International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby NRao » 08 Jun 2020 21:19

Doug Hurley back then (right side in the left photo) and now (left side in the right photo)

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 09 Jun 2020 06:03

F135 Upgrades, Reengining Considered In New F-35 Propulsion Road Map


The F-35 Joint Program Office is assembling a proposal for dramatic thrust and fuel-efficiency improvements to the Lockheed Martin fighter’s propulsion system.

The options under review include upgrading the existing Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan and revisiting earlier studies potentially to reengine the fighter in the longer term with advanced adaptive technology to achieve a step change in range and power.Later this year or in 2021, the Joint Program Office (JPO) will submit the F-35 Propulsion Road Map for 2035, which will propose a recommended timeline for consideration by the three U.S. customers as well as international partners, a JPO spokeswoman confirms to Aviation Week.

The JPO will seek funding for the F-35 propulsion upgrade plan in the fiscal 2023 budget, which the Defense Department will unveil in early 2022.

A propulsion upgrade would mark a new phase for the program. The single-engine F-35’s impressive power capacity—up to 28,000 lb. of thrust in full military power and 43,000 lb. of thrust with the afterburner activated for the F-35A and F-35C variants, along with 27,000 lb. of thrust in full military power and 41,000 lb. of thrust with the afterburner activated for the F-35B—has been a constant throughout the program’s nearly 20-year history.

Although the F135 engine is meeting requirements now, the F-35 itself is evolving. The Block 4 Follow-on Modernization program will introduce a major electronics upgrade in Lot 15 aircraft, which are scheduled for delivery in fiscal 2023. As Block 4 introduces new sensors and weapons on the aircraft, the overall weight of the aircraft is increasing, which creates special problems for the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing F-35B. Moreover, some U.S. and foreign buyers are demanding greater range by improving fuel efficiency, adding external fuel tanks or both.

Anticipating these growing demands on the propulsion system, Pratt has since 2017 proposed a series of upgrades—known as Growth Options (GO) 1 and 2—to support Block 4 requirements, with GO-1 offering either a 6% fuel burn reduction or 10% thrust improvement. Pratt has previously said the GO-2 package reduced fuel consumption by as much as 20%, with a 15% overall thrust improvement. In 2018, Pratt also proposed another two-step upgrade package tailored for the F-35B variant, increasing the vertical thrust generated by the Rolls-Royce LiftFan by 2.5-5%.

The GO-1 package is focused on upgraded materials, blade-geometry refinements and coating improvements in the high-pressure compressor, turbine and combustor. Elements of the upgrade derive from technology tested since 2013 in the U.S. Navy Fuel Burn Reduction program and from the even earlier Air Force-supported component and engine structural-assessment research (Caesar) initiative for the F119 engine that preceded the F135.

The more ambitious GO-2 package leverages variable-cycle advances developed as part of the more recent Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Adaptive Engine Technology Demonstration (AETD) program. Although Pratt has not detailed which specific elements of AETD these involve, they are likely to include the adaptive fan module tested on an F135 in 2017 at the Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Complex in Tennessee as well at the company’s facilities in Florida.

AETD was also the forerunner of the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP), which the AFRL launched in 2016 when it awarded contracts worth $1 billion each to General Electric and Pratt to design, build and test prototype 45,0000-lb.-thrust-class adaptive engines. The new centerline designs exploit technology developed under the earlier Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology and AETD, both of which tested ways of dynamically modulating a third stream of air between the engine’s core and bypass duct. The variable-cycle concept enables optimized operations at different flight conditions, saving up to 25% in fuel burn and generating up to 10% extra thrust.

Designated the GE XA100 and Pratt XA101, the two AETP engines are designed to mature adaptive-cycle technology, which is sized for potential application in the F-35 as well as follow-on sixth-generation fighter designs. The initial flight-weight prototypes are expected to be delivered to ground-test teams in 2021. Given typical engine-development timelines, this would suggest they could be certified and ready to enter production within five years.

Although the AETP program offered a potential pathway to develop an alternate engine for the F-35, as of last year there seemed to be no path to transition the technology into the program. Senate appropriators rebuked the Air Force in 2019 for the absence of a transition strategy for AETP or adaptive-cycle technology, in general, despite more than 13 years of research.

As the Senate published its criticism, however, the F-35 JPO was already moving behind the scenes to consider propulsion-upgrade options.

The internal F-35 Operational Advisory Group endorsed a propulsion-growth study last fall, the JPO spokeswoman confirmed for the first time on June 4. As a result, the Program Management Office (PMO) for the F-35 propulsion system began two separate efforts.

First, the PMO partnered with Naval Air Systems Command’s Advance Design Group to analyze growth projections for the weight and thermal requirements of the F-35 air vehicle and mission systems. The working group then evaluated potential upgrade options for the F135, including elements of Pratt’s GO-1 and GO-2 proposals. Lockheed and Pratt will support the study under pending contracts worth $1.5 million-2 million, the JPO said.

In parallel, the F135 PMO also “engaged” with the AETP program at AFRL, the JPO spokeswoman said.

The PMO now plans to “develop a technology transition road map that could provide an alternative engine option that capitalizes on the latest technologies that promise both high performance and significant gains in fuel efficiency,” the JPO spokeswoman said.

The parallel tracks appear to be focused on potential upgrades in two windows of time: before and after 2030. Pratt’s GO-1 and GO-2 packages for the F135 likely fall in the former window, with the more radical AETP reengining possibly considered for after 2030.

“The initial study is aimed at variant common solutions that could be fielded in the timeframe between now and 2030,” the JPO spokeswoman said. “The study will also identify whether the F135 can grow to meet the planned mission-system modernization requirements.”

The AETP’s suitability for the F-35 is controversial even among the vendors. Although adaptive airflow technology may be attractive for a new clean-sheet design, it is not clear if the technology is capable of integrating inside an existing aircraft without significant modifications.

For his part, Matthew Bromberg, president of Pratt’s military engines business, says the XA101 is tailored for the F-35A and that more integration work would be required for application in the F-35C. He also says the diameter of a three-stream AETP engine is too wide for the already cramped F-35B engine compartment. A split fleet of new aircraft with AETP engines and older aircraft with F135s also erodes the economic benefits of a common propulsion system, Bromberg says. GE officials, however, say the AETP technology was designed specifically to fit inside the F-35, though it remains unclear if this includes the F-35B variant.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby ldev » 09 Jun 2020 19:30

MOD 78: THE PURPOSE OF THIS BILATERAL MODIFICATION IS TO EXTEND THE DEMO-2 FLIGHT TEST FROM TWO WEEKS TO UP TO 119 DAYS AND ADD THE REQUIREMENT FOR 45TH OPERATIONS GROUP DETACHMENT 3 (DET-3) JOINT TEST TRAINING FOR PCM-1 THROUGH PCM-6 IN EXCHANGE FOR ALLOWING REUSE OF THE FALCON 9 LAUNCH VEHICLE AND CREW DRAGON SPACECRAFT BEGINNING WITH PCM-2.


So it looks like SpaceX has got approval or is about to get approval to fly NASA astronauts via Crew Dragon 2 on a previously used Falcon 9 first stage!! This expresses high confidence by NASA in SpaceX to allow this re-used first stage launch capability for manned missions.

https://beta.sam.gov/awards/90121604%2BIDV

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby NRao » 10 Jun 2020 09:31


ldev
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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby ldev » 11 Jun 2020 01:11

What a sight!! Falcon 9 first stage being brought back to shore after the Crew Dragon Launch.
One Falcon 9 first stage has been launched and recovered 5 times!!
Image

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 11 Jun 2020 08:19

ldev wrote:Will the upgraded USAF F-16s with the AN/APG-83 be armed with the 120D?


It depends upon a whole host of factors. As of April, 2020, quite a few USAF F-16's are capable of employing the AIM-120 D. I think the number is around 500. They don't have the AESA radar but from a mission computer and software perspective they can now carry and launch the weapon. In time radar and other upgrades will come as well. In the future, the F-16 will be gradually pushed out to the ANG units. Do all the Air National Guard F-16's really need the AIM-120D for their mission? Probably not. Will some of the units get it? Probably.

But the USAF and USN have approx a 3,200 missile inventory for the AIM-120D at this point and the total projected inventory (before the US stops buying the weapon in Fiscal Year 25/26) is only around 9,000 in total so there likely will be some priority towards F-22's, F-15 E's and F-35's. I mean a sale is a sale, but do you really want to count on Bahrain, Bulgaria, and Slovenia to share cost for similar level of upgrades the IAF is likely to demand?
Last edited by brar_w on 11 Jun 2020 08:49, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby ldev » 11 Jun 2020 08:24

brar_w wrote:
ldev wrote:Will the upgraded USAF F-16s with the AN/APG-83 be armed with the 120D?


It depends upon a whole host of factors. As of April, 2020, quite a few USAF F-16's are capable of employing the AIM-120 D. I think the number is around 500. In the future, the F-16 will be gradually pushed out to the ANG units. Do all the Air National Guard F-16's really need the AIM-120D for their mission? Probably not. Will some of the units get it? Probably.

But the USAF and USN have approx a 3,200 missile inventory for the AIM-120D at this point and the total projected inventory (before the US stops buying the weapon in Fiscal Year 25/26) is only around 9,000 in total so there likely will be some priority towards F-22's, F-15 E's and F-35's.


Thanks, very informative.

Left to me I would have got 72 F16s, Block 60-70 (with the 120D) for the IAF in 2016 for the same amount of cash as 36 Rafale. The 120D is no slouch even compared to the Meteor. And then specified the RBE-2 Thales radar for the Tejas, for the first 83 at least with the Meteor and Mica. Hey presto, the IAF would have 150+ very competitive 4th gen fighters by 2022-23. And LM would have delivered 24-36 by now based on a 2016 order I presume.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 11 Jun 2020 08:37

The Rafale is a more future proof weapons system and overall a better aircraft. The F-16 is approaching its end of life (though it may well end up with a half a dozen years of production and triple digit production at its new final assembly line) and there is very little scope for a major upgrade because its primary customer is moving away from the platform at a very rapid clip (USAF is buying 60 F-35A's a year and that number will likely climb by 20% at FRP). The French will have only the Rafale till 2040. It is almost their entire combat fighter force so they will have no other choice but to fully back upgrades through at least 2040. So in an ideal world, some of the higher upfront cost that one pays for the Rafale is offset by the more *future proof* nature of the platform It is expensive and so will be the upgrades but at least there you will be sharing the burden with the French Air Force that has some high technology demands from its AF. Compare that to the F-16V customer base and their willingness or ability to shell out serious cash for major upgrades in the future. I mean a sale is a sale, but do you really want to count on Bahrain, Bulgaria, and Slovenia to share cost for similar level of upgrades the IAF is likely to demand?

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby ldev » 11 Jun 2020 08:54

Very true. I was looking at it from a cost per unit/capability point of view and which vendor can deliver those numbers quickly. But the Rafale no doubt is a far more future proof aircraft.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby V_Raman » 11 Jun 2020 13:37

This future proofing business is overrated IMO. It is a foreign aircraft. We will have to pay arm/leg to upgrade it. M2K is the case in point. F16 can be upgraded as well if necessary with more modern avionics, radar, etc. in the future. If Mig21 could be upgraded - anything is possible - at the right price!

IMO - it is face saving measure to get Rafale after all the evaluation etc. We had too many lofty goals during evaluation and ended up with a damp squib as we realized that we cant afford it.

F16 is no slouch. If we wanted a ton of birds for lowest money - we could have made a g2g deal with the Americans. But it was too late.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 11 Jun 2020 18:28

V_Raman wrote:This future proofing business is overrated IMO. It is a foreign aircraft. We will have to pay arm/leg to upgrade it. M2K is the case in point. F16 can be upgraded as well if necessary with more modern avionics, radar, etc. in the future.


I think you are conflating issues here. Future proofing, the way I used it, is more having to do with upgrades and a technological road map being in place for that platform across its Life Cycle. The F-16 V is probably the last major upgrade the F-16 is going to go through. Tough to see anything else done to that platform. In the absence of a large, influential, and well resourced operator almost all the possible future technologies would remain un-integrated into the platform. This means that those few who may actually want it would not only have to pay, at times, to develop them but also to fully integrate them and test the aircraft etc. The USAF isn't even incorporating 100% of the Block 70/72 technologies. They are selectively choosing from the ones they think they'll need, to stay within an upgrade budget. In time, just like the F-15C's are currently (all but one squadron), the entire F-16 force structure would be transferred to the ANG. When that happens the resources available will diminish even further. So don't expect wholesale adoption of upgrade packages on those upgraded aircraft come 2030. As the airframes get older the business case for a major capability overhaul gets more difficult to make.

Compare and contrast this to the F-16 capability of the past and what the F-35 program is doing. The Viper probably has the widest selection of weapons of any US aircraft (possibly with the exception of the B-52). They have been constantly testing, integrating stuff into it for the last many decades. There were economies of scale (it was the backbone of US and NATO operators after all). But that is rapidly changing. The USAF is buying nearly a complete Air-Wing's worth of F-35A's each year. When you add the entire annual US deliveries the # is closer to 100. Similarly, NATO operators and other F-16 users are migrating to that platform at a fairly rapid pace. With that transition the urgency to integrate new capability, weapons, and to constantly look to pull in new technologies is picking up pace just like it was the case as the F-16A program transitioned to the F-16 C back in the day. With this shift, any particular F-16 user looking to keep the platform at the very bleeding edge of what's technologically possible (for it) is going to have to pay a pretty significant chunk of that without relying on others to come in and share that cost. Slovenia, Bulgaria, Bahrain, and even Taiwan don't have the same high-end needs or standards of the IAF and neither its resources. There is no guarantee that these air-forces will have similar intentions, ambitions or resources to fund major MLU like upgrades come 2040.

V_Raman wrote:If Mig21 could be upgraded - anything is possible - at the right price!


Sure it is. I never said that there were physical barriers (though there may well be in some areas) to F-16's being upgraded with technology that may be relevant in the decades to come. All I'm saying is that as users transition to the F-35 at a very fast pace, and as others delegate their F-16's to less important (at least from a resource allocation stand point) missions, those upgrades will continue to become more and more cost prohibitive. This is completely opposite to how F-16 upgrades have traditionally been. Its USP has been the very fact that it has a very large installed base and that a large portion of that (NATO Vipers) were at times in sync as far as their upgrade paths were concerned thereby bringing in economies of scale.

V_Raman wrote:F16 is no slouch. If we wanted a ton of birds for lowest money - we could have made a g2g deal with the Americans. But it was too late.


Never said it was a slouch. It is a pretty capable aircraft with a lot of options in terms of systems and weapons. But these decisions mean that the platform will be in service for possibly 40 years. I can't even imagine what an F-16V MLU looks like in 2040, who buys it, and who pays for it. As I wrote in my prior post, affordability and cost are relative terms especially in the LCC things. Yes French upgrades will be expensive because they operate fewer Rafales than even the USAF's F-22A fleet. But at least the IAF won't have to go looking for them in terms if identifying technologies, and paying someone else to integrate them, or otherwise acquire the ability to integrate them in house. A large chunk of them will be done by the French given how important/critical the platform is to their Air Force. This is the same for the F-35 where Block 4 is now at full steam in terms of development even before many of the development partners have hit their FOC milestones. And Block 5 efforts are already being identified and they're getting ready to fund early work on them. So basically an entire 10-12 year product development and improvement/upgrade roadmap, much of it already funded, is ahead of that program. What's the equivalent of that in the F-16 world for the 2020's and into 2030s? This eco-system (however small or large it may be) won't exist for the F-16V in the future. There has to be some cost-consideration within the LCC calculation to account for this. Sure it may come in at say 70% of the upfront cost of the Rafale, but what portion of that upfront savings do you have to invest back in to the platform because you are left stranded as the only large operator who wants to insert some of the more challenging and expensive technologies , 10-15 years into the future? This is the same story as the MiG-35 but there you even lack any sort of installed base (at least the F-16V will have a decent installed base though not a huge one).

And these arguments aren't just theoretical but most certainly are made at the decision making level as well. One of the reason the F-35A was beating the Typhoon, Rafale, S Hornet and Strike Eagle in competition after competition despite, at the time (Early LRIP blocks), being more costly upfront was the fact that the users could see that unlike them, this platfrom was just getting started on its development path and heading towards a very large installed base. A lot of what they spend in terms of higher upfront cost, will be recovered over 3-4 decades of use as they get assured product development, upgrades and the overall more future-proof fighter that it is. This fact was probably not lost on the IAF and the MOD when it chose the Rafale over other options. The F-16 would have been a great and cost effective option if ordered in the mid to late 2000's (right after the UAE fielded its Block 60's). It was the only fighter jet in its class to field an AESA radar, and an AESA based EW suite in the mid 2000's. Come mid 2020's, the IAF could have gotten one major upgrade done to align that program with some of the other technologies out there. But to buy it in the 2020 time-frame with the intention of keeping it for 4 decades is a tough pill to swallow. Especially compared to more future proof options like the Rafale.


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 12 Jun 2020 04:31

Taiwan flies indigenous advanced trainer

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The first example of the Taiwanese AT-5 advanced jet trainer (AJT) has flown for the first time. The maiden flight of the first of two flying prototypes, “A1”, took place on June 10 at Ching Chuan Kang air base, the Ministry of National Defense announced. Built by the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), the AT-5 prototype flew for around 20 minutes, with its undercarriage extended throughout the flight. It was escorted by two examples of the two-seat F-CK-1D fighter upon which the AT-5 is based.

According to the state-owned Central News Agency, the flight was “the first of three days of tests being conducted by the air force before an official test flight is held on 22 June at the air base.” CNA further reported that “[the air force] has previously said the AJT has already cleared the required pre-flight dynamic and static tests.” Those static tests were conducted by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) on two static test airframes.

The Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) is to procure 66 AT-5s to equip two units. One is currently based at Kangshan flying the AIDC AT-3 advanced trainer, and the other is at Taitung flying Northrop F-5E/Fs on weapons/fighter lead-in training. Both types are nearing the end of their service lives. Production of the AT-5 is due to start by the end of 2021 and run through 2026.
...

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 12 Jun 2020 05:38

Canada releases preliminary report on CH-148 Cyclone crash

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The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone maritime and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter that crashed in the Ionian Sea on 29 April did not respond as the crew would have anticipated while performing a final complex manoeuvre turn to close with the HMCS Fredericton, according to a preliminary report.

The From the Investigator (FTI) report released 8 June determined that the CH-148 was returning from a routine surface reconnaissance mission followed by additional training of flight deck evolutions for aircrew proficiency before landing on the HMCS Fredericton. The helicopter had flown by the port side of the ship, from stern to bow, before making a left-hand turn to establish a downwind leg in preparation for approach to the ship.

The aircraft then began a final left turn to prepare for the approach. During this turn to close with the ship, the helicopter did not respond as the crew would have anticipated. This event occurred at low altitude, was unrecoverable, and the CH-148 entered a high-energy descent and crashed into the water astern the ship.

The investigation is ongoing and will focus on aircraft systems and human factors. The CAF fleet of CH-148 aircraft remains on an operational pause while the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) investigates the cause of the crash.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Barath » 12 Jun 2020 13:08

https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/ ... est-mishap
Hypersonic test missile for HAWC suffered a mishap during a captive carry flight test.

Thought to be the LM version, rather than the Raytheon version.

Article also references the tactical boost glide (TBG) and ARRW (another boost glide) test/dev programs

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 12 Jun 2020 20:17

^^ Yeah, I posted the article in the US Mil thread. Tough luck and a very surprising incident (though little to no context exists) but better to loose a captive carry FV than a flight worthy FV.

Barath wrote:
Article also references the tactical boost glide (TBG) and ARRW (another boost glide) test/dev programs


TBG is the parent program/ transition program for ARRW as in TBG designs, develops, builds, and tests the BGV and guidance that goes into ARRW. The ARRW program (AGM-183A) is running in parallel, and focusing on a new booster, and aircraft integration. They are both literally running neck and neck and part of this may have been because ARRW finalization and work caused a slight delay to TBG because ARRW requires an entire industrial base to be created to produce weapons instead of just a BGV that comes out a lab or a prototype facility. TBG is expected (Lockheed variant) to begin flight testing this year (could happen any time now) and late next year for Raytheon's BGV design. ARRW has already begun its captive carry flight tests and will begin booster tests next year.
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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 12 Jun 2020 20:18

U.S. Senate panel authorizes $9.1 billion for 95 F-35 jets made by Lockheed


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee said on Thursday it had authorized $9.1 billion to procure 95 F-35 aircraft in its version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, an annual bill setting policy for the Department of Defense.

The 95 F-35s authorized in the bill are 14 more than requested by President Donald Trump’s administration.

The Senate committee also authorized the U.S. Air Force to keep six F-35s originally sold to Turkey.



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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 13 Jun 2020 03:12

Denmark begins F-35 preparations

Denmark has begun preparations for receiving its first Lockheed Martin F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) combat aircraft, with the country’s parliament approving construction of facilities and the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) revealing the national livery to adorn the jets.

With the RDAF set to receive the first of its 27-contracted F-35As in 2021, the Danish parliament on 11 June approved legislation to build dedicated facilities at Skveststrup Flyvestation in Southern Jutland ahead of the commencement of type-operations there in 2023.

..

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 13 Jun 2020 03:51

Russia orders 20 Su-34 Fullback fighter bombers

From AW&ST

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MOSCOW—Last week’s Russian Defense Ministry contract with Sukhoi for 20 Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers is an interim step until development of a modernized variant is completed, an industry source tells Aerospace DAILY.


The Russian Air Force received the first Su-34 in December 2006. Based on the Su-27 Flanker airframe, the new fighter-bomber was designed to replace aging Su-24 tactical strike aircraft. After the preproduction batch of five aircraft, the military placed two larger orders for the new bomber—for 32 aircraft in 2008 and for 92 in 2012. The last four aircraft under the latter order are to be delivered this year, the source confirms.

The military planned to buy more Su-34s, but in a modernized variant equipped with new avionics and weapons. The CEO of Sukhoi parent United Aircraft Corp., Yury Slyusar, was cited by RIA Novosti in December 2019 as saying the new contract with the military was for deliveries of the upgraded Su-34M variant.

At the end of May, Russian media reports said such a contract could include 76 aircraft, with deliveries running through 2027. This deal was postponed as the development of the new version was not completed and the military had not yet defined the final configuration, a source says. So the Air Force preferred instead to order 20 aircraft from the future purchase in baseline configuration.


The Russian military currently operates about 120 Su-34 bombers. Although the type is based on Su-27UB design, it features a completely new forward section with a cockpit providing side-by-side seating for two-men crew, increased takeoff weight and combat load.

The upgrade to the Su-34M variant may include the installation of three types of Sych avionics, strap-on nacelles designed by NPO Mashinostroyeniya for electronic intelligence, and electro-optical reconnaissance and radar surveillance, according to media reports.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 13 Jun 2020 03:58

Latest peep into USAF's F-35 facility in Ft Worth (Lockheed). Also, the first F-35A destined for Alaska's 355 Fighter squadron (the second Alaskan squadron) is getting ready to hit the floor even as the first squadron receives its third aircraft. The squadron has been activated and inactivated on a number of occasions and has flown combat missions, most recently with the A-10 and flew the P-51 into combat during WWII.

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https://twitter.com/LockheedMartin/stat ... 1134620673

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby kit » 14 Jun 2020 02:36

https://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing/why-the-usaf-is-keen-on-car-maker-know-how-for-future-fighter-production/138786.article


“One of the hallmarks is that we’re never waiting on technology. If there is a whiz-bang technology we really want in our airplane, but it’s just not mature enough to go in [the aircraft] yet, we can use our digital thread, design it in, go ahead and produce the airplane and field it,” says Roper. “Once that technology matures, [we can] drop in that subsystem after the fact, with zero rework, learning curve, all those things that bite us when we try to do them in an analogue world.”

The so-called “digital thread” creates meticulous virtual models of an aircraft. These can help quickly update technical documentation once a design change is proposed or made. Roper cites Boeing’s efforts with the USAF T-7A Red Hawk jet trainer as an example of a digital thread allowing a company to quickly field an aircraft. The trainer was unveiled in 2016 and passed its critical design review on 9 June.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 14 Jun 2020 02:48

The F-35's production process and other assemblies have been designed around digital thread (article linked below). NGAD envisions the entire system, including future variants, processes, component production, assemblies, and even MRO being digitally designed ( with tools and processes of much higher fidelity than used previously) and up for development and evaluation right upfront before a contract is adopted. And he wants to mature and essentially "buy" multiple digital designs upfront and produce them in small batches. So no winner takes all or even "takes most". Each promising design will get multiple bites at the apple.

That is a giant leap from the F-35. Boeing has completed its capstone, and Lockheed Martin is finishing the final phase of its capstone. This based on just what is shared openly though there is some evidence that advanced systems and prototypes of production air-vehicles having been already built. Lockheed acknowledged (to its shareholders) one such program very recently and NG already has an operational classified program where timelines would align with its capstone work. This would explain why Roper feels confident enough (in the absence of any concrete "built" program that we can all see) to take this new approach through Milestone A before the end of the current Fiscal Year (which ends in September). Each of the three vendors would have had to get to at least a TRL-7 with these tools to launch M-A and advance through the program. On the weapons side, the new GBSD (M-III ICBM replacement), and a few other weapons are already following this approach, and it has also been used in a couple of Satellite production programs though he hasn't specified which.

The F-35 Digital Thread Production Process: Donald Kinard Provides an Overview


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 14 Jun 2020 21:01

Important milestone for the US Navy ahead of its first F-35C deployment. The "Argonauts" will be the first unit that takes the F-35C on its maiden Aircraft Carrier cruise, and getting top-gun training into its ranks was something that they needed to do as getting a few pilots from the squadron graduated ensures that the learnings peculate down to the rest of the squadron well ahead of the first deployment. Wouldn't be surprised if additional pilots also rotate.

The US Navy is often criticized for being very conservative in taking their time to deploy a new ship class or aviation platform. But the flip side of that is that when they do their expectations from these platfroms are very similar to what they would expect from a more mature platfrom executing the same deployment. To enable that level of confidence requires time, both in terms of system maturity and familiarity but also advanced training for the crew.

For example, even prior to beginning the formal Operational Test and Evaluation the F-35C had three dedicated, multi-week long, at sea DT at sea testing trials usually consisting of a couple of hundred TO/landings/bolters (each) focused on envelope expansion. This followed by several other at sea detachments more specific to training and ship integration (as opposed to platform testing). Then official OT&E (flying portion of which has concluded). That's nearly 6 years of cyclical at-sea testing (DT I, DTII, DTIII, CQSI, Formal OTE) prior to first operational deployment. Would be interesting to contrast this to what the Chinese do with their Flanker clone, F-31 or whatever else they decide to put on the carrier. There is a tendency to attribute mythical capability to them when it comes to them "operationalizing" ships and aircraft at a clip that seems to be significantly faster than other well experienced naval forces around the world. Either they have invented a secret sauce that the rest of the world simply doesn't have access to, or they are simply cutting corners. It just takes a long time to fully test and integrate naval aircraft (and even carriers and large vessels/subs etc) and then to develop a training and competent base of operator that can actually employ a new system in combat with proficiency.

First F-35C, Lightning II TOPGUN Class Graduation


“Our focus on the students that go through TOPGUN is not limited to teaching them the tactics, techniques and procedures that are required for them to successfully employ their aircraft, integrated into a larger force,” said NAWDC TOPGUN Department Head, Cmdr. Timothy Myers. “We are also in the business of teaching our graduates how to instruct other students, so that when they go back to the Fleet, they are able to instruct at a very high level.”

For the last few years, NAWDC and TOPGUN have been working to develop the skill-sets, curriculum and experienced instructors required to execute a syllabus that fully integrates F-35C tactics, techniques and procedures. While all F-35C tactics instructors have completed the TOPGUN course previously, this is the first time TOPGUN has graduated students who are currently flying the Lightning II, utilizing a syllabus that has been developed, from the ground up, specifically for F-35C integrated operations. This was accomplished by the gradual introduction of F-35C tactics into the training curriculum for previous classes. The result is a cadre of highly-trained instructors executing a fully-integrated F-35C syllabus, providing well-rounded “graduate-level” training for the fifth-generation fighter to take back to the Fleet.

“Our focus is on assisting the SFTIs at the operational Fleet squadron, pushing the big picture tactics and ensuring that everything is ready to go for the first and subsequent F-35C carrier deployments,” said Goodwin. “The idea is that VFA-147 SFTIs can use the standards of tactical execution we provide to train their own people and take that knowledge with them through deployment. We are here to ensure that they are set up for success.”

This milestone is the latest feather in the cap for the U.S. Navy’s F-35C program. Since the stand-up of Commander, Joint Strike Fighter Wing in August 2018, the program has declared Safe-for-Flight Operations Certification (SFFOC) for both VFA-147 “Argonauts” and VMFA-314 “Black Knights.” In February 2019, the Navy and Marine Corps both declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the F-35C and VFA-125, the F-35C fleet replacement squadron (FRS), graduated its first newly-winged F-35C aviators. In May 2019, VFA-101 “Grim Reapers” was deactivated, consolidating most of its resources at NAS Lemoore. Additionally, both VFA-147 and VFA-125 continue to meet program requirements, pass inspections, and receive certifications while continuously participating in numerous detachments both ashore and at sea.



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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 15 Jun 2020 08:47

As UAV's and UCAV's become more prevalent and a need to refuel them mid air becomes increasingly important, systems like this could play a very important role in how all this is implemented (Though one school of thought is that the UAV/UCAV sensors and processing would make more efficient at refueling though that remains to be proven in real life).

The X-47 has already demonstrated aerial refueling but active/operational systems can probably expand the envelope considerably in adverse weather with use of the active stabilization ( in the US this would obviously mean USN / USMC systems).

This will probably also be welcomed by pilots and make the refueling process less stressful...

You can see the actively stabilized drogue on the right and a a standard drogue on the left of the video. Zooming into the video also helps to see the active system in use --




The ASDRS consists of a pair of aluminum shrouds that can rotate and are mounted onto the exiting hose end of the refueling coupling. On these shrouds are pairs of lift and roll strakes, which are devices mounted to improve aerodynamics, driven by onboard direct current motors that, when rotated, produce the lift force and roll moments to counteract the disturbances. When not aerodynamically controlling the position, the strakes generate torque which is stored as power in onboard capacitors to drive the system.

Drogue position is monitored by a closed loop control that was developed over the last 10 years through SBIR contracts with AMA. This test entry was the first application where closed-loop control and position monitoring were demonstrated on a full-length hose and drogue setup.

LINK

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 17 Jun 2020 06:01

The article provides good contrast between the two teams. Sikorsky/Boeing have focused on component level maturity demonstration and supplying that level of maturity and cost data. Bell has focused more resources on envelope expansion and flying. No doubt the V-280 is a more mature and cost effective design but Sikorsky will likely be better at slow speed agility and performance. [Ignore the lack of understanding of the author on what the maximum possible speed and cruise speed requirements for FVL. The two are required to cruise, with specific payloads and mission profiles, at 250 knots or more. This needs to be compared with similar cruise speeds of the Black Hawk.]

FVL: Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant Hits 235 MPH, Aims For 288

The SB>1 Defiant compound helicopter reached 205 knots (235.9 mph) in a flight test last week, and it did so while running its engine at less than half power, Sikorsky test pilot Bill Fell said this morning. Once ground testing this summer confirms all systems are ready – and one such test was audibly whirring in the background as Fell spoke with reporters this morning – the aircraft will ramp up to full power over time, reaching a projected 250 knots (287.7 mph) “within a few months.”

By comparison, the UH-60 Black Hawk that Defiant is vying to replace maxes out at 193 knots (222 mph). So Defiant, a joint Sikorsky-Boeing product, is already faster than the Army’s current helicopters. But it’s not faster than Bell’s competing proposal for a Black Hawk replacement, the V-280 Valor, which has already exceeded the 280 knot (322 mph) goal for which it’s named....



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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 17 Jun 2020 18:09

Besides the USMC, which has a funded replacement plan but needs upgrades none the less just given the replacement cycle and deployments within it, Canada seems to be the only Hornet user that is going down the path of an upgrade instead of a well timed replacement. If exercised, this could mean that they have grounds to now move their replacement schedule to the right if a political need to do so is beneficial (they WILL run into massive cost over runs with their surface combatant program). Of course they benefited from the USMC funding a lot of this so that it is available to them as an 'already integrated' package as opposed to leading the integration themselves..

Canadian CF-18 upgrade package OK’d by US


The U.S. State Department has cleared Canada to purchase a package of upgrades for its fleet of CF-18 Hornets, including upgraded radars and weapons, intended to serve as a bridge between the legacy fleet and Canada’s future fighter.

The package, which comes with an estimated price tag of $862.3 million, would fulfill the requirements for Canada’s “Hornet Extension Project Phase 2,” which was announced last year. The program seeks to upgrade the “sensors, weapons, survivability, security and mission support to maintain parity with evolving threats” for 36 of Canada’s Hornets, with initial delivery in 2023, according to a statement on the Canadian military’s website.

Canada has 80 CF-18s in inventory and is in the midst of a long attempt to replace the aging fighters with 88 newer designs — one of which has been marred with restarts and political challenges. The Phase 2 extension is designed to help bridge the capability gap until new jets come online.

Among the upgrades included in this potential package: 50 Sidewinder AIM-9X Block II tactical missiles; 38 APG-79(V)4 active electronically scanned array radars; 38 APG-79(V)4 AESA radar A1 kits; 46 F/A-18A wide-band RADOMEs; upgrades to the Advanced Distributed Combat Training System; and technical assistance to support the upgraded jets.

“This sale will provide Canada a 2-squadron bridge of enhanced F/A-18A aircraft to continue meeting NORAD and NATO commitments while it gradually introduces new advanced aircraft via the Future Fighter Capability Program between 2025 and 2035,” said a statement from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, using an acronym for the U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The proposed sale of the capabilities, as listed, will improve Canada’s capability to meet current and future warfare threats and provide greater security for its critical infrastructure,” it added.

Work would be performed by Raytheon in its El Segundo, California, location; General Dynamics Mission Systems in Marion, Virginia; Boeing’s St. Louis, Missouri, facility; and Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Any industrial offset agreements will be sorted out in the future.

Announcements of potential Foreign Military Sales deals are not final, and dollar amounts or quantities of items may change during final negotiation.
Last edited by brar_w on 17 Jun 2020 18:42, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 17 Jun 2020 18:24

Raytheon Smart Weapon Completes First Guided Release from Navy Super Hornet


Raytheon’s Missiles & Defense business recently carried out the first guided release of a GBU-53/B StormBreaker smart weapon from an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which will become the second fighter to utilize the weapon when the program reaches initial operational capability later this year, the company said.

“StormBreaker is the only weapon that enables pilots to hit moving targets during bad weather or if dust and smoke are in the area,” said Cristy Stagg, the StormBreaker program director for Raytheon. “Super Hornet pilots will be able to use poor visibility to their advantage when StormBreaker integration is complete.”

During the U.S. Navy flight test, StormBreaker safely separated from the fighter and received guidance data from the plane, enabling it to be directed to its target while in flight.

StormBreaker, formerly known as Small-Diameter Bomb II, features a tri-mode seeker that uses imaging infrared and millimeter wave radar in its normal mode. The weapon can also deploy its semi-active laser or GPS guidance to hit targets.

The smart weapon gives operators the ability in combat to hit moving targets in some of the worst weather conditions. The winged munition autonomously detects and classifies moving targets in poor visibility situations caused by darkness, bad weather, smoke or dust kicked up by helicopters.

The weapon’s seeker works in three modes:

Millimeter wave radar detects and tracks targets through weather.
Imaging infrared provides enhanced target discrimination.
Semi-active laser enables the weapon to track an airborne laser designator or one on the ground.
The tri-mode seeker shares targeting information among all three modes, enabling StormBreaker to engage fixed or moving targets at any time of day and in all weather conditions.

StormBreaker’s small size enables the use of fewer aircraft to take out the same number of targets as larger weapons that require multiple jets. The weapon can also fly more than 45 miles to strike mobile targets, reducing the amount of time that aircrews spend in harm’s way.

The F-15E Eagle is the first platform to add StormBreaker; it’s also being integrated on the F-35 joint strike fighter.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 18 Jun 2020 08:20

US Navy’s test squadrons receive next-gen Super Hornet


The US Navy is welcoming its next generation multi-mission tactical fighter by taking delivery of the first Block III F/A-18 Super Hornet test jets this month, as part of its continuing effort to improve aircraft lethality, survivability, interoperability and sustainability in an ever-evolving threat environment.

Like every aircraft slated for the fleet, The Boeing Company-produced two-seat model (F287) and single-seat (E323) will undergo comprehensive testing. At Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX-23) will perform shore-based carrier testing and focus mainly on the hardware and aeromechanical aspects of test with the F model. At VX-31, located at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, teams will examine software functionality and network architecture, explained Capt. Mike Burks, F/A-18 E/F deputy program manager.

He added that once testing is complete at VX-23, the two-seated model will ferry to VX-31 to complete Block III flight testing.

“Now it’s up to our test squadrons and our integration team to verify requirements are met and ensure the engineering behind the Block III is validated prior to full-scale production and delivery of the Block III to the fleet,” said Burks.

While the jet’s exterior appearance is largely unchanged, Block III’s increased service life of 10,000 flight hours and reduced radar signature are accompanied by a new avionics suite that brings the Common Tactical Picture into the cockpit. Aircrew will also find an Advanced Cockpit System, with large touchscreen displays for improved user interface and more powerful computing through the Distributed Targeting Processor Network and Tactical Targeting Network Technology.

F/A-18 & EA-1G Program Manager (PMA-265) Capt. Jason Denney recalled Block III started as an unconventional acquisition program in support of maintaining improved aviation readiness and speed to the fleet initiatives as the Navy revamped its roadmap.

After leveraging nearly two decades worth of cost and production data, the award-winning NAVAIR contracts team was able to expeditiously award a roughly $4 billion multiyear procurement contract to Boeing in March 2019. For taxpayers, this provides significant cost savings in the form of bulk purchasing and long-range planning that capitalizes on existing production lines that will allow the Navy to acquire a minimum of 24 strike fighters each year through fiscal year 2021.

In addition to the Block III delivery, Boeing will also perform Service Life Modification (SLM) to hundreds of Block II Super Hornets that extend their service lives and integrate Block III capabilities. SLM is key in building both the capacity and capability to ensure the Navy has jets ready to fight out into the mid-2040s.

“These new capabilities are essential for ensuring we maintain the tactical advantage in the Great Power Competition. Block III production and SLM for our Block IIs also demonstrate contracting efficiency and solid partnerships with industry,” said Denney. “An all-around win for the Navy, for Boeing, and for the warfighter.”

The first squadron deployment of Block III Super Hornet is anticipated in mid-2023, with a plan in place to have two Block III squadrons, composed of new production and Block IIs that have undergone SLM, accompanying each Carrier Air Wing by 2027.

“It’s been an outstanding effort by thousands of people throughout the Navy and industry across America to reach this milestone, and their work is far from done,” said Denney.

“I have no doubt that the test squadrons and flight test engineers are eager to put these jets through their paces and make sure we’re bringing a highly capable and adaptable platform to the fleet with Block III.”


Image from first flight/roll-out:

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 18 Jun 2020 18:17

While the USAF has recently started using Hot Pit refueling on their F-35A's, the USMC has been doing so from day 1 and are refining their equipment and tactics to make hot pit refueling from austere bases more efficient -

MWSS-371 Employs TAGR System during FARP Operation


Five minutes. That’s the amount of time it took for Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 371 to refuel an F-35B Lightning II and get it back in the air. This was all part of a forward arming and refueling point (FARP) operation hosted by Marine Corps Air Station Yuma during which the tactical aviation ground refueling system (TAGRS) was employed.

A FARP is setup by a support squadron and can have one or several distributive fuel points across a landing zone that enable aircraft to land and obtain both fuel and ordnance during a mission.

“Our mission today was to support VMFA-122 with a one-point static-FARP,” said Staff Sgt. Steve Anderson, a bulk fuel specialist with MWSS-371. “We issue fuel to aircraft that come in to support their objectives in the area.”

The TAGRS was first implemented by MWSS-371 during Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) Course 1-19 in October 2018. The TAGRS team, led by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Chris Moser, the MWSS-371 fuels officer, succeeded in reducing the one-point FARP establishment time by 90 percent and the total refueling time by 50 percent. During this recent FARP operation, the MWSS-371 Marines refueled each F-35B Lightning II in under ten minutes.

The TAGRS includes all of the refueling components in one compact system allowing for rapid setup and breakdown. This makes it essential for expeditionary advanced base operations (EABO) which seek to further distribute lethality in austere environments. The EABO concept advocates employing mobile, relatively low-cost capabilities such as the TAGRS to create a foot hold in order to extend the area of operations.

Cpl. Jesus Jimenez, a bulk fuel specialist with MWSS-371 explained, “It can pump fuel faster than the helicopter expedient refueling system, and it has four filter separators in it to filter out water and sediment, along with two points and two fire extinguishers. So we’re able to establish a FARP with just this system. All we need is a fuel source.

The TAGRS and its operators are capable of being air-inserted making the asset expeditionary. It effectively eliminates the complications of embarkation and transportation of gear to the landing zone.

“What makes this system so unique is its mobility,” said Anderson. “We can pack the entire system in the back of a trailer and tow it into MV-22 Ospreys, CH-53 Super Stallions, or KC-130J Super Hercules, and drop it into an austere environment to extend the area of operations for aircraft so that they can attack further inland or pierce directly into the heart of the enemy.”...


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Rishi_Tri » 18 Jun 2020 21:29

History:

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/2020 ... -a-country

Mark Piesing
16th June 2020
A decade after the end of World War Two, Canada built a jet which pushed technology to its limits. But its demise showed why smaller nations found it difficult to compete in the Jet Age.
I
In the early years of the Cold War, Canada decided to design and build the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world.

Canada is well known for its rugged bush planes, capable of rough landings and hair-raising take-offs in the wilderness. From the late 1930s, the North American country had also started to manufacture British-designed planes for the Allied war effort. Many of these planes were iconic wartime designs like the Hawker Hurricane fighter and Avro Lancaster bomber.

Ambitious Canadian politicians and engineers weren’t satisfied with this. They decided to forge a world-leading aircraft manufacturing industry out of the factories and skilled workforce built up during the war. Tired of manufacturing aircraft designed by others, this new generation of Canadian leaders were determined to produce Canadian designs. Avro Aircraft, the Canadian airplane maker created after the war, was the company that would deliver their dream.

Freed from the set ways-of-thinking of Avro’s more established rivals, the firm’s engineers were able to work on revolutionary jet fighters, commercial airliners, flying saucers and even a space plane. They placed Canada at the technological cutting edge of the new Jet Age.
In so doing, these engineers challenged notions of what small countries like Canada could achieve in the hi-tech industries of the day, even if convincing politicians to stump up the cash for them was an altogether trickier business.

Then came the Arrow. On 4 October 1957, 14,000 people watched a large hangar on the outskirts of Toronto open to reveal a beautiful, large, white, delta-wing aircraft. The plane was the Avro Arrow interceptor. A third longer and broader than today’s Eurofighter Typhoon, the Arrow could fly close to Mach 2.0 (1,500 mph, or the maximum speed of Concorde), and had the potential to fly even faster. It was Canada’s Can$250m (US$1,58bn today) bid to become an aviation superpower.

The project was genuinely ground-breaking. Avro’s engineers had been allowed to build a record-breaker without compromise. But Canadians would soon discover that the supersonic age had made aviation projects so expensive that only a handful of countries could carry them out – and Canada, unfortunately, wasn’t one of them.

The advert for Avro Aircraft celebrating the “first 50 years of powered flight in Canada 1909–1959” had only just been printed when on “Black Friday”, 20 February 1959, the loudspeaker of the Avro Aircraft factory on the outskirts of Toronto crackled to life. Thousands of workers heard the company president announce “that f------ prick in Ottawa” (the newly elected Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker) had cancelled the entire Arrow programme. Later that day, 14,500 skilled men and women lost their jobs. Many of these engineers joined the brain-drain to the United States. The "Avro group" of 32 engineers playing critical roles in Nasa's Apollo programme, which – ironically – beat the Soviets in the race to land a man on the moon.

Ken Barnes was a senior draftsman on the project to build the revolutionary plane when he heard the bad news. Like many Canadians, Barnes was appalled by the decision to cancel the Avro Arrow. When Barnes was told to destroy the blueprints, he hid them in his basement. There the designs stayed until Barnes's nephew discovered them after his death. It was a revelation that made headlines across Canada last year and fuelled hopes of another miracle, that perhaps one of the planes had somehow escaped destruction.

If the mass layoffs was an act of brinkmanship by the company, then it didn't work. In a move which shocked Canada, the cutting up of the Arrow prototypes took place in front of the silent factory. The moment was captured in a grainy black-and-white photograph which continues to haunt Canada. Three years later the Avro Aircraft company would be gone, with a total loss of around 50,000 jobs.

"You won't find many other countries that are so invested in an aircraft that never saw service," says Erin Gregory, curator of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. “For Canadians, there is a sense of missed opportunities. Then there's the idea that we are a vast country with a small population and an innovative spirit that punches above its weight in many areas and the Arrow was one of those. It was the height of aviation technology, and Avro was the high-tech aviation firm in Canada. Yet, their government foils them."

“Canadians aren’t sitting around every night reliving the glory days of the Arrow,” says Amy Shira Teitel, a Canadian spaceflight historian and author of Fighting for Space: Two Pilots and Their Historic Battle for Female Spaceflight. “But Canada is obsessed with Canadiana, and the Arrow was revolutionary. It was a Mach 2 jet on par with the United States, and it was Canadian, made in Malton, Ontario. Then there was the weird decision to cancel it with no warning: ‘We failed to sell the plane to either Britain or the United States, so let’s destroy it and pretend it never happened.’”
There is an old Canadian joke that says the best thing that happened to America was the cancellation of the Arrow. Many Canadians did make the next step and instinctively blame their southern 'frenemy' for the failure of the programme.

But the controversy and conspiracy theories hid a critical truth. “Hi-tech defence projects are very expensive,” says Joe Coles, publisher of Hush-Kit, an aviation blog. "Without a large guaranteed order from your nation, they are usually prohibitively so.”

“By the time it was cancelled, the cost of the programme had ballooned to an astonishing Canadian $250m,” says Gregory. "That was an extraordinary amount of money in the 1950s, especially for a country as small as Canada. Given that millions of more dollars were still needed, it was a pretty easy cut to make."

The Arrow was a reflection of the unique company that built it. Avro Aircraft was born of the British strategy of using “shadow factories” to disperse the production of planes, tanks and other armaments in the build-up to World War Two. During the war, the factory produced iconic aircraft such as the Hawker Hurricane and the Lancaster bomber. With victory approaching, the Canadian government minister CD Howe believed it was of “utmost importance” to use this opportunity to establish a Canadian aircraft industry. Avro’s engineers rose to the challenge. In 1949 came the C-102 Jetliner, Canada’s first jet plane, North America’s first passenger jet, and the world's second jet airliner. One year later they rolled out Canada’s first – and so far, only mass-produced – jet fighter, the CF-100 Canuck. Though the company shared a name with the makers of the Lancaster bomber, it was in fact a subsidiary of Hawker.

Avro’s hush-hush Special Project Group pioneered flying saucer-shaped vertical take-off and landing aircraft like the Avrocar. Another group was working on the Space Threshold Vehicle to take a man to the edge of space and back. A feasibility study for a supersonic transatlantic airliner was ready by the time of the Arrow's cancellation.

"Avro was both incredible in its achievements and central to the nation's aspirations to become an aeronautical powerhouse," says Randall Wakelam, a history professor at the Royal Military College of Canada. "The government intended to take Canada from being a small-time assembler of aircraft designed in the UK or US to become an international-level manufacturer the equal of other nations."

Ottawa’s decisions didn’t always help the manufacturer. In 1950 the Cold War turned hot when North Korea invaded the South. CD Howe demanded that Avro cancel the Jetliner project and prioritise the manufacture of the Canuck. In a foreshadowing of the fate of the Arrow, American interest in manufacturing the plane was ignored and workers cut up the Jetliner prototype.

Then in 1954, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) published requirements for a new fighter. The Arrow won, but quickly grew into a complex project that pushed forward the edge of scientific knowledge, Avro’s ability to manage it and the government’s ability to afford it. The interceptor had to be able to fly and fire at 50,000ft and speeds over Mach 1.5. It had to be to operate in the harsh conditions of the Arctic and be able to fly the long distances that this required.

To achieve these goals, the Avro engineers created the first non-experimental fly-by-wire control system (a system that replaces the conventional manual flight controls of an aircraft with a computer-controlled system) in an aircraft and a navigational computer that used real-time telemetry. They used new materials in its airframe, and, at a sister company, designed and built the new powerful, lightweight, supersonic Iroquois engine. To make the most of its capabilities, the interceptor spawned a new weapons programme called Astra (nicknamed "Astronomically Expensive"), and a new missile.

The Arrow was so advanced that Canada didn't have all the facilities for testing it. Instead, the engineers had to use facilities in the USA such as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) supersonic research centre at Langley Park, Virginia. The Canadians and their aircraft impressed their American colleagues – a calling card that had lasting consequences for the future of humanity. In 1958 NACA became Nasa.

“The Arrow was an extremely high-performance, hi-tech fighter,” says Coles. “Its designers had made very few compromises to keep its costs down, and it was very much the 'gold-plated' solution.”

The Arrow achieved another first. It was the first time that engineers built prototypes of such a sophisticated aircraft using production tooling rather than handmade by engineers. This process meant that it was a mere 28 months from the first drawing of the Arrow to its rollout, and by February 1959 the production line was up and running.

By the time the loudspeaker crackled into life on Black Friday, there were five flying prototypes. There was another fitted with an Iroquois engine nearly ready to fly and another four in various states of assembly. In the factory were the majority of parts for the production aircraft. Proposals for a Mach 3 and a hypersonic – Mach 5 – version of the Arrow were on the drawing board, as was a "zero-length launch Arrow", which would blast into the air from a raised launch pad like Thunderbird 1 from the science fiction television series.

“Problems had been brewing, if not publicly discussed, for many months before Diefenbaker made his decision,” says Wakelam. “The issue of whether to keep going or abandon the project was caught in the warp and weft not only of national pride and technological advancement but also in the economics of jobs, limited federal budgets, scarce markets and shifting threats.”

As with the Jetliner, Diefenbaker’s government ordered all the prototypes broken up despite the offers from the United States to buy all the completed planes, as well a request from Britain to use some of the aircraft for research into supersonic flight The rest of the Arrow project fared no better. The government had cancelled the Astra system already. One Iroquois engine was given to Britain to help its supersonic airliner project. Yet, the government didn't pursue the project, despite commercial interest.

However, Nasa didn’t waste any time. They first approached Avro’s engineers within hours of the project’s cancellation. The 32 men they chose went to work on projects like Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Jim Chamberlain, ex-chief of technical design, led the Gemini mission and was one of the leading advocates for the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (LOR). Owen Maynard, a former senior stress engineer, was the man most responsible for the design of the Lunar Module.

A huge contingent of the engineers who made up Nasa's Space Task Group were from Avro, and they laid the foundation for Nasa’s Spaceflight Center,” says Amy Shira Teitel. “Canadians are way too modest to say I did it, but a lot of the people who made the critical decisions in the Apollo-era were Canadian.

“I think getting to the Moon without those brains would have looked very different.”

Apollo wasn’t the end of their mission either. The Avro group went onto influence the Space Shuttle programme and the International Space Station.
Not long after “Black Friday”, rumours started to spread that an Arrows had been smuggled to safety by one of the test pilots. By comparing the first pictures of the destruction of the prototypes outside of the Avro factory with later ones, it appeared that prototype RL-202 had disappeared. There were witnesses as well. Canadian writer, June Callwood, who lived near the plant, claimed to hear an Arrow taking off the day of its cancellation. Then in 1968, Air Marshall Wilfred Curtis, a wartime hero and the man in charge of the Arrow programme refused to answer when asked in an interview if an Arrow had been smuggled to safety.

Fuelled by the discovery of ejector seats from the Arrow and other artefacts in the United Kingdom, “Arrowheads” started to wonder if one of the jets had been smuggled to safety in the United Kingdom. These discoveries, in turn, prompted according to one report, an eyewitness to recount an incident at an RAF base in Kent in the 1960s when a white delta-wing aircraft with no national markings or registration landed. Was it the Arrow?

Draughtsman Ken Barnes wasn’t the only Avro employee who smuggled out a piece of the Avro or priceless document on “Black Friday” – and, perhaps, rather than seeing these artefacts as evidence that there is a lost Arrow waiting to be found, together they add up to a missing aircraft.
After losing his job, Barnes eventually ended up on the Canadian team which designed the robotic arm for Nasa’s Space Shuttle.

“In the end, despite what some may say, it wasn’t US pressure that killed the Arrow,” says Coles. “It was the sobering budgetary requirements of this Canadian super-fighter.”

Yet, Avro Aircraft may have faced the same fate even if the Arrow programme had continued. “You just need to think about the vast number of aircraft you see at the ‘boneyard’ in Pima, Arizona,” says Gregory. “All those American firms were churning out new designs all through the Cold War because they were fed contracts by the government. The United States can afford that, but I just don’t know what contract the Canadian government could have given to Avro to have carried the company into 60s, 70s and 80s.”

Yet, one element of Canada’s war time vision has been turned into reality. “Canada has the fifth largest aerospace industry in the world,” Gregory adds.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 19 Jun 2020 02:39

From AW&ST

Canada will be upgrading 2 squadrons worth (36 jets) of F/A-18 C/Ds with AESA radar, AIM-9X and JSOW to keep them operational longer and to allow a bridge capability till the new replacement fighter is selected and begins deliveries in 2025 (if at all).

Canada Mimics Marine Corps Makeover For F/A-18C/D Fleet

With operators in Europe, the Middle East and Asia looking on, an upgrade package approved by the State Department on June 16 for up to 36 Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) F/A-18C/Ds cements a new configuration aimed at keeping the Boeing-made jets in service decades beyond their planned retirement dates.

A group of Raytheon-made sensors and weapons—APG-79(v)4 active, electronically scanned array radars, AIM-9X Block II air-to-air missiles and AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapons—will be included in the RCAF’s newly defined Phase 2 upgrade to help keep a subset of the 94-member CF-18 fleet operating into the 2030s. The State Department previously cleared Canada to acquire 32 AIM-120D advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles for the CF-18.


The package, defined in a Defense Security Cooperation Agency notification to Congress on June 16, offers few surprises. The Phase 2 Hornet Extension Program will be closely aligned with a U.S. Marine Corps initiative to keep at least two squadrons of F/A-18C/Ds in service beyond 2029, as both the Marines and the RCAF have waited longer than expected for a replacement jet to arrive.

The U.S. Navy tipped the radar selection for the RCAF in a June 11 presolicitation notice that specified the APG-79(v)4, showing an intent to prevent Northrop Grumman from offering the APG-83 for the Canadian program. The Marines evaluated the APG-83 and the APG-79 two years ago, but selected the latter as the successor to the Raytheon APG-73 for the “classic” Hornet fleet.

“Partnering with the [Marines], who are completing the same radar upgrade, will enable the introduction of this new capability faster, more efficiently and at reduced cost for both services,” the Canadian Department of National Defense (DND) tells Aviation Week in a statement.

The upgrades by the Canadians and the U.S. Marines are driven by the same issue. A delayed delivery schedule for the Lockheed Martin F-35B has forced the Marines to keep a fleet of Legacy F/A-18s in service for a decade longer than planned.

The Canadian government’s 11-year-old pursuit of a CF-18 replacement (highlighted by failed attempts to acquire 65 Lockheed Martin F-35As in 2010 and an interim fleet of 18 Boeing F/A-18E/F aircraft in 2016) is still in competition mode, with a contract award for 88 fighters due in 2022. Three bidding teams—F/A-18E/F, F-35A and the Saab JAS 39 Gripen—must submit final bids by July 31, which includes a one-month delay to account for the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry.


“These [CF-18] upgrades will provide a capability bridge until transition to a permanent replacement fighter,” the DND says.

Canada’s fighter delays have not been easy for the RCAF to manage. The current fleet, acquired in the early 1980s, was originally expected to be retired in the early 2000s. A retirement date in 2020 fell through as the government of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper stalled on signing the contract for the controversial F-35A selection. The new administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed the selection process to 2022. The CF-18 is now set for retirement in 2032.

The situation is different in Finland. Although the Finnish Air Force operates the youngest fleet of F/A-18C/Ds, the head of the HX fighter competition has roundly rejected calls to extend their service life into the 2030s, saying even a few extra years of operations would cost at least €1.2 billion ($1.35 billion).

The State Department cleared the RCAF to buy 50 infrared-guided AIM-9X Block II missiles, 38 APG-79(v)4 radars and 20 AGM-154C glide bombs as part of an overall package worth $862 million. The bundle includes electronic equipment, tactical data and support.

The CAD$1.3 billion ($960 million) CF-18 Hornet Enhancement Program is divided in two phases. Phase 1 updates all 94 aircraft, including 18 former Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18C/Ds acquired two years ago, with interoperability and regulatory upgrades, including a new GPS/international navigation system, Identification Friend or Foe transponder, Link 16 tactical radios, satellite communications, targeting pod modifications and improved helmets.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 19 Jun 2020 02:43

From AW&ST

Germany OKs Plans For Eurofighter AESA Retrofit

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Germany’s plans to upgrade Berlin’s fleet of Eurofighters with the Captor-E active electronically scanned array (AESA) have been given a green light by lawmakers.

The decision means that Germany will be the first of the Eurofighter partner nations to retrofit the sensor. The approval paves the way for all 110 Tranche 2/3 Eurofighters to be upgraded with the Mk.1 version of the Captor-E, with first deliveries planned for 2023.


With the Parliamentary approvals on June 17, a contract with German defense electronics firm Hensoldt and Airbus is likely to be concluded in July. Hensoldt will be the design authority for the German radars and Airbus will run the test and integration elements of the upgrade.

The contract is likely to be worth around €2 billion ($2.2 billion), with the lion’s share, €1.5 billion, to go to Hensoldt.


“With this decision, Germany is taking on a pioneering role in the field of key technology for the Eurofighter for the first time,” Hensoldt CEO Thomas Müller said. “This will create high-tech jobs in Germany and give the Bundeswehr the equipment it needs to respond to new threats. In addition, it is a signal for Europe that Germany is investing in a technology that is of crucial importance for European defense cooperation.”

Airbus Defense and Space CEO Dirk Hoke welcomed the news, saying that the addition of the radar will increase the mission effectiveness of the aircraft and help integrate it with the Future Combat Air System in the coming years. Officials note that the upgrade plans could also help bolster export ambitions for the fighter as the consortium pushes to sell the Eurofighter to Finland and Switzerland.

The Captor-E radar has been developed by the Euroradar consortium led by Leonardo and includes Hensoldt and Indra. However, German Captor-Es Mk.1s will be produced by Hensoldt, although Leonardo will supply the radar’s processor and provide significant support to assist Hensoldt to take on the role of design authority.

The Captor-E is currently being developed in three versions. The Mk.0 will be delivered on the Eurofighter Typhoons destined for Kuwait and Qatar, with Kuwait expected to receive its first AESA-equipped aircraft later this year.

The Mk.1 radar is developed from the Mk.0 and features additional modes and a multichannel receiver. As well as being retrofitted to the German Tranche 2 and 3 aircraft, it will also likely be fitted on 38 new-build aircraft planned under Berlin’s Quadriga buy to replace its existing Tranche 1 Eurofighters, which lack the computing and electrical power for the AESA installation.


Work has also begun on the Radar 2 being developed for the UK, which will feature an electronic attack capability. It is due to be ready in the mid-2020s for use on British Royal Air Force Tranche 3 aircraft.

The Captor-E boosts the range and performance of the existing mechanically scanned Captor radar and adds a mechanical antenna repositioner, which gives the radar a much-increased field of regard compared to other AESA radar systems.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby Kartik » 19 Jun 2020 02:46

From AW&ST

Germany Cancels P-3C Upgrade, Begins Search For New Sub Hunter


Germany has begun to hunt for a new maritime patrol aircraft after canceling a planned modernization of its Lockheed P-3C Orion fleet.

Airbus and Lockheed Martin were contracted by the German defense ministry in 2015 to undertake an eight-year-long, midlife update of the fleet, including rewinging to extend the life of the turboprop maritime patrollers by 15,000 hr.

But Berlin has grown concerned about the program’s cost and a series of technical difficulties, which have resulted in what German defense officials described as “insufficient operational readiness without any foreseeable improvement.” Documents published by the Germany defense ministry on program status suggest that delays related to the installation of avionics and sensors potentially added four years to complete the upgrade program, extending it from 2023 to 2027. Officials also note that one of the P-3s was badly damaged during a refueling process in March, further reducing the number of airframes available to them.

But a rewinging process on two of the aircraft will be completed.

The German defense ministry says that any anti-submarine and maritime patrol capability gap caused by the elimination of the P-3C “cannot be tolerated.” As a result, procurement officials have begun carrying out a “market review,” taking into account “all platforms available on the market.”

Although it has a relatively small coastline, Germany has always taken its maritime patrol capabilities seriously, particularly as a significant proportion of its exports leave the country via its northern ports.

Germany’s eight P-3s were introduced into service in 2005, having been purchased second hand from the Netherlands. The Orions replaced the Breguet Atlantic, which had served the German navy since the early 1960s.

The upgrade program had been envisioned to sustain the fleet through the mid-2030s, when it would have been replaced by a new multinationally developed multimission platform, the Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS). MAWS would have possibly been based on the Airbus A320 airframe and replaced the French navy’s Dassault Atlantique. But the MAWS project’s future now looks less certain.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 19 Jun 2020 20:28

These sort of internal R&D projects and their continuous evaluation, testing and validation (internal and by customer) are pivotal steps in achieving next generation aero systems, be it for manned, unmanned, or optionally manned platforms across a whole host of missions and use cases.

Northrop Grumman / Scaled Composites have been flying their N401XP for at least 3 years now (that we know of). Hard to see it not being a test bed for a whole host of technologies they are pitching for the next gen. fighter, or the MQ-Next which replaces the MQ-9 family starting 2030.

Given that there is now details around the operationalization of the RQ-180, one has to wonder what other technologies require a completely new test bed (I guess there is something to be said about testing this on a "known" and revealable platform as opposed to something that likely can only be used at night and over very few test ranges or open ocean).

Stealthy 'Son Of Ares' Mystery Jet Appears With Odd Markings And NASA F-15 Escort


Last week The War Zone reported on intriguing tests involving Scaled Composites' high-flying Proteus test platform and the company's two Model 401 'Son Of Ares' stealthy jet demonstrators, which still largely remain a mystery. We can now say that these missions have not only continued, they have expanded to include new aircraft types.

This week, the trio of highly experimental aircraft were airborne once again over and near the Navy's massive Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake range complex in the Mojave Desert. Proteus and one of the Model 401s sortied from Scaled Composite's home base at Mojave Air and Space Port, while the other Model 401 flew out of China Lake, just like last time. But this time around they were joined by another player, a NASA F-15D Eagle carrying a large pod.

The appearance of a NASA F-15 for the tests is interesting. Nearby Armstrong Flight Research Center supports development and flight test work that have both civilian and military applications. Considering the exotic podded payloads Proteus often lugs around, which range between NASA scientific instruments to advanced military sensors, its involvement isn't too puzzling. Our photo contributor Christopher McGreevy found himself under the flight path of the F-15D and the Model 401 and captured a couple of photos of the formation:

According to local observers and plane trackers, the Model 401s flew together at times and separate at others and a KC-10 was present to provide fuel for the NASA F-15D as the tests wore on. Proteus was also close by at a similar altitude, around 25,000 feet, as the Model 401s, flying its large racetrack-like patterns oftentimes to the west of the action

Hans Friedel was near Mojave as this was going on and snapped some photos of one of the Model 401s and Proteus as they recovered at Mojave Air and Space Port. This is our first good look at N401XP in its configuration for these tests. Note that the aircraft wears a new overall gray coating and there are large discolored diamond-like shapes below the cockpit and on its lower tail section. It is unclear what exactly these patches are for, but it seems like the Model 401s may be participating in a test that at least has something to do with their signatures, which can include radar, electronic, infrared, and visual.

We also get a look at the other side of the pod Proteus is carrying, which appears to have some sort of electro-optical system installed. It's not clear if there is also a radar or some emitter situated in between, as well. If so, this would certainly help slew the optical systems on to their targets. With two apertures seen, it may make sense why two model 401s are participating in the test. The configuration would also point to why the planes are flying largely on the same plane as the cameras, if they are cameras, as they would have a limited ability to pan and tilt in this flush-mounted configuration. Still, we don't know for sure what the payload is or its utility for certain, so take all this with a grain of salt....

There has been much speculation that these aircraft could be manned or optionally manned demonstrators to prove unmanned technologies, such as the loyal wingman concept of operations and more. Like many other Scaled Composites other designs, their actual reason for being may be multi-fold or will shift over time.

Hanz also pointed out to us that the Model 401 sounds remarkably strange when landing and he even connected it to a video of an RQ-170 Sentinel landing at Creech Air Force Base some time ago that we have discussed here on The War Zone in the past.

It is not clear if the similarities are due to a common powerplant or the odd inlet designs on both aircraft, or even a combination of both, but it is interesting none the less.

So, that is where it sits now. There has been no action with the Model 401s today as far as we can tell, although Raytheon's 'Voodoo 1' 727 sensor test jet has been flying over the same area that Proteus was yesterday. It isn't clear if any of this is tied to the ongoing testing in question. Regardless, it seems clear that whatever program is underway involving these little stealthy jets it is a complex one that requires a large variety of assets and multiple test flights.



Image
Image

Here's a version of the multi-spectral pod (likely an older variant) that was used to validate the F22A's IR signature specifications in a dynamic environment -

Image

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 20 Jun 2020 01:25

This seems to be one of the things that NG/SC are testing on the N-401 this time around..

Stealthy 'Son Of Ares' Jet Seen Covered In Mirrors During Mysterious Test Flights


Image

The images show a large portion of what is likely the Model 401 registered as N401XD—its twin is registered as N401XP—substantially mirrored over with dark coatings covering much of the remaining surfaces. It looks like some primer paint or another coating exists around the canopy bow and the leading edges of the dorsal jet air intake. It is unclear if the aircraft has the same application on both sides. This is undoubtedly one incredibly bizarre-looking treatment on an already alien-looking aircraft. The photographer who took the photos said the extremely bright glint coming from its fuselage made the aircraft very visible.

So, the question is, why mirror over a large portion a jet for a test? We can't answer that definitively, but we have some ideas.

The first would be to support laser testing. The Pentagon has a slew of directed energy efforts ongoing, including those in the air-to-air realm. Considering where the treatment is situated on the aircraft, the latter would seem like the most likely application. The pod hung under Proteus for the tests appears to have two large dark lenses and one smaller one that could be indicative of cameras needed to record a laser test. They are fixed and facing directly to the side of the aircraft, so recording another aircraft would make sense here especially considering that the Model 401 jets and Proteus have been flying at around the same altitude, but offset laterally to varying distances.

The pod does have a large sliding door on the bottom, a feature that is usually associated with electro-optical systems. As to whether it holds a directed energy turret is unknown, but we do know that the demonstrators were flying with a NASA F-15D recently that was carrying an unusual pod that looks similar to one that may hold a laser system (see below)...

The other thought we had is that this could be part of an ongoing test of infrared sensors, quite possibly infrared search and track (IRST) systems that are going to be fielded very soon within the Air Force and Navy. By using different coatings, including one that is blindingly effective, it could push the sensor to its limits and could help uncover hardware flaws and software issues that could occur in a real-world environment with the system.

A mirrored aircraft, in particular, may prove to be a unique challenge for these systems, and flying one alongside an exact copy of that aircraft without the treatment could provide a control variable to test against. The two Model 401s have been flying together for much of the testing that has occurred, according to flight tracking software. This would also help explain Proteus' pod with the dark optical windows, which would house the infrared sensors, as well as the reason for other aircraft to take part in these tests, including F-117s, which have a reduced infrared signature not commonly found on combat aircraft....


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby NRao » 20 Jun 2020 03:04

For geeks who may want to understand aspects of avionics in stealth design. Uses the F-22 here.


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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 21 Jun 2020 08:42

^^ Remarkable given that the F-22A flew nearly 25 years ago, and the YF-22 nearly 30 years ago. Wonder what tech/capability they are sitting on now.

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby brar_w » 21 Jun 2020 20:32

arvin wrote:As per this link, Group Captain HV Thakur, deputy chief test pilot, HAL says


That doesn't mean that the trainer had a "lesser" requirement. In a competitive landscape these are actually very hard requirements (balancing performance with affordability) That just meant that HAL was thinking about (but didn't actually participate) entering a combat aircraft for a trainer competition and requirement.

What was being judged on the T-X, was not just aircraft performance and most certainly not any inherent or residual combat capability. It was how the proposal (aircraft) excelled at the training mission, how the mission systems supported the current and future mission, and what the proposed non aircraft training portion was (Live Virtual Constructive training and ground simulators) was going to be. The Tejas is not a trainer and when the T-X was competed, no dedicated full training solution was available from that family (or even funded?) besides the two seater combat aircraft. There was the T-50 (a dedicated trainer and ground solution from which a combat aircraft was derived later), the M-346, a dedicated trainer aircraft, and two clean sheet designs (one of which was never put forth but flew nonetheless) with their accompanying training solutions which were designed, validated and some demonstrations done to the customer.

This would have been akin to SAAB pitching the Gripen for advanced trainer requirements. How often do you see that happening (successfully) in the international trainer market? Even for the very high end training requirements (USAF RFI/RFP most certainly represented some of the hardest trainer requirements compared to other competitions in this space) you still need a complete training solution that has the performance, training, and affordability characteristics relevant to those evaluating a training solution. While higher performance will offset some of the cost disadvantage (USAF T-X requirements emphasized performance and provided a scale for seeking an adjusted (downwards) cost based on higher than spec performance) but it would have been quite absurd to use that to offset cost based on capability that the program didn't even demand (like performance that benefited the combat mission).

The trainer requirement is large enough for a trainer product to exist. Boeing smartly excluded materials, mfg processes, or features that would have added cost. The T-7A is essentially an aluminum airplane ("only composite structure on the jet will be the nose"). They didn't use advanced materials because it had limited impact on trainer performance but had an impact on cost both for them to build it but down the road for current USAF trainer support infrastructure to sustain their new aircraft. So from start their focus was on looking at a finite set of requirements (training requirements for T-X) and designing the most affordable trainer they could to meet and exceed them. The Tejas is a combat aircraft and it isn't as easy to strip off materials or design features in the interest of keeping it simple and catering to just one requirement. If it were, SAAB would have done so on the Gripen and would winning competition after competition in the trainer space given the higher performance compared to the rest.

Having had a look at the early requirements and customer conversations, two major aerospace primes (Boeing and Northrop Grumman) designed, built and flew clean-sheets. This was no accident. They most definitely would have looked at derivatives (Boeing/SAAB could have created a stripped down Gripen C for example) but they clearly saw them being more competitive with a clean sheet design. USAF T-X was very unique as far as trainer competitions are concerned because it had the scale (and the other benefits of being selected by the USAF and the impact of that on other international sales) where companies could pour internal funds into creating clean sheet designs, and flying them ahead of source selection, and still be in a position to turn a profit. In the case of Boeing you had a company that not only invested hundreds of millions in designing and building a clean sheet (and offering a "fly before you buy" proposal) ahead of source selection, but then backing that up with a "win at all cost" mentality which led to one of its competitors publicly stating that had they bid at Boeing's level they would have never turned a profit on the program. Given those dynamics, HAL was probably better off of not sinking internal funds into the competition (in hindsight). In fact, Wes Bush, the CEO of Northrop at the time saw this (he is/was one of the sharpest CEO's of his time in the A&D sector) and basically walked away from going into a bidding war and sinking tens of millions more in flying his proposal to get all the data the USAF wanted. This after developing, and flying -

Image

Based on what Boeing pitched, as a fixed price (not to exceed) offer basically amounted to a fly-away cost of $20 Million per unit, and an acquisition per unit cost of around $24 Million per unit to the USAF that includes the Ground Based Training System as proposed by Boeing and selected by the USAF. This for a built in the US product with majority US supplier base (even SAAB will eventually make its components in its Indiana facility). This is a fixed price contract meaning that the not to exceed cost is for Boeing to honor so if they miss it, they will have to eat up the losses. This is something that Lockheed/KAI couldn't match even with the mature, in service, T-50 design. And the T-7A will likely be better than the T-50 as far as performance is concerned, at least in areas which the USAF clearly specified it was willing to pay more for better_than_threshold performance.

On Boeing's part, they removed a lot of excess capability by being the most tailored product to the exact USAF requirements and removed some financial risk by using their new digital design tools that they validated under separate USAF contracts (likely as part of their LRS-B early work). And yet, they may still not turn a profit. That risk remains.

USN trainer (T-45) requirement is up next with usual suspects above in the fray. None of them are carrier capable. HAL will miss this bus too despite having LCA NP-1.


USN will develop its own trainer requirements. Right now, they don't want carrier compatibility. This is because as they bring in a new aircraft they will free up lot of current utilization of the T-45 allowing that type to handle that part (carrier) of the syllabus for a longer period. This will give them plenty of time to field a sub-variant of the eventual aircraft they buy. This is smart, as this allows them to leverage the Economies of Scale as the T-7A line is built to support a production rate of 60 aircraft per year. And they will maintain 100% commonality over the training system portion of the program which by cost represents almost 20% of the entire USAF program.

The commonality of having common simulators, training aids, cockpit components and other enhancements (LVC) over a 400-500 aircraft installed base will be too much to pass on. Basically USN doesn't have to worry about setting up a program, having the contractor find industrial partners, build a production process, and then have them sustain a production line over time. All they would want is minimal design changes to suite their needs and then they have their aircraft roll off the USAF production line once it is going full speed. That's the most affordable solution for the USN given it will be invested in at least 3 other carrier aircraft programs in the 2020's and into 2030's.

HAL could have thrown $ on this dedicated trainer version to create a T-50 competitor early on say post 2010 instead of focussing on HAwk-i which I believe is purely internally funded .


HAL could have. But even assuming that HAL was a private corporation that is just getting started with designing --> producing aircraft at scale, the business case for pursuing such a program, for such a requirement, would have been shaky at best. Boeing literally designed and built the BTX using their own funding and have been flying the 2 prototypes non stop ever since they rolled out on company funding. But for them, the business case was easier to make to their shareholders.

But then HAL's primary customer (IAF) wanted combat capability and a combat fighter. It was paramount that they satisfy that demand first and without any delay. As it is, they will take a fair bit of time to ramp up production and deliver on all the MK1As and MK2 that are likely to be part of the initial wave of operator demand. So if you have a half a decade to a decade worth of production which is vital to your primary customer's modernization, embarking on a purely commercial derivative could be seen as a costly distraction. While it is worthy to try to compete with the likes of Leonardo, Boeing, or BAE you do run into issues of market access. Customers with deep pockets are few and far between while those who are cash strapped won't be able to afford the very higher end training requirements and the cost that is usually associated with that.

Even if HAL had continued to pursue the USAF T-X, who would they have partnered with? How do they use their historic performance to demonstrate that they can spool up a 60 aircraft per year production line, in relatively short order, in case they chose to go alone as a Prime (as Leonardo did after Raytheon exited the partnership upon seeing the final requirements)? How experienced is the team in running a program with a corporate partner where the bids are likely to be highly competitive? Best to test out the waters with a working product that you have a good grasp on. And the Tejas (MK1 and MK2) is that for HAL. Once they get some traction in the export market, they can begin thinking commercially and develop the sort of processes and partnerships required to participate in complex programs that require partners, a domestic (in host nation) supply base, and other partnerships (with the government agencies).

arvin wrote:The Supersonic Omni Role Trainer Aircraft (SpORT), a lead-in ..

Read more at:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/arti ... aign=cppst


It would be interesting to follow this and sees where it goes. There are two broad types of trainer requirements globally. One where the user is looking at the cheapest possible trainer, given a set of training needs, and another where they are putting a value on residual combat capability and shared platforms. Traditionally, the market has responded to the latter by fielding combat capable versions of their trainers. M-346 has it, Hawk has it as well and the T-50 and F/A-50 is sort of the capability leader in that market segment.

HAL is approaching this from a different angle, where they are utilizing a combat aircraft for a base for a trainer by stripping some capability and possibly adding others. Is there a large enough market for it? I don't know but a lot will depend how good their proposal is in terms of the training solution packaged with it and how cost competitive it is to buy and operate.

HAL will miss this bus too despite having LCA NP-1.


I don't think being carrier capable is a major consideration for either of them. You don't require an aircraft that needs to "live" on the carrier. It only needs to be capable of landing, and taking off using the arresting cable, steam and EMALS cats. It need not be capable of sustaining long deployments at sea or perform combat missions so Boeing need not propose complex overhauls to how the aircraft is sustained (on land vs at sea sustainment differences) or figure out what changes need to be made to integrate the aircraft into carrier sustianment operations. It will require a series of much simpler design changes that just cater to one aspect (taking off and landing on a carrier) and not the plethora of design changes that one needs to do to convert a land based combat aircraft to one that can function on an aircraft carrier.

Boeing is US Navy's "go to" naval carrier aircraft supplier. I mean between the Super Hornet, and the MQ-25 they will command the majority of the carrier air wing for decades to come. NAVAIR or Boeing won't be much worried about making the T-7A carrier capable and it would be highly surprising if Boeing hasn't already done preliminary internal design work to that end. As it is, they don't even desire that capability to start off.

But what is likely to be more important to the USN is affordability. Here, tapping into investment already made by the USAF in industrializing the T-7A program and creating capacity that the USN can feed into is going to be an important criteria the USN looks at. They already have a prime, sub, and supplier team that is on DOD contract and executing on a program with high production capacity (relatively speaking). That's like 80% of the work already done as far as cost and schedule risk is concerned. They already do that with the F-35C which is massively more affordable then them going out and designing a 5th gen naval fighter with a 360 aircraft requirement (as opposed to a derivative of a 3,000 aircraft production program).

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Re: International Aerospace Discussion - Jan 2018

Postby NRao » 22 Jun 2020 08:15

More info than the title .....................



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