June 2011 Archives
A commercial customer could be announced within 12 months for a new heavy freighter version of a hybrid airship in development for the US Army, Northrop Grumman said.
The commercial market appears to be evolving rapidly even as a Northrop/Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) team is still assembling the first long-endurance multi-intelligence vehicle (LEMV) ordered by the army a year ago.
"This week we have begun parts of the inflating process," said Alan Metzger, vice president and integrated product team leader for LEMV and airship programmes. Nineteen sections that comprise the structure of the balloon will be inflated over a period of several weeks, he added.
The army could buy as many as three of the optionally manned hybrid airships, which rely on both buoyancy and aerodynamic forces to achieve lift.
An undisclosed customer within the army intends to demonstrate that the LEMV can perch at 20,000ft over a three-week period with a 1,133kg (2,500lb) payload that includes four high-definition electro-optical/infrared sensors, a signals interceptor, radar and three communications relay antennas, Northrop said.
The same vehicle with a few modifications is already being offered to the commercial freighter market.
The cargo version can be designed to carry up to 18,143kg for 1,000nm. Required design changes include a new freight floor added to a payload bay, and enlarged fuel/freight module and hover pads added t the landing skids, Metzger said.
Northrop's interest in the commercial market is moving forward after its chief competitor - the Lockheed Martin SkyTug - teamed with a Canadian start-up to produce a hybrid airship for the commercial cargo market. Meanwhile, the US Air Force has also signed a $82 million contract with MAV6 to develop a surveillance airship with one week endurance.
"Lots of people have ideas, and they're all good ideas," Metzger said. "What we have is a vehicle."
The Brazilian manufacturer revealed the plan at the Paris Air Show only a day after Kawasaki announced ongoing studies to convert a baseline C-2 military transport into a commercial freighter.
The KC-390 is being developed for $1.3 billion by the Brazilian Air Force to receive military certification in 2016. A stretched model could be available as early as 2018 for the commercial transport market, which includes Brazil's Correios postal service - the original launch customer for an earlier version of the KC-390.
The civil version would have to be modified with two plugs added to the 33.91m (111.3ft) length of the KC-390's fuselage, Orlando Neto, vice president of sales for Embraer Defence and Security, said in an interview.
One plug would be added forward of the wing to accommodate a side door for cargo. Another plug would be inserted into the fuselage aft of the wing to create more internal space, Neto said.
The existing wings and engines of the KC-390 are sized to accommodate the stretched version for the cargo market, he added. The KC-390 also features an avionics system - the Rockwell Collins ProLine Fusion - design to receive Part 25 civil certification in 2015.
Embraer's commercial plans for the KC-390 over-shadowed the lack of further announcements about the airlifter's supply chain.
Despite recently entering a year-long joint definition phase, Embraer has yet to finalise agreements with the engine supplier for the KC-390. Both the CFM International CFM56 and the International Aero Engines V2500 have been considered for the order.
Neto confirmed that discussions are concluded between the company and the Brazilian air force over the engine supplier. The discussions are now between the company and the suppliers, although declined to clarify if one of the companies had already been ruled out.
But the discussions are also not expected to drag on indefinitely. Neto added that Embraer has a firm schedule for completing the negotiations, and a contract award is possible within a few weeks.
The news conference was billed as an order announcement, but the customer came to lobby the top leadership of the F-35 programme in full view of the press.
Rear Adm Arne Røksund, a career submariner and now head of Norway's defence policy, made a plea for the F-35 joint programme office to integrate the Kongsberg Joint Strike Missile (JSM) even as he confirmed Norway's decision to buy four F-35 training jets for delivery in 2016.
The missile is one of Norway's top priorities for a successful industrial participation programme as part of its commitment to buy dozens more F-35s starting in 2018, he said.
Røksund's remarks were directed to journalists attending the F-35 press briefing, but it was clear that his message was intended for F-35 deputy programme executive Maj Gen C.D. Moore seated nearby.
Moore duly responded that the programme is currently assessing all potential candidates for integration as part of the Block IV software upgrade scheduled for delivery in 2019. Norway's JSM is one of the candidates under review, with a final decision next year, Moore added.
That timing happens to correspond with a pending decision by Norway's parliament to make to commit to buying at least 48 F-35s. Norway's military intends to buy as many as 56, Røksund said, but that depends on final costs.
Norway has budgeted about $865 million to buy the first four F-35As, but "there is uncertainty on top of that number", Røksund said.
As Norway's four aircraft on order will serve as trainers, Lockheed will deliver the jets to Eglin AFB, Florida. Before further F-35s begin arriving in Norway after 2019, Lockheed will add a braking parachute to slow the jets on icy runways.
- A finally complete fleet of 13 flight test aircraft has flown more sorties through 15 June than all of last year. That's not unexpected after the test fleet population has roughly doubled since 12 months ago, but it's a major accomplishment. If trends continue, the fleet should have no trouble easily surpassing the 872-sortie goal set by the programme for this year.
- The F-35A variant's AF-1 has come within M0.07 of its top speed of M1.6, and AF-7 has remained airborne for 4.1h.
- At least 17 F-35s, including the retired AA-1 test aircraft and four early production jets, have been flown and delivered.
Fighter-jet engines 'stolen from Israeli base'
Dan Seal, program manager of Boeing's immersive development environment, briefs reporters on 7 June in St. Louis about the company's new tools for designing the next generation of air dominance fighters.
Lt Col Romin Dasmalchi, former commanding officer of VMM-266, briefs reporters in Philadelphia on 6 June about the operation in which an MV-22 from his squadron rescued the crew of a Boeing F-15E that crashed in Libya.
Any particular reason for your success?NATO pilots are not that proficient in close-in air-to-air combat. They are trained for BVR engagements and their tactics are based on BVR engagements. These were close-in air combat exercises and we had the upper hand because close-in air combat is drilled into every PAF pilot and this is something we are very good at.
What are the Isrealis afraid of?What they fear most is that we might learn about their tactics, especially BVR countermeasure tactics, which they have mastered.I heard a rumour that the TuAF once gave PAF pilots the opportunity to fly with and against the Israelis in A. TuAF F-16s pretending to be Turkish pilots - even letting them sit in the Turkish-Israeli ACMI de-briefs?