Drag chute tests underway in Alaska for RNAF F-35s | CRLs allowing B-52 smart bombs go for combat overseas | C-Dome declared operational by IsraelNov 29, 2017 05:00 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, will examine how the F-35A operates in extreme, icy conditions, while a second phase, scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2018, will test the drag chute’s landing capabilities.
- Conventional Rotary Launchers (CRL) for B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft have been flown out of Barksdale Air Force Base, LA., by a C-5M Super Galaxy on November 6, to be used for combat overseas. The CRLs allow the long-range strategic bombers to carry GPS guided conventional smart weapons inside its bomb bay, thus increasing the number of weapons it can carry in combat by eight. Speaking on the Milestone, Master Sgt. Adam Levandowski, Air Forces Strategic (AFSTRAT) Armament Systems manager, called the inclusion of the CRLs as “a big game changer for current and future warfare.”
- 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.
Middle East & Africa
- A naval version of Rafael’s Iron Dome air defense system has been declared operational by the Israeli military, bringing to an end an extensive 18-month development and testing program. Integrated with the Elta Systems ELM-2248 Adir surveillance, track and guidance radar onboard the INS Lahav, a Sa’ar-5 corvette-class surface ship, the system had undergone extensive live-fire testing on November 27, where it successfully intercepted and destroyed multiple incoming targets at sea. The variant will be marketed for export as the C-Dome.
- Israel plans to offer a mixed fleet of F-16C/D model aircraft as a possible solution to Croatia’s 12-unit MiG-21 replacement competition. Initially, Tel Aviv had proposed selling its already retired A/B model F-16s, however, with incoming deliveries of F-35I Adir aircraft, some of the 78 single-seat F-16Cs and 48 D-model trainers in the IAF’s inventory will become surplus to requirement and available for resale. To boost surplus A/B model exports, Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries have previously designed an upgrade package for the retired “Netz” fleet. In the Croatian competition, the Israel’s F-16s will face off against Saab JAS-39 Gripen from Sweden.
- 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.
- A Chinese student is being held in Japan over the illegal export of a Star Safire III Forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera system to China. Developed by Oregon-based FLIR Systems Inc., the camera was initially used on a disaster response helicopter used by Tokyo before being replaced by an upgraded version in September 2015. A recycling company had been tasked with disposing the sensitive equipment, however, the FLIR ended up on an internet auction site before being purchased by the student for $5,000, who in turn sold it to a Chinese company for $22,000. The Star Safire III, which retails in excess of $450k for a new model, requires an export license for shipping outside Japan and the recycling company is facing charges for failing to dispose it properly. The student maintains that the money he earned was used to cover his living expenses and university fees.
- C-Dome declared operational after testing.