Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Sikorsky delivers HH-60W helicopters to USAF for testing


Sikorsky delivers HH-60W helicopters to USAF for testing

Sikorsky has delivered two HH-60W Combat Rescue helicopters to the US Air Force (USAF) 413th Flight Test Squadron located at Duke Field for developmental testing.

The HH-60W helicopters arrived at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida, US, from the Sikorsky Developmental Flight Center.

The helicopters will begin testing at the new home at Eglin AFB.

The five-hour flight to Eglin presented challenges to the aircrew as the HH-60W helicopter is not currently authorised to use instrument flight or its transponder.

During the entire flight, the aircrew operated the aircraft under visual flight rules (VFR) mode.

USAF 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron Detachment 2 pilot major Evan McNeal said: “We had to pick our way carefully through densely trafficked airspace while avoiding typical Florida fog and precipitation without the tools that many of the most basic modern aircraft have available.

“We mitigated those risks through careful mission planning and using available equipment.”

The Sikorsky-built HH-60W is based on the US Army’s UH-60M helicopter.

The aircraft has undergone modifications to support combat rescue and other special missions.

The USAF has plans to procure 113 HH-60Ws to replace its ageing HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters.

USAF 413th Flight Test Squadron operations officer lieutenant colonel Wayne Dirkes said: “Getting an HH-60W is very exciting not only for the 413th Flight Test Squadron, but also for the 96th Test Wing.

“Our entire test strategy has been adapted to include Sikorsky as a fully integrated partner, we have all put a lot of energy into trying to create a seamless execution model for testing here and now it’s time to make it happen.”

Japan awards Kongsberg follow-on contract for Joint Strike Missiles

Japan awards Kongsberg follow-on contract for Joint Strike Missiles | Jane's 360

Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace announced on 12 November that it has signed a NOK450 million (USD49.2 million) follow-on contract to provide additional precision-guided Joint Strike Missiles (JSMs) for the Japan Air Self-Defense Forces’ (JASDFs’) growing fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.

“The international F-35 user community is showing great interest in the JSM. Kongsberg is very proud to have been selected by Japan to provide the JSM for their F-35 fleet,” Eirik Lie, President of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, was quoted as saying in a statement.

No details were provided about the number of missiles set to be supplied, or the delivery schedule.

Belarus to receive 1st two Su-30SM fighters from Russia on November 13

Vladislav Perminov @flicker

Belarus to receive 1st two Su-30SM fighters from Russia on November 13 - Military & Defense - TASS

Overall, Belarus expects the delivery of four Su-30SM fighters this year

MINSK, November 12. /TASS/. Two Sukhoi Su-30SM multirole fighter jets purchased in Russia will arrive in Belarus on November 13, Belarusian Defense Minister Andrei Ravkov said on Tuesday.

"Under the defense procurement plan, Su-30SM multirole fighters will be delivered. Two fighters are expected to land at the Baranovichi aerodrome tomorrow afternoon," the defense minister was quoted by the BelTA news agency as saying.

Overall, Belarus expects the delivery of four Su-30SM fighters this year. The Defense Ministry of Belarus signed a contract with Russia’s Irkut Aviation Corporation in 2017 on the delivery of 12 Su-30SM fighters in 2018-2020. Belarus was expected to receive up to four planes a year.

The Su-30SM is a generation 4++ serial-produced and upgraded two-seat super-maneuverable fighter jet. The Su-30SM is furnished with two AL-31FP thrust-vectoring reheated double-flow turbofan engines. The fighter has an operating range of 1,500 km and a flight endurance of 3.5 hours without refueling.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Rooivalk retractable gun turret system under development Rooivalk retractable gun turret system under development

The SAAF Rooivalk Combat Support Helicopter (CSH) employs a chin mounted 20mm cannon. The helicopter main rotor blades kick up a lot of dust as a result of downwash during take-off and landing. Some of this dust is then ingested into the chin mounted cannon. As a result, the cannon has proven unreliable due to the dust particle ingestion during take-off and landing. This has caused the gun to stop functioning, which could result in a loss of personnel and aircraft during battle. A solution to this problem is the ability to retract the cannon during take-off and landing so as to protect the gun mechanisms from dust particles. As a result, a retractable gun turret system technology demonstrator is being developed to retract and cover the gun mechanism during take-off and landing. The retractable gun technology demonstrator was successfully demonstrated during 2018/19 financial year.

Rooivalk Attack Helicopter: Details

Australia’s third air warfare destroyer completes sea trials


Australia’s third air warfare destroyer completes sea trials | Jane's 360

Key Points

  • Australia's third air warfare destroyer has concluded its sea trials
  • The vessel will be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy in February 2020

The third Hobart-class air warfare destroyer (AWD) on order for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has completed its sea trials, the country's defence minister, Linda Reynolds, announced on 9 November.

The vessel, which will be in service as HMAS Sydney once commissioned, is the final AWD ordered for the RAN. It was laid down in November 2015, and launched at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide in May 2018.

The first phase of Sydney's sea trials was announced in September 2019, and the vessel began a more advanced phase of these tests, which validated its combat and communication systems, in the following month.

The first AWD, HMAS Hobart, was commissioned in September 2017, while the second-of-class, HMAS Brisbane , was inducted into service in October 2018.

The AWD derives its design from the Spanish Navy's (Armada EspaƱola's) Alvaro de Bazan (F-100)-class frigate. It displaces 6,350 tonnes at full load, and has an overall length of 146.7 m, an overall beam of 18.6 m, and a hull draught of 4.9 m.

The warship is equipped with the Aegis combat system incorporating the AN/SPY 1D(V) phased array radar, and is armed with the 48-cell MK 41 strike-length vertical launch system (VLS) that can launch Standard Missile-2 medium-range Block IIIA (SM-2MR Block IIIA) and SM-2MR Block IIIB long-range surface-to-air missiles, and the medium-range RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles (ESSMs) Block I.

The destroyer is also equipped with a 127 mm naval gun in the primary position, the Phalanx Block 1B 20 mm close-in weapon system (CIWS), two Orbital ATK M242 25 mm Bushmaster automatic cannons in Rafael Typhoon stabilised and remotely operated mounts, and launchers for the RGM-84 Harpoon Block II anti-ship/land attack missiles.

Air Force AC-130J Ghostrider gunship working overtime in Afghanistan

U.S. Air Force

Air Force AC-130J Ghostrider gunship working overtime in Afghanistan - Business Insider

The AC-130J has the standard 105 mm cannon and an additional 30 mm cannon, as well as wing pylons for both Small Diameter Bombs and Hellfire missiles.

  • The Air Force's new AC-130J has been operating over Afghanistan for a little more than four months.
  • In that time, the Ghostrider has been busy, and US forces on the ground can't get enough of it.

It's been just over four months since the Air Force's AC-130J Ghostrider kicked off combat missions in the skies above Afghanistan, and the aircraft that the service once described as "the ultimate battle plane" and "a bomb truck with guns on it" is already bringing the pain on a daily basis.

Speaking to Stars & Stripes, Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component–Afghanistan commander Col. Terence Taylor revealed that the Ghostrider has flown a total of 218 sorties amounting to 1,380 hours over roughly 130 days, which shakes out to an average of five sorties every three days since the aircraft first arrived downrange in late June.

Based on that average, the Ghostrider likely flew 168 sorties between late June and the end of September alone — which, according to airpower data from Air Forces Central Command on sorties conducted in support of NATO's Resolute Support mission through September 30th, means that Ghostrider sorties accounted for roughly 9.1% of the 1,838 combat sorties that took place during the first nine months of 2019 where at least one weapon was released.

This should come as no surprise: According to Taylor, US forces fighting the Taliban downrange simply can't get enough of the new battlewagon.

"Every night, the AC-130J is flying," he told Stars & Stripes on Wednesday. "The people they are supporting are requesting them every single night."

The Ghostrider first arrived "just days before" the June 28 change-of-command ceremony for new AFSOC commander Air Force Lt. Gen. James Slife, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News, deploying to relieve the AC-130U Spooky following that aircraft's final combat sorties that month.

There's an obvious reason that the Ghostrider has been in such high demand: The gunship comes equipped with the standard 105 mm cannon and an additional 30 mm GAU-23/A cannon, along with wing pylons designed to haul both GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

The Ghostrider's 30 mm cannon in particular is "almost like a sniper rifle. ... It's that precise, it can pretty much hit first shot, first kill," then-1st SOW commander Col. Tom Palenske told back in 2017, stating that the aircraft is "going to [be] the most lethal, with the most loiter time, probably the most requested weapons system from ground forces in the history of warfare."

It looks like Palenske was right, as CJSOAC-A enlisted leader Chief Master Sgt. Edward Fry told Stars & Stripes.

"Them hearing the sound of the gunship overhead, that in many ways serves to embolden them," he told Stars & Stripes of Afghan security forces downrange. "Even if the gunship doesn't fire one round, it still provides that utility."

Read the original article on Task & Purpose. Copyright 2019. Follow Task & Purpose on Twitter.

Pentagon Gets a Fix for F-35 Bug in $400,000 Pilot Helmets - cropped

Pentagon Gets a Fix for F-35 Bug in $400,000 Pilot Helmets

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. military may have finally found a way to fix a glitch with the world’s most hi-tech helmet used by pilots flying the most expensive fighter jet in history.

A bug in the $400,000 helmet display screen used by F-35 aviators caused a green glow when flying in very low-light conditions and is now expected to be overcome by using a different type of semiconductor illumination.

The distracting green glow was deemed so critical that restrictions were imposed on some night landings on aircraft carriers, and the fault was classified as a “Priority One” fix by the Pentagon’s test office. Jittery lines were also visible to some pilots.

Defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp. has been contracted by the F-35 Joint Program Office for the redesign, modifying headpieces by installing new organic light-emitting diodes to replace traditional liquid crystal displays.

“In partnership with the F-35 Joint Program Office and our U.S. Navy customer, we’ve been working to transition the helmet technology from a traditional LCD to an Organic LED system,” Program Manager Jim Gigliotti said by email. Lockheed Martin did not provide a figure for the number of helmets requiring modification or the upgrade cost.

OLED technology can provide a number of manufacturing and user benefits over older LCD alternatives, including the use of flexible screens, improved picture quality and quicker response times, and are used in flat-panel TVs, smartphones and digital wristwatches. OLED benefits, however, may come at the cost of shorter screen lifespans.

The contract announcement for new helmet displays comes just days before a joint hearing of House Armed Services Committee panels into the troubled $406 billion F-35 program, the most expensive weapon project in history.

The project has been plagued by problems during its two-decade development phase. Last year, the Government Accountability Office said the project had 966 outstanding glitches, with more than 150 not expected to be resolved before full-rate production.

And the stealthy jet is still months away from the completion of rigorous combat testing against potential adversaries’ defense systems. Nevertheless, the Pentagon is confident in the aircraft’s abilities. A $34 billion follow-on award was made last month for 478 more fighters, taking the existing production count toward 1,000 planes -- out of a planned total of at least 3,100.

The F-35 is available in three variants and is used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. More than 10 countries have committed to buy the airplane, including Japan, South Korea, Britain, Israel, Australia and the Netherlands.

The state-of-the-art helmets are made as part of a joint venture by Rockwell Collins Inc. and Elbit Systems of America. The shells combine Kevlar and carbon fiber, and custom-made to snugly fit the cranial contours of each pilot. Replacements can be made using a database of head measurements kept for each pilot.

One hi-tech feature of the helmet display is an ability for a pilot to see video imagery of where they will land simply by looking down during vertical descent. Weapon lock-on can be achieved by looking at targets through the helmets.

“We’re in the process of developing, improving and fielding the new system and the feedback from users has been extremely positive,” Gigliotti said. The pilots are “excited to get this new equipment.”

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