Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin

First Two F-35A

The Air Force ushered in a new era of combat air power on September 2, as Hill Air Force Base received the service’s first two operational F-35As. Hill’s active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing will be the first combat-coded units to fly and maintain the Air Force’s newest fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

The first two operational F-35A Lightning II aircraft arrive at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, September 2, 2015. The jets were piloted by Colonel David Lyons, 388th Fighter Wing commander, and Lieutenant Colonel Yosef Morris, 34th Fighter Squadron director of operations. Hill will receive up to 70 additional combat-coded F-35s on a staggered basis through 2019. The jets will be flown and maintained by Hill Airmen assigned to the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and its Reserve component 419th Fighter Wing (U.S. Air Force photo/Alex R. Lloyd)
The first two operational F-35A Lightning II aircraft arrive at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, September 2, 2015. The jets were piloted by Colonel David Lyons, 388th Fighter Wing commander, and Lieutenant Colonel Yosef Morris, 34th Fighter Squadron director of operations. Hill will receive up to 70 additional combat-coded F-35s on a staggered basis through 2019. The jets will be flown and maintained by Hill Airmen assigned to the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and its Reserve component 419th Fighter Wing (U.S. Air Force photo/Alex R. Lloyd)

«Make no mistake, we’re built for this. We will deliver the combat capability that our nation so desperately needs to meet tomorrow’s threats», 388th Fighter Wing commander, Colonel David B. Lyons, told the crowd of Airmen and community members.

Lyons, who flew one of the F-35s to Hill from Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, highlighted the jets stealth ability, advanced technology, avionics and sensor fusion, which allow pilots the flexibility to operate in «contested environments» and strike «tough to reach» targets.

Hill has been called the «ideal home» for the F-35 because of its proximity to the Utah Test and Training Range and Hill’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex, which performs F-35 Lightning II depot maintenance and modifications. The integration of the active duty and reserve fighter wings provides increased flexibility and combat surge capability.

«This is a great day in the history of Hill Air Force Base. We have to have these aircraft to achieve air dominance in the future for the United States», said Colonel Bryan Radliff, 419th Fighter Wing commander. «We are extremely proud to be a part of this association».

Since the basing announcement in 2013, Hill has spent more than $120 million and completed numerous renovation and construction projects to prepare for F-35 operations.

«The reason we’re here today is because of our Airmen, civilians, contractors and outstanding community who stood behind us 100 percent», said Colonel Ron Jolly, 75th Air Base Wing commander. «We know the capabilities of this aircraft. We are on the cutting edge and we’re very proud to be a part of that cutting edge».

The 388th and 419th Fighter wings were also the first units in the Air Force to fly combat-coded F-16s when they entered the fleet. The wings will receive one to two F-35s per month until 72 aircraft have been delivered.

Airmen at Hill are eager to get their hands on the new jet said Lieutenant Colonel Darrin Dronoff, chief of the F-35 program integration office for the 388th FW. Both the 388th and 419th have trained F-35 pilots ready to begin flying the new jets, and there are more pilots and maintainers currently in training. The wings will take a week to familiarize themselves with the aircraft, receive parts and begin tracking the aircraft in a maintenance database.

«The plan is to start flying after Labor Day. We’ll start by flying twice a week, but that will slowly progress as we receive more aircraft and training progresses», said Dronoff. «While flying won’t start for a week, training for maintainers starts immediately – including the Airmen who will be towing the first aircraft from the ramp to the hangar», Dronoff said.

«Everyone touching the aircraft is a formally trained F-35 Airman – hand-selected crews from pilots to maintainers to back-shop people», said Dronoff. «But, we’re also training Airmen brand new to the F-35. We’re taking advantage of every training opportunity because this is the first time many of them have had their hands on an F-35».

An F-35A Lightning II aircraft passes under a water arch at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, September 2, 2015. The 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill were selected as the first Air Force units to fly combat-coded F-35s (U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw)
An F-35A Lightning II aircraft passes under a water arch at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, September 2, 2015. The 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill were selected as the first Air Force units to fly combat-coded F-35s (U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw)

 

Specifications

Length 51.4 feet/15.7 m
Height 14.4 feet/4.38 m
Wingspan 35 feet/10.7 m
Wing area 460 feet2/42.7 m2
Horizontal tail span 22.5 feet/6.86 m
Weight empty 29,300 lbs/13,290 kg
Internal fuel capacity 18,250 lbs/8,278 kg
Weapons payload 18,000 lbs/8,160 kg
Maximum weight 70,000 lbs class/31,751 kg
Standard internal weapons load Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles
Two 2,000-pound/907 kg GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs
Propulsion (uninstalled thrust ratings) F135-PW-100
Maximum Power (with afterburner) 43,000 lbs/191,3 kN/19,507 kgf
Military Power (without afterburner) 28,000 lbs/128,1 kN/13,063 kgf
Engine Length 220 in/5.59 m
Engine Inlet Diameter 46 in/1.17 m
Engine Maximum Diameter 51 in/1.30 m
Bypass Ratio 0.57
Overall Pressure Ratio 28
Speed (full internal weapons load) Mach 1.6 (~1,043 knots/1,200 mph/1,931 km/h)
Combat radius (internal fuel) >590 NM/679 miles/1,093 km
Range (internal fuel) >1,200 NM/1,367 miles/2,200 km
Maximum g-rating 9.0
Colonel David Lyons, 388th Fighter Wing commander, speaks to Airmen, civic leaders and media after delivering an operational F-35A Lightning II aircraft to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, September 2, 2015. Lyons, along with Lieutenant Colonel Yosef Morris, 34th Fighter Squadron director of operations, delivered the first two jets, known as AF-77 and AF-78, at approximately 1 p.m. MDT after a 90-minute flight from the F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas (U.S. Air Force photo/Ron Bradshaw)
Colonel David Lyons, 388th Fighter Wing commander, speaks to Airmen, civic leaders and media after delivering an operational F-35A Lightning II aircraft to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, September 2, 2015. Lyons, along with Lieutenant Colonel Yosef Morris, 34th Fighter Squadron director of operations, delivered the first two jets, known as AF-77 and AF-78, at approximately 1 p.m. MDT after a 90-minute flight from the F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas (U.S. Air Force photo/Ron Bradshaw)

Global coverage

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the fourth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite for the U.S. Navy launched from Space Launch Complex-41 at 6:18 a.m. EDT on September 2, 2015. The MUOS-4 spacecraft will bring advanced, new, global communications capabilities to mobile military forces, as well as ensure continued mission capability of the existing Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satellite communications system. This is ULA’s eighth launch in 2015, the second MUOS satellite launched in 2015 and ULA’s 99th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

An Atlas V rocket with the Navy’s fourth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-4)
An Atlas V rocket with the Navy’s fourth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-4)

«The ULA team is proud to support the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force by delivering this critical communications asset to orbit today», said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. «Today’s successful launch will enable the MUOS constellation to reach global coverage. The Lockheed Martin-built MUOS-4 satellite will deliver voice, data, and video communications capability, similar to a cellular network, to our troops all over the globe».

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 551 configuration vehicle, which includes a 5-meter diameter payload fairing along with five Aerojet Rocketdyne solid rocket motors attached to the Atlas booster. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.

The U.S. Navy’s MUOS is a next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system designed using a combination of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations to significantly improve communications for U.S. forces on the move. MUOS will provide new beyond-line-of-sight communications capabilities, with smartphone-like simultaneous voice, video and data – to connect military users almost anywhere around the globe.

ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V Morelos-3, communications satellite for Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services and Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes, a government agency of Mexico, scheduled for October 2 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 95 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

An Atlas V rocket carrying the MUOS-4 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41
An Atlas V rocket carrying the MUOS-4 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41

LRASM Integration

The U.S. Navy began initial integration testing of its Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) onto the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet on August 12 at Patuxent River’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 facility. The program’s flight test team conducted missile load and fit checks using a mass simulator vehicle, designed to emulate LRASM, in preparation for the first phase of airworthiness testing with the F/A-18 E/F scheduled to begin later this month.

Initial fit checks are conducted on the LRASM on August 12 at NAS Patuxent River's Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 facility in preparation for the first phase of airworthiness testing with the F/A-18 E/F (U.S. Navy photo)
Initial fit checks are conducted on the LRASM on August 12 at NAS Patuxent River’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 facility in preparation for the first phase of airworthiness testing with the F/A-18 E/F (U.S. Navy photo)

«These initial fit checks will familiarize the test team with the proper loading, unloading and handling of the LRASM on the F/A-18E/F», said Greg Oliver, LRASM Deployment Office (LDO) assistant program manager for test and evaluation. «This testing will check clearances between the missile and the aircraft to ensure there are no negative impacts when carrying LRASM». Integration efforts and flight-testing will continue over the next few years at both Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake to clear LRASM for flight operations on the aircraft.

«This is an exciting time for the Navy», said Captain Jaime Engdahl, the U.S. Navy’s Precision Strike Weapons program manager. «This missile will help us pace the growing maritime threat and provide the warfighter with an urgently needed capability to engage surface combatants at extended ranges». When operational, LRASM will provide flexible, long-range, advanced, anti-surface capability against high threat maritime targets.

LRASM is set to be fielded on the B-1B Bomber in 2018 and the F/A-18 E/F in 2019.

The program's flight test team is conducting initial testing to ensure proper loading, unloading and handling of the LRASM on the F/A-18 E/F (U.S. Navy photo)
The program’s flight test team is conducting initial testing to ensure proper loading, unloading and handling of the LRASM on the F/A-18 E/F (U.S. Navy photo)

Full Capacity

An F-35A fired 181 rounds from its four-barrel, 25-mm Gatling gun during a ground test at Edwards Air Force Base, California, earlier this month. The gun is embedded in the F-35A’s left wing and will provide pilots with the ability to strafe air-to-ground or air-to-air targets.

F-35A Fires 25mm Gun at Full Capacity
F-35A Fires 25mm Gun at Full Capacity

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Integrated Test Force aims to complete ground testing this month and start airborne gun testing in the fall. At the end of the program’s system development and demonstration phase in 2017, the F-35A will have an operational gun.

The first phase of F-35A gun testing started June 9, when initial shots were fired from the ground at the base’s gun harmonizing range. Over the next few months, the amount of munitions fired gradually increased until the 181 rounds were fired August 14. To conduct the testing, an F-35A flight sciences aircraft, AF-2, underwent instrumentation modifications and used a production version of the GAU-22/A gun. The ground tests were designed using software to replicate being in flight and the aircraft used a target practice round, PGU-23/U, which does not explode on impact.

In integrating a weapon into the stealthy F-35A aircraft, the gun must be kept hidden behind closed doors, reducing its radar cross section, until the trigger is engaged. The tests certify the gun’s ability to spin up and down correctly. The GAU-22/A system will be further tested with a line production F-35A next year for integration with the jet’s full avionics and mission systems capabilities. Test pilots will then observe qualitative effects, such as muzzle flash, human factors, and flying qualities. The F-35A test team will also monitor the GAU-22/A’s performance and ensure all systems work as designed, validating that the aircraft can withstand the loads of a firing the gun, mitigating potential effects including vibrations, acoustics and airflow.

 

The video clip shows the 181-round gun burst of the gun embedded in the F-35A’s left wing root. The gun will provide operational F-35A pilots an ability to engage air-to-ground or air-to-air weapon targets using its strafing capability in addition to its beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles and precision-guided air-to-ground weapons

 

MUOS-4 Encapsulated

The fourth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite built by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Navy was encapsulated in its protective launch vehicle fairing August 10. It is scheduled to launch August 31 aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.

MUOS-4, the next satellite scheduled to join the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System secure communications network, has been encapsulated in its protective launch vehicle fairing for its August 31 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (photos courtesy of United Launch Alliance)
MUOS-4, the next satellite scheduled to join the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System secure communications network, has been encapsulated in its protective launch vehicle fairing for its August 31 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (photos courtesy of United Launch Alliance)

MUOS-4 is the latest addition to a network of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations that is revolutionizing secure communications for mobile military forces. Users with operational MUOS terminals can seamlessly connect beyond line-of-sight around the globe and into the Global Information Grid. MUOS’ new smart phone-like capabilities include simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data, over a high-speed Internet Protocol-based system.

«Delivery of this fourth satellite for the U.S. Navy completes the initial MUOS constellation and provides near-global coverage for the network», said Iris Bombelyn, vice president of Narrowband Communications at Lockheed Martin. «For our mobile forces, that means for the first time they will be able to have secure, high-fidelity voice conversations, networked team calls and data exchange, including video, with anyone around the world connected with a MUOS terminal».

MUOS, which also supports the legacy ultra-high frequency communications satellite system, will provide comparatively 16 times the capacity of the legacy system and eventually replace it. The MUOS-1, MUOS-2 and MUOS-3 satellites launched respectively in 2012, 2013 and January 2015. All four required MUOS ground stations are complete. MUOS-5, an on-orbit Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) spare with additional legacy system capability, is expected to launch in 2016.

More than 55,000 currently fielded radio terminals can be upgraded to be MUOS-compatible, with many of them requiring just a software upgrade.

Lockheed Martin manufactured MUOS-4 at the prime contractor’s Sunnyvale, California facility. Earlier this summer, the satellite shipped to the Cape, where it was pre-launch processed and finally encapsulated at Astrotech Space Operations, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. The Navy’s Program Executive Office for Space Systems and its Communications Satellite Program Office, San Diego, California, are responsible for the MUOS program.

MUOS-4 will complete near-global coverage for U.S. Navy’s new military smart phone-like network (photos courtesy of United Launch Alliance)
MUOS-4 will complete near-global coverage for U.S. Navy’s new military smart phone-like network (photos courtesy of United Launch Alliance)

Gen III Helmet

Senator Joni Ernst, Lockheed Martin and Rockwell Collins executives commemorated the delivery of the first Gen III F-35 Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) on August 11. In addition to the HMDS, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II demonstrator was on site at the Cedar Rapids headquarters of Rockwell Collins for Senator Ernst to get a first-hand experience of «flying» the military’s most advanced fighter jet following the delivery ceremony.

The F-35 Gen III HMDS offers a fully integrated day and night solution through advanced, next-generation features
The F-35 Gen III HMDS offers a fully integrated day and night solution through advanced, next-generation features

Rockwell Collins, through its joint venture, Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems LLC, is providing the most advanced technology for warfighters with the F-35 HMDS, which provides pilots with unprecedented levels of situational awareness and allows them to «look through» the airframe.

«Today’s visit was an opportunity to place focus on Rockwell Collins, as manufacturing makes up such an important part of our economy here in Iowa», said Senator Ernst. «Having served in the military for over 20 years, I appreciate the company’s efforts in support of our national defense, our armed forces and our veterans».

«We’re pleased to be able to demonstrate the advanced capabilities of the F-35 Lightning II at Rockwell Collins today to Senator Ernst and members of the Cedar Rapids community», said Steve Callaghan, director, F-35 Lightning II Program, Lockheed Martin Washington Operations. «The employees at Rockwell Collins are contributing to the F-35s flying today, and we’re pleased to have the opportunity to showcase the superior performance capabilities of this aircraft with them».

The Gen III helmet, which includes an improved night vision camera, improved liquid-crystal displays, automated alignment and software improvements is to be introduced to the fleet in Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 7 in 2016. Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems LLC also developed the Gen 2 helmet that F-35 pilots currently use, which met the needs for the U.S. Marine Corps and will allow the service to declare Initial Operational Capability (IOC).

All the information that pilots need to complete their missions – through all weather, day or night – is projected on the helmet’s visor. Additionally, the F-35’s Distributed Aperture System (DAS), made by Northrop Grumman, streams real-time imagery from six infrared cameras mounted around the aircraft to the helmet, allowing pilots to «look through» the airframe.

Overall, Rockwell Collins has built and fit more than 200 helmets for F-35 pilots who are being trained for the program.

For night missions, the HMDS projects the night vision scene directly onto the visor, eliminating the need for separate night-vision goggles
For night missions, the HMDS projects the night vision scene directly onto the visor, eliminating the need for separate night-vision goggles

 

Helmet Mounted Display System

Pilots flying missions in the F-35 Lightning II and other multi-role tactical aircraft now can have unmatched visual capability. The F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display System provides a next-generation user interface that integrates the F-35 pilot more tightly than ever into the aircraft’s avionics, with more than 10,000 flight hours of operational use.

The system gives F-35 pilots unsurpassed situational awareness by displaying critical flight information and sensor video throughout the entire mission. The HMDS serves as the virtual head-up display, enabling the F-35 to become the first tactical fighter in 50 years without a traditional head-up display.

By fully integrating three advanced technologies – head-up display, helmet-mounted display and visor-projected night vision – the F-35 Gen III HMDS provides revolutionary capability to the fighter cockpit.

F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display System
F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display System

 

Key benefits

  • Provides enhanced situational awareness
  • Integrated, virtual head-up display on the helmet visor for critical flight and mission information with a smooth transition to HMD symbology
  • Night vision capability built into the helmet
  • Lightweight helmet with optimal center of gravity for maximum comfort and reduced pilot fatigue
  • Provides weapons targeting by looking at and designating targets, and target verification when receiving steering cues from onboard sensors or via datalink
The F-35 Gen III HMDS is provided by Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems, LLC, a joint venture between Elbit Systems Ltd. of Israel, through its U.S. subsidiary Elbit Systems of America, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Rockwell Collins
The F-35 Gen III HMDS is provided by Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems, LLC, a joint venture between Elbit Systems Ltd. of Israel, through its U.S. subsidiary Elbit Systems of America, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Rockwell Collins

 

Key features

  • Binocular, 30-by-40-degree wide-field-of-view with 100 percent overlap
  • Virtual head-up display
  • Look-through-aircraft capability via Distributed Aperture System imagery
  • High accuracy tracking with auto-boresighting
  • Active Noise Reduction (ANR)
  • Digital night vision sensor
  • Ejection capability to 550 KEAS
  • Lightweight and well-balanced helmet
  • Custom helmet liner for precise fit and comfort
  • Multiple Interpupillary Distance (IPD) settings
  • Video recording
  • Picture in picture
  • Compatible with eyeglasses and Laser Eye Protection (LEP) devices
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)

Sniper Pod

Lockheed Martin received a direct commercial sale contract through Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to integrate the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) onto the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF) F-2 aircraft.

Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (Photo by Lockheed Martin)
Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

This initial contract, awarded in 2014, includes a Sniper pod, spares and support equipment for integration. The F-2 is the eighth aircraft platform to be equipped with Sniper ATP, joining variants of the F-15, F-16, F-18, A-10, B-1, B-52 and Harrier.

«Sniper ATP’s proven performance and low life cycle cost will provide necessary support to the JASDF mission», said Marc Nazon, Sniper international program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. «Integrating Sniper ATP on the F-2 aircraft also enables increased collaboration in U.S. Air Force and JASDF joint combat operations».

Lockheed Martin will work with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the prime aircraft manufacturer, to complete Sniper ATP integration on the F-2. Follow-on contracts are expected to include additional pods, spares, logistics and support equipment for the F-2 fleet.

Sniper ATP offers pilots high-resolution imagery for precision targeting and non-traditional Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions. Sniper ATP detects, identifies, automatically tracks and laser designates small tactical targets at long ranges and supports employment of all laser- and GPS-guided weapons against multiple fixed and moving targets.

Sniper, pictured here on a CF-18, has been selected by 16 international air forces (Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)
Sniper, pictured here on a CF-18, has been selected by 16 international air forces (Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)

 

Features

  • 1K high-definition, mid-wave targeting forward-looking infrared
  • 1K high-definition television
  • Solid-state digital data recorder enabling cockpit playback and nontraditional Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
  • Precision long-range geo-coordinate generation
  • Laser lead guidance supporting precise delivery of traditional laser-guided weapons on moving targets
  • Passive detection, tracking and ranging for air-to-air and air-to-ground targets
  • Two-way datalink with full-motion video and meta data
  • Combat-proven moving target tracker algorithms enabling automatic reacquisition up to 10 seconds of obscuration
  • Diode-pumped laser with cockpit selectable tactical and eye-safe wavelengths
  • Laser spot tracker for acquiring laser designations for air and ground sources
  • Laser marker illumination for night vision goggles and target coordination
  • User-selectable collateral damage circle display to estimate weapon damage area
  • Two-level maintenance with automatic optical boresight alignment
  • Optimized line replaceable unit partition enabling two-level maintenance, streamlined sustainment and minimal life cycle costs
  • Global Scope advanced sensor software suite for video and metadata playback, advanced scene visualization and point of interest planning
Sniper’s superior range and rock-steady stabilization enables pilots to complete missions safely with unequaled accuracy (Photo by Lockheed Martin)
Sniper’s superior range and rock-steady stabilization enables pilots to complete missions safely with unequaled accuracy (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

 

Specifications

Field of Regard
Pitch +5 deg; -155 deg
Roll Continuous
Diameter 11.9 inch/30.5 cm
Length 98.2 inch/2.52 m
Pod Only Weight 446 lbs/202 kg
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) >600 hrs
Sniper’s system capability is increasing and rapidly expanding to other U.S. Air Force and international aircraft (Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force by Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes)
Sniper’s system capability is increasing and rapidly expanding to other U.S. Air Force and international aircraft (Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force by Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes)

 

The Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod is the targeting system of record for the U.S. Air Force

 

Six weeks ahead

Lockheed Martin delivered another C-5M Super Galaxy to the U. S. Air Force on August 5. A Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) aircrew ferried the aircraft from the Lockheed Martin facility here to Travis Air Force Base, in Fairfield, California, where it will be permanently based. It will be the 12th Super Galaxy assigned to Travis.

The latest Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy takes off on its delivery flight on August 5, 2015 (Lockheed Martin photo by Damien Guarnieri)
The latest Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy takes off on its delivery flight on August 5, 2015 (Lockheed Martin photo by Damien Guarnieri)

The Lockheed Martin aircraft (U. S. Air Force serial number 86-0026) as originally delivered to the U.S. Air Force in June 1988 and has recorded approximately 20,230 flight hours over its career. This C-5M Super Galaxy was delivered more than six weeks ahead of the contract commitment delivery date.

 

C-5M Super Galaxy

The C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft is a game changer to the warfighter and America’s premier global direct delivery weapons system. It is also the Air Force’s only true strategic airlifter. While setting 86 world records in airlift, the C-5M Super Galaxy established new benchmarks in carrying more cargo faster and farther than any other airlifter.

Two M-1 Abrams tanks loaded into the cargo area of the C-5M Super Galaxy (U.S. Air Force photo by Lieutenant Colonel Chad Gibson)
Two M-1 Abrams tanks loaded into the cargo area of the C-5M Super Galaxy (U.S. Air Force photo by Lieutenant Colonel Chad Gibson)

A venerable workhorse, the recognized improvements in performance, efficiency and safety it provides validate the tremendous value to the taxpayer in modernizing proven and viable aircraft. As the only strategic airlifter with the capability of carrying 100 percent of certified air-transportable cargo, the C-5M Super Galaxy can carry twice the cargo of other strategic airlift systems. The C-5M Super Galaxy also has a dedicated passenger compartment, carrying troops and their supplies straight to the theater. It can be loaded from the front and back simultaneously, and vehicles can also be driven directly on or off the Galaxy. This means the C-5M Super Galaxy can be loaded quickly and efficiently.

The C-5M Super Galaxy has been a vital element of strategic airlift in every major contingency and humanitarian relief effort since it entered service. The C-5M Super Galaxy is the only strategic airlifter capable of linking America directly to the warfighter in all theatres of combat with mission capable rates excess of 80 percent. With more than half of its useful structural life remaining, the C-5M Super Galaxy will be a force multiplier through 2040 and beyond.

C-5M Super Galaxy Specifications
C-5M Super Galaxy Specifications

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Outsize cargo transport
Prime Contractor Lockheed-Georgia Co.
Crew Seven: pilot, co-pilot, 2 flight engineers and 3 loadmasters
Length 247.8 feet/75.53 m
Height 65.1 feet/19.84 m
Wingspan 222.8 feet/67.91 m
Power Plant 4 × General Electric CF6-80C2 turbofans
Thrust 50,580 lbs/22,942.7 kgf/225 kN
Normal cruise speed Mach 0.77/518 mph/834 km/h
Unrefueled Range with 120,000 lbs/54,431 kg 5,250 NM/9,723 km
Maximum Take-Off Weight (2.2 g) 840,000 lbs/381,018 kg
Operating weight 400,000 lbs/181,437 kg
Fuel capacity 332,500 lbs/150,819 kg
Maximum payload (2.0 g) 285,000 lbs/129,274 kg
Cargo Compartment
Length 143.7 feet/43.8 m
Width 19 feet/5.79 m
Height 13.48 feet/4.11 m
Pallet Positions 36
Unit Cost $90 million (fiscal 2009 constant dollars)
Deployed 2009
Inventory
16 C-5Ms have been delivered through December 2013
52 C-5Ms are scheduled to be in the inventory by fiscal 2017
The C-5M flies during its First Flight ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia plant
The C-5M flies during its First Flight ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia plant

 

Current and future C-5M Wings include:

  • 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB;
  • 349th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB;
  • 436th Airlift Wing, Dover AFB;
  • 439th Airlift Wing, Westover AFB;
  • 512th Airlift Wing, Dover AFB.

 

C-5M Strategic Airlift Redefined

 

Lightning is ready

The Marine Corps declared on July 31 that a squadron of 10 F-35B Lightning II aircraft is ready for worldwide deployment. The Marines’ declaration of Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for its squadron of F-35Bs «marks a significant milestone in the continued evolution of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program», Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall said in a statement issued on July 31.

An F-35B Lightning II prepares to taxi on the flight deck of the USS Wasp during night operations at sea as part of a Marine Corps operational test, May, 22, 2015 (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Anne K. Henry)
An F-35B Lightning II prepares to taxi on the flight deck of the USS Wasp during night operations at sea as part of a Marine Corps operational test, May, 22, 2015 (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Anne K. Henry)

«The decision was made following a thorough operational readiness inspection, which assessed the U.S. Marine Corps’ ability to employ this complex weapon system in an operational environment», Kendall continued. «This achievement is a testament to the efforts of the F-35 Joint Program Office and industry team, as well as the hard work and support from the U.S. Marine Corps».

 

The F-35 Program is on Track

«This accomplishment is an affirmation that the F-35 program is on track to deliver essential 5th generation warfighting capabilities to our U.S. services and international partners», Kendall added. «It is also a reminder that we still have work ahead to deliver the full warfighting capability required by all three services and our partners while we continue our successful efforts to drive cost out of the program».

Two F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters complete vertical landings aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1) during the opening day of the first session of operational testing, May 18, 2015 (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Remington Hall/Released)
Two F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters complete vertical landings aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1) during the opening day of the first session of operational testing, May 18, 2015 (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Remington Hall/Released)

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, or VMFA-121, based in Yuma, Arizona, is the first squadron in military history to become operational with an F-35 variant, following a five-day operational readiness inspection, which concluded July 17, according to a news release issued on July 31 by the U.S. Marine Corps.

«I am pleased to announce that VMFA-121 has achieved Initial Operational Capability in the F-35B, as defined by requirements outlined in the June 2014 Joint Report to Congressional Defense Committees», Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., commandant of the Marine Corps, said in the U.S. Marine Corps release.

«VMFA-121 has ten aircraft in the Block 2B configuration with the requisite performance envelope and weapons clearances, to include the training, sustainment capabilities, and infrastructure to deploy to an austere site or a ship», Dunford continued. «It is capable of conducting close air support, offensive and defensive counter air, air interdiction, assault support escort and armed reconnaissance as part of a Marine air-ground task force, or in support of the joint force».

Dunford stated that he has his full confidence in the F-35B’s ability to support Marines in combat, predicated on years of concurrent developmental testing and operational flying.

«Prior to declaring Initial Operating Capability, we have conducted flight operations for seven weeks at sea aboard an L-Class carrier, participated in multiple large force exercises, and executed a recent operational evaluation which included multiple live ordnance sorties», Dunford said. «The F-35B’s ability to conduct operations from expeditionary airstrips or sea-based carriers provides our nation with its first 5th generation strike fighter, which will transform the way we fight and win».

F135-PW-600 engine for F-35B Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL)
F135-PW-600 engine for F-35B Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL)

 

F-35 Will Eventually Replace Legacy Aircraft

As the future of Marine Corps tactical aviation, the F-35 will eventually replace three legacy platforms: the AV-8B Harrier, the F/A-18 Hornet, and the EA-6B Prowler, according to the Marine Corps release.

«The success of VMFA-121 is a reflection of the hard work and effort by the Marines in the squadron, those involved in the program over many years, and the support we have received from across the Department of the Navy, the joint program office, our industry partners, and the undersecretary of defense», Dunford added. «Achieving Initial Operating Capability has truly been a team effort».

The Marine Corps has trained and qualified more than 50 Marine F-35B pilots and certified about 500 maintenance personnel to assume autonomous, organic-level maintenance support for the F-35B, the release said.

Marine Attack Squadron 211, an AV-8B Harrier II squadron, is scheduled to transition next to the F-35B in fiscal year 2016, according to the release. In 2018, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122, an F/A-18 Hornet squadron, will conduct its transition.

Arrival (Vertical landing) on USS Wasp for DT-II. Mr. Peter Wilson was the pilot on 12 August 2013
Arrival (Vertical landing) on USS Wasp for DT-II. Mr. Peter Wilson was the pilot on 12 August 2013

 

Specifications

Length 51.2 feet/15.6 m
Height 14.3 feet/4.36 m
Wingspan 35 feet/10.7 m
Wing area 460 feet2/42.7 m2
Horizontal tail span 21.8 feet/6.65 m
Weight empty 32,300 lbs/14,651 kg
Internal fuel capacity 13,500 lbs/6,125 kg
Weapons payload 15,000 lbs/6,800 kg
Maximum weight 60,000 lbs class/27,215 kg
Standard internal weapons load Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles
Two 2,000-pound/907 kg GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs
Propulsion (uninstalled thrust ratings) F135-PW-600
Maximum Power (with afterburner) 41,000 lbs/182,4 kN/18,597 kgf
Military Power (without afterburner) 27,000 lbs/120,1 kN/12,247 kgf
Short Take Off Thrust 40,740 lbs/181,2 kN/18,479 kgf
Hover Thrust 40,650 lbs/180,8 kN/18,438 kgf
Main Engine 18,680 lbs/83,1 kN/8,473 kgf
Lift Fan 18,680 lbs/83,1 kN/8,473 kgf
Roll Post 3,290 lbs/14,6 kN/1,492 kgf
Main Engine Length 369 inch/9.37 m
Main Engine Inlet Diameter 43 inch/1.09 m
Main Engine Maximum Diameter 46 inch/1.17 m
Lift Fan Inlet Diameter 51 inch/1,30 m
Lift Fan Maximum Diameter 53 inch/1,34 m
Conventional Bypass Ratio 0.57
Powered Lift Bypass Ratio 0.51
Conventional Overall Pressure Ratio 28
Powered Lift Overall Pressure Ratio 29
Speed (full internal weapons load) Mach 1.6 (~1,043 knots/1,200 mph/ 1,931 km/h)
Combat radius (internal fuel) >450 NM/517.6 miles/833 km
Range (internal fuel) >900 NM/1,036 miles/1,667 km
Max g-rating 7.0
Planned Quantities
U.S. Marine Corps 340
U.K. Royal Air Force/Royal Navy 138
Italy 30
In total 508
An F-35B test jet takes off from the USS Wasp on Aug. 21, 2013. The takeoff was part of Developmental Test Phase Two for the F-35 short takeoff/vertical landing variant
An F-35B test jet takes off from the USS Wasp on Aug. 21, 2013. The takeoff was part of Developmental Test Phase Two for the F-35 short takeoff/vertical landing variant

The first Ghostrider

The first AC-130J Ghostrider landed at Hurlburt Field, Florida July 29, making it Air Force Special Operations Command’s (AFSOC’s) first AC-130J. After completing the initial developmental test and evaluation by the 413th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Florida, the aircraft will be flown by the 1st Special Operations Group (SOG) Detachment 2 and maintained by the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (SOAMXS) during its initial operational tests and evaluations at Hurlburt Field.

A crowd gathers to view the inside of the Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider at Hurlburt Field, Florida, July 29, 2015. The aircrews of the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 were hand selected from the AC-130 community for their operational expertise and will begin initial operational testing and evaluation of the AC-130J later this year (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kai White/Released)
A crowd gathers to view the inside of the Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider at Hurlburt Field, Florida, July 29, 2015. The aircrews of the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 were hand selected from the AC-130 community for their operational expertise and will begin initial operational testing and evaluation of the AC-130J later this year (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kai White/Released)

«Putting it through these tests will allow us to wring out the AC-130J in a simulated combat environment, instead of the more rigid flight profiles in formal developmental testing», said Lieutenant Colonel Brett DeAngelis, the 1st SOG Detachment 2 commander. «Now that we know the equipment works when we turn it on, it’s our task to determine the best way to employ our newest asset».

«The AC-130J brings new technology to the table for AFSOC with more efficient engines, improved fuel efficiency and the ability to fly higher, further and quieter», said Master Sergeant Michael Ezell, the 1st SOAMXS production superintendent. «Additionally, the modified weapons system it possesses is a precision strike package that was collected from the older models, such as the laser-guided bombs and AGM-176 Griffin bombs, and combined to give us all the capabilities of the AC-130W Stinger II and AC-130U Spooky all in one package».

The AC-130J is a modified MC-130J Commando II, containing advanced features that will enable it to provide ground forces with an expeditionary, direct-fire platform that is persistent, suited for urban operations and capable of delivering precision munitions against ground targets.

«This is an exciting transition as we move the AC-130J from the test community to the operational community», DeAngelis said. «While we still have initial operational testing in front of us to accomplish, it will now be done by aircrews selected for their combat expertise, instead of their testing background».

A cadre of 60 aircrew and maintainers were selected by the Air Force Personnel Center to stand up the program, and there will be an additional 30 contractors to help work on the new gunship. «We will be training on the airplane, getting all the qualifications and hands-on experience we need to be able to perform operational testing in order to give an exact picture of how this plane will operate in a real-world environment», Ezell said. «Our focus right now is to learn how to maintain the aircraft and the operators will learn how to fly it and get ready for (initial operational test and evaluation), which should start later this year».

Airmen were hand selected to work on the new AC-130J; they encompass a solid background and level of expertise on C-130Js. The maintenance team cadre came from Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, Dyess AFB, Texas, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, and Cannon AFB, New Mexico.

«As more AC-130Js are produced and delivered, the older models will slowly be retired», DeAngelis said. «Until then, we’ll hold on to them while the AC-130J completes operational tests and the fleet becomes abundant in numbers».

Operational testing is expected to be complete in spring 2016.

«Detachment 2’s mission is simple; ‘Get it right,’» DeAngelis said. «And we have the right group of people to do just that».

Master Sergeant James Knight right, an 18th Flight Test Squadron aerial gunner, instructs Staff Sergeant Rob Turner, left, a 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 aerial gunner, on new changes regarding preflight inspections in an AC-130J Ghostrider on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, July 29, 2015 (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)
Master Sergeant James Knight right, an 18th Flight Test Squadron aerial gunner, instructs Staff Sergeant Rob Turner, left, a 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 aerial gunner, on new changes regarding preflight inspections in an AC-130J Ghostrider on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, July 29, 2015 (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

 

AC-130J Ghostrider

 

Mission

The AC-130J Ghostrider’s primary missions are close air support and air interdiction. Close air support missions include troops in contact, convoy escort and point air defense. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity and include strike coordination and reconnaissance. The AC-130J will provide ground forces an expeditionary, direct-fire platform that is persistent, ideally suited for urban operations and delivers precision low-yield munitions against ground targets.

 

Features

The AC-130J is a highly modified C-130J aircraft that contains many advanced features. It contains an advanced two-pilot flight station with fully integrated digital avionics. The aircraft is capable of extremely accurate navigation due to the fully integrated navigation systems with dual inertial navigation systems and Global Positioning System. Aircraft defensive systems and color weather radar are integrated as well. The aircraft is capable of Air Refueling with the Universal Air Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI) system. To handle power requirements imposed by the advanced avionics and aircraft systems, the AC-130J is equipped with 60/90 kilo volt amp generators that provide increased DC electrical output. In anticipation of IR countermeasure installation, it is provisioned for Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) installation.

Additionally, the AC-130J is modified with a precision strike package, which includes a mission management console, robust communications suite, two electro-optical/infrared sensors, advanced fire control equipment, precision guided munitions delivery capability as well as trainable 30-mm and 105-mm weapons. The mission management system will fuse sensor, communication, environment, order of battle and threat information into a common operating picture.

 

Background

The AC-130J is the fourth generation gunship replacing the aging SOF fleet of 37 AC-130H/U/W gunships. AC-130 gunships have an extensive combat history dating to back to Vietnam where gunships destroyed more than 10,000 trucks and were credited with many life-saving close air support missions. Over the past four decades, AC-130s have deployed constantly to hotspots throughout the world in support of special operations and conventional forces. In South America, Africa, Europe and throughout the Middle East, gunships have significantly contributed to mission success.

The first AC-130J aircraft is scheduled to begin developmental test and evaluation in January 2014. The first squadron will be located at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, while other locations are to be determined. Initial operational capacity is expected in fiscal 2017 and the last delivery is scheduled for fiscal 2021. The aircraft was officially named Ghostrider in May 2012.

Major Jason Fox, a 18th Flight Test Squadron pilot, delivers the Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider to the 1st Special Operations Wing on Hurlburt Field, Florida, July 29, 2015 (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)
Major Jason Fox, a 18th Flight Test Squadron pilot, delivers the Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider to the 1st Special Operations Wing on Hurlburt Field, Florida, July 29, 2015 (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Close air support and air interdiction with associated collateral missions
Builder Lockheed Martin
Power Plant 4 × Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 Turboprops
Thrust 4 × 4,591 shaft horsepower
Wingspan 132 feet 7 inch/39.7 m
Length 97 feet 9 inch/29.3 m
Height 38 feet 10 inch/11.9 m
Speed 362 knots/416.6 mph/670.4 km/h at 22,000 feet/6,705.6 m
Ceiling 28,000 feet/8,534.4 m with 42,000 lbs/19,051 kg payload
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 164,000 lbs/74,389 kg
Range 2,607 NM/3,000 miles/4,828 km
Crew Two pilots
Two combat systems officers
Three enlisted gunners
ARMAMENT
Precision Strike Package (PSP) 30-mm GAU-23/A cannon
105-mm cannon
SOPGM (Standoff Precision Guided Munitions) GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb
AGM-176 Griffin missile
Unit Cost $109 million (fiscal 2010 dollars)
Inventory Active force, 32 by fiscal 2021
AFSOC flight crew inspects the armament of the first AC-130J Ghostrider gunship to arrive at Hurlburt Field in Florida. The air force expects to field 32 such aircraft once deliveries are complete (Source: US Air Force)
AFSOC flight crew inspects the armament of the first AC-130J Ghostrider gunship to arrive at Hurlburt Field in Florida. The air force expects to field 32 such aircraft once deliveries are complete (Source: US Air Force)