Thailand’s T-50s need new engines after storm | Last RAF Lynx make final flight | MoD skeptical of Indian Navy’s third aircraft carrier proposalJan 17, 2018 05:00 UTC
- Aviation Week reports on Boeing’s unveiling of its Mach 5 hypersonic demonstrator concept at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech forum. Dubbed the ‘son of Blackbird’, the aircraft features a delta-wing and builds on the two decades of hypersonic demonstrator experience Boeing gained from the X-43 and X-51A projects, as well as the XB-70 bomber program. The design is aimed at also providing a hypersonic successor to the long-retired SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft, aimed for the late 2020s. While funding for the demonstrator was initially provided by Boeing, DARPA’s Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) initiative and a closely-related turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) flight demonstration concept study run by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) have been investing in the hypersonic vehicle concept, with Boeing’s engine partner, Orbitak ATK, receiving a $21.4 million award in September 2017 for the AFRE program. Boeing began work on the AFRL TBCC flight demonstrator concept study, with Orbital ATK as a subcontractor, in 2016.
- DARPA has completed the second phase of its collaborative swarming drones program, the next step in an effort to orchestrate swarms of legacy UAS with the hand of a single human operator. During the second phase of the program, defense heavyweights Lockheed Martin and Raytheon collaborated with six smaller firms to fly RQ-23 Tigersharks modified with Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) hardware and open architecture software, building on earlier efforts that developed algorithms to control the UAS in environments with limited communication and controlled the aircraft’s flight direction, altitude, speed and sensors. Phase three will see Raytheon complete development for CODE, adding more UAS to the demonstration while further increasing the complexity of autonomous behaviors.
Middle East-North Africa
- Turkish defense electronics firm Anselsan announced Tuesday that is has received a $227 million contract to assist in the Turkish government’s national long-range defense system project. A specialist in the production of military communication systems, radar and electronic warfare systems, and electro-optical systems, Anselsan is joined by fellow Turkish firms—the munitions expert Roketsan, and the defense research agency, TUBITAK SAGE business partnership—although the portion of the award granted to these firms was not mentioned. The award follows an agreement announced earlier this month between the Turkish government, Anselsan, Roketsan, and the Franco-Italian air defence consortium Eurosam, to conduct a study into the development of an indigenous air and missile defense system.
- Monday saw the French Armed Forces officially induct its first C-130J Super Hercules turboprop aircraft into service with Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly acting as guest-of-honor, the aircraft’s manufacturer Lockheed Martin has announced. A total of two C-130J-30 airlifters and two KC-130J aerial refuelers have been ordered by Paris, and will join the Armée de l’Air’s 62st Transport Wing based out of Orléans-Bricy Air Base. The model to be inducted was a C-130J-30 transport variant, and France is the 17th country to choose the C-130J for its airlift missions.
- Great Britain’s Army* has officially retired its last Westland Lynx helicopters from service after 40 years in operation. Leaving RAF Odiham in Hampshire at 9:00 GMT on Tuesday 16, the four remaining Lynx went on one last aerial tour taking in military bases and locations associated with the helicopter and culminated with a V-shaped “air procession” along the River Thames in central London. A similar event took place in March 2017 with Royal Navy Mark 8 Lynx before the aircraft were decommissioned. The Lynx are being replaced with the AgustaWestland AW-159 Wildcat.
- Danish lawmakers are expected to overwhelmingly vote in favor of hiking defense spending, as Russia increases its military activity in both eastern and northern Europe. Speaking with his Latvian counterpart during a joint press conference in Riga on Monday, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen called out Moscow’s behavior as creating “an unpredictable and unstable security environment in the Baltic Sea region,” citing the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the 2016 deployment of nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles to its enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, as well as the deployment of the S-400 air missile defense system there. Denmark last week deployed 200 troops to a UK-led NATO mission in Estonia aimed at deterring Russia from attacking the Baltic NATO members, and Rasmussen—whose center-right minority government needs to persuade parliament to back a proposed 20-percent hike of the defense budget over a five-year period—believes a “very big majority” will do so.
- The Indian Navy has submitted its proposal for a third aircraft carrier along with a procurement of 57 foreign aircraft to operate off the vessel. Reportedly costing $25 billion (INR 1.6 lakh cr), government sources said that the service is “planning to field its Rs 70,000 crore proposal before the defence ministry in near future which will cost around Rs 1.6 lakh crore at the approval stage itself along with the fighter plane component and the actual costs will go higher further as the programme moves ahead,” however, the same source voiced the ministry’s disapproval at the program due to the high costs involved which would force the funnelling of funds from other urgent procurements needed for the Army and Air Force. News that the navy also want to fly foreign fighters from the vessel—the Boeing F/A-18 and Dassault Rafale have been named as potential options—may irk Indian techno-nationalists hoping the third aircraft carrier would fly a carrier-borne variant of HAL’s LCA Tejas.
- Delivery of Thailand’s first two T-50TH trainers will take a further two weeks, after their ferry flight from South Korea hit turbulent weather and caused their diversion to Kuantan, Malaysia. Now it is being reported that the engines on both of the advanced trainers were badly damaged, and that the Royal Thai Air Force is demanding that manufacturer KAI replace the engines prior to their onward flight to Thailand. Speaking on the incident, RTAF chief ACM Johm Rungswang told reporters that while damage to the aircraft was limited and the planes could still fly, they must be in perfect condition when delivered.
- Russia’s second S-400 air defense unit arrives in Crimea:
- Edit: 01/17/18: In reporting on the last Lynx flight, we originally said the helicopters were operated by the RAF when in fact they were operated by the British Army.