31 August 2015

United States Deploy F-22 Raptor to Europe

The United States deploy F-22 fighter jets to Europe as part of a broader effort to support eastern European members of the NATO alliance unnerved by Russia's intervention in Ukraine, Air Force Secretary Deborah James said on Monday.

Four US Air Force F-22 Raptors touched down in Germany on Friday, marking the start of the fighter jet’s first-ever training deployment to Europe.
Four F-22s and 60 airmen from the 95th Fighter Squadron arrived at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, on Friday, according to an Aug. 28 statement. One C-17 Globemaster III from the 60th Airlift Wing touched down along with the jets.
The aircraft and airmen will train with allied and US forces through mid-September, according to the statement.
“This inaugural Raptor training deployment is the perfect opportunity for these advanced aircraft to train alongside other U.S. Air Force aircraft, joint partners, and NATO allies,” Gen. Frank Gorenc, US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, said in the statement.
The training is designed to prove that fifth-generation fighter jets can successfully deploy to European bases and other NATO installations, as well as familiarize pilots with the regional theater. The deployment also will give the US planes a chance to conduct combat air training with different US and European jets, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon.
“It’s important we test our infrastructure, aircraft capabilities, and the talented airmen and allies who will host 5th generation aircraft in Europe,” Gorenc said. “This deployment advances our airpower evolution and demonstrates our resolve and commitment to European safety and security.”
The Air Force announced Monday that the service would send F-22s to Europe for the first time, just weeks after top Pentagon brass began openly calling Russia the greatest threat to the United States. The deployment is part of the European Reassurance Initiative, a Pentagon effort to soothe anxiety among European allies in the face of increased Russian aggression.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James made clear during an Aug. 24 press conference at the Pentagon that the Raptor’s “inaugural” deployment to Europe was designed to send a signal to Russia.
"Rotational forces and training exercises help us maintain our strong and balanced approach, and we will certainly be continuing those in the future," she said. "For the Air Force, an F-22 deployment is certainly on the strong side of the coin."

30 August 2015

Kamov Ka-52 "Alligator" Russian Attack Helicopter

The first Ka-52 helicopter was rolled out in December 1996. The helicopter completed its first flight in June 1997. The serial production of Ka-52 began in 2008 at Progress Arsenyev Aviation plant in the Primorye region of Russia.

The Ka-52 Alligator is a next-generation reconnaissance and combat helicopter designed to destroy tanks, armoured and non-armoured ground targets, and enemy troops and helicopters both on the front line and in tactical reserves. The helicopter can operate around the clock and in all weathers. The Ka-52 can provide target acquisition and designation for helicopter teams and ground troop command and control centres. It can also provide fire support for troop landings, fly routine patrols and escort military convoys.

Ka-52 incorporates a slightly modified design of the Ka-50 helicopter. The helicopter features a wider nose and an extended fuselage due to its twin-seat cockpit. The commonality of the airframe, components and systems of the two variants is about 85%.

The helicopter has a length of 16m, height of 4.9m and main rotor diameter of 14.5m. The maximum take-off weight of the Ka-52 is 10,800kg.

The twin-seat cockpit accommodates two crew members in side-by-side arrangement. Both the crew members are seated on identical K-37-800M ejection seats. The modern glass cockpit is equipped with a head-up-display (HUD), four SMD 66 multifunction displays, helmet-mounted sight display, image intensifiers and a GPS receiver. The helicopter also integrates a FAZOTRON cabin desk radio-locator and navigation and attack system for helicopters (NASH).

In September 2012 Russian Helicopters, a subsidiary of Oboronprom, signed a long-term contract with Ramenskoye Design Company (RDC) for deliveries of avionics equipment. As part of the contract, RDC is responsible for the supply of avionics packages for Ka-52 attack helicopter and Ka-52K advanced ship-based variant between 2013 and 2020.

Armaments on the Attack Helicopter
The starboard side of the fuselage is fitted with a NPPU-80 movable gun mount installed with 2A42 30mm automatic gun. The six wing-mounted external hardpoints can be attached with different combinations of weapons.
The hardpoints can carry VIKHR anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), ATAKA missiles with laser guidance system and B8V-20 rocket launchers for 80mm unguided S-8 rockets. VIKHR anti-tank missile has a range of eight to ten kilometres. The Ka-52s can also be armed with IGLA-V anti-aircraft guided missiles.

Engines and Performance of Russia's Ka-52
The Ka-52 Alligator is powered by two Klimov VK-2500 turboshaft engines driving two coaxial contra-rotating main rotors. Each engine produces a maximum take-off power of 2,400hp. The engines are equipped with a new full authority digital control system (FADEC).
The Ka-52 helicopter can fly at a maximum altitude of 5,500m. The maximum and cruise speeds of the helicopter are 300km/h and 260km/h respectively. The helicopter can climb at a rate of 12m/s. The Ka-52 has a practical flight range of 460km, while its ferry flight range is 1,110km.

Sensors, Radars and Countermeasures
The Ka-52 helicopter is fitted with a mast-mounted radome housing a Phazotron FH-01 Millimeter Wave Radar (MMW) radar with two antennas for aerial and ground targets.
The countermeasures are supported by active IR and electronic jammers, radar warning receiver (RWR), laser detection system, IR missile approach warning sensor and UV-26 flare / chaff dispensers in wing-tip fairings.

20 August 2015

Textron AirLand Scorpion - The Scorpion ISR / Strike Aircraft

The development of the Scorpion aircraft was commenced in January 2012, with the objective of producing the most economical jet-powered light attack aircraft in the world. The first prototype was unveiled during the Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in September 2013. The first flight was conducted at the McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas in December 2013.

The Scorpion Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) / Strike aircraft is being developed by Textron AirLand, a joint venture between Textron and AirLand Enterprises.

The aircraft is capable of performing air defence, irregular warfare, border patrol, maritime security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions.

The Scorpion aircraft features an all-composite airframe and structure powered by twin turbofan engines. Its fuselage integrates a tandem cockpit, retractable sensor package, internal payload bay and external mounts for precision and non-precision munitions. The corrosion-resistant airframe offers 20,000 hours of service life.

The aircraft is designed to integrate globally-available commercial components for reducing the total cost of ownership. The modular architecture of the aircraft allows for future integration of various sensors and weapon systems with reduced integration costs.

The internal payload bay is designed to deliver critical operational flexibility, by quickly accepting new payloads for different operational requirements. It can house various modules of sensors, fuel and communications in desirable combination to achieve high performance during a wide range of missions.

The Scorpion has a length of 13.25m, wing span of 14.42m and height of 4.26m. The standard weight of the aircraft is 5,352kg. The internal payload bay can accommodate a weight of 1,360kg, while the aircraft can carry a maximum payload of 4,286kg.

Engines and performance of Textron AirLand's aircraft
The Scorpion is powered by two Honeywell TFE731-40AR-3S turbofan engines, each developing a thrust of approximately 4,000lbf (18kN).

The engines are controlled by a digital electronic engine control system. The electrical and hydraulic systems are powered by the accessories mounted above the engine gearbox. The aircraft has the capacity to carry a fuel load of 2,721kg. The engines burn Jet-A, JP-5 and JP-8 jet fuels. The aircraft can fly at a maximum speed of 450KTAS. The certified service ceiling is 45,000ft. The aircraft will have a ferry range of 2,400nmi. It will be able to remain on-station for more than five hours.

Weapon Systems, Sensors and Radars on the Scorpion Aircraft

The Scorpion ISR / Strike aircraft can be armed with a range of scaled munitions for indulgent military and homeland security environments. The aircraft can carry an array of weapons systems on its external hard points under the wings. Three under-wing hard points on either side of the fuselage can hold precision guided munitions (PGMs) and general purpose munitions.

The Scorpion can be integrated with a variety of sensors, electro-optical / infrared devices and communication packages to perform various missions.

The aircraft will be offered with dedicated mission sensor systems, for conducting boarder security, maritime patrol, irregular warfare support, law enforcement, counter narcotics and humanitarian assistance / disaster response missions.

Scorpion Strike / ISR Aircraft Cockpit and Avionics

The Scorpion aircraft accommodates two pilots in tandem layout. The two cockpits are equipped with advanced multifunction colour displays, providing the details of flight characteristics, aircraft operation, navigation and armament data.

The avionics suite integrates inherent Flight Management System (FMS), Class-B Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), engine indication and crew alerting system (EICAS), dual Air Data, Attitude and Heading Reference Systems (ADAHRS), dual GPS/Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) and integrated moving maps. The nigh-vision compatible cockpit also offers instrumentation for weather radar control, display of external video and digital flight data recording.

15 August 2015

Russian Fighter Aircraft Can Easily Defeats The New US F-35's

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, described by US media as “a pure gold plane” for its exorbitant price tag, would find itself helpless in a dogfight with Russia’s fourth-generation Su-27 and MiG-29 jets, Pierre Sprey said.

“The Su-27 and even the MiG-29 have bigger wing space, more powerful engines and carry more air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons… That’s why the F-35 will be totally helpless against both because when you confront a plane, which is more maneuverable, accelerates faster and is better armed then you are in trouble,” he added.

Few people are as qualified to speak about fighter aircraft as Pierre Sprey. He is the co-designer of the F-16 Falcon jet and the A-10 Warthog tank buster, two of the most successful aircraft in the US Air Force.

“The F-35 is so bad it is absolutely hopeless when pitted against modern aircraft. In fact, it would be ripped to shreds even by the antiquated MiG-21,” Sprey told RT, commenting on a recent expert report, which dismissed the F-35 project as a total failure.

 According to a report released by the National Security Network, the DOD plans to purchase and operate nearly 2, 500 aircrafts costing US around $1.4 trillion.
In light of that, analyst Bill French wrote a report titled “Thunder without lightning: high cost and limited benefit development program of F-35,” reviewing the new aircraft.
The document states that according to the technical parameters the F-35 is “losing to the fourth-generation fighter MiG-29 and Su-27, developed by the Russian Air Force and used around the world.”
The Soviet MiG-29 and Su-27 fighter aircraft are superior in technical performance than the new US fighter aircraft F-35. The conclusion was reached by the American analyst Bill French, working for a non-profit organization National Security Network.“The F-35 is significantly inferior to the Russian Su-27 and MiG-29 in regard to wing loading (exception — F35C), acceleration and thrust-weight ratio (the ratio of thrust to weight of the aircraft),” said the analyst.
Besides, all of the F-35s have significantly lower maximum speed as compared to the Soviet Union aircrafts. Mr. French also deliberated that in a simulation of air combat, the results draw even “grimmer picture.”
According to him, in 2009 the analysts of US Air Force Intelligence and the Lockheed Martin Company, which developed the new American fighter, noted that despite the superiority of the F-35 in regard to stealth technology and avionics, if compared to the Su-27 and MiG —29 the loss ratio is to be expected 3: 1. That is, for each destroyed Su-27 or MiG-29 there would be three F-35 destroyed. Also, in a real educational dogfight, a veteran in a US Air Force F-16 easily won over the F-35.
The latter clearly did not have enough maneuverability — the aircraft never managed to take a position for launching missiles or firing a gun, while the F-16 managed to catch opponent in sight at least 10 times.
Earlier the problems associated with the F-35 were also noticed in Australia. News.com.au compared the F- 35 to the latest fifth-generation T-50 fighter. The portal noted, judging by the videos, the Russian aircraft significantly exceeds US maneuverability.

Lockheed Martin Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod

The Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) is the targeting system of choice for both the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard and recently became an even more valuable bit of kit when it successfully demonstrated its compatibility with the launch of a Maverick missile from an adjacent A-10C wing pylon. Combat proven on the F-15E and F-16, Sniper’s advanced targeting technology and features are changing the way the armed forces operate in theatre by providing new capabilities in non-traditional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). The Sniper is understandably very sensitive – in order to do its job, it contains a high-resolution, mid wave 3rd generation forward looking infrared (FLIR), a dual-mode laser and a CCD-TV along with a laser spot tracker and a laser marker. The advanced image processing algorithms, combined with rock steady stabilization techniques, provide cutting-edge performance but there are obvious issues in firing the rockets it does the precision strike mission targeting for when they are just a few inches away. The ability to fire missiles so close to the Sniper ATP uniquely qualifies Sniper for this weapon configuration, doubling the previous A-10C Maverick loadout capabilities.

The Sniper is an electro-optical and infrared imaging targeting system that comes encased in a lightweight pod compatible with the latest precision-guided weapons. The pod is affixed to the bottom of aircraft for detecting moving and fixed targets during air-to-air and air-to-ground engagements.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control's Sniper XR (eXtended Range) is the US Air Force's AN/AAQ-X Advanced Targeting Pod. Incorporating a 3rd generation targeting FLIR, Sniper XR's common aperture and exceptional stabilization result in superior image quality. Flown supersonically in USAF flight evaluations at Edwards AFB, Sniper XR allows pilots to identify tactical targets at greatly improved standoff ranges over current targeting systems. The modular, two-level maintenance design ensures the lowest life cycle costs.
The ATP pod should have a geopointing capability 10 times more accurate than the LANTIRN with triple the recognition range and twice the resolution. The ATP can acquire targets at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet, versus the 25,000 feet typical of the LANTIRN pod. Substantial advances in the reliability and maintainability should also occur. The ATP features both laser target designation, and the ability to generate ground target position data that can provide an input to Global Positioning System guided munitions, such as JDAM.
Sniper XR is designed for current and future fighter aircraft. Incorporating a high-resolution, mid-wave 3rd generation FLIR, a dual-mode laser and a CCD-TV along with a laser spot tracker and a laser marker, Sniper vastly improves target detection/identification. The advanced image processing algorithms, combined with rock-steady stabilization techniques, deliver three times the performance of the best systems in service today. Fully compatible with the latest standoff weaponry, Sniper provides automatic tracking and laser designation of tactical size targets via real-time imagery presented on cockpit displays. Likewise, the supersonic, low-observable design results in a substantial reduction in drag and weight.
Fully capable of being embedded or podded, Sniper technology is incorporated into Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) design. The JSF Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) is highly common with Sniper.
The Advanced Targeting Pod Program is an acquisition program to put targeting pods on the US F-16CJ Block 50 aircraft and also serve as a possible replacement for the LANTIRN target pods on F-15Es and F-16 Block 40 aircraft if approved and funding becomes available. The HTS R7 / TGP combination provides potential to find, pinpoint, and destroy mobile SAMs, giving the F-16CJs a true multi-role capability to support EAF operations. The program objective was to provide a Precision Attack Targeting System for the USAF F-16CJ, ANG F-16, and F-15E aircraft, (with an A-10 MSIP & F-16 Block 40 M4 objective). For the F-15E portion, offerors were required to identify the tasks and activities necessary to qualify the pod on the F-15E. The A-10 was the other objective aircraft, though initially an initiative had not been undertaken to include ATP on the A-10. ATP would enhance and maintain the USAF strike mission lethality with an advanced targeting pod system enabling Destruction of Enemy Air Defense (DEAD) missions.
The overall purpose of the Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) Program is to Competitively Acquire a Best Estimated Quantity (BEQ) of 168 targeting pods, support equipment, interim contractor support, contractor logistics support, retrofit kits and data over a seven year period. The initial acquisition supported USAF F-16 Block 50/52 and ANG F-16 Block 25/30/32 aircraft. This acquisition was required for ACC and the ANG to accomplish the Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (DEAD) mission (as directed by CSAF Direction.) Although categorized as an ACAT Level III program, a potential existed that the program could proceed to ACAT Level II -- for the ORD also stated an objective requirement to replace the LANTIRN targeting pod on the F-15E and F-16 Block 40 aircraft.
The Terminator ATP, proposed by Raytheon for use on the U.S. Air Force F-16, contains third generation mid-wave infrared targeting and navigation FLIRs, an electro-optical sensor, a laser rangefinder and target designator, and a laser spot tracker. The ATP prototype was flight tested on F-16 and F-15E aircraft with impressive results: verified superior long-range standoff FLIR target detection, recognition, identification, and tracking. The proven accuracy of its long-range laser-to-FLIR continuous auto-boresight alignment ensures first-pass kill and a higher probability of catastrophic kill. The Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-28 LITENING was also competing for the SAF Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) program.
The award of a single contract was anticipated 15 July 2001. The contract would be structured to provide for seven years of ATP requirements. The contract type anticipated was Fixed Price, Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity, with a Best Estimated Quantity of 168 pods. Total potential quantity was approximately 505 pods. The planned requirements included the advanced targeting pod, required support equipment, pod refurbishment and retrofit kits, aircraft pylons, interim contractor support, contractor logistics support, test support and shipping containers. The ATP would be acquired as a Non Developmental Item (NDI). The requirements also included an availability warranty. The ATP would be acquired through the use of full and open competition.
Delivery Order 1 was intended to cover FY 01 activities. These activities included preparation time for the F-16 Block 30 SIL test; but, SIL testing wasn't scheduled to begin until October 2001 - FY 02. The government intended to place CLIN 0008 on contract with the following year's (FY02) delivery order. This next delivery order covered the period of intense QT&E and QOT&E activity; so, ICS was needed on this particular delivery order to support the testing activities.
The February 2001 Final Report of the Defense Science Board (DSB) Task Force on Options for Acquisition of the Advanced Targeting Pod and Advanced Targeting FLIR Pod (ATP/ATFLIR) recommended that the Department continues with both the Navy's ATFLIR program and the Air Force ATP program as then planned since it offered the most expeditious and cost-effective option to fielding a much needed capability. A redesign of the Navy version to accommodate Air Force needs for an in-pod cooling system may result in a pod that is too large for F-18 carrier operations.
On 20 August 2001 the US Air Force announced Lockheed Martin's Sniper XR (eXtended Range) system as the winner of its Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) competition. This 7-year contract with potential value in excess of $843 million marked the first deployment of 3rd generation targeting pods for the U.S. Air Force. The contract provided for up to 522 pods and associated equipment, spares, and support of the F-16 aircraft for both the Air Force and Air National Guard. Sniper XR pods will initially equip the U.S. Air Force's F-16CJ Block 50 aircraft and the Air National Guard's F-16 Block 30 aircraft. Follow-on acquisitions were destined for the F-16 Block 40 and F-15E fleets, as well as many interested international customers, bringing product potential to several billion dollars. The scheduled contract delivery date was January 2003.
Sniper pods provide improved long-range target detection/identification and continuous stabilized surveillance for all missions, including close air support of ground forces. The Sniper pod enables aircrews to detect and identify weapon caches and individuals carrying armaments, all outside jet noise ranges. Superior imagery, a video datalink and J-series-weapons-quality coordinates provided by the Sniper pod enable rapid target decisions and keep aircrews out of threat ranges.
High resolution imagery for non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (NTISR) enables the Sniper pod to play a major role in Air Force operations in theater, providing top cover for ground forces, as well as increasing the safety of civilian populations.
The Sniper pod is combat proven on U.S. Air Force and international F-15E, F-16 (all blocks), B-1, A-10C, Harrier GR7/9 and CF-18 aircraft. Lockheed Martin is also in the final stages of integrating the Sniper pod on the B-52. The pod's plug-and-play capability facilitates moving the pod across platforms without changing software.
Sniper pods include a high definition mid-wave forward looking infrared (FLIR), dual-mode laser, HDTV, laser spot tracker, laser marker, video data link, and a digital data recorder. Advanced image processing algorithms, combined with rock steady stabilization techniques, provide cutting-edge performance. The pod features automatic tracking and laser designation of tactical size targets via real-time imagery presented on cockpit displays. The Sniper pod is fully compatible with the latest J-series munitions for precision weapons delivery against multiple moving and fixed targets.
Advanced Targeting Pod - Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE) design upgrades include enhanced sensors, advanced processors, and automated NTISR modes.
The Sniper pod's architecture and modular design permits true two-level maintenance, eliminating costly intermediate-level support. Automated built-in test permits flightline maintainers to isolate and replace an LRU in under 20 minutes. Spares are ordered through a user-friendly website offering in-transit visibility to parts shipment. The Sniper pod's modular design also offers an affordable road map for modernizing and enhancing precision targeting capabilities for U.S. Air Force and coalition partner aircraft.
Sniper was competitively selected to be the U.S. Air Force's Advanced Targeting Pod in August 2001. The contract provided for pods and associated equipment, spares, and support of the F-16 and F-15E aircraft for the total force, active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard. The Sniper pod first deployed overseas on F-15E aircraft in January 2005.
The Sniper pod was originally required for use on U.S. Air Force F-16, F-15E, and A-10 aircraft. It deployed on the F-16 in 2006, on the B-1 in 2008 in response to an urgent operational need, and on the A-10C in 2010. It has also been integrated on the B-52.
On Sept. 30, 2010, Lockheed Martin received the 60-percent majority contract to continue providing Sniper pods in support of the U.S. Air Force's Advanced Targeting Pod - Sensor Enhancement program.
The Sniper Performance Based Logistics (PBL) program provides critical sustainment support to the United States Air Force (USAF) and Air National Guard (ANG) for its fleet of 358 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods [as of 2014] operating on the A-10, F-15E, F-l6 Block 30-50, B-1, and B-52 aircraft at combat, operational, and training locations around the world. The Sniper PBL program is built on a governrnent-industry partnership managing and staffing the organic depot at Robins Air Force Base. The team includes personnel from Common Avionics within the Agile Combat Support Directorate, Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex (WR-ALC), and Lockheed Martin (LM).
Lockheed Martin won a sole-source contract worth nearly half a billion dollars to supply the US Air Force with precision weapons targeting pods, according to a statement issued 27 March 2015 by the US Department of Defense (DoD). “Lockheed Martin … has been awarded a $485,000,000 firm fixed price with minimal cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. Contractor [Lockheed] will provide multiple Sniper advanced targeting pods,” the statement said.
The building of the Sniper pods will be performed at a Lockheed Martin facility in Orlando, Florida. Development is expected to be completed by March, 2018. Lockheed also won an $8.9 million contract to provide ten Sniper targeting pods to the Royal Jordanian Air Force by the end of 2016, according to the DoD.

Rockwell Collins F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display System

Developed and built by the Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems LLC joint venture that includes Elbit Systems of America (formerly known as Vision Systems International LLC), the Gen 3 helmet features an improved night-vision camera, improved liquid-crystal displays, automated alignment, and software improvements is to be introduced to the fleet in low-rate initial production Lot 7 in 2016.

The HMDS, which was handed over during a ceremony at the company's Cedar Rapids headquarters in Iowa, is designed to display to the pilot the F-35's more advanced sensor fusion capabilities. As noted by the company, the Gen 3 HMDS provides the information via the helmet's visor, with the pilot able to 'see through' the airframe by means of the Distributed Aperture System (DAS) that streams real-time imagery from six infrared (IR) cameras mounted around the aircraft to the helmet.

The first Generation 3 (Gen 3 / III) helmet-mounted display system (HMDS) for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has been delivered to the Joint Program Office (JPO).

Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems LLC also developed the Gen 1 (I) helmet, which was used primarily for flight safety tests, and has delivered 200 of the Gen 2 (II) helmet that JSF pilots currently use. The Gen 2 helmet was used by the US Marine Corps (USMC) to declare initial operational capability (IOC) for the F-35B at the end of July.

This Gen 2 helmet, while still capable of conducting night-flying operations including ship landings and aerial refuelling, suffers from problems with visual acuity of the secondary night-vision camera. In light of these problems, BAE Systems was contracted to build an alternative HMDS, though this was cancelled in 2010 when the USMC decided that IOC could still be declared with the (then) current Gen 2 helmet (the cancelled BAE Systems helmet was later fed into the company's Striker II system). 

Though not ideal, the Gen 2 helmet is said to be preferable to conventional night-vision goggles (NVGs) when landing on a ship, according to the test pilots that have used it. As well as providing additional capabilities, the latest Gen 3 helmet corrects the visual acuity problems of the Gen 2 system.

13 August 2015

Irbis-E Flanker Family Radar

The Irbis multifunctional radar employs a 900mm passive phased array antenna mounted on a hydraulic actuator. With electronically steering, it can scan sectors of 60 degrees in both azimuth and elevation. Using the hydraulic actuator (mechanical steering), the azimuth coverage boosts to 120 degrees. It can detect and track up to 30 airborne targets with a Radar Cross Section (RCS) of three square meters at ranges of 400 kilometers using track-while-scan mode while engaging two targets with semi-active radar homing missiles or up to eight targets with active radar homing missiles. In the air-to-surface mode the Irbis provides clues allowing to attack two surface targets with precision-guided weapons while tracking up to four targets on the ground and scanning the horizon searching for airborne threats that can be engaged using active radar homing missiles.

Irbis-E is an advanced multi-mode, hybrid passive electronically scanned array radar system developed by Tikhomirov NIIP for the Su-35BM multi-purpose fighter aircraft. NIIP developed the new radar based on the Bars radar system provided to Su-30MKI/MKM/MKA aircraft.

Tikhomirov NIIP has provided the ability to spot super-low-observable targets with RCS = 0.01 square meters at ranges out to 90 kilometers. This capability might allow Su-35 aircraft to engage cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles as well as fifth generation stealth fighter aircrafts such as the F/A-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II. NIIP and GRPZ will take care of the Irbis production with the first radar system slated for installation on the Su-35 in August 2007.

Irbis-E development started in 2004 and the first radar prototype entered flight tests on board an Su-30M2 aircraft acting as a test bed in early 2007. The resulting radar system provides air-to-air, air-to-sea and air-to-ground (ground mapping, Doppler beam sharpening and Synthetic Aperture Radar modes) modes with improved performance in intense clutter (radar) environments compared to its predecessor, the Bars system. In addition, Irbis has been designed to detect low and super-low observable/stealth airborne threats.
This is an X band multi-role radar with a passive phased antenna array (PAA) mounted on a two-step hydraulic drive unit (in azimuth and roll). The antenna device scans by an electronically controlled beam in azimuth and angle of elevation in sectors not smaller than 60°. The two-step electro-hydraulic drive unit additionally turns the antenna by mechanic means to 60° in azimuth and 120° in roll. Thus, in using the electronic control and mechanical additional turn of the antenna, the maximum deflection angle of the beam grows to 120°.
The Irbis-E is a direct evolution of the BARS design, but significantly more powerful. While the hybrid phased array antenna is retained, the noise figure is slightly worse at 3.5 dB, but the receiver has four rather than three discrete channels. The biggest change is in the EGSP-27 transmitter, where the single 7-kilowatt peak power rated Chelnok TWT is replaced with a pair of 10-kilowatt peak power rated Chelnok tubes, ganged to provide a total peak power rating of 20 kilowatts. The radar is cited at an average power rating of 5 kilowatts, with 2 kilowatts CW rating for illumination. NIIP claim twice the bandwidth and improved frequency agility over the BARS, and better ECCM capability. The Irbis-E has new Solo-35.01 digital signal processor hardware and Solo-35.02 data processor, but retains receiver hardware, the master oscillator and exciter of the BARS. A prototype has been in flight test since late 2005.

Sharp Sword (Li-Jian or Lijian), The New Chinese Stealth UCAV

China has been testing a number of stealth aircraft over the last few years. The Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang "Falcon Hawk" J-31 have both undergone flight tests, with the expectation that they'll become operational towards the end of the decade.

However, China is pushing hard to match the United States' drone capabilities. Other countries experimenting with unmanned aerial vehicles include Britain, France, and Israel.

Sharp Sword (Li-Jian or Lijian), jointly developed by SYADI, SAU and Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG), is one of the two models of the AVIC 601-S progressed further than proof of concept design by evolving into larger size (the other being Dark Sword). The Sharp Sword is jet-powered and has a wingspan of 14 meters. It’s not yet known the precise mission Sharp Sword is assigned, but possible missions would including reconnaissance and eventually combat missions.

“The successful flight shows the nation has again narrowed the air-power disparity between itself and Western nations,” state-run newspaper China Daily said in a statement on Friday.

Defense analysts have speculated that the drone is a reverse-engineered copy of Russia’s Mikoyan Skat unmanned aerial vehicle. Not much else is known about the capabilities of the jet-powered drone.

In May, a video of the Sharp Sword taxiing down the runway spread across the internet. Chinese officials said then that they were close to being ready to executive the drones’ first test flight.

Chengdu J-10 Vigorous Dragon

Initial development of the J-10 began in October 1988. Originally the aircraft was to be an air superiority fighter. The 1980s saw a number of similar aircraft designs featuring a main delta-wing and canards. The delta-wing, a triangular wing platform, offers two important aerodynamic qualities to a combat aircraft. First, the swept leading edge of a delta-wing stays ahead of the shock wave generated by the nose of the aircraft during supersonic flight, making delta-wing a very efficient aerodynamic wing shape for supersonic flight. And secondly, the leading edge of delta-wing also generates a massive vortex that attaches itself to the upper surface of the wing during high angle-of-attack (AOA) maneuvers resulting in very high stall points. Additionaly, the delta-wing offers increased survivability by having increased structural and airflow stability.
By 1993 the Chinese possessed an all-metal mockup of the J-10. Wind tunnel testing revealed potential problems with low-speed performance and less than expected maximum AOA at subsonic speeds. At the time, there was an ongoing trend in fighter aircraft development that moved the development of single-purpose fighters such as high-speed interceptor or low-altitude dogfighters to polifunctional aircraft that combined subsonic and supersonic air-to-air performance with air-to-ground capabilities. Increasing demands for air-to-ground operations called for an in-depth redesign of the J-10 to accommodate terrain-following radar, more and sturdier hardpoints, and entirely new targeting, flight control and navigation systems.

The first test flight of the J-10 came in 1996 with the help of a Russian made AI-31FN turbofan engine. It would take two years, however, before the J-10 had a successful test flight. By 1999 China had six prototypes: four of them used for flight testing and two for static tests. By late 2000 there were nine J-10 prototypes accumulating over 140 flight hours. The first flight of the pre-production model took place on June 28, 2002. In early 2003 ten J-10s were deployed to Nanjing Military Region for training and operational evaluation.
Development would not stop, however, as China also began to construct two-seat versions of the J-10 for training and air-to-ground roles. This two-seat J-10B fighter-trainer aircraft successfully flew in 2003. Preliminary designs for two new versions of the J-10 featuring single and twin engines and LO geometry were also completed.
Low-rate initial production of the J-10 was authorised in 2002, with the initial run of fifty aircraft to be fitted with Russian AL-31F engines. The J-10 is expected to achieve initial operating capability in the 2005 to 2006 timeframe, initially entering service with the 44th Aviation Division based in Sichuan Province. The PLAAF initially was estimated to have a total requirement of 300 aircraft, but this may be reduced to less than 100 as a result of the introduction of the more capable Su-30MK multirole fighter.
As the Chinese continue to develop and improve the J-10 it becomes clear they are interested in expanding its air-to-ground capability, thus moving from the original concept of a tactical air defense fighter to a multirole fighter-bomber. The change in Chinese reporting of the J-10, from the "Jian-10" ("Fighter-10") to the "Qian Shi-10" ("Attack 10") is proof of this intended move.
Russian involvement in the J-10 program was not limited to the AI-31FN turbojet engine, but also included offers for advanced multifunction radars, navigation and targeting systems, ECM suite, and missile warning and defense systems. For the J-10, the Chinese will most likely adopt the Phazotron RP-35 "Zhemchug," which is an X-band radar with digital fire-control sensors and an electronically scanning phased-array antenna. The radar features a liquid-cooled travelling wave tube transmitter; an exciter; a three channel microwave receiver and programmable signal and data processors. All critical radar controls for "Zemchug" are integrated into the aircraft's throttle grip and stick controller, and radar data is displayed via the head-up and head-down displays allowing for one-man operation.
The production of the J-10 has forced China to quickly adapt to current developmental trends; in addition to utilizing other technologies (Russia, Israel) for the benefit of its final product. The results are promising. Not only does the J-10 pose a risk to the Russian fighter export market, but it considerably boosts the Chinese air force's tactical offensive capabilities, especially vis-a-vis Taiwan.
The J-10B Super-10 is an advanced variant of the J-10A, first fielded in late 2003 with China?s Air Force. The new Super-10 will reportedly be powered by the Chinese-designed WS-10A turbofan engine, which will replace the J-10A?s Russian Saturn AL-31FN. The J-10B was first revealed to the public in early 2009. Images appearing on Chinese-language military websites indicate the J-10B had a new nose configuration with an infrared search and tracking system and a ?new Diverterless Supersonic Intake configured engine air intake, also seen on the Chengdu FC-1 Xiaolong (Fierce Dragon), which is co-produced in Pakistan as the JF-17 Thunder. At least one prototype J-10B has featured the indigenous Shenyang-Liming WS-10A turbofan engine, but it remained to be seen whether all production J-10Bs will feature the WS-10A or the Russian Saturn AL-31F turbofan.
On 06 November 2013 Zhang Jigao, deputy chief designer of the J-10 fighter, spoke about the improved model J-10 publicly for the first time in the AVIC flight test center. Zhang Jigao said that the overall performance of the J-10 will be comprehensively improved in areas such as aerodynamic layout, mission system, and the approach to maintenance. Zhang Jigao added that further improvements to the performance of the J10 would focus on the aircraft's aerodynamic layout and mission systems, and the approach to maintenance. "Aircraft development requires constant optimization and improvement," he said, "and our modifications will be comprehensive rather than being confined to a specific area."
U.S. military expert Richard Fisher recently pointed out that the J-10B is a so-called "fourth and a half" generation fighter equipped with modern airborne technology and an advanced radar system, which is about to be delivered to the PLA Air Force. Zhang Jigao disputed the term "fourth and a half" generation. In contrast, he suggested that the current international criteria to classify generations are more applicable. He pointed out that single combat is rare in modern warfare, and that the majority of cases now involve system combat and network operations, so that the combat capabilities of a fighter depend on many factors. "This does not mean that the optimization of an aircraft's radar, avionics, and missile detection ranges are bound to improvements in operational performance."
Pakistan signed a $1.4 billion deal with China in 2009 to buy 36 J-10B Vigorous Dragon multirole fighters. according to Defense News on 07 October 2013, the most probable buyer of J-10, Pakistan, might put off the purchase plan under the influence of economic factors and technology maturity. By 2013 tough International Monetary Fund conditions on Pakistan and concerns about untested technology delayed Islamabad's plan. At $50-60 million per aircraft, it might become attractive to countries like Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Malaysia and Indonesia.
As global attention has been drawn to when China's in-service top-grade home-made J-10 fighter aircraft enters the international market, Ma Zhiping, vice president of the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC), disclosed recently that many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America had already enquired about price of J-10. According to Ma Zhiping, many clients have contacted to enquire the price of J-10 series fighters. These clients came from various countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and include those traditional users of Chinese military aircraft as well as those countries which previously used Russia's series fighters and French fighters.
Ma Zhiping made a clear statement in an interview by reporters from Global Times on September 25 that: "We can say in a very responsible way that the J-10 fighter aircraft hasn't been exported to Pakistan. The export of a model of military aircraft has to be approved by the country first. However, J-10 hasn't acquired the related export license so far." Ma said on the sidelines of the ongoing 15th Aviation Expo/China 2013 in Beijing "Obtaining a national permit in advance of exporting it is top priority". Export would improve China's market competitiveness in the international arms trade as other countries, such the US and Russia, are eagerly promoting their third-generation jets - the F-15, F16, Su-27 and Su-30 - worldwide, while China's customers, in contrast, are still using the second-generation J-7 or J-8.


Divine Eagle, Chinese Super Drone

The Shen Diao, or Divine Eagle, remotely piloted aircraft is being developed by China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation and appears from Chinese Internet photos made public recently to be larger than the U.S Air Force’s Global Hawk long-range surveillance drone.
In late June 2015, new photos emerged of the Divine Eagle prototype, allowing a clearer look at its details. The Divine Eagle has a single engine nestled between its tailfins, with a diameter of over 1 meter. This makes the engine likely to be a medium non-afterburning turbofan producing 3 to 5 tons of thrust, which in turn is usually enough to power a UAV of 12-18 tons in maximum takeoff weight. In comparison, the largest American UAV in open service, the RQ-4 Global Hawk, uses a F-137-RR-100 turbofan engine with 3.4 tons of thrust. The Divine Eagle has a five wheel landing gear layout. The double bodied layout was chosen in order to provide the surface area for carrying large radars, while minimizing internal volume and weight.

Rep. J. Randy Forbes, (R., Va.) a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Chinese support for systems such as the Shen Diao drone is part of a long-range, well-funded military buildup.

“This particular UAV appears to advance targeting capabilities that China would use in an anti-access, area denial campaign,” Forbes said, using the term for unmanned aerial vehicle.

“While the Chinese military modernization continues to march forward, this administration threatens to veto the defense authorization bill due to the fact that it does not fully fund the IRS and EPA,” Forbes added.

Rick Fisher, a China military affairs analyst with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said ultimately Beijing could develop such twin-fuselage UAVs to carry large missiles for satellite launching, anti-satellite and anti-ship missions.
“China’s construction of large long-range Global Hawk-sized unmanned aircraft will greatly assist its goal of consolidating control over the western Pacific,” said Fisher.

“These large UAVs will act as persistent satellites able to target missiles and other tactical platforms well beyond the first island chain,” he added.

China’s defense strategy, outlined in a document made public this week, calls for increasing the range of its military forces further from coasts through what the Chinese call two island chains, stretching from northeast Asia through the South China Sea.
A Pentagon spokesman did not return emails seeking comment. Former Pentagon official Mark Stokes said the PLA is investing heavily in research, development, and acquisition of advanced airborne sensor platforms.

“A high altitude, long endurance UAV appears to be a high priority,” Stokes said, noting that two competing designs are probably in play.

“The deployment of high-altitude, long endurance UAVs equipped with advanced sensors would enhance the PLA’s ability to strike U.S. bases and naval assets in the region, as well as those of its allies and partners,” said Stokes, now with the Project 2049 Institute, a think tank.

U.S. intelligence agencies have been closely monitoring Chinese drone developments. China is currently deploying drones for reconnaissance and ocean surveillance over disputed maritime territories, including near Japan’s Senkaku Islands, which China is claiming as its territory.
China also recently tested armed combat drones during military exercises. Current Chinese military writings have outlined plans for using long-range drones for integrated air and sea warfare.

The Shenyang company is also building China’s first unmanned combat aircraft, a design that appears similar to the U.S. X-47B unmanned combat jet. China plans to deploy its combat drone on aircraft carriers.

The aircraft is part of China’s so-called anti-access strategy that includes development of aircraft, missiles, anti-satellite weapons and other systems designed to keep enemy forces from operating close to Chinese borders.

China’s development of the new long-range drone began with talks with Russian aircraft technicians at the Sukhoi Aircraft Corporation during the early 2000s.
The discussions focused on China’s interest in purchasing the Sukhoi S-62 twin-fuselage high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle.

At the time, the Russians apparently did not have the resources to develop the S-62. However, China, known for its economic and military espionage and technology acquisition prowess, was able to obtain key insights into the aircraft’s design without funding co-development with Moscow.

“Shen Diao’s development has been rumored on Chinese web pages since 2012 and hinted at for much longer by other Chinese sources,” Fisher said.

“The twin fuselage configuration allows the UAV to carry more fuel for endurance, without having to master very advanced new materials for a much stronger wing. It also provides more area for radar arrays,” he added.

Fisher said China’s development of the new drone means the U.S. military should develop long-range range strike systems, including intermediate-range missiles.

Such missiles are currently banned under the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia, which Moscow is violating. The Russians have developed and tested new missiles that violate the accord and so far are refusing to come back into compliance with the treaty.

Congress is pressuring the Obama administration through current defense authorization bills for a response to the INF violation. Among the options being considered are additional missile defenses and new intermediate nuclear strike weapons.

12 August 2015

Northrop Grumman X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System

Air worthiness of the X-47B unmanned combat air system demonstrator was developed at an estimated cost of $813m. The aircraft performed a successful initial test flight at Patuxent River, Maryland, in July 2012. The X-47B is expected to enter active naval service by 2019.

The X-47B is an unmanned combat air system carrier (UCAS) being developed by Northrop Grumman for the US Navy (USN). The strike fighter size unmanned aircraft is currently in its demonstration phase. The unmanned aircraft was first developed as part of the X-47 programme.

Development History of the UCAS-D
The X-47B UCAS was developed by the US Navy as part of the unmanned combat air system carrier demonstration (UCAS-D) programme. The programme aims to develop and demonstrate which fighter sized tailless unmanned aircraft can be deployed from US Navy aircraft carriers.

The X-47B is a variant of Pegasus X-47A which was developed as a joint USAF and USN programme, called J-UCAS, in 2001. The programme was funded by the DARPA with Northrop Grumman as the main contractor. In February 2006, however, the Joint-UCAS development programme was cancelled for separate UAV development programmes by both the defence forces. Development of the X-47B, which had started in June 2005, was temporarily halted following the cancellation.

The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) contracted Northrop Grumman for the construction and demonstration of two X-47B aircraft under the unmanned combat air system demonstrator (UCAS-D) programme, in August 2007. The UCAS-D programme also aims to pave the way for developing potential future carrier-compatible, unmanned systems with little risk.

Companies collaborating on the UCAS-D programme include Rockwell Collins, Goodrich, Lockheed Martin, Parker Aerospace, Honeywell, GKN Aerospace, General Electric (GE), Wind River, Dell, Hamilton Sundstrand, Pratt & Whitney, Eaton and Moog.

Design and features of the X-47B

The tailless unmanned aircraft is 38.2ft long and has a wingspan of 62.1ft. The shape of the aircraft is designed for stealth or low observable relevant requirements. The weapons bay can carry 4,500lb of weapons.

Operations of the computer-controlled X-47B UCAS are smart and its flight control system is autonomous. The navigation of the UCAS is controlled by hybrid global positioning system (GPS) vision-based system. The flight path is preprogrammed and its operations are monitored by a mission operator.
The UCAS is equipped with electro optics (EO), infrared (IR), synthetic aperture radar (SAR), inverse SAR, ground moving target indicator (GMTI), electronic support measures (ESM) and maritime moving target indicator (MMTI) sensors.

The UCAS-D will feature both probe-and-drogue of the US Navy and boom-receptacle mechanisms of the USAF for autonomous air refuelling.

X-47B engine and Performance Details

The X-47B is powered by a Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220U engine and exhaust system. The aircraft has a high subsonic speed of about 0.45M and range of about 2,100nm. The UCAS can fly to a maximum altitude of 40,000ft.

Testing of the X-47B Demonstration Aircraft

Two autonomous jet-powered X-47B aircraft were built under the UCAS-D programme. The two demonstration vehicles have similar design and hardware features, however, only one is equipped to test aerial refuelling tasks. They can accommodate various kinds of sensors for reconnaissance, intelligence and surveillance and have space for weapon systems. Payload is not installed on the demonstration units.

The first X-47B, including structural proof testing, was completed by October 2009. Named air vehicle 1 (AV-1), the aircraft was transferred to Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) for flight testing in July 2010. The second aircraft, named AV-2, arrived at the base for testing in March 2011.

The first flight test of the UCAS-D was conducted in February 2011. The first catapult launch of X-47B was conducted at an onshore catapult facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in November 2012. The first at-sea test phase involving a series of deck handling trials aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) was completed in December 2012.

The aircraft will also be tested for launching, operating and recovering capabilities in a navy carrier operable area of 50nm. The carrier launch, recovery, and deck handling tests are scheduled for 2013, the aerial refuelling demonstrations in 2014.