May 16, 2018 04:58 UTC
The German Navy is currently facing
delays regarding the introduction of the NH-90 Sea Lion helicopter into its service. So far, the Navy was unable to procure a bespoke simulator system, necessary for training pilots. The Sea Lion simulator is being procured through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. With the requirement comprising infrastructure, a full-mission simulator, and a rear-cabin crew trainer, the bids from industry have all been received and the technical evaluations are in progress but will not be delivered before the first of the 18 ordered helicopters will arrive at its main operating station. The NH-90 Sea Lion
can be used as a utility helicopter, or as an anti-submarine helicopter, depending on how they’re built.
NH90: TTH & NFH
The NH90 emerged from a requirement that created a NATO helicopter development and procurement agency in 1992 and, at almost the same time, established NH Industries (62.5% EADS Eurocopter, 32.5% AgustaWestland, and 5% Stork Fokker) to build the hardware. The NATO Frigate Helicopter was originally developed to fit between light naval helicopters like AW’s Lynx or Eurocopter’s Panther, and medium-heavy naval helicopters like the European EH101. A quick look at the NFH design showed definite possibilities as a troop transport helicopter, however, and soon the NH90 project had branched into 2 versions, with more to follow.
The nearest equivalent would be Sikorsky’s popular H-60 Seahawk/ Black Hawk family, but the NH90 includes a set of innovative features that give it some distinguishing selling points. Its combination of corrosion-proofing, lower maintenance, greater troop or load capacity, and the flexibility offered by that rear ramp have made the NH90 a popular global competitor.
As many business people discover the hard way, however, success can be almost as dangerous as failure. NH Industries has had great difficulty ramping up production fast enough to meet promised deliveries, which has left several buyers upset. Certification and acceptance have also been slow, with very few NH90s in service over a decade after the first contracts were signed. Booked orders have actually been sliding backward over the last year, and currently stand at around 500 machines, on behalf of 14 nations.
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May 16, 2018 04:56 UTC
that Bangladesh is set to receive two C-130J transport aircraft. The country will receive the Hercules from a UK surplus and has already awarded a multi-year support contract to the Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group
. This multi-year contract will see Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group deliver a total support solution to the Bangladesh Air Force C-130J
covering aircraft maintenance, logistics support including the provision of spare parts and ground support equipment for establishing local capabilities, as well as engineering services to ensure the effective operation of the fleet. The aircraft give the Asian nation better airlift and MEDEVAC capabilities, enabling the Bangladeshi Air Force to carry out tasks within the country and overseas in support of UN missions.
RAAF C-130J-30, flares
The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft. Those changes also created issues; the program has been the focus of a great deal of controversy in America – and even of a full program restructuring in 2006. Some early concerns from critics were put to rest when the C-130J demonstrated in-theater performance on the front lines that was a major improvement over its C-130E/H predecessors. A valid follow-on question might be: does it break the bottleneck limitations that have hobbled a number of multi-billion dollar US Army vehicle development programs?
C-130J customers now include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tunisia, and the United States. American C-130J purchases are taking place under both annual budgets and supplemental wartime funding, in order to replace tactical transport and special forces fleets that are flying old aircraft and in dire need of major repairs. This DID FOCUS Article describes the C-130J, examines the bottleneck issue, covers global developments for the C-130J program, and looks at present and emerging competitors.
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May 04, 2018 04:53 UTC
The magazine Der Spiegel reports
that the German Luftwaffe is currently facing problems keeping the ground readiness of its Eurofighter Typhoon
fleet. According to the magazine the majority of the Luftwaffe’s 128 fighter planes is currently not cleared for conducting missions. Engineers are concerned about faulty wing-pods that could seriously impede the functionality of the plane’s self-protection system. Without this system the planes are not ready for conducting missions as part of its NATO obligations. The technicians managed to fix some issues with the pods but are unable to fix an issue with leaking cooling-fluid. The component issue
, centers on a so-called “grease nipple” that is part of the system that cools the wingtip pods that house elements of the self-protection system, which was designed by BAE Systems. Supplies of the component have been restricted while the primary supplier, a U.S.-based company, is recertified after a change in its ownership. “We hope to get this problem under control in several weeks or months,” the Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Holger Neumann told a regular German government news conference. He declined to give any details about how many of Germany’s Eurofighters were affected by the spare parts logjam.
The multi-national Eurofighter Typhoon has been described as the aerodynamic apotheosis of lessons learned from the twin engine “teen series” fighters that began with the F-14 and F-15, continued with the emergence of the F/A-18 Hornet, and extended through to the most recent F/A-18 Super Hornet variants. Aerodynamically, it’s a half generation ahead of all of these examples, and planned evolutions will place the Eurofighter near or beyond parity in electronic systems and weapons.
The 1998 production agreement among its 4 member countries involved 620 aircraft, built with progressively improved capabilities over 3 contract “tranches”. By the end of Tranche 2, however, welfare state programs and debt burdens had made it difficult to afford the 236 fighters remaining in the 4-nation Eurofighter agreement. A 2009 compromise was found in the EUR 9 billion “Tranche 3A” buy, and the program has renewed its efforts to secure serious export sales. Their success will affect the platform’s production line in the near term, and its modernization plans beyond that.
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May 01, 2018 04:58 UTC
that the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion
helicopter program may be falling behind schedule, as Pentagon officials have found that a significant number of components require redesign and re-qualification. While a spokesperson from Sikorsky's parent-company Lockheed Martin said that most of these items are already “fixed and proven or are in process,” initial operational capability—originally scheduled for December 2019—could be delayed by as much as eight months. According to a Pentagon review prepared in February, four helicopters currently in the flight test program were operating at 69 percent effectiveness as of late last year, “well below” the 75 percent to 90 percent benchmark needed. 200 King Stallions have been ordered by the US Marin Corps in a $31 billion heavy-lift program with Lockheed chasing exports to potential operators such as Germany.
The U.S. Marines have a problem. They rely on their CH-53E Super Stallion medium-heavy lift helicopters to move troops, vehicles, and supplies off of their ships. But the helicopters are wearing out. Fast. The pace demanded by the Global War on Terror is relentless, and usage rates are 3 times normal. Attrition is taking its toll. Over the past few years, CH-53s have been recalled from “boneyard” storage at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ, in order to maintain fleet numbers in the face of recent losses and forced retirements. Now, there are no flyable spares left.
Enter the Heavy Lift Replacement (HLR) program, now known as the CH-53K. It aims to offer notable performance improvements over the CH-53E, in a similar airframe. The question is whether its service entry delay to 2018-2019 will come too late to offset a serious decline in Marine aviation.
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Apr 26, 2018 04:52 UTC
The US Naval Air Systems Command has confirmed that the V-22
Aerial Refueling System (VARS) will start testing this fall. According to a US Marine Corps statement published
by the Marine Corps Times, VARS-equipped Ospreys will be capable of providing an additional 10,000 pounds of fuel to aircraft forward deployed with Marine Expeditionary Units, extending the range of aircraft such as the F-35B and other V-22s. The Corps expects its new refueling system to be operational by fiscal year 2019 and will be welcomed by the Corps as troops are being shifted across the Pacific—nearly nine thousand Marines are being moved off Okinawa, Japan, where they will be disbursed to other locations like Guam and Hawaii. Furthermore, the USMC is kicking off its largest deployment yet to Darwin Australia, at nearly 1,587 Marines as part of its annual six-month rotation.
In March 2008, the Bell Boeing Joint Project Office in Amarillo, TX received a $10.4 billion modification that converted the previous N00019-07-C-0001 advance acquisition contract to a fixed-price-incentive-fee, multi-year contract. The new contract rose to $10.92 billion, and was used to buy 143 MV-22 (for USMC) and 31 CV-22 (Air Force Special Operations) Osprey aircraft, plus associated manufacturing tooling to move the aircraft into full production. A follow-on MYP-II contract covered another 99 Ospreys (92 MV-22, 7 CV-22) for $6.524 billion. Totals: $17.444 billion for 235 MV-22s and 38 CV-22s, an average of $63.9 million each.
The V-22 tilt-rotor program has been beset by controversy throughout its 20-year development period. Despite these issues, and the emergence of competitive but more conventional compound helicopter technologies like Piasecki’s X-49 Speedhawk and Sikorsky’s X2, the V-22 program continues to move forward. This DID Spotlight article looks at the V-22’s multi-year purchase contract from 2008-12 and 2013-2017, plus associated contracts for key V-22 systems, program developments, and research sources.
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Apr 20, 2018 04:53 UTC
Speaking to Jane's on the sidelines
of this year's Defence Services Asia (DSA) expo being held in Kuala Lumpur, an official from the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) has revealed that preliminary talks have kicked off that may see the JF-17 fighter
delivered to Malaysia. While stressing that no serious talks have started yet, the anonymous official said that PAC was will to form collaborative partnerships with local industry in Malaysia through which technologies could be transferred to facilitate either localised component manufacturing or maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO). Rumours had surfaced that Malaysia was interested in the JF-17 in 2015, but these had been previously downplayed by its defense ministry. This time, if talks were to mature to a further stage, the JF-17 may offer a cost effective solution to the Royal Malaysian Air Force's requirement for a twin-engine multirole combat aircraft. The RMAF program, which was announced more than a decade ago, has been hindered largely due to a lack of funds.
FC-1/ JF-17, armed
The FC-1/ JF-17 Thunder is a joint Chinese-Pakistani project that aimed to reduce Pakistan’s dependence on western firms for advanced fighters, by fielding a low-cost multi-role lightweight fighter that can host modern electronics and precision-guided weapons. It isn’t a top-tier competitor, but it represents a clear step up from Pakistan’s Chinese MiG-19/21 derivatives and French Mirage III/V fighters. This positioning addresses a budget-conscious, “good enough” performance market segment that the West once dominated, but has nearly abandoned in recent decades.
Pakistan has fielded JF-17s in squadron strength, with more on order and a Block II R&D program nearing completion. India’s competing Tejas fighter is overcoming project delays by looking to foreign component sources, but Pakistan and China remain out front with their offering, even though they began their project much later than India did. Pakistan and China have even set up a joint JF-17 marketing agency to promote export sales, which hasn’t paid off as quickly as they had hoped, but it would be unwise to count them out just yet…
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Apr 17, 2018 04:55 UTC
India’s indigenous LCA Tejas
fighter has participated
in its first major combat exercise—Gagan Shakti. The exercise is taking place between April 10 to 23 and will see the Indian Air Force will mobilise more than 1100 combat, transport and rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft in order to practice the real time scenario, to be conducted day and night, of Combat with the enemy encompassing along Pakistan border in the Western areas and along China border in the Northern areas. During the event, the Tejas is expected to take part in both offensive and defensive roles from a forwarding base and will be tested on its air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities.
India’s Light Combat Aircraft program is meant to boost its aviation industry, but it must also solve a pressing military problem. The IAF’s fighter strength has been declining as the MiG-21s that form the bulk of its fleet are lost in crashes, or retired due to age and wear. Most of India’s other Cold War vintage aircraft face similar problems.
In response, some MiG-21s have been modernized to MiG-21 ‘Bison’ configuration, and other current fighter types are undergoing modernization programs of their own. The IAF’s hope is that they can maintain an adequate force until the multi-billion dollar 126+ plane MMRCA competition delivers replacements, and more SU-30MKIs arrive from HAL. Which still leaves India without an affordable fighter solution. MMRCA can replace some of India’s mid-range fighters, but what about the MiG-21s? The MiG-21 Bison program adds years of life to those airframes, but even so, they’re likely to be gone by 2020.
That’s why India’s own Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project is so important to the IAF’s future prospects. It’s also why India’s rigid domestic-only policies are gradually being relaxed, in order to field an operational and competitive aircraft. Even with that help, the program’s delays are a growing problem for the IAF. Meanwhile, the west’s near-abandonment of the global lightweight fighter market opens a global opportunity, if India can seize it with a compelling and timely product.
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Dec 27, 2017 04:58 UTC
Lockheed Martin landed a $7 billion contract
to provide F-22 Raptor
sustainment services. The agreement has a five-year base ordering period calling for comprehensive F-22 air vehicle sustainment—to be completed by December 31 2027—with work to be carried out at five operational US Air Force (USAF) and joint service bases and five US military installation support bases across the USA, as well as some undisclosed overseas locations. The deal follows last week's $6.7 billion award to United Technologies for sustainment activities on the Raptor's Pratt and Whitney F-119 engine.
Into that good night
The 5th-generation F-22A Raptor fighter program has been the subject of fierce controversy, with advocates and detractors aplenty. On the one hand, the aircraft offers full stealth, revolutionary radar and sensor capabilities, dual air-air and air-ground SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) excellence, the ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, thrust-vectoring super-maneuverability… and a ridiculously lopsided kill record in exercises against the best American fighters. On the other hand, critics charged that it was too expensive, too limited, and cripples the USAF’s overall force structure.
Meanwhile, close American allies like Australia, Japan and Israel, and other allies like Korea, were pressing the USA to abandon its “no export” policy. Most already fly F-15s, but several were interested in an export version of the F-22 in order to help them deal with advanced – and advancing – Russian-designed aircraft, air-to-air missiles, and surface-to-air missile systems. That would have broadened the F-22 fleet in several important ways, but the US political system would not or could not respond.
This DID FOCUS Article tracks continuing maintenance and fleet upgrade programs, contracts, and timely news. A separate public-access feature offers a profile of the USAF’s most advanced fighter, and covers both sides of the F-22 Raptor program’s controversies.
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Dec 04, 2017 04:55 UTC
Japan will conclude
its Mitsubishi X-2
technology demonstrator aircraft program in March 2018. First flown in April 2016, the first two flights were conducted by manufacturer Mitsubishi before being handed over to the Future Fighter Program (FFP) at Japan's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA). Manger at the FFP, Hirofumi Doi, confirmed that 34 sorties have so far been conducted, and all issues regarding propulsion, the fuel system, and integration had been ironed out prior to the maiden flight. Doi did not confirm is the demonstrator aircraft will complete the 50 test flights originally scheduled, or what will happen to the aircraft once the program concludes. Tokyo will then assess the merits of its future fighter acquisition strategy. Options included developing a new fighter called the F-3 on its own, or developing a fighter with a foreign partner.
In December 2011, Japan picked Lockheed Martin’s new F-35A stealth fighter as its next fighter aircraft, to replace its aging F-4 “Kai” Phantom fleet. The F-35 was actually their 2nd choice.
Back in February 2006, Inside The Air Force (ITAF) reported that momentum was building within the USAF to sell the ultra-advanced F-22A Raptor abroad to trusted US allies, as a way of increasing numbers and production. Japan clearly wanted them, and the Raptor was a topic of diplomatic discussions in several venues, including a 2007 summit meeting. In the end, however, US politics denied export permission for downgraded export variants of the F-22, and its production line was terminated. That left Japan looking at other foreign “F-X” fighter options in the short term, while they considered a domestic stealth fighter design as their long-term project.
In the ensuing F-X competition, the F-35 Lightning II beat BAE’s Eurofighter Typhoon, as well as an upgraded F/A-18E Super Hornet from Boeing. Now Lockheed Martin has to deliver, and so will its Japanese partners. Will the F-35A’s price and program delays create problems in Japan? This article looks at the JASDF’s current force, its future options, and ongoing F-X developments.
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Oct 03, 2017 23:58 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
Following a five-month grounding, the US Navy has allowed the resumption of flights
of its T-45 Goshawk
fleet after issues arose with the system that generates and supplies oxygen to the trainer aircraft. Under the new flight regime, student pilots can continue training only on aircraft outfitted with a digital upgrade to the CRU-99 oxygen monitor, called the solid-state oxygen monitor (CRU-123), which provides information on temperature and oxygen pressure. The Navy plans to have all of its T-45 aircraft to be fitted with the CRU-123 by the end of the second quarter of 2018.
Do you feel lucky…?
The T-45 Training System includes T-45 Goshawk aircraft, advanced flight simulators, computer-assisted instructional programs, a computerized training integration system, and a contractor logistics support package. The integration of all 5 elements is designed to produce a superior pilot in less time and at lower cost than previous training systems.
The US Navy uses the Hawk-based T-45TS system to train its pilots for the transition from T-6A Texan II/ JPATS aircraft to modern jet fighters – and carrier landings. This is not a risk-free assignment, by any means. Nevertheless, it is a critical link in the naval aviation chain. This DID FOCUS article covers the T-45TS, and associated contracts to buy and maintain these systems, from 2006 to the end of FY 2014.
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