International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 01 Jun 2020 22:23

mukkan wrote:Does SpaceX really resuse the returned stages? I


Of course they do. What's the point of landing them out at sea and bringing them back? They've run multiple missions with first stages brought back. I think they have stages that they've reused 5 times..and they're just getting started so its early days for the company.

will they risk reusing for the next manned mission?


It would be up to NASA to certify as per its wishes. It's paying for the launch. Same applies for USAF launches. For Commercial launches, SpaceX has more freedom to make that decision and reusability would no doubt be reflected in the prices they quote to their potential customers.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby ldev » 01 Jun 2020 22:42

mukkan wrote:Does SpaceX really resuse the returned stages? If they did already in experimental missions before, will they risk reusing for the next manned mission?


They have re-used the first stage multiple times for cargo/satellite launches. But their current contract with NASA (6 manned launches I believe) to the ISS calls for using only a new first stage for manned missions. So they will re-use the first stage from manned missions for satellite launches or cargo rendezvous with the ISS.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby SBajwa » 02 Jun 2020 00:55


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby NRao » 02 Jun 2020 07:58

A few very interesting details about landing, the first
stage, especially at sea.


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 02 Jun 2020 17:55

The 421st Fighter sqd. completed its stand up in December 2019, participated in its first Red Flag in January/February 2020, and has begun its deployment by May end. Pretty impressive for a squadron which has a fair number of pilots for whom the F-35A is the first fast jet platform.

The squadron also set the record for the program in terms of standing up and meeting all requirements to be certified the fastest of all units to currently achieve that status.

Expect forward deployments (into combat zones or non combat related COCOM forward deployments) to happen at a similar or even more accelerated cadence once the Pacific and the European squadrons are fielded. The 354th Fighter Wing (Eielson AFB Alaska) is the first Pacific Air Force unit to stand up and has begun receiving its F-35As with all 54 set to be delivered by the end of 2021. The first squadron over there should be able to start rotating through the region by probably early next year once its completely stood up and has a large force exercise under its belt. Could have probably done it earlier had it not been for COVID.

All this is an interesting contrast to the Su-57 and J-20 both of which were set on similar timelines..

For the third time, Hill AFB fighter wings deploy F-35As to Middle East


For the third time in approximately 12 months, Airmen from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings here deployed F-35A Lighting IIs into combat.

The 421st Fighter Squadron departed Hill AFB recently for Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, to support the United States Air Force Central Command mission in the region.

“The 421st Fighter Squadron completed their stand up in December and now they’re our latest squadron heading into the fight,” said Col. Steven Behmer, 388th Fighter Wing commander. “This demonstrates the readiness of our Airmen, our weapons system, and the importance of both to the Air Force and our national defense mission. On top of that, add in prepping and training in this challenging coronavirus environment. As leaders, we couldn’t be more proud of our Airmen.”

The deployed squadron is made up of pilots and maintainers from the active duty 421st and Reserve 466th Fighter Squadrons and Aircraft Maintenance Units as well as personnel in other support functions.

Three weeks ago, an initial wave of active and Reserve Airmen who were deployed with the 34th Fighter Squadron returned to Hill following a 6-month deployment to Middle East. A large contingent from the 34th remain in the region and will return home soon.

During the deployment, the 34th FS performed close air support, offensive and defensive counter-air, and maritime escort which enabled regional deterrence. They also operated simultaneously from two different bases for more than three months and participated in multinational exercises, strengthening partnerships with regional allies. The 421st Fighter Squadron will likely take on a similar role.


“I’m extremely proud of our personnel for answering their nation’s call once again, and I’m certain they’ll do an exceptional job,” said Col. Brian Silkey, acting commander for the 419th Fighter Wing. “As always, we truly appreciate the sacrifices of their families and civilian employers as our Citizen Airmen step away to serve, especially now, during these challenging and uncertain times.”

The F-35A, the conventional takeoff and landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, provides greater operational capability by combining advanced stealth capabilities with the latest weapons technology.

The 388th and 419th are the Air Force first combat-capable F-35A units. The first operational F-35As arrived at Hill in October 2015. The active duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW fly and maintain the jet in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components. Hill AFB is home to 78 F-35s.


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 02 Jun 2020 18:34

USAF awards the contract to have the Stand In Attack Weapon (SiAW) and Sidekick modifications to the F-35A Internal Weapons Bays for Lot 14 and Lot 15 aircraft. So both will be available to a couple of hundred Lot 14/15 A's by end of 2022 (dev and certified). For aircraft already delivered, retrofit kits and upgrades based on a depot scheduled maintenance and upgrades will have to occur which will vary by user..Most will probably wait for the full Block 4 hardware suite to be ready before upgrading older Pre Lot 14 aircraft..

DoD launches F-35A DEAD/SEAD retrofit


The US Department of Defense (DoD) has launched an effort to begin retrofitting a complete destruction/suppression of enemy air defences (DEAD/SEAD) capability onto the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), according to a contract notification posted on 1 June.

The DoD has awarded the manufacturer USD36.78 million to support non-recurring engineering efforts to develop and certify a retrofit solution to support the structural requirements for full-up DEAD/SEAD capabilities for Lot 14 and Lot 15 F-35A aircraft.

The award, which covers USAF and international F-35A operators, will run through to August 2022.

DEAD/SEAD is one of the core missions of the F-35, alongside defensive counter-air (DCA); close air support (CAS); air interdiction (AI); strike, co-ordination, and reconnaissance (SCAR); and non-traditional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (NTISR).

The USAF declared initial operational capability (IOC) for the F-35A in August 2016, at which time the service said that the aircraft was able to conduct “limited” DEAD/SEAD missions. Although it did not define exactly what it meant by limited capability, it likely involved performing the role using the baseline weapons package released at that time, which included GBU-31/32 1,000 lb/2,000 lb Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs). Since then, the Block 3F software package has included the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) and AGM-154A/C Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) glide bomb, which can also be used in the role.

For the full-up DEAD/SEAD role (also known as anti-access/area denial [A2/AD]), the F-35A is slated to receive the Stand-in Attack Weapon (SiAW). This still developmental weapon will leverage heavily the Northrop Grumman AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM).


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 03 Jun 2020 03:15

From AW&ST. The Egyptian Air Force is truly worse than the IAF when it comes to the zoo that is their fighter menagerie. Now they'll probably buy 24 Eurofighters from Italy and 36 Su-35s from Russia in addition to the 24 Rafale and 46 MiG-29Ms. Apparently, they were not able to agree on the financing terms for the 12 follow-on Rafales from France.


Egypt maybe close to placing a multi-billion-euro defense equipment order with Italy that would include Eurofighter Typhoon fighters.

According to a May 30 report in Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Cairo is looking to purchase 24 Eurofighters, 24 M-346 jet trainers, a satellite produced by Leonardo, and up to six FREMM frigates and offshore patrol vessels, with the latter likely to be produced in Egypt under license.

Egypt already has placed nearly €900 million ($1 billion) in orders for Leonardo AW149 and AW189 helicopters to be used by its naval forces, as revealed by Italian Senate documents published in May.

Such an order would be a welcome boost for Italy’s aerospace and defense industry, which has been affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic. But industry has not confirmed the order.

Negotiations may be challenged in Rome due to Egypt’s apparent support for Field Marshal Khalid Haftar, the warlord pushing to take control of Libya through attacks on the internationally recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

Another sticking point is the controversy surrounding the death of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo in 2016. It has been claimed the Egyptian government was complicit in Regeni’s death.

If the deal takes place, it could mark a significant turning point for Egypt, which generally has relied on France as its European partner for defense equipment. Paris recently supplied Dassault Rafale fighters, Gowind corvettes and Mistral-class helicopter carriers.

The deal also would make Egypt the second nation to operate the Eurofighter alongside the Rafale. Qatar also is planning to operate both aircraft together, adding another type to Egypt’s already sizable and varied fighter fleet.

Cairo reportedly also is looking to purchase Sukhoi Su-35s from Russia to join the MiG-29Ms already in its inventory.

The M-346 would allow the Egyptian air force to modernize its training. Like the fighter fleet, the training fleet also is varied, with a mix of jet trainers sourced from China, the Czech Republic and France.


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby SBajwa » 03 Jun 2020 03:20


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 03 Jun 2020 03:51

From AW&ST

So Kuwait's Eurofighter Typhoon with the Captor-E AESA radar is finally ready for delivery with the completion of testing.

Image

Kuwaiti Eurofighter Typhoon


Leonardo says it has completed flight testing for the latest phase enhancement upgrade for the Eurofighter Typhoon, paving the way for the delivery of active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar-equipped aircraft to Kuwait.


The company revealed May 29 it had completed tests of the Phase 3B Enhancement—or P3E(b)—package using Instrumented Series Production Aircraft 6, a Eurofighter borrowed from the Italian Air Force for AESA radar development.

“All flight test points were tested and all the required evidences obtained to provide final clearance on Kuwait’s Typhoon,” the company stated.

The P3E(b) package upgrades the aircraft’s systems to use the Euroradar Captor-E radar, boosting the range and multi-mode functionality of the sensor over the mechanically scanned version.

Yet the AESA version still uses a mechanical antenna repositioner, which gives the radar a much-increased field of regard compared to other AESA radar systems. Leonardo’s Edinburgh-based business leads the Euroradar consortium which has developed the Captor-E.


Leonardo said the flight tests were complex but were heavily assisted by the Italian Air Force, which provided support providing aircraft to act as targets for the radar.

Flight testing with the e-scan radar in ISPA 6 took place at the end of 2019, Leonardo said, with the flight tests of the radar taking place between March 3-27. The company had already tested the radar extensively using a ground test rig.

Leonardo said it had now begun flight testing to enhance the radar’s Electronic Counter-Countermeasures capabilities in support of planned upgrades to the radar, as well as certification flights.

Kuwait will be the first customer for the AESA-equipped Eurofighter. The Gulf state will take delivery of the first of 28 aircraft later this year. The aircraft destined for Kuwait first flew at the end of 2019.

Qatar will be the second customer to receive AESA-equipped aircraft.

None of the Eurofighter partner nations have yet signed up to upgrade their Eurofighters with the radar, although Germany and Spain are expected to advance plans during this year. The UK plans to upgrade its Tranche 3 model aircraft during the mid-2020s, but with a more capable AESA known as Radar 2 which will feature an electronic attack capability. Work on the development of this radar is now underway by Leonardo.


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 03 Jun 2020 04:04

One can at least begin to understand the UKs desire to want a capability (AESA with EA modes) that their F-35s have had since IOC but it boggles the mind to see how long majority of the Typhoon development partners plan to soldier on with a MSA radar. “Mid-2020s” to begin getting those systems means that it is possible that some of these upgrades could go well into the 2030s. And then on top of this you have to figure out user funded product development to iterate via software and hardware development. Kuwait most certainly isn’t going to carry that burden for them and you can’t realistically keep adding those enhancements in a test lab without orders.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 03 Jun 2020 05:01

The multi-national partner program always was the Achilles heel of the Eurofighter program. Was a good thing we avoided tying ourselves up with this program in any way.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 03 Jun 2020 05:31

I don't think it (lack of timely upgrades) is entirely due to the multi-national nature of the program. The F-35 is constantly having capabilities added to it during its Follow On Modernization and the scope of both the Block 3F (baseline SDD capability) and block-4 has increased compared to what was initially set out. The problem with the Eurofighter consortium is that it was set up as a democratic program of equals. Everyone kind thinks they are their dominant partner and have an equal vote on everything. So you could be cutting or delaying orders but when it comes to making decisions on future capabilities, you want equal partnership and say in the matter. And everyone can find themselves in a position to have some one else foot the bill for a capability. No one dominant partner is there to put up bulk of the cost or put in place a schedule and drive the program towards that goal. At least there if you miss the target (like the F-35 did with its initial overly ambitious schedule) it won't be for a lack of trying. It has a large installed base and has been the most successful European fighter program post cold-war. But that has come at the expense of almost every upgrade constantly being deferred until absolutely necessary or until bankrolled by a foreign customer etc.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 03 Jun 2020 20:16

In contrast to the AIM-260 (designed very much to exploit current 5th gen and adv. 4th gen capabilities), this effort seems to be what is often referenced as "Next Gen. Air Dominance Weapon" in the 6th generation fighter budget documents. Very interesting in terms of what they seem to be interested in exploring..

US Air Force ponders radical air-to-air missile designs


The US Air Force (USAF) is asking aerospace manufacturers for experimental ideas to use in its future long-range air-to-air missiles.

The ideas could be incorporated into missile designs that come after the service’s current Raytheon AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile and the in-development Lockheed Martin AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile. Generally, the USAF wants ideas for weapons that significantly exceed the range of currently fielded systems, while minimising flight time.Yvette S Weber, acting deputy assistant secretary of the USAF for science, technology and engineering, says the service is not set on any particular technology, but released a request for information (RFI) on 4 May as part of a broad search of new long-range air-to-air missile technologies. The ideas would inform the service’s technology roadmap. Proposals from industry respondents are due by 18 June.

However, some ideas the service wants to explore could start one of the biggest rethinks of the air-to-air missile shape in decades.

For example, the USAF is interested in hearing about ideas for lifting body missile airframe designs. This is a radical departure from the tube-and-fins profile that have characterised air-to-air missiles for decades.

Lifting body vehicles are wingless aircraft that gain lift from the aerodynamic shape of their fuselage. Two well-known examples include the teardrop-shaped X-24A and the flatiron-shaped X-25B. Those rocket-powered gliders were jointly developed by NASA, the USAF and Martin Marietta in the 1960s and 1970s to show the ability to manoeuvre and land a wingless spacecraft after re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere from outer space.“The use of a lifting body missile airframe has the potential to increase the range of a system by optimising flight profile to take advantage of the airframe’s shape,” says Weber. “However, there are potential concerns with regard to manoeuvring capability in comparison to a cylindrical missile. The air force doesn’t currently have any systems like this.”

Some of the aerodynamic principles that were developed and tested with previous lifting body aircraft are transferable to various Mach regimes for air-to-air missiles, says the USAF.

“Lifting bodies offer a lot of potential for increased range and also novel control systems,” says Weber. “If you can control your missile without a lot of additional drag you can go further.”


Departing from conventional missile shapes might have other benefits.

“If you don’t stick to the tubular missile constructs, maybe you can have increased loadout in some cases, depending on the shapes that you could come up with,” says Weber. “There’s definitely a trade space for novel airframes if we, in the future someday, move away from the traditional missile shape.”

The USAF is also interested in exploring morphing missiles. Morphing aircraft change shape in different phases of flight to optimise aerodynamic performance. NASA has built several morphing wings in recent years to demonstrate the concept.

“That’s also an area that sounds like science fiction, but there’s been some good research done to suggest that perhaps that’s something that we could look to the future for,” says Weber.

Weber cautions that the USAF is not just interested in revolutionary concepts, but also wants to hear about ideas for evolutionary improvements to missile design. For example, the service is looking for new proposals around a fighter aircraft’s carriage and release system.Fifth-generation fighters, such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 and F-22, have internal weapons bays to reduce their radar signatures. However, that also limits the number of missiles they can carry. The USAF is looking for novel ways to cram more missiles into weapons bays. The service wants missile lengths not to exceed 4m (13.1ft).

In 2019, Lockheed revealed that it had developed a new weapons rack, called Sidekick, that would allow the F-35 to carry six missiles instead of four.

In addition to increased storage capacity, the air force wants to hear about new ideas for holding missiles in the weapons bay.

“When we’re talking about long ranges, you really need that weapon to be as clean as possible,” says Weber. “What I mean is free of bumps or roughness, surfaces like lugs that you would use to hold that missile onto a carrier.”

The USAF is interested in hearing about ideas for retractable lugs or lugs that shear off, as well as entirely different ways of holding missiles that do not incorporate mounting extrusions which create aerodynamic drag and result in reduced range.

Interest in beyond-visual-range missiles come as China’s air-to-air PL-15 missile, introduced in 2018, has outdistanced the range of the USAF’s currently fielded AIM-120. Beijing’s weapon reportedly has a reach of 108nm (200km).

Fears of being outgunned has sparked an arms race. To catch up in the short-term, the USAF is investing in the AIM-260. Details on that missile are sparse and the service declines to comment on its progress. The AIM-260 is reportedly scheduled to reach initial operating capability in 2022.

Propelling missiles faster and further will likely require new propulsion systems. And so, the USAF is interested in single-stage solid rocket motors, multi-stage solid rocket motor and jet engines. More specifically, the request for information mentions interest in multi-pulse solid rocket motor, throttle-ability, new propellants, as well as novel grain configurations and cases and liners. Thrust vectoring is also of interest, says Weber.

The USAF also wants smarter missiles. It is looking for improvements to guidance, navigation and control systems, including optimised guidance algorithms, and compact M-Code GPS. To power those electronics, it is looking for advanced batteries and ultra-capacitors.

Ultimately, the service wants its next-generation missiles to be networked and is coordinating closely with its Advanced Battle Management System experiment so that the weapons are integrated into a future battlefield network.

“Our success in the future will be largely dependent on our ability to connect and have data flow all across the system and all the way to the edge. That means all the way to the weapon,” says Weber. “That’s why we include that type of technology in this very general RFI. The future is about how we connect.”

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby NRao » 03 Jun 2020 23:04

chetonzz wrote:Sir there is a discussion going on that continuous touch screen viewing increases astronaut “nausea” ...also about its usefulness in heavy vibrations...

May be dragon should abandon full screen controls just like they dumped powered landing


For the record, I just found out that the powered landing was "dumped" because it would have taken too long to get it certified.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 04 Jun 2020 00:30

NASA is also probably significantly more conservative then SpaceX so the commercial manned program that SpaceX wants to develop can perhaps be different from what NASA ends up paying for, for its own use. Anyways, early days for SpaceX. They have a lot to learn and prove out.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Rakesh » 04 Jun 2020 05:33

Brar: Perhaps I misunderstood what you said, but I remember you stating that the F-18 Growler is only for the US and Australia as they were the ones who invested in the program. Am I wrong?

Reason I am asking is that I read that the Growler is taking part in Norway's HX fighter procurement programme and apparently Germany is also interested in the bird. Can you shed some more light on this? Thanks.

Germany reportedly moving toward a split buy of Super Hornets, Growlers and Eurofighter Typhoons to replace Tornado jets
https://www.defensenews.com/global/euro ... nado-jets/
26 March 2020

Finland approved to be offered EA-18G Growler
https://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing ... 40.article
18 February 2019

“All strike fighter aircraft rely on Growler escort to increase survivability during high-threat missions,” says Dan Gillian, Boeing vice-president, F/A-18 and EA-18G programmes.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby NRao » 04 Jun 2020 05:58

I know very little about the certification aspect of Dragon. However, while the Cargo Dragon is reusable, the Crew Dragon is not. After the first and only use of a Crew Dragon, it is then reused for Cargo.

What I do know is that Spacex entered the race to supply cargo to ISS, while fully expecting NASA to extend it to a crewed solution - although during the earliest days it was just cargo. As a result, from day one, SpaceX designed the Dragon with a crew in mind, including windows even in the cargo version. Besides packing cargo in the trunk of a Crew Dragon, I *think* they can pack some inside the cabin when the number of astronauts are few (7 being the max).

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 04 Jun 2020 06:30

Rakesh wrote:Brar: Perhaps I misunderstood what you said, but I remember you stating that the F-18 Growler is only for the US and Australia as they were the ones who invested in the program. Am I wrong?


US and Australia are part of the program in that the Australians have joined the formal Growler and next gen. jammer programs as a program partner. This as opposed to just an FMS customer. Growler export would be highly restricted relative to F-16 or F-18 export but it would be available to close allies within a larger discussion on potential FMS cases. Germany and Finland have been the more recent FMS cases to be proposed for the Growler program and pretty much the only two besides Australia. At the time (when i referenced) it Australia was the only program partner and they continue to be the only one that formally joined the Next gen jammer program. Germany may but I think they would just remain an export customer and buy what they need instead of formally having a seat at the developmental program (JPO) table.. But of course they are extremely close as a strategic partner and if you can trust them with nukes you can pretty much trust them with an Airborne EA platform. Finland is highly unlikely to take Boeing up on the offer. Its the F-35's to lose there but GOTUS did approve Boeing to offer it to them along with other high end stuff (Next gen. jammer and some hit at even possibility of the AIM-260).

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 04 Jun 2020 18:16

The 250 km ranged AARGM-ER has officially begun its flight test program with a captive carry flight test earlier this week. ER-AARGM includes the same multi-mode (GPS, Active-MMW, ARH, with tactical data link and SATCOM (WIA)*) guidance as the current AGM-88E AARGM but packaged into a new missile that has a larger diameter, highly loaded grain rocket motor housed in a low drag configuration relative to the HARM/AARGM. ER variant also includes a new warhead and fuse. Production contract (beyond test prototypes) will be awarded next year with production deliveries in 2023 for IOC on the EA-18G.

US Navy completes first AARGM-ER captive carry flight on F/A-18

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, Patuxent River, Md.
--
NAVAIR AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, Patuxent River, Md. -- The U.S. Navy completed the first captive carry flight test of an Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) missile on an F/A-18 Super Hornet June 1 at the Patuxent River test range.

During the test, the F/A-18 Super Hornet conducted a series of aerial maneuvers in order to evaluate integration and structural characteristics of the AARGM-ER. Test points were completed across a range of flight conditions to demonstrate carriage compatibility of AARGM-ER with the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

“This first flight represents a significant step in the AARGM-ER Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase,” said Capt. Mitch Commerford, who oversees the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike program office (PMA-242). “Data collected from this testing will inform the planned build-up and overall expansion of flight testing with AARGM-ER.”

Testing will continue over the next few years in preparation for initial operational capability in fiscal year 2023, he said.

The extended range variant, which leverages the AARGM program that’s currently in full rate production, has been upgraded with a new rocket motor and warhead. It will provide advanced capability to detect and engage enemy air defense systems.

AARGM-ER is being integrated on the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G, and will also be compatible for integration on the F-35A/B/C.


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 05 Jun 2020 03:26

From AW&ST

Finland is moving ahead with the H-X procurement for fighters.

Saab had offered 52 Gripen Es, 12 Gripen Fs and 2 GlobalEye surveillance aircraft.

Finland has made formal requests to the U.S. for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) of both the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-35 as part of the country’s HX fighter procurement process.

Program director Lauri Puranen, who writes a regular blog on the procurement process, revealed on May 27 that Finland’s request was sent to Washington at the end of April. A congressional response is expected this summer.

But Puranen warned that any quantities of aircraft and weapons detailed in public announcements by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) once the State Department has approved the potential FMS “do not indicate the content of our acquisition.”

Puranen said it is necessary to inform the U.S. in advance so that the process is compatible with Finland’s procurement timelines.

“All candidates are aware of the differences in procedures and have accepted it by participating in the tender,” Puranen wrote.

He notes that in France, approvals for sales of the Dassault Rafale have been sought in advance, giving industry a free hand to “negotiate the best contract and enter into a deal.” Sweden’s Parliament will give ex-post approval for any sale of the Saab Gripen. Eurofighter’s bid is being led by the British government and BAE Systems on behalf of the four-nation consortium.

Finland is pushing ahead with the procurement, which will replace the Finnish air force’s fleet of C/D-model F/A-18 Hornets, despite the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Helsinki is planning to spend €10 billion ($10.9 billion) on the new fighters, a package of weapons, sensors, support and training systems. Part of the money will also be used for new infrastructure to support the aircraft and to integrate them into Finland’s existing defense networks.

Helsinki has already issued two requests for quotations. The first was in April 2018 and the second released in November 2019. At year’s end, a third will be issued calling for the best and final offer from the bidders.

Selection and contract signing will take place in 2021.


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 05 Jun 2020 03:30

Boeing Super Hornet F/A-18F Block 3 completes it's first flight

From AW&ST

Image

Boeing has flown the first in a new generation of the F/A-18F Super Hornet family, the company announced June 4.

The unpainted aircraft, F287, took off on June 3 from the Boeing assembly line in St. Louis, Missouri.

The aircraft is the first of 72 F/A-18E/F Block III aircraft ordered by the U.S. Navy.

“Boeing will deliver two Block III flight test aircraft to the U.S. Navy in the coming weeks,” Boeing said in a tweeted message.

After familiarizing pilots with the Block III upgrades and completing carrier suitability testing, Boeing will deliver the first operational Block III aircraft to the Navy next year, the company says.

The upgrades include a large-format cockpit display, conformal fuel tanks, a 10,000-hr. airframe, stealth coating improvements, a high-bandwidth datalink, an improved infrared search-and-track sensor and defensive system upgrades.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 05 Jun 2020 03:59

Taiwan's indigenous AIDC AT-5 trainer makes first taxi test.

Interestingly, the first 2 prototypes will eventually be refurbished and then delivered to the Taiwanese air force.

From AW&ST

Image

Taxi testing has begun for the first prototype of Taiwan’s new advanced trainer, the Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) AT-5, ahead of a first flight planned for the second half of June.

Expected timing of the flight means AIDC should meet, or come close to, a target it declared in 2018 for getting the AT-5 into the air this month.

The development schedule is short: the program was launched in 2017 under the name Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) and is supposed to begin delivering aircraft next year. Taiwan’s air arm, officially the Republic of China Air Force, is anxious to replace old AIDC AT-3 trainers.

The first AT-5 prototype was rolled out in September 2019. It was seen taxiing at the Ching Chuan Kang Air Force Base on June 2, Taiwanese media including the government’s Central News Agency reported. The Taipei Times quoted defense officials saying that two or three more taxiing tests would be held before the first flight.

The air force told Taiwan’s parliament on May 28 that the first flight would certainly happen in the second half of June. Deputy Defense Minister Chang Che-ping was less exact, saying it would occur about that time.

The AT-5 has the configuration of the AIDC F-CK-1 fighter and resembles it, but the trainer’s design is new and optimized for the new role. For example, it has a thicker wing suited to lower speeds and holding more fuel.

The engine type is the Honeywell F124, derived from the TFE-1042-7 of the F-CK-1, but lacking afterburning.

AIDC is due to build two prototypes, which will be refurbished for delivery to the air force, and then 64 production aircraft and two airframes for static testing.


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 05 Jun 2020 04:05

Turkey has unveiled a concept T-629 attack helicopter. This is the second one after the T-129.

From AW&ST

Image

Second Turkish Indigenous Attack Helo Concept Emerges

Turkish Aerospace (TUSAS) has revealed a mock-up of a second indigenous attack helicopter concept under development.

The model of the T-629 was revealed in imagery released by Turkish media during a visit of defense minister Hulusi Akar, Technology Minister Mustafa Varank and Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu to the company’s Ankara facilities on June 4.

TUSAS officials would not confirm whether the event was the official reveal of the T-629, but the designation of the aircraft was all but confirmed by CEO Temel Kotil. In a video, Kotil is heard replying to Minister Akar’s question about whether the mock-up represented the ATAK 2, another attack helicopter type being developed by the company. Kotil replied with the T-629 designation. “We can call it 'ATAK one and a half,'" he said.

The model of the long-rumored T-629 led a line-up of TUSAS products.

The T-629 features a traditional attack helicopter configuration with tandem-stepped seating for the pilot and gunner, nose-mounted sensors and cannon, and stub wings with two pylons on each side for missiles and rockets. The helicopter appears to use a five-bladed main rotor and a four-blade conventional anti-torque system.

No details are known about the weight of the aircraft for powerplant requirements, but clues may come from the use of the T-629 designation and suggest the platform builds off the company’s T-625 Gokbey utility helicopter, possibly reusing that aircraft’s dynamic systems. The T-625 uses the Rolls-Royce/Honeywell LHTEC T800 engine but Turkish industry is working on an indigenous engine to power it, avoiding export interference from U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

TUSAS is currently building the T-129 ATAK helicopter for the Turkish Army and the country’s military police, the Jandarma. The T-129 is a development of the Leonardo AW129 Mangusta attack helicopter with Turkish avionics, sensors and weapons. However, the company also is developing the Heavy Class Attack Helicopter, also known as ATAK 2, a 10-ton helicopter in the class of the AH-64 Apache able to carry 1,200 kg (2,600 lb.) of payload and operate in hot and high conditions in South Eastern Turkey. Company officials previously have said the ATAK 2 would complement the original ATAK, which likely would adopt a scout mission like that envisaged for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft once the larger aircraft is in service.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 05 Jun 2020 05:46

Kartik wrote:Finland is moving ahead with the H-X procurement for fighters.

Saab had offered 52 Gripen Es, 12 Gripen Fs and 2 GlobalEye surveillance aircraft.


I wonder what prevented SAAB from throwing in some ground radars and maybe a couple of artillery guns as well. Finland has a 3-3.5 decade decision to make (their hornet fleet would have lived on for 30-33 years if they stick with their current schedule). Don't think they would want to be flying the Gripen in the 2050's especially when Sweden is all ready to jump into the Tempest club. What does a 2040 MLU look like for the Gripen-E (besides dumping them and buying the Tempest of course) ?

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 05 Jun 2020 06:42

Finally some realization that given the "Tyranny of distance" in the Pacific, and the ever growing threats to expeditionary bases there, no manned counter air platform will be able to meet (if for nothing else but human limits) complete counter air requirements for the USAF. If the aim is to provide 100% assured Counter Air coverage to manned, optionally manned, and unmanned Bombers doing 12-18 hour missions over the Pacific then unmanned counter-air has to be a pretty sizable player in all this.

US Air Force to Test Fighter Drone Against Human Pilot


Air Force researchers are designing an autonomous aircraft that can take down a manned plane in air-to-air combat, with the goal of pitting the two against each other in July 2021.

Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, head of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, said the Air Force Research Laboratory team is pushing the boundaries of what the military can build, compared to the aircraft that already fill the service’s squadrons. “[Team leader Steve Rogers] is probably going to have a hard time getting to that flight next year … when the machine beats the human,” Shanahan said during a June 4 Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event. “If he does it, great.”

The AFRL team launched its pursuit of an unmanned, AI-driven fighter jet in 2018, aiming to show promise within 18 months. Inside Defense reported in May 2018 the “big moonshot” would first insert machine-learning technology into a less-advanced plane like an F-16 before trying it in a newer jet like an F-35 or F-22.

“Our human pilots, the really good ones, have a couple thousand hours of experience,” Rogers told Inside Defense. “What happens if I can augment their ability with a system that can have literally millions of hours of training time? … How can I make myself a tactical autopilot so in an air-to-air fight, this system could help make decisions on a timeline that humans can’t even begin to think about?”

If the project works, the invention would join the slew of other AI-enabled systems the Air Force wants to add to its inventory. The Skyborg wingman drone concept is perhaps the highest-profile of those programs, though the Air Force is pushing to add AI and machine learning algorithms to everything from maintenance practices to battle planning software.

AFRL’s project echoes the debate revived earlier this year about whether an autonomous fighter could successfully challenge one with a human in the cockpit, sparked by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s comments at an Air Force Association conference in February.

“The [F-35] competitor should be a drone fighter plane that’s remote controlled by a human, but with its maneuvers augmented by autonomy,” Musk tweeted. “The F-35 would have no chance against it.”

But while the Pentagon’s AI work is picking up steam, Shanahan cautioned that not everything happening with the futuristic technology is a success story. The military should adopt the lessons the self-driving car industry has learned, he said—and heed its warnings.

“There is no level four, fully autonomous vehicle out on the roads today,” he said, despite several companies investing billions of dollars in the idea. “On the other hand, that’s a decade worth of experience we should be pulling into the military because they’ve learned so much.”

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 05 Jun 2020 07:32

GE Aviation delivers first F414 engine to South Korea for KF-X program


GE Aviation delivered the first F414-GE-400K engine in May to Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI) for South Korea’s next-generation indigenous fighter, known as the KF-X. Developed for the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), the F414-powered KF-X will deliver significantly greater mission capability, extended combat radius and longer lifespan compared to current aircraft.

“GE is thrilled to reach this important milestone in the KF-X program,” said Al DiLibero, general manager of GE’s Medium Combat & Trainer Engines department. “Our success so far on this program reflects the strong relationship between the ROKAF, our South Korean industry partners and GE Aviation, and the long and successful history of our engines powering ROKAF aircraft."

South Korea’s Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI) selected GE Aviation in May 2016 to supply F414-GE-400K engines for the KF-X fighter. The multi-role KF-X aircraft, a $7.4 billion project, is being designed and built by KAI. The KF-X aircraft will replace Korea’s F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II fleet. The development program is scheduled to be completed in 2026, which includes the production of 15 F414 flight test engines and six prototype fighters by 2021. Flight testing will occur in 2023. 120 KF-X aircraft are scheduled for production serving the South Korean armed forces. GE Aviation will provide 240 F414 production engines plus spares.

GE has partnered with South Korea many times to power aircraft in their inventory. GE’s F404 engines currently power South Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle, a high-performance supersonic trainer developed with KAI for the ROKAF. GE’s T700 turboshaft engines power the Korean utility helicopter Surion. Additionally, GE’s F110 engines power the ROKAF’s F-15K aircraft.

GE’s F414 engine went into service in 1998 and has flown more than 4.6 million flight hours with more than 1,750 engines delivered. In addition to the KF-X, the F414 powers Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, Saab’s JAS 39E/F Gripen, India’s Tejas Mark 2, and Lockheed Martin and NASA’s X-59 Quiet Supersonic Transport.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Wickberg » 05 Jun 2020 10:28

brar_w wrote:
Kartik wrote:Finland is moving ahead with the H-X procurement for fighters.

Saab had offered 52 Gripen Es, 12 Gripen Fs and 2 GlobalEye surveillance aircraft.


I wonder what prevented SAAB from throwing in some ground radars and maybe a couple of artillery guns as well. Finland has a 3-3.5 decade decision to make (their hornet fleet would have lived on for 30-33 years if they stick with their current schedule). Don't think they would want to be flying the Gripen in the 2050's especially when Sweden is all ready to jump into the Tempest club. What does a 2040 MLU look like for the Gripen-E (besides dumping them and buying the Tempest of course) ?


SwAF has placed an order of the Gripen E and will be flying it long after the 2050´s. Remember that Finland placed an order of Drakens despite it was being replaced in Sweden by the Viggen.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 05 Jun 2020 12:41

Wickberg wrote:
brar_w wrote:
I wonder what prevented SAAB from throwing in some ground radars and maybe a couple of artillery guns as well. Finland has a 3-3.5 decade decision to make (their hornet fleet would have lived on for 30-33 years if they stick with their current schedule). Don't think they would want to be flying the Gripen in the 2050's especially when Sweden is all ready to jump into the Tempest club. What does a 2040 MLU look like for the Gripen-E (besides dumping them and buying the Tempest of course) ?


SwAF has placed an order of the Gripen E and will be flying it long after the 2050´s. Remember that Finland placed an order of Drakens despite it was being replaced in Sweden by the Viggen.


Those days are long since gone. Finland will select a MRCA based on it's requirements and the results of the evaluation. It is up against the best Western fighters.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 05 Jun 2020 18:05

Wickberg wrote:
brar_w wrote:
I wonder what prevented SAAB from throwing in some ground radars and maybe a couple of artillery guns as well. Finland has a 3-3.5 decade decision to make (their hornet fleet would have lived on for 30-33 years if they stick with their current schedule). Don't think they would want to be flying the Gripen in the 2050's especially when Sweden is all ready to jump into the Tempest club. What does a 2040 MLU look like for the Gripen-E (besides dumping them and buying the Tempest of course) ?


SwAF has placed an order of the Gripen E and will be flying it long after the 2050´s. Remember that Finland placed an order of Drakens despite it was being replaced in Sweden by the Viggen.


The argument is less convincing when one looks at what appears to be the SwAF's intentions with its next gen platforms:

Sweden to join British ‘Tempest’ next-gen fighter push

So SwAF is quite likely to be operating "some other" advanced aircraft come the 2050's in addition to its Gripen. (Boeing is making the very same argument despite the USN clearly signalling its intention to stop buying the Super Hornet in FY21 and move that funding to developing a new fighter starting FY22).

If not the Tempest, Sweden will likely be involved in something else (FCAS perhaps). Even if Sweden were to move its current intentions (to partner up and develop a NG fighter) to the right they still have a very small number of Gripen E's that will be operational to share the product improvement road map with. In contrast, there could be 500 or more F-35's in Europe by 2030 more than pretty much any single fighter jet in operation in the region. That on top of perhaps another 1,000+ more outside of Europe. And Finland will get the block-4 as a baseline which will have hardware and software that even the current F-35A's lack.

Finland is unlikely to operate a combination of 2 or 3 fast jet manned or (unmanned platforms) for the role it currently desires its fighters. There needs to be a pretty big carrot that needs to be thrown FiAF's way for it to not take up the Block 4 F-35 A's that are currently on offer to them. I don't think the incentives of 2 AEW airframes, or the resource hungry Growlers are going to do the trick for SAAB or Boeing. Not when they need something that will possibly be all they've got between 2025-2060. That these OEM's have to boost their offering by including AEW aircraft or expensive, not_asked_for, AEA platforms, is a pretty good sign of how competitive they must feel their fighters are for these requirements..

An earlier Finnish Defense Minister said that they must put huge weight behind "performance" and advocated the F-35A over the Gripen. This was back in 2014 - 6 years ago. It is not unreasonable for a nation that operates one type, and pretty small numbers to value performance above all else. Since 2014, the Gripen hasn't yet become operational with the SwAF or anyone else while 6 nations have declared IOC on the F-35 and 3 of them have even used it in a combat zone deployment/operations. I think it is easier to make the case Carl Haglund was making today then it was back then. But let's see how this competition pans out.

https://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/fi ... ition.html
Last edited by brar_w on 05 Jun 2020 23:45, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 05 Jun 2020 18:50

Also, a less spoken of program is the Finnish need to develop a Medium-Long range Surface to Air Defense capability and possibly even acquire a BMD capability somewhere down the road (though that requirement is probably years from being formalized). Though Initially this may come on as a AMMRAM-ER upgrade to their NASAMS but the fact that the F-35 will be very closely coupled with the PATRIOT's IBCS isn't going to be lost on them. None of the other competitors (in the fighter or Air Defense systems providers) have anything that can do what the IBCS's fire control network is designed to do. Best they can offer is combined SA from aerial and ground based sensors. As in a common operating picture.

IBCS in contrast generates complete fire-control level tracks and even makes engagement decisions based on those tracks that are independent of each AD system's own fire-control and C2 systems. This is analogous to what the US Navy does with its NIFC-CA closed loop fire-control network, only more advanced because it can link up a wider range of sensors and shooters (NIFC-CA only works with the SM-6 for now). And the F-35's IBCS integration is already happening so it has a leg up even compared to other US aircraft.

This is Flight Test 5 (FT-5), the most sophisticated and difficult development test yet for the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS), developed by Northrop Grumman.

High above the range, sensors aboard U.S. Air Force F-35 fighter aircraft see and acquire the two surrogate missiles. IBCS integrates the aircraft sensor data with that of available ground sensors, including Sentinel, Patriot weapon system and U.S. Marine Corps TPS-59 radars. All share information via the IBCS Integrated Fire Control Network (IFCN). As one sensor loses sight of the threats – and each will at some point – the targets are acquired by other sensors on the IFCN, enabling IBCS to create a precise, uninterrupted composite track of each missile’s movements.

With data from every sensor, IBCS produces a single integrated air picture on the screens of the air defense soldiers at TAC-2. They see every change in altitude and direction as the two surrogate missiles paint tracks across their screens. Because IBCS enables joint weapons as well as joint sensors, the defenders at the controls can select the best effector to use against these targets. Today, the soldiers are about to launch two Patriot Advanced Capability 2 (PAC-2) interceptor missiles.

“Without IBCS, all those different sensors operate independently, creating opportunities for threats to avoid detection as they fly to a target,” explained Northrop Grumman IBCS Program Director Mark Rist. “Without being integrated onto a network, these sensors produce a more ambiguous, less-clear air picture, making engagements of threat systems more challenging.” https://news.northropgrumman.com/news/f ... f-soldiers

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 05 Jun 2020 19:25

USAF Lays Out Plans To Replace MQ-9 Fleet In 2030


USAF is starting a new program to replace the MQ-9 Reaper family starting 2030. The program will be split into 3 Lines of Efforts, one around the Air Vehicle, another around data-exploitation and automated sensors and the third around Ground stations and other supporting systems. The USAF wants operational aircraft to begin deliveries by Q4 of 2030 with a Q3 2031 IOC. Quite likely that multiple vendors may possibly already be flying some of the solutions it may be interested in given those timelines and the fact that this program will in all earnest only begin in 2022 which would give it around 6 years from contract award to IOC..maybe less. Northrop currently has an operational classified unmanned system, and Lockheed has a classified aviation program as well. General Atomics would most likely too but then they aren't publicly traded so don't give many hints to what they are working on.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 06 Jun 2020 18:48

A detailed article about the Royal Australian Air Force's F-35A induction and where they currently stand:

RAAF F-35s on the rise Down Under


The commanding officer of the first Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadron to operate the Lockheed Martin F-35 believes the type marks a step change.

Wing Commander Darren Clare leads the RAAF’s 3 Sqn, based at RAAF Williamtown, New South Wales, where it is steadily building capability and understanding of the new type.

3 Sqn operates 12 F-35As out of the 17 examples permanently located in Australia. The other five are with the air force’s 2 Sqn operational conversion unit (OCU), also located at Williamtown. Canberra’s five other F-35As and seven instructors remain at Luke AFB, Arizona, where they are part of the F-35 programme’s international training effort.

Another four F-35As will be ferried to Australia sometime in late July. Ultimately, Canberra has plans to obtain 72 F-35s, which could eventually rise to 100.

According to Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD), its F-35s are cleared to employ a “suite of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons”. These include the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X, as well as laser- and GPS-guided bombs. Also cleared is the internally-mounted GAU-22 25mm cannon. Final operating capability will come when the RAAF has three operational units – also including its 75 and 77 squadrons – supported by the OCU. Overall, Australia’s F-35 fleet has flown over 6,500h.

Clare manages to get into the air with the F-35 about three times per week. Earlier in his career he flew both the Boeing F/A-18A/B “Classic” Hornet, and the F/A-18F Super Hornet. When asked about his favourite, he clearly has a soft spot for the original Hornet – which the F-35A is replacing – but appreciates the greater capability afforded by the new type.

“The Classic fits like a glove and is the one that I’ve put the most hours on,” he says. “But if I thought I was going to be heading into combat these days, I wouldn’t want to be in anything besides an F-35. It’s quite an amazing machine.”Clare has high marks for the F-35’s handling characteristics. Some changes that require getting used to are using the helmet-mounted display as opposed to a head-up display, the different locations of various switches and buttons between Boeing and Lockheed jets, and adjusting the menus on the aircraft’s touchscreen display.

The move to the more capable, stealthy F-35A has involved some tactical changes. Operating the original Hornet placed a greater emphasis on the tactical formation, with activities such as operating sensors taking a more secondary role. And since not all the sensors were integrated, different pieces of information would reach the pilot from various origins, such as the radar, radar warning receiver, and sensors on other aircraft.

Clare says sensor integration improved when he moved to the Super Hornet, but has been fully realised on the F-35A. This means F-35s operate at a greater separation, with fused tactical information on one screen. The pilot does not necessarily know which sensor is producing a piece of information, but it is easy to find out if necessary.

“Changing to a stealthy aircraft sort of changes your mindset in tactics. When I grew up flying the classic Hornet, we’re basically shooting AIM-7 [air-to-air missiles] and dropping some laser-guided bombs and that was about it. Tactically [an F-35 pilot] is more a battlespace manager – rather than fighting in a phone booth. We do BFM [basic fighter manoeuvres] and dogfighting, but we obviously try not to get there in the first place. You’re managing your sensors, managing formation, and you’re managing your signatures. With the stealth aircraft, I can be in a position that I couldn’t be with my F-18 doing certain things, but I want to make sure that I don’t give the game away unnecessarily.”

The F-35’s datalinks are consistent with the RAAF’s “Plan Jericho” initiative to better connect platforms across the Australian military. Jericho was launched by former Air Marshal Geoff Brown in early 2015. Brown foresaw air force operations changing radically, relying on data from a range of platforms.

Another big change for pilots converting from the Hornet and Super Hornet is that the F-35 conducts air-to-air refuelling via a boom receptacle located on the upper fuselage behind the pilot. This differs from the F/A-18 family, which use the hose-and-drogue method with a refuelling arm located in the aircraft’s nose ahead and to the right of the cockpit.

“Previously I was in control,” he says. “The basket might have been moving around, but I was the one in control of when I was actually going to engage the basket, plug in and get the fuel. Once you’re in [the basket] it is easier to stay there.”

Boom refuelling requires carefully flying in formation with the tanker overhead. Still, RAAF crews are familiar with the new technique. Long delivery transits from the USA to Australia across the Pacific Ocean afford ample opportunities to practice air-to-air refuelling. “It requires a little bit more attention to stay in the right spot so the boom does not have to work too hard,” he says.

Clare dismisses a concern raised by some observers that the boom might accidently scratch the aircraft’s stealthy skin, which could theoretically compromise the type’s signature. He points out that the receptacle is located under “a couple of doors”, so while there could be metal-on-metal scratching from the boom connection, when the “doors close up you’re fine again”.

Considerable work has also gone into working with the RAAF’s three other premiere platforms: Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and the Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft. Clare notes that since the RAAF is a relatively small air force it is easy to work with colleagues in other aircraft communities.

While the RAAF still has a strong presence at Luke AFB, shifting the majority of its training to Williamtown earlier this year changed the centre of gravity for the force’s F-35A activities. All maintenance training is now undertaken in Australia, and the pilot conversion course has already produced new pilots.

At Luke AFB, RAAF maintainers were able to observe and learn from Lockheed personnel working on the international fleet there. In Williamtown, RAAF personnel maintain the aircraft with support from Lockheed field representatives. Maintainers come not just from the Hornet community, but from the full range of types in the service’s inventory. Senior maintainers even have experience on legacy types such as the General Dynamics F-111, retired in 2010, and the Boeing 707 tanker, retired in 2008. This experience is backed up by the Lockheed team.

“Some of [the Lockheed personnel] have been on the programme for a long time and been at the factory at Fort Worth for quite a while, so they provide understanding of the system,” says Clare. “When my team’s got questions about a maintenance procedure, they receive expert advice.”

The Australian DoD acknowledges that there are challenges with the F-35 programme’s Autonomic Logistics Information System, but it is positive about the F-35 Joint Program Office’s plan to create the new Operational Data Integrated Network system. It feels this will simplify maintenance, be cheaper to maintain, and be easier to upgrade.

Clare stresses that Australia’s F-35A experience has been a profound team effort.

“We’ve done a lot of training and continue to do that,” he says. “We couldn’t do it without the support of all the other air force elements, as well as the contracting industry partners and the like. That’s really the key to the success of the F 35.”


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 06 Jun 2020 19:15

Combat Aircraft Journal has a fairly comprehensive (though nothing new) article on the Block III Super Hornet and the Block II Growler. The latter doesn't get a lot of attention but as an upgrade program is probably more transformational to that aircraft's capability than the block II to III transition probably is for the Super Hornet and its mission set. Upgrades to the receiver sets, new mission computer, completely new "generation skipping" jammer sets (Mid and Low band) and a 2x increase in the range and performance of the primary weapon.

The ability to communicate with, and control, unmanned vehicles is also a very vital capability given that the US Navy now has a Stand-In Jammer program in the MALD-N. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out that one goal for the Block II Growlers would be to control, forward deployed unmanned stand in jammers, whether MALD-N's (which are networked) or other platforms that come later (like UTAP 22 based Stand In systems). The CFT's would be more than adequate (and probably still be net +) to compensate for any radius/loiter impact that comes from beefier mid-band pods.

The USN operates 160 EA-18G, all of which will be converted to Block II. They haven't shared any plans to buy new build Block II's but that could be a possibility particularly if Congress pushes the USN to re-consider terminating its F-18E/F/G program in FY21 as the USN has currently planned to do. They could then turn around and buy 36 Block 2 EA-18G's between FY22 and FY24 instead.

Image

The full article on the Block III SH can be downloaded using the link below :

https://easyupload.io/9rgq7j

Speaking of the Growler and the Next Gen. Jammer family, the US Navy, last month, started flight testing of the two (one from Northrop Grumman and another from L3 systems) prototype Low-Band systems that are competing for the NGJ-LB program. One LB pod would be carried (it can only be carried on the centerline) by each Block II Growler -

US Navy starts final tests of competing low-band jammers for EA-18G Growler


Tests of systems developed by L3Harris and Northrop Grumman are part of that programme’s Demonstration of Existing Technologies phase. They are planned to run through summer at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland, the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) said on 18 May.

The final period signals an approaching end of the 20-month competition.


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby chola » 07 Jun 2020 13:53

The Koreans just got their first F414 for the KFX. They are going to beat us to 5th gen. I've been following the AMCA for about decade now and the KFX started roughly at the same time. The AMCA seemed so far ahead for years and then a year ago the KFX started coming up again in the forums I visit and now they are ready to put engines to prototype.
https://www.geaviation.com/press-release/military-engines/ge-aviation-delivers-first-f414-engine-south-korea-kf-x-program

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 07 Jun 2020 15:27

chola wrote:The Koreans just got their first F414 for the KFX. They are going to beat us to 5th gen.


And why does that matters? DAPA and ROKAF were jointly working at crafting KFX offset and other technical assistance requirements concurrent to their fighter acquisition competitions in the 2000's and early 2010's. Similarly, they had pretty much sanctioned work that they needed to do in house vs work they needed to source from outside like from the US, Europe, or Israel. Finally, one of the results from the ROKAF's decision to pursue a larger, twin engine aircraft was that they had to (in order to meet technical risk and budget) water down the requirements of the initial iterations of the aircraft. So the first iteration that is said to be operational by or ahead of 2030 (we'll see if that actually happens) won't have functional IWB's and possibly other technologies. Similarly, because they are relying on the standard F-414 and don't seem to have funded any performance enhancements they will be limited in terms of performance. The KFX as it stands likely won't field true 5th gen capability with functional IWB and other LO tech till perhaps the mid 2030's but they have a stepping stone that they can validate and assess this decade. That is the best they can do given
A) their low'ish internal demand,
B ) the fairly substantial technical leap from T-50/FA-50 to KFX, and
C ) their less then reliable partner on the program.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 07 Jun 2020 15:41

somdev wrote:F35 programme for instance has a very large supplier ecosystem. The composite skin of F35s is supplied by multiple vendors (e.g. Orbital ATK). The vendors gained from a ‘Out-of-Autoclave’ innovation which came out of the MIT labs. I believe in our case the need of the hour is increase in number of Tejas produced every year to meet the drastic shortfall. Off the shelf tooling will definitely boost our production rates. In tandem, govt labs and Universities can do the R&D on such tooling. Even missile casings are made with OoA process these days. Carbon nanotube film is the latest research for aerospace composite manufacturing at fraction of cost and time, again developed by MIT again and sponsored by Airbus, Lockheed etc.


The F-35 is a 3,000+ aircraft, 5+ decade production, and sustainment program. That alone puts literally a ton of incentives in the lap of industry and military service (and/or industry) co-funded lab and academia. The sheer number of ManTech efforts initiated, validated, and matured leading up to, and during the development of the block 3 and now the block 4 F-35 are mind boggling. The list would run into the dozens if one tallied all of those up.It is still happening as components and technologies are identified that are not meeting their reliability or affordability goals. The underlying enabler there is a constant need and financial and other incentives that are on the table that justify these investments. The payoffs are in the form of a better product that is more affordable to manufacture (better margins, earlier than anticipated, for industry), more affordable to get to spec (another adv to industry) and higher performer (adv to the operator) and a more future proof product in general requiring less costly upgrades to add additional capability (adv. to both the operator and industry as their future products have better odds of being taken up given a particular budget profile).

One of the examples of this is the technology maturity effort that led to getting the F-35 to that ultimate more-electric-aircraft end state. It was a tough lift in the early 2000's with a fair bit of failure but the end result is that the baseline F-35 (current block), despite being a single engined fighter aircraft, generates, and offers to its sub-systems, about 25% more electrical power than the twin-engined F-22A, Lockheed's/USAF's first 5th gen. aircraft.Compared to the F-15E and the F-16C the contrast is even more dramatic - 60% more power for sub-systems than the F-15E and more than 2x that compared to the F-16C. And for good reasons, between its large radar (with different duty cycle requirements compared to F-15/16 radars), EO/IR systems, EW, CNI and flight control systems its demands are substantially higher compared to those aircraft as well.

What was required to get there wasn't just a technology development breakthrough (prototype technologies were test flown on a surrogate F-16 before decisions were made on tech maturity. In fact, through the JSF validation effort they demonstrated the first fighter aircraft (modified F-16) to fly with 100% of flight critical surfaces electrically actuated) but a manufacturing sprint where Honeywell, P&W and other partners had to demonstrate that they could affordably produce what they were promising. And do so at scale. Having the ability to have a fairly substantial leap in power generation means that, short of directed energy weapon integration, you don't have to dramatically re-architecture the systems as power demands increase over time. When Northrop cuts its next generation T/R modules into production, Lockheed won't need an extensive analysis on whether there will be cascading impacts on other products that may need to be re-designed or engineered. In fact, thermal signature requirements are likely to remain the limiting factor as opposed to ability to absorb more power and distribute it to the sub-systems (Growth Option for the PW F135 engine is getting ready for contract award). So some short term pain (to develop, validate, and then produce at scale) with the benefit of higher performance, lower LCC, and easier to upgrade and add capability. Would/Could they have done it if the program was for a couple of hundred aircraft? Possibly not depending upon affordability and other goals.

My point is that scale and long term financial and operational incentives go a very long way in incentivizing a combination of private and public sector investments to make things better. Private sector is very good at initiating small scale mantech efforts that will improve short-medium financial performance (margins) or competitive positions. Public sector R&D via industry or academia is generally good for long term capability development where the industry finds hard (due to either lack of 'other commercial applications' or uncertain short-meduum term ROI) to close the business case. The payoff is significant and you see it in both near-medium term performance and far term savings from having to fewer, more dramatic technology insertion leaps.

But it isn't all rosy. Scale is both a boon and a curse for the F-35. Moderate level of Tech readiness are often sidelined because they also come with moderate to low levels of manufacturing readiness. So much so that at its scale (150+ production capacity a year), TRL takes second place to MRL. Almost always! Hurdles and pitfalls associated with producing a relatively fresh new technology (say something that may be sitting at TRL 7) are tremendous when the requirements for it are at scale. It generally takes a couple of iterations of smaller level mfg. to boost yields to a point where you are offering it at affordable costs without losing money yourself as a supplier. So if you have a high end technology that you've demonstrated in an operationally relevant environment (a TRL milestone) it doesn't automatically get considered. You have to work with the JPO or another sponsor to show that you can produce it reliably and at scale. That takes a little longer compared to more bespoke needs where you don't have similar stresses on manufacturing capability and capacity.

Your CNT example is also interesting. Getting CNT certified for the JSF was a fairly substantial lift given where that mantech effort was when the aircraft's design was finalized. Even there, they are probably underutilizing CNT compared to what they could have done had they been a little more aggressive and less risk averse.I expect this to change over time as new versions of the F-35 are created for the future.

Where they weren't risk-averse was in using CNT based solution for its RAM. In fact, as Aviation Week and others have reported, there is some indication that the Fiber-Mat on the F-35 covers the L through K band frequency range which would be a major achievement, totally worthy of it claiming the title of " the single biggest breakthrough on the F-35 program" as was attributed to it by Lockheed's GM.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby chola » 08 Jun 2020 12:49

brar_w wrote:
chola wrote:The Koreans just got their first F414 for the KFX. They are going to beat us to 5th gen.


And why does that matters? DAPA and ROKAF were jointly working at crafting KFX offset and other technical assistance requirements concurrent to their fighter acquisition competitions in the 2000's and early 2010's. Similarly, they had pretty much sanctioned work that they needed to do in house vs work they needed to source from outside like from the US, Europe, or Israel. Finally, one of the results from the ROKAF's decision to pursue a larger, twin engine aircraft was that they had to (in order to meet technical risk and budget) water down the requirements of the initial iterations of the aircraft. So the first iteration that is said to be operational by or ahead of 2030 (we'll see if that actually happens) won't have functional IWB's and possibly other technologies. Similarly, because they are relying on the standard F-414 and don't seem to have funded any performance enhancements they will be limited in terms of performance. The KFX as it stands likely won't field true 5th gen capability with functional IWB and other LO tech till perhaps the mid 2030's but they have a stepping stone that they can validate and assess this decade. That is the best they can do given
A) their low'ish internal demand,
B ) the fairly substantial technical leap from T-50/FA-50 to KFX, and
C ) their less then reliable partner on the program.


No it won't matter much. I just like to see ourselves getting the AMCA off the ground.

I enjoy your explanation of the Korean philosophy on the KFX. It seems they made compromise to get the plane off the drawing board and into the production line.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 08 Jun 2020 18:08

Qatar's F-15QA:

Image

Image

Image

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/3 ... 15qa-eagle

If the USAF chooses GE as its engine supplier this is pretty close to what the Air National Guard's F-15 EX will look like with subtle differences in the EW apertures and perhaps a blister or two around the radar..

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 08 Jun 2020 18:42

Aditya_V wrote:I think our forces need to learn, Lockheed Martin etc, when they invest in something like an F-22 or F-35 are assured of compensation no matter what the outcomes are, and more money is thrown to fix problems. Thats why the US has such a good MIC. We need similarly develop our MIC we need our nation to be secure.


That is just one scenario and not the only contract vehicle used. There are others including those which fully or partially transfer all product risk to the OEM or the design team and its supplier base. Boeing is left alone carrying all the cost-over runs on the KC-46 because it entered into such a contract. It did the same when it entered on a similar contract on the T-X and the MQ-25 for the US navy. But you have to be careful in how you apply these types of fixed contracts as the added risk, if not balanced by other incentives, commensurate with those risks, will ultimately erode your own industrial base.

No single contract vehicle is 100% appropriate across all military development or procurement applications. When you are speaking of very advanced systems, which require considerable invention, you assume the development control and authority in decision making (as a government it is in your best interest to do so). On both the aircraft programs you cited a sizable majority of decision making was controlled by a government program office and not by Lockheed. Hence a larger share of the risk is also assumed by the program office which is then held accountable via Congress and the various laws around measuring financial performance (specifically, the Nunn McCurdy Amendment in the case of a major acquisition program).

Contracting vehicles must balance risk-control (who is taking the risk) with the rewards. Private corporations will agree to assume the risks but that risk profile has to be reflected in its margins. If the margins don't get altered (no *real* financial incentives) but risks continue to be passed along to them they will just stop bidding and doing business with that particular entity. And it's not just big primes (they can probably absorb some of the risk) but most importantly the supplier base which at the mid to lower tiers is pretty much packed with small businesses who stay afloat, in large part, due to the business they get from their military customers. There is rarely a commercial market for a lot of the military products they develop and they see themselves get squeezed hard by the consolidated commercial aerospace industry (Boeing and Airbus keep getting more and more powerful via consolidation). Try going to a sub 200 person small business that is one of only 2-3 businesses that can do very high end R&D on a very specific component and asking it to bear 100% risk of developing a higher performance component. Oh, try telling them this just after they developed the V1 of this product for the F-22 after you told them you'd order components for 400-600 aircraft but only ended up ordering for 180 and change.

That said, even in those types of contracting scenarios (where risk is, in total or in a significant fashion borne by the government) the government still has the ability to, unilaterally, offload a contract even if they could not negotiate the terms with the OEM's (or they with their suppliers). The OEM by law has to accept those terms. This happened on the F-35 a couple of years ago where Lockheed and the US government could not agree upon a Lot's price and the government simply ended the negotiations and ordered to build the lot at the price the government wanted. It isn't used very often (and there are legal rules that govern its usage) but it has been used on occasions where the gap between the government and the contractor is too large to negotiate over..

At the production level programs always transition to a shared risk profile to a full risk profile once the learning curve efficiencies begin to kick in. On the F-35, fixed price production contracts began by LRIP-5 or 6 IIRC and beyond that Lockheed was on its own. It negotiated a contract with the government and had to deliver the aircraft at that price. One some, lower risk production programs, they may even enter into full risk contracts from vehicle 1. Surprisingly, the B-21 is a fixed price production contract which means that beyond 1 or two test vehicles which are funded by a cost-plus R&D contract, all 21 of the aircraft ordered as part of the initial contract (for LRIP builds) is via fixed price contracting. But then there we don't know what hardware has been built since 2010 so we can't fully understand what risk Northrop is/was taking.
Last edited by brar_w on 08 Jun 2020 19:25, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 08 Jun 2020 18:57

Sad to see Aviation Week taking the direction of popular aggregator blogs like Warzone et al with their over the top conclusions etc. But this program has been in the public domain since February of 2018 when it was first made part of public records. Facinating none the less but it isn't *one* of the two other classified hypersonic programs. Those still remain unattributed.

U.S. Army Flickr Page Inadvertently Reveals New Hypersonic Weapon Concept


A new hypersonic weapon concept has emerged inadvertently on a social media page managed by U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy that proposes describes a Mach 5-plus projectile with the ability to penetrate into defended airspace and dispense a multi-role loitering air system over a target area.

The concept—labeled as the Vintage Racer Loitering Weapon System—reveals a solution to an operational problem for the Army: When high-speed munitions, such as the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW), enter service with the ability to strike targets thousands of kilometers away, how will the Army find the most elusive targets, such as road-mobile launchers for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) or radars for air defense batteries?

The Vintage Racer concept, as revealed so far, suggests it may be possible to launch a hypersonic projectile into a general area without knowing the specific location of the target. As it reaches the target area, the projectile may be able to dispense a loitering air system, which is then uses its own sensors to find and identify the target. If the loitering system also carries a warhead, it may be able to strike the target by itself or transmit the target coordinates to another weapon.

Once the existence of the Vintage Racer concept appeared, a Russian expert on a military-political affairs noted such an idea has been discussed as a possibility within the hypersonic weapon community.

“The fear is that [this] hypersonic ‘something’ might reach the patrol area of road-mobile ICBM launchers [after] penetrating any possible air and missile defense, and then dispense loitering submunitions that will find launchers in the forests,” said Dmitry Stefanovitch, an expert at the Moscow-based Russian International Affairs Council.

Only the broadest information of the Vintage Racer weapon are visible on the briefing paper describing the concept.

The image appears in an album of photos from the AUSA convention posted to McCarthy’s Flickr account last October. Most of the pictures from the event show McCarthy meeting attendees, giving speeches and receiving informal, standing pitches from industry officials in the exhibit hall.

One picture shows McCarthy standing at a table across from an unidentified industry official in the exhibit hall. The table is covered with multiple objects, including a General Atomics press release, what appears to be a model of the LRHW and a rifled barrel of a 155mm artillery gun with a hole burned through the object.

The table is also covered with at least four sheets of briefing papers, of which three are not visible. The only visible paper, which is partly obscured by McCarthy’s right hand, is headlined “Vintage Racer - Loitering Weapon System (LWS) Overview.” The paper includes six main bullet points, which read “Hypersonic Ingress,” “Survivable,” “Time Over Target,” “Multi-role,” “Modular payload,” and “Cost Imposition Strategy.” Ten sub-bullets are also visible on the page, but the letters are not readable.

At the bottom of the page, a tag line highlighted in yellow is partly obscured by McCarthy’s hand, but the visible portion reads: “Long Range, Rapid Ingress.”

A vague reference to Vintage Racer previously appeared in Defense Department budget justification documents released in February, but went unnoticed. Under a line item owned by the Office of Secretary of Defense for a “quick reaction fund,” Vintage Racer is described as a “recent success story.”

“The project successfully validated aerodynamic design with wind tunnel testing and integrated a guidance subsystem for targeted kinetic effects before culminating in a fiscal 2019 flight test.
Documentation and prototype technologies transitioned to the U.S. Army for additional development and follow-on acquisition activities,” according to budget documents.



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