Scorpion jet successfully completes first weapons capability exercise

Oct 20, 2016

Textron AirLand has announced that the Scorpion jet has successfully completed its first weapons exercise at White Sands Missile Range, while operating from Holloman Air Force Base (HAFB) in New Mexico. This exercise effectively demonstrated the jet’s close air support mission capability through the successful deployment of three widely used weapon systems.

Scorpion Jet

The weapons system design, integration and flight test coordination for all three weapon types were achieved in an impressive time span of less than three months. The weapons testing program occurred Oct. 10-14 in coordination with the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) organization and the 586th Flight Test Squadron from HAFB. All weapon types performed flawlessly and included Hydra-70 unguided 2.75-inch rockets, BAE Systems’ Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) and AGM-114F Hellfire Missiles. The weapons were guided to their targets using first a ground-based laser designator system and then an airborne laser on the jet‘s L-3 WESCAM’s MX-15Di sensor suite.

Scorpion Jet releasing an AGM-114F Hellfire Missile

Scorpion Jet Weapons Testing

“The success of the first weapons capability exercise is a major milestone for the Scorpion program as we continue to demonstrate its mission flexibility and multi-role capabilities,” said Tom Hammoor, senior vice president of Defense at Textron Aviation.

Scorpion jet releasing an APKWS rocket

Scorpion jet releasing an APKWS rocket

“We could not be more pleased with the results of this exercise, thanks to the collaboration between our  team, the NAVSEA organization and the Holloman Air Force Base.”

The first Scorpion prototype continues its robust flight test program, while the first flight of the first production conforming jet is expected soon.

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DCNS and Airbus Helicopters to design French Navy’s future VTOL drone

Oct 20, 2016

DCNS, a world leader in naval defence, and Airbus Helicopters are joining forces to design the future tactical component of France’s Naval Aerial Drone (Système de Drones Aériens de la Marine – SDAM) programme. By pooling naval and aerospace skills and expertise, the teaming of DCNS and Airbus Helicopters will be equipped to address all technical challenges arising from the naval integration of the drones through the creation of a robust system architecture that can evolve and adapt to meet every need.

Ten years of experience in the naval integration of aerial drone

For DCNS, drones are the roving eyes of the battle system; their missions are overseen by each ship’s combat management system, ensuring increased effectiveness in real time in support of naval operations. Offering a genuine tactical advantage, the VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) drone is a natural component of warships and augments the operational potential of naval forces.

DCNS CEO Hervé Guillou said: “We will continue to innovate in these areas and give drones the capability to perform increasingly complex missions over greater distances and timeframes in an interoperable environment with increased digitalisation of resources. Such digitalisation hinges on the roll-out of cybersecurity solutions that offer better protection of data and communications between drones and ships.”

DCNS’s role in the partnership will be to design and supply the entire warship-integrated VTOL drone system. DCNS will design and develop the solutions for the ship-based operation and integration of the drone, including the specification and validation of the payloads and mission data links. DCNS will also produce the drone’s mission system, which will enable real-time management of its operations and allow its payloads to be controlled through the combat management system.

Over the last ten years, DCNS has successfully overseen the French armaments procurement agency (DGA) and French Navy’s main aerial drone study and trial programs, operating both on its own and in partnership. In the process, the Group has acquired know-how that is unique in Europe and possesses solutions for integrating aerial drone systems in warships or enabling them to operate on ships. These solutions have been tested at sea.

The VSR 700: a multi-faceted and robust solution

A versatile and affordable platform, the VSR700 has been developed by Airbus Helicopters with a view to providing military customers with a solution that leverages a tried and tested civil aircraft and strikes the best possible balance between performance, operational flexibility, reliability and operating costs. Harnessing autonomous flight technologies that have been tested by Airbus Helicopters through a range of demonstration programs, the VSR700 is derived from a light civil helicopter, the Cabri G2 (developed by the company Hélicoptères Guimbal), which has proven its reliability and low operating costs in service.

DCNS and Airbus Helicopters to design French Navy’s future VTOL drone

Under the terms of the partnership, Airbus Helicopters will be responsible for designing and developing the VSR700 drone as well as the various technologies needed for it to perform aerial missions, such as data liaison, payload and a “see and avoid” capability enabling the drone’s integration into airspace.

“Rotary-wing drones will play a crucial role in tomorrow’s air/sea theatres of operation, performing the role of a roving eye and extending the coverage of surface vessels over the horizon,” said Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury.

“This partnership will see Airbus Helicopters pool its expertise in vertical flight and autonomous flight technologies with the skills DCNS possesses in naval combat systems, allowing us to respond to the emerging needs of our customers.”

Thanks to the VSR700’s specifications, the system boasts superior endurance and payload performance to any comparable system used to date. The device offers big capability with a small size and logistics footprint, resulting in less maintenance and straight forward integration to a broad range of surface vessels.

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RISER – A step change in UAS capability

Aug 4, 2016

A step change in UAS capability has hit both maritime and aerospace systems, in the form of the RISER inspection platform.

Blue Bear engineers, in partnership with CREATEC, inspected the HMS Illustrious (R06), an aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy. The RISER system demonstrated how automated unmanned systems can safely fly inside ships for inspection. The trials were also conducted in partnership with Lloyd’s Register, and demonstrated the safe navigation and flight of the RISER system, representing a significant milestone in the development of this system.

Trials lead Dr Ian Cowling, Technical Director at Blue Bear, said “These trials successfully demonstrated the potential for this technology within such a challenging environment and it was fantastic to see the system perform but also for our partners BP and Lloyds Register to get excited by the potential of this new capability”.

RISER System

RISER - A step change in UAS capability

Inspecting large structures, such as cargo and hangar spaces, takes significant amounts of time and is often dark, unpleasant and dangerous. The RISER system enables remote repeatable inspection and storage of the data for future interrogation. Even in difficult and light deprived areas, the RISER inspection systems allowed current and potential damage inside the ship to be identified and assessed, which could ultimately cost millions in loss of revenue whilst the ship is unused, due to inspection and repair.

RISER - A step change in UAS capability

Moreover, the UAS, developed between Blue Bear and CREATEC, is a highly automated system designed to operate in complex indoor environments, and perform tasks not possible with existing platforms. The system combines a rotary Unmanned Aerial System, with novel flight management and navigation systems, to address the problem of access, while improving speed and accuracy of surveys. Ultimately, this is a huge escalation in UAS capability, allowing maritime and aero systems to perform better than they ever have before.

These trials were facilitated by NCHQ as part of the Unmanned Warrior 16 activities.

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Pearl Harbor Museum to display rare WWII Japanese Torpedo Plane #avgeek

Apr 19, 2016

The Nakajima B5N Torpedo Bomber was the pride of the Imperial Japanese Navy and was considered the most effective aircraft of its kind at the beginning of World War II. She caused most of the battleship damage during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 7th December 1941. Seventy-five years later, the Type 97 Carrier Torpedo Bomber, dubbed the “Kate” by the allies, will return to the exact spot where she made aviation history and be displayed at Pacific Aviation Museum  on Ford Island. [clicktotweet]Pearl Harbor Museum to display rare WWII Japanese Torpedo Plane #avgeek[/clicktotweet]

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

“This aircraft is one of a few known to have survived the war,” said Kenneth DeHoff, executive director of Pacific Aviation Museum.

“An estimated 1,149 B5N’s were built, and only bits and pieces survive today, except for this Kate with its intriguing history.”

Work has begun on the Kate’s fuselage and wings in the Museum’s Lt. Ted Shealy’s Restoration Shop, located in historic Hangar 79.

“We expect it will take five years to restore the B5N for static display quality” according to DeHoff.

B5N Torpedo Bomber fuselage at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

“With this year being the 75th Anniversary of the attack on the harbor, the Museum is honored to be able to display the Kate where she made aviation history, sharing a legacy with thousands of visitors worldwide.”

Pacific Aviation Museum is located on Historic Ford Island, where some of the first bombs fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7th December 1941. Visitors to the Museum can see remnants from that day of infamy, including the 158-foot tall, red and white iconic Ford Island Air Field Control Tower; Hangar 37; and Hangar 79, where bullet holes still remain.

Through its preservation and restoration of World War II fighter planes and accompanying artifacts in the Museum’s historic hangars, Pacific Aviation Museum shares the story of the vital role aviation played in the winning of World War II, and its continuing role in maintaining America’s freedom.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to develop and maintain an internationally recognised aviation museum on Historic Ford Island that educates young and old alike, honours aviators and their support personnel who defended freedom in The Pacific Region, and to preserve Pacific aviation history.

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Boeing to recycle 117 Apache Helicopters for U.S. Army

Apr 19, 2016

Boeing is to recycle 117 Apache Helicopters for U.S. Army. The United States’ leading provider of attack helicopters has a contract to remanufacture 117 AH-64D attack helicopters to the new, more capable AH-64E model. The agreement, which also includes the acquisition of Longbow Crew Trainers, logistical support and spares, carries a total contract value of about $1.5 billion.

The U.S. Army has stated it plans to acquire 690 AH-64E helicopters, 290 of which are now under contract with this latest award.

“The AH-64E continues to meet the requirements of aviators, battlefield commanders and soldiers deployed on missions worldwide,” said U.S. Army Apache Project Manager, Col. Jeff Hager.

“The Army, Boeing and Team Apache suppliers continue a valuable collaboration that ensures soldiers have the latest technologies to succeed in defending freedom with this outstanding weapons system.”

The Apache AH-64E Attack Helicopter

Boeing to remanufacture 117 Apache Helicopters for U.S. Army

“With our integrated production, services and training teams, Boeing is able to affordably support the Army through each phase of the Apache’s lifecycle,” said Kim Smith, vice president, Attack Helicopter Programs, Boeing Vertical Lift.

“The dedication and commitment to first-time quality by Boeing teammates and suppliers combine to deliver an Apache that is ready to meet the rigorous demands of the men and women who depend on it.”

The agreement modifies an existing contact among Boeing and the Army for the full-rate production of lots 5 and 6 Apache helicopters. The Army will return 117 AH-64D Apaches to Boeing’s Mesa, Ariz. production center to be remanufactured into the AH-64E configuration. The Army followed a similar model when the AH-64A Apaches were remanufactured into AH-64Ds.

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Beechcraft T-6C trainer success with New Zealand Air Force pilot training

Apr 14, 2016

Beechcraft Defense Company has today announced that with CAE and Safe Air Ltd, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) have completed the introduction of New Zealand’s new military pilot training capability. This has taken just two years since the signing of the initial contract between Beechcraft Defense Company and the NZDF. New Zealand’s next generation of military pilots will be training in 11 Beechcraft T-6C Texan II aircraft delivered to the NZDF only 16 months after program initiation.

“We applaud the New Zealand Defence Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force for standing up this impressive program with the support of industry-leading partners,” said Tom Hammoor, president, Beechcraft Defense Company.

Beechcraft T-6C military trainer

“New Zealand joins a family of the world’s finest air forces training in the T-6C platform, which combines intuitive handling characteristics and superior engine systems to provide critical training capability for student pilots.”

The value of every hour spent flying is increased by preparation and instruction received from CAE’s T-6C Ground-Based Training System (GBTS). The T-6C GBTS includes classroom training using newly developed courseware and curriculum, as well as simulator training using two high-fidelity T-6C operational flight trainers.

In addition to the training devices, onsite contractor maintenance and logistics support for the fleet of T-6C aircraft is provided by a team comprised of Beechcraft and Safe Air experienced personnel. This team has been providing support at the RNZAF Base Ohakea since the first aircraft were delivered in 2014. CAE is also providing maintenance and support services for the flight simulators.

“The expertise and commitment of the maintenance team on the ground in New Zealand ensures the RNZAF T-6 fleet will continue to deliver the operational rates required to fulfill the training demands for decades to come,” said Hammoor.

Strength of the Beechcraft T-6 platform

To date, Beechcraft has delivered more than 900 T-6 trainers, which have amassed more than 2.6 million flight hours. The Beechcraft T-6 delivers world-class training capability and is ideally suited for teaching the most basic introductory flight training tasks through the more challenging and complex advanced training missions that could previously only be accomplished in far more expensive jet aircraft. The T-6 is being used to train the pilots, navigators, and weapons systems operators of more than 20 countries around the world.

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Boeing delivers six enhanced B-52 Bomber Weapons Bay Launchers

Jan 19, 2016

Six of the U.S. Air Force’s B-52 bombers can now take flight with a greater variety of weapons, thanks to enhanced internal weapons bay launchers delivered by Boeing. The upgraded launchers allow the the aircraft to carry GPS-guided or “smart” weapons in the weapons bay for the first time and are ready for use.

“The upgrades to the B-52 bomber’s internal weapons bay have made it possible to have zero gap on the bomber’s long-range bombing capabilities as we transfer from Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles to Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range,” said Col. Tim Dickinson, B-52 Program Director with the U.S. Air Force.

The enhancement modifies an existing common strategic rotary launcher in the internal weapons bay into a conventional rotary launcher and increases the total number of smart weapons the B-52 can carry and deliver, giving crew members greater flexibility to adapt to changing conditions on the battlefield.

The launchers, which can be moved from one bomber to another, can carry, target and launch eight Joint Direct Attack Munitions. Future increments of the weapons bay launcher upgrade program will add the capability to carry Joint Air-to-Surface Stand Off Missiles and Miniature Air Launched Decoys.

“With this added capability, this bomber will remain relevant for decades to come,” said Jeff Lupton, Boeing’s B-52 Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade program manager.

B-52 Bomber now with upgraded launchers

Six enhanced B-52 Bomber Weapons Bay Launchers by Boeing

“Our commitment to providing our USAF customer with uncompromising service enabled us to successfully deliver these launchers on an accelerated schedule.”

These deliveries follow several months of successful ground and flight testing of the launchers and support the U.S. Air Force’s accelerated schedule to complete the first stage of the upgrade program – low rate initial production.

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Red Arrows Display Team back in the air after a difficult weekend!

Aug 11, 2015

We all look forward to seeing the Red Arrows display their ‘oh so close’ flying skills but last weekend there were a few issues that unfortunately caused cancellations and some quick re-thinking.

There are so many procedures and people required to keep the Red Arrows in the air and sometimes things don’t always go to plan. After the recent events last weekend Squadron Leader Mike Ling – Red 10 – explains the detains behind the very challenging August weekend!

Now that the dust has settled from what has been a manic few days, I can put some meat on the bones of what we had to deal with this weekend.

After 10 days of mid-summer leave (mandatory for fatigue management during a busy summer display season) we are required to perform a nine-ship practice display before we can display in front of the public.

We had two nine-ship practice displays planned on Friday, August 7, at RAF Scampton, ready for a transit to Belfast and the display in Newcastle. Unfortunately, despite best efforts by our engineering staff and for a variety of unrelated technical reasons, we did not have nine aircraft from our fleet, including our spare aircraft, available to complete the practices.

The engineers worked very hard overnight on Friday to produce the nine aircraft ready for the mandatory practice, now re-planned for Saturday morning (August 8) with the plan to then land, refuel and head to Belfast. Lady (Bad) Luck struck again and two aircraft were deemed unserviceable during start-up, again with different technical issues, meaning the nine-ship practice could not take place.

Some more rapid work by the engineers to fix faults, we were able to launch nine jets just after midday. Since Trent Bridge is only four minutes flying time from our base, we were able to conduct the flypast there, for the Ashes Test, before coming back to RAF Scampton to start the practice.

It is worth mentioning at this point that the requirement to complete a practice after a prolonged break does not apply for flypasts, just displays – hence we were able to appear at Trent Bridge.

During the route back from the flypast, one of the aircraft developed a radio malfunction. Unable to hear the other pilots, he had no choice but to land at base. Once again, our nine-ship practice could not take place. Of course, we could have completed an eight-ship practice but that would still not negate the need to complete a nine-ship practice before our next display, which would have had a knock-on effect to the rest of our schedule this week.

Since this practice is a mandatory requirement, we had no choice but to cancel the transit to Belfast and the display at the Newcastle Festival of Flight. No one is more disappointed and frustrated than us – the whole of the Team, both Reds and Blues, when we have to cancel planned events, for whatever reason.

Another busy night shift for the engineers saw nine jets ‘on the line’ on Sunday morning (August 9) and we, at last, were able to complete the nine-ship display practice. That said, there were a couple of minor ‘snags’ reported on landing that would need fixing before the next flight and, due to time constraints, we changed the plan to launch for the Blackpool display – launching from RAF Scampton instead, hence the cancellation of the visit to Hawarden Airport. All looking good for the Blackpool display, I headed off to Blackpool to get ready for the show.

Thirty minutes before the Blackpool display, I took a call from our Junior Engineering Officer to explain that one of the previously-‘snagged’ jets had failed a functional check of one of its avionics components and, given that the instrument in question would likely have to be relied upon due to the forecast weather conditions, that jet would not be able to fly in the Blackpool display. The decision was made to leave Red 9 out of the display and put into action one of our ‘loser plans’, which we brief regularly and practice during training for exactly this eventuality.

The weather at Blackpool meant a flat display in front of a huge, enthusiastic crowd and the jets then landed at Liverpool Airport for a refuel before flying home. Liverpool was used instead of Hawarden simply due to opening hours on a Sunday evening – Hawarden shuts at 1700.

We are sorry for the cancellation of the Newcastle display and for the need to fly just an eight-ship display at Blackpool but the events really were out of our control and we were struck with sheer bad luck. In my seven years of experience with the Red Arrows, this has been one of the most challenging weekends I’ve seen. It goes without saying that we do not take any unnecessary risks, with the safety of all concerned our number one priority.

While we do our best to keep everybody updated using various social media channels, sometimes the situation is just so fluid and detailed that it just isn’t possible. All of the updates we can provide will be available via @RAFRed10 and @rafredarrows on Twitter and the RAF Red Arrows page on Facebook.

The Blues now have two engineering days to work on the aircraft for the next ‘push’ that starts on Wednesday, during which we have eight displays and many flypasts planned. I hope we get some better luck with serviceability and with the British weather!

We look forward to the rest of the summer display season and are excited about performing to many millions of people over the coming weeks.

For the latest on the Red Arrows visit their website.

Red Arrows Display Dates

12 August Minehead Summer Festival, Somerset – 1430hrs

12 August Falmouth Week1815hrs

13 August Cowes Week1850hrs

14-16 August Airbourne, Eastbourne International Airshow – (14 Aug – 1600hrs, 15 Aug – 1630hrs, 16 Aug – 1630hrs)

15 August Herne Bay Amy Johnson Memorial Airshow, Kent – 1300hrs

16 August Combined Ops Show, Headcorn, Kent – 1300hrs

19 August Weymouth Carnival, Dorset – 1500hrs

19 August British Fireworks Championships, Plymouth – 1900hrs

20 August Fowey Regatta – 1800hrs

20-23 August Bournemouth Air Festival – (20 Aug – 1415hrs, 21 Aug – 1500hrs, 22 Aug – 1345hrs, 23 Aug – 1500hrs)

21 August Sidmouth Regatta, Devon – 1830hrs

22 August Dawlish Air Show1630hrs

26 August Torbay Royal Regatta1800hrs

27-28 August Clacton Airshow1700hrs

28 August Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta1800hrs

29 August Dunsfold Wings and Wheels1600hrs

29 August CarFest South,Hants – 1920hrs

30 August Rhyl Air Show1700hrs


5 September Scottish Airshow, Prestwick – 1700hrs

5-6 September Northern Ireland International Airshow, Portrush – 1300hrs

6 September Chatsworth Country Fair1815hrs

9 September Pangbourne – 1300hrs

10 September RAFA Guernsey Air Display

10 September Jersey International Air Display

12 September Southampton Boat Show1545hrs

13 September Great North Run, South Shields, South Tyneside – (Flypasts 1038hrs & 1115hrs, Display 1315hrs)

18 September Sanicole International Airshow, Belgium

19-20 September Southport Air Show – (19 Sept – 1630hrs, 20 Sept – 1230hrs)

20 September Battle of Britain Anniversary Air Show, Duxford, Cambridgeshire

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French Army receive two more upgraded AS532 Cougar helicopters

Mar 13, 2015

The French General Directorate for Armament (DGA) today took delivery of two upgraded AS532 Cougar helicopters for the French Army Aviation.

Helicopter Upgrade

Airbus Helicopters was awarded with an ambitious modernisation program, by the French General Directorate for Armament, for the 26 Cougar aircraft that are operated by the French Army Aviation. The upgrades included, in particular, a new avionics suite and an exceptional automatic pilot similar to that of the H225M (formerly the EC725). This brings a similar human machine interface between the two aircraft, a real operational advantage for the crew.

French Army receive two more upgraded AS532 Cougar helicopters

French Army receive two more upgraded AS532 Cougar helicopters

Three AS532 Cougar were upgraded in 2013, and five more in 2014 and an additional seven aircraft will be delivered in 2015.

In April 2014, the modernised Cougar successfully participated in its first operational deployment in Mali as part of Operation Barkhane alongside the Tiger and has already demonstrated excellent capabilities.

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The Royal Thai Army acquires six Airbus EC145 T2 Helicopters

Feb 23, 2015

The Royal Thai Army’s helicopter fleet has increased with the acquisition of six light-utility EC145 T2 aircraft from Airbus Helicopters. They are the newest and most powerful model in Airbus Helicopters’ proven EC145 light twin-engine helicopter family.

Royal Thai Army Order

This order by the Royal Thai Army is for six EC145 T2s with a VIP installation. Under the Light Utility Helicopter Type II requirement, they will be deployed principally on official passenger transport duties, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2016.

“By acquiring the EC145 T2, the Royal Thai Army again demonstrates its confidence in Airbus Helicopters’ products and services, following the successful entry into service of the AS550 C3e Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters in 2014 and the imminent delivery of the UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters from the United States,” said Philippe Monteux, Airbus Helicopters’ Head of Region South East Asia & Pacific.

The Royal Thai Army acquires six Airbus EC145 T2 Helicopters

The Royal Thai Army EC145 T2 Helicopter

The EC145 T2 features a modern digital cockpit and a 4-axis autopilot. With a maximum take-off weight of 3.65 tons, the helicopter is powered by Turbomeca Arriel 2E powerplants equipped with dual-channel full authority digital engine controls (FADEC). Operational safety is enhanced by Airbus Helicopters’ Fenestron® shrouded tail rotor, particularly for landings and takeoffs in confined landing sites, as well as during loading/unloading on the ground while the rotor is turning.

The UH-72A is a version of the EC145 type produced by Airbus Helicopters’ plant in Columbus, Mississippi for the United States Army and Navy. Six units were acquired by the Royal Thai Army in December 2013 from the United States Army under the Foreign Military Sales program.

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