Nov 30, 2017 04:55 UTC
NH Industries announced the successful maiden flight
of its second NH90 Sea Lion
platform, a naval variant of the medium-size multi-role helicopter being developed for the German Navy. The November 24 test comes roughly one year on from when model one took off from the Donauwörth facility of NHI consortium member Airbus Helicopters. Next up, NHI will undertake a several-month period of development testing that will focus on avionics and software, followed by further modifications to the aircraft throughout 2018. The initial serial production aircraft is now in final assembly, ahead of first delivery scheduled for late 2019. Berlin will acquire 18 Sea Lions to replace its navy's fleet of aged Westland Sea King 41s.
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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Nov 30, 2017 04:54 UTC
The US State Department has notified Congress that it has cleared the possible sale
air-to-air missiles in support of Poland's F-16 fighter program. Announced by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the package includes 150 missiles, as well as missile containers, weapon system support, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, US Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support. Raytheon will act as prime contractor with the total package estimated at $250 million.
AIM-120C from F-22A
(click for test missile zoom)
Raytheon’s AIM-120 Advanced, Medium-Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) has become the world market leader for medium range air-to-air missiles, and is also beginning to make inroads within land-based defense systems. It was designed with the lessons of Vietnam in mind, and of local air combat exercises like ACEVAL and Red Flag. This DID FOCUS article covers successive generations of AMRAAM missiles, international contracts and key events from 2006 onward, and even some of its emerging competitors.
One of the key lessons learned from Vietnam was that a fighter would be likely to encounter multiple enemies, and would need to launch and guide several missiles at once in order to ensure its survival. This had not been possible with the AIM-7 Sparrow, a “semi-active radar homing” missile that required a constant radar lock on one target. To make matters worse, enemy fighters were capable of launching missiles of their own. Pilots who weren’t free to maneuver after launch would often be forced to “break lock,” or be killed – sometimes even by a short-range missile fired during the last phases of their enemy’s approach. Since fighters that could carry radar-guided missiles like the AIM-7 tended to be larger and more expensive, and the Soviets were known to have far more fighters overall, this was not a good trade.
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Nov 29, 2017 04:59 UTC
Over the next several weeks, USAF test pilots and Lockheed Martin will conduct a series of tests
as part of the certification process for a drag chute designed to allow Norwegian
and Dutch F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to stop on icy runways near the Arctic circle. The modification has been spearheaded by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNAF) with the Netherlands government also contributing $11.4 million towards the chute's development. The first phase of testing, which will take place out of Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, willexamine how the F-35A operates in extreme, icy conditions, while a second phase, scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2018, willtest the drag chute's landing capabilities.
Back in 2006 Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Lightning II team were facing difficulties and controversies in Norway. Since then, there have been some successes. The next milestone MoU was signed on Jan 31/06, amidst industrial and missile deals designed to bring Norway on board – but even that signing came with express statements that the country was keeping its options open.
Norway had threatened to back out of its Tier 3 partnership in the JSF program, but a Kongsberg JSM/NSM missile deal helped, and a subsequent conditional composite structures deal shored up support. Norway’s JSF production MoU was signed on December 31/07. On June 17/11, Parliamentary opposition caved and endorsed an initial buy of 4 F-35As. Now, Norway is moving into the full procurement phase.
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Nov 29, 2017 04:57 UTC
Lockheed Martin has announced
six contracts totalling almost $200 million, to improve training for C-130
airmen and operators around the world. The contracts are for: Five new C-130J weapon system trainers for the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC); A new, reconfigurable C-130J weapon system trainer for the Air National Guard at Quonset Point Reserve Base in Rhode Island; Four new KC-130J observer trainers for the US Marine Corps based at Cherry Point, North Carolina; Miramar, Florida; Ft. Worth, Texas and Iwakuni, Japan, and obtained through the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR); Upgrades the two AMC C-130J fuselage trainers at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, as well as two visual systems on the flight simulators located at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas and Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany. Awarded under Air Mobility Command (AMC) Obsolescence Phase-3; Upgrades 13 existing AMC trainers at Air Force Bases throughout the US and Europe under Air Mobility Command (AMC) Obsolescence Phase-4; and a one-year technical support contract to assist the USAF with conducting analyses for common architectures across various simulator elements. Completion of contracts will be completed up until mid-2020 at the latest.
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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Nov 29, 2017 04:55 UTC
Despite announcing a multi-year pause
on developing its own next-generation stealth fighter—or possibly pitching in with a new European fighter project
—a Japanese defense official has told Aviation Week that its X-2
stealth demonstrator has collected more data than required
during 34 flights since its first flight in April 2016. 50 flights had been planned but were not needed. While further details on the testing remains scant, the official mentioned that radar signature was one area of outperformance, while its IHI XF5 engines also did better than expected under the adverse conditions of high angles of attack.
Japan already produces F-15J Eagle aircraft under license from Boeing, and in 1987 they selected Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jet as the basis for a “local” design that would replace its 1970s era F-1s. The aim was to produce a less expensive fighter that would complement its F-15s, provide a bridge for key aerospace technology transfers, and give Japan’s aerospace industry experience with cutting-edge manufacturing and component technologies.
The F-2’s increased range is very useful to Japan, given their need to cover large land and maritime areas. Nevertheless, a combination of design decisions and meddling from Washington ensured that these fighters ended up costing almost as much as a twin-engine F-15J Eagle, without delivering the same performance. As a result, production ended early, and the 2011 tsunami made Japan’s fleet even smaller. The remaining fleet will continue to receive upgrades, in order to keep them combat capable for many years to come.
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Nov 28, 2017 04:59 UTC
Huntington Ingalls Industries launched last Wednesday
, its eighth National Security Cutter vessel, Midgett, for the US Coast Guard. A Legend-class cutter
, the vessel was launch at Pascagoula, Miss., ahead of its christening on December 9. It is named after John Allen Midgett, who was awarded the Silver Cup by the UK Board of Trade in 1918. Midgett received the award for rescuing 42 British sailors aboard the British tanker Mirlo after it was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of North Carolina. The legend-class is the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutter and are being procured to replace the service's legacy Hamilton-class cutters, which have been in service since the 1960s.
The Legend Class National Security Cutters were the largest ships in the The US Coast Guard’s massive $25 billion Deepwater meta-program, and served as its flagship in more ways than one. The 418 foot, 4,400 ton ships will be frigate-sized vessels with a 21 foot draughts, and are rather larger than the 379 foot, 3,250 ton Hamilton Class High Endurance Cutters (HECs) they will replace. Controversies regarding durability and potential hull fatigue, as well as significant cost overruns, have shadowed the new cutter’s construction. The program has survived, and is pushing toward its end in a few years – but will the number of ships bought be enough to help the USCG?
This DID FOCUS Article covers the Legend Class cutters’ specifications, program history, and key events…
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Nov 27, 2017 04:58 UTC
BAE Systems has been awarded a $8.7 million US Navy contract modification
to complete the fitting out availability process for the USS Portland (LPD-27) and for continued efforts associated with the post shakedown availability for the USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26). Work on the San Antonio-class
amphibious transport dock ships will take place at BAE's San Diego facility in California with work on the USS John P. Murtha scheduled to be completed by February 2018, followed by the USS Portland in October 2018.
LPD-17 San Antonio class amphibious assault support vessels are just entering service with the US Navy, and 11 ships of this class are eventually slated to replace up to 41 previous ships. Much like their smaller predecessors, their mission is to embark, transport, land, and support elements of a US Marine Corps Landing Force. The difference is found in these ships’ size, their cost, and the capabilities and technologies used to perform those missions. Among other additions, this new ship is designed to operate the Marines’ new MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, alongside the standard well decks for hovercraft and amphibious armored personnel carriers.
While its design incorporates notable advances, the number of serious issues encountered in this ship class have been much higher than usual, and more extensive. The New Orleans shipyard to which most of this contract was assigned appears to be part of the problem. Initial ships have been criticized, often, for sub-standard workmanship, and it took 2 1/2 years after the initial ship of class was delivered before any of them could be sent on an operational cruise. Whereupon the USS San Antonio promptly found itself laid up Bahrain, due to oil leaks. It hasn’t been the only ship of its class hurt by serious mechanical issues. Meanwhile, costs are almost twice the originally promised amounts, reaching over $1.6 billion per ship – 2 to 3 times as much as many foreign LPDs like the Rotterdam Class, and more than 10 times as much as Singapore’s 6,600 ton Endurance Class LPD. This article covers the LPD-17 San Antonio Class program, including its technologies, its problems, and ongoing contracts and events.
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Nov 27, 2017 04:57 UTC
The government of Georgia has been approved by the US State Department for the possible foreign military sale of Javelin
missiles and Command Launch Units. Announced by the Department of Defense's Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) last Monday
, the sale, if approved by US Congress, will include 410 Javelin Missiles, 72 Javelin Command Launch Units (CLUs)—includes two Javelin Block 1 CLUs to be used as spares—as well as training equipment, and US Government and contractor technical assistance. The value of the sale is estimated at $75 million, and while the Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin Joint Venture has been listed by the DSCA as prime contractors, the missiles will be provided from US Army stock and the CLUs will be obtained from on-hand Special Defense Acquisition Fund (SDAF)-purchased stock.
The FGM-148 Javelin missile system aimed to solve 2 key problems experienced by American forces. One was a series of disastrous experiences in Vietnam, trying to use 66mm M72 LAW rockets against old Soviet tanks. A number of replacement options like the Mk 153 SMAW and the AT4/M136 spun out of that effort in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until electronics had miniaturized for several more cycles that it became possible to solve the next big problem: the need for soldiers to remain exposed to enemy fire while guiding anti-tank missiles to their targets.
Javelin solves both of those problems at once, offering a heavy fire-and-forget missile that will reliably destroy any enemy armored vehicle, and many fortifications as well. While armored threats are less pressing these days, the need to destroy fortified outposts and rooms in buildings remains. Indeed, one of the lessons from both sides of the 2006 war in Lebanon has been the infantry’s use of guided missiles as a form of precision artillery fire. Javelin isn’t an ideal candidate for that latter role, due to its high cost-per-unit; nevertheless, it has often been used this way. Its performance in Iraq has revealed a clear niche on both low and high intensity battlefields, and led to rising popularity with American and international clients.
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Nov 22, 2017 04:58 UTC
has flown from its test centre
in the Brazilian interior to its US base in Jacksonville, Florida ahead of flight tests required for its certification. The dual-role tanker transport aircraft to make the trip is the second of two prototype's built by Embraer as part of a 30-unit order for the Brazilian Air Force, as the first prototype undergoes minor repairs following a stall speed test incident in early October. Testing to be carried out in Florida includes evaluating avionics systems, crosswind operations and external noise. So far, the KC-390 test fleet has accumulated 1,450 flight test hours since the first example achieved first flight nearly three years ago. Alongside Brazil, Portugal is planning an acquisition of five KC-390s, with an option for a sixth, while Argentina, Chile, Colombia and the Czech Republic have expressed interest in buying a combined 26 more.
KC-390 refuels AMXs
Global competition in the 20-ton air transport segment continues to intensify, with Brazil’s launch of its KC-390 program. Embraer figures reportedly place the global C-130 replacement market at around 700 aircraft. In response, it will develop a jet-powered rival to compete with Lockheed Martin’s C-130J, the larger Airbus A400M, Russia’s AN-12 and its Chinese copy the Yun-8/9, and the bi-national Irkut/HAL MRTA project. Smaller aircraft like the EADS-CASA C-295M, and Alenia’s C-27J, represent indirect competition.
Embraer is extending its efforts and markets by crafting a jet-powered medium transport with a cargo capacity of around 23 tons, that can be refueled in the air, and can provide refueling services to other aircraft by adding dedicated pods. The KC-390 has now become a multinational program, and may be shaping up as the C-130’s most formidable future competitor. A tie-up with Boeing underscores the seriousness of Embraer’s effort, which is now a production program…
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Nov 21, 2017 04:57 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
The British Royal Navy will formally accept
the first Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier
into its fleet on December 7, following the completion of contractors’ sea trials on the vessel. The announcement was made by new defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, during his first visit to the carrier on November 16. The commissioning will take place at the vessel's home at Portsmouth, and will be inducted into service by Queen Elizabeth II herself.
RN CVF Concept
Britain’s 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR) announced a big leap forward for the Royal Navy: plans to replace the current set of 3 Invincible Class 22,000t escort carriers with 2 larger, more capable Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) ships that could operate a more powerful force. These new carriers would be joint-service platforms, operating F-35B aircraft, plus helicopters and UAVs from all 3 services. Roles could include ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance), force projection and logistics support, close air support, anti-submarine/ anti-surface naval warfare, and land attack.
The scale of the CVF effort relative to Britain’s past experiences means that the program structure is rather complex. It has passed through several stages already, and is being run and conducted within an industrial alliance framework. There is also a parallel international framework, involving cooperation with France on its PA2 carrier as a derivative of the CVF design. This DID FOCUS article covers that structure and framework, ongoing developments, and the ships themselves as they move slowly through construction, and eventual fielding.
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