Category Archives: Air

Airborne Early Warning

Saab has presented the first Saab 340 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft to the customer during a ceremony in Linköping. The event took place in Linköping on 29 September, just two months after Poland placed an order for two AEW aircraft.

Saab 340 AEW
Saab unveils first airborne surveillance system for Poland

Guests from Sweden and Poland attended the event, which marked a milestone towards the rapidly proceeding delivery to Poland of the Saab 340 AEW equipped with the Erieye radar. The solution will provide Poland’s Armed Forces with a national asset to reinforce territorial integrity and national security.

The fast pace is a result of the efficient collaboration between Saab and the Polish Armed Forces and the fact that Saab has an ongoing production line for airborne early warning solutions. This includes dedicated personnel and in-house expertise to perform all kinds of tests and evaluations for the necessary approval of the systems.

“We are honoured to provide this important capability to Poland and proud to be quickly progressing towards the delivery of this airborne early warning system to the Polish Armed Forces,” says Carl-Johan Bergholm, head of Saab’s business area Surveillance.

Saab 340 AEW, together with associated ground equipment, provides a detailed situational picture that can be used for military and civilian tasks including air surveillance and rescue operations.

Different configurations of Saab’s Erieye Airborne Early Warning/Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW/AEW&C) system have been sold to nine countries, making it one of the most widely used airborne surveillance systems in the world.

AI-enabled air vehicle

The Air Force demonstrated Artificial Intelligence-enabled (AI-enabled) air combat during a successful launch of an XQ-58A Valkyrie at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, August 22.

XQ-58 Valkyrie
A XQ-58 Valkyrie launches for a test mission August 22 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The mission successfully tested components that greatly reduce the risk of large scale crewed and uncrewed autonomous systems (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lieutenant Rebecca Abordo)

This flight helps develop a trained tactical autonomy algorithm from simulation through flight test on a high-performance, uncrewed air vehicle.

AI algorithms, developed and trained by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL’s) Autonomous Air Combat Operations were integrated into an XQ-58A and flown in the Eglin Gulf Test & Training Range.

Trained through deep reinforcement learning, the AI algorithms used neural networks to fly the live air vehicle against simulated opponents using simulated mission systems and simulated weapons.

«AI testing requires combining new and traditional test and evaluation techniques. The team has a lot of lessons learned that will be used to inform future programs», said Ryan Bowers, lead test engineer for the effort.

The flight test, executed by the 40th Flight Test Squadron and supported by AFRL and Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems, was a continuation of the successful July 25 test flight. The previous flight demonstrated an AI-enabled, high-performance, uncrewed air vehicle for the Department of Defense (DoD) and demonstrated standard aviation tasks, navigation tasks, and safety guardrails for risk mitigation and safety build-up.

«The opportunity to fly alongside this trained AI-piloted air vehicle really set into stone this technology is very real and here to stay», stated Captain Tyler Brown, lead test aircrew. «I feel we are at an inflection point of an exponential curve for the application of AI. It is imperative we understand the power of AI, its strengths and weaknesses, and that it is implemented in the right way».

The DoD is committed to the responsible employment of AI. To achieve responsible use of AI requires teaming of developers and users of AI-enabled autonomy working in collaboration with acquisition specialists.

«AI will be a critical element to future warfighting and the speed at which we’re going to have to understand the operational picture and make decisions», said Brigadier General Scott Cain, AFRL commander. «AI, autonomous operations, and human-machine teaming continue to evolve at an unprecedented rate, and we need the coordinated efforts of our government, academia, and industry partners to keep pace».

Australian Triton

Northrop Grumman Corporation will produce an additional MQ-4C Triton multi-intelligence uncrewed aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) following the Australian government’s decision to provide funding. The contract award will bring the total fleet size in Australia to four aircraft. Additionally, Northrop Grumman Australia has been selected by the Australian government to maintain the Triton fleet from two locations: RAAF Edinburgh, South Australia, and RAAF Tindal, Northern Territory.

MQ-4C Triton
Australia’s first multi-intelligence MQ-4C Triton at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale Aircraft Integration Center in California (Photo Credit: Northrop Grumman)

«The addition of a fourth aircraft will enhance the resilience of the fleet and will provide superior surveillance capability to monitor and protect Australia’s maritime interests 24/7», said Christine Zeitz, chief executive and general manager, Australia & New Zealand, Northrop Grumman. «We are committed to keeping Australia safe and this sovereign surveillance capability will not only contribute to, but also significantly enhance a wide range of missions».

Triton will help Australia meet its security challenges by providing maritime monitoring of the vital sea lanes in the Indo-Pacific. These systems will have a vital role to play not just as sensors, but also as communication platforms that can facilitate the transfer of data across warfighting domains and various mission needs.

The Australian Tritons already under contract are progressing as planned through their production schedules. The inaugural flight of Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton will occur later this year at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale Aircraft Integration Center in California. This will mark a major production milestone in the delivery of the first aircraft to Australia in 2024.

Northrop Grumman Australia will establish a dynamic support environment for progressive delivery of capability systems into Australia. This includes establishment of ground stations into RAAF Edinburgh and air vehicles into RAAF Tindal. Northrop Grumman Australia is building a highly qualified and capable Australian workforce across both locations to leverage the extensive knowledge and experience of Northrop Grumman in supporting U.S. Navy Triton operations.

Australia is part of the Triton cooperative program and is contributing to shaping the requirements of the system. Together, U.S. and Australian defence forces will be able to share data collected by their respective Tritons, a critical ability in one of the world’s most strategically important regions.


Elbit Systems Ltd. announced on September 18, 2023 that it was awarded a $95 million contract to supply SkyStriker Loitering Munitions (LM) to a European country. The contract will be carried out over a period of two years.

SkyStriker LM
Elbit Systems Awarded a $95 Million Contract to Supply Canister Configuration SkyStriker Loitering Munitions to a European Country

As part of the contract Elbit Systems will provide several hundred SkyStriker units.

Elbit Systems’ SkyStriker LM is a fully autonomous loitering munition that can locate, acquire and engage operator designated targets with a warhead of up to 10 kg/22 lbs., enabling high-precision performance. SkyStriker can be launched from a variety of ground and aerial platforms, including from a dedicated canister on Elbit Systems’ PULS (Precise and Universal Launching System) rocket artillery systems.

Equipped with an electrical engine, the SkyStriker enables covert operations of up to 2 hours and with a range of 100 km/62 miles. The system can precisely strike targets while maintaining a «man in the loop» even in GPS and communication denied environments.

The SkyStriker can use a number of warhead types and thanks to its modular design, it can be interchanged in the field during pre-flight according to the operational requirement.

Yoram Shmuely, General Manager of Elbit Systems Aerospace: «We are pleased to deliver an innovative and effective solution to our customers that combines Elbit Systems air and ground solutions. As a covert and agile platform, the SkyStriker loitering munition delivers high performance precision and reliability, providing a mission critical advantage to warfighters on the modern battlefield».

LongShot program

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is poised to begin the flight-testing phase on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LongShot program. Begun in 2020, General Atomics was competitively awarded a contract to develop DARPA’s concept for disruptive air combat operations through demonstration of an air-to-air weapons capable air vehicle. The concept seeks to significantly increase engagement range and mission effectiveness of current 4th generation fighters and air-to-air missiles.

GA-ASI Poised to Begin LongShot Flight Testing Phase

Over the last three years, GA-ASI has iterated on numerous vehicle designs to optimize performance and will complete the design enroute to flight testing in 2024. The testing will validate basic vehicle handling characteristics and lay the foundation for follow-on development and testing.

«We are extremely excited to get in the air!» said Mike Atwood, Vice President of Advanced Aircraft Programs at GA-ASI. «Flight testing will validate digital designs that have been refined throughout the course of the project. General Atomics is dedicated to leveraging this process to rapidly deliver innovative unmanned capabilities for national defense».

First Compass Call

BAE Systems and L3Harris Technologies delivered the first of 10 EC-37B Compass Call aircraft to the U.S. Air Force for formal combined developmental and operational testing. The next-generation system evolves the Air Force’s 40-year mission of employing Electromagnetic Attack (EA) capabilities in support of U.S. and coalition air, surface, and special operations forces.

EC-37B Compass Call
Delivering critical EW capability to keep the U.S. at the vanguard for defense and deterrence

Mission system prime BAE Systems produces the Compass Call Airborne Electromagnetic Attack mission system at its Hudson, New Hampshire facility. The system disrupts enemy communications, radars and navigation systems, and suppresses enemy air defenses by preventing the transmission of essential information between adversaries, weapon systems and command-and-control networks.

Platform integration prime L3Harris integrated the EC-130H Compass Call mission system into a modern Gulfstream G550 business jet at its Waco, Texas aircraft missionization center. The EC-37B Compass Call has increased speed, endurance and high-altitude operation for improved survivability and range to deliver EA effects.

«The delivery of the first EC-37B Compass Call is a major milestone for our customer’s electromagnetic attack capabilities», said Dave Harrold, Vice President and General Manager, Countermeasure & Electromagnetic Attack, BAE Systems. «We take pride in delivering this critical EW capability to keep the U.S. at the vanguard for defense and deterrence».

«Our team accomplished the incredible challenge of migrating the Compass Call mission equipment from the much larger EC-130H Compass Call and fully integrating it into the Gulfstream G550 platform», said Jason Lambert, President, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, L3Harris. «As the Air Force sunsets its 40-year-old EC-130H Compass Call fleet, the cutting-edge EC-37B Compass Call will empower the customer to continue serving its vital electromagnetic warfare mission for generations to come».

Zero-G HMDS+

Collins Elbit Vision Systems (CEVS) – a joint venture between Collins Aerospace, an RTX business, and Elbit Systems of America – has been awarded a contract by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division for development, engineering, logistics and test support of the Improved Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System used in Block III F/A-18E/F and E/A-18G aircraft.

Zero-G Helmet Mounted Display System+ (HMDS+)

With this award, CEVS is formally introducing the Zero-G Helmet Mounted Display System+ (HMDS+). The Zero-G HMDS+ will provide an augmented view of the battle space inside the pilot’s helmet to allow for faster decision making, increasing survivability and effectiveness.

«The team followed a new development process that incorporated early and continuous pilot input to field the best solution. The result is an innovative and adaptable HMDS that will follow a long, successful line of fielded HMDS from CEVS», said CEVS Co-General Manager Jeff Hoberg.

In addition to providing improved capability, the balanced and ultra-lightweight design of the Zero-G HMDS+ will significantly decrease the physiological strain pilots experience.

For the last 30 years, CEVS has been at the forefront of developing and delivering solutions that keep pilots safe and battle ready.

F-16 Block 70

The first F-16 Block 70 aircraft for the Slovak Republic was unveiled at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Greenville, South Carolina, during a visit from the country’s Minister of Defence, Martin Sklenár.

F-16 Block 70
This F-16 Block 70 jet is the first of 14 to be delivered to the Slovak Republic

The Slovak Republic will be the first European country to receive this newest and most capable version of the Fighting Falcon. The F-16 Block 70 aircraft will deliver decades of 21st Century Security capabilities in support of the Slovak Republic’s national security.

«These F-16s will enable the Slovak Air Force to stay ahead of threats in the region, and be part of the allied mission in Europe, NATO and around the world», said OJ Sanchez, vice president, Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed Martin. «This jet represents the strong partnership between Lockheed Martin, the United States, the Slovak Republic and allies».

This F-16 Block 70 jet is the first of 14 to be delivered to the Slovak Republic.

First flight test of AIM-120C-8

The U.S. Air Force and Raytheon, an RTX business, successfully completed the first flight test of the AIM-120C-8 – the latest international variant of AMRAAM developed under the Form, Fit, Function (F3R) refresh. The AIM-120C-8 was fired from an F-15C Eagle and downed the aerial target, meeting all primary objectives for the flight test.

US Air Force, RTX complete first flight test of AIM-120C-8

«AMRAAM is a combat-proven missile trusted by more than 40 international partners for both air-to-air and surface-to-air missions», said Paul Ferraro, president of Air Power at Raytheon, an RTX business. «With the advancements from F3R, which updates both the missile’s hardware and allows for future Agile software upgrades, we are maximizing the capabilities of this munition for allies around the world».

Under the F3R program, engineers used model-based systems engineering initiatives and other digital technologies to upgrade multiple circuit cards and advanced processors in the guidance section of the missile and to re-host legacy software in the AIM-120D-3 and AIM-120C-8 AMRAAMs.

This AIM-120C-8 flight test follows the completion of flight testing of the AIM-120D-3. Flight testing on the AIM-120D-3 was completed in just 11 months after the initial flight test and concluded with showcasing the success of the missile in a highly contested environment.

Recently, the U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon a $1.15 billion AMRAAM contract to produce AIM-120D-3 and AIM-120C-8 missiles for 19 countries.

35 King Stallion

The U.S. Navy awarded Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, a $2.7 billion contract to build and deliver 35 additional CH-53K King Stallion helicopters – the largest procurement to date for this multi-mission aircraft.

CH-53K King Stallion
U.S. Marines conduct a CH-53K King Stallion test flight at Sikorsky in Stratford, Connecticut. The heavy lift helicopter will be based at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina (Photo courtesy of Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company)

«This contract award for 35 CH-53K King Stallion helicopters stabilizes Sikorsky’s nationwide supply base, creates additional production efficiencies, and provides the U.S. Marine Corps with transformative 21st century technologies», said Paul Lemmo, president of Sikorsky. «Our long-standing partnership led to this best value contract award providing the capability and readiness the Marines need».

The agreement includes 12 U.S. Marine Corps Lot 7 aircraft, 15 U.S. Marine Corps Lot 8 aircraft, and eight aircraft for Israel.

Sikorsky will begin delivering these aircraft in 2026.

This contract significantly advances Sikorsky and the U.S. Navy on the path toward a multi-year agreement and the 200 aircraft Marine Corps Program of Record.


Eight More CH-53K King Stallion Special Ops Helicopters for Israeli Air Force

This contract award includes eight additional CH-53K King Stallion helicopters for the Israeli Air Force and follows the initial production announcement in 2022 for the first four aircraft under a U.S. Navy Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement.

The multi-mission CH-53K King Stallion will support Israeli special operations programs, as well as provide the Israeli Defense Forces with a platform that has the speed, safety, survivability and gross weight capability to support all of its missions, including troop and cargo transport, and search and rescue.


Focus on Full Rate Production

The U.S Navy declared Full Rate Production for the CH-53K King Stallion program in December 2022. This is expected to increase production to more than 20 helicopters annually in the coming years.

Sikorsky is procuring long-lead items and critical materials to support ramp up of CH-53K King Stallion production in its digital factory.

«Our skilled employees are using digital tools to build more efficiently as these helicopters roll off the production line and into the hands of the Marines», said Dana Fiatarone, vice president, Sikorsky Marine Corps Systems. «The performance of the CH-53K King Stallion in the fleet validates its capabilities to provide a strategic advantage and shows that even more is possible with this aircraft».

The CH-53K King Stallion operated by Marines in the fleet continue to achieve milestones:

  • S. Marines exceed 1,000 operational flight hours in the CH-53K King Stallion;
  • CH-53K King Stallion completed second successful sea trial;
  • S. Marines transferred supplies from KC-130 into a CH-53K King Stallion.

The CH‑53K King Stallion is a multi-mission helicopter with heavy-lift capabilities that exceed all other U.S. Department of Defense rotary wing aircraft and is the only heavy-lift helicopter that will remain in production through 2032 and beyond. The CH-53K King Stallion can carry a 27,000-pound/12,247-kg external load over 110 nautical miles/126 miles/203.7 km in high/hot conditions, which is more than triple the external load carrying capacity of the legacy CH-53E Super Stallion aircraft in these same conditions.

The CH-53K King Stallion is designed to conduct expeditionary assault transport of armored vehicles, equipment, and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based center of operations, critical in the Indo-Pacific region. The CH-53K King Stallion is a digitally designed, market available aircraft, enabling a range of operations such as humanitarian relief, firefighting and search and rescue.


General Characteristics

Number of Engines 3
Engine Type T408-GE-400
T408 Engine 7,500 shp/5,595 kw
Maximum Gross Weight (Internal Load) 74,000 lbs./33,566 kg
Maximum Gross Weight (External Load) 88,000 lbs./39,916 kg
Cruise Speed 141 knots/162 mph/261 km/h
Range 460 NM/530 miles/852 km
AEO* Service Ceiling 14,380 feet/4,383 m
HIGE** Ceiling (MAGW) 13,630 feet/4,155 m
HOGE*** Ceiling (MAGW) 10,080 feet/3,073 m
Cabin Length 30 feet/9.1 m
Cabin Width 9 feet/2.7 m
Cabin Height 6.5 feet/2.0 m
Cabin Area 264.47 feet2/24.57 m2
Cabin Volume 1,735.36 feet3/49.14 m3

* All Engines Operating

** Hover Ceiling In Ground Effect

*** Hover Ceiling Out of Ground Effect