https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... ht-445940/
Rolls-Royce believes that advanced engines will be the single most important design factor for future fighter aircraft.
Rolls-Royce believes that advanced engines will be the single most important design factor for future fighter aircraft.
Rakesh wrote:R-R engine expert discusses future fighter technology
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... ht-445940/Rolls-Royce believes that advanced engines will be the single most important design factor for future fighter aircraft.
brar_w wrote:Rakesh wrote:R-R engine expert discusses future fighter technology
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... ht-445940/
Rolls Royce lost out in the post ADVENT R&D funding in the US while their 2 primary competitors on the Mil side received well over a $1 billion each to develop full up adaptive engine prototypes for testing. Both the XA100 and XA101 will be in testing in a couple of years. RR likely has no hopes from securing any more US funding and it remains to be seen whether the UK funds them to stay ahead of these and other emerging technologies on the Mil engine side.
Switzerland has temporarily grounded its fleet of F/A-18 Hornet fighters following the discovery of a crack in the hinge of an aircraft’s landing flap. The Swiss Air Force ordered the grounding on Jan. 31 after the issue was detected on a single-seat F/A-18 after a training flight. Inspections revealed that the problem also affects two more F/A-18C single-seaters and two F/A-18D twin-seat jets. Those five aircraft are being temporarily withdrawn from use, according to the Swiss defense ministry.
On Feb. 5, the air force said the hinge in the first aircraft was broken. Cracks in the other aircraft were discovered through nondestructive testing. The cracks that were found were not “visually detectable,” the air force said.
Bern said it does not yet know whether components have to be replaced, how high the associated costs would be or when the aircraft can be flown again in the Swiss Air Force. The service says its air policing operations and airspace monitoring have not been affected by the grounding, and that its training needs are being fulfilled, albeit without reserves.
Switzerland is beginning to consider the future of its fighter fleet. The Swiss Air Force operates a mixed fleet of Hornets and Northrop F-5 Tigers. In November, lawmakers approved a plan to spend no more than 8 billion Swiss francs ($8.5 billion) to purchase a single fleet of new fighters and a ground-based air defense system. The shortlist of fighters to be evaluated includes the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Saab JAS 39E Gripen.
SpaceX is all about reducing the cost of launching things into space, and right now one of those costs it think it can eliminate is having to use a new fairing every time it launches a rocket. The fairing is basically the shell at the top of the rocket that protects whatever cargo’s being launched (for instance, it housed the Tesla Roadster and SpaceX’s Starman mannequin during the recent Falcon Heavy test launch).
The fairing costs $6 million to produce, and so re-using it for multiple costs could lead to a significantly reduction in how much each launch individually costs SpaceX. SpaceX recovered a nose cone last year during a launch, but it has a new plan for fairing retrieval that should make it more repeatable and reliable to get these things back.
Enter “Mr. Steven,” essentially a large navigable platform ship, with extended ‘arms’ and a net strung between them. Teslarati’s Pauline Acalin snapped a photo of Mr. Steven docked on the California coast near Vandenberg Air Force base, preparing to head out to sea to support the next Falcon 9 mission, PAZ, which includes imaging satellites for Spain as well as SpaceX’s own test satellites for its forthcoming broadband internet service.
That mission is currently set for February 21 (Wednesday this week) after a couple of delays, and the goal will be to have the fairing return to Earth gently, assisted by geotagged parachutes that help guide it down to the Pacific Ocean, where Mr. Steven will navigate into its path, hopefully recovering the fairing as it gently touches down.
If SpaceX can make a habit of recovering and re-flying even half of its two-piece rocket fairing, it has a good chance of substantially reducing the per-launch cost of its missions. The estimated cost of Falcon 9 launch is currently at around $63 million, assuming total expendable configuration, so cutting a potential $6 million from that total, on top of reusable booster benefits, could be significant.
When SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket debuted this month, China’s aerospace community was mostly envious, noting that their equivalent rocket, the Long March 9, would not be ready for another decade. One story in state media observed that “to put it more bluntly, this time the Americans showed us Chinese with pure power why they are still the strongest country in the world.”
The head of Europe’s space program watched the US company launch its enormous, largely reusable new rocket, and was also inspired.
“Totally new ideas are needed and Europe must now prove it still possesses that traditional strength to surpass itself and break out beyond existing borders,” wrote Jan Wörner, director general of the European Space Agency, on his official blog. He expressed dismay that rockets now being built by Europe’s space company, Arianespace, won’t be reusable, which puts them at a deep cost disadvantage to SpaceX. He called for a re-thinking of Europe’s rocket program.
This attitude didn’t last long. A few days later, Wörner wrote an apologetic sequel to his post, emphasizing that Arianespace’s current rocket plan was correct and would be completed as intended. He was merely exercising his prerogative as head of the continent’s space agency for “turning our minds to systems still far off in the future,” he said.
Reading between the lines, the abrupt about-face can be attributed to the stakeholders of contractors and government policymakers, who weren’t pleased with Wörner’s public fretting. This speaks to space exploration’s tendency to become industrial policy, more about jobs than science, which is a key reason why 1970s space visions of lunar bases and enormous space stations aren’t a reality.
If China and European officials are envious of the new American rocket, the US space program is decidedly more circumspect about its future.
While NASA praised the Falcon Heavy’s debut and its own critical role enabling SpaceX to develop the rocket, its acting administrator’s future plans for the rocket is simply “the integration of a new class of launch vehicle into our Nation’s space program.” Before the rocket flew, Scott Pace, the executive director of the National Space Council, said large rockets would always be “strategic national assets, like aircraft carriers,” not commercial services.
Discussions to fly a NASA test payload on the risky first flight never got past informal talks. Lori Garver, a former NASA executive who helped develop the public-private partnerships behind SpaceX’s success, wrote last week that NASA does—and should—see the new rocket as competition for its own projects.
Consider that SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy was built to help realize Elon Musk’s dreams of a multi-planetary civilization. When deployed in its final form later this summer—perhaps in June, to launch some experimental hardware for the US Air Force and NASA—it is expected to be able to deliver some 70 tons to low-earth orbit, or less than 20 tons to Mars, while costing around $150 million per mission. According to Musk, the rocket cost somewhere north of $500 million to develop.
Then look at the Space Launch System (SLS) being built under NASA’s instruction by Boeing, also to explore the solar system. According to the new NASA budget released last week, it will fly for the first time in 2020, capable of carrying some 77 tons to low earth orbit at a cost of about $1 billion a flight. The total costs of the program are tough to estimate but exceed $10 billion; last year, NASA spent $2 billion on the rocket, and expects to spend a similar amount annually for the next five years.
SLS will be more powerful, but the Falcon Heavy is here now, and costs less. It’s the nature of disruptive companies to produce a less capable, much cheaper alternative to the status quo—which in this case is a blank space where a bigger rocket should be. Today, the Falcon Heavy should compete handily with largest rocket currently built in the US, the Delta IV produced by the Boeing and Lockheed Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance, which costs more than $350 million a launch.
When the rocket launched a Tesla roadster into a solar orbit earlier this month, the “marketing wheeze,” in Wörner’s words, was the biggest event in the space world for years. While the stunt attracted both criticism and applause, it was a shot across the bows of the space establishment: If a private company can put a car up there, what else can they do? One Chinese state newspaper put the argument in terms that might be echoed at NASA’s Marshall Space Center: “what our country has to desperately catch up with is actually a private U.S. enterprise.”
Boeing spacecraft executive John Mulholland has argued that the Falcon Heavy is not big enough for Mars missions, and the space establishment’s skeptical line on the new rocket was perhaps best expressed in a back-handed compliment from German astronaut Alexander Gerst, currently training for a mission to the International Space Station. He told Ars Technica’s Eric Berger “let’s not confuse that with a ‘Journey to Mars,'” the term NASA adopted for its space ambitions under the Obama administration. (Musk appears to have come to the same conclusion, putting his hopes for multi-planetary civilization in his next rocket, the BFR.)
The Trump administration has determined that the US should re-orient itself toward lunar exploration, and its first step will be funding the development of a piece of space hardware called the “power and propulsion element,” which will be placed in orbit around the moon in 2022 as the cornerstone of a human outpost, possibly by a privately owned rocket like the Falcon Heavy. Meanwhile, this year China plans to land a robotic mission, Chang’e-4, on the far side of the moon—something no other space power has done.
It’s not clear what role the new Falcon Heavy will play in helping US space exploration in the near term; to be sure, it may take time for space project managers to work the long-delayed vehicle into their plans, if they are willing to do so. A meeting of the National Space Council on Feb. 21 —already fraught with jockeying between rival rocket-makers—may shed more light on NASA’s plans. The White House has asked for $150 million to fund public-private partnerships to send robotic explorers to the moon, and it is possible the Falcon Heavy will be a vehicle for some of these experiments.
But America’s “Journey to Mars” has been pushed into a nebulous future; the phrase doesn’t even appear in NASA’s new budget, because NASA can’t afford to go to Mars. At least, not with its current rock
SINGAPORE—Airbus could begin competing head-to-head with the Boeing 737 in the large commercial derivatives market, offering the A320neo for roles such as armed maritime patrol and airborne early warning.
The company announced at the Singapore Air Show on Feb. 7 that the A320neo (new engine option) is being considered for the global military aircraft market as a much larger alternative to a C295 special mission derivative.
The company hopes to leverage its A330 multi-mission tanker experience to deliver customized military versions of the A320neo, the company’s massively popular single-aisle airliner.
Fernando Alonso, the head of Military Aircraft at Airbus Defense and Space, says no new products have been launched, but Airbus is in serious discussions with potential customers about the possibility of taking A320neos off the line and converting them for unique missions. These could include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; survivable VIP transport; or others.
Alonso notes the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) has won every major competition outside the U.S. against Boeing’s 767-based KC-46A Pegasus, but the A330 is far too large for most other niche military roles.
“We are starting to investigate the possibility of opening a new line of products based on the A320neo military derivative,” Alonso says. “The A320 is a smaller platform than the A330, and with the neo engines it is an extremely efficient platform. It’s well known, robust and proven in service.
“We have not launched anything, but we are seriously talking about it with potential customers to see what kind of versions they would need for maritime patrol, ISR, VIP transport, and what self-defense systems they need,” he says.
He says the A320s would come off the production line in Toulouse, France, and then would move to a conversion center to undergo modification. The company would adapt some of the special mission kits developed for the C295 turboprop for the larger A320.
Despite a successful run with the A330 MRTT, Airbus’ backlog for military derivatives pales in comparison to Boeing’s. The company will deliver just six A330 MRTT in 2018, whereas Boeing has guaranteed orders for at least 12 KC-46s per year from the U.S. Air Force, and potentially as many as 15 if Congress approves additional funding.
In addition to cargo transport, Airbus has developed various special-purpose mission kits for the C295, including armed airborne ground surveillance, maritime patrol/anti-surface warfare, signals intelligence, airborne early warning, and air-to-air refueling. But the C295 often is overlooked by first-tier armed forces wanting to field highly capable weapons.
With strong backing from the U.S. Navy, the Boeing P-8A is dominating the global market for armed maritime patrol aircraft to replace the popular Lockheed P-3 Orion. Boeing has captured firm orders from Australia, India, Norway and the UK, and soon could book Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Navy also is expected to expand its planned fleet of P-8s from the 98 on contract to between 111-117.
Boeing is bullish about the P-8’s prospects for capturing more orders, and the company says it will keep building legacy 737NGs for as long as there are willing military and commercial customers. Without a launch customer, Boeing doesn’t seem ready willing to offer military versions of the 737 MAX just yet.
Alonso denied being late to market with the A320neo military derivative, but does acknowledge Boeing’s firm grasp of the market. New Zealand has been planning to buy the P-8A, but those plans are in flux since the change of government there and Airbus could be back in the picture offering an A320neo alternative.
“We’re not restricting ourselves to this part of the world [Asia-Pacific],” he says. “There’s also a strong interest in Europe from France, Germany, and others. We’ve also been talking with Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines about the C295.”
Kartik wrote:Alonso denied being late to market with the A320neo military derivative,
Norway has completed the first in-country test of a braking parachute on a Lockheed Martin F-35A, with the trial taking place on 16 February at Ørland air base.
"Our combat aircraft must be able to land during extreme Norwegian winter conditions, and Norway, with experience in this, will help develop and test the F-35 braking parachute," says Norway's F-35 programme director, Gen Morten Klever.
Test and certification activities for the modification began in April at Edwards AFB in California, using test aircraft AF-2, initially checking handling characteristics and braking performance on wet and dry runways.
A second phase is under way at Eielson AFB, Alaska to validate performance on icy runways.
"I am very pleased that we are on track with the last part of the Alaska testing, and have now verified that the system works as it should on the planes that have come to Ørland," says Klever.
He says the F-35A is more stable during deployment of the braking parachute than the F-16s it is replacing, partly because of its wider footprint and heavier weight.
"This is a big step towards ensuring that our new combat aircraft can operate safely in extreme Norwegian weather conditions," says Klever.
Further test activities are required before the system achieves final certification. Norway is the lead customer for the modification, with development activities also part-funded by the Netherlands.
South Korea is to integrate the latest Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System II (JHMCS II) helmet-mounted display onto its Lockheed Martin KF-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft as part of a wider upgrade of the type.
Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems, a joint venture between Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins, announced on 21 February that it is to perform the work for the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF), as part of a more comprehensive improvement programme being rolled out onto 134 of the service’s 170-string KF-16 fleet.
The baseline JHMCS integrates a magnetic helmet-mounted tracker to determine where the pilot’s head is pointed with a miniature display system that projects information onto the pilot’s visor. The system allows the pilot to designate and attack a target without having to first manoeuvre the aircraft into position. The pilot locks onto the target by viewing it through an aiming-cross projected onto the inside of the helmet visor. As well as presenting the pilot with targeting information, the JHMCS allows him or her to view flight and navigation data.
“The RoKAF version of the JHMCS II helmet provides pilots with enhanced situational awareness during day and night missions with immediate and accurate visor-projected display of friendly, threat, and unknown targets,” Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems said. “The JHMCS II Night Vision Goggle (NVG) and Digital Eyepiece (DEP) solution allows pilots to easily convert from day to night operations by using one hand while airborne and without removing the helmet. With the JHMCS II NVG/DEP night solution, pilots are able to fly with HMD symbology during both day and night missions.”
Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems did not disclose a timeline for the planned upgrade, nor did it provide a contract value.
Under the KF-16 upgrade effort, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Lockheed Martin will oversee the integration of an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar (not yet named, but likely to be the same Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar [SABR] being fitted to the new international F-16V-variant as well as US Air Force F-16s), improvements to the BAE Systems’ radar-warning receiver, and other items. The entire process is expected to be complete by 15 November 2025.
“The Military Balance” offers a striking example of the progress China has made: in two years’ time, if not before, America is likely to lose its monopoly of radar-beating stealth combat aircraft with the introduction into service of China’s Chengdu J-20. This has a much longer range than America’s new F-35 fighter and will be a serious threat to American warships in the Pacific.
At least as worrying for American commanders in the region is the dramatic upgrading of China’s inventory of air-to-air missiles (AAMs). The short-range PL-10, which was introduced in 2015, is regarded by military analysts as comparable in performance to Western equivalents, such as the Sidewinder II. This year, the PL-15, a radar-guided “beyond visual range” missile (BVRAAM), should enter service. Carried by a J-20, the PL-15 can destroy an aircraft 50km away that is trying to evade it.
ramana wrote:Any pointers on this satellite?
spacex.com February 2018
SpaceX is targeting a Falcon 9 launch of the PAZ satellite to lowEarth
orbit on Wednesday, February 21 from Space Launch
Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base,
California. The instantaneous launch opportunity is at 6:17 a.m.
PST, or 14:17 UTC. The satellite will be deployed approximately
eleven minutes after launch.
An instantaneous backup launch opportunity is available on
Thursday, February 22 at 6:17 a.m. PST, or 14:17 UTC.
Falcon 9’s first stage for the PAZ mission previously supported
the FORMOSAT-5 mission from SLC-4E in August 2017. SpaceX
will not attempt to recover Falcon 9’s first stage after launch.
Hisdesat’s PAZ satellite is equipped with an advanced radar instrument designed for high flexibility, and
with the capability to operate in numerous modes allowing for the choice of several different image
configurations. It will be able to generate images with up to 25 cm resolution, day and night and
regardless of the meteorological conditions. Designed for a mission life of five and a half years, PAZ will
orbit Earth 15 times per day, covering an area of over 300,000 square kilometers from an altitude of 514
kilometers and a velocity of seven kilometers per second. On its slightly inclined quasi-polar orbit, PAZ
will cover the entire globe in 24 hours, serving both government and commercial needs.
PAZ also features a sophisticated Automatic Identification System (AIS), simultaneously combining for
the first time ship AIS signals and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery, increasing the monitoring
capacities of the maritime domain worldwide. It will also be equipped with a Radio Occultation and
Heavy Precipitation experiment (ROHP) from the Institute of Space Science del Consejo Superior de
Investigaciones Científicas (ICE-CSIC). For the first time ever, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)
Radio Occultation measurements will be taken at two polarizations, to exploit the potential capabilities
of polarimetric radio occultation for detecting and quantifying heavy precipitation events.
Once in space, PAZ will share the same orbit as the TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X radar satellites. They will
be operated as a very high-resolution SAR satellite constellation. The addition of this third satellite will
reduce revisit time and increase acquisition capacity, leading to subsequent benefits for various
applications. All three satellites feature identical ground swaths and acquisition modes. The new setup
will be jointly utilized by Hisdesat and Airbus.
Official SpaceX PAZ Mission Patch
spacex.com February 2018
Mission Timeline (all times approximate)
- 01:13:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
- 01:10:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
- 00:35:00 LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway
- 00:07:00 Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
- 00:01:00 Flight computer commanded to begin final prelaunch checks
- 00:01:00 Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
- 00:00:45 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
- 00:00:03 Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
- 00:00:00 Falcon 9 liftoff
LAUNCH AND SATELLITE DEPLOYMENT
00:01:17 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:29 1st stage engine shutdown/main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:33 1st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:40 2nd stage engine starts
00:02:56 Fairing deployment
00:08:58 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-1)
00:10:58 PAZ satellite deployment
Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E), Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
SpaceX’s SLC-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base has a long history dating back to the early 1960s.
Originally an Atlas launch pad activated in 1962, SLC-4E was in active use until its last Titan IV launch in
2005. SpaceX’s groundbreaking was in July 2011, and the pad was completed just 17 months later in
November 2012. SpaceX took advantage of some existing pad infrastructure, but implemented extensive
modifications and reconstruction of the launch complex. Part of the renovation included tearing down a
30+ story mobile service tower and a 20+ story umbilical tower. 97 percent of these units were recycled.
SLC-4E consists of a concrete launch pad/apron and a flame exhaust duct. Surrounding the pad are RP-1
and liquid oxygen storage tanks and an integration hangar. Before launch, Falcon 9’s stages, fairing and
the mission payload are housed inside the hangar. A crane/lift system moves Falcon 9 into a transporter
erector system and the fairing and its payload are mated to the rocket. The vehicle is rolled from the
hangar to the launch pad shortly before launch to minimize exposure to the elements.
SpaceX Contact| John Taylor, Director of Communications, 310-363-6703, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos | High-resolution photos will be posted at flickr.com/spacex.
Webcast | Launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast.
Indonesia and Russia have signed a contract for 11 Sukhoi Su-35S multirole fighters. According to Indonesian Defense Ministry spokesman Totok Sugiharto, the $1.14 billion contract has been finalized. "Two units of Sukhoi jets will be delivered in August 2018," he added, noting that six more would be delivered 18 months after the contract becomes effective, and the remaining three would be delivered five months after that. The contract brings to an end a long-running procurement for an “F-5 replacement,” which drew competition from a number of Western types such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, and Saab Gripen.
Other details of the deal have yet to emerge, but it is already known that part of the cost will be paid with Indonesian traditional export items, such as palm oil and rubber. In addition, according to the recent Indonesian regulations, the deal should involve offset obligations on the exporter.
With this order, Indonesia becomes the second overseas customer for Russia’s “4++” generation supersonic fighter. China placed an order for 24 such jets in 2015 worth $2.5 billion. An initial batch of four went to the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) the following year, and 10 more in 2017, according to Yuri Slyusar, president of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which controls the Sukhoi design bureau and KnAAPO plant that assembles the Su-35S. The remaining 10 aircraft are due to be delivered this year, while some of the ground equipment and weapons will be provided in 2019 when the contract materialization should be complete. PLAAF pilots began training in Russia in the fall of 2016.
Indonesia firmed up its first order for Sukhoi jets in 2003. Since then it acquired five Su-27SK single-seat interceptors and 11 Su-30MK2 twin-seat multirole fighters, the last of which were delivered in 2013. Negotiations on the more advanced Su-35S opened in 2014, shortly after the Russian air force confirmed its initial order for the type.
Airbus declared another €1.3 billion ($1.6 billion) loss on the A400M airlifter for the 2017 fiscal year, the latest of many annual write-downs on the troubled project. But speaking at the Airbus annual results press conference on February 15, Airbus chief executive officer Tom Enders declared that “the worst is clearly behind us.” Talks that began last March with the procurement agency OCCAR to renegotiate the A400M production contract have not yet been completed. But Enders described a preliminary agreement reached with OCCAR on February 5 as “a breakthrough.”
The key consensus reached so far is a slowdown in production. This will drop from 19 of the aircraft in 2017 to 15 this year and to 11 in subsequent years, Airbus chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm told the press conference. The reduction helps some of the six European partner nations, such as Germany, that have been considering a cutback in order numbers.
But Airbus and OCCAR have evidently not yet agreed on a schedule for delivering certain A400M capability shortfalls, such as load-dropping, helicopter refueling, and integration of defensive subsystems. However, “a capability roadmap” has been defined, Wilhelm said.
In a statement before the press conference, Enders noted that since its beginnings in 2003, the A400M program “had suffered not only from a number of operational issues but, more importantly, under a flawed contractual set-up and insufficient budget.” He thanked the partner nations for their support in the complex negotiations. “We have a good chance to stop or at least reduce the bleeding now and deliver the operational capabilities that our customers need,” he continued.
The A400M partner nations have thrown Airbus another lifeline as the company continues its struggle to bring the airlifter’s tactical capabilities online.
The new deal, agreed through a Feb. 7 declaration of intent expected to be signed in the coming months, will rebaseline the program and “further mitigate risks remaining on the A400M program,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders says.
Airbus has so far delivered nearly 60 A400Ms to six of the eight customer nations, but the program has accrued more than €6 billion ($7.4 billion) in losses over the last eight years, with a €2.2 billion charge in 2016 alone because of penalties for the late delivery of aircraft, tactical capabilities and engine problems.
New delivery plan will see Belgium receive first A400M in 2020
Europrop International delivering final power gearbox fix during first quarter of 2018
And the company has warned there may be more financial pain to come as it prepares to announce its 2017 results on Feb. 15.
Enders says the company remains committed to the A400M, but the program has suffered from “operational issues” as well as what he called a “flawed contractual setup and insufficient budget.”
The new deal will provide “a good chance to stop or at least reduce the bleeding now and deliver the capabilities our customers need,” he says.
The 2016 charges were the prompt for Enders to restart negotiations with the A400M partner nations—Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK—in an attempt to reduce the financial burden on Airbus. Enders has previously said the company had taken on a “lopsided share” of the risk on the program including—unusually—issues related to the Europrop International TP400 engine.
The contract amendment—agreed by Airbus, the partner nations and the European defense materiel agency, OCCAR—includes a new delivery plan and road map for the aircraft’s tactical capabilities.
Airbus confirmed in January that the production rate for the airlifter will be slowed starting this year. The company plans to deliver 15 aircraft during 2018 and 11 aircraft in 2019, having delivered 19 in 2017. The adjustments will provide a “sustainable future” for the A400M, Airbus says, and should allow more time to find export customers. So far, the only export order has come from Malaysia, whose four aircraft have now all been delivered.
However, last year Airbus did bid the A400M for several competitions, including in New Zealand (AW&ST Feb. 12-25, p. 37). The status of a long-rumored but unconfirmed order from Egypt is unclear.
The new delivery plan will mean that Belgium, which had planned to take delivery of its first aircraft in 2019, will now receive it in 2020. Belgium and Luxembourg are the only two partner nations that have yet to take delivery of aircraft.
The production slowdown should also suit several of the partner nations that have attempted to offload some of their orders due to budgetary issues. France officially has 50 A400Ms on order but plans for just 25 to be in service by the end of 2025, according to its recently published military program law.
Issues with the delivery of military capabilities have been a frustration for several nations. Germany has criticized the program strongly as it is having to retain several of its elderly C-160 Transall transports in service because of concerns about the integration of defensive aids on the A400M. France and Germany are also planning to purchase tanker versions of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules because of difficulties in developing the A400M’s helicopter-refueling capability.
Airbus Defense and Space CEO Dirk Hoke told Aviation Week at the Dubai Airshow last November that the company has made “good progress” in the development of tactical capabilities in key areas such as dropping supplies and troops, self-defense and helicopter air-to-air refueling.
The company is working with Cobham on the development of a modified refueling pod and hose that can extend farther from the A400M, allowing helicopters to refuel in cleaner, less turbulent air away from the airlifter to reduce the risk of potential collision between tanker and receiver.
The French Air Force has reportedly said aircraft availability stands at 35-40%, although this is largely caused by issues with the TP400 engine that led to an inflight shutdown of an engine in early 2016. Problems with the engine’s power gearbox are being solved more slowly than hoped. The fix, known as Pack 2, addresses problems with the input pinion plug, which was found to be prone to cracking. Europrop International is in the process of completing development of the Pack 2 fix, which is due to be certified during the first quarter of 2018, and engines will be retrofitted during engine shop visits, the engine consortium told Aviation Week.
Kartik wrote:Indonesia places firm order for 11 Su-35S fighters for $1.14 billion.
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan plans to buy at least 20 additional F-35A stealth fighters over the next six years, some or all of which it may purchase directly from Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) in the United States rather than assemble locally, three sources said.“In view of budgets and production schedules a new acquisition of around 25 planes is appropriate,” said one of the sources with knowledge of the plan. The sources asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
The sources said buying complete aircraft from the United States, at about $100 million each, will save Japan about $30 million per airframe.
The purchase will add to an earlier order for 42 of the fighters, most of which are being constructed at a “final assembly and check out” plant in Japan operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T), the country’s leading defense contractor.That plant is one of only two such factories outside the United States. The other, in Italy, is operated by Leonardo Spa (LDOF.MI).
As China fields ever more advanced aircraft, including stealth planes, and as North Korea pushes ahead with its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs, adding F-35s will further increase Japan’s reliance on U.S. military technology to give it an edge over potential foes in East Asia.
Japanese military planners are also considering buying F-35Bs, the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) version of the aircraft. Those models can operate from small islands skirting the East China Sea or from ships such as the Izumo-class helicopter carriers.
“We have not yet made any plan and we are evaluating what fighter aircraft we need,” Itsunori Onodera said at a news briefing on Tuesday when asked whether Japan planned to buy more F-35s.Onodera’s ministry will release two defense reviews by the end of the year that will outline Japan’s security goals and military procurement plans for the five years beginning in April 2019.
The first of the 42 F-35As ordered by Japan’s Air Self Defence Force (ASDF) are being deployed to Misawa Air Base in northern Japan. Japanese government officials and Lockheed Martin executives are set to attend a ceremony there on Saturday to mark the entry of the first Japanese F-35 into service.
The F-35 accounts for about a quarter of Lockheed Martin’s total revenue. The company is hiring 1,800 workers for its Fort Worth, Texas, factory to build a fleet that is expected to grow to more than 3,000 jets worldwide. Lockheed Martin is scheduled to nearly triple annual production to more than 160 jets by 2023.
The first Japanese F-35s will replace aging F-4 Phantom fighters that date back to 1960s. The next batch will allow Japan to retire some of the aging 200 F-15s flown by the ASDF that are the main interceptor workhorse of the nation’s air defenses.
Japan also wants to build its own stealth fighter, dubbed the F-3, although the high cost of military aircraft development means it will probably need to find foreign partners to share the expense.
Kartik wrote:The A400M program has been a real financial disaster for Airbus. $7.4 billion was the loss before this new $1.6 billion loss was announced.
LONDON—The British government is drawing up a long-awaited future combat aircraft strategy which could outline how Britain will replace the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Details of the Combat Air Strategy document, due to be published this summer, were revealed Feb. 21. Officials say it will examine the operational capabilities needed in the future and whether the skills and resources to deliver them are available within British industry. The work will consider new and emerging technologies as well as export potential, officials say.
Aerospace DAILY reported in January that civil servants were drawing up a draft combat air strategy.
British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said the document would result in “bold and ambitious plans” and “bring together the best of British engineering, skill and design, and deliver a compelling vision for the future of air power.”
Britain’s last defense industry strategy document, published in 2005, said the introduction of the Eurofighter and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter meant the UK did not need to build a new fast jet aircraft for more than 30 years because the Eurofighter and F-35 were likely to have long operational lives.
Thirteen years on, it is unclear whether the document will call for Britain to work on a new fighter alone or look for closer European or international cooperation. It could also call for the development of a new training aircraft as a follow-on to the successful Hawk.
The announcement has been widely welcomed by industry. It has been lobbying the government for a decision on a post-Typhoon vision, particularly in light of joint Franco-German fighter plans revealed last summer, which caught Britain largely off guard.
The need for a strategy was further strengthened by BAE Systems’ decision in October 2017 to lay off workers because of a shortage of Typhoon and Hawk orders, although the line was subsequently buoyed by the Typhoon order from Qatar. At the time, BAE’s Chris Boardman, the company’s managing director for military aviation, urged the government to detail a “combat air vision of the future.
“We are not looking for a handout, but a clear view for military aerospace beyond Typhoon,” he added. “It would be good for the country and the defense industry.”
With the Qatar order, Typhoon production is now set to continue until 2024.
As well as building the Typhoon and Hawk, BAE has a significant share in the construction and development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. British engineers also are involved in the development of a future Turkish fighter, the TF-X, as well as ongoing development of a joint Anglo-French unmanned combat air vehicle due to fly in 2025. But the program’s future appears hazy, with the next phase, a potentially costly design and development program, currently subject to delay.
brar_w wrote:Kartik wrote:The A400M program has been a real financial disaster for Airbus. $7.4 billion was the loss before this new $1.6 billion loss was announced.
On the contrary, long term this deal, despite the charge is a good deal for Airbus Defense. It allows them to slow deliveries and yet still retain customers in the long term as they work through the issues. Having customers ditch the program, cancel orders would have been much worst. With the C-17 no longer in production they have the market to themselves until the US launches a follow on project which will take a long time to deliver an operational aircraft. They are gunning for the US market eventually with the A-400M and if they succeed (there is always a chance) it will likely open up prospects for as many sales as the rest of their market combined. Meanwhile the revenue and profits coming from their commercial business are more than adequate to subsidize any losses on some programs on the defense side. It is the same with Boeing..they can afford to take charges on developmental efforts and not pay a massive cost with the shareholders because the commercial business is doing so well.
BAE Systems has demonstrated a software tool that will aid manned and unmanned aircraft to share data and carry out operations when communications are denied.
The semi-autonomous software, developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Distributed Battle Management (DBM) effort, is designed to ensure continued access to information even in communication denied environments.
According to David Hiltz, director of the Planning and Control Technologies Directorate at BAE Systems, the software also provides a set of automated decision aids which improve the ability of operators and pilots to manage events during air-to-air and air-to-ground combat.
"Our DBM software delivers these automated decision aids that provide mission execution options and the ability to maintain a consistent mission representation and status across all platforms, which allows warfighters to make better, faster combat decisions to ensure mission safety and completion," Hiltz said in a statement.Jarod Kalberg, technology development manager for the distributed battle management program, told
that live and simulated aircraft, fitted with BAE Systems' Anti-Access Real-time Mission Management System (ARMS) planning and control software and the Contested Network Environment Situational Understanding System (CONSENSUS) – a sensemaking and situational awareness tool which fuses data from multiple sources – flew numerous sorties during a 11-day demonstration in September 2017 to examine the effectiveness of the software. The company announced the results of the flight tests in February 2018.
Contested communications environments were simulated by disconnecting radios during some of the flight tests. The objective was to observe the performance of the subjects in such situations, and then reconnect them, Kalberg noted.
"You need to make sure that the right information gets to the right place before [it is needed]," he said, pointing out that the software can be overlaid on existing architecture. "It is all utilising infrastructure and data link technologies that are already there, you are just changing how you are using them."
"We are not trying to change how Link 16 operates, or invent a new waveform, or change somebody's sensor," he added. "We are tapping into their information, figuring out what we need, what is important, and then [sending] it out utilising what is already there."
Approximately 18 months remain before DBM concludes, during which BAE Systems and its partners, Lockheed Martin and Charles River Analytics, will conduct additional tests with the aim of incorporating the software into operational systems.
One technical challenge of DBM has been determining what is required to maintain co-ordination, Kalberg said.
"If you are in a situation where you can't pass all the information you like, the hard part is figuring out what to pass; and that is in a content sense," he said. "[There is also the] timing [aspect] – when does somebody need to have that information?"
The operational footprint of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is set to grow significantly in the Asia-Pacific region by the end of 2018, as deliveries to Australia, Japan, and South Korea begin.
Australia has currently committed to acquiring 72 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A aircraft to equip three operational Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadrons and one training unit under Phases 2A and 2B of Project AIR 6000, its most expensive defence acquisition to date with an estimated cost of AUD15–17 billion (USD11.8–13.4 billion). The country is also considering a further batch of 28 aircraft to equip a fourth operational squadron under Phase 2C in the early 2020s.As with other international operators of the F-35A platform, initial pilot and maintainer instruction is centred at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona. According to Steve Over, Lockheed Martin’s director of F-35 international business development, the first two RAAF F-35As – with the country specific designation of AU-1 and AU-2 – presently stationed at Luke will be joined by eight more aircraft (AU-3 to AU-10) by mid-August 2018.
“By the end of December, Australia will take two of their F-35s to be permanently based at RAAF Base Williamtown,” Over told Jane’s . “This year we are delivering additional F-35s to Australia that are going into the training pipeline at Luke AFB and they will continue to build the population of aircraft there before they migrate home by the end of 2020.”
In 2011, Japan committed to a buy of 42 F-35As via the US Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme at a cost of approximately JPY1.6 trillion (USD20 billion) with the first four aircraft ordered in the following year. The country’s 20-year programme includes the establishment of local assembly, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) capabilities, such as the final assembly and check-out (FACO) facility based at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ (MHI’s) Nagoya Aerospace Systems Works Komaki Minami Plant in Aichi Prefecture.
The US DoD had in December 2014 selected the MHI FACO as the primary MRO and upgrade service provider for the F-35 in the northern Asia-Pacific region. The facility joins Italy’s FACO plant – a joint effort between Lockheed Martin and Alenia Aermacchi situated at the Cameri Air Base in Novara, northwest Italy – as the second international F-35 assembly and MRO provider.
The first four aircraft destined for Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF) service – AX-1 through AX-4 – were assembled at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth production facility in Texas while the remaining 38 will be assembled and delivered by MHI. The facility began assembly of the first locally built aircraft, AX-5, in December 2015, which was presented to the public in June 2017 although it was subsequently flown to Luke AFB to augment training efforts. AX-6 was delivered to Misawa Air Base in northern Japan on 26 January 2018 – the first of 10 F-35As that are expected to be deployed to the airbase during fiscal year (FY) 2018.
“The Nihon Koku Jieitai [JASDF] will hold an event at Misawa to commemorate the arrival of AX-6 on 24 February – the sixth aircraft procured by Japan but the first one that is based in Japan and their FACO will deliver more aircraft this year to grow its fleet,” Over noted.
“Right now, Japan’s programme of record is for 42 aircraft and they are deciding what their next mid-term defence plan will be,” he added. “We are watching out for what they do … if they want to continue production out of their FACO, they will have to address the requirement in that policy.”
Japanese media outlets have also reported, citing unnamed sources, that the government is considering the procurement of the F-35B short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) variant with deployment by FY 2026 to improve the JASDF’s ability to protect its remote islands. Media reports also suggest that the government is considering the acquisition of additional F-35A platforms. The results of these considerations are expected to be highlighted in its next Medium Term Defense Programme, which will be prepared by the end of 2018.
South Korea ordered 40 F-35A aircraft in a deal worth KRW7.3 trillion (USD6.7 billion) in September 2014 as part of the Republic of Korea Air Force’s (RoKAF’s) ongoing FX next-generation fighter aircraft programme with deliveries expected to commence in 2018.
The country will also benefit from a transfer of 21 core technologies – including advanced materials, avionics, flight control techniques, and systems integration – which constitute an essential part of the defence offset programme attached to the deal to support development of its indigenous Korean Fighter Experimental (KFX) aircraft. Lockheed Martin will also provide 360 ‘man-years’ of engineering technical support over a 10-year period as well as over 530,000 pages of technical documents and reports to support the KFX development team.
“On 28 March, we will roll out South Korea’s first F-35A – AW-1 – at which will subsequently be assigned to Luke AFB to train the country’s first pilots,” Over revealed. “RoKAF pilots will begin training around May at Luke AFB and they will get an initial cadre of pilots trained before transitioning to Cheongju Air Base by the end of 2018.”
According to Lockheed Martin, a total of 574 F-35 pilots and 5,118 maintainers have been trained to date globally, although it was unable to release specific details on present Asia Pacific operators.
Over also noted that the F-35 has only been offered to four countries in the region thus far – Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. The Southeast Asian island state joined the JSF programme as a security co-operation participant in February 2003, making it the second such member after Israel. Participation at this level – which is understood to require an investment of USD50 million – has provided the country with privileged insights of the programme to assess the aircraft’s suitability for its specific defence requirements.
However, Singapore appears to have put any imminent plans to place an F-35 order on hold following its decision to upgrade the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF’s) 20 F-16C and 40 F-16D Block 52/52+ fighters under a USD914 million deal awarded to Lockheed Martin in December 2015. The upgrade package is understood to include a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar – believed to be Northrop Grumman’s AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) – as well as provision of Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing Systems, AN/APX-126 advanced identification friend or foe devices, Multifunctional Information Distribution System Low Volume Terminal (MIDS- LVT) Link 16 datalinks, and LAU-129 missile launchers. Also included are a range of precision-guided munitions, including GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs), CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons, and GBU-49/50 Enhanced Paveway II dual-mode guided bombs.
Upgrade work is expected to be completed by 2023, with the F-16 fleet now expected to be in service till around 2030. The RSAF has also expanded operations of its Boeing-made F-15SG multirole fighter with the formation of a second locally based squadron, which Jane’s confirmed with the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) in March 2016. With these assets in place to sustain the service’s air combat capabilities for at least another decade, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has reiterated that the country is in “no particular hurry“ to acquire the F-35.
In remarks to questions posed by Jane’s during a media roundtable on the eve of Singapore Airshow 2018, Ambassador Tina Kaidanow, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, noted that the US government continues to support Singapore’s continued evaluation of the F-35.
“Whether its F-35s or anything else the Singaporeans have been very productive partners for us, we have provided them with an array of defence articles [and] I am sure that there will be more in the future – and it’s just more of a discussion with them of what we can do for them, [and] what they need,” Kaidanow said. “It’s simply for us to say that we are committed to giving them the full array of information that they need in order to make these types of decisions.” Singapore is expected to acquire, if not operationalise, its next-generation fighter aircraft by 2030. Although official information is scarce, it is widely believed that the country is leaning heavily towards the F-35 platform to maintain the RSAF’s qualitative edge over potential adversaries as well as enhance interoperability with the United States and other regional partners. Jane’s analysts note that as many as 75 examples of the aircraft could be eventually acquired to replace its now retired Northrop F-5S/T Tiger II interceptors as well as the F-16C/D fighters when the latter reach the end of their service lives. It is also not known which F-35 variant the country will acquire, although past reports citing US Department of Defense officials related to the JSF programme have suggested that Singapore is eyeing the F-35B STOVL platform.
While Singapore has not publicly stated the requirements for its next-generation fighter programme, sovereign control of its key defence assets will certainly rank among its primary considerations. The F-35’s software source codes – which control access to its computing, communication datalinks, electronic warfare (EW) systems, as well as the integration of new weapons – are highly classified and tightly controlled.
Moreover, given Singapore’s long experience with operating F-16s enhanced with Israeli EW technology, it is not impossible that the country may opt to acquire a customised F-35 with Israeli systems directly off the production line, should the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF’s) customised F-35I Adir platform – which is essentially an F-35A incorporating unique Israeli modifications including a plug-and-play feature added to the main computer that supports the integration of indigenous electronic equipment and weaponry, as well as the eventual replacement of other mission systems – prove to be a success.
Singapore will therefore watch the IAF’s nascent F-35 operations with great interest, given that the country’s combat aircraft typically receive heavy modifications to address its unique defence requirements.
China's C919 large passenger aircraft has received 30 new orders from a domestic leasing company, taking total orders to 815. Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) signed a purchase agreement with China Huarong Financial Leasing Co., Ltd. for 30 C919 and 20 ARJ21 on Monday in Beijing. To date, C919 has gained 815 orders from 28 customers home and abroad. ARJ21 orders have hit 453 from 21 customers.
ORLANDO, Florida—U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, armed with the biggest infusion of cash for research and development the service has seen in years, is looking to pivot from the counterterrorism fight in the Middle East to preparing for a potential clash with China.
Key to that effort will be investing in maintaining air and space superiority as new threats emerge, Wilson said Feb. 21 during an interview ahead of the Air Force Association’s annual air warfare symposium here.
In particular, the Air Force is spending $2.7 billion more than planned over the next five years (almost $10 billion in total) to accelerate “Next Generation Air Dominance” (NGAD), a family of systems designed to ensure air superiority well into the century. The effort likely will include a next-generation fighter to replace the F-22, F-35, or both.
NGAD will include a “renewed emphasis” on electronic warfare, Wilson said, declining to elaborate.
China is without a doubt the “pacing threat” for the Air Force because it is rapidly innovating, Wilson stressed. While Russia also is a threat to its neighbors, it is not changing as quickly as China is, she said.
“When we look at what the Air Force has to do, the Air Force has to be prepared for either of those threats, but because China is innovating faster we consider that to be our pacing threat,” Wilson said.
In addition to accelerating NGAD, the Air Force is using the additional cash Congress recently approved for defense to pursue a hypersonic weapon capability through two separate prototyping efforts—the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Capability and the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon.
Meanwhile, even as the Air Force has slowed the ramp-up of F-35 production, the service is investing in modernizing its legacy fighters—the F-15C-E, F-16 and F-22.
The Air Force also is investing in space superiority, as Russia and China develop capabilities that potentially can threaten U.S. access to and assets in space. The Air Force has decided to forgo the purchase of Space Based Infrared satellites 7 and 8, which warn against incoming missiles, because they are not survivable against emerging threats, Wilson said. Instead, the service will shift to a smaller, more agile constellation of satellites.
In the Middle East, the Air Force is committed to buying a new light-attack aircraft that not only will accomplish the mission of protecting troops on the ground in a more cost-effective way—freeing up fourth- and fifth-generation fighters to train for the high-end threat—but also strengthen ties with U.S. allies, Wilson said.
“The National Defense Strategy guides us to counter violent extremism at lower expenditure. It really doesn’t make any sense to me to have an F-22 destroying a narcotics factory in Afghanistan,” Wilson said. “But more than that, it is also an opportunity to engage with our allies on a platform that is designed to be coalition at the core.”