Air Tractor Spain’s Little Fireﬁghter AW101 Norway’s Rescue Bird Skeldar Saab’s Mini UAV I N T E R N A T I O N A L For the best in modern military and...78 downloads 1829 Views 26MB Size
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For the best in modern military and commercial aviation
Typhoon in Flight
Norway’s Rescue Bird
Spain’s Little Firefighter
AIR International Experiences a Typhoon Mission
Saab’s Mini UAV
JULY 2014 Vol.87 No.1
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04 BREAKING NEWS
Iraq receives its first F-16 Fighting Falcon, Japanese C-130R Hercules handed over, aircraft losses mount as fighting in Ukraine intensifies, AC-235 light gunship makes its debut, NH90 NFH arrives at Koksijde and Airbus plans A380 Sky Terrace.
Thunderbolt reprieve sought, Pakistan seeks Hinds, Tejas completes weapon trials, RAAF looks at F-35B Lightning II, Solar Impulse 2 flies, longerrange Gulfstream G650 launched and production HondaJet rolled out.
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06 GENERAL NEWS
Belgium begins search for F-16 replacement, AESA-equipped Rafale M delivered to fleet, A-10
FRONT COVER: Riccardo Niccoli flies in an Italian Air Force Typhoon. Riccardo Niccoli LEFT INSET: AgustaWestland MIDDLE INSET: Roberto Yáñez and Alex Rodriguez RIGHT INSET: Saab
90 HIGH-TECH, HIGH-VALUE Mark Broadbent reports from the UK’s AMRC.
96 THE VIKING SHIELD 100 GENERATION E
Nigel Pittaway looks at Skeldar.
The NH90 Caïman detailed by Henri-Pierre Grolleau.
INTO SERVICE 50 SUPERJET
Interjet’s experience with the SSJ100.
TYPHOON IN FLIGHT
Riccardo Niccoli flies an Italian Typhoon training sortie.
ULTIMATE EYE IN THE SKY
The DB-110 reconnaissance pod, outlined by Ian Harding.
FLYING IN A NEW DIMENSION
Editor Mark Ayton [email protected] Sub Editors Sue Blunt, Carol Randall
Designer Dave Robinson Lee Howson Production Manager Janet Watkins Production Controller Sam Jarman Subscriptions/ Mail Order Manager Roz Condé
120 JEDI OVER AFGHANISTAN
The UK has to make decisions about its UAVs, as Mark Broadbent explains.
Riccardo Niccoli describes Italy’s Spartans used to hunt IEDs.
PIRATES & HUNTERS 70 THE IBERIAN FIREFIGHTER 122 ORIONS, Roberto Yáñez and Alex Rodriguez highlight AVIALSA T-35’s Air Tractor fleet.
New large Russian unmanned air vehicles detailed by Piotr Butowski.
76 PEDESTRIANS TO PILOTS 126 A350 ADVANCES FITS THE MPA MISSION 84 C295 128 MORE MITTENS ON DUTY Gary Wetzel describes pilot training on the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II.
Andreas Spaeth reports on the latest Airbus A350 developments.
Nigel Pittaway reports on the C295 MPA.
Marketing Assistants Shaun Binnington • ISSN 0306-5634 • is published monthly by:
Executive Chairman Richard Cox
Mark Broadbent looks at Thale’s touchscreen cockpit concepts.
64 DECISIONS, DECISIONS
Marketing Manager Martin Steele
Managing Director & Publisher Adrian Cox
Ian Harding outlines Norway’s AgustaWestland AW101 SAR helicopter.
118 TOUCH THE FUTURE
Jon Lake reviews the operators of Saab’s Erieye AEW system.
News Editor David Willis [email protected]
Commercial Director Ann Saundry
110 NORWAY’S NEW SAR FORCE
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Piotr Butowski on the Yak-130.
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Mark Broadbent describes European trials to streamline its air traffic management systems.
The latest Gripen variants are detailed by Nigel Pittaway.
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Fighting Falcon Handed to Iraq
NEWS BY NUMBERS
737S FOR CHINA EASTERN AIRLINES Boeing confirmed on June 13 that China Eastern Airlines has placed a commitment for 80 737s, covering undisclosed examples of both the current Next Generation and forthcoming MAX families. The deal is expected to be the China’s largest for single-aisle airliners, worth more than $8 billion.
A380 Sky Terrace Planned
Iraq’s first Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 52 Fighting Falcon was officially handed over on June 5 during a ceremony at the manufacturer’s facility at Fort Worth, Texas. This is the first of 24 F-16Cs and 12 F-16Ds – also known as F-16IQs – that will become the Iraqi Air Force’s first supersonic combat aircraft since the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime. It will be armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles, AGM-65 Maverick air-tosurface missiles, and Paveway precision-guided bombs used in conjunction with the AN/AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pod. UTC Aerospace Systems’ DB-110 pods will also be supplied for reconnaissance. Lockheed Martin
NH90 NFH Arrives at Koksijde
Koksijde AB welcomed the first of Belgium’s four NHIndustries NH90 NFHs (Naval Frigate Helicopter) on May 9. The aircraft (RN-02) was delivered directly from Airbus Helicopters’ plant in Donauwörth, Germany to Koksijde, where it arrived in formation with a Westland Sea King Mk 48 from the base, the type it will eventually replace. In service, the primary roles of the four aircraft will be search and rescue, and other ship-borne
maritime operations. The aircraft was officially presented to the Belgian Minister of Defence, Pieter De Crem on May 16. The NH90 arrived in low visibility markings, but a few days later, the aircraft’s original Belgian roundel had been replaced by a ‘high-vis’ version with a blue surround. Belgium’s order for up to ten NH90s was placed on June 18, 2007, comprising four (plus two optional) Tactical Transport Helicopters (TTHs) and four NFHs.
Syrian Fulcrum Timetable RAC MiG Director General, Sergey Korotkov, recently confirmed the delivery schedule for Syria’s Mikoyan MiG-29M Fulcrum order. Syria is due
to get all 12 of the MiG-29M single- and MiG-29M2 two-seaters it has ordered by 2017. He also revealed that four airframes have been assembled, but
Silk Way 747-8F Flown
The options for the additional TTHs were later cancelled. The first TTH for Belgium, RN-05, flew in September 2012, and was eventually delivered to Beauvechain AB on October 2, 2013. The country’s first NFH was handed over in August 2013 (see Belgian NH90 NFH Delivered, September 2013, p39), after which it was used for operational training in France. Delivery of the second NFH to Koksijde (RN-01) is expected in July. Ian Harding
the work under the Syrian contract, dating back to 2007, is proceeding at a slow pace, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2016. Alexander Mladenov
Airbus is researching a new cabin innovation for the A380 called the Sky Terrace, a section of the interior in which two to six additional premium seats would be surrounded by a screen on which is projected a view of the outside. “We are looking at a Sky Terrace at the forward end of the upper deck, where today there are the Emirates’ showers, or rest areas with other [operators of the A380],” said Charles Champion, Executive Vice-President Engineering, told the Airbus Innovation Days event in Toulouse. “These screens didn’t exist when we planned the A380, but now I expect we will see a prototype of the Sky Terrace in the next couple of years.” Asked if there were any plans to increase the size of the type, Chief Operating Officer for Customers, John Leahy said: “We are not planning a stretch yet – we will study it, but currently we have no commitment,” he said. As for re-engining, Airbus believes it would result in a heavier aircraft and thus higher fuel costs. “We will not put on a new engine for a gain of just a couple of percent [of thrust]; the idea is there, but over the horizon,” added Kiran Rao, Executive VicePresident Strategy & Marketing (further to ‘A380neo’ Sought by Emirates, June, p31). Andreas Spaeth
Flight Tests Begin for ‘New’ Japanese Hercules
The first Boeing 747-83QF for Silk Way of Azerbaijan completed its maiden flight on June 6 at Snohomish County Airport/Paine Field, Washington. The freighter (4K-SW881, c/n 44444, ex N973BA) is one of two due to be leased by the cargo airline from GECAS. The second example has been built and is expected to be flight tested soon. Both aircraft were originally due to be delivered to Silk Way in March and April. Joe G Walker
Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Lockheed C-130R Hercules 61-9051 (c/n 4629, ex BuNo 160015) was due to begin flight tests at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, as AIR International went to press. Flight trials and crew training was scheduled to start on June 16 at the air force base, where the aircraft arrived three days earlier after being overhauled and upgraded at Hill AFB, Utah. It is due to last for 90 days. The aircraft is one of six former USMC KC-130Rs acquired for the JMSDF and will be based at Atsugi in Japan. US Air Force
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Aircraft Losses Mount as Ukrainian Fighting Intensifies Fighting in eastern Ukraine intensified during the last month, reaching a new nadir with the shooting down of an Ilyushin Il-76MD Candid on June 14. The transport (76777, c/n 0083482490) was carrying 40 Ukrainian troops and equipment and was hit by a man-portable air defence (MAPAD) system on approach to the airport at Luhansk. All the troopers, plus the crew of nine, perished in the subsequent crash, the largest loss of life in the escalating conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian militias in the east of the country. Pro-Russian forces began an assault on the city of Luhansk and its airport approximately a week before the shoot down. Three missiles were reported to have been fired at the aircraft, according to Ukrainian spokesman Vladislav Seleznov. Ukraine officials have stated that the weapons were supplied by Russia, while a US State Department spokeswomen reported that tanks used by the rebels in Luhansk came from the same source. The Russian government has refuted both claims. On the same day as the Candid was shot down, a Sukhoi
Su-25 Frogfoot was destroyed while attacking the police station at Gorlovka. The aircraft was one of two targeting separatist positions when it was hit, although it has not been confirmed if it was brought down by a MANPAD or anti-aircraft artillery. The use of fixed-wing aircraft by Ukraine has increased dramatically in recent weeks; during the early stages of the conflict helicopters were primarily used to provide support. As the fighting intensified and losses of rotary-wing assets mounted, Ukraine began to make more use of its Sukhoi Su-24 Fencers and Su-25s attack aircraft, as well as other types. Among the helicopters shot down was a Mil Mi-8 Hip targeted by a MANPAD near Slovyansk on May 30, with the loss of 14 onboard, including a general. The Il-76 was not the first support type destroyed by the rebels; a Ukrainian Antonov An30 reconnaissance aircraft was shot down over Slovyansk on June 6, with two crew members parachuting out while its port engine was aflame. Kramatorsk Airport in Donetsk, where several Ukrainian aircraft
were destroyed in late April (see Hinds Downed as Ukrainian Crisis Deepens, June, p4), reopened to civil traffic on May 6. It was reoccupied by pro-Russian forces on May 24/25 but was retaken by Ukraine on May 27. A live bomb was dropped on the site by a Su-25 Frogfoot as a ‘warning shot’, prior to an attack by Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrums, followed by Mi-24 Hinds and an airborne assault by troops carried in Mil Mi-8 Hip transport helicopters. Ukrainian sources claimed that a Mi-8 destroyed an anti-aircraft gun during the fighting. In mid-May Ukraine received a letter of complaint from the United Nations (UN) after it was noted using one or more white-painted Mi-24 attack helicopters against pro-Russian forces in the Donetsk region. The helicopter/helicopters retained the white scheme from operations on behalf of the UN in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The exact number of white Mi-24s used by Ukrainian forces is unconfirmed; some Ukrainian sources state only one remains operational in UN colours. There has been a lot of Russian air activity near eastern Ukraine and over Crimea in recent weeks.
Several dozen Russian military aircraft were observed over the Crimea on May 4, including bombers, tankers, transports, Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback strike aircraft and MiG-29 fighters, some of which made use of aerial refuelling. Two Tupolev Tu-95MS Bear-H bombers from Engels air base in Saratov oblast were also involved. The flights were explained as simultaneous rehearsals for Victory-day fly-overs of Sevastopol and Simferopol, and the Russian Air Force Aviadarts competition held at Pogonovo near Voronezh and at Lipetsk. Ukraine’s foreign ministry had officially requested the cancellation of Aviadarts on May 19, but the Russian Air Force commander-in-chief, Lieutenant General Viktor Bondarev, announced two days later it would continue. On May 28 Ukrainian forces claimed to have shot down a Russian Orlan-10 unmanned air vehicle (UAV), and images of wreckage were released on the internet by Ukraine. The Ukrainian military states that Russian UAVs are being used to monitor the fighting. David C Isby and David Willis
AC-235 Light Gunship Debut Jordan’s new AC-235 light gunship made its public debut at the recent biennial Special Operations Force Exhibition and Conference (SOFEX) at the King Abdullah I Air Base in Amman. The opening event of SOFEX 2014, held between May 7 and 10, was an impressive special forces demonstration involving Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) helicopters supported by a Schiebel S-100 Camcopter and an AC-235 light gunship. A second AC-235, which was only delivered a week before the show, was displayed in the static park. Developed by ATK of the US in partnership with the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB), the two AC-235s are operated by Jordan’s Special Operations Command
aviation component (5th Prince Hashim Royal Aviation Brigade). The Jordanian AC-235s, which are the first of their type to enter service anywhere, are equipped with Thales’ new lightweight high-performance I-Master Kuband synthetic aperture radar and ground-moving target indicator, and an L-3 Wescam MX-15 electro-optical/infrared turret in two nose-mounted turrets. Their armament includes an ATK M230OLF 30mm chain-gun firing through a portside opening in the rear fuselage, and mounted under stub-wings are launchers for AGM-114 Hellfire laser-guided missiles and unguided 70mm rockets. During the show, BAE Systems announced that Jordan was the first export customer for its
ATK/KADDB AC-235 light gunship 3210 made its public debut in the SOFEX static park at King Abdullah I AB in Jordan. David Oliver
Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), although the weapons have yet to be integrated
on the aircraft, after which live firing trials will take place in Jordan. David Oliver
Sweden Opts for All-New Gripen Es Previous plans by Sweden to ‘upgrade’ existing Saab JAS 39C Gripens as Gripen Es have been abandoned in place of acquiring all-new airframes. Sweden’s parliament approved the
revised acquisition policy on June 11. The original purchase would have used selected components from Gripen Cs in the 60 new aircraft, although the vast majority of the
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airframes would have been new (see New Gripen Progressing, June, p8). By not reclaiming the Gripen Cs the fleet will be available to serve Sweden until the Es are ready to
take over, and could then be sold or leased to third parties. No additional costs are expected to arise because of the change of plan, according to the parliament.
A-10s Get Another Year? The US House Armed Services Committee markup (notes and amendments added to proposed legislation) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 banned any retirements of Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt IIs for a year and requires that no more than four Boeing E-3 Sentry Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems can be withdrawn in 2015. Changing the operational requirements or retiring the Lockheed Martin U-2S intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft from service was also barred. Five Boeing EA-18G Growlers that the US Navy had not requested (but were at the top of their unfunded priorities list) were authorised. Even though no cuts to the US Air Force’s 44 McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Extender tankers had been proposed for FY 2015, the bill’s provisions forbid the type from being withdrawn. No further base closures or consolidation plans were included. The Senate version of the FY 2015 authorization bill prohibited any retirements of A-10s or E-3s. It also added $320 million for another year of A-10 operations. The Senate will cut $63 million from the US Air Force programme for the Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System ISR aircraft replacement, ordering that “existing technologies” be integrated into another platform. The Senate bill barred any retirement of E-8Cs until the air force has submitted a report setting out a plan for its replacement. The Senate Armed Services Committee also continued to fund the U-2S force that the US Air Force wants to retire. Both the House and the Senate bills include funds to refuel and overhaul the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), which the administration did not request. Both bills enable the army plan to transfer all Boeing AH-64D/E Apache attack helicopters from the Army National Guard to the regular army. However, only 48 Apaches may be transferred until an independent commission is established and has time to review the service’s rotorcraft plans. The Senate authorization bill added an extra 35 UH-72A Lakota training helicopters for an additional $196 million. Refusal by both arms of Congress to make cuts that the administration had requested led to a veto threat from the White House on May 19. David C Isby
Penguin Carried by RNZN Seasprite
Kaman SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite N244KM (c/n 224, ex N29-161913) during Penguin captive carry trials in late May. Kaman Aerospace
A Kaman SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite for the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) flew with a Kongsberg Penguin anti-shipping missile for the first time during a test flight from Kaman’s facility at Bloomfield in Connecticut on May 22. New
Zealand is acquiring the Penguin Mk 2 Mod 7 missiles for its SH-2G(I)s to replace the Raytheon AGM-65D Mavericks carried by the SH-2G(NZ)s currently in service. The RNZN is acquiring ten SH-2G(I)s (see ‘New’ New Zealand
STOVL F-35Bs for RAAF? The Royal Australian Air Force chief, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, has revealed that his service is looking into the feasibility of operating the short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning IIs from the two Canberra-class Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD) being acquired for the Royal Australian Navy. Australia currently has 72 conventional take-off and landing F-35As on order to replace three squadrons of McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A/B Hornets. “It depends on how you see the LHD,” said AM Brown during a
press conference in Canberra, on May 29. “If you want to convert it to take STOVL, there are a lot of considerations you have to take into account and JSF [Joint Strike Fighter]/STOVL by itself isn’t a capability. It needs weapons and it needs fuel. I think that if you go and look at the changes you have to put in place to operate STOVL off an LHD you will see that it’s got its challenges. That’s what we’ll work through over the next few months, to articulate what those challenges are, what additional costs [are involved] – if that’s the way we decide we want to go.” Nigel Pittaway
Super Seasprite Flown, June, p34) and the first is due to arrive in New Zealand later this year. The final aircraft will be delivered in 2016 and the fleet will be operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force on behalf of the Navy. Nigel Pittaway
Mi-35s Sought by Pakistan Pakistan is seeking to acquire an undisclosed number of Mil Mi-35 Hind attack helicopters, according to Sergei Chemezov, head of Rostec, the Russian stateowned technology corporation. On June 2 Chemezov told the Itar-Tass news agency that the deal became possible after Russia lifted its embargo on weapons deliveries to Pakistan. Pakistan operates a number of Mil Mil-17 transport helicopters delivered between 1996 and 2010. Nigel Pittaway
RCAF 2014 CF-18 Demonstration Aircraft
McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet 188761 is the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 2014 display aircraft, carrying artwork created by 410 Squadron’s design director, Jim Belliveau. The RCAF celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2014 and this theme is reflected on the display aircraft. Captain Adam ‘Manik’ Runge, from 409 ‘Nighthawks’ Tactical Fighter Squadron, 4 Wing at Cold Lake AB, Alberta, is this year’s CF-18 demonstration team pilot. Andrew H Cline
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Tejas Completes Weapon Trials The Indian Air Force has completed a series of advanced weapons trials in Jamnagar with its Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, as it works towards Final Operational Clearance (FOC) for the type (further to Tejas Gains IOC II as MiG-21FL Retires, February, p9). Three aircraft (LSP-3, LSP-5 and LSP-7) took part in the trials between December and late May and made over 30 sorties to clear a range of weapons intended to be deployed by the type. The trials also cleared a new external fuel tank for the Tejas. The work included carriage, jettison and fuel transfer tests. The next stage of FOC clearance will involve trials in all types of weather and will be conducted in Bangalore with hot weather evaluation from Gwalior; they were due to take place in June. According to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s Chairman, R K Tyagi, the Tejas fleet has completed 2,587 sorties and accumulated 1,750 flying hours without incident since the first aircraft made its maiden flight in January 2001. Tyagi also said the roll-out of the first series production aircraft (SP-1) was on track for later in June. “The aircraft is in an advanced stage of equipping,” he said, “and we will have the ground run by the end of June and start flying by August.” Nigel Pittaway
British Police P68R Multi-Mission Aircraft
Vulcanair P68R Multi-Mission Aircraft G-PGBR (c/n 457/R) is operated by the Greater Manchester Police as a surveillance platform, and is seen at Manchester Airport on May 23. It was previously used as the demonstrator for the Vr (P68R) in the UK before being modified for the National Police Air Service with surveillance equipment by Airborne Technologies, including a Wescam MX10 and Churchill Augmented Reality System. Mission equipment is monitored by a single tactical flight officer in the cabin. Rob Skinkis
A321 Enters Belgium Service Airbus A321-231 CS-TRJ (msn 1004, ex EI-FDP) was officially presented to the Composante Aérienne (Belgian Defence – Air Component) at its new home base, Brussels-Melsbroek, on May 20 (further to Belgian Airbus A321, April, p7). The A321 replaces a larger Airbus A330-321 in service since late 2009. Like the A330 before it, the new aircraft is leased
from the Portuguese company HiFly. It will be used to transport troops and cargo and conduct emergency evacuations when required; its first operational sortie involved a flight to Bamako-Sénou in Mali. By replacing the A330 with the A321, Belgian Defence expects to save €4.3 million annually. Bob Fischer
Russian Candid Modernisation Upgrades of the first Ilyushin Il-76MD Candid to Il-76MDM standard will begin before the end of the year. Improved onboard systems and avionics will be integrated into the transport, although it will retain its original D-30KP engines instead
of receiving the PS-90A-76s of new production Il-476 (Il-76MD-90A). Work on the Russian Air Force aircraft will take about 12 months. Armament plans announced in 2012 included upgrading 41 Il-76MDs as ’MDMs by 2020. David C Isby
Special French Xingu at Edinburgh Embraer EMB-121AN Xingu 69 retains the special markings applied to mark the centenary of the Aéronautique Navale (French Navy Air Arm) in 2010. The aircraft was noted at Edinburgh Turnhouse on May 27, conducting a training flight as FNY5021. It is based at Lorient Lann-Bihoué. Chris Melaisi
VH-92 Secures VXX Contract Sikorsky Aircraft has won a $1.24 billion Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract to build the new fleet of VH-92 Marine One helicopters for the Office of the US President. The company will modify, test and deliver six Federal Aviation Administration-certified S-92s and two training simulators to the US Marine Corps as the initial step in providing a VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement fleet totalling 21 aircraft. Of the six contracted VH-92s, two will be development airframes that will be delivered in 2018 for testing flight performance and mission communication systems by the Department of the Navy at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The remaining four, designated System Demonstration Test Articles, will perform operational test and evaluation and then gain an operational status. By early 2019, the US Navy, which is handling the acquisition, is expected to place orders for the first of three lots that will total 17 production VH-92s. Final deliveries will be made by 2023. The helicopters will be produced in four stages. Initially, commercial ‘off-the-shelf’ S-92s will be manufactured at Sikorsky’s Coatesville, Pennsylvania, factory. They will be modified for the Presidential mission at a secure facility in Connecticut, before transfer to principal subcontractor Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in New York State for installation of integrated communications and mission systems. Finally, they will return to Sikorsky in Connecticut for the Presidential cabin interior to be fitted. Mike Jerram
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The Guild of Aviation Artists’ 2014 Exhibition Military
and prizes will be presented, including the BAE Systems’ £1,000 ‘Aviation Painting of the Year’ and Key Publishing’s Flypast magazine’s ‘Fellows Award for Excellence’, also worth £1,000. Entry to the event is free, , GAvA and from July 22 visitors will ok ro eb dl id oger H M be able to observe informal r Aden by R Hunters Ove demonstrations of painting by Guild This year the artists. At noon and 1800hrs on Guild of Aviation Artists’ 44th Thursday July 24 Guild Chairman Annual Summer Exhibition will be Graham Cooke, MBE, GAvA, will held between July 21 and 27 at the undertake a walkabout commentary on Mall Galleries, London SW1. On the exhibits. display will be 435 works by 145 artists, all available for purchase. Dr Mary Stopes-Roe, daughter of Sir Barnes Wallis, will open the exhibition at the invite-only Reception and Private View on July 21. There will be an impressive range of styles exhibited in a wide variety of media, covering the entire gamut of aviation subjects. Workh orse by Rog er Murray, A number of prestigious trophies AG
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RQ-4 Assessed by NATO NATO has conducted an assessment of its future Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system during the recent multinational exercise Unified Vision, using a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk. The British Ministry of Defence said an RQ-4 “flew from an air base in the Mediterranean and across several European countries, including the UK, to and from the trial area in Norway”. The RQ-4 transited through a temporary segregated route at an altitude above 50,000ft (15,240m), the first time that the type has passed through British national airspace. The MoD added: “The flights made a useful contribution to understanding how remotely piloted air systems can be safely integrated within the existing aviation framework.” Mark Broadbent
AESA-Equipped Rafale Delivered to the Fleet Flotille 11F of the Aéronautique Navale (French Navy Air Arm) recently received its first Dassault Rafale M from the fourth production batch. The aircraft (M40) was handed over to the unit at Landivisiau, marking the arrival of the variant into the operational fleet. The first naval Rafale produced to the
new standard (M39) was delivered to Istres for use by the Centre d’Expérimentations Pratiques et de réception de l’Aéronautique navale in late December 2013. Aircraft from the fourth batch introduce some significant improvements over earlier Rafales, including an active electronically
Hermes 900 for Switzerland Switzerland has chosen the Elbit Hermes 900 to fulfil its requirements for a mediumaltitude long-endurance unmanned air vehicle, becoming the first European nation to select the type. The Hermes 900 and Israel Aerospace Industries Super Heron were shortlisted by Switzerland for evaluation nearly two years ago (see Heron 1 and Hermes 900 Evaluated by Switzerland, November 2012, p23). Swiss defence procurement agency
Armasuisse said the Hermes 900 was chosen “because it delivered the better overall result in all assessed criteria”. Armasuisse said it would submit a proposal to acquire the Hermes 900 in Switzerland’s 2015 armaments programme, but a purchase is subject to parliamentary approval. Should the buy go ahead, the aircraft will not be armed in service and will replace the RUAG ADS 95 Ranger (operated since 2001) by 2020. Mark Broadbent
scanned array (AESA) for the RBE2 (Radar à Balayage Electronique 2), greater detection range and situational awareness for the pilot. There are also better cockpit displays and a more transparent head-up display, a revised identification friend or foe system and a new infrared missile launch detector.
T129A Enters Service
On June 9 Turkish Land Forces command officially received its first three AgustaWestland/ Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T129A Attack and Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopters. Nine T129As are on order, primarily assembled by AgustaWestland (see Nine ‘Basic’ T129s for Turkey, December 2010, p13), and will be followed by the definitive T129B developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries.
Postcard from Mali
A recent view of the Force Aérienne de la République du Mali (Malian Republic Air Force) ramp at Bamako-Sénou. Surrounding the government Boeing 727-2K5 (TZ-001, c/n 21853, ex TZ-MBA) are a number of stored or withdrawn aircraft, including Britten-Norman BN2A-21 Islander TZ-389 (c/n 2182, ex TZ-APV), Cessna 0-2A Skymaster TZ-387 (right) and TZ-388 (left), Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F TZ-346, plus several MiG-21s (including -21bis TZ-371). Just visible in the hangar, under the rear of the 727, is a single-engined Cessna, while the blue top of a Thrush agricultural aircraft can be seen among the group of MiG-21s. Denetwork
MORE C-130J-30S DELIVERED TO SOUTH KOREA Lockheed Martin delivered two more C-130J-30 Super Hercules to the Republic of Korea Air Force at Marietta, Georgia, on May 30. The two aircraft (45-747, c/n 5747, and 45-750, /n 5750) began their delivery flight after the ceremony and joined two other C-130J30s delivered in March to the 251st Tactical Air Support Squadron, based at Gimhae AB (see South Korea Receives C-130Js, May, p22). Delivery completes the order for four aircraft revealed on December 2, 2010. Nigel Pittaway
ADDITIONAL C295MS DELIVERED TO INDONESIA Airbus Defence and Space C295M transports A-2906 and A-2907 were delivered to the Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara (Indonesian
National Defence - Air Force) on May 23. They will be operated by Skuadron Udara 2 based at Halim Perdanakusuma AB in Jakarta, which now has seven C295Ms and should achieve its full strength of nine by the end of the year.
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David C Isby
BRITISH TRANCHE 3 TYPHOONS FLYING
EC145S DELIVERED TO KAZAKHSTAN
Six Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 Tranche 3s destined for the RAF had flown as of May 16, the day ZK361 (BS122) made its first flight in its primer from the BAE Systems facility at Warton, Lancashire. None of the six have yet been allocated to a squadron. David C Isby
Airbus Helicopters will reach the halfway point in its contract to supply 45 EC145s to the Kazakhstan government this year. By late May, 20 were in service, with six more scheduled for delivery by the end of 2014. The fleet build-up is supported by Eurocopter Kazakhstan Engineering, a joint venture of Airbus Helicopters and the Kazakhstan Engineering state company, which assembles EC145s and is developing local maintenance and training facilities
IL-96S FOR RUSSIA The Russian Ministry of Defense
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announced on May 16 that it will procure 11 Ilyushin Il-96 transports, for delivery over the next ten years. One will be configured as a VIP transport for the defence minister, while an unspecified number will be delivered with tanker equipment. David C Isby
to support their operations in the country, and throughout central Asia. The Kazakhstan Ministries of Defence, Emergency Situations, Health, and Environment operate the EC145s (see Kazakhstan Orders Additional EC145s, June 2012, p30). Airbus Helicopters and Kazakhstan have also signed a letter of intent for 20 military EC725s. Mike Jerram
UH-72A LAKOTAS DELIVERED Airbus Helicopters delivered the 300th UH-72A Lakota helicopter (13-72300, c/n 9557, ex N569AE) to the US Army from its Columbus, Mississippi, factory on May 14. Since the UH-72A contract was awarded in 2006, the company has delivered Lakotas in seven different configurations for training, border security, search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, VIP transport and range support. Five UH-72As are also in service with the US Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Mike Jerram
UAE Twin Otter Delivered
Belgium Begins Search for New Fighter
Viking Twin Otter 400 N400GZ (c/n 876) for the United Arab Emirates Joint Aviation Command passed through Palma de Mallorca on its delivery flight on May 17, arriving from the Azores Islands. It left for Heraklion in Greece the following day. The aircraft was built in 2013 and registered to Ground Zero Solutions of Alexandria, Virginia, but arrived at Louisburg in North Carolina on February 13 for customer modification work. Ten Twin Otter 400s were ordered via Global Aerospace Logistics, some of which are expected to be delivered as Guardian 400 variants. Javier Rodriguez
AHRLAC Begins Flight Testing The Paramount Group’s AHRLAC (Advanced High Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft) has begun flight tests at Wonderboom airport outside Pretoria, South Africa. It was towed by road on May 18 from the Aerosud facility on the eastern side of AFB Waterkloof, where it was built. Flight testing follows over 80
flights by a quarter-scale model. Although officially unconfirmed, it is understood that the first prototype (ZU-XDM) flew at least once in May. The aircraft will complete at least 100 flight hours as part of its testing regime at Wonderboom. ‘Blokkies’ Joubert and Lance Wellington have been tasked with flying the aircraft. The AHRLAC is designed for a
wide variety of missions, including surveillance, border patrol, security, light attack, environmental protection and disaster management (see Assembly of South African Light Surveillance Aircraft Under Way, August 2011, p23). An interchangeable payload pod enables it to be quickly equipped for different roles. Guy Martin
Brazilian and Italian Camcopter Trials The Schiebel Camcopter S-100 unmanned air vehicle has conducted a series of trials for the Brazilian and Italian navies. An S-100 was operated from the Brazilian Navy Amazonas-class ship Apa (P121) off the coast of San Pedro from June 2 to 5. The aircraft flew several sorties so the navy could assess the capabilities of its L3 Wescam MX-10 electro-
optical/infrared sensor, Selex ES Sage electronic warfare system, Selex PicoSAR radar and automatic identification system payloads. Both day and night trials were conducted, with target detection out to 90nm (167km). The Italian Navy also recently started operational evaluation of the S-100 aboard the San Giusto (L9894) landing helicopter dock.
The defence ministry announced in February that it had selected the Camcopter for an operational trial, with Schiebel leasing one system (consisting of two aircraft, a control station, piloting unit and antennas) to the Italian Navy. The Italian trial and Brazilian demonstration of the Camcopter follows evaluation by the Royal Netherlands Navy in the spring. Mark Broadbent
Ecuador Receives C295
Belgium has sent Requests for information (RfI) to five foreign government departments in its bid to find a replacement for the F-16 Fighting Falcon. It has approached: the Joint Program Office on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II; the US Navy Integrated Program Office for the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet; France’s Direction générale de l’armement, concerning the Dassault Rafale; the Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency for Saab JAS 39 Gripen; and the UK Ministry of Defence for the Eurofighter Typhoon. The requests were sent on June 3 by the defence general staff. The F-16A/B Block 15 Mid Life Upgrades are due to be withdrawn in 2023 and a decision on a replacement ideally needs to be made in 2015/2016, before maintaining the existing aircraft becomes problematic. Although no quantity was included in the RfI, the outgoing defence minister, Pieter De Crem, said in late December 2013 that 40 aircraft are required for NATO commitments. The RfI was not sent to the aircraft’s manufacturer as Belgium prefers a governmentto-government rather than a direct sale. Meanwhile, on May 8 the US Congress was informed of a $113 million Foreign Military Sale to upgrade Belgium’s F-16A/Bs that has already been approved by the US State Department. The deal involves improved software (Operational Flight Program tapes S1, M5 and M6), navigation (LN260 Embedded Global Positioning System-Inertial Navigation Systems) and communications (including Remote Operated Video Enhanced Receivers IV, used to relay data between the aircraft and ground forces). Belgium has 54 F-16A/Bs in service.
Havocs for Iraq
On June 6 the Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana (Ecuadorian Air Force) accepted the first of three Airbus Defence & Space C295s (c/n S-117). A further two of the transports will be handed over before the end of the year. The initial aircraft is seen on approach to Seville on June 11, still wearing the temporary identity ‘117’. Antonio Muñiz Zaragüeta
Iraq has ordered 15 Mil Mi-28NE Havocs, according to figures released in the 2013 annual report by Rostvertol. While the deal was announced in 2013 (see Iraq Buys Mi-28NE, August 2013, p5), the exact quantity was not revealed. The first examples are due to arrive in Iraq before the end of the year. A total of 28 Mil Mi-35M Hinds will also be delivered. The first four were handed over by late 2013.
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ATR 72-600 Delivery Marks Relaunch of Fiji Link Fiji Airways’ Pacific Sun subsidiary relaunched as Fiji Link on June 6 following delivery of its first ATR 72-600. The aircraft (DQ-FJC, msn 1146, ex F-WWEK) was delivered on May 31 to Nausori International Airport in the Fijian capital, Suva, one of the airline’s two main hubs. Along with a second ATR 72-600 set to arrive later this year, the aircraft will take over Fiji Link’s regional feeder flights across Fiji into Nausori on the east coast and Nadi International Airport on the west, another of the airline’s major hubs. The ATR 72-600s will be joined by a smaller ATR 42-600 and the new regional airliners will replace the ATR 72-500s currently in use. Fiji Airways said the new ATRs would improve air connections between the Fijian islands and other communities in the South Pacific, such as direct flights between Suva and the Samoan capital, Apia, later in 2014, and improved integration with its international network. Air Pacific rebranded as Fiji Airways in 2013 (see Back to Fiji for Air Pacific, April 2013, p21). Mark Broadbent
Production HondaJet Rolled Out
The first production HondaJet heading a line-up of the four conforming prototypes at the company’s facility at Greensboro, North Carolina. Honda Aircraft Company
Honda Aircraft Company has rolled out the first production HA-420 HondaJet business jet (N420EX, c/n 42000011). “It is undergoing ground testing in preparation for its maiden flight,” company President and Chief Executive Officer Michimasa Fujino announced at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland on May 19. “The HondaJet production line is maturing with efficient and
robust processes in place to build high-quality aircraft,” he added. “From handheld tablets that deliver worker instructions to an automatic guided cart to pick up and deliver parts, we continue to integrate the latest technology into our production process to create an efficient workflow. Our most important goals are achieving Federal Aviation Administration Type Certification and delivering the first customer
Solar Impulse 2 Airborne
On the morning of June 2 the Solar Impulse 2 (HB-HIB) completed its maiden flight at Payerne in Switzerland. Test pilot Marcus Scherdel flew the solar-powered aircraft for two hours 17 minutes, during which he reached a maximum height of 5,500ft (1,670m) at an average speed over the ground of 30kt (56km/h). Several additional flights will be undertaken during the coming months to certify the aircraft, which has some significant differences from the original Solar Impulse (HB-HIA), which first flew in December 2009. The aircraft was unveiled on April 9 (see Dawn Breaks for Solar Impulse, May, p2) with a larger, 72m (236ft 2in) wingspan, but weighing just 2,300kg (5,071lb). Solar Impulse 2 is central to a goal of circumnavigating the globe in 2015 solely powered by sunlight, using 17,248 solar cells on its wings and efficient energy storage devices. Solar Impulse
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aircraft. Our total effort is focused on reaching these much anticipated milestones in the first quarter of 2015.” By May, nine HondaJets were in final assembly, four with wings and tail surfaces attached, and production was on schedule for another to join the line in June. Fokker Aerostructures has joined the HondaJet programme and will supply the aircraft’s tail structure. Mike Jerram
Dreamliner ETOPS Extension The US Federal Aviation Administration approved the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner for extended range operation (ETOPS) up to 330 minutes away from a landing site in late May. It allows Dreamliners to fly up to five-and-a-half hours away from a suitable diversion airfield, nearly doubling the three-hour ETOPS clearance the aircraft has had since it entered service in 2011. Boeing says several customers pushed for the ETOPS extension, as it will enable them to fly more direct routes and exploit the Boeing twin-jet’s long-range capabilities. However, no airline has officially confirmed it will introduce the capability on its services. Dutch charter airline Arkefly and Air Canada are the latest carriers to take delivery of their first 787-8s. Meanwhile, the first 787-9 for a customer (ZK-NZB, c/n 34334) made its first test flight from Seattle on May 28. It is scheduled for delivery to Air New Zealand in July. Mark Broadbent
Spanish A330 Gains Special Markings for World Cup
Nigerian Start-up Azman Air received its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority on May 12, after embarking on the certification process in 2011. Azman air received two Boeing 737-36Ns in January (see Azman Air Receives Boeing 737-300s, March, p35) ahead of a May 15 operations start date. Kano state governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso commissioned the two aircraft at Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport. Azman Air is offering flights between Kano, Abuja and Lagos and has been commissioned to fly for this year’s Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages. Guy Martin
Iberia Airbus A330-302 EC-LYF Juan Carlos I (msn 1437, ex F-WWKA) departs Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain for Baltimore, Maryland, on June 2. The airliner was carrying the Spanish national football team on its way to Brazil for the FIFA 2014 World Cup, and wears special decals applied to promote the event. It was delivered to Iberia on November 14, 2013 (see New Colours for Iberia, January, p24). José Ramón Valero
‘New’ DC-6 for Everts
Douglas DC-6B N501XP (c/n 45177, ex C-GKUG) is the latest acquisition of Everts Air Cargo. The vintage aircraft previously served with Conair and was delivered on June 6 from Abbotsford International Airport, British Columbia, to Fairbanks International Airport, Alaska, where Everts has its maintenance facility. The aircraft travelled via Snohomish County Airport/Paine Field, Washington, where it cleared US customs. Joe G Walker
COMMERCIAL ORDERS Airbus Customer Air New Zealand
Aircraft A320neo A321neo A320ceo A321ceo
American Airlines Aviation Link Delta Air Lines Philippine Airlines Royal Brunei Airlines Boeing Customer Eastern Air Lines JAL Group (for Japan Transocean Air) Jiuyuan Airlines Nok Airways Unidentified Unidentified Unidentified Unidentified Unidentified (Business Jet) All orders are firm unless indicated.
ACJ320 A321neo A321 A320neo Aircraft 737-800 737-800 737 (unspecified) 737-800 737 MAX 8 737 MAX (unspecified) 777 (unspecified) 737 MAX 737 MAX 737 MAX 8BBJ
Number 10 3 1 30 (converted from 30 A321neo orders of July 20, 2011) 1 15 4 7
Date June 1 June 1 June 1 May 7
Number 10 12 (firms March 27 agreement) 50 8 (firms Feb 12 purchase commitment) 7 (firms Feb 12 purchase commitment) 50
Date May 20 May 30 May 14 May 21 May 21 May 20
2 10 (total listed in 71 Unidentified, May p31) 25 1
May 27 March 17 March 28 April 2
May 20 June 2 March 18 May 5
Russia and China Plan Widebody United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) of Russia and the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) have signed an agreement to advance plans to jointly design and develop a new 400-seat, longrange widebody airliner. UAC President Mikhail A Pogosyan and COMAC Chairman Jin Zhuanglong launched the initiative, which involves a feasibility study and delivery of a report to the Russian and Chinese governments in the summer. Pogosyan said the project would take “co-operation between the two countries in aircraft building to a new level”. The study follows a provisional agreement signed in 2012 between the two companies to co-operate on jointly developing new airliners. The parties say the programme will be one of the largest international collaborations in the aircraft industry and the technology industries of their nations. Separately, Russia will invest $28 billion in its aviation industry over the next decade. The Moscow Times recently reported that the government wants Russia to become one of the top three aircraft-manufacturing nations. Some $20.5 billion of state aid and $7.9 billion from private investors will be invested by 2025. The target is to increase its share of civil production to 3.2% by 2025, compared to 0.6% in 2011, when it built more than 3,000 aircraft and 5,500 helicopters. Mark Broadbent
Compiled by Mark Broadbent
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PC-24 Sells Out The first three years’ production of the Pilatus PC-24 business jet was sold out during the two opening days of the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland. All 84 production line positions scheduled between the start of deliveries in 2017 and the end of 2019 were taken up by customers and sales agents on May 19 and 20. “Customers who opted for the PC-24 include both prestigious fleet operators and individuals of international stature,” said Pilatus Chairman Oscar J Schwenk. “[This is] an incredible vote of confidence in Pilatus and our new business jet.” Roll-out of the prototype PC-24 at the company’s Buochs-Stans headquarters is planned for August 1, when the Swiss manufacturer will also celebrate the 75th anniversary of its foundation. Mike Jerram
Retro LOT ERJ-175
Embraer ERJ-175LR SP-LIE (c/n 17000153, ex PT-SER) of LOT-Polish Airlines has been painted in the scheme used by its aircraft between 1945 and 1973 to mark the carrier’s 85th anniversary. The airliner wears coatings produced by PPG Aerospace that were applied by LOT Aircraft Maintenance Services at Warsaw in April. It is pictured on approach to Runway 01R at Stockholm-Arlanda in Sweden. Stefan Sjögren
Capital to Introduce S-76D to Europe London Oxford Airport, Oxfordshirebased helicopter charter operator Capital Air Services will mark its 20th anniversary in September with the arrival of a Sikorsky S-76D – the first of its type available for charter in Europe. Capital is managing the helicopter for a private owner who previously operated an S-76C++. The new arrival joins Capital’s
mainstay fleet of Airbus Helicopters’ EC135s, one of which is flying for the M-Sport Ford Rally Team. The company’s London Oxford Airport headquarters is being refurbished to create a dedicated pilot crew briefing area. It recently hired extra pilots to cope with a busy summer season of charter bookings. Mike Jerram
Canadian Basler Surveyor
Basler BT-67 Surveyor C-GGSU (c/n 13439, ex N36AP) is owned by CGG Aviation (Canada) of Ottawa, Ontario in Canada. The aircraft was originally a Douglas DC-3C before being modified by Basler in 2012 and outfitted for the geophysical surveillance role. It is depicted at Muskoka Little Norway Airport, Ontario on May 10. Andrew H Cline
VIP BOEING 757 FOR TAG UK-based TAG Aviation has leased a Boeing 757-2K2(WL) from the International Lease Finance Corporation. The aircraft (c/n 26330, ex YA-AQT), which features blended winglets and Rolls-Royce engines, will be reconfigured with a VIP interior. It will be operated by TAG primarily for TCS Expeditions, a subsidiary of the TUI Group, which runs bespoke two to three-week luxury holidays around the world. The airliner will also be available for charters and is due to begin operations next January. Mark Broadbent
ADDITIONAL FOKKER 50 FREIGHTER CONVERSIONS Dutch company Aircraft Conversions has won an order from Swedish cargo company Amapola to produce two
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Fokker 50 Freighters. They will be delivered this autumn. The conversion features an E-class cargo cabin with a reinforced aluminium/ diamond sandwich construct floor and large cargo doors in the forward fuselage. The aircraft can take loads of up to 100lb/sq ft (488kg/m2). Aircraft Conversions now has a dozen F50 Freighter modifications on order, with options for five more. Three are currently operated by MiniLiner in Italy and one by AsiaLink Cargo in Singapore. Mark Broadbent
ILFC DREAMLINERS TO NEOS Charter airline Neos is to lease two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners from the International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), to become the first Italian carrier due to operate the
airliner. The aircraft will be sourced from ILFC’s existing commitments for 74 Dreamliners and operated by Neos from its Milan-Malpensa base on leisure routes to destinations in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. The aircraft are set to be delivered in 2018 and will replace Boeing 767-300ERs used by the airline on long-haul routes. Neos, a joint venture between German tour operator TUI and Alpitour, began operations in 2002 and also uses eight Boeing 737-800s in addition to the pair of 767s. Mark Broadbent
MORE 787-9S FOR NORWEGIAN Norwegian Air Shuttle has signed an agreement to lease three Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners from an unspecified lessor. Two of the jets
Airspace Agreement for Virgin Galactic Virgin Galactic has reached an agreement with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on integrating its flights from the Spaceport America base in New Mexico into the US National Airspace System. The agreement specifies how the FAA’s air traffic control centre in nearby Albuquerque will work with Spaceport America to segregate airspace to ensure Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, and its White Knight Two carrier, can operate safely. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority, which runs Spaceport America, already has similar agreements in place with the nearby US Army White Sands Missile Range and Edwards AFB in California. Virgin Galactic hopes to start launch flights from Spaceport America before the end of the year. Mark Broadbent
will arrive in 2016 and the third a year later. They will join the five 7878s Norwegian currently operates on services from Europe to the United States and the Far East. The lowcost carrier is also due to receive six more Bombardier Dash 8s over the next few years. By 2018 Norwegian will have 17 Dreamliners in service. Mark Broadbent
KING AIRS IN EUROPE Textron Aviation reports that some 825 Beechcraft King Airs are now registered in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, out of a total of approximately 1,500 business turboprops operating in the region. The largest King Air fleets are based in South Africa, France and the UK. Since 1964, Beechcraft has delivered nearly 7,200 King Airs, and the worldwide fleet has logged more than 60 million flight hours. Mike Jerram
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Gulfstream Aerospace revealed the new ultra-long-range G650ER on May 19 at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland. The development of the G650 can fly 7,500nm (13,890km) at Mach 0.85 or 6,400nm (11,853km) at Mach 0.90, an increase of up to 500nm (926km) over the current G650. The increased range, which Gulfstream says is the longest of any production business jet, will enable it to fly direct from New York to Hong Kong; Dallas to Dubai; or San Francisco to Delhi. Current G650 owners and order-holders will be able to upgrade their aircraft to G650ER standard from the first quarter of 2015. Differences from the baseline aircraft are minimal with the additional fuel accommodated in space within existing tanks. A Gulfstream G650ER set two speed records during flight-testing earlier this year. It flew 6,947nm (12,866km) from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia, in 14 hours and 58 minutes, at an average speed of Mach 0.86. After positioning to Hong Kong, the G650ER flew 7,494nm (13,879km) to Teterboro, New Jersey, in 14 hours, seven minutes at an average speed of Mach 0.865. Mike Jerram
Initial Passenger Tests for A350 Airbus A350 XWB test aircraft F-WWCF (msn 2) completed its first passenger flight tests in early June. The flights were designed to replicate real services to help mature the A350 ahead of service entry and used the test aircraft’s airline-configured cabin. They were conducted with Air France and Lufthansa cabin crews and almost 250 passengers (comprising Airbus employees), Airbus cabin specialists and representatives from equipment manufacturers. The trials followed two weeks of the systems and cabin installations in F-WWCF being subjected to extreme hot and cold temperatures at the McKinley Climactic Lab at Eglin AFB, Florida. The aircraft was tested in temperatures as high as 45°C (133°F) and to a low of -40°C (-40°F) and its galleys, water, and waste systems were evaluated. The work followed initial hot and cold weather tests in the Middle East and Northern Canada earlier in the year. Mark Broadbent
Aviation-Rescue Centre Established
The newly established aviation-rescue centre at Rostov will operate recently procured Ka-32A11BC RF-32804 (c/n 523324069830) for mountain rescue work. Alexander Mladenov
Russia’s parapublic Ministry for Emergency Situations has expanded its aviation arm to establish the Aviation-Rescue Centre under the control of its Southern Regional Centre. The centre became active from June 5, tasked with supporting emergency response efforts in Russia’s southern regions around the Black Sea, Northern Caucasus territories and the recently annexed Crimea peninsula. The centre will have a staff of 321 and 12 aircraft, including seven Mil
Mi-8MTV-1s and four Kamov Ka-32 helicopters, plus a Beriev Be-200 firefighting amphibian. The centre has its headquartered at Rostov-on-Don in the Rostov oblast, and will control two component groups. The first, also based at Rostov-on-Don, will maintain alert detachments there and at Adler, Asrakhan, Sevastopol and Simferopol. The second, based in Mineralniye Vody, will maintain alert detachments at Mineralniye Vody and Grozni in the North Caucasus region. Alexander Mladenov
Mjair Airlines Applies for Zimbabwe Licence
A new start-up carrier, Mjair Airlines, has applied to the Zimbabwean Government for a regional and international route licence. A notice in the Zimbabwean Government Gazette stated: “Notice is hereby given that Mjair Airlines (Private) Limited has applied to the Air Services Board for the issue of an air services permit to provide commercial scheduled air services for the
carriage of passengers, dry and/ or fresh cargo, and mail on local, regional and international routes.” Given the fleet and financial problems experienced by national carrier Air Zimbabwe in recent years, a number of foreign airlines have expanded into Zimbabwe, including KLM, EgyptAir, Air Namibia, Emirates and Mozambique Airlines (LAM). Guy Martin
B777X Refined Boeing has marginally increased the in-flight wingspan and length of the wing-fold on the 777X. The span of the aircraft’s wings is now 235ft 6in (71.78m), some 2ft (0.60m) more than the 233ft 21/2in (71.08m) announced by Boeing when it launched the 777X programme in November 2013. The folded wingspan of the 777X on the ground, 212ft 9in (64.85m), remains as originally stated. The folding wingtips will distinguish the 777X from current 777 variants. A device positioned outboard of the flaps will enable the flight crew to move the position of the wingtips, allowing the airliner to fit at the same airport gates as the currentgeneration 777s. Mark Broadbent
Return of Eastern Air Lines Plans to re-launch Eastern Air Lines are advancing following the placing of a firm order with Boeing for ten 737-800s on May 20. The Miami, Florida-based Eastern Air Lines Group acquired the intellectual property rights and trademarks of the former Eastern Air Lines, which operated as a network carrier for more than 60 years from 1928. In January the Group filed an application with the US Department of Transportation (DoT) for an operating certificate. The new company, which is not affiliated to the previous Eastern Air Lines that ceased operations in January 1991, intends to fly charter services for tour operators. The Eastern Air Lines Group has also placed ten purchase rights for Boeing 737 MAX-8s. Subject to approvals from the DoT and the Federal Aviation Administration, it plans to begin operations from Miami later this year. Mark Broadbent
Hermes Takes Wings
On June 6 Maltese start-up Hermes Aviation began operations as Flyhermes with this Boeing 737-400. The aircraft (7374K5 9H-HER, c/n 24901, ex EI-CUA) was delivered on May 27, leased from Aeroco, and was previously flown by Blue Panorama Airlines. It is seen at Palma de Mallorca on a subcharter to Mistral of Italy on its second operational day with Hermes Aviation. Javier Rodríguez
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The NH90 Caïman is establishing itself in the Aéronavale and giving its operator new capabilities, as Henri-Pierre Grolleau discovers
he NATO Frigate Helicopter programme was launched in the early 1990s to find a successor to a wide range of naval rotary assets in service in Europe. For the Marine Nationale (French Navy) there was a pressing need to replace both the Aerospatiale SA321G Super Frelon in the search and rescue (SAR), support, logistics and counter-maritime terrorism roles and the Westland Lynx anti-submarine and antisurface warfare helicopter. A total of 27 NH Industries NH90s were eventually ordered for the Aéronavale (French Naval Air Arm). Fourteen were the NHC (C for combat) variant to replace the Lynx and the other 13 the ramp-equipped NHS (S for soutien, or support) version to supersede the Super Frelon. The NHS variants will typically fly from the decks of the nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, Mistral-class amphibious ships, the trial vessel Monge and new replenishment vessels which, if sufficient funds can be found, will enter service around 2020. The NHC will operate mainly from Forbinclass air defence destroyers and Acquitaneclass FREMMs (FREgates Multi-Missions, or multi-mission frigates). For added flexibility, both the NHC and the NHS can conduct combat missions and can be equipped with the FLASH sonars and associated workstations.
Delays Like many multi-national programmes, the NH90 – named the Caïman by the French military – was initially plagued with problems. Delivery delays were caused by technical issues (since solved) and production setbacks, forcing customers to keep older types in service at a considerable cost. The programme was extremely ambitious and engineers pushed limits to develop a remarkably modern helicopter fitted with high-tech systems such as fly-by-wire controls. Technical innovations were one reason for the lengthy research, development and trials phase but the type is now firmly in service with the Aéronavale and other operators worldwide.
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All photos Henri-Pierre Grolleau
Operational Evaluation The first Caïman was delivered to the Aéronavale on May 5, 2010 for operational evaluation by the Centre d’Expérimentations Pratiques de l’Aéronautique Navale/ Escadrille 10S (CEPA/10S, the French Navy operational evaluation centre) at Hyères in southern France. At the peak of the evaluation period, there were 160 CEPA personnel working on the NH90. The Super Frelon had to be withdrawn from use earlier
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472 AI Digi.indd 21
Typhoon In-Flight Riccardo Niccoli experiences a Typhoon training mission with the Italian Air Force
mission with 4° Stormo (Wing) at Grosseto, 91 miles (126km) northwest of Rome, to see firsthand how it uses this thoroughbred European fighter to maintain Italian air defence.
Preparations The day before the flight I visit the Life Support Room of 20° Gruppo, one of the two Typhoon squadrons that make up 4° Stormo (the other is 9° Gruppo), to be fitted out with all the necessary kit including the g-suit, which features anti-g trousers (colloquially known as ‘speed jeans’), an inflatable torso jacket and the helmet. Under ‘g’, this combination immediately inflates and the oxygen mask provides positive pressure breathing to help the pilots bear the forces flying in a Typhoon can produce. With the aircraft having high specific excess power, it can reach 9g in less than a second and can easily maintain such performance. Only a well-trained pilot in excellent physical shape can fly the Typhoon in combat with ease. After the dressing checks, I am familiarised with the Typhoon cockpit in the E-ACPT3 simulator before sitting in the back seat of a two-seater on the flight line.
The Mission Early in the morning on the next day, I attend the weather and mission briefings in the operational area of 20° Gruppo.
All photos Riccardo Niccoli
e line up on the left side of Grosseto AB’s runway 21. Our wingman takes position to our right. The wind is calm and today the skies above us here in Tuscany are blue. The storms of the previous night have cleared, presenting us with excellent weather conditions for our area of operations. After the last checks, we’re ready to depart. The feeling of sitting in the Eurofighter Typhoon – designated the F-2000A in Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI, Italian Air Force) service – on the runway just before launch is unforgettable. The AMI gave AIR International an opportunity to fly in a training
MILITARY TYPHOON Our mission, named A612, is composed of four aircraft divided into two sections, involving two aircraft and pilots each from 9° and 20° Gruppos. The mission will involve practice radar intercepts to help the two pilots from 9° Gruppo refresh basic air defence procedures. The jets will then carry out an in-flight refuelling and two-versus-two radar engagements before recovering to base. The two 9° Gruppo pilots will be the ‘Blue’ Air (friendly) force. Their task is to protect a specific air defence zone against raids from hostile (‘Red’ Air) fighters flown by pilots from 20° Gruppo. I am allotted to fly with the 20° Gruppo Commander, callsign ‘Bobo’ (names and ranks of personnel are withheld for security reasons). Our aircraft and that flown by wingman ‘Pibe’ will form Red Air. The Blue Air pair are ‘Sprea’ and ‘Tello’. The detailed briefing gives no room for uncertainty about what the sortie will involve and covers all possible emergencies and their solutions. Our take-off is scheduled
radar information and that on the right is used for armament, fuel, engines and systems data. For this mission there will be control from the stick in the front cockpit only – authority is transferred by pushing a button in the left lower part of the control panel. The hands-on throttle and stick engine controls are on the left console. The Typhoon presents some information to its pilots through audible alerts, and the almost total lack of visible engine instrumentation is noticeable compared to other fighters. Much of the basic information about the aircraft only appears when there is a problem. With the help of the crew chief I start to strap into the seat. The emergency pack is linked to the left side of the seat – and the four belts, together with the two arm constraints, are connected before the plate, which group the oxygen, anti-g and radio plugs, is installed on the left rear side. I then open the two fuel shut-off switches on the two consoles, set the volume of the radios
for 0920Z (1120 local), and the assigned aircraft are three single-seat F-2000As and one two-seater (designated TF-2000A in the AMI) – plus a single-seater and a two-seater for back-up. The external configuration for the Red Air aircraft is two 1,000kg (2,200lb) underwing tanks, an FPR advanced air combat manoeuvring instrumentation pod and an IRIS-T training missile. The Blue Air pilots will be able to simulate use of the IRIS-T and AIM-120C-5 missiles and the 27mm Mauser BK27 gun during the sortie.
and remove the safety pin from the handle of the ejection seat.
In The Seat The Typhoon cockpit feels spacious and comfortable, even in the back seat of the TF-2000A. The controls and displays are well distributed. In front of me is the wideangle head-up display (HUD) and, below that, three colour multi-function displays (MFDs). Usually the central MFD is used for pilot awareness and shows the moving map, navigation data and the position of possible threats. The left MFD displays
Pre-Flight Checks While I was strapping in, ‘Bobo’ completed the external checks before starting the avionics and the portable data storage (PDS) cassette, which is used to upload all the sortie data into the mission computer. The inertial navigation system line-up procedure is launched in ‘normal’ mode, which takes about four minutes. The standard checks are executed automatically by the aircraft’s systems; today we also have to complete the flight control system check, which is carried out every week, and conduct a check of the in-flight refuelling probe, which will be used during this flight. The start-up procedure is quite easy: after switching on the fuel pumps the auxiliary power unit is turned on, starting the oxygen system and the turbine. The pilot then only has to move the throttle to the ‘idle’ position to start the two Eurojet EJ200 engines. Then we carry out a g-suit check and switch
on the radar (in ‘ground’ mode), check the radio and prepare to taxi. In the meantime the crew chief has removed all the safety pins from the aircraft and under his orders we leave the shelter with a bit of throttle – the engines tend to push the aircraft forward even in the idle position! Once out of the shelter the ejection seats are armed and, during the taxi to the runway, the brakes and the flight controls checked. Today the weather conditions are excellent with the local temperature on the ground at 20°C and pressure at 1007 millibars. Our TF-2000A in today’s configuration weighs about 17,000kg (37,445lb), of which about 5,850kg (12,885lb) is fuel. With the EJ200s each generating more than 18,000kg (39,650lb/178kN) of thrust, it’s easy to see that a sporting take-off awaits.
Acceleration So here we are on Grossetto’s runway, lined up and ready for departure. Each Typhoon will carry out a maximum performance takeoff, separated by seven seconds. We’re the first jet to launch. The throttles are opened to max dry, then it’s brakes off before max reheat is selected. To say the acceleration is
impressive is an understatement. But it’s not rough. On other fighters there’s a feeling of being pushed in the back by the engine, but on the Typhoon it’s smooth and stable. The speed indicator starts to give information above 50kt (92km/h). At 100kt (185km/h) we have the speed check: below this speed it’s possible to abort the takeoff, but that’s only in the event of major problems. It takes 12 seconds from the brake release to reach 147kt (272 km/h), when the aircraft is rotated off the ground.
The landing gear is cycled up and ‘Bobo’ pulls the stick back. We go vertical and continue to accelerate. In a few seconds we’re at 230kt (426km/h) and 4,500ft (1,363m) and start to make a gentle turn to the right; the afterburner is disengaged and we level off at 5,500ft (1,666m). Once in level flight the Typhoon’s stability quickly becomes apparent – as does the excellent visibility from the cockpit. The back seat is high and it’s possible to see in all directions easily; the delta wing and the foreplanes do not interfere with the line of sight. Heading west we aim for the airspace above the sea off Castiglione della Pescaia, awaiting the three other aircraft on our mission. It’s worth noting that, in a real scramble, the Typhoon can reach Mach 1.5 at 35,000ft (10,605m) in only 2.5 minutes from the brake release.
Refuelling With all the aircraft now in formation, we head southwest across the Mediterranean Sea – under instrument flight rules (IFR) and the control of Rome Military – to enter the
“D115 is a fighter pilot’s paradise. There is no upper altitude restrictions above 2,000ft (606m) and there are no speed restrictions, enabling supersonic operations.”
D67 military training area east of Corsica for a rendezvous with an Armée de L’Air (French Air Force) Boeing C-135FR Stratotanker. We climb to 16,000ft (4,848m) and with our radar we can already spot the tanker, which is at 18,000ft (5,454m). Approaching the C-135FR, the procedures are the standard used at international level. The
tanker takes the control of the operation and our formation is cleared to join its left wing. The first two Typhoons are then cleared to position themselves behind the refuelling baskets before making contact with them. Visibility is excellent and the air is mostly calm. Now it’s our turn to join the tanker.
We deploy the probe and ‘Bobo’, with careful use of the stick and throttle, brings our aircraft in behind the basket before connecting with it. We’re flying at 280kt (518km/h) and need slightly longer to refuel because we burned more than the Red aircraft as we waited for them to take off; and the TF-2000A’s fuel capacity is some 700kg
(1,540lb) less than the single-seater’s. After taking on 2,900kg (6,388lb) we disengage from the basket and move to the right of the tanker, joining the rest of the formation. The entire refuelling process for the four aircraft has taken less than 30 minutes. After a brief “Merci, au revoir” to the French aircrew, we head south, cleared
by Rome Military to 29,000ft (8,787m) to go to D115, a large area of airspace east of Sardinia, where we will conduct our exercise. Also used by units from Decimomannu and Trapani, D115 is a fighter pilot’s paradise. There’s no upper altitude restriction above 2,000ft (606m) and there are no speed restrictions, enabling supersonic
operations. The ground control intercept is provided by ‘Barca’, the 22° Gruppo Radar (radar squadron) at Licola near Naples.
Combat Air Patrol Cleared to enter D115, the four Typhoons split into two formations. The two Blue Air jets set up a combat air patrol (CAP) in
the northern area of D115, ‘protecting’ an invisible border line. The aircraft’s Captor radar has a range of 240nm (445km) and can easily detect a fighter-size target well beyond 100nm (185km). We, as Red Air, take position in the southern part of D115. We reach and cross the border line and, in accordance with
the rules of engagement (ROE), the CAP is cleared to intercept us. Our element, flying at Mach 0.77 (300kt, 555km/h) and 30,000ft (9,090m), separates and starts the first of the four interceptions. In the first two engagements we do not show hostile intentions – the purpose is to test the Blue pilots’ flight profiles. In the
TYPHOON MILITARY second, the Blue pilots have to manoeuvre so that at least one of the jets is brought into a position of advantage over the Red aircraft without being spotted. In the other two engagements Red uses their radar to simulate a threat to which Blue respond. The Typhoon’s radar sensor assigns a letter and a priority number to each threat it can detect, in case of attack with beyondvisual-range (BVR) missiles. During the repositioning at the end of each intercept, I experience manoeuvres which highlight the superb handling of the Typhoon. Its flight controls appear sharp but at the same time much more fluid than those of the F-16 Fighting Falcon which was previously used for air defence by the AMI. It is interesting to note that during this phase of the flight our total fuel consumption is only 26kg (57lb) per hour.
Recovery Having completed the intercepts, the four aircraft rejoin and, flying in IFR, we head north at 32,000ft (9,696m) towards the mainland. Some 70nm (130km) from Isola del Giglio, an island south of Grosseto, we descend and at 3,000ft (909m) the formation splits for the landing back at base. The Blue section enters the Grosseto circuit first. On finals to land, the speed is 165kt (305km/h). A big ‘E’ appears on the HUD, giving the pilot the correct angle of attack to land, usually between 12 and 14 degrees. In the Typhoon there’s no need to ensure the engine RPM and flaps are in the correct setting for landing – the aircraft can configure itself according to the speed the pilot wants to maintain. The autopilot, autotrim and autospeed modes are so advanced that in flight the aircraft can be left alone, leaving the pilot to concentrate on their mission. The touchdown, after a short flare, comes at 145kt (268km/h). The landing run is short thanks to the powerful wheel brakes and the combined aerodynamic effect of the foreplanes and flaps. A Typhoon pilot can also deploy the brake ’chute, but it isn’t used during normal operations. There is still 1,300kg (2,863lb) of fuel aboard, more than enough to take us to the diversion airport, which today was Pisa.
Reflections The Italian pilots’ professionalism, skills and motivation were clearly evident that day; they need not envy other air forces worldwide. As to the aircraft, having flown in other modern fighters, the author can affirm that the Typhoon is the leader in the fighter class, well above the various F-15, F-16, F/A-18C, Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 variants and even above contemporary designs like the F/A-18E/F, Rafale and Gripen. Highly experienced pilots in Europe, the Middle East and the US who’ve had the opportunity to fly in the Typhoon have been deeply impressed by its capabilities and performance. The aircraft can pull 6g at Mach 1.6 at 30,000ft (9,090m) – something no other fighter except the F-22 can do. Its combination of avionics and mission systems like the Captor radar, Multifunctional Information Distribution System and IRS-T coupled with its weaponry and integrated self-defence suite make the Typhoon capable
of beating any opponent. It has an excellent flight control system, ample range and endurance (even without in-flight refuelling) and powerful, reliable engines. It can fly in supercruise – once supersonic, it’s able to maintain its speed in maximum dry power – and maintain it even with the centreline fuel tank and armaments aboard. Even at maximum take-off weight it can offer performance that has amazed all its customer pilots. It also boasts carefree handling of the flight controls and engines and is extremely controllable at both Mach 2 (its aerodynamics are optimised for
supersonic flight) and low speeds like 100kt (185km/h). Aside from its pure performance, the Typhoon is a mature weapon system envied by those who don’t have it. The prospect of Captor-E active electronically-scanned array radar and the Meteor missile will enable the fighter to ‘dominate’ the sky against every kind of threat for years to come. And its multi-role capability underlines its flexibility. In the words of Colonel Luca Spuntoni, current Commander of 4° Stormo, who hosted AIR International during our visit: “The Typhoon is the fighter we’ve always dreamt of!”
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Ultimate Eye in the Sky MILITARY DB-110 RECONNAISSANCE SYSTEM
Ian Harding reports on the UTC Aerospace Systems DB-110 reconnaissance pod
A Hellenic Air Force 335 Squadron F-16D Block 52+ taxies from its shelter at Araxos Air Base in Greece with a DB-110 attached. Hellenic Air Force
he primary goal of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations is to provide military and, where appropriate, civilian commanders with highfidelity intelligence to enable timely and efficient decision-making. Effective ISR operations are a key enabling capability in the armoury of intelligence specialists seeking to secure national borders and meet the continued challenge of fighting the war on terrorism against ever-more elusive targets. Built by UTC Aerospace Systems, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, the DB-110 Reconnaissance System (the DB stands for dual band) is at the forefront of this essential mission. Employing cuttingedge technology and with a proven track record on operations, the DB-110 has acquired an enviable global reputation that is second to none, and will continue to grow in light of recent orders. That said, the DB-110 pod’s technology does have wider commercial applications in providing unique wide-area surveillance in near real-time, which the company continues to explore. The DB-110 system is complex but UTC Aerospace Systems specialists explained the system’s history, key functionality, as well as its pioneering technology to AIR International.
DB-110 RECONNAISSANCE SYSTEM MILITARY
Single Sensor Gimbal The DB-110 is a digital, real-time, tactical reconnaissance system that captures extremely high-quality images day and night using electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) technology, all contained within in a single sensor gimbal. The system incorporates a dual-band day and night time imaging sensor, a real-time digital recorder and a real-time data transmission capability within a single pod. Once airborne, mounted on either a manned or unmanned platform, the DB-110 system provides proven tactical imaging capability over long, medium, and short stand-off ranges, including over-flight imaging. Pre-planned points of interest can be imaged and the data transmitted in real time to analysts on the ground, as well as viewed inside the cockpit of a Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter (for example on its multi-function display, MFD). This enables the pilot to exploit each target in real time and verify targets and then re-task the system to capture images
revealed on an ‘opportunity basis’ during the mission, or as tasked in the air as the tactical scenario or mission changes.
Development The system was developed by Goodrich (which was combined with Hamilton Sundstrand by United Technologies Corporation in August 2012 to form UTC Aerospace Systems) during the 1990s in response to what the company saw would be an emerging market for countries needing to switch from reconnaissance operations using traditional wet-film
MILITARY DB-110 RECONNAISSANCE SYSTEM
1 This C-17 at Farnborough was photographed from approximately 3.5 miles (5.6km) away by a Tornado at 19,000ft (5,790m). All images UTC Aerospace Systems unless stated 2 This image of Los Angeles was taken from approximately 85 miles (137km) away by an F-16 at 40,000ft (12,190m), into the sun and through the haze.
cameras to EO/IR data-linked systems. Pivotal amongst the many technical challenges faced, was the need to design a sensor of the right size, performance and shape to sit under a range of tactical airborne platforms. From an operator’s perspective the DB-110’s long stand-off enables covert imaging of targets and improved survivability of the host aircraft. During this critical design and development phase, the UK was seeking a digital tactical reconnaissance system for the Royal Air Force’s Panavia Tornado GR4s. The company was successful in this competition, ultimately resulting in the development of the UK’s Reconnaissance Airborne Pod for TORnado, or RAPTOR, system. This was a second-generation DB110 pod, the first being the demonstration prototype. The RAF went on to deploy RAPTOR successfully with its Tornado Force during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (Operations Telic and Herrick respectively) from late 2002 and later in Operation Ellamy over Libya. RAF officials have described the pod’s operation following its deployment as providing a quantum leap in the reconnaissance and surveillance capability for the Tornado Force and the intelligence it has provided has undoubtedly given commanders the ‘edge’ over their adversaries. This second-generation system was also selected by Japan in 2002 for its Mitsubishui-built OP-3 Orion surveillance aircraft. The following year, the company was approached by Poland, which at the time was seeking a reconnaissance capability for its 48 F-16 Block 52 aircraft being acquired under the Peace Sky Foreign Military Sale (FMS) programme. Poland’s subsequent selection proved pivotal for the programme’s development as the company sought to upgrade the pod and the camera design from the second to a 2 third generation.
Somewhat smaller and lighter than the RAPTOR pod, the third-generation system has proved hugely successful commercially and UTC Aerospace Systems confirm it now has 11 third-generation international programmes, which include Egypt, Greece, Morocco, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. From a technical perspective the three generations of the DB-110 system’s development are as follows. First generation: Designed for long-range imaging only, incorporating a long focal length, highresolution, dual-band (visible EO and IR) imaging system with a visible and near infra-red (VNIR) 110in (2.79m) narrow field of view (NFOV) sensor and a mid-wave infra-red (MWIR) 55in (1.40m) NFOV sensor sharing a common aperture. The NFOV optical sensor forms the backbone of the second and current third-generation camera. Second generation: Added a wide field of view (WFOV), VNIR and IR sensor to the NFOV sensor to create the world’s first multiple field of view longrange imaging sensor in production.
Third Generation: A super wide field of view (SWFOV) lowaltitude over-flight MWIR sensor was added. Larry Maver, Business Development Director for UTC Aerospace Systems, outlined the key commercial aspects of the third generation upgrade. “It’s basically the same camera in terms of size, weight [and] power, save the additional new features added which enhance capability,” he said. “The most significant upgrade was to increase the image resolution by introducing new focal planes, the new third SWFOV which could be used below an altitude of 5,000ft (1,524m) and modernised avionics. Our objectives over time were for the camera to have selectable optical sub-systems which customers could use irrespective of whether they were flying at high altitudes [of] up to 50,000ft (15,240m), from long range, say 20 miles [32km], to look 70 miles [113km] away across a border, using the narrow field of view optics. A wide field of view optical system is used vertically or out to a distance of typically around 10 to 15 miles [16 to 24km]. The intention was to produce a pod that would fulfil all the different ‘recce’ 1 mission types an air force would require with a single system.”
Compact Because the UTC Aerospace Systems fast jet pod was designed to fit on the relatively small F-16, it is compact and therefore compatible with a whole host of tactical fast jets from the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom, Dassault Mirage and Tornado through to the latest generation of fighters, including the Boeing F-15 Eagle and the F/A-18 Super Hornet. UTC Aerospace Systems is exploring design adaptations to ensure the DB-110’s compatibility with the clearance requirements of the centreline stations of the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. Most air forces use a tactical fast jet as the pod’s platform but UTC Aerospace Systems confirm its Lightweight DB-110 pod has been successfully demonstrated on the unmanned General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Predator B platform. The company also said the system is currently being adapted for commercial business jet use. The determining factor in terms of compatibility is whether an airborne platform can handle the pod’s size, weight (2,000lb/1,000kg) and power. The camera has been designed to be platform ‘agnostic’, meaning it can be placed inside a business jet in a customised fuselage fairing or in a
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MILITARY DB-110 RECONNAISSANCE SYSTEM
smaller lighter pod under a medium-altitude long-endurance UAV, transport aircraft or in a derivative of the current fast jet pod.
• Environmental Control System (ECS) and Temperature Control Unit (TCU) at both ends of the pod which cool, heat and protect the systems sensors and avionics during a mission, especially at altitudes around the maximum ceiling height; • A single pneumatic window shutter assembly to protect the oblique and nadir windows. This opens/closes automatically and manually as required during the mission; • Pod Power Supply (PPS) unit and Solid State Recorder (SSR) located in the forward and aft sections of the pod • Reconnaissance Management System (RMS) and Sensor Control Unit (SCU) located next to the PPS • An Airborne Data Link Terminal (ADLT). During data capture, the sensor uses state-of-the art visible and IR optics to limit image diffraction on the sensor’s charged
Three Fields of View Currently the UTC Aerospace Systems third-generation system is the only one in the world providing users with a highperformance airborne reconnaissance capability comprising three fields-of-view within a single compact sensor. These are: • a 110in (280cm) focal length VNIR NFOV channel and complementary 55in (1.40m) focal length MWIR NFOV channel; • a 16in (0.41m) focal length VNIR WFOV channel and complementary 14in (0.36m) focal length MWIR WFOV channel, and; • a 2.5in (64mm) focal length MWIR SWFOV channel. In terms of sensor range and altitude, the NFOV, VNIR and MWIR sensors are typically used at altitudes between 20,000ft and 50,000ft (6,100m to 15,240m) for long-range stand-off missions where covert operations and aircrew and aircraft safety are the main priorities. As long as weather conditions are good, imaging quality capture by the NFOV is high anywhere between ten and 70 miles (16113km approximately). For missions requiring image capture close to the aircraft’s position, such as large area coverage or high altitude over-flight, the WFOV, VNIR and MWIR sensors will be used at altitudes between 5,000 and 20,000ft (1,524-6,140m) and for stand-off ranges between target over-flight and 30 miles (48km). The SWFOV capability comes into its own in low cloud overcast weather conditions or when the mission requires low-altitude imaging. This sensor has a 21/2in (6.35cm) MWIR which is optimised for operational heights below 5,000ft (1,524m).
Structure and Operation The system’s sensor and avionics suite is contained within the reconnaissance pod, which is designed to fit on the centreline of a tactical aircraft, such as an F-16. The key features contained within the pod are: • Forward and aft data link antennae in the nose and tail sections; • The DB-110 sensor/camera housed in the centre section of the pod behind the window shutter;
couple device and a two-axis image stabilisation process to compensate for the aircraft’s motion and reduce image smear to sub-pixel level. The optical sensors certainly gather high-resolution, motion-free images of exceptional quality. This enables the system to operate up to a speed of Mach 1.6. Autonomous operation of the pod’s system is controlled by its reconnaissance management system (RMS) situated in the forward compartment between the camera and the forward ECS module. The RMS can manage both pre-planned and real-time collection tasks. Communication between the aircraft and the pod is achieved through the interface system contained within the aircraft’s centreline. The system also uses the aircraft’s MFD and the pilot’s hands-on-throttle and stick (HOTAS) selections. The interface enables the pilot to view imagery of targets
1 1 Close-up of the DB-110 underneath an HAF F-16 Block 52+. Hellenic Air Force 2 The Merlin Exploitation System showing Falmouth in the UK.
MERLIN EXPLOITATION SYSTEM The Merlin Intelligence Exploitation System is at the forefront of ISR data screening and exploitation technology, for still and video imagery. There is a display window for image viewing and enhancement, and a map window to show geolocation, graphical overlays, annotations, region of interest. Image comparison/fusion can be displayed along with selected map overlays for sensor footprint and aircraft location.
DB-110 RECONNAISSANCE SYSTEM MILITARY as required, image targets of opportunity that were not in the original plan and manage and monitor the system as a whole. Analysts located on the ground are provided with a status report for the mission, which enables them to monitor the aircraft’s progress as it completes each imaging task. Aircrew can also interrogate the system during a mission using the SSR to retrieve imagery, assess it and if necessary, change the order in which subsequent tasks are completed.
Customer Choice Having selected the DB-110 system, customers must then decide which ground exploitation system’ they require. This enables their imagery analysts and intelligence officers to exploit the images collected in a timely manner to provide effective intelligence. UTC Aerospace Systems will tailor equipment choices to meet specific customer needs. Maver explained: “Customer ground requirements are largely determined by the country’s specific ISR requirements and its geographical expanse. Depending on this, they may have one or two bases with tactical jets based for DB-110 missions with each base normally having two to four pods and trained support engineers. Some countries have chosen to have a fixed ground exploitation facility at their main operational base, whilst others have opted for transportable or mobile truck-mounted ground stations that can be forward deployed. All options offer the ability to down link the imagery in real time. Some customers have both. They can mix and match, and the decision ultimately depends on a country’s operational mission requirements and so forth. The pattern for customers is a range of two to eight pods, one to three ground stations, data link facilities, operator training, plus our
field engineer support. The DB-110 pod is the heart of the system but a menu structure exists in relation to ground-based exploitation systems to maintain customer choice, tactical flexibility and value for money.”
Image Collection and Analysis As mentioned, UTC Aerospace Systems offer customers a complete range of image exploitation options to complement their system; fixed, mobile and transportable. As with any complex system, an effective HMI is critical, and UTC Aerospace Systems officials confirm their system software is designed to be highly intuitive, as demonstrated by the company’s latest software design which complements the third generation pod. Yet to be released, UTC Aerospace Systems confirmed it simplifies and speeds up the process of analyst image training; important when trained analysts need to be replaced. The systems supplied meet all US, NATO and ISO international standards. The final decision on the type of ground stations acquired by a country ultimately depends on what they want to do with the system and their concept of use (CONUSE). There is naturally a lot of variation between countries. The Ground Station (GS) concept was developed to enable image processing within a defined secure environment and initial thoughts were this would reside within a fixed location, for example an office block. This concept developed soon after discussions commenced with the RAF, which wanted a more flexible structure like a cabin in which to house its future capability; the idea being this could be mobile and moved to wherever it was required for each operation to maximise its effectiveness and integration with communications to disseminate the intelligence. Mission planners and analysts positioned
inside the cabin would then process the images downloaded from the aircraft via data link at their forward location. Other customers liked this idea but wanted the capability inside a more comfortable office building. The fixed GS was developed specifically to meet this demand although the ‘mobile’, self-contained cabin idea was never lost and the Mobile Ground Station (MGS) capability soon arrived. The current upgraded MGS is a 20ft (6m), air-conditioned container housing four workstations, printing facilities, plus all the software capability necessary to analyse images downloaded from the pod. The container is positioned aboard a Mercedes ACTROS Prime Mover Vehicle (PMV) with a trailer attached, housing the ground surface terminal, data link and generators all within a separate storage space. This ground capability is relatively small and can therefore be transported using a single Lockheed C-130 Hercules load, for example. However, a more transportable ground station has been developed that can be loaded into a ruggedized transit case making forward deployment even easier. UTC Aerospace Systems say their customers have selected an even spread of fixed and mobile stations.
Video Feed A recent addition to the system is a video feed that works alongside the existing digital still image capability. This video feed has been provided to the Royal Navy and British Army which can now combine the intelligence gathered by both feeds. UTC Aerospace Systems said the video feed is a powerful additional tool which a number of existing and potential customers are showing interest in. They are looking to upgrade their existing capability accordingly. “All we need to do for existing customers to complete this 2
MILITARY DB-110 RECONNAISSANCE SYSTEM process is upgrade their existing software,” said Richard Glyn-Jones, Head Business Development at UTC Aerospace Systems at Malvern, Worcestershire. He explained the benefits of this capability: “Our system reads the information provided by the video feed frame by frame before converting that into separate channels which are then fed separately into the GS. This enables an analyst to plot the exact footprint of that video image onto the still imagery gathered. We can even plot the actual position of the aircraft so an analyst can see where it was at a given time, what its footprint was over the ground, etc. An analyst can exploit this imagery further by inserting the exact geo-location of the ground images being analysed.”
Mission Planning Prior to a pre-planned reconnaissance mission, planners and aircrew work together to determine the precise areas for imaging during the reconnaissance flight in order to satisfy the commanders’ intelligence requirements. Once determined, this information is uploaded into the pod and to the aircraft planning system, which will tell the aircraft and crew where they need to fly in order to image the target at the requested resolution. Aircrew then fly to the pre-planned areas and, on arrival, the pod will automatically image the area it needs to. This information is downloaded via data link to the GS and stored in the pod for additional target exploitation once the aircraft has landed. “The pod’s management system will also tell the pilot where the aircraft needs to be and at what time in order to get the ‘handshake’ with the ground data link,” Glyn-Jones explained. “Also, whilst flying the pre-planned mission, if the pilot or ground analysts see another area they wish to investigate, the mission profile can be amended on the ground and in the air. Then, this new target can be uploaded to the pod, which will adjust the aircraft’s navigation and data link handshake waypoints to the existing mission plan. “When the uplink is complete the aircrew will see the changes made to their flight plan on their cockpit MFD, and the pod will image the new targets as the aircraft flies the updated mission. The data link will automatically transmit imagery of the new target as the aircraft flies through each planned data link ‘gate’ and the imagery is ingested straight into the ground segment and is available for review by ground analysts. In the business jet application, some of the analysts man workstations 2
1 1 Close-up of the DB-110 underneath an HAF F-16 Block 52+. Hellenic Air Force 2 The Mobile Ground Station houses four workstations, printing facilities plus all the software capability necessary to analyse images. 3 The Intelligence Reference Library enables intelligence analysts to interrogate the system more efficiently.
inside the aircraft and are able to screen the imagery and either exploit it straightaway on board or data link it to the ground station for analysis. Either way a timely report is created for each target, as dictated by its priority, for the commander.”
Library Prior to a mission, a library of previously collected imagery is input to the system which aids the process of cataloguing new images and their exploitation on the ground. This capability is extremely useful when detecting changes to targets as the tactical environment evolves. As an airborne platform flies over each point of interest, the system will immediately catalogue and place the new images in the library. The benefit of this process is that it enables the analysts to interrogate the system more efficiently, focussing on very small specific areas of interest – even individual pixels if required – rather than having to sift through the entire data feed from the mission which could be as much as 50Gb of data. The system will also inform the analyst when the specific data required is available to review. As a data transfer tool, the system is very bandwidth efficient and makes best use of the extensive data storage offered. In the future, this amount of data storage and intuitive exploitation capability, will allow the DB-110 system to be deployed on platforms such as airships, with sortie endurance
measured in days or weeks. On the ground, the current system deployed with most countries is generally limited to one customer and therefore only needs one data storage reference library. However, a customer could increase the availability of the library to any number of ‘clients’ feeding into it by simply acquiring more licences, which enable them to plug into the network. The menu suite provides customers with a choice which extends into the level of training available to those managing the system. Typically most ground station operatives are individuals already trained as imagery analysts, however UTC Aerospace Systems will deploy its own maintainers to support a customer’s system if required.
Hellenic Air Force Approximately two years after flight testing of the third-generation DB-110 system finished, on May 8, 2008 Greece became the second nation to acquire the pod for use on the Hellenic Air Force (HAF)’s latest-generation F-16 fighters. At the time, Greece was part-way through the process of acquiring 30 F-16 Block 52+ (designated F-16M by the HAF), an advanced version of this multi-role fighter, to complement its existing fleet under the Peace Xenia IV FMS programme. Within this contract, agreement was reached for the HAF to receive two DB-110 pods, a ground exploitation system, plus an aircraft support integration package from the manufacturer. The combat wing (CW) chosen to operate the HAF’s latest F-16Ms and the DB-110 system was 116CW located at Araxos Air Base in the Peloponnese, in southern Greece, home to 335 ‘Tiger’ Bomber Squadron (the oldest, established in October 1941) and 336 ‘Olympos’ Bomber Squadron. The benefit for Greece and NATO of acquiring this superior digital, real-time, tactical reconnaissance capability is that it will help enhance security in the strategically important southern Mediterranean region. Due to the sensitive nature of its tactical operations, the HAF is understandably reticent
DB-110 RECONNAISSANCE SYSTEM MILITARY about providing detailed information about its system use but it was comfortable talking with AIR International in general terms about the system’s application and the benefits derived. Currently 335 Squadron is the only HAF unit using the pod, although this may change in the future. The squadron received its two pods during 2011, with the first operational mission completed towards the end of the year. For 335, their operational reconnaissance role is considered secondary; its primary role is air-to-ground bombing, as is co-located 336 Squadron.
Training Although the reconnaissance role is considered a speciality, almost all of 335’s pilots are qualified to operate the pod, which offers a multi-role capability. Pilots and weapons instructors achieve operational qualification after receiving tuition received from the squadron’s qualified Instructor Pilots. Attaining it is not a simple task: each pilot has to attend several hours of academic and flight simulator training before they are able to fly a successful mission. Prior to the arrival of the first F-16Ms at Araxos in 2009, base infrastructure was developed significantly to house its latest generation fighters. The facilities used by 116CW were materially upgraded as part of this process. The HAF explained that ground analysis of images captured is conducted within a Mobile Ground Station (MGS) in either real-time or after the mission. From the Greeks’ tactical mission perspective, a ‘mobile’ facility makes sense, since this provides rapid deployment capability in any area of interest combined with greater survivability. Mission planning and ground preparation is conducted by specially-trained imagery analysts and intelligence personnel working in co-operation with the aircrew flying the reconnaissance mission, which include the diverse range of contact missions. The HAF confirm its pilots are qualified to fly all types
of contact missions previously identified on a pre-planned or dynamic in-flight basis or, indeed, as a combination of both. Ultimately though, the final mission profile is determined by the strategic and tactical criteria requirements specified at the time. Aircrew said the pod has only a small impact on the F-16’s performance and manoeuvrability.
Workload The HAF said that most of its reconnaissance missions using the system are pre-planned, but if the need arises, aircrew can execute unplanned tasks during the same mission. Although precise details were not available, flight crew workload regarding pod management is not considered burdensome due to the combination of aircraft and pod management systems working together. Imagery is viewed on the F-16’s cockpit video display which enables aircrew to verify targets and conduct tasks, such as battle damage assessment. The real-time display also provides aircrew with the ability to seek out targets not specified in the planning mission or to select a different route to a selected target. The HAF said a pre-planned mission will generally achieve better results but it has also achieved excellent results when collecting imagery without previous planning. During the mission, aircrew can choose either method to achieve the best results. Flexibility is considered essential. Having executed the mission profile, images are relayed in real time or on landing to imagery analysts for interpretation. Following this, the squadron will forward reports and data to HAF HQ for review and further analysis. With almost three years’ operational experience, the HAF says the system is a great tool for surveillance and reconnaissance missions, with aircrew praising the high quality and precision of the digital images collected. Moreover, the real-time downloading capability reduces
exploitation time, which in turn speeds up decision making. It is also fair to say that the system has enhanced aircrew safety: they are able to collect high-quality images during long-range stand-off missions.
Future Challenges Going forward, it is vital that pod and software development move in unison to help maintain the system’s competitive position and ensure it meets future commercial and defence ISR challenges. Presently, the system comprises an EO/IR sensor but as multiple bands are added to the sensor, the company needs to ensure the data link capability and the GS can continue to manage all the information provided by the sensor. “We are aiming to streamline the process to ensure we send the right data from the pod, which will make it easier to disseminate and manipulate on the ground,” Glyn-Jones explained. “Our existing customers have not yet taken delivery of the latest software (Merlin 2) which is an upgrade to our Merlin Exploitation System (see panel) and reference libraries. It is a completely new system, is more user friendly in terms of software use and functionality; it removes some customer training needs and helps maintain the continuity of delivery as people move on or change roles.” Providing see-thorough visibility to fixed and rotary aircrew during inclement weather remains one of the great airborne challenges. As it is for other systems, trying to gather quality images in such conditions is difficult, if not impossible at times. Whilst the DB-110’s IR capability helps, the company recognises the need for further development and it is looking to add Synthetic Aperture Radar capability which would allow all-weather data capture – an extremely positive and exciting development as a key enabler for ISR operations. 3
ew aircraft and engines to reduce fuel burn and emissions are not the only technological innovations under development to make aviation cleaner. Less well known, but equally crucial, is the effort to make air traffic management (ATM) more efficient. The Single European Sky project aims to completely overhaul Europe’s ATM system by creating what the European Union (EU) calls a “high-performance air traffic control infrastructure” independent of national frontiers. “New technologies are critical for the future of air travel,” according to the EU. “With up to 27,000 flight patterns crossing European airspace every day and with passenger numbers set to double by 2020, the current infrastructure will no longer be able to support growth in demand unless improvements are made.”
The EU is working with partners from the industry on the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) programme to test advanced technologies to help make this vision a reality. The partners are Airbus, Honeywell, Indra and air navigation services providers Eurocontrol, Maastricht Upper Area
Control Centre (MUAC) and NORACON, a consortium of ATM companies from Austria, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden.
Four Dimensions One of the technologies under evaluation is an ATM tool called Initial 4D (i4D). This involves airlines and air navigation service providers working out a route for each flight in four dimensions: laterally, longitudinally, vertically and in time. These predictions, computed before departure, will create a sequence for a flight, with aircraft flying to so-called ‘merge points’ at a precise, predetermined moment in time. The flight plan will be shared between ATM providers along the route. During the flight, the aircraft will continually transmit its location in those four dimensions to ground controllers to update the flight’s trajectory in real time. Non-predicted events, such as the sudden development of a storm front along the route, will be taken into account. “With i4D, controllers receive the fourdimensional intent of an aircraft via an automatic downlink,” explains a statement from SESAR. “They can then ensure that the ground and air expectations are the same by checking, and where necessary uplinking, the lateral and vertical clearance. Should it be necessary to further constrain the flight, a time constraint that both meets
the ground requirements and is achievable by the aircraft can be co-ordinated.”
Accuracy By planning and controlling flights in this way and sharing information, the hope is that the virtual picture of where aircraft are flying will be far more accurate, enabling air traffic to be sequenced more efficiently. It is envisaged that i4D will make continuous descents with near-idle thrust possible, eliminating the current practice of descending in stages and reducing the numbers of aircraft in holding patterns. Overall, says SESAR, i4D will reduce aircraft fuel burn and emissions and provide more optimal management of the European air traffic system.
Interoperability To make i4D operations possible, airborne and ground systems must provide the same information to pilots and controllers. Both airlines and ATM companies have to synchronise their operational procedures and there needs to be a seamless integration between all ATM providers across the continent. Clearly, close collaboration between air traffic companies and the manufacturers of aircraft, avionics and ATM equipment is needed. That is why the SESAR industrial partners have been engaged in testing the concept for real since 2011.
AIR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY
An Airbus A320ceo is being used in trials to improve European air traffic control. By Mark Broadbent
1 Airbus A320ceo test aircraft F-WWBA taking off on its i4D test flight in March 2014. All images Airbus unless stated 2 Test equipment installed in F-WWBA for the i4D trial.
Flight Tests The first i4D flight trial took place in February 2012 using one of Airbus’s A320ceo test aircraft (F-WWBA, msn 1) which flew from Toulouse to Stockholm Arlanda via Copenhagen. The aircraft flew through the MUAC area of responsibility (the upper airspace of the Benelux countries and northwest Germany) before coming under the control of NORACON as it entered Danish airspace. The aircraft then conducted a descent and missed approach at Copenhagen before, according to SESAR, it climbed “to a cruise level from which it negotiated another time constraint at a merge point close to Stockholm Arlanda Airport. The flight then descended into Swedish airspace in a fully optimised way and then continued until it landed at Arlanda.” Prior to the flight, Honeywell Aerospace and Thales upgraded the A320ceo’s flight management system (FMS) to integrate i4D capabilities. A data link was also installed which enabled the aircraft to send and receive new controller-pilot messages and transmit airborne trajectory predictions to the ground. The control stations involved in the trial were upgraded with trajectory-based flight data processing systems (developed by Airbus), a data link server, a human-machine interface and processors. The trial in 2012 proved the interoperability of the equipment installed in the A320ceo’s
FMS and the ground control systems. Crucially, it validated the exchange of information between controllers and the pilots in a real traffic situation in busy northern European airspace. It also showed that airborne and ground systems can successfully be used together for fourdimensional ATM during all phases of a flight and provided valuable technical feedback for the project partners.
airborne trajectories, which allows them to resolve discrepancies where necessary and anticipate the flight path with greater precision. On the airborne side, the aircraft can better manage their speed profile, which leads to fuel savings and an environmentally optimised flight profile. The sharing of trajectory also means that aircraft sequences can be better managed with greater efficiency.”
Those lessons led into refinements of the systems and the procedures used. Following further extensive ground simulations, a second flight trial took place in March 2014. This involved the A320ceo again flying from Toulouse to Stockholm via Copenhagen, before flying the route in reverse. The Airbus crew on board comprised Philippe Pellerin, Sylvie LoiselLabaste, Jean-Francois Bousquié and JeanFrancois Azzopardi. They were joined on the return leg by Didier Poisson from Thales, who flew as the co-pilot. SESAR has not yet provided any detailed information about the results of the March test, but it did say: “This latest flight trial shows further that the sharing of trajectory information between the air and ground can enable a safer and more efficient handling and certainty of flight profiles. Controllers can clearly see on their screens expected ground and
The 2014 trial had further importance, added SESAR, because “it proves that the technology, systems and procedures are ready for large-scale demonstrations and therefore one step closer to deployment.” Further validations and finessing of the equipment will take place this year and, if successful, industrialisation could follow. SESAR says i4D might undertake some preoperational deployments starting in 2018. A key challenge will be to create commonality between airborne and ground-based systems. The reality of i4D in operation across Europe for the thousands of flights above the continent each day is still some way off – the hurdles of commercial development and regulatory approval still have to be cleared. However, SESAR is confident that i4D offers “a concrete solution towards improving the existing air traffic system” by helping to make European air travel more efficient.
MILITARY NH90 NFH CAÏMAN
The NH90 Caïman is establishing itself in the Aéronavale and giving its operator new capabilities, as Henri-Pierre Grolleau discovers
he NATO Frigate Helicopter programme was launched in the early 1990s to find a successor to a wide range of naval rotary assets in service in Europe. For the Marine Nationale (French Navy) there was a pressing need to replace both the Aerospatiale SA321G Super Frelon in the search and rescue (SAR), support, logistics and counter-maritime terrorism roles and the Westland Lynx anti-submarine and antisurface warfare helicopter. A total of 27 NH Industries NH90s were eventually ordered for the Aéronavale (French Naval Air Arm). Fourteen were the NHC (C for combat) variant to replace the Lynx and the other 13 the ramp-equipped NHS (S for soutien, or support) version to supersede the Super Frelon. The NHS variants will typically fly from the decks of the nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, Mistral-class amphibious ships, the trial vessel Monge and new replenishment vessels which, if sufficient funds can be found, will enter service around 2020. The NHC will operate mainly from Forbinclass air defence destroyers and Acquitaneclass FREMMs (FREgates Multi-Missions, or multi-mission frigates). For added flexibility, both the NHC and the NHS can conduct combat missions and can be equipped with the FLASH sonars and associated workstations.
Delays Like many multi-national programmes, the NH90 – named the Caïman by the French military – was initially plagued with problems. Delivery delays were caused by technical issues (since solved) and production setbacks, forcing customers to keep older types in service at a considerable cost. The programme was extremely ambitious and engineers pushed limits to develop a remarkably modern helicopter fitted with high-tech systems such as fly-by-wire controls. Technical innovations were one reason for the lengthy research, development and trials phase but the type is now firmly in service with the Aéronavale and other operators worldwide. The first Caïman was delivered to the Aéronavale on May 5, 2010 for operational evaluation by the Centre d’Expérimentations Pratiques de l’Aéronautique Navale/ Escadrille 10S (CEPA/10S, the French Navy operational evaluation centre) at Hyères in southern France. At the peak of the evaluation period, there were 160 CEPA personnel working on the NH90. The Super Frelon had to be withdrawn from use earlier
All photos Henri-Pierre Grolleau
MILITARY NH90 NFH CAÏMAN
than expected owing to technical problems and its successor was desperately needed to improve offshore SAR coverage in western France, putting more pressure on the CEPA. Operational evaluation focused on the helicopter’s general performance, SAR operations (including winching by day and night) and special forces work, the latter concentrating on sniping and fast roping equipment and techniques). All the NH90’s systems were thoroughly checked, including the radar, the electro-optical detection/ surveillance/tracking system, the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 engines, the hoist and the cargo hook. CEPA aircrews were pleasantly surprised by the helicopter’s overall performance. For example, they discovered the type could operate in very strong crosswinds; and the operating envelope when flying from helicopter landing platforms on ships was wider than the Lynx’s. From May 2010 to 2 December 2011 – when Flottille 33F, the first operational squadron, was declared active on the type – CEPA aircrews logged 800 hours, evenly split between the evaluation and the job of training the first operational pilots, tactical co-ordinators and rear cabin crews. Currently headed by Captain Henri Mahé, CEPA/10S still plays a pivotal role in the NH90 programme. Some 16 of its specialists continue to work on the project – including two pilots, a flight test engineer, a tactical co-ordinator, two sensor operators, a senior engineering officer and nine technicians. CEPA is now concentrating on the service entry of the NH90 Step B, the latest iteration of the helicopter, for which it is conducting comprehensive trials of the Eurotorp MU90 IMPACT torpedo and sonobuoys. Additional work is also being carried out on the FLASH sonar. The first trials with flares were carried out in May 2013 – leading, in March 2014, to an NH90’s involvement in the NATO Embow trial campaign at Cazaux in southwest France, which tests NATO air arms in their responsiveness to man-portable air defence systems.
Weapons and Sonobuoys Integration of light weapons on the French NH90 is under way, and the modular mount that will carry them is now being qualified. It will provide added stability when PGM, McMillan or Barrett 12.7mm high-power precision rifles are used by Commandos de Marine snipers in the counter-maritime terrorism role or for drug trafficking intercepts. It will also be fully compatible with the MAG 58 7.62mm machine-gun. To support the Caïman’s weapons systems, the French Navy has introduced the Station de Préparation et de Restitution de Mission (SPRM, or mission planning and restitution tool). This has two modules: anti-submarine warfare (using a bathythermy precision model, which measures depth at different ranges from the helicopter) and programming/ analysis for electronic warfare data. The
The NH90’s comprehensive sensor suite includes the Thales Airborne System European Naval Radar (ENR), the nose-mounted Sagem Euroflir 410 electro-optical detection, surveillance and tracking system and the ASQ-950 sonar. Mounted in a fairing below the forward fuselage, the ENR pulse-compression multi-mode radar provides 360 degrees of coverage, with full frequency agility for increased resistance to jamming. It is optimised for the longrange detection of surface targets in difficult conditions and can localise small echoes, such as periscopes, in high sea states. The gyrostabilised Euroflir system is used for target identification and designation at stand-off ranges, day or night. For increased connectivity with command centres, surface warships and maritime patrol aircraft, the Caïmans are currently equipped with an L11 data link. There is a general feeling in the Aéronavale that it is outdated and the NH90 is set to be equipped with the more capable Link 22. For improved survivability in a high-threat environment, the helicopter has a comprehensive self-defence suite comprising a radar warning receiver, a missile approach warner and Saphir flare and chaff dispensers. Given the wide array of equipment it is fitted with, the NH90 is often compared to an embarked maritime patrol aircraft by French Navy officers. There is also a requirement for an anti-ship missile for the Caïmans and the Future AntiSurface Guided Weapon-Anti-Navire Léger (FASGW-ANL), designed to succeed the Sea Skua and AS15TT missiles, is an obvious contender for the role. It is initially planned for the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat HM2 and the Eurocopter AS565MA Panthers of Flottille 36F. In these times of tighter defence budgets, it remains to be seen if the weapon will be integrated onto the NH90.
NH90 also has a Ground-based Logistics Information Management System (GLIMS) to help manage maintenance tasks – this was still being evaluated at the time of writing. CEPA/10S has a number of unique capabilities enabling its specialists to develop and test complex systems in-house. It no
NH90 NFH CAÏMAN MILITARY 1 The senso works in conjunction with the tacco, who’s seated in the front cockpit, managing the NH90’s systems to complete the mission. 2 A second senso position is available for complex sorties or training flights. 3 Three of the five multi-function displays present mission and tactical data, with the others showing information about the flight and aircraft systems.
longer ‘owns’ any NH90s for dedicated trials and experiments but uses Flottille 31F’s assets for its own missions. “In France, the CEPA concentrates all the expertise in the field of sonobuoys,” reveals Captain Mahé. “Everything is done by our experts, from envelope expansion during separation trials to operational evaluation. This knowhow has been kept since the Atlantique 2 programme, and we’ll soon fit high-speed cameras to a Caïman to film sonobuoy ejection trials.”
Front Line Flottille 33F became the first frontline NH90 squadron in France on December 8, 2011 when it was declared operational on the Caïman at Lanvéoc-Poulmic in Brittany in the maritime rescue and counter-maritimeterrorism roles. The squadron alternates with Flottille 32F and its two EC225s in providing SAR cover in Brittany. Just ten days after becoming operational, the NH90 was engaged in a live SAR mission in gale-force winds to rescue the 19 sailors of the TK Bremen, a Maltese-registered freighter pushed ashore by the ‘Joachim’ storm in south Brittany. Since then, the Caïman has successfully been engaged in dozens of rescue operations. According to aircrews, its powerful downwash is sometimes a problem, especially when working with sailing boats, forcing the helicopter to winch from a greater height. The French Navy operates two main fleets
of ships. One is in the Atlantic, protecting Le Triomphant-class nuclear strategic ballistic submarines based at l’Ile Longue, near Brest. The other is in the Mediterranean to cover French interests further afield to the south and east. This meant the navy needed two NH90 squadrons – with Flottille 33F supporting the Atlantic fleet, 31F was established as the second NH90 unit, at Hyères, on October 4, 2012, initially to reinforce SAR coverage in the Mediterranean with three aircraft transferred from the CEPA inventory. “The introduction of the NH90 in France began as a true success story,” explains Lieutenant Commander Frédéric Barbe, Flottille 31F’s CO. “It only took 18 months between the delivery of the first aircraft and official entry into service with Flottille 33F. During that time, the CEPA carried out the operational evaluation, wrote the manuals and trained the first air and ground crews. “In 2011 and 2012, the CEPA continued to grow in order to integrate an increasing number of NH90 personnel while still conducting its operational evaluation. Flottille 31F currently carries out four missions: it supports the CEPA, trains new personnel, participates in the SAR coverage in the south of France and provides embarked flights to various warships.” At the time of writing, ten Caïmans (serial numbers 02 to 11) out of the 27 on order had been delivered. S/n 01 is kept at Marignane by Airbus Helicopters/NHI for further tests
but will eventually be upgraded to the same standard as the rest of the fleet and delivered to the Aéronavale.
Conversion Training Flottille 31F is the NH90 conversion unit and will soon be supported by the Groupement École Instruction NH90 (or NH90 training school) at Hyères which will open once simulation specialists Sogitec has delivered new NH90 simulators for pilots and sensor operators. The training of pilots and technicians is continuous, even if some delays are encountered because of hold-ups in the delivery of new aircraft and in the third-line maintenance of in-service airframes. French Army and French Navy technicians are now all trained by the Centre de Formation Inter-Armées (CIFA, joint training centre) at Le Luc – which, according to Lt Cdr Barbe, has already proved highly effective. “The joint unit will help generate substantial savings for both the Aéronavale and the French Army thanks to the pooling of resources. Navy pilots follow a common syllabus, from ground school up to type rating. French Army TTH90s and French Navy NH90s are significantly different, however, and specific training syllabi are required for each variant, which is why Flottille 31F retains a training role.”
Step A To speed up the NH90’s debut in Aéronavale service after the development delays, the
MILITARY NH90 NFH CAÏMAN
FLASH SONAR The NH90’s main sensor for anti-submarine warfare is the Thales Underwater Systems ASQ-950 FLASH (Folding Light Acoustic System for Helicopter) lowfrequency sonar. This has also been selected by the Royal Navy for its Merlin HM1 and HM2s, the US Navy (as the ASQ-22 Airborne Low-Frequency Sonar built under licence by Raytheon) for its MH-60Rs and the French and Norwegian navies. Compared to the outdated DUAV-4 active dipping sonar in service on French Navy Lynx helicopters, the lightweight FLASH system offers extended detection ranges and increased immersion depths (down to 750m [2,460ft], according to the French Ixarm/DGA official website). With its longer winch cable it can be lowered deeper into the water to track targets hidden below the thermocline layer (between surface water and deep water), improving a naval force’s situational awareness. FLASH can operate in various modes, including continuous wave for Doppler detection and measurement; and frequency modulation with signal compression/processing for increased resolution at long ranges. French NH90s can also carry various types of active and passive sonobuoys in an integrated dispenser to supplement the sonar and help improve ASW coverage.
Marine Nationale accepted its first seven Caïmans (02 to 08) in an interim ‘Step A’ standard. They were fitted with only part of the NH90’s full systems suite – including the European Naval Radar, Euroflir 410 forwardlooking infrared (FLIR) turret and L11 data link – and used to expand the spectrum of missions carried out by the type. Initial operating capability was achieved in November 2012 for the anti-surface warfare (ASW) mission from a destroyer or a frigate. This covers all aspects of ASW (except the use of air-launched anti-ship missiles), including interception of pirates’ skiffs or ‘go-fasts’ used by drug traffickers, target designation for raids of naval strike fighters (Dassault Rafales and Super Étendard Modernisés) and beyond-the-horizon targeting for MM40 Exocet missiles launched
by a mother ship. “The NH90 brings new capabilities to the French Navy in the ASW role,” says Lt Cdr Barbe. “Thanks to the NH90’s ENR radar and L11 data link, the Caïman is ideally equipped to build up an unambiguous tactical picture around the fleet and share data with other naval and airborne assets.” In January 2013, an initial ASW (antisubmarine warfare) operational capability was declared for the NH90 Step A equipped with a FLASH dipping sonar. “We’re not yet equipped with the MU90 torpedo, but our FLASH sonar can detect a submarine which can [then] be attacked by an Atlantique 2, a Lynx or a frigate,” adds Lt Cdr Barbe. “At the moment, we only have the FLASH active mode, but our detection capabilities are already far better
than those of the DUAV-4 sonar that equips the Lynx. Although I cannot disclose classified data, I can reveal the FLASH’s detection range is more than five times better than that of the DUAV-4.”
Step B The first NH90 Step B (s/n 09) was delivered to Flottille 31F in 2013. The helicopter was the first to include electronic warfare/selfdefence functionalities and the capability to align inertial navigation systems outside the GPS coverage area. The Step B is not yet fully operational with the MU90 torpedo, the CEPA having first fired the weapon from the variant on February 6, 2014. When operational evaluation is complete and clearance given, the NH90 will carry up to two MU90 torpedoes or two 300-litre (66-Imp
NH90 VS SUPER FRELON AND LYNX It is tempting to compare the NH90 to the Super Frelon, the mighty three-engine helicopter that was so popular among aircrews and maintainers alike, and the Lynx, the nimble ASW helicopter which has faithfully served the Aéronavale since the 1970s. The Flottille 33F commander at the time, Commander Nicolas Couder, said during the ceremony for its service entry: “The NH90 offers nearly the same lifting capabilities as the Super Frelon, but in a much more compact airframe. As a result, it can operate from a frigate, something that could not be done by its predecessor, which was limited to larger ships such as aircraft carriers. It has a considerably larger payload than the Lynx and can remain on station much longer. Its sensor suite is much more modern and [it] is clearly in another league in terms of detection performance.”
gal) external fuel tanks. Jointly developed by France and Italy, the MU90 is progressively replacing the Mk 46 torpedo in Aéronavale service and has also been selected for an array of platforms in Australia, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Poland. The 324mm (123/4in) MU90 has a powerful shaped-charge warhead optimised to penetrate a submarine pressure hull and its acoustic active/passive sensor – based on a planar array of 30 transducers – can defeat the latest countermeasures and decoys. According to data from its manufacturer, Eurotorp, the 314.1kg (692.5lb) weapon’s speed can vary from 29kt to 50kt (54 to 93 km/h). It has a range of 12,000m (39,370ft, or 13,123 yards in naval parlance) at full speed and 25,000m (82,020ft, or 27,340 yards) at minimum velocity. It can engage surface
targets and submarines at depths ranging from 3m (9.8ft) down to more than 1,000m (3,280ft, or 546 fathoms). The Marine Nationale has ordered 300 MU90s for its airborne and naval platforms. The torpedo is now in service on George Leygues-, Forbin- and Aquitaine-class frigates, Lynx and NH90 helicopters and Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft (which can carry up to six, having reached full operational capability in April 2010). Before firing, the weapon can be accurately programmed with the sea state, the desired search pattern, initial depth and the requested firing mode. Pre-set data is transferred from the NH90 to the MU90 via an advanced control unit. On Aquitaine-class frigates, the vessel and the helicopter detachment will share a pooled reserve of 19 MU90s.
Crew Members Like the AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin, the NH90 was optimised from the outset to be operated by a crew of three: a pilot, a tactical co-ordinator (known as a ‘tacco’) and a sensor operator (‘senso’). Generally speaking the tacco is the mission commander but the pilot, as the aircraft captain, can veto his decision. Both sit in the front cockpit behind an instrument panel composed of five multifunction displays: two for flight information and aircraft systems (including hydraulics, electrics and fuel) and three for mission/ tactical data such as radar and FLIR pictures. In the back, the senso sits in front of a removable workstation fitted with three multifunction screens. Another workstation can be installed for a second senso for complex missions or for an instructor on training flights.
MILITARY NH90 NFH CAÏMAN
The extra crew position increases the number of sonobuoys that can be monitored simultaneously and could boost the helicopter’s electronic warfare capabilities in a dense electromagnetic environment.
Tacco The tacco plays a pivotal role. They process the vast amount of data generated by the various on and off-board sensors, select the most useful information, determine priorities and communicate with the naval force. “The arrival of taccos is quite new for the Marine Nationale helicopter community,” explains Lieutenant Samuel C, a tacco on Flottille 31F
(surname withheld for security reasons). “This concept was pioneered by the Royal Navy on the Merlin, and I must admit it works very well. In the French Navy, the Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft [MPAs] were the only ones to fly with taccos, and the HQ soon made the decision to transfer a number of personnel to the NH90 community to rapidly pass on their experience to the Caïman squadrons. “On the Lynx, the pilot in the left seat performs all the tactical work [but] on the NH90 the task is so complex it was decided that a specialist aircrew was required to manage all the systems, and taccos from the MPA world were chosen to bolster the NH90 community.”
The layout of the controls and various screens contributes to the helicopter’s flexibility, the work share between the crew members varying. “In the anti-surface warfare role, the senso handles the radar and the electronic surveillance system to monitor hostile radar emitters while the tacco uses the FLIR to identify targets, and the various radios and the L11 data link to share intelligence with the naval force,” says Lieutenant C. “For anti-submarine warfare, the tacco [uses] using dunking sonar/sonobuoy data provided by the senso while the pilot flies the aircraft to the correct position and maintains a good hover with the sonar dome in the water.”
Embarked Detachments The first NH90 deployment at sea – carried out in early 2012 by the CEPA aboard the lead air defence destroyer Forbin – gave navy officers a better idea of how the new helicopter would shape their future. The first permanent detachment of an NH90 was undertaken in March 2012 by Flottille 33F for the Aquitaine, the leading ship of the new FREMM series. The first Flottille 31F embarked flight, which deployed to the Forbin, followed on October 4, 2012, replacing a Flottille 36F Panther detachment that had been with the ship since it entered service in 2010. The Forbin and Aquitaine detachments each comprise two pilots, two taccos, two sensos, a mission planning/mission restitution specialist and eight engineers (including one dual-qualified as a rescue swimmer).
NH90 NFH CAÏMAN MILITARY
1 Flottille 31F’s engineering department has more than 50 personnel, including ten airframe and engine specialists. 2 The Sagem Euroflir 410 electro-optical system is mounted on the nose.
“The decision to have two crews per aircraft was made because the Caïman can launch much longer missions, up to four hours long,” explains Captain Dufit, the commanding officer of Hyères naval air station. “This exceptional endurance and the two crews enable us to maintain an ASuW asset on station for extended periods of time, with crew changes during hot refuelling. “This choice also solves the training problem as we can now mix aircrews with varying experience – a young pilot fresh from training with an experienced tacco, or a seasoned pilot with an ab initio tacco – with a positive impact on progression within the unit.” The Aquitaine (at Lanvéoc-Poulmic) and Forbin (at Hyères) embarked flights were created after an in-depth evaluation. “We took advantage of the work done by the CEPA to speed up our conversion and accelerate the deployment of the NH90 from surface combatants,” reveals Laureline B, officer commanding the Forbin detachment. “The CEPA experiment was exhaustive, and all the interfaces between the Caïman and the ship were extensively tested, including the Douglas Mantis helicopter handling system. This led to a number of changes on the Forbin, including the installation of additional attachment points for the spare part containers and modifications to the spare rotor blades racks. 2
“Once all aspects of embarked operations had been tested, the Marine Nationale gave us the green light for the creation of our detachment. We then started training during short-duration deployments aboard Forbin where we practised the whole spectrum of naval operations, including ASW and ASuW. “In March 2013, we joined the Forbin for a series of exercises during which we trained with the Andrea Doria, her Italian sister ship, which also had an NH90 on board. We took advantage of the exercise to carry out a number of ‘cross-decks’.” In late 2014, a second detachment will be set up within Flottille 31F for the Chevalier Paul, the second Forbin-class frigate. Each unit of the new FREMM multi-mission frigate class will also be equipped with a Caïman. The first Flottille 33F FREMM detachment took part in a long-distance mission in 2013 with Aquitaine. It will soon be followed by the Normandie detachment, with the Provence flight to be set up at Hyères within Flottille 31F in 2015.
Maintenance The French Navy is busy introducing the NH90 into service and the number of technicians trained on it is still growing. “At the moment, the NH90 requires around 18 hours of maintenance for each flight hour,” says Lt Cdr Barbe. “It’s not abnormal for
such a young aircraft and I’m fully confident for the future: in 2018, we should be down to nine or ten hours per flying hour, about the same level as with the Lynx or the Panther today, even though the Caïman and its systems are much more complex.” Flottille 31F’s engineering department is composed of two officers, a senior NCO, ten avionics specialists, ten airframe/ engine specialists, 20 line engineers, three controllers and the eight Forbin detachment mechanics. “The NH90 remains a recent aircraft and we still encounter some teething problems,” says Ensign Martin P, the unit’s senior engineering officer. “We’ve carried out most of the debugging process, however, and we’ve already reached maturity for the airframe and for most of the systems.” With the Caïman, the Marine Nationale now fields a potent and versatile combat tool that will prove an ideal replacement for the Lynx. The delivery of the NH90s comes at a decisive time for the Aéronavale: the Rafale ‘omnirole’ fighter and the E-2C Hawkeye AEW aircraft are already established in service, but the fast-ageing helicopter fleet needs to be modernised. The Super Frelon was withdrawn in 2010 and two Airbus Helicopter EC225s were purchased as a stop-gap measure, but that added another type to the already large number flying in French Navy markings – Alouette IIIs, Dauphins, Panthers, Lynx and now EC225s and NH90s. In the long term, SAR coverage will be handled by Caïmans from Lanvéoc-Poulmic, Hyères and Cherbourg – where a single EC225 has been forward-deployed since early 2013 to provide SAR coverage in the Channel. It’s anticipated that, by 2021, nine Caïmans will be serving with Flottille 33F at Lanvéoc-Poulmic (one permanently deployed in Cherbourg) and 12 with Flottille 31F at Hyères. The Lynx will then be withdrawn from use and Flottille 34F will disband. Acknowledgements: The author would like to thank all BAN Hyères, CEPA and Flottille 31F personnel for their kind help. Special thanks to Lieutenant Postigo and to Mrs Corcin for organising my visit.
Superjet in Service
he Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) SSJ100 Superjet regional airliner is now established in service in Europe, Latin America and Asia. The type operates in both hot-and-high and extreme cold conditions and is used for new route development and ‘right sizing’, where airlines operate regional aircraft on routes where larger narrowbodies are less cost-effective. The Mexican airline Interjet became the international launch customer for the Russian regional aircraft when it signed a contract for ten aircraft, plus five options, on January 17, 2011. In July 2012 these were firmed up and a further ten options added to the airline’s commitment for the type. Interjet expected to take delivery of
its first SSJ100 (c/n 95023, Mexican registration XA-JLG) in 2012 but that aircraft was not handed over until June 18, 2013 during the Paris Airshow. The jet arrived in Mexico in July and made the first revenue flight on September 18, 2013. Deliveries continued and, at the time of writing, Interjet had received ten of the 15 on firm order. The remaining five will be delivered by early 2015.
Reliability The SSJ100’s reliability has impressed Interjet. Figures released by the airline show high utilisation rates, greater than for the aircraft in service with Aeroflot and other Russian operators. “To date [May 2014] the technical dispatch reliability of the fleet has surpassed the most ambitious expectations, registering 99.03% on average,” said Interjet Chief Executive Officer José Luis Garza in
an interview with AIR International. “That’s superior to the reliability [we] achieved at the time we began operations with a fleet of seven A320s.” According to Interjet’s data, an average daily utilisation of an SSJ100 in 2013 was 5.87 hours, equating to 5.31 flights. That is more than the 5.28 flights achieved per day with the airline’s A320s. In comparison, Aeroflot’s Superjets each fly fewer than four hours per day and other operators even less. Interjet’s SSJ100s have now accumulated more than 5,700 flying hours and there was not one cancellation due to technical problems in the type’s first eight months of operations with the airline.
Business Model Interjet was established in 2006 and has grown quickly to become Mexico’s third largest airline behind Aeromexico and the
Russia’s regional airliner is proving operationally efficient and popular with passengers in Interjet service
SUPERJET SPECIFICATIONS Passengers: 98 Flight crew: 2 Cabin crew: 2 Wingspan: 27.90m (91ft 2in) Length: 29.94m (98ft 2in)
low-cost carrier Volaris. It has recorded double-digit growth each year since it started operations and in 2013 had 8.4 million passengers: its target this year is to grow by 23% and carry 10.5 million people. The SSJ100 is an important part of the airline’s growth strategy because its reliability helps the airline with its costs. “Now Interjet is a high-efficiency airline that has an aircraft with higher efficiency than any other aircraft in its class,” Garza said. “In this complex business there’s no guarantee of success but that amount of efficiency gives us a very high degree of confidence that we will succeed.” Interjet is using the SSJ100 to improve connectivity between Mexico City and regional centres like Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Manzanillo, Torreón, Reynosa, San Francisco Campeche, Mazatlán, La Paz, Minatitlán and Palenque. It is also planning to start SSJ100 services from Guadalajara and
Monterrey. “We will decide later this year whether to exercise our ten options in order to expand our firm order,” added Garza. In February Mexican media reported that the airline is studying an agreement with Iberia and American Airlines to share codes and connections, although Interjet has not commented on these reports.
Maintenance Interjet believes that effective technical support is a key factor in the SSJ100’s reliability. The airline implemented night-time maintenance which means there is no need to remove the aircraft from operations during the day. Dispatch reliability is supported by two or three technicians at each airport. The carrier has its own spares stock, including critical components for aircraft systems and the PowerJet SaM-146 engines, at its technical base at Toluca airport,
Height: 10.28m (33ft 8in) Maximum take-off weight: 45,880kg (101,150lb) or 49,450kg (109,019lb) in the LR version Allowable landing weight: 41,000kg (90,390lb) Payload: 12,245kg (26,995lb) Maximum fuel capacity: 15,805 litres (4,175 US gal) Fuel consumption: 1,600kg per hour Cruise speed: Mach 0.78 (830km/h, 515mph) Maximum speed: Mach 0.81 (860km/h, 534mph) Ceiling: 40,000ft (12,192m) Required runway length: 1,731m (5,679ft) or 2,052m (6,732ft) for the LR Range with 98 passengers: 3,048km (1,645nm) or 4,578km (2,470nm) in the LR
COMMERCIAL SUPERJET approximately 37 miles (60km) from Mexico City. If anything is not in stock then SuperJet International can send out the required parts from its depot at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which will arrive within four days. SuperJet International is the Veniceheadquartered joint venture established by SCAC in co-operation with Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi to market the SSJ100 to Western customers. SCAC holds a 49% stake in the business and the Italian company 51%. SuperJet International receives Superjets manufactured by SCAC and customises them in Venice. It is also responsible for flight and ground crew training and after-sales support.
Passenger Popularity The SSJ100 is proving popular with passengers. In the airline’s most recent passenger survey, the aircraft achieved outstanding scores when passengers were asked questions about comfort, personal space, cabin baggage, quietness and the inflight entertainment (IFE) system. The survey showed that Superjet passengers enjoyed a better flying experience than those flying on the airline’s A320s. The SSJ100 has the highest and widest cabin in its class (100-seat regional airliners) and more overhead baggage space than on the A320. The seats are pitched at 34in (86cm). The interior, created by the Italian design house Pininfarina, includes LED mood lighting and ultralight slimline leather seats. IFE is installed in every seat and the screen shows pictures from the two cameras mounted on the aircraft’s fuselage, showing the passengers the take-off and landing. Interjet also claims that its flight attendants have noticed that babies do not cry as much during take-off and landing, due to the aircraft’s automatic pressure control system creating a quiet cabin.
‘Light’ to ‘Full’ The Superjet has evolved in recent years. In response to Aeroflot’s requests for improvements to its SSJ100s, SCAC agreed in 2012 to implement a number of changes to the aircraft. That led to the emergence of the so-called ‘full’ specification – with the aircraft that had already been delivered being described as having a ‘light’ configuration. The ‘full’ spec aircraft feature an upgraded flight management system, a weather radar which includes a wind direction detection function, additional video control cameras and separate lighting controls for economy and business class passengers. They also have individual gaspers (the small, circular air conditioning vents) over each passenger seat to improve their comfort, three (rather than two) lavatories, an extra galley (making a total of four) and additional space for a flight cot. The first ‘full’ spec Superjet (RA-89014, c/n 95025) had its first flight on February 22, 2013 and was handed over to Aeroflot on May 31 last year. Aeroflot and SCAC agreed that the ten ‘light’ SSJ100s previously delivered would be replaced by ‘full’ machines and, as of May, seven had been exchanged. The replacement of the remaining three is scheduled for completion over the summer. The 20 more Superjets on Aeroflot’s order will all be delivered with the ‘full’ specification. Interjet’s aircraft have the ‘light’ configuration.
Aeroflot’s ten ‘light’ configuration SSJ100s are being exchanged for ‘full’ specification aircraft. Piotr Butowski
The SSJ100 entered service on April 21, 2011. Production has increased: in 2012 the SCAC plant at Komsomolsk-on-Amur built 12 Superjets, which rose to 24 last year. By the end of May 2014 51 SSJ100s (including test airframes) had flown, of which 31 are currently in commercial operation. All aircraft, starting with construction number 95055, have been built to LR configuration. The plan is to produce 40 Superjets in 2014, including 14 for Aeroflot, 11 for Interjet, six for Gazpromavia and six for UTair Express. Superjets have now made 30,000 flights during commercial operations, accumulating 45,000 flying hours. Russia’s flag carrier, Aeroflot, is using ten of 30 ordered. These were delivered in 2011 and 2012 and are gradually being replaced with improved ‘full’ specification aircraft. The ‘light’ configured examples are being bought back by SCAC and new customers found. Five other Russian operators fly the Superjet. Centre South charter airline uses two of the former ‘light’ Aeroflot airplanes (RA-89004 and -89007). Moskovia Airlines has two Superjets, one ex-Aeroflot (RA-89001) and one formerly with Armavia (RA-89021), and Yakutia Airlines operates a pair of aircraft (RA-89011 and -89012) delivered in 2012 by the manufacturer. Another ex-Aeroflot machine, RA-89003, is now used by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, while Gazpromavia received its first example of the SSJ100LR in March 2014. Another Russian operator about to join the Superjet fold is UTair, which was about to receive the first of its six SSJ100LRs as AIR International went to press. This machine, RA-89033, wears a special livery featuring “bright folk patterns in the traditional Russian style”, in the words of the manufacturer. It is expected to be handed over in July, following which UTair is scheduled to receive one Superjet each month. The aircraft will be operated by the airline’s UTair Express low-cost subsidiary flying in the Tyumen region, the Komi Republic and central Russia. Transaero, another of the largest Russian airlines has ordered six Superjets to be delivered between 2015 and 2017. On May 16, 2014, the Russian Ministry of Emergencies placed a request for a Superjet that should be delivered by the end of the year. It will have a flexible interior configuration able to carry 19 passenger seats in VIP layout or 11 seats and three casualties in medical evacuation layout. The aircraft is to be equipped with a satellite system for voice communication, video conferencing and data transmission, enabling it to operate as an airborne command post. The aircraft’s price is specified at 1.99 billion roubles (almost $59 million). Indonesia’s Sky Aviation flew three Superjets (from an order for 12) but suspended operations on March 19, 2014 due to financial difficulties, while Lao Central has received one Superjet from its order for three.
This Moskovia Airlines SSJ100 was previously operated by Armavia. Piotr Butowski
One of the next Superjet operators will be UTair Express, which is scheduled to receive its first aircraft in July. Alexey Petrov
United Aircraft Corporation
A further evolution of the Superjet is the SSJ100LR (Long Range) version. While it’s got the same dimensions, aerodynamic properties, components and systems as the earlier aircraft (which are known as ‘Basic’ versions), the LR has a strengthened wing. That enables a higher maximum take-off weight (49.45 tonnes, up from 45.88 tonnes), 5% extra power from the SaM-146 engine and 50% more range, increasing the type’s operating limit to 4,578km (2,470nm). The first SSJ100LR (RA-97006, c/n 95032) had its maiden flight on February 12, 2013 and the initial production example, RA-89018, was delivered to Gazpromavia in March 2014. That carrier, which flies charters in support of Russia’s oil and gas industry, ordered ten SSJ100LRs in 2013. Its aircraft will seat up to 103 passengers in a singleclass layout after a new cabin configuration was certified for the Superjet in 2013. Interjet will not acquire the LR because the version does not suit its business model. The airline is operating the SSJ100 in hot and high conditions and that requires the aircraft’s total weight to be less than 46 tonnes. However, SCAC hopes that the increased range offered by the variant might attract the interest of airlines flying routes over 3,000km (2,606nm). SCAC claims the aircraft’s efficiencies can assist airlines which have variable passenger load factors at different times of the year by maximising frequencies during the peak season while optimising costs during the off-season. Nazario Cauceglia, SuperJet International Chief Executive Officer, said:
“Operators flying our Superjet are confirming it has all the characteristics of a small mainliner, but with very low operating costs, even lower than what we initially announced.”
Moving Forward According to Mikhail Pogosyan, the President of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which includes SCAC, the SSJ100’s use in Mexico “is the first step [into] the markets of the countries of North and Latin America”. He added: “Soon, we expect to receive an airworthiness certificate from the US Federal Aviation Administration. A number of the American airlines have already
An artist’s impression of the Sukhoi Business Jet interior. Sukhoi
shown interest [in] our aircraft.” An SSJ with increased passenger capacity is being studied, of which SCAC officials say “the first prototype might be announced to the market in a few years”. According to Pogosyan, the design of this variant has not been finalised yet and the passenger capacity will depend on market requirements. Previously it was announced that SCAC was working on the Superjet New Generation, which could seat up to 130 passengers and therefore form a link between the current Superjet and the 150180 seat MC-21, under development by fellow UAC member company Irkut. SCAC will hope that the new version will boost the Superjet’s appeal on the 100-130 seat segment of the market, where the aircraft competes with the Embraer E-Jet and Bombardier CRJ and CSeries families. In the meantime, work continues on a business version of the SSJ100. A first step is to convert the ‘light’ configuration aircraft into eight-seat bizjets featuring a VIP interior and a 5,100km (2,754nm) range. In the future, SCAC is planning to use the extended-range SSJ100LR as the basis for the Sukhoi Business Jet, which will have a 7,871km (4,250nm) range with eight VIP passengers, 7,408km (4,000nm) with 18 or 6,482km (3,500nm) with 36. A launch order for two was placed by Comlux, which wanted a specific performance that is still being analyzed by the manufacturer. SBJ deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2016.
Erieye The Worldwide Fleet
Sweden’s Erieye is one of the most widely-used airborne early warning systems in the world, as Jon Lake explains
hough designed to meet a ‘Cold War’ requirement, the Saab Microwave Systems Erieye early warning radar has been adapted to meet a broad range of international airborne early warning (AEW) and airborne warning and control
system (AWACS) requirements. This multimode active electronically-scanned array (AESA) pulse Doppler radar is now carried by a number of different aircraft types worldwide. Adaptable, affordable and capable, the Erieye is used by Sweden, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Greece, Mexico, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (or ‘Country X’ as it’s referred to in some Saab presentations), and has served as the
inspiration for a similar system now being deployed in India. This community of eight users (with a total of 31 aircraft delivered) makes the Erieye one of the world’s most widely-used AEW/AWACS systems. By comparison, the US AWACS system is used by the US Air Force, NATO, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Japan (which uses a Boeing 767 rather than a 707-based platform). The five non-US
SAAB ERIEYE MILITARY
1 1 The Pakistan Air Force took on its first Saab 2000 Erieye in 2009. TT/AirTeamImages 2 Brazil’s fleet of E-99s is currently being upgraded as E-99Ms, the first having recently been redelivered. Carlos Lorch/Saab
MILITARY SAAB ERIEYE operators fly a combined total of 36 aircraft. The Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye is used by the US Navy, Egypt, France, Japan, Mexico and Taiwan, the six users outside the USA having a total of 33 aircraft. But the E-3 AWACS relies on an oldfashioned mechanically-scanned antenna as do all the E-2s now in service with export customers, though Northrop Grumman is energetically marketing the AESA-equipped E-2D. The Erieye’s closest rivals are Boeing’s 737 AEW&C (airborne early warning and control) system, which has been exported to Australia, South Korea and Turkey (14 aircraft in total), and Israel’s EL/M-2075 Phalcon, EL/W-2085 and EL/W-2090 systems – which are used by Israel, India, Chile and Singapore on a mix of aircraft platforms, with about 13 systems in service. Though the terms AEW and AWACS (or AEW&C) are often conflated, the two roles are quite different. AEW simply entails putting an early warning radar on an airborne platform to give it longer range. An AWACS has a measure of command and control and battle management capability, operating as an airborne command post as well as an 1 airborne radar station. 1 The Erieye was first developed for the Saab 340 but later adapted for the Saab 2000. Saab 2 Argus 100004 was one of two that briefly served the Hellenic Air Force before being returned to Sweden and upgraded as an ASC 890. Simon Willson/AirTeamImages 3 A Thai Air Force S100B. Peter Liander/Saab 2
Erieye Concept The Erieye, developed by Ericsson Microwave Systems (which was purchased by Saab in
SAAB ERIEYE MILITARY
structural and aerodynamic point of view than a traditional rotating rotodome. In 1987 an Erieye was fitted to a twinengine Fairchild/Swearingen Metro aircraft for extensive flight trials. Production of the radar started in 1993 following an order from the Flygvapnet for six systems. The air force decided to use the Saab 340, a 33–seat twin turboprop commuterliner/regional airliner, as the platform for its Erieyes. Six aircraft were produced for the Flygvapnet, four permanently equipped with Erieye early warning radar (FSR 890) and two fitted for transport missions during peacetime (FSR TP). They entered service in 1996 and have the Swedish military designation S100B Argus.
First Export Export customers were quick to see the potential of the Erieye, though early interest was in using the system on platforms other than the Saab 340. In the 1990s Brazil sought to establish a Steve Flint/AirTeamImages
The Ericsson PS-890 Erieye is an S-band (3GHz) pulse-Doppler multi-mode radar using an active array with some 200 solid-state transmit/receive modules and is capable of conducting both air and sea surveillance. It has an integrated identification friend-or-foe (IFF) system. The fixed back-to-back, side-looking arrays cover a 150-degree broadside sector on both sides of the aircraft. The radar has some ability to detect aircraft in the 30-degree fore and aft sectors, though not to accurately track them. But it does give a simultaneous air-search and surface surveillance capability conventional mechanically-scanned radars cannot match. From a typical operational altitude of FL200 (20,000ft/6,000m, with the altimeter set to a standard sea-level pressure datum of 1013.25) the radar has a maximum range of 450km (279 miles) or 330km (205 miles) against a notional fightersized target flying at any altitude up to about 19,812m (65,000ft). Targets can be detected out to 320km (198 miles). The AESA array can scan particular sectors of interest more frequently while others are being monitored and single sectors can be scanned in different modes at the same time. Priority air targets can be automatically tracked.
2006 and rebranded Saab Microwave Systems), was initially intended to perform a simple AEW task for the Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force). The original concept was for the radar to fill gaps in Sweden’s air defence radar coverage that might result from enemy action against vulnerable ground-based radar sites as well as extending early warning range and enabling radar coverage in new threat directions. It was intended that the Erieye’s radar picture would be downlinked to the ground to be exploited and integrated into the wider network. There was no requirement for airborne radar operators or fighter controllers, only an aircraft crew and, perhaps, an airborne radar technician – so the system did not need to be carried by a particularly large or capacious aircraft. The Erieye system’s active phased-array antenna does however require a reasonably large aircraft to carry it – it weighs 900kg (1,985lb) and is designed to fit inside a 9m-long (29ft 6.3in) ‘upended plank’ radome. But this is much easier to integrate from a
MILITARY SAAB ERIEYE
new complex surveillance system for the Amazônia Legal (Legal Amazon, a region containing all nine states in the Amazon Basin, with an area considerably greater than that of Western Europe) to curb illegal deforestation, logging and drug-trafficking. The resulting Sistema de Vigilância da Amazônia (SIVAM or Amazon Surveillance System) was meant to augment fixed and mobile ground radar stations with AEW&C aircraft and airborne multi-sensor platforms. Embraer originally proposed specialised military variants of the turboprop EMB-120 to meet the SIVAM requirement – but the type was no bigger than the Saab 340, and by 1997 it was clear that greater interior volume and higher performance were needed and attention switched to the company’s new EMB-145 regional jet.
Brazilian Deliveries Embraer won the tender to build the airborne element of the SIVAM system and delivered eight converted Embraer EMB-145s to the Força Aérea Brasileira (Brazilian Air Force). Three were EMB-145RS ‘MULTI
INTEL’ remote sensing aircraft, equipped with a belly-mounted McDonald Dettwiler integrated radar imaging system synthetic aperture radar, a multi-spectral scanner and a combination of electro-optical and forwardlooking infrared systems. But the backbone of the fleet was provided by five EMB-145SA AEW&C aircraft equipped with an upgraded version of the Erieye radar. The first was delivered to the FAB in July 2002 and deliveries of all eight aircraft were completed in December 2003. The Erieye-equipped aircraft were originally designated as R-99As, the EMB145RS aircraft initially using the R-99B designation. Subsequently, in 2008, the R-99A was redesignated the E-99 and the R-99B became the R-99.
In Service Compared to the basic Saab 340, the original EMB-145 flies further, higher and faster and has a more capacious cabin, seating 44 passengers compared to the Saab’s 33. This gives plenty of space for the EMB-145-based Erieye to carry onboard systems operators,
and the crew typically includes a pilot and co-pilot, five mission systems specialists and up to three reserve crew members. The aircraft can be equipped with five or six mission operator consoles. The FAB claims the E-99 has 95% of the capability of larger AWACS aircraft in service with the world’s most advanced air forces. Although the turbofan-powered EMB-145 may not be as frugal with fuel as the turboprop Saab 340, it is still a commercial commuterliner and as such is relatively cheap to operate. It offers high availability, short turnaround times and a small logistical footprint, resulting in impressive cost-effectiveness. The five E-99s and three R-99s are based at Anapolis AFB, about 60 miles (97 km) west of Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, where they serve with the FAB’s 2°/6°GAv (2nd Esquadrõ, or squadron, of the 6th Grupo de Aviação, or aviation group). The unit reports to the headquarters of the SIPAM (Amazonian Protection System) in the capital. Brazil is fighting an arduous if low-intensity war against drug cartels and illegal logging
SAAB ERIEYE MILITARY
Greece Before the R-99/E-99 entered service in Brazil, Greece ordered four similar Erieyeequipped EMB-145SA aircraft in 1999. Meanwhile two Swedish Air Force S100B Argus aircraft (100003 and 100004) were loaned to the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) between June 2001 and December 2003 to enable it to gain operational experience of the Erieye. Under the designation S100D Hellas, the Argus were operated by the 380th AEW&C Squadron – part of the 112th Combat Wing at Elefsis air base – and fitted with two operator stations and a NATO-compatible
data link suite (including Link 11 and IJMS). The first Greek EMB-145SA (locally designated the EMB-145H) flew from Brazil on October 16, 2003 to Ericsson Microwave Systems in Sweden for installation of the Erieye radar and associated systems. It was delivered to Greece two months later, the three others following by the end of 2004. One of the Greek EMB-145Hs was deployed to Crete in 2011 for AEW missions in support of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector, which entailed an arms embargo (with an associated no-fly zone) against the Gaddafi regime in Libya. It flew 175 sorties, totalling 980 hours, in seven months of operations co-operating closely with other NATO forces, including AWACS aircraft from NATO, the USA, the UK and France. The Greek Erieye was fully integrated into the NATO-led operation, helping to create a recognised air picture for allied forces as well as undertaking maritime surveillance and distributing the electronic support measures (ESM) picture. It also conducted weapons management and control, including the tactical control of defensive and offensive
counter-air fighters and air-to-air refuelling assets. The aircraft demonstrated a unique capability in being able to detect low-flying helicopters even when they were in a stationary hover.
operations in the Amazon, the SIVAM system playing a vital role. In August 2011, during Operação Ágata, it was revealed that the SIVAM Amazon surveillance system had detected a clandestine airstrip, cut from virgin jungle close to the Colombian border, being used by smugglers. Four EMB-314 Super Tucanos, operating under the control of an E-99, attacked the airfield on August 10, dropping eight 230kg (507lb) bombs.
The next customer for the Erieye-equipped EMB-145 was the Fuerza Aérea Mexicana (Mexican Air Force), which ordered one EMB-145SA (E-99) aircraft for border and coastline monitoring and a pair of EMB-145MP P-99 maritime patrol versions. The P-99s carry a sensor suite similar to the R-99B’s – but without the multi-spectral scanner and the side-looking radar – plus four underwing hardpoints for torpedoes or anti-ship missiles. The EMB-145SA was comparable to the aircraft delivered to Brazil and Greece but with an under-nose sensor package similar to that fitted to the FAB’s R-99B (EMB-145RS). The first Mexican aircraft was delivered in June 2004 and deployed with the 3° Grupo Aéreo’s 3a Escuadrilla de Vigilancia Aérea at the 18th Military Air Base
MILITARY SAAB ERIEYE
at Hermosillo (General Ignacio Pesqueira García International), Sonora. Mexico’s EMB-145s have been successful in supporting anti-narcotics operations. According to the US White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, there were 197 recorded flights by suspected drug-smuggling aircraft from South America into Central America and the Caribbean in 2003. Some 37 of these went to Haiti and the Dominican Republic and most of the rest to Mexico. Three years later, after the introduction of the Erieye, there were 159 recorded tracks, 121 to
the basis for a new Erieye variant would enable production to continue, with the aircraft offering cost-efficiency, reliability, maintainability and good hot-and-high performance. The aircraft’s active noise cancellation system makes for very low interior noise levels and the cabin affords enough space for extra fuel tanks (which give a mission endurance of 9 to 10 hours) as well as proper crew rest facilities – including a galley and bunks with an extra mission display in the rest area. The basic Saab 2000 needed extensive modifications to carry the Erieye, including strengthening of the upper fuselage to mount the radar antenna. This is carried higher than on the Saab 340 to give the system a better ‘view’ over the Saab 2000’s longer wings. 1 Under the fuselage the belly fairing is also enlarged to enable the installation of Haiti and the Dominican Republic with just 38 elements of the self-protection system. The going to Mexico. wingtips are reinforced for the carriage of antennas and chaff/flare dispensers and Saab 2000 the tailfin is strengthened and enlarged to When it became clear that Erieye customers compensate for the aerodynamic effects were not following the Swedish Air Force of the radar and its support structure. by selecting the Saab 340 platform, the The conversion was undertaken by Saab manufacturer began to offer the larger Aerotech at Linköping. Saab 2000 instead. This type had attracted Pakistan Order relatively few orders from airlines – just The first customer for a Saab 2000 AEW&C 63 – largely as a result of competition from aircraft was the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), new regional jets like the EMB-145 and which selected the Erieye in 2005 under Bombardier CRJ. Using the Saab 2000 as
SAAB ERIEYE MILITARY 1 Mexico’s air force uses its EMB-145SA in the fight against drug smuggling. Ivan P Nesbit/AirTeamImages 2 The Brazilian Air Force has been using the EMB-145SA for a decade. Carlos Lorch/Saab 3 Hellenic Air Force EMB-145s were used during Operation Unified Protector in 2011. Kirk Paloulian
‘Project Horizon’ – the aircraft’s hot-and-high performance meeting the PAF’s stringent performance requirements. Initially the PAF intended to buy seven aircraft plus seven transport versions for carrying VIPs and training with the air force or the state-owned PIA airline. By the time a contract was signed in June 2006, however, it covered the purchase of six Saab 2000s equipped with the Erieye, though the order was revised in May 2007 to five aircraft, just four of which were to be equipped with the system. To fill the gaps from the original plan Pakistan ordered four, cheaper Chinese ZDK-03 AWACS aircraft, an export version of the Shaanxi Y-8-based KJ-200 AWACS system specifically 3 developed for the PAF. The first Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C for Pakistan was rolled out at Linköping on April 3, 2008 and made its two-hour maiden flight on April 30. Operational systems evaluation began in Sweden in October 2009 with follow-on testing in Pakistan, including integration into the PAF’s Command and Control Ground Environment following before the year’s end.
cooling requirements were reduced by 30%. The overall system’s weight was reduced by 53% and the equipment’s floorspace footprint by an astonishing 78%. The radar’s performance has also been improved. Coverage has been increased to 150-degree sectors on each side (from 120 degrees on the original Swedish aircraft), still with a 1-degree beam width. Meanwhile a fully-fused air/sea capability means it can spot hovering helicopters and maritime targets as small as jet-skis. The radar is augmented by a Saab Avitronics HES-21 ESM suite which uses interferometer antennas and digital receivers. These enable highly accurate
angular detection and location and ranging of emitters. Normally data from the HES-21 is fused with the radar’s output to provide fused tracks, but it can generate its own tracks at ranges greater than is possible using the radar alone. With five onboard operators, Link-16 and the Swedish Link-E system, the Saab 2000 AEW&C has improved command and control capabilities over the Saab 340. After an induction ceremony for the PAF’s first Saab 2000 AEW&C on December 29, 2009, the aircraft joined 13 Squadron. It was initially thought to be part of No 35 (Composite Air Transport) Wing at PAF Nur Khan, the military enclave of Islamabad International
Radar Changes Since the Swedes deployed the first Erieye in 1996, the system has been improved and refined. Virtually all the radar components have been changed and the computer systems replaced by off-the-shelf software for greater computing power (an estimated 100-fold increase) and to enable more costeffective and rapid future upgrades. The power output of the new version of the Erieye developed for the Saab 2000 was increased by about 20% while power and
MILITARY SAAB ERIEYE Airport, though the aircraft were soon seen to be operating routinely from PAF Minhas at Kamra, home to 33 (Fighter/Multi-Role) Wing. The fleet suffered a setback on August 16, 2012 when terrorists attacked the base, damaging at least one of the Saab 2000s – possibly beyond economical repair. Official statements did not provide any detail about the extent of the damage but the country’s defence minister said experts from the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, who examined the damaged aircraft, concluded it could be repaired.
With the reduction in size of Sweden’s armed forces in the late 1990s there was no longer a need for the Flygvapnet to operate six S100B Argus. Four of the fleet were made available for export or for short-term loan for familiarisation and evaluation by EMB-145 or Saab 2000 Erieye customers, such as the HAF in 2001-2003. Saab was awarded a contract in July 2006 to upgrade two Flygvapnet S100Bs for
deployment in multinational operations. The pair (100003 and 100004) had already been modified for use by the HAF pending the delivery of Greece’s EMB-145SAs. For Flygvapnet use an additional operator control station was added along with a range of NATO-compatible systems – including a Link 16 data link, Have Quick II secure encrypted radios and new identification friend or foe (IFF) systems – and all software was upgraded according to the latest NATO standards. It is unclear whether the new operator station supplemented the two added for Greece or replaced them. The upgraded aircraft, known as Saab 340AEW-300s or ASC 890s in the Flygvapnet, entered service in April 2009 and were declared fully operational on January 1, 2010.
Thailand and UAE When, in mid-October 2007, the Thai Cabinet approved a budget of 34.4 billion baht (around $1.1 billion) for the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) to buy 12 JAS 39C/D Gripen fighters, it also decided to purchase two
“Adaptable, affordable and capable, the Erieye is used by Sweden, Thailand, the United Arabl Emirates, Brazil, Greece, Mexico, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. ”
SAAB ERIEYE MILITARY surplus S100B AEW aircraft (100007 and 100009) from the Flygvapnet. Configured with three operator stations, they were delivered to the RTAF by October 2012. The next customer for former Swedish Argus aircraft was the United Arab Emirates, which placed a contract for two in November 2009. They were to fill a requirement for an interim surveillance capability and develop tactics, procedures and doctrine while the UAE Air Force & Air Defence continued to evaluate the Boeing 737 AEW&C, Northrop Grumman E-2D and Saab 2000 AEW&C to meet its long-standing requirement for a ‘full’ AEW platform. The pair (formerly 100005 and 100006) were delivered to the UAE in April 2011 after receiving unspecified modifications. They are understood to have one onboard systems operator. The most recent Erieye operator is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, though neither Saab nor the Kingdom have confirmed this.
systems to the latest standards. On March 1, 2013 the company announced an order worth SEK380m from Embraer Defense and Security for the upgrade of Brazil’s Erieye AEW&C Mission Systems, for delivery from 2014 to 2017. Meanwhile, Embraer has exported three EMB-145s to India in a configuration that closely resembles the EMB-145SA but with provision for Indian mission systems in place of the Erieye system (the EMB-145i programme was fully described in the May issue of AIR International). The future looks bright for the Erieye, which offers a more affordable alternative to larger and more complex AEW&C platforms while including similar vital capabilities. The system is capable of detecting and tracking all air and sea targets even in heavy clutter and jamming conditions, and can be rapidly deployed to cover new areas of operation or bridge gaps in ground-based radar coverage. It offers a good choice to traditional maritime surveillance methods and has been proven in a range of military and civilian tasks.
Swedish financial reporting rules forced Saab to reveal the existence of the SEK4.5 billion ($670 million) order on October 4, 2010. The contract was described as covering the “delivery of a Saab 2000 aircraft equipped with the advanced Erieye radar system” as well as logistics and support services. The language of Saab’s announcement seemed to imply the order was for a single aircraft, but in February 2014 it was reported that a second had been delivered and some sources suggest three aircraft may eventually be acquired. There has been speculation that the aircraft may not be intended for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), which already operates five E-3Ds, but for another Saudi agency – possibly the National Guard, which is building up an impressive air element. Some sources even suggested that Saudi funding was being used to supply extra aircraft to Pakistan, though this seems extremely unlikely. In addition to orders for new Erieyes, Saab is also gaining contracts to upgrade existing
All images MoD/Crown Copyright unless stated.
MILITARY UK UNMANNED PLATFORMS
Decis The UK has important choices to make about its future unmanned fleet, as Mark Broadbent outlines
he unmanned aircraft operated by the UK armed forces range from the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-9 Reaper, mediumaltitude long-endurance (MALE) aircraft, to the nano-sized systems that are hand-launched by
soldiers on the battlefield. A House of Commons Defence Select Committee inquiry, which reported in the spring, looked at the current and planned future use by the British military of unmanned aircraft – referred to by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as remotely-piloted air systems (RPAS). The underlying conclusion was that the MoD has some major strategic choices ahead.
MILITARY UK UNMANNED PLATFORMS
sions The Fleet The Royal Air Force operates ten MQ-9s as part of Operation Herrick in Afghanistan. These support British and Coalition ground forces by providing intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and strike capabilities. Flown by crews from No.39 Squadron at Creech AFB in Nevada and No.XIII Squadron at RAF Waddington near Lincoln, these are the only armed RPAS currently used.
Eight Hermes 450 tactical RPAS are operated in Afghanistan by the army’s 1st Artillery Brigade, which also uses 222 Desert Hawk III and 18 RQ-16 Tarantula Hawk systems. The Desert and Tarantula Hawks are classed as ‘mini’ UAVs – small, lightweight aircraft with fairly basic sensors. They are used by platoons, companies and battle groups for short-range surveillance missions, such as checking for improvised
explosive devices placed on the road ahead. Some 324 Black Hornet nano-sized unmanned air systems (UAS), which are launched by hand, are used by infantry to capture low-resolution images during mission scenarios such as local-area reconnaissance in an urban setting. The Royal Navy operates the Boeing/ Insitu ScanEagle. The Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary AI.07.14
MILITARY UK UNMANNED PLATFORMS BAE Systems
“We call upon the MoD to set out which of the existing systems it intends to retain beyond the end of operations in Afghanistan and to confirm that continuing operating costs can be funded” House of Commons Defence Select Committee
1 Cardigan Bay each had a ScanEagle when
they deployed to the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf in the first three months of this year. The ScanEagles are operated by Boeing under a contractor-owned/ contractor-operated agreement, where the company flies each system for up to 300 hours every month.
Flying Hours The MoD confirmed to the Select Committee that British military unmanned aircraft have amassed more than 160,000 combat flying hours since the UK began using them in Afghanistan in 2007. The Reapers have flown over 50,000, the Hermes 450s 84,000 plus and the Desert Hawk IIIs some 27,500. “The key strength demonstrated in Afghanistan [by RPAS] was the persistent ISR presence provided, far in excess of manned air platforms whose endurance was often considerably less,” reported the Select Committee. “[The MoD] argued that ‘persistence also maximises precision, resulting in fewer civilian deaths arising from air strikes’ and [that] it was ‘difficult to imagine a future campaign where such technology will not have a role to play’.”
After Afghanistan With the UK’s unmanned operations in Afghanistan due to conclude at the end of 2014, as British forces withdraw from the country, there are major questions over the future shape of Britain’s RPAS fleet. Its expansion in the 2000s stemmed from urgent operational requirements (UORs) submitted to the Treasury by the MoD, and the question now is which systems will be retained as socalled ‘core programmes’.
In a written submission to the inquiry, the MoD said it was currently evaluating which elements of the fleet it would keep. The Select Committee said that for RPAS which are not retained as core programmes, “it is unclear what will happen to the systems and the personnel who operate them. One option would be to retain some systems in a reduced formation. However, competition for funding for other capabilities, such as maritime surveillance, will have a significant bearing on available resources.”
Defence Review A key factor in determining what will happen is the Strategic Defence and Security Review, due next year after the General Election. The Select Committee said the MoD still had to clarify its unmanned aircraft strategy despite publishing a document in March 2011 called The UK Approach To Unmanned Aircraft Systems Joint Doctrine Note 2/11. This raised a series of questions about the policies, concepts and force structures of RPAS in the UK armed forces – questions that the Select Committee says remain unanswered. “Three years later it is clear that further consideration of many of the issues the Joint Doctrine Note raises is overdue,” it said. “We recommend that the MoD revisit these issues and publish an updated Joint Doctrine Note setting out its current approach to RPAS, no later than September 2014. We call upon the MoD to set out which of the existing systems it intends to retain beyond the end of operations in Afghanistan and to confirm that continuing operating costs can be funded from within its core programme budget from financial year 2014-15 onwards.”
Aviation Authority granted a Statement of Type Design Assurance for the Watchkeeper, the MoD announced in March 2014 that the UAV will begin military flight training with the Royal Artillery in restricted airspace over the Salisbury Plain Training Area in Wiltshire later in the year. “It is now unlikely that Watchkeeper will be utilised on operations in Afghanistan, the theatre for which it was originally procured,” the Select Committee observed. “The MoD should set out in detail in its response to this report the reasons for the delays experienced in bringing the Watchkeeper to full operating capability, and the lessons identified for future RPAS programmes. It is of vital importance that the lessons identified inform the development and trials of all future remotely piloted aircraft and any associated weapons systems.”
While a clear strategy remains undefined, it seems the MoD wishes to continue operating the MQ-9. Air Vice-Marshal Philip Osborn, Director Capability in Joint Forces Command, told the Select Committee in a January 2014 interview that the MoD had, “every intention of continuing to utilise [the] Reaper beyond Afghanistan”. He said: “You will see us plan to bring [the] Reaper more into an expeditionary, rather than deployed mode.” The inquiry confirmed that RAF Air Command has already assessed the Reaper’s suitability to be used for maritime surface surveillance. The MoD also stated it was studying unmanned aircraft as part of a project called the Air ISTAR Optimisation Study, which will be used to inform resourcing decisions about intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance aircraft for the next SDSR. In a written statement the MoD said it, “acknowledged that the lessons from Afghanistan might not be universally applicable” to future conflicts, because, “conditions there (adequate basing and lines of communication, operating in permissive and relatively uncongested air space, against a technologically unsophisticated adversary) would not necessarily exist in other theatres of war.” These considerations about using unmanned systems in different theatres will be taken into account in the SDSR, according to the MoD.
TMUAS and Taranis The MoD awarded a £2.3 million contract to AgustaWestland in 2013 for a rotary-wing concept capability demonstrator capable of 2 operating from the Type 26 Global Combat Ship for the TMUAS programme. This aircraft will be used to demonstrate radar, electro-optics, mine countermeasures and hydrographic survey capabilities, help develop operational concepts for unmanned systems at sea, and assess how RPAS can integrate alongside Lynx and Merlin helicopters operating from Royal Navy ships. The air vehicle selected by AgustaWestland for the programme is the PZL-S´widnik Solo, the UAS/optionally -piloted variant of the SW-4 helicopter. The demonstrator will be equipped with a Selex ES PicoSAR radar, Selex VigilX imaging system and a DRS Technologies electrooptical/infrared turret. In February the MoD and BAE Systems held a joint briefing about the Taranis
New Capabilities The SDSR will not just look at in-service platforms, but also at new equipment such as the army’s Thales Watchkeeper tactical UAS, and various concepts in development, such as the Royal Navy’s Tactical Maritime Unmanned Air System (TMUAS), Taranis, Scavenger and the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). The Watchkeeper was ordered in 2005 but development delays meant flight trials (in restricted airspace near Parc Aberporth in west Wales) only started in 2010, its original service entry target date. A revised date of April 2012 was also missed. The MoD purchased the Hermes 450s under a UOR as a stop-gap. After the UK Military
unmanned combat air vehicle advanced technology demonstrator (see Taranis: The Woomera Boomerang, March, p4). The MoD explained to the Select Committee that Taranis would provide, “experimental evidence on the potential capabilities [of a UCAV], helping to inform decisions on the future mix of manned and remotely piloted systems”.
Scavenger According to an MoD statement the Scavenger programme concerns a capability for, “deep and persistent armed ISR collection from 2018 to 2030”, using a MALE system able to conduct ISR, “across a very wide area and with the potential to be armed”. AVM Osborn said the aircraft that fulfils the Scavenger requirement will, “be capable of doing far more, on a worldwide basis”, than the Reaper. The MoD said it is “currently considering acquisition options to satisfy the Scavenger
1 The Tarantula Hawk takes off vertically and hovers to get a clear view of the ground ahead of troops. 2 A Royal Artillery soldier launches a Desert Hawk UAV in Helmand, Afghanistan. 3 The PZL-S´ widnik Solo will be used as the concept capability demonstrator for the Royal Navy’s TMUAS programme. AgustaWestland 4 The Black Hornet nano UAV measures around 4in x 1in (10cm x 2.5cm). 3
requirement, including retaining the Reaper and improving the aircraft”. It told the Committee: “Nothing has been ruled out and the UK remains open to considering cooperative options.”
US Partnership One of the co-operative options is continuing the close partnership with the US Air Force in operating the Reaper, built up over the last few years through RAF pilots being trained on the type at Creech AFB by the USAF, and No.39 Squadron operating
there alongside its American colleagues. The Royal Aeronautical Society told the Select Committee that the MoD has benefitted from this partnership in economies of scale and shared facilities, but warned there was a risk of the UK becoming dependent on the USAF for support infrastructure, future upgrades and access to training.
FCAS The link with the US is not the only partnership that will be considered. In
A No.39 Squadron pilot remotely controls a Reaper from Creech AFB during a training sortie over the west coast of America.
RAF REAPER OPERATIONS
The MQ-9 Reaper can remain airborne for nearly 40 hours, providing ISR and strike capabilities. The type is armed with Hellfire and GBU-12 Paveway laser-guided weapons. By the end of August 2013 (the latest date for which information has been released), the RAF Reapers had amassed over 50,000 combat hours and fired 418 weapons in Afghanistan. Work is under way to integrate the MBDA Brimstone missile. Select Committee member, Madeleine Moon MP, visited No.XIII Squadron at RAF Waddington, and spoke to pilots, sensor operators and mission intelligence co-ordinators, as well as observing a Reaper mission over Afghanistan. The Committee reported: “XIII Squadron Reaper pilots have a mix of previous experience, having flown aircraft as diverse as [the] Harrier, Nimrod and Tornado. There are few direct entrants to RPAS operations at present, but they would undertake appropriate pilot training before converting. It is also possible for pilots to move to other platforms: two pilots from 39 Squadron have retrained for the Typhoon. “Prior to an operation crews receive a daily mission brief which sets out what their mission is that day. Important information such as key changes in theatre, weather conditions and planned shift changes are outlined. Crew members’ procedural knowledge and judgement is also tested through questions and discussion of possible scenarios which might arise. Video footage from recent missions is used to highlight specific issues and to aid learning. “Crews operate on a two to three hour programmed shift, followed by a break and crew change. They may return to the ground control station to continue the mission they were engaged in previously, or receive a fresh mission brief. Following any weapons release there is a formal debrief process in which learning points are identified. Lessons learned are shared with other aircrew as part of future daily mission briefs. “Personnel were keen for the public to know more and understand better what it is they do, and to dispel some myths that have grown up about Reaper operations. One pilot commented that the public needed to know that remotely piloted aircraft are ‘not robots, they’re not autonomous and we spend an awful lot of time training to fly them’. This training emphasised all aspects of the RAF rules of engagement such as whether a strike is necessary, whether any civilians are nearby, and what instructions have been received from the ground commander. Reaper aircrew were firmly of the view that loiter time allowed more informed decisions to be made, and consequently the risk of civilian casualties was reduced should a missile strike be required. “It was very clear from discussions with Reaper aircrew that all were experienced professional personnel with a clear purpose and keen understanding of the rules of engagement which govern their operations. This was in stark contrast to the image portrayed by some commentators of ‘drone’ pilots as video-gaming ‘warrior geeks’. “We are satisfied that RAF Reaper pilots and flight crew have a high level of experience and appropriate training to conduct such strikes. We are also satisfied that the RAF rules of engagement for Reaper operations are common with those in force for manned aircraft, and provide a high level of assurance that, as far as possible, civilian casualties will be avoided and collateral damage minimised.”
January 2014 the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the French President Francois Hollande announced several initiatives between the two countries on unmanned aircraft, as part of a larger package of defence co-operation. These projects included a £120 million, two-year feasibility study into a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) unmanned combat air vehicle, involving BAE Systems, Dassault and partner companies RollsRoyce, Safran and Selex. This follows a previous Demonstration Programme Preparation Phase (DPPP) contract, which saw these companies share information
MILITARY UK UNMANNED PLATFORMS
1 The BAE Systems Taranis during trials at Warton. BAE Systems 2 A Thales Watchkeeper during flight trials at Parc Aberporth in Wales. 3 The MoD faces decisions about what it’s going to do with its MQ-9 Reapers once they are withdrawn from Afghanistan.
and interoperability,” the governments said. The group will also, “be open to the European nations operating the Reaper”, pointing to the possibility of incorporating the Netherlands and Italy into the venture.
Choices The Select Committee said the MoD has, “a strategic choice to make”, given that all these options are on the table. It said: “Post-Afghanistan, a commitment to the existing partnership arrangements with the USAF… would provide the RAF with access to future upgrades to the Reaper, and training opportunities for UK Reaper aircrew, which would be likely to prove problematic in the UK given the airspace restrictions which exist presently. However… it may be advantageous to form more collaborative arrangements at a European level, in order
to share experience and seek economies of scale for the delivery of training and maintenance. “In the medium to long term, projects such as Scavenger and the Future Combat Aircraft System demonstration programme may require a shift in focus. We recommend that the MoD clarifies its intentions and explains how European level co-operation can be co-ordinated with existing bilateral partnership projects.” It concluded: “We consider [RPAS] to be a key capability which must continue to be supported. We expect future development, in partnership with allies, to form an important strand of the SDSR 2015 equipment programme.” It will be interesting to monitor what form those new capabilities and partnerships will take in the fullness of time.”
about their respective Taranis and nEUROn UCAV technology demonstrators. When the feasibility study ends in 2016, a decision will be made by the governments on whether to collaborate on a demonstration and manufacturing phase. With the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) now operating the Reaper – it took delivery of its first two in January – the British and French governments also announced they will, “develop co-operative opportunities” in operating their MQ-9s. “We will look to develop a ‘joint user group’ for [the] Reaper, to exchange lessons learnt and work together on air certification, training, through life support
COMMERCIAL AIR TRACTOR AT-802F
Firefighter Spanish company AVIALSA’s firefighting Air Tractors are in demand, as Roberto Yáñez and Alex Rodriguez report
Valencia Airport in eastern Spain. Shortly afterwards it was authorised by the Dirección General de Aviación Civil (Spanish Civil Aviation Directorate) to provide maintenance and repairs for crop-spraying and firefighting aircraft under JAR-145. It was the 35th such facility in Spain to receive the approval, leading the company to change its name to AVIALSA T-35. In 1973 it diversified into firefighting and fire patrol. To undertake this work the company assembled a fleet of Piper PA-25-235 Pawnees, Rockwell S-2R Thrush
Commanders and, from 1991, eight PZL-Mielec M-18A Dromaders. By the early 1990s its fleet numbered 30 aircraft.
Air Tractor Arrival The serious fires that devastated northeast Spain in the summer of 1994 – more than 17,000 blazes destroyed more than 405,082 hectares of land – showed there was a need for more capable firefighting assets. This resulted in AVIALSA T-35 acquiring two Air Tractor AT-802Fs in 1995, becoming the first European operator of this distinctive aircraft
All photos Roberto Yáñez unless stated
VIALSA T-35 has, over the years, grown to become one of the leading European companies working in the complex and challenging area of fighting forest fires. Beginning operations in 1965 as Aviación Agrícola del Levante (AVIALSA), dedicated to aerial crop spraying, the company established its main operating base at
COMMERCIAL AIR TRACTOR AT-802F
FIRE-BOMBER, SPRAYER AND LIGHT ISR AIRCRAFT - THE AIR TRACTOR AT-802 The AT-802F’s is equipped with a 1,700hp (1,267kW) turbine engine, although for firefighting operations this is limited to 1,424hp (1,061kW). A supplementary type certificate allows the use of full power during emergency situations. The aircraft can carry up to 3,100 litres (682 Imp gals) of water or fire retardant, along with an additional internal 68-litre (150-Imp gals) tank for foam mix. A water or retardant pump on the ground is attached to two intake points on the fuselage to fill the aircraft. The AT-802F’s undercarriage is strengthened for operations from unpaved airstrips. The drop rate can be concentrated to extinguish a small fire or spread out over a larger area. A constant stream of fire retardant is needed and the computer-controlled doors help greatly with its dispersal. The aircraft is metal with an enclosed and protected cockpit for the pilot whose seat (and that of the passenger in the Fire Boss) has airbags to protect the head and chest. The Fire Boss first flew on November 25, 2009 under the control of Air Tractor’s chief pilot Troy Vaught. The aircraft is five times larger than the first aircraft (the S-1), built by the company’s founder, the late Leland Snow, which first flew almost half a century ago. The rear seat means the aircraft can be used as a dual-control trainer to teach new pilots or carry an observer during firefighting operations. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67F engine, the Fire Boss is the largest aircraft produced by Air Tractor. Its water tank capacity is just above 4,000 litres (880 Imp gals) compared to the 3,100 litres (682 Imp gals) of the fixed-undercarriage version, a 35% increase in payload. Its unloading hatches are 56% larger allowing for greater water coverage. Equipped with Wipaire amphibious floats, the Fire Boss can scoop 3,028 litres (666 Imp gals) of water from a lake in 12 to 15 seconds. The whole process of landing, refilling and departing from the water again takes 20 to 30 seconds. Being able to scoop water from a lake near to a fire means the aircraft can remain close to its area of operations. There is also a military version of the aircraft, the AT-802U, designed for surveillance, precision strike and utility missions from dirt strips. With tenhour flight endurance, and the ability to carry 8,000lb (3,629kg) on underwing hardpoints, the aircraft has low acquisition and maintenance costs. For protection against small arms fire, the aircraft has Kevlar armour around the wings, engine and cockpit. The avionics are tailored to the needs of the operator. In November 2010 the first of 24 AT-802Us was delivered to the launch customer, the government of the United Arab Emirates.
which was faster, had longer endurance and greater payload compared to the aircraft in use at the time. Thanks to its excellent qualities, the Air Tractors went on to replace the company’s Thrush Commanders and Dromaders. AVIALSA T-35 is now the largest single operator of the type in the world, using 15 examples of the AT-802F (which has a fixed undercarriage with wheels) and 15 of the two-seat, float-equipped AT-802F Fire Boss amphibious version. The company
Group Activities AVIALSA T-35 operates the Air Tractors for firefighting operations in Spain and other parts of Europe, but it is just one part of Grupo AVIALSA, owned by Aviación Agrícola de Levante S.L. After AVIALSA T-35 received
its first AT-802F in 1995, the company became a dealer for the type. That led, in 2004, to Air Tractor – a US company set up in 1951 – awarding AVIALSA T-35 the exclusive rights for sales and support of the AT-802F in Europe and North Africa. Subsequently Air Tractor Europe S.L was established and this company, and the Fundación Medioambiental Huerta which is dedicated to environmental protection and preservation, are also part of Grupo AVIALSA.
also operates Piper PA-34-200 Senecas for transporting personnel and material and Reims Cessna FTB-337s for forest fire patrols and co-ordinating firefighting operations.
Practically all AVIALSA T-35‘s activities involve fighting forest fires. In the last few years aerial patrolling by Cessna FTB-337s has reduced because the mission has increasingly been taken on by the Air Tractors. AVIALSA T-35 has developed a concept called AVA (Aviónes de Vigilancia y Ataque, or Surveillance and Attack Aircraft). This involves the Air Tractors being loaded to 60-70% of their fire retardant capacity before overflying areas at high risk when conditions exist for a fire to start. The idea is to immediately tackle a fire once it is detected to stop it becoming a larger blaze. There are 45 pilots available for firefighting duties, which allows for a ratio of 1.5 pilots per aircraft. During the summer most aircraft are used in Spain for firefighting under contracts, ranging in length from a few months to a whole year, with either the national or regional governments.
AIR TRACTOR AT-802F COMMERCIAL
European Work Apart from the domestic work, in the summer of 2013 the Autoridade Nacional de Protecção Civil, Portugal’s civil protection agency, contracted AVIALSA T-35 to provide six AT-802Fs to assist with its firefighting operations. France’s equivalent, the Sécurité Civile, did the same for five Fire Boss variants. And Italy’s Protezione Civile has used Air Tractors since 2006, contracting up to ten aircraft every summer. The extent of AVIALSA T-35’s firefighting operations means the crop-dusting work with which the company began in the 1960s is almost consigned to the history books. The last major work of this nature took place in 2004 and 2005 when ten Air Tractors participated in the aerial spraying to combat the plagues of locusts devastating crops in Morocco, Senegal and Mauritania. For this operation the AT-802Fs were equipped with the standard aerial spray systems. The aircraft proved ideal for this mission due to their endurance (they can fly for up to five hours without refuelling), high speed and ability to carry up to 4,000kg (8,818lb) of pesticides.
Facilities The company operates from a large hangar and other auxiliary installations at Valencia Airport, where it carries out maintenance
of its own aircraft. Some 90% of this work is on Air Tractors but the company also has certifications to undertake work on other light aircraft types such as Piper Senecas and Cessnas. Maintenance is undertaken by around 50 personnel. The major period of activity is between each firefighting season when the yearly overhauls are carried out – this takes about two to three weeks per aircraft. AVIALSA T-35 has another building where it undertakes
repairs and modifications to different AT802F components and stores spare parts. This building is also home to a propeller workshop, one of only two of its type in Europe (the other is in Portugal), dedicated to repairs for light aircraft propellers. As the European and North African support facility for the Air Tractor, AVIALSA T-35 also provides annual maintenance overhauls and repairs for aircraft sold to other customers. The company is a 3
1 The undersides of a Fire Boss, showing the attachment points to refill the tanks. 2 Macedonia’s Protection and Rescue Directorate has three AT-802F Fire Bosses, which were delivered in 2009 and 2010. After hand over they completed a nine-hour ferry flight from Valencia (where the crews were trained by AVIALSA) to Skopje in Macedonia. 3 AVIALSA was the first European operator of the Fire Boss and the second worldwide.
COMMERCIAL AIR TRACTOR AT-802F European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Part 145 Maintenance Organisation, meaning it is accredited to provide all levels of maintenance and comprehensive support for the Air Tractor.
Training Due to the size of the fleet operated by the company, and the success of sales by Air Tractor Europe, an EASA Part 147 certification was obtained in 2010 which enables the company to train technical and engineering staff in maintaining the AT-802F. In June 2011, AVIALSA T-35 became the world’s first AT-802 Type Rating Training Organisation (TRTO), meaning the company is able to provide flying training for pilots for both the land-based and amphibious variants of the Air Tractor. By offering Part 145 and TRTO facilities, AVIALSA T-35 is able to offer its clients a total support package. AVIALSA T-35’s facilities include classrooms for training technicians and pilots. The EASA Part 147 course for maintainers lasts around ten days, with about 40% of the time spent in the classroom learning theory and the practical elements taught at the airport. The courses for pilots usually comprise three days of classroom work and ten hours’ flying for the land-based AT-802F and five days ground school with ten hours’ flying for the amphibious version. Their duration can vary depending upon the previous experience of the trainees. New pilots are taught using two examples of the two-seat Fire Boss, which have dual controls (see panel on page 72).
Air Tractor Europe Since Air Tractor Europe was awarded exclusive rights over marketing in Europe and North Africa a decade ago, around 120 aircraft have passed through Valencia, including AVIALSA’s acquisitions. Most have been AT-802Fs (both the standard version and the Fire Boss) but there have also been the smaller AT-401, AT-402, AT-502 and AT-504. Normally the aircraft are flown from the Air Tractor factory at Olney, in Texas, to Spain equipped with a portable avionics kit and high-frequency radio to undertake the trans-Atlantic crossing. The trip from Texas to Valencia takes about four days with stops in New York, St John’s and the Azores, with the total flying time usually between 25 and 28 hours. Once in Valencia, the temporary systems are removed and the client-specific systems installed by AVIALSA T-35 before delivery to the customer. The year 2007 was a significant one for AVIALSA T-35 due to the fires that devastated forests in southern Europe including Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Albania and Turkey. The fires led to Croatia’s defence ministry buying five AT-802Fs from Air Tractor Europe, with the civil protection organisations in Macedonia and Montenegro buying three and two aircraft respectively. All the Air Tractors that fly in Europe are principally used for firefighting, although there are some exceptions, such as Cyprus, where one undertakes crop dusting. The AT-802F, in both its land and amphibious 1 The propeller workshop is one of only two such facilities in Europe. 2 AVIALSA T-35’s Valencia Airport facility, which will be replaced this year by a new base at Viver. AVIALSA T-35
AIR TRACTOR AT-802F COMMERCIAL
configurations, is in demand worldwide for both firefighting and crop spraying tasks. Of the more than 3,000 aircraft built at the Air Tractor plant in Texas, around 500 have been AT-802Fs.
Move to Viver Owing to the expansion of its activities in recent years, AVIALSA needs more space than is available at Valencia Airport. Hence construction is under way on a new home and operations centre at an airfield outside the town of Viver, 42 miles (69km) to the north of Valencia. The company planned to move before this summer, but that has been delayed until the end of the year when all the new facilities will be ready. Viver has a 1,500m (4,298ft) long, 100m (328ft) wide packed dirt runway. The hangar being built will be capable of handling 11 aircraft and the facility will have a water loading point. The floats for new Air Tractors that arrive from the US in land configuration will also be fitted at the new factory. An important innovation being introduced at the new base is an AT802F flight simulator. The hardware is ready and all that is needed now is for it to be programmed with the Air Tractor’s flight characteristics. In April two of the company’s aircraft were equipped with sensors and collected this data.
help those in charge make decisions. Expansion plans for the Grupo AVIALSA are based around increasing its operations during the summer months. For this it is necessary to grow its current fleet to meet new contracts both in Spain and abroad. It plans to continue its firefighting operations with the Portuguese, French and Italian governments but also have a presence in South America, South Africa and Australia outside the European summer season to make maximum use of its fleet.
Meanwhile Air Tractor Europe wants to sell more aircraft and increase sales of its complementary maintenance, training and the propeller workshop services. The current economic crisis is seriously affecting general aviation and work at the propeller workshop is expected to grow very slowly. With the new Viver facilities set to come on line, a large fleet and continuing demand for their services in both Spain and abroad, AVIALSA’s Air Tractors appear to have a bright future.
Real-Time Video AVIALSA T-35 is looking to develop its AVA concept by installing video cameras on an AT-802F to record and transmit real-time images of fires, via satellite, to command centres. This will enable a blaze’s progression to be tracked to manage firefighting resources more efficiently and
Gary Wetzel visited Vance Air Force Base to learn about the early stages of US Air Force pilot training on the T-6 Texan II
ow 11 years into its career as the US Air Force’s (USAF) primary trainer, the Beechcraft T-6A Texan II has begun a slow revolution in training doctrine. But one constant remains – US military pilots are
trained to the highest standards with no option for failure or margin for error. “Pilot training is the last, ultimate meritocracy,” explained the-then Brigadier General Mark Nowland, as he drove from his
BEECHCRAFT T-6 TEXAN II MILITARY (FTS), the ‘Eightballers’. Track select is the culmination of an almost four-month training curriculum where the students are subjected to long hours, daily challenges and an array of obstacles to overcome as they look to complete that first step towards earning pilot wings. “Your performance and [that] alone, determines what you will spend your air force career flying,” said Brig Gen Nowland.
Training structure Potential USAF pilots enter Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) or Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (JSUPT), which is a co-operative effort between the USAF and the United States Navy to train a small number of the other service’s prospective aviators. Vance AFB handles the USAF contribution while the navy portion of JSUPT is located at NAS
All photos Gary Wetzel unless stated
office to attend a ‘track select’ graduation of Texan II students. Brig Gen Nowland, a former F-15C Eagle pilot with over 3,600 flying hours, was at the time of AIR International’s visit the commanding officer of the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance Air Force Base just outside Enid, Oklahoma. The graduating class was from the 8th Flying Training Squadron
ns to Pilots AI.07.14
MILITARY BEECHCRAFT T-6 TEXAN II
Staff Sgt Amanda Mills/US Air Force
Whiting Field in Florida. Having received initial flight screening (IFS) at Pueblo, Colorado, flying the Diamond DA20-C1 during 40 days of ground and flight school, the majority of potential USAF pilots begin primary flight training on the T-6A Texan II, while those undergoing JSUPT at Whiting Field will fly the T-34C Turbo Mentor. Alongside the 8th FTS, Vance AFB is also the home of the 33rd Flying Training Squadron, the ‘Dragons’. More than 400 pilots are trained annually at Vance and the base is among the busiest in the air force, with almost 250 sorties per day.
New Era Change is never easy, especially when it involves replacing a legend. The one the Texan II replaced was the Cessna T-37B ‘Tweety Bird’, or simply ‘Tweet’, which flew its last student training sortie on June 17, 2009, ending a programme that had begun in 1957 and saw over 1,000 airframes built. During those 52 years, the Tweet trained more than 78,000 USAF pilots. It was the first USAF trainer designed with side-byside seating from the outset, allowing the instructor pilot (IP) an unobstructed view of the student, which provided superb interaction and communication during training flights. The first T-6A Texan II was delivered to the 559th FTS at Randolph AFB in May 2000 following which training of the first IPs began. Ten years later, in May 2010, 11 months after the final student Tweet flight, the last
THE TEXAN Derived from the Pilatus PC-9, the Texan II has stepped tandem seating and is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turboprop engine providing 1,100hp (820kW). Some regarded the arrival of the propeller-driven Texan II to replace the twinjet Tweet as a step backwards in training capability, but it is hardly that. The PT6A-68 is fuel-efficient and powerful. The strength of the engine, combined with an all-aluminium airframe, provide the Texan II with a very favourable power-to-weight ratio. It is able to reach speeds over 300kts (555km/h) and can climb at more than 3,300ft (1,000m) per minute, good enough to reach 18,000ft (5,486m) in less than six minutes, and is fully aerobatic. The Texan II has a wingspan of 33ft 6 in (10.19m), a length of 33ft 5in (10.16m), a range of 900nm (1,668km) and a ceiling of 31,000ft (9,450m). Its airframe is expected to last 16,000 flying hours. Improvements from the T-37 include a modern glass cockpit, on-board oxygen generating system and zero/zero ejection seats. The Texan II is considerably quieter than the Tweet, which was often described as a ‘6,000lb dog whistle’. The Texan II is not only the primary training aircraft for the USAF and USN. The Greek, Israeli and Iraqi air forces operate it and the similar CT-156 Harvard II is fielded by the Canadians. Morocco has opted for the T-6C variant, which provides wing hardpoints and is based on the T-6B.
of 454 T-6A Texan IIs was delivered to the USAF, arriving at NAS Pensacola, Florida, for assignment to the 479th Flying Training Group. Joining 21 other T-6s, the 479th’s trainers are used in the Combat Systems Officer (CSO) training programme, along with the Beech T-1A Jayhawk.
Change in Philosophy “The Tweet was a remarkably good trainer,” Brig Gen Nowland said. “It was easy to fly but hard to fly well. However, it was forgiving so it was the perfect primary jet trainer. It was tough as nails. A bird could go down the intake and [with] just a little more thrust [it would be] pushed out. It was a rugged aeroplane and served the air force well for over 50 years, but technology has advanced as we have as a service, and so our requirements have changed. “We now have fifth-generation fighters and some of the T-6 students on the flight line today will end up flying Raptors,” Brig Gen Nowland continued. “The T-6 is relatively new to AETC (Air Education and Training Command) and I really don’t think we have taken the T-6 to its full potential yet. A lot of the T-6 syllabus is predicated upon what we had done with the Tweet. The T-6 has different capabilities and handling characteristics [to the T-37], which will allow us to modify our syllabus a little bit more in the future to maximise the training we want to see from the T-6.” Brig Gen Nowland noted that the Texan II “is the first single-engine trainer the Air Force
MILITARY BEECHCRAFT T-6 TEXAN II
has had in a very long time”. He said: “It is just a little bit of a different philosophy so we do take a little time training the students on how to do single-engine landings and how to handle that single engine, which is very important. The F-16 is single engine and the F-35 is going to be single engine. Establishing that mindset very early is important.”
The Course New students arriving at Vance for JSUPT are immediately placed under the control of the 71st Operations Support Squadron (OSS) – the ‘Ghostriders’. During their time at Vance and after introduction to fighter fundamentals, should the students track that path, they will be under the control of the OSS, despite being assigned to different squadrons on base for training purposes. Phase 1 of JSUPT concentrates on academics and pre-flight (which includes aerospace physiology) training for the students. It lasts 31 training days, and this is where the students are introduced to
introduction for the students,” Cmdr Batlau said. “The military has moved to joint operations among the branches and this gives the students an early introduction to the differences in how the services operate. The overall experience is beneficial not only to the students but the IPs as well. I know it has been very beneficial to me since I arrived at Vance. “Currently, about 180 USN/USMC students go through T-6 training here at Vance, while the Air Force puts about 100 students through at NAS Whiting, flying the T-34. The T-6 is a wonderful aircraft with a lot more power than the T-34. It is also more manoeuvrable and more aerobatic. I’m 41 years old and I had a great time flying helicopters. If I don’t get another assignment after this, flying the T-6 has been the thrill of a lifetime. It has been a great experience.”
Master Sgt David Richards
the training publications they are required to learn, which together weigh 25lb (11kg). Everything from weather to the T-6’s on-board oxygen-generating system is covered – failure is not an option if the students hope to proceed to the second phase of JSUPT. The pace and amount of information thrown at the students has been expressed by some as like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant. The immediate goal of every new student is to complete the academic phase and move on to flying training for which they will be assigned a squadron and a particular flight within that unit. At this point the students will have a ‘dollar ride’ with an IP, getting their first true taste of what flying the Texan II is all about before starting Phase 2. US Navy Commander Todd Bahlau is the commanding officer of the 33rd FTS. A career Sikorsky SH-60B pilot, Cmdr Bahlau is part of the ‘joint’ presence that separates JSUPT from SUPT. At Vance, a navy commander always leads one of the two T-6 squadrons. “JSUPT is a great
Second Stage Phase 2 on the T-6 is 90 days long. During that period the student pilots will continue
MILITARY BEECHCRAFT T-6 TEXAN II to receive academics while getting 50 hours of simulator time covering all aspects of training and situations that the students will experience, plus 90 hours of flight time in the T-6 along with an IP. This phase is divided into four sections: contact, instrument/navigation, formation and low-level. The contact stage allows the students to familiarise themselves with fundamentals of flight and will focus on take-offs and landings, stalls, spins, the different handling characteristics of the Texan II and, most importantly, how the traffic pattern at Vance works. During the instrument/navigation stage the students learn how to fly instrument approaches, not only at Vance, but also at airports within 700 miles (1,130km) of there, as they take the Texan on cross-country flights. It includes the only time that the student pilots will sit in the rear seat of the Texan. The formation stage involves two aircraft – both piloted by students – where the 1 trainees learn the ability to keep formation. The final stage – low-level – consists of only two flights. In this the students are required to plan a low-level visual flight rules sortie with specific points to be reached at specific times, finishing with a timed return to Vance. Four check rides are included in Phase 2, two in the contact phase and one each in the instrument/navigation and formation portions, which make or break a student pilots’ programme.
Demanding Days For the students, the training day is neither an easy day nor a short one. They spend just under 12 hours on duty, whether flying that day or not, ensuring that they do not violate the duty day tenet requiring 12 hours of crew rest. Typically, most days begin before 7am and could see the students begin with academics, quite easily involving a test (colloquially known as a ‘shotgun’) where they are selected and expected to answer general questions, forcing them to think on their feet and react under the pressure of answering correctly. From the classroom, the students could then head over to the simulator for 1hr 20mins simulator flight, which has to be briefed before being flown and debriefed once complete. They might then head over to the flight line, for a briefing for their afternoon Texan II flight, fly the sortie and then have another debriefing.
Track Selection At the end of Phase 2, there is a track select for the graduating T-6 students. Track select night is conducted in a relaxed atmosphere, with most classes creating a humorous video poking fun at their IPs, JSUPT and, most importantly, themselves. Class standing is determined by the following: merit rank (or performance in check rides) (40%), daily manoeuvring training score (20%), academic training score (10%) and flight commanding officer ranking score (30%). The students find out which track they will follow in Phase 3, which is the advanced flying training phase. Whichever track they receive, they still do not have wings.
2 1 T-6 Texan II students spend 50 hours in the simulator, which includes training for emergencies. 2 Vance is one of the bases where the building blocks of a US military pilot’s training are laid.
These are only earned following successful completion of the next phase but students do at least go on with the knowledge they have successfully cleared the first hurdle in USAF pilot training.
Confidence One of the most important elements taught during T-6 training is confidence in being able to fly the aircraft in a variety of situations. “Confidence is key in being a military aviator,” Cmdr Bahlau emphasised. “When we get them they have only been to IFS at Pueblo so they may have a total of 25 flying hours. We pretty much take clay and mould them into non-winged, seasoned aviators but they know how to fly when we are done with them. They have been on a minimum of four solos, and they have roughly 90 hours in the Texan. If they complete our programme I am telling their future squadron commanders that these students are capable of being aviators and have the ability to become successful
military pilots. “Here at the 33rd, since I arrived in June 2009, we have track selected on time every time,” Bahlau continued. “That is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our IPs, and also the effort the students put in. This programme, from start to finish, is seven days a week. We have had weather delays that pushed our timeline back and we had to fly on weekends to catch up, but we made it. This programme is not easy. I tell the students on day one that if they come into this programme and are not willing to give 100% of their ability, they will not make it through.”
Future Capabilities With the Texan II offering a wealth of new capabilities that the Tweet was unable to, the challenge now is to keep JSUPT/ SUPT constantly moving forward and avoid complacency. The most basic question facing AETC is ‘what is the product you are going to need 20 years from now and how
US Air Force
do you build it?’ Brig Gen Nowland explained: “The future requirements will drive where we are going. Right now as I look at it, I can see increasing our sortie duration in the T-6, since the T-6 sips gas. Our syllabus is scheduled on a 1.3hr sortie – that is what a Tweet flew, by the way – because we think that is about all the students can handle. Well, is that true? Could they fly a little bit longer? Could we fly 1.5 or 1.6hr sorties? Maybe reduce the number of sorties, but get more training on each sortie? There is an example of how you could maximise the capability of the T-6. Could you fly some tactical formation in your T-6s with your students, to increase their proficiency as they move on to T-38s? “Right now students get wings after Phase 3. Could we do it after Phase 2 with the T-6? There are different options depending on what you want to do. One is to wing them once Phase 2 is complete. [If you did that] you would have to do a lot more training in the T-6. You would have to increase their training – more formation flying, perhaps even four-ship formations and increase their exposure to low-level and definitely more advanced two-ship tactical manoeuvring. “The other idea is don’t wing them until they are mission ready, have gone through IFS, Phases 1, 2 and 3, passed through flight training and have reached their operational units. That is another idea. The paradigm is out in the open and there are two opposite extremes right there. The reality is the type of training will be different because the future is going to be different.”
Busy Base Vance AFB has been training USAF pilots since 1948. Prior to that, the facility trained more than 9,000 pilots for the US Army Air Force between 1941 and 1945. In 2013 the base flew over 49,100 sorties with half of those using the T-6 Texan II. The Federal Aviation Administration only counts takeoffs and landings controlled by the Vance tower and radar facility in these figures – most of the flying is controlled by two runway supervisor units, two small towers located near the busiest of Vance’s three runways. Most of the airfield’s flying is controlled from there, since the T-6 students dominate activity with circuit pattern work and if those actions were included in FAA numbers the actual number of Vance operations would increase greatly. “I have the best job in the world,” Brig Gen Nowland said. “I have over 200 aeroplanes, over 500 lieutenants and over 84,000 flying hours. To stay on the training timeline we have to fly somewhere between 230 and 250 sorties a day. As a wing commander, I get to fly three times a week, sometimes more than that if I’m lucky. Here at Vance we have great people doing a great mission. The credit goes to the IPs. They do a fabulous job of training these young lieutenants and captains. They very often have to make hard calls. We wash out students that can’t hack it. And that is the one constant that has never changed in the air force. Pilot training is rigorous. We don’t give wings away.”
MILITARY C295 MARITIME PATROL AIRCRAFT
ith sales to Portugal, Chile, Oman and, most recently, an undisclosed customer, Airbus Defence and Space sees a bright future for its C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). It is part of the wider Airbus CN235/C295 family which, depending upon customer specifications, can perform roles from fisheries patrol and border protection right up to high-end anti-submarine warfare (ASW). Airbus Defence and Space, formerly Airbus Military and before that CASA, has been developing the C295MPA (the name Persuader was dropped some years ago) for more than a decade and continues to evolve both the aircraft and its mission equipment to meet customer demands. At the core of the MPA capability is Airbus Defence and Space’s Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) –the ‘brain’ of the Four countries, including Chile, now use the C295MPA, with Airbus Defence and Space forecasting a need for 152 MPA aircraft in the next ten years. All images Airbus Group unless stated
mission system which, because of its modular design, is capable of meeting the complete range of customer requirements, according to the company. FITS was developed in-house for the Spanish Navy’s Lockheed P-3 Orion upgrade programme and uses commercial off-theshelf (COTS) products. It has subsequently been used in the maritime patrol versions of the CN235 and most recently in the Brazilian Air Force P-3AM Orion upgrade programme.
C295MPA Development The C295MPA combines Airbus’ experience with the maritime patrol variant of the smaller CN235 with the FITS mission system. Development began in the early 2000s after it was realised the CN235’s cabin and airframe size would not be sufficient for the crew numbers, sensors and equipment required for the ASW role. As a result, the C295MPA was launched in 2001 as a technical information
demonstrator to showcase “the complete capabilities of the C295 for ASW and this set of sensors”, according to Fernando Ciria, Airbus Defence and Space head of market development for intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). While both the CN235 and C295 are marketed as maritime patrol aircraft for civil coastguard missions such as maritime traffic control, economic exclusion zone (EEZ) control, law enforcement, maritime pollution control and search and rescue, only the larger C295 can conduct the high-end warfighting ASW missions. “We started operationally in 2002 and visited 13 countries to show our capability,” Ciria says. “Afterwards it was clear there were some requirements that were very demanding in terms of capability, and our choice of the C295 platform was confirmed as the correct one. It has subsequently been found to be the same for signals intelligence [SIGINT], ground surveillance or even for
C295 MARITIME PATROL AIRCRAFT MILITARY airborne early warning requirements and we’ve therefore decided to use the C295 as the basic platform for the development of these versions.”
Options Airbus Defence and Space is still marketing the CN235MPA, as is PTDI in Indonesia, and there are currently 11 operators flying the variant around the world. “Typically if the mission is [for the] coastguard the CN235 is perfect. It provides all the capabilities of the C295 with the same endurance and would be a better choice, because the cost of procurement and operation is lower,” Ciria notes. One of the C295MPA’s selling points is that, for maritime patrol, it comes in two basic versions – with the mission equipment either permanently installed or mounted on pallets and therefore removable relatively quickly. This is an advantage for operators of mixed MPA and transport fleets that
require the larger cabin volume of the C295 for military transport missions but can benefit from the same supply chain and training system. The manufacturer says the ability to convert an MPA aircraft back to the transport role (albeit with the sensors still fitted) also maximises fleet availability and flexibility to cover heavy maintenance periods or sustained operations.
Technical Description In broad terms, the C295 has a cabin some 30% bigger in volume than the CN235, carries 50% more fuel and can carry 30% more payload. The maritime patrol version shares the same airframe and engines as the military transport variant, including an operable rear ramp. Although the C295 retains the same basic configuration as the CN235, its airframe has been strengthened to meet the increased weight requirements – including thicker
fuselage and wing skins, reinforced cabin floor panels and a more robust main landing gear. The C295 is 24.50m (80ft 4in) long with a height of 8.66m (28ft 5in) and a wingspan of 25.81m (84ft 8in). The cabin is 12.69m (41ft 6in) long (not including the ramp), 1.88m (6ft 2in) high, 2.36m (7ft 7in) wide at floor level and has a volume of 64m3 (2,260cu ft). According to Airbus Defence and Space figures, the maximum take-off weight (and maximum landing weight) is 23.2 tonnes (54,146lb) and the aircraft has a fuel capacity of 7,500 litres (1,650 Imp gallons). The C295MPA is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprops, each rated at 2,645shp (1972kW) and driving sixbladed Hamilton Standard 568F-5 propellers. The left engine is fitted with a propeller brake, enabling it to operate as an auxiliary power unit on the ground, capable of providing both bleed air and electrical power. Brochure figures claim 11-hour maritime
A flexible mission system is helping the Airbus Defence and Space C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft win orders. Nigel Pittaway reports
FITS the MPA Mission
MILITARY C295 MARITIME PATROL AIRCRAFT
patrol mission endurance, based on a 5,000ft (1,524m) patrol altitude, or eight hours at an altitude of 8,000ft (2,438m) and at a 200nm (370km) radius. The maximum cruise speed is 260kt (480km/h) and the normal altitude (for the transport aircraft) is 25,000ft (7,620m). The two-crew cockpit is night-vision goggle-compatible and features avionics based on the Thales TopDeck system, comprising four 6in x 8in (15cm x 20cm) LCD screens and an interactive flight management system.
Winglets In 2013 Airbus Military (as it was then known – it was renamed in January 2014 as part of the rebrand of EADS to Airbus Group) launched the latest variant of the C295 family, which promises improved hot-andhigh performance and greater endurance. The C295W (W for winglets) is expected to deliver a 3%-6% improvement in overall fuel consumption over the baseline aircraft and a payload increase of 1,500kg (3,306lb) at 25,000ft (7,620m). As well as the winglets, the improvements are the result of a 2011 study by engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Canada to improve climb and ceiling performance. This resulted in uprating the PW127 engines, a modification already certified and incorporated into the C295 flight manual. The winglets themselves add 30kg (66lb) each to the empty weight of the C295W and associated strengthening of the wing structure adds another 30kg (66lb). Certification flight testing began earlier this year and certification by INTA, the Spanish military airworthiness authority, is due to be achieved by the middle of the year. The first customer delivery will be at the end of 2014,
by which time the C295W will have become the standard production version.
FITS The Airbus-developed FITS system at the core of the C295MPA’s capabilities is also operational on the CN235MPA and Spanish and Brazilian P-3 Orions. “The FITS system is onboard different aircraft in our family, but the main difference is the number of workstations for the operators and the number of sensors integrated for conducting different missions,” explains Fernando Ciria. “The C295 has different versions. We customise the solution for customers and everyone has a different combination of
missions and requirements. We have a pure maritime surveillance configuration – typically a multi-mission radar plus electro-optical turret and automatic identification system (AIS). On top of that we’re increasing the number of sensors, including an IFF [identification, friend or foe] interrogator, ESM [electronic support measures], ELINT [electronic intelligence], COMINT [communications intelligence], an acoustic processing system, MAD [magnetic anomaly detector] and different tactical data links just for defence applications.” The aircraft’s mission equipment installation is therefore a modular concept, with a multi-mission radar, electro-optical
C295 MARITIME PATROL AIRCRAFT MILITARY turret and AIS forming the ‘baseline’ for maritime patrol operations. Other sensors – like the MAD, acoustic processor and sonobuoys for the detection of submarines – are added according to customer requirements. Ciria explains: “We can include other equipment such as ESM and ELINT for additional sources of surveillance and for the correlation of information from the other sensors. But there isn’t an ‘A’ or ‘B’ version of the C295MPA as such. The ASW version has additional sensors to those used for maritime surveillance or maritime patrol. “We have two product lines. One is the palletised system, which provides flexibility for operators who also have requirements for a military transport aircraft. And we have 2 1 The Mk 46 torpedo is the C295MPA’s principal anti-submarine warfare weapon. 2 The MBDA Marte specific versions, mainly for ASW or ground Mk 2/S anti-ship missile was first carried by the C295MPA in 2013. 3 Winglets on the C295W offer a surveillance. 3% to 6% improvement in overall fuel consumption over the baseline aircraft. Nigel Pittaway “At the moment we consider the ASW “The new generation includes new flexibility in terms of having very modular configuration is mature and we’re looking at hardware and a larger display screen at each software. It was a very ambitious target at other applications like ground surveillance, workstation for the operators,” says Ciria. the time, but it now facilitates integration with specific equipment for detection and “They are 20in [50.8cm] full-tactile displays of new sensors or new models of sensors, tracking of ground targets, primarily for border with a human machine interface [HMI] that and provides new HMI functionalities. We patrol – and anti-terrorism and defence as presents more relevant information for the are only modifying some specific software well. And we’re developing the family with different roles performed in the workstations modules and it does not affect the complete SIGINT, ELINT and COMINT concepts and and a better decision-making process for the software package.” countermeasures for this specific application.” operators. Customers have a choice of data links, Open Architecture “We have the flexibility to integrate from an in-house developed system capable Based on an open architecture design that different types and models of sensors for of transmitting target track information and makes maximum use of COTS products, the different customers. One of the things we images through to NATO-compatible Link FITS system is constantly evolving and now decided some years ago in our software 11 and Link 16 equipment. For non-NATO entering its third generation. development was to provide maximum countries or those unable to purchase US
MILITARY C295 MARITIME PATROL AIRCRAFT
equipment because of International Traffic in Arms regulations, the Thales Link Y Mk 2 tactical data link (which Ciria says has the same characteristics but without the sensitive cryptology) has been integrated and is available as an option.
Sensors Airbus Defence and Space does not release details of sensors specified by individual customers, but it is known that Portuguese Air Force C295MPAs are equipped with a suite that includes the Northrop Grumman AN/ APN-241 tactical radar mounted in the nose; and, in a ventral radome, an Elta EL/M-2022 multi-mode airborne maritime surveillance radar which, the service says, can detect up to 1,000 targets and track 250 of them out to a 200nm (370km) range. Other sensors on the Portuguese aircraft include a FLIR Systems Star Safire HD electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) turret and provision for a searchlight mounted under the left wing. A project is under way to add an S&T Airborne Systems MSS 6000 maritime surveillance system (side-looking airborne radar) for maritime pollution monitoring. Meanwhile, CAE Defence and Security has revealed that its AN/ASQ-508 magnetic anomaly detector is integrated on the C295MPA delivered to the Chilean Navy. The range of sensors integrated with FITS on CN235s, P-3s and the C295MPA family includes: • Multi-mission surveillance radar (Elta, Raytheon, Telephonics) • EO-IR turret (FLIR Systems, L-3 Wescam) • Automatic identification system (Saab) • IFF interrogator (Indra) • ESM/ELINT (Indra, Thales) • COMINT (Indra, Thales)
• Acoustic system (SAES) • Magnetic anomaly detector (CAE) Weapons The C295MPA can employ a range of weapons, carried externally, for the ASW and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) roles. Currently the type is flying with two hardpoints, one under each wing, but there is provision for up to six – respectively rated at 800kg (1176lb, mounted inboard), 500kg (1100lb, centre) and 300kg (660lb, outboard). The Chilean Navy currently employs a range of depth charges and the Mk 46 torpedo as the principal ASW weapons, but integration with other arms is under development. These include the MU90 torpedo and the MBDA Marte Mk 2/S antiship missile – the release of the latter (in an inert, instrumented configuration) having been successfully demonstrated during trials in April 2013. “We have conducted the initial analysis for demonstrating the feasibility of the installation of [the] Marte and the rest of the integration activities will be linked to a contractual phase with a customer,” Fernando Ciria says. “We also have the capability [to carry] other types of missiles as well; for instance the MBDA Brimstone has been used for land applications, but it is also specifically designed for the detection and the tracking of small ships and small inflatable boats in the maritime environment. “We have conducted an analysis of the integration and the compatibility of Brimstone together with MBDA. At the moment one of the issues with the development and integration is the cost of the activity.” The Marte configuration will be for up
to four missiles and, if a customer selects Brimstone, up to 12 can be carried. Further weapons are also under consideration, including the BAE Systems Stingray Mod 1 Lightweight Torpedo (LWT) – should the UK select the C295MPA to replace the ASW capability lost with the retirement of the BAe Nimrod MR2 MPA fleet in 2011.
Customers The first customer for the maritime patrol variant of the C295 was the Portuguese Air Force, which placed an order for five along with seven military transport versions in February 2006. Deliveries began in 2008 and the aircraft are currently in service with 502 Squadron ‘Elefantes’ at Montijo Air Base near Lisbon. Chile became the next operator, ordering three ASW-configured aircraft for the Aviación Naval in October 2007. The first successful launch of a Mk 46 torpedo, in May 2010, paved the way for INTA certification of the ASW configuration the following October. The first aircraft was delivered to Chile in April 2011 and today the three are operating with Escuadrón de Exploratión Aeromaritima/VP-1 based at Viña Del Mar near Valparaiso. The Royal Air Force of Oman ordered three C295MPAs, along with five transport variants, in May 2012, deliveries of the latter beginning in late 2013. A further customer has ordered the C295MPA but Airbus Defence and Space declined to provide details; press reports, however, suggest it is the Brazilian Air Force which already operates 12 C295 military transport aircraft, known locally as C-105A Amazonas. The Brazilians are already familiar with the FITS mission system through a recently completed programme to update nine of their Orion fleet to P-3AM standard.
C295 MARITIME PATROL AIRCRAFT MILITARY
Future Sales Fernando Cilia says maritime surveillance is a high priority for countries worldwide and revealed Airbus Defence and Space currently has 30 active campaigns around the world. “We have campaigns in Europe, where there are certain requirements for MPA, and Africa is becoming an important region as well because there are certain areas where there are threats to maritime safety. “We also continue to promote our products in South America and currently there are a number of important campaigns in Asia [where] most of the countries are interested in reinforcing their maritime capacity. Between 40% and 50% of our campaigns are in Asia and we’re at different levels of discussion with countries [there] and on the Indian sub-continent.” Cilia cites Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam as potential customers in the near term. The company 2 demonstrated a Portuguese Air Force 1 Each operator workstation features a 20in (50.8cm) display screen, larger than that in earlier C295s. C295MPA at the Singapore Air Show in 2 The Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) combines information from onboard sensors, different February 2014, where it flew demonstration types of which can be installed depending on customer requirements. flights for the defence ministry and other with a fully integrated tactical mission potential regional customers. UK Submission system and weapons carriage capability. After the show the aircraft continued on to In September 2012 Airbus Military provided The aircraft is capable of deploying and New Zealand and flew typical maritime patrol written evidence to the UK House of transiting rapidly out to long ranges and missions. Commons proposing the C295MPA as a has an endurance of around ten hours. “In New Zealand at the moment they’re solution to the maritime surveillance gap left Airbus Military believes that a C295MPA interested in [acquiring] additional transport by the retirement of the Nimrod MR2 and would offer an affordable and cost-effective and maritime patrol capabilities, which are the cancellation of its successor, the Nimrod solution to providing the long-range currently provided by C-130s and P-3s,” MRA4. MPA cover necessary to protect naval says Ciria. “They’ve asked for information “It is believed that MoD studies concluded deployments and routine surveillance about the availability of assets we can that a medium-sized turboprop maritime operations.” offer them. We consider the C-295 is the patrol aircraft would be the most costThe report quoted the purchase price of a perfect fit for New Zealand, rather than the effective means to ameliorate the MPA gap,” C295MPA as around £50 million, compared CN235. It’s a perfect mix of capabilities, the submission said. “Currently the Airbus to £120m for the Nimrod MRA4 and £150m providing both military transport and Military C295MPA is the only proven off-thefor the Boeing P-8A Poseidon. maritime patrol – and the Portuguese shelf solution in this category. Airbus Defence and Space forecasts a aircraft we took there had that flexible mix “The C295MPA has surface and need for 152 C295MPA aircraft over the of palletised maritime patrol and military underwater sensors comparable to Nimrod, next decade. transport capability.”
TECHNOLOGY AMRC SHEFFIELD 1 Factory 2050 is the next stage in the AMRC’s 2 development. All images AMRC unless stated 2 An artist’s impression of the interior of AMRC’s Factory 2050.
Mark Broadbent reports from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre near Sheffield on how aerospace is revitalising a once strife-torn part of Britain 1
he colliery and coking plant at Orgreave, outside Sheffield in South Yorkshire, gained notoriety 30 years ago when police and miners clashed during one of the most turbulent periods in recent British social history. Today the site is home to the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), a high-tech research and development (R&D) cluster in which aerospace plays a pivotal role. Here in one place is the post-industrial story: niche, high-value engineering providing shoots of renewal from the ground where heavy industry once stood. The AMP’s flagship is the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing,
which undertakes R&D into advanced materials and machining. The park also includes the Nuclear AMRC – which develops technologies for the nuclear energy industry – and the AMRC Diamond Jubilee Knowledge Transfer Centre, a training facility for apprentices. They were joined in January 2014 by the AMRC Training Centre. Meanwhile Rolls-Royce is building a factory to produce turbine blades for its Trent engines. In all there has been more than £100 million of investment in the AMP over the past decade. “There’s a need for what’s the best, quickest, safest, cheapest and greenest way of manufacturing, and that’s our core competency,” AMRC Commercial Director Adrian Allen OBE told AIR International.
Building on the Past It’s all a long way from the ‘Battle of
Orgreave’ between police and miners in 1984. How did the transformation happen? Back in the late 1990s Allen, then an aerospace engineer working as a freelance product and processing consultant, and Sheffield University engineering professor Keith Ridgway hit on the idea of building on the city’s expertise in metals by developing a technology park focused on advanced machining. The underlying aim, he recalled, was simply to “put some hope back into a generation” in an area where 92,000 manufacturing jobs had gone since 1970. After learning that Boeing wanted to invest in centres of excellence for materials R&D, Allen and Ridgway successfully pitched to the American company for funding. Money was also provided for their venture by public bodies and Sheffield University. The centre opened in 2001 in a rented unit near Sheffield City Airport before moving to
AMRC SHEFFIELD TECHNOLOGY
a purpose-built facility at Orgreave in 2004, after extensive works had transformed the landscape where the colliery and coking works once stood. The collaborative approach between business, academia and government paid dividends and in 2008 the AMRC moved into the purpose-built 4,500sq ft (418m2) Rolls-Royce Factory of the Future. The Nuclear AMRC opened in 2012.
Early Progress An early AMRC project was a civil aerospace engine fan disc for Rolls-Royce. AMRC and Rolls-Royce engineers developed a new machining method that reduced cutting time by 95%. The programme helped prove the AMRC’s abilities to the aerospace industry and, over time, more companies arrived. The AMRC worked with Airbus and MessierBugatti-Dowty on improved machining for
undercarriage legs, which led to the latter winning a Boeing contract to manufacture the 787 Dreamliner’s undercarriage. Today more than 70 companies are members of the AMRC, ranging from major aerospace names to local small and medium enterprises (SMEs). There are another 41 companies of all sizes in the AMP.
Advanced Machining AMRC companies pay a membership fee, part of which is used for R&D projects determined by the board of industrial partners. This ensures the AMRC’s work is focused on industrial requirements, and therefore of benefit to the members. The AMRC also works with hundreds of other companies that are part-members of the centre on specific projects or publiclyfunded research. At the heart of the Rolls-Royce Factory of
the Future is a big, airy open-plan workshop featuring an array of advanced machining equipment. Here member companies work with academics and suppliers trialling new tools and processes which, once perfected, can be put into their own factories. The aim is to speed up processes to reduce waste. “It’s about new tools, techniques and technology to help companies take the costs out,” said Allen. Machining R&D is organised into the Process Technology Group, which focuses on reducing time spent machining parts, and the Integrated Manufacturing Group, which looks at speeding up parts production through vision and inspection systems and automated tooling. Member companies can undertake proprietary work into specific projects, but Allen said “a lot of the work we do here, and part of our success, is generic research. No
TECHNOLOGY AMRC SHEFFIELD
1 The Rolls-Royce Factory of the Future, which houses the AMRC’s advanced R&D facilities. 2 The AMRC’s machining R&D room. 3 The AMRC Training Centre’s first intake of apprentices. 4 Adrian Allen, the AMRC’s Commercial Director. 1
one organisation can do it all: it’s got to be a collaborative approach.” The AMRC is also a key player in the SAMULET (Strategic Affordable Manufacturing in the UK through Leading Environmental Technology) programme, a joint government-industry venture aimed at boosting R&D in advanced 2
manufacturing. Industry is contributing £40 million and the government £25 million via the Technology Strategy Board’s HVM (High-Value Manufacturing) Catapult initiative, which aims to boost innovation in UK manufacturing. The AMRC’s work on SAMULET centres on a new automated machining process for manufacturing
engine compressor blades. The AMRC’s research capabilities expanded in 2013 when it acquired the buildings and assets of Castings Technology International (CTI) and Titanium Castings UK, including their ongoing research work and commercial contracts. This new string to the AMRC’s bow enables
AMRC SHEFFIELD TECHNOLOGY
it to offer advanced castings technologies to its industrial partners.
Composites The AMRC is also involved with composites. In 2012 the Factory of the Future created a Composites Centre where members conduct R&D into this emerging area. As with metals, the focus of the research is on speeding up production. Using robots, automated filament winding, tape-placing and fibre-laying are among the Composites Centre’s projects. Filament winding involves taking a mould and weaving carbon fibre filaments around it, a process that involves the AMRC working with companies from the textiles industry – an intriguing example of old industry blending with new. The AMRC is part of the UK’s National Composites Network alongside Airbus, GKN and academic research organisations. Allen explained: “We’re working with industrial partners on some quite far-reaching composites work, but I can’t say anything more than that.” Another major composites research area is what he calls the “harmonisation of composites and metallics” – hybrid structures made from both types of material, offering the best of both worlds. The AMRC is also researching composite baking processes, like autoclave and microwave curing, and the design of new tools and cutting techniques. A new
automated gearbox system for rapid drilling of holes in hybrid metal/composite structures is among the innovations: metals and composites need different drilling speeds – slow for metals, fast for composites – but the AMRC’s engineers created a system that can quickly switch between the two. The gearbox features combined two and seven-stage gear trains and a one-way clutch. This means a change of drilling direction automatically causes a change of mode, the tool operating at both low and
high speeds – and therefore capable of cutting metals and composites in the same operation.
Testing Complementing the R&D work is an on-site validation and testing facility, the AMRC Advanced Structural Testing Centre (ASTC), housed in the AMRC’s original building. Phil Spiers, who heads up the ASTC, explained that the centre’s activities range from basic coupon testing, which determines 4
TECHNOLOGY AMRC SHEFFIELD
the tensile properties of a material, through to full testing of a part, including bending and torsion. “With a new cutting method we look at how it will impact on the structural integrity,” he said. “We find out the strength and fatigue properties and the strains and deflections they will face.” Rigs are created for tests, with the results directly fed back into the research process. The AMRC is currently working with several partners “on many and varied validation projects”, according to Spiers. “A tremendous amount of engineering goes on to certify the product is good, it performs as expected and that if it fails it’s not going to cause any risk to the aircraft. No risk factors are allowed. Certification of an aircraft is done by analysis but that’s validated by physical testing. You’ve got to prove your analysis is correct.” Reflecting the importance of testing, the AMRC has recently refitted the ASTC building to become the larger and more advanced Design Prototyping and Testing Centre. This can produce anything from
basic designs through to pre-production prototypes using visualisation and rapid prototyping equipment. Large components can be tested under stresses of up to 800 tonnes. Allen said having validation facilities onsite is important because it means research is not just undertaken for its own sake and is completely in step with companies’ desire to improve their supply chain and industry safety standards. “Advanced research is a cost to industry. We recognised that compressing the fit-to-fly period would be an advantage for us, so we built-in that capability.”
Fan Blade Casting The AMP is also a manufacturing site. Ten SMEs currently make components at the AMP’s incubator facilities – one is part of the Messier-Bugatti-Dowty supply chain for the Boeing 787 undercarriage. Joining them later this year will be Rolls-Royce with a £40 million, 14,000sq ft (1,300m2) Advanced Blade Casting Facility
making turbine blades for Trent engines. They will be made of a lightweight yet strong and very heat-resistant single-crystal super alloy. A Trent engine has 65 of them, each generating 1,000hp and operating at 12,000rpm. The Casting Facility is scheduled to produce its first blade in late 2014 and will make 100,000 a year when fully up-andrunning, the AMP joining the supply chain of one of the UK’s major aerospace companies. Noting that “Rolls-Royce has a global choice about where to put a factory”, Allen said it’s “a massive accolade” to have the facility and a validation of the expertise built up at the AMP. Some 150 new skilled jobs will be created. The AMRC is meanwhile working in the emerging area of additive layers – ‘growing’ parts by bonding layers of resin or powder together to produce larger, monolithic parts that minimise waste. The centre is also researching how the technology could be moved into other high-value manufacturing sectors such as medicine.
AMRC SHEFFIELD TECHNOLOGY
People The AMRC Training Centre, housed in a 5,500sq ft (510m2) building, provides The latest major development at the AMP The AMP is about people as well as is Factory 2050, which will be the UK’s facilities and products. Masters and PhD training courses for young people including first fully reconfigurable assembly and students from the city’s university and apprenticeships, MA and PhD courses component manufacturing facility for Hallam University are actively involved in and others for continued professional collaborative research. It is expected to its work. Now the AMP is looking to bring development. The AMRC’s first intake of include a range of technologies, including through new generations with its Diamond 150 apprentices began training in October advanced ‘plug-and2013 in temporary play’ robotics, flexible workshops on automation, unmanned the campus and workspace, off-line classrooms in the “A lot of the work we do here, and part of our success, printing in virtual KTC before starting is generic research. No one organisation can do it all: environments, 3D to use the Training printing and manCentre in January. it’s got to be a collaborative approach.” machine interfaces. They will spend Adrian Allen, AMRC Commercial Director Plans for Factory a year learning 2050 were submitted fundamental skills by the University of before completing Sheffield to Sheffield their apprenticeships Jubilee Knowledge Transfer Centre (KTC) City Council at the end of January 2014 and with their employers, which include and the AMRC Training Centre. The a detailed master plan for the entire 50 acres companies such as Rolls-Royce. KTC, opened by the Queen in 2012, is an will be handed to its planning department Thanks to the AMRC’s links with 8,934sq ft (830m2) workshop providing in the spring. In February, the university academia, apprentices can go on to study training and technology demonstrators announced a deal to purchase 50 acres of a foundation degree course at Sheffield in manufacturing, machining and land at Sheffield Business Park (adjacent to or Hallam if they wish. “One of the ways assembly techniques. the current AMP) to build Factory 2050. to attract people and keep them is to show them that they get good jobs,” said Allen. “We’re never going to attract inward investment if we don’t have a workforce.” But there’s a question: won’t more automation in industry actually lead to fewer jobs? Allen responded: “If you can make things more cheaply I think you’ll win ten times more business and you’ll get jobs back.” He added that, even though only a few hundred people are employed directly at the AMP, more jobs have been created through the regional manufacturing chain which supplies parts and from the impact of visitors to the local area. “There’s a realisation that we can’t make every single thing for the rest of the world in Britain – no country can – so we’ve got to look at where we can have a niche. If we can help our partner organisations with an order, it introduces a portion of that product for the home market. All 2 aerospace companies have supply chains and there’s a knock-on effect.” He believes the value of the AMP’s 3 1 Messier-Bugatti-Dowty secured a contract to work will have a truly long-term economic manufacture Boeing 787 undercarriages after impact: “The beautiful thing about undertaking work at the AMRC. Boeing 2 Parts aerospace is that it lays deep roots. made from both composites and metals can be cut with this automated two-speed gearbox deYou’re not going to move a new multiveloped by the AMRC. 3 One of the first projects million pound venture, as Rolls-Royce is at the AMRC was a new machining process for building here, somewhere else. What fan discs. 4 Apprenticeships, masters and PhDs we’re doing here is not going to are all offered at the AMRC Training Centre. evaporate overnight.” 4
TECHNOLOGY SAAB SKELDAR
Saab has designed the Skeldar small tactical unmanned air system for requirements at sea and over land, as Nigel Pittaway reports
amed after the Viking word for shield, the Saab Skeldar is a small vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial system designed to conduct tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations on land or at sea. The current variant is the V-200, which is a development of the V-150 technology demonstrator (itself a derivative of the CybAero APID-55 system) that was unveiled in 2006 at the Eurosatory Land and Airland Defence and Security exhibition in Paris. Up to the time of writing, Saab had not sold the Skeldar to any customers, although the Spanish Navy has already completed one three-month deployment to the Horn of Africa on anti-piracy patrols.
The Aircraft The Skeldar is a modular design that can carry a payload of up to 40kg (88lb) and has an endurance of up to six hours. That makes it a candidate for civil applications such as power-line and pipeline inspections in remote or hostile environments. Saab is marketing the system for these uses as well to militaries. The air vehicle itself is a single-rotor
helicopter with a 4.5m (1ft 8in) diameter and conventional tail rotor. The airframe is 4m (13ft 1in) long and its overall length (including rotors) is 5.2m (17ft 1 in). Its maximum take-off weight is 230kg (507lb). The single engine is a two-cylinder 625cc in-line, twostroke unit manufactured in Germany by Hirth-Motoren and rated at 42.65kW (58hp). Liquid-cooled and with an electric fuel injection and ignition system, the engine is designed to run at a constant 6,100rpm.
Heavy Fuel The Skeldar uses heavy fuel, which Hans Berglund, a former Viggen pilot and major in the Swedish Air Force, and now Director Marketing of Saab’s Tactical UAS in Asia-Pacific, says sets it apart from its competition. “We are the only one in this segment today that operates with a heavy fuel engine,” he told AIR International. “Heavy fuel means that it runs on dieselbased jet fuel, such as Jet A-1, JP-5 or JP-8 and not gasoline, which is highly flammable. It is really a must if you’re going to operate on board a vessel for example.” Saab claims the Skeldar has a service ceiling in excess of 3,000m (9,850ft), a maximum speed greater than 130km/h (70kt) and a mission radius in excess of 100km (62 miles). “When we talk about operational range we must take into consideration the particular line of sight data link equipment
fitted,” Berglund qualified. “If you are flying at a fairly good altitude, over sea for instance, you can get numbers like 150 or 160km [93-99 miles] but of course it depends on the data link system you have.”
Command and Control Saab has separated the dual command and control and the sensor data links for added redundancy. Sensor data is brought off-board by a broadband data link, which can be encrypted or have frequency-hopping features for additional security without interfering with the flight controls. Saab says the dual command and control system can use the UHF, L, C or S bands and the sensor link can be operated with L or S bands. “There are two different links, and the command and control data link is also redundant,” Berglund explained. “There are two links to separate mission data from that which is flight critical. If for some reason you lose your data link, there are features and procedures in the system that you can program in to the system before the mission. You can have the helicopter hover at the position it was in when the link was lost, it can climb to try to regain it or return to the position where it last had contact, go to a rally point or even come back to where it took off from. So you will not lose the helicopter because of losing the link. It is redundant, so there would have to be some really major malfunction to
SAAB SKELDAR TECHNOLOGY 1 The rotary-winged Skeldar V-200 has the helicopter’s ability to operate from land and sea, carrying a wide range of sensors for ISR missions. All images Saab Group 2 The Skeldar’s route, altitude and speed can be pre-programmed via the ‘Point and Fly’ system using a laptop and mouse.
lose your data link.” Onboard avionics include the flight management computer, redundant GPS receivers, a redundant inertial navigation system, radar altimeter and an air data sensing system. The mission payload suite can be a range of commercial off-theshelf products and Saab claims the open architecture design of the Skeldar system will permit rapid integration of future payloads.
Payloads The manufacturer says that sensor equipment currently available includes electro-optical and infrared gimballed turrets, weighing between 2kg and 20kg (4.4 to 44lb) each, synthetic aperture radar, ground moving target indicator, Saab Electronic Surveillance Payload, an AIS transponder, searchlight and/or megaphone and cargo hook. Smaller payload sensors can either be mounted under the nose of the helicopter, but the main location is under the centre of the airframe, with a payload adaptor plate mounted on a rail system to optimise Skeldar’s centre of gravity and/or sensor field of regard. Skeldar’s 28-volt DC electrical system provides up to one kilowatt of power for payload use, through MIL-DTL-38999 connectors. The UAS Control Station (UCS) is STANAG 4586-compliant and is at the core of the Skeldar, which can be a stand-alone system or integrated into the Combat Management
System (CMS) of a warship. The operator can either set the Skeldar’s route by using the laptop mouse pointing to preprogrammed waypoints or an appropriate ingress point to the target and selecting airspeed and altitude – dubbed ‘Point and Fly’ by Saab. During its pre-programmed surveillance profile, the operator can investigate multiple targets of interest quickly by clicking on a digital map, known as ‘Point and See’.
Multi-Sensor Intelligence In May, Saab announced that it had integrated its Multi-Sensor Intelligence Cell (MSIC) used for Swedish fixed-wing UAV operations in Afghanistan with Skeldar, providing a layer of analysis between the air vehicle and command, control, communication, computers and intelligence systems. “The MSIC has always been able to handle data from multiple ISR sources by acting as a stand-alone intelligence centre,” explained Saab’s Björn Klerestam. “Now we also have a system that enables us to scale up the functionality of MSIC into a more integrated part of a ground control station of a UAS system like Skeldar.” A Skeldar system will comprise two air vehicles, two sensors, a UCS, data links and antennae and minimum personnel required to operate the capability is one operator and one technician, but this can increase to four if
required. The system’s price is dependent on the number of vehicles and the type of sensors and data links specified, the amount of spare parts and the training package requested, but Berglund said a typical system cost would be between $7.5 and $9 million.
At Sea Skeldar can either be brought aboard a ship as a containerised system and operate independently except for electrical power, or it can be operated from a flight deck like a manned helicopter system, with the UCS integrated into the host vessel’s CMS. The ground control station is normally integrated into the CMS on board. The flight-critical command and control computer, which is not much bigger than a large laptop, can be plugged in next to the existing CMS console on a smaller warship, should console use become an issue. “The good thing is that you can actually use the crew you already have on board, train them to be UAV operators or sensor operators when you fly Skeldar and then they are free to perform other tasks when you are not operating it,” Berglund explained. “We have done that with Saab’s 9LV CMS but the open architecture allows us to integrate it with whatever the customer has. So you can use the multi-function displays you have in your CMS console to show UAV and sensor information when you fly Skeldar and then
TECHNOLOGY SAAB SKELDAR
Saab is making improvements to the Skeldar after the difficulties experienced during the 2013 Spanish Navy trial.
switch over to whatever other function may be after the mission. “And with the open architecture you can integrate it into any CMS or combat management system on land or sea. It is also designed so that you can actually upgrade a system without interfering with the flight critical core, so it can be easily upgraded with new payloads and/or new systems. Skeldar can also be containerbased – you can have everything in a container that is lifted aboard the vessel when you’re going to use a UAV and then taken off if you don’t need it and replaced by something else – an underwater unmanned system for example.” An autonomous recovery system enables Skeldar to land back aboard ship up to Sea State 2 (small wavelets with a height of 0.66ft/20cm) but Berglund said Saab is working with Airbus Defence and Space (formerly Astrium) to use six GPS systems positioned around the ship to allow operations up to Sea State 6 in the future. He said: “By communicating between those six GPS’ and the one transmitter/ receiver in the Skeldar air vehicle you can actually measure exactly how the ship is rolling and heaving. [The aircraft] can follow the ship’s movements, hover and then you command ‘land’ and put it down on the deck. A small harpoon then locks it down when it lands.”
On Land For land operations, Saab says Skeldar’s tail section, weighing less than 10kg (22lb), can be detached in less than five minutes, allowing transportation by trailer. The UAV control station can be integrated into almost any ground vehicle; Saab uses a commercial sports utility vehicle equipped with a twostation operator’s console in the rear seat, to support its flight tests in Sweden. A feature of Skeldar, which is equally applicable in the maritime environment, is the ‘Tethering Mode’ during which the air vehicle will maintain a fixed distance and bearing
from a nominated point. “If you have a convoy with the ground control station in one of the vehicles, you can tether the system to that vehicle so it will position itself, say, 3km [1.8 miles] ahead of the convoy and if the convoy stops, Skeldar will stop and hover,” Berglund explained. “Or you can ‘tether’ it to a certain angle or give it a certain airspace you want it to remain within and when it reaches its border you will receive a warning. There are many possibilities, and it is very good for looking for changes since the last time the convoy went down that route, such as looking for improvised explosive devices for example.”
Anti-Piracy Operations Last year was a busy one for the Skeldar. In addition to conducting trials in the desert heat of New Mexico and Utah in the southwestern USA, in July 2013 Saab announced it had signed a contract with an undisclosed customer to deploy the Skeldar UAS for maritime operations. Five months later the company confirmed that the user was the Spanish Navy, which wanted a VTOL UAV capability aboard its Meteoro offshore patrol vessel (OPV) which was deployed to the Gulf of Aden last autumn as part of the European Union’s Operation Atalanta anti-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa. “This was a full turnkey service where we provided the vehicle, the integration, the installation and crew,” Berglund said. He noted that the system was operational in theatre only four months after the contract was signed. Before deployment Saab carried out integration trials off Las Palmas aboard another Spanish OPV, the ESPS Relámpago. The modifications to the Spanish vessels for Skeldar operations were minor and included the placement of a data link antenna on the main mast, the installation of two stand-alone GCS control panels in the Combat Management Centre, and a GCS rack in the ship’s data centre. The deployment was concluded in November, three months ahead of schedule.
The Spanish Navy chief of staff, Almirante General Jaime Muñoz-Delgado, told media representatives in January 2014 that the Skeldar had not met expectations, citing mechanical problems and integration with the ships’ systems. In May, Saab Aeronautics’ Senior Commercial Manager Carl Foucard admitted: “The time schedule from signed contract to start of installation was extremely challenging. Due to Spanish contracting, Saab was required to install our system on the Spanish ship to be deployed for the operation only 14 days after signing the contract, and then the ship left for the mission area. This meant that there was not sufficient time to do all ship/system flight interaction tests before deployment and led to some initial problems which where all resolved during the deployment. The sensor performance was in line with the contractual specification, but was not deemed to be sufficient from the end-user perspective. Also the contract stipulated high availability requirements in an environment that is very hostile to flight operations which led to more wear and tear on motor and rotor systems than usual.”
Improvements Foucard said that the company is developing improvements for the Skeldar to correct some of the shortcomings: “Saab is making continuous product developments to the Skeldar. We have recently integrated new high-capacity data links, significantly increasing the data link range to more than 160km [99 miles] line of sight. We are continuously adding new sensor types to be able to fulfil customer requirements.” In the meantime, Hans Berglund says the Swedish Navy is looking at Skeldar as an option for its Visby-class stealth corvettes. He revealed that Saab has received enquiries from the civil sector, including oil and gas companies involved in pipeline and powerline inspection work as well as search and rescue organisations.
Genera MILITARY SAAB JAS 39E GRIPEN
The Saab JAS 39E Gripen is bringing expanded capabilities to the Swedish fighter family, reports Nigel Pittaway
n December 18, 2013 it was a redletter day for Saab’s JAS 39E Gripen programme, with the announcements that a series production order had been received from the Swedish government, and that the type had won Brazil’s long-running F-X2 fighter competition. These developments doubled the number of countries committed to the JAS 39E, previously known as the Gripen Next Generation (NG), and importantly, will take Gripen production into the next decade even if no further orders are won – something that several other fighter manufacturers will envy as they contemplate their future production. Designed to have aerodynamic performance akin to the JAS 39C/D but with longer range, more weapons, updated sensors and a lower radar signature, the Gripen E is due to enter service with the Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force) in 2018. However, it’s much more than a paper aeroplane: many of its sensors and subsystems have already flown aboard a dedicated technology demonstrator, and the first of three flight test aircraft is already in production at Saab’s Linköping factory. Saab certainly sees opportunities for further sales of the JAS 39E/F in Europe, North and South America, and Asia-Pacific.
Smaller Fighter Fleet The end of the Cold War heralded change throughout Western Europe and defence budgets were slashed as
The Gripen E will be able to carry a greater selection of ordnance than the current version. Katsuhiko Tokunaga/Saab
MILITARY SAAB JAS 39E GRIPEN
Interoperability The Gripen E was designed from the outset to be fully interoperable with western aircraft and systems. Saab began development of the Gripen NG concept in 2006 and modified a two-seat JAS 39D (39-7, ex-Fv39803) into a technology demonstrator. This jet made its first flight in May 2008, and over the past six years has explored the baseline JAS 39E configuration by conducting an ongoing programme of risk-reduction and development. In 2012, the Swedish Armed Forces recommended the Gripen E configuration to the Swedish government, with a requirement for between 60 and 80 aircraft. “Gripen E was the preferable alternative due to the requested [sufficient] operational effect and its procurement and operational [life-cycle] costs,” explained Major General Micael Bydén, Chief of Staff, Swedish Air Force, in early 2014.
Contracts In mid-February 2013, Saab received funding from Sweden’s Försvarets materielverk (FMV, Defence Materiel Organisation) for development work throughout 2013 and 2014, ahead of a contract to convert 60 Flygvapnet JAS 39Cs to JAS 39E configuration at a later date. The 16.4 billion Swedish krona series production order followed on December 18, 2013 with initial deliveries to commence in 2018. The Flygvapnet will receive the first three Gripen
Es in the second quarter of 2018, with two aircraft to follow in 2019, three in 2020, and the remainder from 2021 onwards. In early April 2014, the Swedish Defence Minister, Karin Enström, told local media that she thought a further ten Gripen Es should be acquired for the Swedish Air Force, citing the crisis in Ukraine, and Moscow’s reversion to overt military probing of Swedish territory. “Russia’s actions in and around Ukraine have led to uncertainty in Europe. What happened in the past has made it really necessary to strengthen Sweden’s defence,” she told Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper on April 4.
Swiss Rejection In November 2011, the Swiss Parliament announced a commitment to buy 22 Gripen Es in a 3.126 billion Swiss francs ($3.5 billion) deal. The plan was for these aircraft to be delivered in batches from mid-2018 onwards, with the Swiss Air Force leasing eight JAS 39Cs and three JAS 39Ds from 2016 as a lead-in to operating the Es. In a national referendum held on May 18, 2014, though, 53.4% of Swiss voters rejected the planned purchase of the 22 Gripen Es. “We respect the process in Switzerland and do not comment on the outcome of the referendum,” said Saab President and CEO, Håkan Buskhe. In a statement, the company added that the Swiss Industrial Participation programme, which was created in relation to the Gripen E procurement and involves over 500 contracts with 125 Swiss businesses, “will be honoured, subject to their terms and conditions”.
Danish Aviation Photo/AirTeamImages
countries hurried to reap the so-called ‘peace dividend’. Sweden, which had always invested in developing its military in order to maintain its neutrality, was no different. Its air force had 20 fighter squadrons in the early 1990s; it has just four today. The number of permanent bases fell as units disbanded. There are now just two fighter wings, F17 at Ronneby in southern Sweden and F21 at Luleå in the north, supported by the Gripen Training Centre (Gripencentrum) at Såtenäs. With fewer aircraft and bases spread far apart, the need for a fighter with longer range and greater combat persistence, yet with lower life-cycle costs, became increasingly apparent through the 1990s and early 2000s. Coupled with a realignment of Swedish policy, which led to Swedish Gripens taking part in NATO-led operations such as the Libyan campaign in 2011 and international exercise ‘Red Flag’, there was a need for interoperability. This resulted in the decision to develop a new version of the fighter.
This decision means the Gripen E programme is now focused on the development and production of the aircraft for Sweden (with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2018) and the finalisation of the deal in Brazil. Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, announced on December 18, 2013 her government had selected the Gripen as the winner of its F-X2 fighter competition to find a new aircraft to succeed the Brazilian Air Force’s now-retired Dassault Mirage 2000s. It signed two agreements with the Swedish government in April 2014, covering further defence co-operation and the transfer and protection of sensitive information associated with the Gripen purchase. Saab says it’s hopeful of finalising the contract this year. The Brazilian Air Force wants the JAS 39F,
the two-seat variant of the E, and negotiations are underway, not only with regard to Brazil’s role in developing that variant but also on local production – it’s planned that Brazilian aerospace companies will build a yet-tobe-determined number of the Gripens. Discussions are also being conducted to allow Brazil the right to market the type across South America, as well as developing nations with which it has a close relationship. A lease of ten JAS 39C/Ds will provide an interim solution between 2016 and 2018.
Beyond the Brazilian contract, Saab’s Regional Director for the Asia-Pacific region, Sam Olnén, predicts between 300 and 450 Gripens sales over the next decade, representing 10% of the accessible market. “Of all the campaigns we have chosen to take part in, we have actually won about 50%,” he said. He added that Europe represented a huge potential market, naming Belgium, Denmark, Croatia and Slovakia as near-term possibilities. Slovakia has a requirement to replace its Mikoyan MiG-29s, which Olnén claims cost around $30,000 per flying hour to operate. A similar situation exists in Malaysia, which has a Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) competition to replace 16 MiG-29N/NUBs, of which only a handful are serviceable, but it has been delayed by a lack of funding. “We have offered an interim lease solution of 16 Gripen C/D in Malaysia, similar to those in the Czech Republic and Hungary,”
SAAB JAS 39E GRIPEN MILITARY
GRIPENS AT RED FLAG Early last year the Swedish Air Force sent eight single-seat JAS 39C Gripens to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to participate in Red Flag 13-2. The deployment, led by Colonel Gabor Nagy from F17 at Ronneby, joined combat aircraft from the United States, the Netherlands, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates in the exercise, held between January 21 and February 1, 2013. In total, 119 aircraft and 2,700 personnel participated in the two-week exercise. “Being offered to exercise with the best, and in tough circumstances, is invaluable for our capability development,” Colonel Nagy said during the exercise. “My judgement is that after Libya, participating in Red Flag is one of the greatest challenges the Swedish Air Force has experienced.” The Gripens flew their first familiarisation flight in the Red Flag training area on January 18, and launched a four-ship mission as part of a larger package the following Monday morning. Major General Micael Bydén, Chief of Staff of the Swedish Air Force, said that only three sorties of the 114 that the Gripen deployment was tasked with during the exercise, were cancelled due to technical problems. Of the 114 taskings, a further six were cancelled due to weather and six by the US Air Force. Therefore, the Gripen detachment flew 99 sorties out of 102, demonstrating a 97% reliability rate. During the Red Flag missions, the Swedish deployment dropped 12 GBU-12 and five GBU-49 weapons and expended 2,000 rounds of 27mm cannon. Major General Bydén said that the Gripen C demonstrated, “reliability, maintainability, interoperability [using Link 16 and compatible IFF] and – despite its relatively small size – endurance”.
Olnén said. “It is an interim solution because although they have the MRCA programme, their Prime Minister came out and said that they have no money right now.”
Asian Opportunities Besides Malaysia, discussions have been held with Brunei (albeit not in the last two years), Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand (already a JAS 39C/D operator), and Vietnam. Olnén explained: “Thailand has said officially that they want another six [C/D] aircraft, but considering what’s happening there right now [political instability], not much is happening on any front. In Indonesia, although we haven’t seen a request for proposals, we have had discussions with the Indonesian Air Force. It wouldn’t be a lease, but a purchase deal. “The Philippines is interesting. We actually received a request to submit an offer, but the problem is that they haven’t really had an air force for some years and today don’t have a jet fighter. So I think it’s a long-term opportunity.” He also identified Chile, Colombia and Mexico as near-term opportunities, as each country has a requirement to modernise its fighter fleet.
Differences Although it looks very similar to the JAS 39C, the Gripen E is a completely new aircraft, with a number of airframe and engine differences (see panel). Only a handful of components are reusable in the conversion from one to the other. The E will be slightly larger than the JAS 39C and the maximum
take-off weight (MTOW) and maximum landing weight are higher, but the new engine produces more thrust which means a significantly increased maximum payload. Despite the larger size, Saab claims the Gripen E will have an airframe weight/MTOW ratio of less than 20%, compared to 21% for the JAS 39C and 23% for the earlier JAS 39A. The ratio between airframe weight and design weight has reduced from 33% for the Gripen C to 26.4%. Besides performance and endurance, one of the requirements with the Gripen E is a reduction in its life-cycle costs over the JAS 39C/D, which Saab claims costs between $7,000 and $8,000 per hour to operate. It says cost savings for the E have begun already, with the use of Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) in the design and development process. This MBSE has the potential to reduce engineering risk through early validation, facilitate concurrent engineering (using the same models through the life cycle), and permit faster updates through the use of computer modelling instead of traditional paper drawings.
Avionics The Gripen E’s cockpit features three large 3D multi-function displays and a digital head-up display. The avionics architecture is based on the ARINC-653 standard, enabling separation of flight-critical and mission systems applications within the same computer. The navigation system has GPS jam resistance features and the communications suite
GRIPEN E SPECIFICATIONS Length (overall): 15.2m (49ft 10in) Width (overall): 8.6m (28ft 3in) Basic mass empty: 7,800kg (17,196lbs) Internal fuel: 3,400kg (7,495lbs) Max Take-Off Weight: 16,500 kg (36,376lbs) Max thrust: 98kN (22,000 lbs) Min take-off distance: 500m (1,640 ft) Landing distance: 600m (1,968ft) Max speed at sea level: 1,400km/h (756kt) Max speed at high altitude: Mach 2 Supercruise capability: demonstrated to Mach 1.2 Max service altitude: 16,000m (52,250ft) Ferry range: 4,000 km (2,485.5 miles) G-limits: -3G / +9G Hardpoints: ten Combat turnaround air-to-air: 10 min
Full engine replacement: 1 hour
1 1 An artist’s impression of a Gripen E firing a Meteor BVRAAM. Saab 2 Saab hopes the Brazilian government will finalise its agreement for Gripens this year. Saab
SAAB JAS 39E GRIPEN MILITARY includes dual radios (plain and encrypted voice) and a dedicated radio for data. As with the Gripen C/D, the E can be fitted with the Swedish Tactical Data Link, Link 16, or both. Saab says a sovereign data link system, such as the ‘T-Link’ used in Royal Thai Air Force Gripens, can also be integrated if required. It adds that the E will have an enhanced human-machine interface, including a re-designed Decision Support System that gathers information from all sensors, fuses it and supplies the pilot with an accurate and cohesive ‘picture’.
Sensors The heart of the E’s sensor system is the Selex ES Raven ES 05 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, mounted on a swashplate that, according to Saab, significantly increases the scan volume (with a field of view of 100°) over a fixed AESA radar. The aircraft will also have the Selex ES Skyward G infrared search and track system. Aircraft 39-7 tested this system in March 2014 to verify its function and integration into the Gripen E architecture. Saab reports that development is progressing to schedule.
“The first flight of Gripen E test aircraft [39-7] with infrared search and track has been performed with very good results,” said Saab’s Wing Commander Flying, Hans Einerth, after the conclusion of testing in early April. “Multiple targets were detected, tracked and identified and the system works perfectly, as expected.” The identification friend or foe (IFF) system is also provided by Selex ES and comprises the smaller, lighter Mk XIIA transponder and Active E Scan interrogator subsystem.
The system’s steerable array antennas (one forward and two side arrays) have been successfully ground tested on a full scale Gripen E mock-up.
Countermeasures The electronic warfare suite is known as the Multifunction System Electronic Warfare and replaces the EWS 39 system on the Gripen C/D, but has the same basic functions. It comprises a radar warning receiver (RWR), electronic countermeasures (ECM), electro-mechanical and pyrotechnic countermeasures dispensers, and a missile approach warning (MAW) system. “The RWR and ECM systems are Saab products but have no specific sub-system designation as they are fully integrated elements of the aircraft and not separate products,” said a Saab spokesperson. “The RWR/ECM combination is formally known as the EWCS M [Electronic Warfare Core System-Multifunction].”
The Gripen C/D has four fuselage-mounted Saab BOP-D dispensers, with three launching upwards and one downwards. Saab says the intention for Gripen E is to replace these with the new, lightweight BOP-L, which has been developed but for which no formal contract exists. Saab’s BOL-739 dispenser, which is a version of the existing BOL-700 range, has been specifically developed for Gripen E and will be fitted to all pylons. The MAW system in the baseline Swedish Gripen E is an Airbus Defence and Space (formerly Cassidian Optronics) product which incorporates the Elisra PAWS-2 sensor, but Saab says alternative systems will be integrated at customer’s request. A BAE Systems Cobra Helmet Mounted Display system, developed for the Gripen C/D
and in use in South Africa, is available as an option. Targeting pods integrated on the Gripen family so far, and also available to Gripen E/F customers, are Rafael’s Litening III and RecceLite, and Thales Optronics Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pod. Saab is now looking to integrate the Litening G4.
Weapons In the air-to-ground role, the JAS 39E is capable of deploying unguided Mk 82, Mk 83 and Mk 84 bombs, GBU-10/12/16 laser-guided bombs and GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway IIs. Work is progressing on integrating the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb onto the Gripen C/D, and these will be baseline weapons for Sweden’s Gripen Es. Four GBU-39s can be carried on each Cobham BRU-61/A bomb carriage system. Surface attack missiles include the Saab RBS15F ER, an updated version of the weapon used on earlier Gripens, and the MBDA Taurus KEPD 350 long-range precision strike missile. Studies are underway to integrate the MBDA
MILITARY SAAB JAS 39E GRIPEN
Dual Mode Brimstone ground attack missile as a successor to the AGM-65 Maverick, which is integrated with JAS 39C/D. A Mauser BK27 27mm internal cannon is available for both air-to-ground and air-to-air missions. For the latter, the Gripen E will be able to carry the Diehl Defence IRIS-T shortrange infra-red missile or the Raytheon AIM9 Sidewinder, the MBDA ramjet-powered Meteor (which will be the baseline Swedish beyond visual range weapon), Raytheon’s AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Airto-Air Missile (AMRAAM), Denel’s A-Darter V3E and R-Darter V4, the MBDA AIM-132 Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile, and Rafael’s Python and Derby series.
Production As of May 2014, parts for two of the three flight test aircraft (aircraft 39-8 and 39-9) and the static test example (39-083) were in production, with airframe assembly of the first aircraft underway. The assembly of the third flight test airframe (39-10) is set to begin early next year, when 38-8 will fly and start testing the airframe and flight control system. Aircraft 39-9 will fly in early
2016 and test tactical systems, and 39-10, which will fly in early 2017, will be the near production-standard JAS 39E. The complete certification process will begin in late 2017 and continue into the early part of 2021. By early April, the Gripen E Technology Demonstrator (39-7) had flown 300 flights and logged 260 flying hours since its first flight on May 27, 2008. During that time it has flown to Mach 1.6, supercruised at Mach 1.2, and performed customer demonstrations in India (including Leh air base at an altitude of almost 11,000ft/3,352m) and Switzerland. The aircraft has many of the Gripen E’s structural features, including the repositioned main landing gear, but its avionics are not representative of the production aircraft. However, Saab can ‘decouple’ the front and rear cockpits, enabling the developmental work to be removed, installed and/or modified without affecting critical flight safety software or equipment.
Flying 39-7 To gain an appreciation of Gripen E’s capabilities, AIR International spoke with Saab Experimental Test Pilot, Jonas Jakobsson, about his experiences to date.
“This aircraft is like two aircraft in one,” he said. “The rear seat is where we put all the new systems, which are more focused on the demonstration of the new capabilities which might end up in the Gripen NG, and divide it in such a way that that doesn’t really affect the airworthiness of the aircraft. “We can change systems much quicker than we could in the older aircraft. That’s actually mirroring the architecture design of Gripen NG, where we take everything airworthiness-related and put it into one core, and place tactical systems in another core. They communicate, but the tactical system doesn’t affect airworthiness.” From a performance point of view, Jakobsson predicts the Gripen E will be very similar to the existing JAS 39C/D, but with the benefits of longer range and greater payload. “Performance-wise there is one addition and that’s the super-cruise capability. There’s a standard load used when you define supercruise performance and it’s an air-toair configuration,” he summarised. “So as a pilot I don’t expect it to be a rocket-ship. We expect it to be at least as good as the older Gripen, but it’s going to have much longer legs and stronger arms.”
Survivability With a MAWS fully integrated into the EW suite, Jakobsson said that the Gripen E will be more survivable than older aircraft. He explained: “The EW system has manual, semi-automatic or automatic modes. Generally on take-off you will have the system in manual because you don’t want to start shooting chaff and flares. “When you enter the threat area you have two choices. In a super-dense defence area where you have to focus on a really low-level penetration to avoid radars, I would set it to automatic because I want to focus on head-up flying and on my attack. The other option is to select semi-automatic, if I don’t want the
EVOLVED GRIPEN REAR FUSELAGE The rear fuselage has been re-designed to accept the General Electric F414 engine and the change from dual nose-wheels to a single unit, permitting operations from runways fitted with airfield arrestor cables.
PYLONS The relocation of the main landing gear further outboard has enabled two more weapons pylons to be added, bringing the total to seven, plus the two wingtip missile rails. As with earlier Gripens, a further pylon on the right engine intake permits carriage of a target designator pod without sacrificing a weapons station. All pylons have MIL-STD-1760E interface and the inner wing and centreline fuselage points can carry up to three external tanks.
ENGINE The Volvo RM12 (F404-GE-402) engine in the earlier Gripen has been replaced by the General Electric F414-GE-39E, a version of that used in the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Adaptations for the Gripen include changes to the full authority digital engine control system to meet Swedish requirements, and interface modifications. The new engine increases available thrust in the afterburner to 22,000lbs (98kN), from the RM12’s 17,700lbs (78.7kN). The Gripen E will also be able to supercruise – flying at a sustained speed of Mach 1.2 without afterburner.
LANDING GEAR One major change is the relocation of the main landing gear outboard, from the fuselage into the wings. Together with redesigned centre fuselage frames, which extend from one inboard wing weapons pylon to the other, this has increased internal fuel capacity by approximately 1,100kg (2,425lbs), or 40%, over the Gripen C.
SAAB JAS 39E GRIPEN MILITARY
system to start emitting. I want to have 100% control because I want to be as stealthy as possible in there. The system will suggest countermeasures and I can choose to accept if I want to. There are also sub-modes, so I can tell it to go into automatic as soon as I accept a countermeasure, or I can keep it in semiautomatic mode.”
Meteor Missile Jakobsson says the Meteor missile will be a game-changer in air combat. “With a missile like AMRAAM, the standard procedure is to shoot chaff and flares and descend,” he explained. “You always want to descend as much as possible in an air-to-air scenario, because a traditional beyond visual range
missile thrives on thin air. If you go high you increase its range, so you descend and manoeuvre. The AMRAAM is rocket powered and the motor only burns for between five and ten seconds then it coasts for quite a long time, which means it loses energy all the way. It always aims in front of you, so if you force it to keep turning really hard it bleeds off its energy. It suffers really badly, so beating an AMRAAM is actually pretty easy.” The Meteor, he says, is very different, and he gave a personal example of some modelling done at the Swedish Air Force Air Combat Training School in Stockholm. “We used to use AMRAAM as the model in our air warfare training and so the guys knew how to fly the opposing aircraft to defeat it. I was
doing a study to determine if it was worth continuing to invest in the Meteor project,” he recalled. “We modelled Meteor and one of the pilots from the centre said, ‘okay, I can outfly anything, just shoot it at me and I’ll show you how to do it’. “He performed his standard manoeuvre and, ‘wham’, not a chance! That’s because the Meteor’s ramjet burns all the way until impact. It actually throttles, so it calculates the impact point and throttles down to Mach 2, or whatever, to save fuel, and just before hitting it throttles up to really, really hit you hard. If you shoot that missile in the correct way you can’t outfly it. They’re going to change the balance totally; I don’t think anyone would want to meet them.” Aleksi Hamalainen/AirTeamImages
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The AW101 is set to bring modern technologies to Norway’s demanding search and rescue operations, as Ian Harding finds out
uring the evolutionary cycle of a major product, pivotal events often occur which re-define or provide new momentum for the next phase of its development. We may be witnessing another following Norway’s
AGUSTAWESTLAND AW101 MILITARY into this landmark decision as well as the design features of this latest AW101 variant.
AW101 Evolution The latest-generation AW101 (known as the Merlin by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force) has developed so significantly during recent years that the inside is barely recognisable from the HAS1 (later HM1) variant first delivered to the Royal
Navy in 1999. The investment made by AgustaWestland in the platform’s design and development in providing more powerful engines, advanced main rotor blade technology, an up-rated tail rotor, new cockpit displays and mission systems, which started during the 2000s with the Royal Navy’s HM2 and the US Presidential VXX programme, is now paying dividends. AgustaWestland and Lockheed Martin
All images AgustaWestland unless stated.
recent selection of the AgustaWestland AW101 to meet its search and rescue (SAR) requirements. The combination of terrain, weather and the nature of the service they provide, make Norway’s SAR assignment one of the toughest in the world; little wonder the aviation world took notice when Norway reached its decision to award AgustaWestland (AW) this important contract. AIR International recently gained some insight
w SAR Force AI.07.14
MILITARY AGUSTAWESTLAND AW101
1 The AW101’s in-built cabin flexibility supports the diverse range of missions anticipated once in service. 2 Stretcher and passenger capacity is significantly greater for the AW101 which will prove vital during emergency evacuations for up to 54 persons. 3 One cabin configuration option is to carry more than one critically ill patient in a treatment area that can be compartmentalised. The stretcher layout provides sufficient room for two plus a full range of medical equipment with room for easy access. The AW101 can be quickly re-roled and equipment can be removed and replaced with seats of equipment. 1
were selected to provide the replacement for the US Presidential Marine One helicopter fleet with a variant of the AW101 (designated VH-71 Kestrel). The programme was cancelled in 2009, due primarily to cost overruns and political pressure, but the challenge created by its requirements and the resultant technical developments changed the helicopter’s baseline specifications, helping to create the modern AW101 and secure the type’s future. In every respect the AW101 now available to a diverse range of global customers requiring SAR, combat search and rescue (CSAR), maritime and very, very important person (VVIP) capabilities, plus those being materially upgraded for the Royal Navy, is a very modern platform. Tried and tested in the most demanding operational environments, the AW101 is proving itself an accomplished performer with the experience, maturity, mission systems and versatility necessary to ensure it can meet customers’ future battlefield, amphibious and utility requirements. The latest AW101 variant has almost unrivalled multi-role capability in its class.
NAWSARH Contract On December 19, 2013, following almost two years of competitive assessment, the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MoJ) announced it had awarded AgustaWestland a contract for 16 AW101 (Mk 612) helicopters (including an option for six further aircraft) plus customised
support and training for 15 years valued at approximately £1 billion (€1.15 billion), to meet the Norwegian All Weather SAR Helicopter (NAWSARH) requirement. These aircraft will replace the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF)’s 12 Westland Sea King Mk 43B helicopters which have served with 330 Squadron (Norway’s dedicated SAR and air ambulance squadron) since 1972 and which have rescued over 33,000 people. Norway has operated Sea Kings for over 40 years at 15 minutes’ notice, 24/7. All aircraft are scheduled for delivery between 2017 and 2020 and current intentions are to stand-up AW101 operations at each of its six SAR bases every six months. Norway’s AW101 will be equipped with an advanced SAR equipment package including a multi-panel AESA (active electronically scanned array) surveillance radar system from Selex ES that provides 360° coverage, a 4-axis digital Automatic Flight Control System (d-AFCS), two rescue hoists, a searchlight, an electro optical device and a fully integrated avionics and mission system. Following the award of the contract Norway’s Minister of Justice and Public Security, Anders Anundsen, confirmed his pleasure in signing the contract for their new rescue helicopters, saying: “This ensures a significantly improved safety for people at sea, along the coast and in remote areas around the country. The new helicopters will
be able to rescue significantly more people in distress, be noticeably faster and with longer range than today – under virtually all weather conditions. Additionally, search capability and the possibility for medical treatment are significantly improved.”
SAR Base Structure Norway`s geography confirms the scale of the unique environmental challenges it faces providing SAR facilities for its population and other countries within and outside its maritime borders. From north to south Norway measures approximately 1,125 miles (1,800km) and to ensure full coverage (almost all of Norway can be reached within 90 minutes from one of its bases) 330 Squadron deploys Sea King helicopters and personnel permanently to six bases: Banak, Bodø, Florø, Sola (Stavanger) and Ørland on the Atlantic coast and Rygge on the Skagerrak coast. To meet all extended SAR call-outs, Norwegian aircrews perform Hover-In-Flight Refuelling (HIFR) from any location where fuel is available such as an oil rig or a ship. This procedure requires air crew to lift a fuel line from the ship`s deck using the helicopter’s rescue hoist and connecting it to the helicopter’s pressure refuel point – imaginative and simple!
Norway’s Challenge Unlike the UK Norwegian SAR is still undertaken by the air force although the
AGUSTAWESTLAND AW101 MILITARY contract itself, including its funding, is managed and administered by the Norwegian MoJ who came to the negotiating table with a clear vision of how their future SAR helicopter should perform. Their Statement of Operating Intent (SOI) setting out their operational requirements (including SAR, firefighting, environmental protection, missions of public interest and emergency/disaster relief) was extremely challenging and AgustaWestland put forward a very competitive and robust tender which ultimately proved successful. Norwegians are very proud of their highly visible Sea King helicopters and the service
these aircraft from the outset. One aircraft will be available 24/7 on 15-minute alert whilst others will be in maintenance or ready to go if needed. AgustaWestland now has to demonstrate it can achieve such high expectations, as James Griffin, AgustaWestland’s Senior Sales Engineer with over ten years AW101 experience, outlined: “We will have to thoroughly understand what the spares requirement is at each base and try to work out exactly how quickly we can, for example, get a rotor blade to a specific location from Oslo to Rygge or Sola when there are no roads or vehicle supply route and
process immediately after the company was confirmed as the preferred bidder. The platform’s evolution had already ensured it was positioned and ready to respond to Norway’s specific requirements, which look set to move the AW101’s evolutionary process forward even further. From the programme’s perspective, Norway will be keen to extract the maximum possible from it which can only be good news for the AW101, as Griffin explained. “Norway`s SOI incorporated a significant number of specific mission requirements,” he said. “It was an extremely comprehensive document explaining clearly what their expectations were for the service, how they expected it to perform, what mission systems and equipment were required, what the crew concept is, where they want to fly, the type of environment etc. We were left in no doubt what capabilities they needed. Their vision is to rescue 20 people in distress at sea at least 150nm [278km] from what they call the ‘straight base line’ [an average line drawn around the coast] and return safely to land. However, they ultimately need the AW101 to have the capability to fly to the limit of their national boundary [360nm; 667km], pick up two people; typical hover time is approximately two to five minutes per person, and return to base or a location where the helicopter can be refuelled. Weather conditions will obviously play a major part but their rescue premise was one person at a time although the aircraft can obviously achieve three person lifts if required in an emergency.” To support other operational requirements like firefighting, the AW101 will be cleared to carry firefighters and their equipment which 2 will include six or more firefighting containers positioned close to the rescue station for 3 rapid deployment to a ship/ground via the hoist. “Firefighting and passenger rescue from a tourist ferry represent the scale of mission Norway is preparing for,” Griffin said. “Range extension was an important consideration. The AW101`s typical range is 750nm [1,389km] which can be extended to 900nm [1,667km] in SAR configuration using internal auxiliary fuel tanks. Other options for extending range include using the AW101 two-engine cruise capability and HIFR.”
they provide. A major challenge for the company, therefore, will be to ensure their new AW101 continues this and meets Norway`s higher level of aircraft service availability set at 99%. Norway will have two aircraft at each SAR base permanently on SAR duty and AgustaWestland, along with its industrial partners, will be involved in the support of
perhaps only one flight per day. Do we need to re-position blades for example at locations? We may have to do this. Guaranteeing 99% availability represents a real challenge but we are confident we can sustain this service level.”
Norway’s Mk 612 AgustaWestland and Norway’s contract managers commenced work on the design
Computer generated images produced by AgustaWestland confirm how impressive Norway’s AW101s will look. Current images show the new AW101 with a similar external paint scheme to the Sea Kings and the same ‘cone’ type nose used by the Royal Danish Air Force and latest Italian Air Force AW101 variants. This will house equipment such as weather radar, various obstacle detection systems and a Selex ES AESA radar, which the company confirms will be a new technology solution evolved from existing fixed and rotary-wing patrol aircraft. Precise details are unavailable at this juncture but AgustaWestland confirmed Norway required this capability system to independently and simultaneously control two radar modes using the same solution (for example weather and search modes) to improve the flight crew`s total situational awareness (SA) during missions in hostile weather conditions. The future system will
MILITARY AGUSTAWESTLAND AW101
enable flight crew to electronically steer the radar beam to obtain radar images (what is outside the helicopter; proximity to mountains for example) which are then compiled with other sensor data to develop a much clearer image of their surrounding flying conditions. To aid this process, improve safety, efficiency and crew confidence especially, Norway’s aircraft will also incorporate the latest in terrain awareness systems (see later). These will enable crews, especially the Mission System Operator (MSO, whose role within the flight crew is, amongst other tasks, to co-ordinate the mission routing, search profile and mange communications with external agencies), to plan each phase of the mission en-route in real time. This
AGUSTAWESTLAND AW101 MILITARY
Other significant improvements provided by the AW101 over the Sea King include a 30kt (55km/h) increase in cruise speed, increased mission range, endurance and survivor capacity and the capability to operate in harsh weather including continuous icing conditions.
represents a huge technology leap forward from the Sea King.
Flight Crew Roles Norway`s six-person SAR flight crew composition is relatively unique comprising two pilots, an MSO, Flight Engineer (who operates the hoist), Rescue Man managing the hoist (who is a trained paramedic) and a doctor. Norway refers to its pilots and the MSO as the ‘flight crew’. However, it is conceivable that ‘crew’ duties will evolve over time in order to take advantage of the mission systems and full capability the AW101 possesses. Within the rear crew layout, the MSO ‘booth’ will be part of an adaptive console design utilised specifically for Norway. In
standard configuration, the rear cabin will have up to two medical stations and six passenger seats but this number can be changed significantly depending on the mission. Rear crew seats will be on a sliding mechanism which will enable them to move back and forth to facilitate search and medical treatment tasks. During rescues with the cabin door open, the Flight Engineer will operate the hoists whilst the MSO will operate the aircraft’s Hover Trim Control (HTC). This system enables the MSO, who is best placed to view the rescue, to manoeuvre and position the aircraft precisely within small parameters independently of the pilot`s flight manoeuvres. The integrated avionics and wireless communications aboard their AW101s will also enhance crew cohesion.
The large cabin space available as a whole (the largest in its class) proved very appealing as it provides greater usable volume (29m3; 1,024cu ft vs 28m3; 898cu ft), floor area (15.3m2; 165sq ft vs 13.94m2; 150sq ft) and width (2.49m; 8.2ft vs 1.98m; 6.5ft) than the Sea King, which is longer and slightly taller. The AW101’s large cabin clearly supports high capacity emergency relief which Norway prepares for, as does its larger cabin door (1.80m; 5.9ft vs 1.73m; 5.7ft) which enhances crew visibility and enables rapid passenger/ aircrew ingress/egress. This comes into its own during a stretcher rescue as there is more room to transition the stretcher in to the cabin from either of the AW101’s two hoists; one fixed, one deployable boom hoist. Stretcher and passenger capacity is
MILITARY AGUSTAWESTLAND AW101 1 uses computer-controlled forces to reduce
the helicopter’s local vibration to very low levels which, in turn, helps to reduce life cycle costs and structural fatigue. It also improves reliability of avionic systems and crew working/passenger comfort (which can aid operational effectiveness), essential for treatment of critically ill patients • Three General Electric CT7-8E engines • Robust 30 minute run dry transmission • Advanced main blade design with BERP III blades • Crashworthy structure, seats and fuel system • Three dedicated visual search stations • Large ingress/egress routes
Total Collision Avoidance System II (TCAS), Obstacle Warning System (OWS), Obstacle Proximity LiDAR System (OPLS-TLM), Automatic Identification System (AIS) TX/ RX tracking capability (which enables the AW101 to transmit and receive AIS data) and three digital maps (these include elevation data which comes into its own flying along a fjord, for example, as it provides elevation data above and below the aircraft) • Four Crew Search Lights plus a TrakkaCorp High Intensity Discharge (HID) search light • Dual electric hoist • The Obstacle Proximity LiDAR System (OPLSTM), launched at Heli-Expo 2014,
significantly greater for the AW101 which will prove vital during emergency evacuations (up to 54 persons potentially) when all available internal space must be utilised. The ramp ‘up’ will add a further 2.66m3 (93.9cu ft). The AW101’s ‘medical’ layout provides the option of carrying and treating more than one critically ill patient in a treatment area that can be compartmentalised. The stretcher layout provides sufficient room for two plus a full range of medical equipment with room for easy access. Norway’s AW101s will have plenty of space to effect a rapid role change to carry additional SAR and firefighting equipment as its future operations evolve. Despite its size, the AW101’s overall ‘footprint’ is not much larger than the Sea King. For example, the location of its undercarriage and its folding rotor capability means it can fit in to the same space as a Sea King and therefore operate from Norway’s existing infrastructure such as helipads and oil rigs. The main rotor blade diameter at 18.60m (61ft, the Sea King’s is 18.90m; 62ft) is also slightly smaller.
Modern Technology The Norwegian contract contains real areas of enhancement which largely result from the challenging environment and desire to improve aircrew SA, safety and reduce workload, factors which are all so important during such demanding missions. The key features of the mission and avionics systems are as follows.
General Airframe Systems • Active Control of Structural Response (ACSR) vibration control system. This
• Full standing height cabin (1.83m), large
(1.8m) door and wide rear ramp • High ground clearance (nominally 500mm). Ramp and doors support Confined Area Landing (CAL) operations. Norway had a minimum ground clearance requirement which the AW101 met. Concern that the radar could be damaged during a CAL (in deep snow) was reason for using a flat-panel radar system • Full ice protection system including rotor ice protection
Flight and SAR Mission Equipment
These systems provide enhanced traffic awareness, obstacle detection, area navigation, terrain awareness and detection: • Open architecture system • Extensive integrated communications suite with secure speech, wireless connectivity (links flight crew, flight engineer and medical crew members) • Exceptional field of view from three designated visual locations (full NVG search compatibility) • High integrity mission system and mission console • Integrated synthetic vision system. This effectively brings a picture of the outside environment inside the helicopter to enhance situational awareness by using an ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast) flight transponder (basically a primary surveillance system which measures the range and bearing of an aircraft from a ground based antennae), Helicopter Terrain and Warning System (HTAWS),
was designed to enhance the safety of helicopters undertaking demanding SAR and emergency services roles, especially to help aircrew avoid main and tail rotor strikes against peripheral obstacles during low-speed hovering manoeuvres in confined spaces. The system consists of three main rotor-head-mounted LiDAR (Laser imaging Detection and Ranging) sensors that generate a 360o radial view around the aircraft and a dedicated cockpit control panel. It ensures fast and accurate detection and tracking of short range obstacles up to 25m (80ft) away by time-of-flight measurement at different angles. Pilots can operate and monitor the system from the control panel while video and audio indications are provided on the cockpit multi-function displays and through aircraft’s inter communication system.
Avionics • Rockwell Collins flat panel multi-
function cockpit displays (10in x 8in/25cm x 20cm) which are night vision goggles compatible. Symbology is compatible with the AW189 and importantly AW now has some control over the design of the human-machine interface. Norway could add additional systems and software as required in the future • 4-axis, digital Automatic Flight Control System (d-AFCS) with 4D Navigation. The Norwegian d-AFCS will incorporate a ‘HTC’ operated by the MSO, Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) navigation and some specific SAR search and approach modes • Latest generation flat-panel Selex 360° AESA radar, FLIR Systems 360° EOSS
AGUSTAWESTLAND AW101 MILITARY (Electro-Optical Sensor System), back-up weather radar and other search signal detection systems (undisclosed) • High Integrity Navigation suite including two embedded Civil Global Positioning Satellite (GPS), Attitude and Heading reference System (AHRS) and dual Radar Altimeter, Air Data System and Radio Navigation Aids • Comprehensive, integrated Status Health and Usage Monitoring System (SHUMS). This provides real time monitoring of flight critical systems and components plus warnings of potential failures before they become critical. Helps ensure the maximum safe life of components. • New Avionics Full Duplex Ethernet (AFDX) Aircraft Data Network (basically a data network for safety-critical applications) • Data transfer capability
Flexible SAR Cabin Interior • Crew galley and relief facilities • Dedicated MSO console area • Wireless crew and passenger intercom • Extensive stowage area, including rear ramp
• Stretcher compatibility with national ambulance service
• Flexible/adaptable medical rail system
(enables the future upgrade of medical equipment) • Dual trauma station (gas and air provisions) • Wet locker area adjacent to rescue station
• Adjustable, rotating and traversing crew seats
Crew Training and Support In recent years AgustaWestland has invested heavily in a range of tailored ‘through life’ support and training packages (including synthetic systems) at their Training Academies in the UK (Yeovil, Somerset), Italy (Sesto Calende), USA (Philadelphia) and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur). This investment includes extending its main training facility in Italy at Sesto Calende, which has the potential for nine full flight simulators covering the company’s full helicopter range plus rear crew trainers.
These solutions are tailored to meet customer needs ranging from the relatively simple provision of spares, through to crew training and finally a fully integrated ‘turnkey’ support solution. Introducing new technologies such as new composite materials creates their own ‘managerial’ challenges and now customers increasingly recognise they need more, rather than less, support especially during the initial transitional phase; the leap from a 40-year-old Sea King into the next generation AW101 is not simple. For this reason, Norway and AgustaWestland have agreed on an initial 15-year support package following which Norway will likely have developed the infrastructure to complete much of this work themselves. In many respects, the support package in place for Norway will be similar to the long term (25 years) Integrated Merlin Operational Support (IMOS) contract AgustaWestland have in place covering UK Merlin variants. This type of contract is considered the best way to reduce in-service costs during the life of the platform plus it transfers the support risk (i.e. spares, sustainment, technical advice, aircraft issues) from the customer to AgustaWestland in a staged manner, enabling them to concentrate on operational effectiveness. James Griffin explained in relation to Norway: “This will be an integrated support solution which is very much a partnership with what we call a JAMMO (Joint
1 The Royal Norwegian Air Force’s AW101s will have to meet the same 99% availability rate currently achieved by the Sea Kings, one of which is seen here hovering over MS Bohus during Exercise Skagex. Torgeir Haugaard/Norwegian Armed Forces 2 The Royal Norwegian Air Force’s fleet of 12 Sea King Mk 43Bs has rescued over 33,000 people since the type was introduced in 1972. Nils Petter Skipnes/Norwegian Armed Forces 3 Royal Norwegian Air Force AW101s will be equipped with an advanced SAR equipment package which includes a multi-panel AESA surveillance radar system, 4-axis digital AFCS, two rescue hoists, searchlight, an electro-optical imaging system and a fully integrated avionics and mission system. 4 No.330 Squadron is Norway’s dedicated SAR and air ambulance unit.
Aircraft Availability Management Office),” he said. “The Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation and industry partners including some of our suppliers based in Norway will be ready to support Norway ie actively manage the fleet including maintenance planning, and we`ll have a deployable team enabling us to meet Norway`s 99% availability level. To achieve that, we will be positioned in Norway ready to react to any unscheduled event.”
Combined Test Team A combined team will be in place from the start, with working groups covering everything from medical layouts and hangar facilities to flight testing and crew training. AW will commence crew training by ‘training the trainers’ in the UK following which qualified instructors will return to Norway to form its AW101 training system. This will include a full flight simulator owned by AW. Each SAR base will also have a synthetic training device whilst one location will have a maintenance training facility. AW confirmed they will also be heavily involved supporting the stand-up of Norway’s first AW101 base.
Investment Rewarded The AW101 is tried and tested with over 325,000 operational flight hours in some of the world`s toughest environments. This, coupled with world-class technological expansion, has helped secure the helicopter’s future. Whilst the AW101 3 retains the same basic external design, its multi-role capability and internal structures and systems have developed so much it is definitely a new generation helicopter. Norway had a very clear vision of what they needed to get the job done, which was shared by those who might benefit from its service (such as fishermen and oil rig workers) and the nation was prepared to invest both in the product and the support contracts needed to achieve it. The Norwegian MoJ also knew it could take advantage of AgustaWestland’s experience in the SAR arena coupled to the heavy investment by the company in AW101 development. Norway’s award is a challenge for AgustaWestland, but it will allow further development of the AW101. It’s a ‘win-win’ situation; meeting Norway’s requirements will help turn the AW101 into an even better SAR aircraft, increasing the chances of further orders in the near term. 4
Henrik Eikefjord/Norwegian Armed Forces
TECHNOLOGY TOUCHSCREEN COCKPIT
icture the scene. The flight crew are seated in the cockpit preparing for the morning’s flight. The instrumentation is very different to that used by their forebears. The dials and multi-function displays have gone. Instead, the pilots have large touchscreen displays which they use to undertake their pre-departure preparations. After push-back the crew use a moving map indicating the route to the runway and surrounding hazards. After take-off, the screens show a visualisation of the world outside, displaying information on altitude and speed. O n the ground or in flight, the pilots control their instruments by tapping the screens – there are no physical buttons or complex menus to scroll through. The idea of pilots using a fully-touchscreen cockpit is a vision French aerospace company Thales intends to make a reality with its Avionics 2020 concept. At the Paris Air Show in 2011, Thales unveiled a prototype called ODICIS (One Display for a Cockpit Interactive Solution) to showcase how a future cockpit featuring touchscreen functionality might look. Those technologies were finessed over a two-year period to form Avionics 2020, which Thales says is “founded on the principles of natural and direct hands-on interaction…designed to serve the pilot through the use of the latest head-up and head-down technologies”.
Cockpit Features Avionics 2020 comprises four large-format screens in front of the pilots and two control panels between their seats. All have touchscreen functionality, with pilots able to pinch and zoom in on the displays just as people interact with a touchscreen smartphone or tablet. Synthetic vision systems show an aircraft’s position in 3D in relation to the surrounding environment, which updates in real-time. When the aircraft is on the ground, the Digital Taxi (D-Taxi) mode will show the aircraft’s position at the terminal and apron. “This configuration will show the pilot a 3D image of the airport and a 2D map,” says Richard Perrot, Head of Marketing for Thales’ Avionics Division. “When cleared by air traffic control [ATC] the pilot will have displayed on the map the routing from the gate to the runway. We use a very advanced system merging information and data – airport data, air traffic control, sensors around the airport.” When in the air, the D-Taxi system will be replaced by a simulated view of the world outside and a moving map indicating the aircraft’s position, in addition to critical primary 1 Avionics 2020 is a 100% touchscreen 2 system. All images Thales 2 The D-Taxi system is designed to improve situational awareness on the ground at airports. 3 While in flight, Avionics 2020 will present a simulated view of the world outside alongside critical flight information. 4 Thales’ Avionics 2020 concept presents a radically different-looking cockpit.
flight information such as position, height and speed. Avionics 2020 will also feature a new way of responding to ATC instructions by exploiting touchscreen functionality. “Instead of receiving complex messages by voice, which can be confused given the differences between English accents, we provide a text message automatically,” Perrot explains. “The pilot just has to acknowledge the message by clicking a very large icon on the cockpit display that they cannot miss.”
Simplicity Perrot says the key to Avionics 2020 is simplicity: “We reshuffled completely the way we present information. We aim to present the information clearly. We don’t want to constrain pilots so that they have to look into the system, going through very complex checklists and huge numbers of pages to get to the information they want.” For example, on the ground preparing for their flight, the pilots will be able to open a menu showing in one place all the critical information about the route they will fly such as waypoints, ATC advisories and enroute weather. A promotional video of Avionics 2020 shows smartphone-style menus organised around key functions such as ‘engine’, ‘hydraulics’, ‘electrics’, ‘APU’ (auxiliary power unit), ‘batteries’ and ‘fuel’. Each of these functions is indicated by an icon on the menu that will look familiar to users of even the most basic smartphones. The D-Taxi system is designed to clearly indicate the key data pilots they need to know about other aircraft, vehicles and buildings as they taxi around an airport. 1 “The idea is to bring the pilot information to decrease his level of stress by giving him a military. Perrot described the company’s better idea of the conditions on the ground,” design philosophy: “We’ve reached the limit Perrot said. In the flight phase the simulated of complexity in a cockpit and the ability of views of the route will include the essential a pilot to manage the number of systems in direction, height, position and weather front of them, the amount of information and information. the way that information is presented.” His Intuitive colleague Denis Bonnet, Head of Innovation Thales says that to ensure simplicity a system for the Cockpit Competence Center at has to be as intuitive as possible. “The reason Thales, believes moving to more intuitive we’re using touchscreens is that it eases systems, “will become essential for the future the way the pilots interact with the system,” of air transport” as, “more functionalities and Perrot explains. He says touchscreens are a tasks are added to a pilot’s workload”. natural step because people are comfortable ATM Efficiency using them. Thales, “did a lot of work on But Avionics 2020 is not solely about the man-machine interface, not just with making the pilot’s job easier. A major theme engineers but doctors and human factors in commercial aerospace right now, in experts”, to take advantage of this wider Europe and North America, is improving air trend. He adds that Thales’ initial trials as traffic management (ATM) efficiency to cut part of its research revealed the touchscreens emissions, fuel burn and delays. In Europe proved, “no problem” for the pilots. this activity is centred on the SESAR (Single Thales’ view is that intuitive European Sky ATM Research) programme, instrumentation is essential given the amount funded jointly by the European Commission of complex systems pilots have to operate and European air traffic services provider in today’s aircraft, be they commercial or 3
Mark Broadbent describes Thales’ concept for a touchscreen cockpit
the Future Eurocontrol, and in the USA by the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen initiative. Avionics 2020 is designed to be in step with these programmes, and any future changes in ATM resulting from them, through its use of Initial-4D (I-4D), ASAS (Airborne Separation Assistance Systems) and ECO Take-Off systems. I-4D predicts and transmits flight trajectories to ground control units across four dimensions (latitude, longitude, altitude and time). It is designed to improve the virtual picture of where an aircraft is flying. This enables ATC to plan routes more efficiently through continuous descent profiles to reduce the numbers of aircraft in holding patterns, saving fuel and emissions. ASAS is designed to complement I-4D by creating an efficient traffic flow by ensuring aircraft adjust their speed automatically so that equal spacing is kept between all aircraft. While ECO Take-Off is an optimised take-off and climb profile in order to reduce CO2 emissions and noise pollution. Research, development and testing of all these systems are ongoing. The I-4D system, initially developed by Thales as part of the ODICIS concept, was evaluate using an Airbus A320ceo on flights from
Copenhagen to Stockholm as part of SESAR in February 2012 and in early 2014.
customisable according to specific requirements, meaning OEMs can take just one aspect of the concept and integrate it into their cockpits. “There are others areas, such as business jets and helicopters where they’re ready to introduce this,” Perrot claims. He envisages these sectors could introduce an Avionics 2020-style systems sooner rather than later. In February 2014, Thales unveiled a helicopter-specific iteration of OCIDIS at the Heli-Expo Show in Los Angeles, California. While the days of passengers flying on an airliner featuring a fully touchscreen cockpit are still some way off, interest from other sectors of commercial aviation indicates that touchscreens are on their way.
Common Use How soon are we likely to see such systems in common use? And how interested are the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), like Airbus and Boeing, in integrating such systems into their cockpits? “We’ve entered into very deep discussions with the OEMs,” Perrot reveals. “They’re all conscious that we have to improve the intuition of the interfaces. Touchscreens will bring less control panels and buttons in the cockpit, which means less complexity, so OEMs are very interested. Today we don’t have any contracts signed, we’re still in discussions with them in order to [work out] how we can deploy this concept.” Perrot says radical new technology and, “not too much evolution all at once” are priorities for commercial air transport to keep development and training costs in check and to meet regulations. This points to a gradual introduction of touchscreen technology in cockpits as new aircraft emerge, rather than a complete revolution. Thales says Avionics 2020 is fully-
JEDI over Afghanistan Riccardo Niccoli describes the Italian Air Force’s YEC-27J JEDI, used in the counter-IED role
ne of the most dangerous threats to have emerged in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan is the improvised explosive device (IED). They can be made using commercial explosives or military ammunition and disguised in many ways – from a simple fake rock made from plastic to a gas bottle. Buried under roads or hidden in buildings, squares and markets, they can be large or small – and powerful enough to destroy an armoured vehicle. Most are activated using detonators linked to a mobile phone or other devices that use radio waves. Counter-IED (or C-IED) operations have become an essential part of military operations. In Afghanistan C-IED doctrine has three main
elements: force preparation, attacking enemy networks and bomb neutralisation – each supported by intelligence. Systems developed to help forces in these tasks include electrooptical sensors, mine-rollers, mini-robots, metal detectors and ground-penetrating radars. But one of the most effective methods of combating IEDs is jamming the radio signals that activate them.
preloaded library of radio frequencies used to detonate IEDs, can scan the electromagnetic spectrum and jam the devices. Feedback from the exercise was positive and further development followed – including consideration for airborne use, which could increase the equipment’s coverage area.
The Italian approach was to obtain maximum results with minimum resources – which, combined with a tight development timescale and a limited budget, led to an intense phase of co-operation between the ReSTOGE, the AMI’s Reparto Sperimentale Volo (RSV, test wing) at Pratica di Mare AB and Alenia Aermacchi to complete and certify an airborne version. In assessing which of the AMI’s transport aircraft (Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules, Alenia C-27J or Piaggio P180 Avanti) was best suited to carry the equipment, it was
In 2008 the Aeronautica Militare Italiana’s (Italian Air Force) Reparto Supporto Tecnico Operativo alla Guerra Elettronica (ReSTOGE, technical and operational support unit to electronic warfare) created an experimental C-IED system. Evaluated during exercise Trial Imperial Hammer, in Sardinia, that year, it was developed using commercially available components and made operational with software developed in-house by the ReSTOGE. The system, which features a
ALENIA YEC-27J MILITARY
thought the integrity of the P180’s pressurisation system would have proved problematic. And, as an American platform, the C-130J faced bureaucratic hurdles: control over the aircraft’s systems configuration lies with the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, and not the operator alone.
aircraft are trained on specific electronic warfare courses run by the ReSTOGE.
Alenia Aermacchi began work to upgrade the first C-27J (its serial number is withheld by the AMI for security reasons) in early 2009. The aircraft looked almost identical to the standard transport version but was redesignated YEC-27J JEDI (Jamming and Electronic Defence Instrumentation). A first series of tests, validation and tactical evaluation began in June 2011 at Pratica di Mare and the Capo Teulada range in Sardinia – followed by three weeks of electromagnetic compatibility tests and, finally, in October 2011, the tactical validation, which lasted for two weeks and included around 12 missions. Training and qualification for the aircrews then began while the Italian ‘Albatros’ Task Force at Herat, Afghanistan, prepared to accommodate the aircraft.
The results of the initial operational activity in Afghanistan were excellent and led to the decision in July 2012 to modify a second C-27J to have one JEDI aircraft available when the other is undergoing maintenance. The second aircraft was modified by 46a Brigata Aerea under the supervision of the RSV, was flown after completion to Afghanistan in October 2013. The second JEDI replaced the first, which was scheduled for major maintenance. After two years’ activity, the JEDI programme can be considered a success, flying more than 350 operational missions and logging some 2,000 hours. The aircraft have been requested not only by Italian troops but also by others within the International Security Assistance Force. The aircraft operate all over Afghanistan, boast great endurance and flexibility and are easily able to be re-tasked during a flight, moving quickly from one area to another as priorities dictate. Colonel Giuseppe Sacco, the ReSTOGE commander, said although the components used in the software are off-the-shelf and therefore not classified, the combination and integration of the components and the software used are. The JEDI programme is a remarkable achievement by the AMI, proof that creativity, dedication and teamwork can produce excellent results and provide operational systems that are effective, reliable, and cheap. It also shows Italy’s air force has nothing to envy in other armed forces that are often considered richer and technologically more advanced.
In Theatre The first YEC-27J was ferried to Afghanistan at the start of March 2012, followed by an evaluation in theatre before the type was used operationally. The standard aircrew comprises two pilots from the 98° Gruppo of 46a Brigata Aerea at Pisa, two loadmasters (also acting as observers) and two systems operators (both provided by the ReSTOGE), one specialising in tactical systems and the other in electronic warfare. Pilots do not need a specific qualification to operate the YEC-27J, but because its mission requires good co-ordination and knowledge of the tactical needs of the systems operators, crews posted to the
All photos Aeronautica Militare Italiana
So it was decided to select the C-27J – an Italian product with a large cargo cabin – and develop a roll-on/roll-off payload that could quickly be installed or removed from the aircraft. Avoiding a permanent modification would enable the aircraft to conduct normal transport operations if required. The ReSTOGE started developing the hardware components for the aircraft and a workstation for two systems operators. The new kit would also necessitate changes to the electrical system, laying more cables and introducing a safety buffer to avoid circuit overloads. Updates were made to the intercom and the MIL-STD-1553 data bus for navigation data to be received at the workstations. Some new, small transmitting antennas were installed but the existing generator provided sufficient power to supply the new C-IED system. A
dedicated man-machine interface and specific software for the role were also developed.
MILITARY RUSSIAN TACTICAL UAVS
A range of new large unmanned aircraft is under development in Russia, as Piotr Butowski reports
ussia is actively working on several large unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In the next two years flight tests of new designs from the country’s aerospace industry are expected to begin as Russia seeks to make up for years of delays developing these systems. On March 25, 2014, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev visited the KAPOKompozit plant in Kazan – part of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) – where he was shown the prototype of the twin-engine Altair. In a report broadcast by Russian television, the aircraft was introduced as having been, “ordered by the Ministry of Defence for controlling the Arctic zone”. An endurance of 48 hours and a range of 5,400nm (10,000km) were reported. The pictures showed that assembly of the Altair’s wing, centre section and empennage was progressing. Although the landing gear and outer wing sections were not
Orions, Pirates &Hunters visible, both engines were mounted on the wings. The starboard one was uncovered, showing the workings of the aircraft’s A03 powerplants. It is reported the aircraft could fly at the end of this year.
development tender for the aircraft in October 2011. The Altair differs only in the antennae used.
Although the presentation of the Altair to Prime Minister Medvedev took place at the KAPO-Kompozit plant, it is likely the aircraft was transported from the neighbouring OKB Simonov plant for the purpose. KAPOKompozit makes composite parts for the Altius-M and Altair and a number of other
The Altair is a civil variant of the Altius-M military UAV and its shape tallies with the artwork in the advertising leaflet distributed during the MAKS airshow in August 2013. The aircraft’s weight will be over 12,000lb (5,443kg), slightly more than the military version, including 4,409lb (2,000kg) of 2 mission equipment. Alexander Gomzin, the chief executive and chief designer of OKB Simonov design bureau (formerly OKB Sokol) producing the aircraft, told the Russian press the company was going to invest $180 million in civil UAVs. The first Altair customer will be Gazprom, which will use the aircraft to help monitor its gas pipelines. The Altius-M is a five-ton long-endurance UAV, series production of which is planned for 2017-2018. The OKB Sokol design bureau in Kazan won the research and
RUSSIAN TACTICAL UAVS MILITARY Russian commercial aircraft including the Sukhoi Superjet, Tupolev Tu-214 and Irkut MS-21. It also produces components for the Airbus A380, Boeing 767, 777 and 787 under a strategic partnership with Austrian composite specialists FACC AG begun in August 2011. FACC AG has a 24% stake in KAPOKompozit and the agreement includes the potential for that to increase to 40%. The plant will, alongside UAC’s Ulyanovsk factory, be one of the two main Russian centres of aerospace composites production. Both the Altair and Altius-M will be powered by two A03 12-cylinder diesel engines designed by RED Aircraft GmbH, founded in 1995 by the Russian emigrant Vladimir Raikhlin. The engines for the aircraft will be manufactured in Russia. Another German company, Grob Aircraft, is also set to contribute to the Altius-M/Altair programme. It is not known whether the present east/west tensions, and Western sanctions on Russia, will affect development.
Inokhodets The author has received descriptions of another new Russian unmanned aircraft, the Transas Inokhodets medium-altitude long-endurance aircraft. Civil and military
26,245 ft (8,000 m). The prototype Inokhodets is due to fly before the end of 2014.
Gonshchik Information has recently surfaced about another, previously unknown, Russian UAV known as the Gonshchik (Runner), developed by RSK MiG. Little is known about the aircraft, except that it is likely to be powered by the RD-2500 jet engine (rated at 5,512lbs/2,500 kg). The contract for the aircraft’s design was signed later than those for the Altius and Inokhodets, probably in late 2012 or early 2013. Early in 2013 TKMB Soyuz received a contract for the RD-2500 engine. The Gonshchik will be a medium-sized, high-speed combat and reconnaissance UAV. A typical reconnaissance task will be the final identification of targets directly before a tactical ballistic missiles strike, hence the need for high speed. The Gonshchik will carry ordnance in an internal bay. It is not the first jet-powered UAV design from Russia. Back in the days of the Soviet Union, Tupolev built the Tu-300 Korshun with a take-off weight of 6,834lb (3,100kg), a speed of 513kt (950km/h) and a range of 324nm (600 km). Six test examples were built. It is likely that the Gonshchik will be a
mock-up unveiled in 2007. It had a single Klimov RD-5000B turbojet engine rated at 11,111lb (5,040kg), giving it a speed of more than 432kt (800km/h), and a range of up to 2,160nm (4,000km).
Okhotnik The most ambitious new UAV project in Russia is the Okhotnik (Hunter) long-range strike and reconnaissance unmanned system under development by Sukhoi. This will be the Russian aerospace industry’s primary tactical aviation programme for the next decade after the completion of the PAK FA fifth-generation fighter. In Russia the Okhotnik is classified as a ‘sixth-generation aircraft’. The Okhotnik will weigh 44,092lb (20,000kg) and have two Klimov engines rated at about 11,905lb (5,400kg) of thrust, a non-afterburning variant of the RD-33 engines used in the Mikoyan MiG-35. In recent months no news has emerged about this project, but it is active. The head of the United Aircraft Corporation’s military programmes division, Vladimir Mikhailov (excommander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force) said in April that the first stage of designing the Okhotnik would be finished in 2015 and then the company would start the technical design and construction of the prototype.
PROVISIONAL SPECIFICATIONS OF RUSSIA’S NEW GENERATION UAVS Inokhodets
No data released
1x 115hp (85.7kW)
2x 500hp (372.8kW)
1x 5,512lb (24.5kN)
2x 11,905lb (52.9kN)
108-162kt (200-300 km/h)
432-540kt (800-1,000 km/h)
No data released
No data released
No data released
No data released
1 In April, Russian television broadcast pictures of the first Altair under construction, showing progress on its fuselage and engines. efir-kazan.ru 2 Transas is developing a military version of its Orion. Piotr Butowski 3 An artist’s impression of the Inokhodets. Piotr Butowski 4 The Altair is a civil version of the Altius-M. OKB Simonov
versions are being developed with significant differences between them. The military Inokhodets has a V-tail, while the civil version (known as the Orion) has an inverted-V tail supported by two booms. The Orion weighs 2,646lb (1,200kg) with 661lb (300kg) of mission equipment. The military version is slightly lighter (at 2,205lb/1,000kg) and can loiter for 24 hours at an altitude of
revival of the Tu-300 concept and RSK MiG Chief Executive Officer Sergei Korotkov added in a statement to the Russian press that the company also has “considerable experience gained in the Skat programme”. Korotkov added that, “advantages of [the Skat] project will be used” in the new design. The Skat (Ray) was a 22,046lb (10,000kg) design, of which a full-scale
In addition to the large UAVs, the Vega Corporation is developing a small tactical UAV called the Korsar (Pirate). Korsar was ordered by the Russian Ministry of Defence in 2012. It is supposed to be a 441lb (200kg) vehicle capable of flying for up to 12 hours within a 54nm (100km) radius. Construction is under way by KB Lutch in Rybinsk in Yaroslavl oblast.
MILITARY SUKHOI T-50 PAK FA
PAK FA Flies with Missiles
The T-50 PAK-FA was presented at the Russian Air Force’s recent Aviadarts competition
wo Russian fifthgeneration T-50 (PAK FA) fighters carried dummy missiles under the wings for the first time on May 20. The T-50s performed basic manoeuvres during the Aviadarts (Air Darts) competition for Russian military pilots, held from May 21 to 26 near Voronezh. The T-50-3, piloted by Sergey Bogdan, carried two medium-range R-77 air-to-air missiles and two short-range R-73 missiles. The second aircraft, T-50-4 (flown by Roman Kondratyev), flew with pairs of air-to-ground Kh-31s and R-77s. The aircraft are two of the five T-50s now undergoing flight tests. The T-50 carries weapons in two large internal compartments in the fuselage and on under-wing stations. Some 71 Russian Air Force aircraft and helicopters were involved in the Aviadarts competition, operating from Voronezh, Lipetsk and Ryazan. Participating crews were examined on physical and theoretical
preparation and applying their skills in air navigation, piloting and combat. Pilots competed in the accuracy of firing unguided rockets and using guns against ground targets. The T-50s did not take part in the competition – they were present to perform 1 a short display for the attending minister of defence, Sergei Shoygu. 1 Pairs of medium-range R-77 air-to-air and Voronezh is 250km (155 miles) from the short-range R-73 missiles were carried by T-50-3 border with Ukraine and Ukrainian authorities in the Aviadarts demonstration. All photos Piotr demanded an explanation regarding the goal Butowski 2 T-50-4 flew with two Kh-31 air-toof the exercise. The Russian answer was ground missiles and two R-77s 3 T-50-3 in the foreground, with T-50-4 behind. that the Aviadarts “do not threaten Ukraine” and was planned some time ago. The 2 competition first took place in Voronezh at the end of June and beginning of July 2013. During landing at Zhukovsky airfield near Moscow on June 10, one of the T-50s suffered a small fire on the fuselage above the starboard air intake. According to Russian news agencies, the aircraft was piloted by Roman Kondratyev, who managed to escape safely. Sukhoi said the fire was quickly extinguished and the T-50 can be repaired, adding the incident will not influence the schedule of the T-50 trials programme. 3
A350 Ad Despite the loss of a major order, the A350 is moving towards certification. Andreas Spaeth reports from Toulouse.
he presentation by Airbus’ Chief Operating Officer for Customers, John Leahy, hailed as the world’s best aircraft salesman, during the Airbus Innovation Days in Toulouse in June suffered from about the worst possible timing.
Early long-range flights conducted in June provided the first test of the A350’s cabin with passengers. All images Airbus
He appeared in front of the assembled world aviation press around two hours after Airbus had been forced to admit the worst blow ever to its order book. Emirates Airline, the manufacturer’s biggest customer, had decided the night before to cancel its contract for 70 Airbus A350s, ordered at the Dubai Air Show in 2007, then worth about $16 billion at list prices, (almost $22bn today). When Leahy took the stage, he put on a brave face and quipped, “did Emirates cancel some A350s?”, before adding wryly, “somebody’s got to make a joke this morning.” Leahy admitted seconds later, “this isn’t the world’s best news”, but he and other Airbus executives stressed time and again during the press conference it wasn’t a vote against the A350, which still has a healthy backlog of 742 orders. The cancellation would have no financial impact, Leahy stressed, as Airbus was only scheduled to deliver the A350s to Emirates between 2019 and 2023. Leahy noted that with a total of 150 cancellations, the A350 has had fewer than the Boeing 787. Apparently, only minutes after word got out about Emirates retreating,
other customers stepped in to try to secure earlier delivery slots. To show the qualities of its last brand-new aircraft programme until at least 2030, on the second morning of the annual global press briefing Airbus took the assembled media on the first A350-900 flight for non-Airbus staff. The aircraft used was the newest member of the four-aircraft test fleet, msn 2 (F-WWCF) with its distinctive ‘carbon’ livery. First flown on February 26 this year, msn 2 was the third A350 to fly and the first equipped with a cabin interior. It had accumulated 155 hours by early June. “We are flying up to a hundred hours a month per aircraft sometimes,” said Fernando Alonso, Senior Vice-President Flight and Integration Tests. The A350 has averaged 80 flight test hours a month, the highest rate ever achieved by Airbus. “We will have accumulated 2,000 flight hours by late June, out of about 2,600 needed in total”, reported Didier Evrard, head of the A350 programme.
dvances AIRBUS A350 XWB COMMERCIAL
In June, msn 2 carried out two so-called early long-range flights carrying Airbus employees who’d won a raffle to be on board. These flights were undertaken, said Airbus, “to assess the cabin environment and systems in flight ahead of final certification ensuring that airlines will benefit from a fully mature aircraft from day one of commercial operations.” One 12-hour night flight from Toulouse, operated by a Lufthansa cabin crew, was routed straight up to Bodø in northern Norway, just over the Arctic Circle, then down to Prestwick in Scotland, south to Ibiza and all around the Iberian peninsula, before heading up to Brest and south again to Toulouse. “We needed to stay in Europe due to ATC reasons,” explained Chief Test Pilot Peter Chandler. He, accompanied by his colleague Frank Chapman, took the press on a 54-minute
flight from Toulouse to the Pyrenees and back, demonstrating the maturity of an aircraft that is due to enter passenger service with launch customer Qatar Airways by year-end. Taking off weighing just 192 tons (423,228lb) and carrying 30 tons (66,138lb) of fuel, the highlight of the flight over the still snow-covered Pyrenees was the simulated interception of the A350 by a French Air Force Dassault Rafale. Although there is still test equipment in the rear of the cabin, including a big test stand, as well as cables and sensors on the floor and other areas, the short flight gave a very good impression of the A350. At least as quiet as the A380 inside and out, the big windows allow for good views from all the seats, like in the Boeing 787. The overhead bins, unique in having LED lighting integrated into them, enable very easy loading and unloading, even for shorter passengers. Small displays above the passenger seats, not only indicate when it is time to fasten seat belts but also give the current time. “We still have a lot to do before we
can get them to Qatar Airways,” stressed Evrard, but apparently the test campaign has gone surprisingly smoothly, leaving a good chance the A350 will be granted its type certificate after the envisioned 14 months of testing. Tom Williams, Executive Vice-President Programmes, admitted a few problems that emerged with the A350’s landing gear doors and the deployment of the RAM air turbine, “took some time to fix”. In mid-June, one aircraft was doing more tests in a hot environment at the desert airport of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates, while the last test aircraft (F-WWYB, msn 5) was being prepared for its first flight. Msn 5 will also be equipped with a full cabin and tasked with route proving, known as Functional Reliability Testing, later this summer. These airline-style operations will be done without passengers, last for three weeks and comprise 200 to 300 flights. “We must remain humble, you never know what can happen – we touch wood,” said Patrick du Ché, Head of Development Flight Test. But if everything goes according to plan, Qatar Airways will receive its first two A350s later this year. The next airlines operating the type will be Finnair, Vietnam Airlines and LATAM in 2015.
MILITARY YAKOVLEV YAK-130
he Yak-130 (NATO reporting name Mitten) jet trainer has won some 160 orders, split more or less equally between the Russian Air Force (RuAF) and foreign customers. Around 70 have been delivered to date. The RuAF now has 48 Yak-130s, used for lead-in fighter training, and another 16 are in service with the Algerian Air Force. The Irkut manufacturing facility at Irkutsk in eastern Russia continues full-scale production at a rate of 15 to 18 aircraft a year while Irkut’s engineering centre in Moscow produces updates for the type.
The Yak-130 programme has been going for more than 20 years, after the then Soviet Air Force laid out technical requirements for a new advanced jet trainer in January 1991. Several Russian design bureaux responded to the competition: Sukhoi with the S-54,
Myasishchev with the M-200, Mikoyan with the MiG-821 (later designated MiG-AT) and Yakovlev with the Yak-UTS (which later became the Yak-130, a reference to the Yak-30 training aircraft of 1960). In July 1992, the Yak and MiG proposals were shortlisted and, later, prototypes of the Yak-130 and MiG-AT were built. At the time there was almost no financial aid for military programmes in Russia; but Italy’s Aermacchi showed interested in the Yak-130 – which fitted in well with its own concept of twin-engine trainers – and in 1993 the two companies agreed to develop the new trainer jointly, which became the Yak-130/AEM. Under the Italians’ influence the jet got faster, smaller and acquired digital fly-bywire controls and a glass cockpit. The configuration was fixed in February 1995 and the Yak-130D demonstrator took its maiden flight on April 25, 1996 with Andrei Sinitsin at the controls. But differences between the companies ended their partnership in 1999 and each went on to develop their own version of the
the aircraft. The Italian design evolved into the M-346 Master with equipment exclusively from Western manufacturers.
Selection On March 16, 2002 the RuAF announced it had selected the Yak-130 over the MiG-AT for its future advanced trainer requirement. Between 2004 and 2008, the Sokol plant at Nizhny Novgorod made four pre-series Yak-130 aircraft; the first, coded 01, made its maiden flight on April 30, 2004. State acceptance trials began soon afterwards and in May 2005 the RuAF placed an order with the Sokol plant for 12 production Yak-130s. The first of these, aircraft number ‘90’, took its maiden flight on May 19, 2009 – but delivery was postponed due to delays in official certification and the first four series production aircraft (numbers ‘90’ to ‘93’) arrived at the crew conversion and military evaluation centre at Lipetsk between February and April 2010. On May 9 that year they took part in the Victory Day
YAKOVLEV YAK-130 MILITARY parade over Red Square in Moscow. The remaining eight from the order for 12, numbers ‘21’ to ‘28’, went to the 786th Air Training Centre at Borisoglebsk near Voronezh, the first arriving on April 6, 2011. The Yak-130 now serves at Borisoglebsk as an advanced lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT), supplementing Aero L-39Cs on which RuAF student pilots conduct their fast jet training and bridging the gap between the L-39 and frontline combat types. In the future, the Yak-130 will provide a cheaper substitute for two-seat versions of fighter aircraft used to sustain frontline pilots’ skills. The 12 Yak-130 series production aircraft built at Nizhny Novgorod are designated as Yak-130.01s. But after the Irkut Corporation bought the Yakovlev design bureau in 2004, a new production line for the type opened at the corporation’s main factory in Irkutsk. The first Yak-130 made there, aircraft ‘134’, made its debut flight on August 21, 2009 and is now used by Yakovlev for tests. Since then, Yak-130s produced at Irkutsk have the internal designation Yak-130.11.
More Mittens On December 6, 2011, the Russian defence ministry ordered a subsequent batch of 55 aircraft from Irkut in a deal worth more than 25 billion roubles ($800million-plus) – with all to delivered by 2015. Fifteen (numbers ‘31’ to ‘45’) were delivered in 2012, the first arriving at Borisoglebsk on October 5. Eighteen more (‘46’ to ‘63’) were handed over in 2013 and the first two of the 2014 deliveries (‘64’ and ‘65’) arrived at Borisoglebsk on February 6. The plan for 2014 stipulates the delivery of 18, the remaining four jets arriving in 2015. In December 2013 the defence ministry ordered 12 extra Mittens for a newly established aerobatic team and a batch of ten for the naval pilots’ training centre at Yeysk on the Black Sea coast. More Mitten purchases are planned. At least four are expected to go to the Zvezdnyi Gorodok (Star City) astronaut training centre at Chkalovskaya near Moscow. Meanwhile, the Russian Government is going to place another
big order: according to defence minister Sergey Shoygu, it will be for 150 Yak-130s for delivery between 2016 and 2020.
Aerobatic Team The first five Yak-130s for the new aerobatic team are to be delivered this year and the remaining seven in 2015. They will be lighter, stripped of some of their mission equipment and retrofitted with smoke generators to trail it during the team’s displays. The first six of nine pilots for the team, chosen from instructors at the Borisoglebsk school, have been training since February under the supervision of four pilots of the Kubinka-based Strizhi (Swifts) team, which flies MiG-29s, and a test pilot from Irkut. Initially the group will be flying as a four-ship but will later expand to six. In mid-May Lieutenant General Viktor Bondaryev, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force, revealed the team would be named Krylya Tavridy (Wings of Tauris), Tauris being an ancient name for Crimea.
More Mittens on Duty The Russian Air Force is taking delivery of more Yak-130s, as Piotr Butowski explains
MILITARY YAKOVLEV YAK-130
Exports The first foreign contract for the Yak-130 came from Algeria, which ordered 16 in March 2006. The first three were delivered on November 28, 2011 by an Antonov An-124 heavy transport from Irkutsk, and the remaining 13 in the following weeks. The Algerian aircraft have instruments scaled in imperial units, labels in English, an export variant of identification friend or foe equipment and two 26mm (1in) UV-26M flare launchers installed on the wingtips. Algeria’s contract includes a large option and Irkut hopes to convert it into a firm order. A contract signed with Libya in January 2010 for six aircraft (with option for further six) was later cancelled and an agreement for 36 Yak-130s for Syria placed in December 2011 was suspended for political reasons. However, even with relations between the West and Russia now at their worst for decades, Russian officials say they will start deliveries to Syria with nine aircraft at the 1 end of this year, 12 in 2015 and the final 15 capable of carrying guided and non-guided in 2016. weapons, auxiliary fuel tanks, weapons Belarus will also receive four Yak-130s guidance, electronic intelligence and in 2015 (in an order placed on December countermeasures pods on one under18, 2012) and 16 are due to be delivered to fuselage and eight wing stations. Bangladesh in 2016. This summer Yakovlev will begin trials Irkut and Rosoboronexport, the state agency of the LD-130 laser rangefinder, which for exports and imports of Russian military will improve cannon accuracy. Next, the equipment, are offering Yak-130s to a dozen Yak-130 will be fitted with an infrared Asian, African and South American countries search and track sight. Other upgrades in as well as ex-Soviet states. In the past few the pipeline are a new mission computer, years, separate demonstrations of the aircraft improved inertial navigation, a new headand familiarisation flights have been made for up display and a second radio. Range delegations from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, for ferry flights is to be extended with Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, two more auxiliary drop tanks (to total Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam. The Russians four) while an optional removable flight also hope to offer the Yak-130 to Brazil, refuelling probe will meet international equipped with Brazilian avionics. MIL-A-87166 airworthiness standards. The Upgrades undercarriage is also to be strengthened. The Yak-130 is still being developed. As Several countries are interested in using well as being a LIFT trainer, it is also the Yak-130 as a lightweight combat
1 Several countries are interested in using the Yak-130 as a light combat aircraft. Piotr Butowski 2The Yak-130’s digital fly-by-wire cockpit is designed to prepare student pilots for frontline types. Piotr Butowski
YAK-130 SPECIFICATIONS Dimensions: Wingspan 32ft 2in (9.84m) Length 37ft 8in (11.493m) Height 15ft 7in (4.76 m) Wing area 253sq ft (23.52m2) Weights: Take-off (trainer configuration, no external stores), 15,935lb (7,230kg); maximum internal fuel, 3,747lb (1,700kg); maximum weapon load, 6,612lb (3,000kg); maximum take-off, 22,679lb (10,290kg). Performance: Maximum speed (sea level, 50% internal fuel, no external stores) 572kt (1,060km/h) Limit Mach number 0.91 ‘g’ limits +8, -3 Service ceiling 41,013ft (12,500m) Practical range (10% fuel reserve, no auxiliary tanks) 864nm (1,600km)
Ferry range (high altitude, two auxiliary tanks) 1,242nm (2,300km) Take-off run (nominal weight) 1,312ft (400m) Landing run (nominal weight) 2,133ft (650m)
aircraft, but the only customer able to fund its development is the RuAF. Yet there is still no decision on which of three options it may choose: a thorough upgrade of the Su-25 Frogfoot, a light combat aircraft based on the Yak-130 or an entirely new attack aircraft. The air force’s preferred option is to modernise the Su-25s, followed by acquisition of the Yak-130 and then a new aircraft. Nevertheless, Yakovlev is conducting preliminary work on single-seat combat aircraft codenamed LUS (Logkiy Udarnyi Samolyot, Lightweight Strike Aircraft). New sensors including nose radar (options are the Phazotron FK-130 Kopyo-50, the NIIP Bars-130 and the Selex ES Grifo-200) and an air-to-ground targeting-navigation pod will enable the LUS to use the new Russian Kh-38M air-to-ground guided missiles, laser-guided bombs, Kh-31 anti-ship/antiradiation missiles and beyond-visualrange air-to-air missiles.
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