Archive | December, 2010

J-20: Even better than the real thing

The J-20 is real. I tip my hat to Bill Sweetman. New photos on the Chinese Web this morning showing the J-20 preparing for high-speed taxi tests on 22 December are convincing – even to this former skeptic. Moreover, the usually definitive Top 81 site has finally updated its listing on the J-20 with the […]

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Military aviation current events quiz, 2010 edition

1. Who was the test pilot for the first flight on 29 January of the Sukhoi T-50-1 prototype of Russia’s PAK FA program? a. Igor Tkachenko b. Sergey Bogdan c. O.V. Gudkov d. Alexander Yablontsev 2. What was the top speed reached during the maiden flight on 26 May of the Boeing X-51A Waverider? a. […]

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J-20 photos: Fake alert or real thing?

My friend Bill Sweetman has forgotten more about military aviation than is Google-able, and he accepts new images of the J-20 — apparently snapped from the fenceline at the surprisingly accessible Chengdu aircraft factory — as factual reality. He might be right. But I’m still skeptical. It’s that inexplicably over-sized red star — which, to […]

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VIDEO: YF-23 reborn as Romanian, rocket-powered, sea-based, space launcher

I’m not making this up. The ARCA — Romania’s answer to Scaled Composites’ suborbital spacecraft ambitions — today unveiled the wildest idea I’ve seen all year in aerospace. Take the tail and wing planform of the Northrop YF-23, attach a MiG-29-ish nose, install a rocket engine and — are you kidding me? — sea floats, […]

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Who’s rappelling from a Black Hawk? Must be Santa

Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan — where your blogger concluded an academically dubious high school career — posted a great video today. I remember Kadena as a challenging yuletide location. I found it difficult to embrace the Christmas spirit wearing shorts and flip-flops while lying on a sub-tropical beach. Kadena’s current occupants seem to […]

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VIDEO: Swedish Air Force unveils new Viggen capability – sledding!

[CORRECTION: The video shows the Viggen, not the Gripen. Still, I'm sure it's available as a retrofit option.] I hope Saab updates its Gripen sales pitch. The never-revealed-before sledding feature of the Swedish Air Force fourth-generation fighter could be decisive in a close sales competition with the F-35. Forget AESA. If only the Norwegians knew […]

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Official: AFSOC unaware crashed CV-22 carried flight incident recorder

A baffling paperwork glitch has deprived investigators ofthe flight incident recorder (FIR) onboard a crashed BellBoeing CV-22 despiteevidence that the critical device survived, according to president of the accidentinvestigation board. The missing FIR prevented the board from determining thecause of the crash and fuelled a rare public dispute between accidentinvestigators and the head of Air […]

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Huey IIs and other diplomatic failures

How does the US military win friends and influence people? Very often, it’s with free weapons. But sometimes that doesn’t quite go as planned, according to a “secret” diplomatic cable newly-liberated by Wikileaks. In Kazakhstan, the US Department of State orchestrated the transfer of eight Bell Helicopter Huey IIs — highly modified, decommissioned UH-1Ns — […]

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VIDEO: Happy 50th anniversary to the Harrier

I spent a nice chunk of my weekend writing a 50th anniversary tribute feature on the Harrier for next week’s Festive Issue in Flight International. It was a nice treat to see that BAE Systems today posted an excellent tribute video on YouTube, celebrating first flight of the Hawker P.1127 Harrier on 17 November 1960.

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Should the USAF ban flying displays by large aircraft?

Photo: US Air Force ABC News aviation consultant and career C-141 pilot John Nance believes so. Breaking from a book-writing holiday in Cabo, Mexico, yesterday, Nance told me the C-17 crash video and full report by the accident investigation board show the US Air Force leadership is broken. “Here we go again,” Nance said. “This […]

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