. Air Force next year successfully completed its first flight and airborne tests on December 5, 2017, taking off from Paine Field at 10:32 a.m. PST and landing approximately three-and-one-half hours later.

The first KC-46A Pegasus tanker for the U.S. Air Force takes off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, on its maiden flight. During the three and one-half hour flight, pilots took the aircraft to 39,000 feet/11,887 meters and performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems. The KC-46 is a multirole tanker than can refuel all allied and coalition aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients (Photo by Marian Lockhart)
The first KC-46A Pegasus tanker for the U.S. Air Force takes off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, on its maiden flight. During the three and one-half hour flight, pilots took the aircraft to 39,000 feet/11,887 meters and performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems. The KC-46 is a multirole tanker than can refuel all allied and coalition aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients (Photo by Marian Lockhart)

«Today’s flight is another milestone for the Air Force/Boeing team and helps move us closer to delivering operational aircraft to the warfighter», said Colonel John Newberry, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System program manager.

During the flight, Boeing test pilots took the tanker to a maximum altitude of 39,000 feet/11,887 meters and performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved flight profile. Prior to subsequent flights, the team will conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation.

«We’re very proud of this aircraft and the state-of-the-art capabilities it will bring to the Air Force», said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A tanker vice president and program manager. «We still have some tough work ahead of us, including completing our FAA certification activities, but the team is committed to ensure that upon delivery, this tanker will be everything our customer expects and more».

The newest tanker is the KC-46 program’s seventh aircraft to fly to date. The previous six are being used for testing and certification and to date have completed 2,200 flight hours and more than 1,600 «contacts» during refueling flights with F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Super Hornet, AV-8B Harrier II, C-17 Globemaster III, A-10 Thunderbolt II, KC-10 Extender and KC-46A Pegasus aircraft.

The KC-46A Pegasus, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is built in the company’s Everett facility. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 34 of an expected 179 tankers for the U.S. Air Force.

The KC-46A Pegasus is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.

 

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 m
Length 165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m
Height 52 feet, 10 inches/15.9 m
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 415,000 lbs/188,240 kg
Maximum Landing Weight 310,000 lbs/140,614 kg
Fuel Capacity 212,299 lbs/96,297 kg
Maximum Transfer Fuel Load 207,672 lbs/94,198 kg
Maximum Cargo Capacity 65,000 lbs/29,484 kg
Maximum Airspeed 360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h
Service Ceiling 43,100 feet/13,137 m
Maximum Distance 7,299 NM/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

 

Expanded production

Arlington, Virginia, MBDA Inc. is proud to announce a new contract award from Boeing to produce up to 21,000 Diamond Back Wing Assemblies for the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB-1). This new contract follows a U.S. Air Force award to Boeing for additional SDB-1 production.

MBDA Inc. is proud to announce a new contract award from Boeing to produce up to 21,000 Diamond Back Wing Assemblies for the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB-1)
MBDA Inc. is proud to announce a new contract award from Boeing to produce up to 21,000 Diamond Back Wing Assemblies for the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB-1)

MBDA’s Diamond Back Wing Assembly – a key component of Boeing’s Small Diameter Bomb-features a patented tandem wing design that improves SDB’s manoeuverability and extends its range to over 60 nautical miles/69 miles/111 km, increasing pilot safety and expanding operational reach. SDB-1 is an advanced precision-guided glide bomb that provides aircraft with the ability to carry a higher number of weapons and accurately strike multiple targets in a single combat sortie.

Following the announcement of the contract award, MBDA Inc.’s CEO John Pranzatelli said: «This new award is possible thanks to our strong partnership with Boeing and outstanding past performance over many years of delivering wing kits. As the MBDA Inc. Huntsville team scales up and expands our reach into the U.S. supply chain, we will continue to meet customer requirements on time and budget. In addition to Diamond Back, MBDA Inc. remains committed to introducing MBDA’s superior portfolio of precision guided munitions and advanced technology to the U.S».

MBDA Inc. has been recognized with three Boeing Performance Excellence Awards over the course of producing over 18,000 Diamond Back Wing Assemblies. MBDA produced the 20,000th unit in September 2017.

MBDA Inc. will continue assembling and testing Diamond Back Wing Assemblies at its Huntsville, Alabama facility. MBDA Inc. is also hiring new staff and expanding its facilities to accommodate increasing demand for wing assemblies.

Reliability of the ICBM

A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base (AFB), Wyoming, launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a single test reentry vehicle August 2, 2017 at 2:10 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time from Vandenberg AFB, California.

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ian Dudley)
An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ian Dudley)

While not a response to recent North Korean actions, the test demonstrated the U.S.’ nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to deter, detect and defend against attacks on the U.S. and its allies.

The ICBM’s reentry vehicle, which contained a telemetry package used for operational testing, traveled approximately 4,200 miles/6,759 km to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. These test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.

«This operational test launch highlights the commitment and outstanding professionalism of the 90th Missile Wing, the 576th Flight Test Squadron and our mission partners in the 30th Space Wing», said Colonel Dave Kelley, the 576th FLTS commander. «These test launches require the highest-degree of technical competence and commitment at every level and provide critical data necessary to validate the reliability, accuracy and performance of the ICBM force».

F.E. Warren AFB is one of three missile bases with crew members standing alert 24 hours a day, year-round, overseeing the nation’s ICBM alert forces.

«I am extremely proud of the operators and maintainers from the 90th Missile Wing. This task force worked flawlessly alongside the absolute professionals from the 576 Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) to make this mission a success», said Lieutenant Colonel Troy Stauter, the Glory Trip 223 Task Force commander. «Promoting the deterrence, assurance and strike capability of the Minuteman III could not be done without the dedication, professionalism and teamwork of the men and women of Air Force Global Strike Command».

The ICBM community, including the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and U.S. Strategic Command, uses data collected from test launches for continuing force development evaluation. The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational capability of the Minuteman III and ensures the U.S.’ ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.

 

General characteristics

Primary function Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
Contractor Boeing Co.
Power plant Three solid-propellant rocket motors: first stage ATK refurbished M55A1; second stage ATK refurbished SR-19; third stage ATK refurbished SR-73
Technologies chemical systems division thrust first stage: 203,158 pounds/92,151 kg; second stage: 60,793 pounds/27,575 kg; third stage: 35,086 pounds/15,915 kg
Weight 79,432 pounds/36,030 kg
Diameter 5.5 feet/1.67 m
Range 5,218 NM/6,005 miles/9,664 km
Speed approximately Mach 23/15,000 mph/24,000 km/h at burnout
Ceiling 700 miles/1,120 km
Date deployed June 1970, production cessation: December 1978
Inventory 450

 

GT-223GM MMIII Media Release

Add Muscle to Chinook

Boeing will build and test three U.S. Army CH-47F Block II Chinook helicopters as part of a modernization effort that will likely bring another two decades of work to the company’s Philadelphia site.

Boeing will build and test three U.S. Army CH-47F Block II Chinook helicopters as part of a modernization effort that will likely bring another two decades of work to the company's Philadelphia site (Boeing illustration)
Boeing will build and test three U.S. Army CH-47F Block II Chinook helicopters as part of a modernization effort that will likely bring another two decades of work to the company’s Philadelphia site (Boeing illustration)

A recent $276 million Army contract will fund those helicopters, which will validate technology advancements that will increase the iconic helicopter’s lifting power.

«The Army’s only heavy-lift helicopter exists to deliver decisive combat power for our ground commanders», said Colonel Greg Fortier, U.S. Army project manager for Cargo Helicopters. «The Cargo family is anxious to build upon Col. Rob Barrie’s efforts to establish this critical program and deliver an adaptive air vehicle. Increasing payload capacity today enhances battlefield agility and prepares the Chinook for even greater performance gains in the future».

An improved drivetrain will transfer greater power from the engines to the all-new, swept-tip Advanced Chinook Rotor Blades, which have been engineered to lift 1,500 additional pounds on their own. The current configuration of six fuel tanks – three on each side – will become two, allowing the aircraft to carry more fuel and shed weight. Additionally, the fuselage’s structure will be strengthened in critical areas to allow the aircraft to carry additional payload.

«This latest upgrade for the Chinook fleet is a tribute to the robustness of its original design and exemplifies its 55-year legacy of technological advancements», said Chuck Dabundo, vice president, Cargo Helicopters and program manager, H-47. «The fact that the U.S. Army continues to use and value this platform and they are intending to continue to upgrade it to keep it flying for decades to come is a testament of the capabilities the Chinook team continues to bring».

Boeing will begin building the test aircraft next year. The test program begins in 2019 and first delivery of the Block II Chinook is expected in 2023. Eventually, the Army will upgrade more than 500 Chinooks to Block II configuration.

Electromagnetic Testing

A Boeing-led team, including U.S. Air Force and Naval Air Systems Command representatives, recently completed KC-46 Pegasus tanker electromagnetic testing.

A Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker undergoes testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, on the base’s electromagnetic pulse pad. In order to evaluate its ability to operate safely through electromagnetic fields produced by radar, radio towers and other systems, the aircraft received a series of pulses from a large coil mounted overhead. The KC-46 is protected by technologies designed into the aircraft to negate any effects (Photo credit: NAVAIR photographer)
A Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker undergoes testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, on the base’s electromagnetic pulse pad. In order to evaluate its ability to operate safely through electromagnetic fields produced by radar, radio towers and other systems, the aircraft received a series of pulses from a large coil mounted overhead. The KC-46 is protected by technologies designed into the aircraft to negate any effects (Photo credit: NAVAIR photographer)

This testing evaluates the aircraft’s ability to safely operate through electromagnetic fields produced by radars, radio towers and other systems under mission conditions.

«The KC-46 tanker is protected by various hardening and shielding technologies designed into the aircraft to negate any effects on the aircraft», said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46 vice president and program manager. «This successful effort retires one of the key risks on the program».

Testing was conducted on the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and Naval Electromagnetic Radiation Facility pads and also in the Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

During tests on the EMP pad at Patuxent River, the program’s second low-rate initial production KC-46 Pegasus received pulses from a large coil/transformer situated above the aircraft. The outdoor simulation was designed to test and evaluate the KC-46’s EMP protection while in flight.

The KC-46A Pegasus is a multirole tanker that is designed to refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.

Boeing is assembling KC-46 Pegasus aircraft at its Everett, Washington, facility.

 

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 m
Length 165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m
Height 52 feet, 10 inches/15.9 m
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 415,000 lbs/188,240 kg
Maximum Landing Weight 310,000 lbs/140,614 kg
Fuel Capacity 212,299 lbs/96,297 kg
Maximum Transfer Fuel Load 207,672 lbs/94,198 kg
Maximum Cargo Capacity 65,000 lbs/29,484 kg
Maximum Airspeed 360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h
Service Ceiling 43,100 feet/13,137 m
Maximum Distance 7,299 NM/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

 

Growler in Australia

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, together with Air Vice Marshal Steven Roberton, Air Commander Australia, on 07 July welcomed the full fleet of EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft to RAAF Base Amberley.

Australia has now received all 12 Boeing EA-18G Growler two-seat electronic attack aircraft (RAAF photo)
Australia has now received all 12 Boeing EA-18G Growler two-seat electronic attack aircraft (RAAF photo)

Since the first two Growlers arrived in Australia in February 2017, the fleet has grown to the full twelve aircraft.

Minister Payne said the arrival of the Growler provides a potent and technologically advanced new capability for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

«We are the only country outside the United States operating the EA-18G Growler and the full fleet arrival represents a significant leap forward in joint electronic warfare capability», Minister Payne said. «This is an amazing achievement for the ADF. These aircraft are able to support the full spectrum of Defence missions, including operations with coalition partners. The EA-18G Growlers will work with Army and Navy to deliver a networked joint force able to manoeuvre and fight in the electromagnetic spectrum. The arrival affirms the Government’s commitment to maintain our capability edge and prepare for the more complex and high-tech conflicts of the future».

Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies said he was extremely proud of all the personnel who have worked on this project both in Australia and overseas.

«The delivery of this capability shows what our Defence Force members are capable of alongside our U.S. counterparts», Air Marshal Davies said. «The U.S. Navy has been very generous in their training of our aircrew and maintenance teams, and we have cemented our reputation as credible coalition partners. Australian Growlers have already conducted successful weapon firings and integration flights with RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornets and U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers as part of Operational Test and Evaluation. We have also had the graduation of the first Operational Transition course. Through our partnership with the U.S. Navy we are already planning to keep Growler at the forefront of electronic attack capability throughout the life of the aircraft. I wish to acknowledge the commitment of RAAF Base Amberley, the Estate & Industry Group and the 6 Squadron families who have generated the home of this exciting new aircraft».

The Growler is based on the F/A-18F Super Hornet airframe and fitted with additional avionics, enhanced radio frequency receivers, an improved communications suite and radio-frequency jamming pods that enable it to jam enemy systems. It will provide a complementary capability to the F/A-18F Super Hornet and the F-35A Lightning II aircraft.

Echo Voyager

Boeing and Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) are teaming on the design and production of Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs) in support of the U.S. Navy’s Extra Large UUV program.

Boeing, Huntington Ingalls Industries to Team on Unmanned Undersea Vehicles
Boeing, Huntington Ingalls Industries to Team on Unmanned Undersea Vehicles

«This partnership provides the U.S. Navy a cost-effective, low-risk path to meet the emergent needs that prompted the Navy’s Advanced Undersea Prototyping program», said Darryl Davis, president, Boeing Phantom Works. «We are combining Boeing’s preeminent UUV maritime engineering team with our nation’s leading shipbuilder and Navy technical services company to get operational vehicles to the Navy years ahead of the standard acquisition process».

Boeing is currently testing its newest and largest UUV, Echo Voyager, off the Southern California coast. The vehicle is designed for multiple missions and could include a modular payload bay of up to 34 feet/10.36 meters, offering enhanced endurance and increased payload capacity over traditional UUVs. Echo Voyager is fully autonomous, requiring no support vessel for launch or recovery, enabling operation at sea for months before returning to port.

«We look forward to a long relationship with Boeing as we embark together to field this unmanned force-multiplier for the U.S. Navy», said Andy Green, executive vice president of Huntington Ingalls Industries and president of the company’s Technical Solutions division. «I am confident this team will continue redefining the autonomy paradigm for UUVs».

The partnership will leverage design and production facilities in Huntington Beach, California, Newport News, Virginia, and Panama City, Florida, and will offer access to all of the expertise and capability of Boeing and HII.

Experimental Spaceplane

DARPA has selected The Boeing Company to complete advanced design work for the Agency’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, which aims to build and fly the first of an entirely new class of hypersonic aircraft that would bolster national security by providing short-notice, low-cost access to space. The program aims to achieve a capability well out of reach today – launches to low Earth orbit in days, as compared to the months or years of preparation currently needed to get a single satellite on orbit. Success will depend upon significant advances in both technical capabilities and ground operations, but would revolutionize the Nation’s ability to recover from a catastrophic loss of military or commercial satellites, upon which the Nation today is critically dependent.

Phantom Express is envisioned as a highly autonomous experimental spaceplane, shown preparing to launch its expendable second stage on the top of the vehicle in this artist’s concept. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is collaborating with Boeing to fund development of the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program (Boeing rendering)
Phantom Express is envisioned as a highly autonomous experimental spaceplane, shown preparing to launch its expendable second stage on the top of the vehicle in this artist’s concept. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is collaborating with Boeing to fund development of the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program (Boeing rendering)

«The XS-1 would be neither a traditional airplane nor a conventional launch vehicle but rather a combination of the two, with the goal of lowering launch costs by a factor of ten and replacing today’s frustratingly long wait time with launch on demand», said Jess Sponable, DARPA program manager. «We’re very pleased with Boeing’s progress on the XS-1 through Phase 1 of the program and look forward to continuing our close collaboration in this newly funded progression to Phases 2 and 3 – fabrication and flight».

The XS-1 program envisions a fully reusable unmanned vehicle, roughly the size of a business jet, which would take off vertically like a rocket and fly to hypersonic speeds. The vehicle would be launched with no external boosters, powered solely by self-contained cryogenic propellants. Upon reaching a high suborbital altitude, the booster would release an expendable upper stage able to deploy a 3,000-pound/1,360-kg satellite to polar orbit. The reusable first stage would then bank and return to Earth, landing horizontally like an aircraft, and be prepared for the next flight, potentially within hours.

In its pursuit of aircraft-like operability, reliability, and cost-efficiency, DARPA and Boeing are planning to conduct a flight test demonstration of XS-1 technology, flying 10 times in 10 days, with an additional final flight carrying the upper-stage payload delivery system. If successful, the program could help enable a commercial service in the future that could operate with recurring costs of as little as $5 million or less per launch, including the cost of an expendable upper stage, assuming a recurring flight rate of at least ten flights per year – a small fraction of the cost of launch systems the U.S. military currently uses for similarly sized payloads. (Note that goal is for actual cost, not commercial price, which would be determined in part by market forces.)

To achieve these goals, XS-1 designers plan to take advantage of technologies and support systems that have enhanced the reliability and fast turnaround of military aircraft. For example, easily accessible subsystem components configured as line replaceable units would be used wherever practical to enable quick maintenance and repairs.

The XS-1 Phase 2/3 design also intends to increase efficiencies by integrating numerous state-of-the-art technologies, including some previously developed by DARPA, NASA, and the U.S. Air Force. For example, the XS-1 technology demonstrator’s propulsion system is an Aerojet Rocketdyne AR-22 engine, a version of the legacy Space Shuttle main engine (SSME).

Once Phantom Express reaches the edge of space, it would deploy the second stage and return to Earth. It would then land on a runway to be prepared for its next flight by applying operation and maintenance principles similar to modern aircraft (Boeing rendering)
Once Phantom Express reaches the edge of space, it would deploy the second stage and return to Earth. It would then land on a runway to be prepared for its next flight by applying operation and maintenance principles similar to modern aircraft (Boeing rendering)

Other technologies in the XS-1 design include:

  • Advanced, lightweight composite cryogenic propellant tanks to hold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants;
  • Hybrid composite-metallic wings and control surfaces able to withstand the physical stresses of suborbital hypersonic flight and temperatures of more than 2,000º F/1,093º C;
  • Automated flight-termination and other technologies for autonomous flight and operations, including some developed by DARPA’s Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program.

XS-1 Phase 2 includes design, construction, and testing of the technology demonstration vehicle through 2019. It calls for initially firing the vehicle’s engine on the ground 10 times in 10 days to demonstrate propulsion readiness for flight tests.

Phase 3 objectives include 12 to 15 flight tests, currently scheduled for 2020. After multiple shakedown flights to reduce risk, the XS-1 would aim to fly 10 times over 10 consecutive days, at first without payloads and at speeds as fast as Mach 5/3,836 mph/6,174 km/h. Subsequent flights are planned to fly as fast as Mach 10, and deliver a demonstration payload between 900 pounds/408 kg and 3,000 pounds/1,360 kg into low Earth orbit.

Another goal of the program is to encourage the broader commercial launch sector to adopt useful XS-1 approaches, processes, and technologies that facilitate launch on demand and rapid turnaround – important military and commercial needs for the 21st century. Toward that goal, DARPA intends to release selected data from its Phase 2/3 tests and will provide to all interested commercial entities the relevant specs for potential payloads.

«We’re delighted to see this truly futuristic capability coming closer to reality», said Brad Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO), which oversees XS-1. «Demonstration of aircraft-like, on-demand, and routine access to space is important for meeting critical Defense Department needs and could help open the door to a range of next-generation commercial opportunities».

Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) Phase 2/3 Concept Video

Radar Upgrade

Boeing has completed a series of upgrades that substantially enhance the technological capabilities of Saudi Arabia’s E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft.

Boeing has supplied extensive radar upgrades for the Saudi Arabian Air Force fleet of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft (Boeing photo)
Boeing has supplied extensive radar upgrades for the Saudi Arabian Air Force fleet of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft (Boeing photo)

Among the enhancements to improve radar capabilities and reduce repair time for the airborne surveillance fleet are systems that increase the original equipment’s radar sensitivity and expand the range for tracking targets.

The upgrades, called the Radar System Improvement Program (RSIP), comprise a new radar computer, a radar control maintenance panel and electrical and mechanical software and hardware.

«The AWACS’s main mission is to provide real-time situation awareness, and our teams have stayed true to that mission», said Keith Burns, Saudi AWACS programs manager for Boeing. «The modernized software, multiple radar nodes and overall enhanced operation make this is the most significant upgrade to the AWACS radar since it was developed in the 1970s».

Boeing engineers and technicians performed the installation and checkout of the first upgraded aircraft at Boeing Field in Seattle. The remaining aircraft were modified at Alsalam Aerospace Industries in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with support of Boeing engineers, technicians and a test and evaluation team.

The RSIP kit is built by Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems and has been installed on United States, United Kingdom, NATO and French AWACS fleets.

Boeing delivered Saudi Arabia’s AWACS aircraft between June 1986 and September 1987.