KC-46A tanker/ transport jet: A Boeing and US Air Force (USAF) test team has successfully completed the first mid-air refueling involving two KC-46A aerial tankers. The demonstration took place during a recent four-hour flight, during which the two aircraft transferred 38,100 pounds of fuel to each other at 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute. Manufacturer Boeing hailed the demonstration as a "milestone" that opens the door to additional certification and specification compliance testing. More than a dozen KC-46s will be delivered to the USAF next year and will begin replacing the service's ageing fleet of KC-135s. So far, KC-46 test aircraft have had more than 1,300 contacts during refueling flights with a number of aircraft, including the F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10 and KC-10.
F-35s for Norway: Last Thursday, a modified Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighter touched down at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska for the next phase of testing for the type's drag chute. The aircraft was flown by the RNAF's test pilot, Major “Taz” Amdal, who will now will help certify the Norwegian drag-chute and demonstrate that the entire fleet of F-35As are capable of landing at a runway condition reading (RCR) of 7. The RCR scale is based on how wet and dry each runway is. A RCR 23 is considered a dry runway while an RCR 5 is compared to landing on ice. Amdal's F-35 is the first to touch down at Eielson AFB ahead of the base hosting two squadrons of USAF F-35As from 2020.
MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV (ER/MP): General Atomics announced this week that it has officially switched production of its MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV over to the longer-range variant, the MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range. The new UAV will be tasked with long range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, in addition to aiding in communications relay and the delivery of weapons to assist ground forces. Recent endurance tests of the new long range drone saw it fly for 41.9 hours, significantly more than the 25-hour capability of the current variant. The firm said the first four MQ-1C ER aircraft are currently beingused for developmental testing and will progress to follow-on operational test and evaluation next spring 2018, with customer deliveries of MQ-1C ER to proceed from summer 2018.
Rapid Fire | Monday, October 16, 2017, 05:00 UTC ()
A Boeing and US Air Force (USAF) test team has successfully completed the first mid-air refueling involving two KC-46A aerial tankers. The demonstration took place during a recent four-hour flight, during which the two aircraft transferred 38,100 pounds of fuel to each other at 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute. Manufacturer Boeing hailed the demonstration as a “milestone” that opens the door to additional certification and specification compliance testing. More than a dozen KC-46s will be delivered to the USAF next year and will begin replacing the service’s ageing fleet of KC-135s. So far, KC-46 test aircraft have had more than 1,300 contacts during refueling flights with a number of aircraft, including the F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10 and KC-10.
Last Thursday, a modified Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighter touched down at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska for the next phase of testing for the type’s drag chute. The aircraft was flown by the RNAF’s test pilot, Major “Taz” Amdal, who will now will help certify the Norwegian drag-chute and demonstrate that the entire fleet of F-35As are capable of landing at a runway condition reading (RCR) of 7. The RCR scale is based on how wet and dry each runway is, with a RCR 23 considered a dry runway while an RCR 5 is compared to landing on ice. Amdal’s F-35 is the first to touch down at Eielson AFB ahead of the base hosting two squadrons of USAF F-35As from 2020.
Scaled Composites, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, has announced the first flight of its secretive Model 401 prototype aircraft. The aircraft is one of two developed in service of an undisclosed customer to demonstrate advanced, low-cost manufacturing techniques and provide aircraft for research flight services. While scant details have emerged about the planes, each measures 38 feet long with a 38-foot wingspan, and have an empty weight of 4,000 pounds. They are powered by a Pratt & Whitney JTD15D-5D engine and can reach Mach 0.6 and fly up to three hours at a time. Its maximum takeoff weight is 8,000 pounds.
Middle East & Africa
The US State Department has approved the possible continuation of C-17 logistics support services and equipment for the government of Kuwait. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announcement estimated the value of the contract at $342.6 million, and calls for three years (with option for two additional years) of follow-on support of two C-17 aircraft, which includes participation in the Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP), contract logistic support, Class I modifications and kits support, in-country contractor support, alternate mission equipment, major modification and retrofit, software support, aircraft maintenance and technical support, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, additional spare and repair parts, technical orders and publications, airworthiness certification support, engine spares, engine maintenance and logistics support, inspections support, on-site COMSEC support, Quality Assurance and other US Government and contractor engineering, logistics, and program support. Upgrades to the C-17s also include fixed installation satellite antenna, Mode 5, plus installation and sustainment, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out, and other related elements of logistics and program support. Boeing is act as lead contractor.
It’s been reported that the Israeli military has stopped its evaluation of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, with defense officials saying that the platform is unable to perform some missions currently conducted using the Sikorsky CH-53 transport helicopters—the platform the Osprey was potentially due to replace. Six V-22s were approved by the US Department of Defense (DoD) back in January 2014, which was then followed by an evaluation conducted by Israeli air force personnel, which led to the service seeking a rapid acquisition to support special operations. However, the proposed procurement was met with opposition from elsewhere in the ministry. Israel hopes to start phasing out its CH-53s by 2025 with alternative options including Sikorsky’s new CH-53K and the Boeing CH-47 Chinook.
Norway’s minority government is to send an armored battalion to the Arctic near its border with Russia and plans to up tank and artillery procurement in order to combat future threats. The plan, announced by Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide, will see the battalion stationed in the remote Porsanger district, in the far north on the edge of a long fjord leading into the Barents Sea, which also borders Russia. Oslo will also invest in additional tanks, artillery and long-range precision weapons in the area and other locations further south, together with an extension of the time people have to spend in some national service positions to 16 from 12 months. While the proposals will require opposition support in order for funding to be cleared through parliament, the boosting of Arctic defenses has a broad political consensus.
Airbus’ Chief Executive Tom Enders warned Friday that the firm could face significant fines as a result of French and British corruption investigations. Already under fire in Austria over corruption linked to its 2003 Eurofighter Typhoon sale, the fresh investigations stem after Airbus disclosed anomalies last year in past filings on the use of agents, or middlemen, in plane sales. Speaking to Le Monde, Enders said “I cannot predict the outcome of this investigation but it is not impossible that the fine will be significant.” Legal experts say any settlement could cost significantly more than the roughly 700 million pounds paid by Rolls-Royce under a similar deal earlier this year. If found guilty, it could cost Airbus access to public markets
The Bangladesh Navy has ordered two additional Dornier Do-228 maritime patrol aircraft bringing to four the number that will be operated by the service. Manufacturer RUAG said in a statement that the sale will “build on [the navy’s] existing capabilities in the patrolling of the sea routes, territorial waters, coastal areas, and wetlands, essential to secure fishery operations, and critical vessel tracking,” adding that the aircraft will extend Dhaka’s reach and endurance options for search and rescue (SAR) and natural disaster missions. Initially developed by Dornier in the 1970s, the new Do-228 NG (Next Generation) was built by RUAG by integrating modern technologies such as a new five bladed composite propeller, advanced Honeywell TPE 331-10 engines, retractable landing gear, Unique TNT wing unit, reduced weight, glass cockpit, digital avionics and displays and extended range. RUAG carries out aircraft final assembly, payload integration, production compliance inspection and deliveries while HAL manufactures wings and tail units in Kanpur, India.
First flight of Scaled Composites’ Model 401 protoype:
| The Netherlands has been cleared by the US State Department's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) to proceed with the purchase of AIM-120 C-7 medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM). Estimated at $53 million, the package calls for 26 AIM-120s, one AMRAAM Guidance Section Spare (MDE items), 20 AMRAAM Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM), missile containers, control section spares, weapon systems support, test equipment, spare and repair parts,publications and technical documentation, personnel training, training equipment, US Government and contractor engineering, logistics, technical support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.Raytheon will act as lead contractor.
| The first six initial production vehicles of the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank System Enhancement Package Version 3 (SEPv3) has been rolled out for the first time after delivery to the US Army. Production for the M1A2 SEPv3 is being conducted at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) in Lima, Ohio and at the Anniston Army Depot in Anniston, Alabama. Improvements added to the new tanks include a joint tactical radio system that integrates handheld, manpack, and small-form fit radios to maintain battle command and communications interoperability with future brigade combat teams. It also comes with an improved power generation and distribution equipment, as well as counter remote control improvised explosive device electronic warfare/Duke V3 equipment. An ammunition data link for programming the M829A4 advanced kinetic energy and advanced multi-purpose rounds has also been added, as well as a quiet auxiliary power unit to operate on-board systems during silent watch operations, and armor upgrades. Over time, the SEPv3s will replace the M1A2 SEPv2, which have been in production since 2005. More »
| US Naval Air Systems Command has released the final request for proposals (RFP) to industry for the unmanned MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial tanker. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics were all issued the RFP to compete for the air segment of what will be the Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle ahead of an anticipated contract award by September of next year. Basic requirements will have the Stingray deliver about 15,000 pounds of fuel 500 nautical miles from the carrier, with a mission of alleviating the strain on the existing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets that are burning through flight hours while serving as a refueling tanker for other aircraft attempting to land on an aircraft carrier.
| Two upgunned Stryker infantry carrier vehicle variants will be deployed to Europe in December to undergo operational tests. One, the 30 mm-armed 'Dragoon', has been developed by General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) and features Orbital ATK's 30 mm calibre XM813 Bushmaster dual feed automatic cannon fitted into Kongsberg's Medium Calibre Remote Controlled Turret (MC-RCT) and integrated on GDLS’ Strykers. GDLS expect to have 83 Stryker Dragoons completed by May 2018. The second type comes with Raytheon's Javelin anti-tank missiles on the Kongsberg Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS II), and 87 javelin-equipped units are planned for production. The vehicles were approved in 2015 in order to fit an operational need statement from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (known as the Dragoons) based at Vilseck in Germany.
| The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) has received delivery of the first two A-29 Super Tucano light attack and reconnaissance aircraft donated by the US. A total of six aircraft will be delivered, as part of a $462 million package that includes two spare engines, MX-15 electro-optical sensor systems, 2,000 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guidance kits for 70 mm rockets, eight AN/AAR-60(V)2 missile launch detection systems, and eight ALE-47 countermeasures dispensing systems to protect against ground-based air-defence systems, navigations systems, and support equipment and services. The A-29s will also be able to launch AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, as well as GBU-12 and GBU-58 Paveway II laser-guided bombs, although these weapons were not included in the proposed package. More »
| BAE Systems confirmed Tuesday that it is to cut nearly 2,000 jobs from its UK operations in what it being deemed a "significant blow" to the country's manufacturing industry. Approximately 1,400 jobs are expected to go at its military aerospace business over the next three years, along with a further 375 in maritime services and 150 at its cyber-intelligence business. The brunt of the cuts will take place at BAE’s aerospace bases at Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire, where the Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet is assembled, with 750 losses, while another 400 posts will go at its other aerospace base in Brough, east Yorkshire. 340 posts will go in Portsmouth, 245 at the RAF bases Marham in Norfolk and Leeming in North Yorkshire, and 150 in London, Guildford and at other cyber-intelligence sites. A further 30 job losses will take place at other UK locations. The firm's new CEO, Charles Woodburn, said the "organisational changes we are announcing today accelerate our evolution to a more streamlined, de-layered organisation, with a sharper competitive edge and a renewed focus on technology.” Citing the timing of future Typhoon orders, BAE said the cuts were necessary "to ensure production continuity and competitive costs between the completion of current contracts and anticipated new orders, we now plan to reduce Typhoon final assembly and Hawk production rates.” It also blamed the British government’s decision to take the RAF Tornado fleet out of service in 2019, which will affect Marham and Leeming, although BAE will continue to work on the F-35 fighter jet at Marham. BAE employs more than 83,000 people worldwide, including 34,600 in the UK.