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Aircraft modernisation and update

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bug2 - 24-9-2019 at 09:45 PM

U.S. Air Force Faces Next-Generation Engine Funding Crisis

Sep 24, 2019

Steve Trimble | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Adaptive engine technology faces its first major funding crisis as a 13-year-long, $4 billion investment by the U.S. Defense Department approaches a key milestone.

Senate appropriators have threatened to reduce the fiscal 2020 budget for the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) by nearly one-third. The $270 million cut would be “pretty devastating,” says David Tweedie, general manager of GE’s advanced combat engine program. The Air Force’s requested $878 million budget for AETP calls for running the ground-test rigs next year for the rival engine prototypes: GE’s XA100 and Pratt & Whitney’s XA101.

The proposed cut reflects the Senate’s frustration with the lack of a firm plan by the Air Force to install a follow-on production version of the engine in a fighter. The XA100 and XA101 are each sized to produce roughly 49,500 lb. of thrust, enough to replace the Pratt & Whitney F135 installed in the Lockheed Martin F-35 with 10% more power and at least 20% better fuel efficiency.

- GE and Pratt & Whitney are on track to test XA100 and XA101 prototypes in fiscal 2020
- Pratt questions rationale for F-35 reengining

But after years of researching advanced engine technology, the Defense Department has no funded plan to install an adaptive propulsion system in the single-engine F-35. The Air Force awarded contracts in 2018 to both GE and Pratt to develop a version of the engine optimized for a future fighter under the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program. Once the AETP program wraps up in fiscal 2021, though, the Air Force’s long-term budget will include no funding for adaptive engine propulsion.

The Air Force’s ability to respond in public to the Senate’s concerns are limited by the secrecy restriction on NGAD concepts, says Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff.

But he suggests more testing for the adaptive engine is required beyond the ground-rig tests funded by the AETP program.

“There has to be a test article to be able to take some of these technologies to mature, and that’s probably as far as I can go [under the limits of NGAD’s secrecy rules],” Goldfein says.

The Pentagon first began working on adaptive engine technology in 2007 under the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology (Advent) program. It proposed to solve a problem created by the rapid acceleration requirement for a fighter’s jet engine, which limits the ratio of fuel-saving bypass air flow around the core. The Advent designs created an engine with three streams of air flow: a core flow, a normal bypass flow and a secondary bypass flow that can be turned on and off during flight.

GE Aviation plans to run the XA100 adaptive engine prototype in a ground-rig test for the first time next year. Testing of the rival Pratt & Whitney XA101 will follow. Credit: GE Aviation

GE and Pratt first demonstrated the “three-stream” approach in 2016 under a proof-of-concept test rig funded under the Adaptive Engine Technology Demonstration (AETD) program, which preceded AETP. As the AETD closed out, the Air Force set the initial requirement for AETP to produce an engine that could be inserted as a replacement for the F-35 by the early 2020s.

For GE, the requirement offered a lifeline back into the fighter propulsion market. Congress canceled the GE/Rolls-Royce F136 alternate engine for the F-35 in 2010, leaving the company with a product portfolio of engines a generation behind the F135, such as the F110 and F414.

GE’s Tweedie describes the XA100 as an easy reengine candidate for the F-35. “That is absolutely the most near-term opportunity to transition to a platform,” he says. “There’s a little bit of transition from a prototype to a true product.”

Pratt is developing the XA101 for the same purpose but offers a more pessimistic perspective on the possible complications arising from an F-35 reengining program.

Matthew Bromberg, president of Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, says the XA101 is only designed for insertion in the F-35A. It would take more airframe development work to adapt the engine for the carrier-based F-35C, and it is impossible to integrate with the rotating nozzle of the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing F-35B, he says. These factors raise many questions.

“Are you going to bifurcate the variants?” Bromberg asks. “Also, this is an Air Force technology. Are you going to sell it to partner countries? I don’t know the answer to that. And here we are marching down the cost-reduction curve on the Joint Strike Fighter. Are you going to take a pause in that cost reduction and look at maybe changing the production lots? And then obviously it will bifurcate the sustainment model because you’re going to have multiple engines out there with multiple depots and and different tooling.”

Applying the XA101 to the NGAD program also is troublesome. As 49,500-lb.-thrust-class engines, the XA100 and XA101 are sized to support a single-engine application. A twin-engine aircraft likely would require significantly less thrust in each powerplant.

“As much as we love the F135, nobody is interested in another 45,000-lb.-thrust motor,” Bromberg says. “It’s 4 ft. across! Why would you want two 40,000-lb.-thrust engines out there?”

bug2 - 4-10-2019 at 02:12 PM

PAC Kamra rolls out its first locally overhauled JF-17 Thunder aircraft

Alan Warnes, Prague - Jane's Defence Weekly

03 October 2019

The first JF-17 Thunder multirole combat aircraft overhauled in Pakistan was rolled out during a ceremony held on 26 September at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra. The move comes nearly 10 years after the first JF-17, which was jointly developed by China and Pakistan, rolled off the production line there.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF's) Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, said during the ceremony: "We are living in a technology-intensive world, where self-reliance and indigenisation are key to effectively addressing modern challenges. [The] PAF has been relentlessly pursuing these goals and has now achieved this remarkable capability".

Work on the JF-17 maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) project has been under way since 2017. The chief engineer of JF-17 MRO, a wing commander who did not want to be named, had told Jane's in April, "We have been overhauling Chinese aircraft for the past few decades, so we took the initiative and developed our own JF-17 overhaul facility here in the Aircraft Repair Factory [ARF]."

"We developed the overhaul package, but to have it validated by the Chinese we sent two, effectively pattern aircraft to Changsha, in China during 2017," he added. Changsha is the 5712 Aircraft Industry Co., which operates under state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

Around the same time, the ARF started working on two JF-17s, in tandem with the two aircraft in China, with the wing commander stressing that "we carried out all the work here ourselves using our own procedures".

The two jets overhauled in China were back at PAC Kamra by April, when the ARF was working on a third aircraft. There are plans for five more aircraft to be overhauled at the factory in 2019, and a new hangar currently under construction will open next year, allowing 20 aircraft to be overhauled in 2020.

The PAC in Kamra rolled out the first overhauled JF-17 aircraft in a ceremony held on 26 September. (Pakistan Air Force)

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bug2 - 9-10-2019 at 09:29 PM

Argentina re-roles Pucara from light strike to surveillance

Santiago Rivas, Buenos Aires - Jane's Defence Weekly

09 October 2019

Argentina has retired its Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) IA-58 Pucara from the counterinsurgency light strike role, employing it instead solely as a border surveillance and patrol aircraft.

The 'new' Pucara Fenix configuration with its improved engine, four-bladed propellers, and EO/IR sensor turret can been seen in the foreground, while the now-retired light strike version is in the background. (Santiago Rivas)

The change in role was formalised during a ceremony held by the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina: FAA) on 4 October, with the final public appearance of the aircraft in its light attack guise taking place at an airshow two days later. In its new surveillance role, the aircraft will now be known as Pucara Fenix.

According to the FAA, the Pucara Fenix will be fitted with the improved Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6A-62 engines and new four-bladed propellers of the IA-58H upgrade (previously, the Pucara was powered by Turbomeca Astazou XVIG units with three-bladed propellers), as well as a podded Fixview electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret, and datalink.

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bug2 - 11-10-2019 at 10:24 PM

Arms and Security 2019: Ukraine’s Radionix presents complete modernisation package for Russian platforms

Reuben F Johnson, Kiev - Jane's Defence Weekly

10 October 2019

The Ukrainian Radionix X-band active radar-homing seeker for the R-27 AAM. Source: Reuben Johnson

Ukraine's Radionix presented a full spectrum of options for modernising Russian-made fighter aircraft and air-defence systems during the 8-11 October Arms and Security expo in Kiev. The options that the company offers would enable countries still operating the Mikoyan MiG-29 or Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 models "to carry out a complete upgrade of their air force", said one of the senior engineering executives.

According to Radionix, MiG-29 and other Russian aircraft now in operation with former Soviet/Warsaw Pact states have not been upgraded much beyond being made NATO compatible or receiving cockpit upgrades.

"Almost none of these modernisation programmes have extended the range of the aircraft's radar or improved the range of the missiles," said a company design engineer. "In order for the aircraft to be survivable in a modern air war scenario, those Soviet-era systems have to be significantly enhanced. Otherwise it is not much of a 'modernisation'."

What the company also emphasises as its primary strength is that it does not require the assistance of Russian industry to carry out these modifications. This gives any country that adopts a Radionix upgrade autonomy from Russian suppliers, which are increasingly difficult to work with due to sanctions and other banking and trade embargoes imposed on Moscow.

Radionix offers three main upgrade options: a new radar designated the Esmerelda that would replace the Phazotron N019 model installed in the MiG-29 and the NIIP N001 in the Su-27; a new-generation electronic warfare system, the Omut-KM, that can be fitted to the aircraft internally or in an external pod; and a range of new seeker heads that can be retrofitted to Vympel R-27 (AA-10) air-to-air missiles (AAMs).

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bug2 - 15-10-2019 at 08:33 PM

ADEX 2019: Russia offers Ka-32 upgrades for Korea

Gareth Jennings, Seoul - Jane's Defence Weekly

14 October 2019

The Republic of Korea Air Force is one of a number of state and commercial operators of the Ka-32 helicopter in South Korea. Russia is offering an upgrade package for the country’s wider fleet. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Rostec State Corporation has offered to upgrade South Korea's fleet of Kamov Ka-32 'Helix' multirole medium rotorcraft, Russian Helicopters reported on 14 October.

Announced at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX), the offer would see the avionics, engines, and a firefighting system of the co-axial helicopters modernised.

Specifically, the aircraft used by the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) and other state agencies would be equipped with a new 'glass' cockpit, more powerful VK-2500PS-02 engines, and a new firefighting system. The work would be carried out in conjunction with South Korean company RH Focus Corp, with the upgraded version of the Ka-32 being designated Ka-32A11M.

"We have co-operated with [RH Focus Corp] in the sphere of after-sales service, and both our firms have benefited from this.

There was a good reason why the upgraded Ka-32 helicopter has been selected for our joint exposition: a fleet of these rotorcrafts in Korea is fairly large, and they have proved their efficiency in terms of transporting cargo, search-and-rescue operations, and firefighting," said Director General of Russian Helicopters Holding Company Andrey Boginsky.

As noted by Russian Helicopters, the avionics of the Ka-32A11M helicopter have already been tested on the Ansat, Mi-38, and Ka-62 civil multipurpose helicopters.

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bug2 - 18-10-2019 at 10:42 AM

Taiwan F-16 Fighter Jet Upgrades On Schedule, Despite Delays (excerpt)

(Source: South China Morning Post; published Oct. 16, 2019)

By Lawrence Chung

After initial delays, Taiwan’s program to upgrade its F-16 fighters to the latest F-16V standard is now underway, and is now expected to be completed by 2023. (ROCAF photo)

Taiwan’s multimillion-dollar programme to retrofit its 142-strong fleet of F-16 fighter jets to bring them up to Viper standard is expected to be completed within the next four years.

Defence Minister Yen Teh-fa told parliament on Wednesday that all problems with the upgrade programme had been solved and the air force expected to take delivery of the jets by 2023. The performance of the jets will be further bolstered by the addition of medium-range precision guided weapons and automatic ground collision avoidance systems.

Yen was responding to lawmakers’ concerns that the retrofitting timetable would be affected by the US$8 billion purchase from the US of 66 of the latest Lockheed Martin F-16V Viper fighter jets, after local military critics questioned whether the deal would force the military to axe some spending on the retrofitting programme.

Lawmakers also questioned whether Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC) had sufficient manpower for the project after the company failed to deliver six refitted jets in the first quarter of this year as scheduled.

Yen refuted suggestions the delay had been the result of pressure to complete Taiwan’s first indigenous advance fighter trainer jet in September, in line with President Tsai Ing-wen’s policy for the island to develop its own military aircraft.

He said the delay had nothing to do with the purchase of the 66 new F-16V variants as the funding for the purchase and refitting was separate. “Nor does it have anything to do with the advance trainer jet because members of the trainer jet’s production team and the refitting team are two different groups of people,” Yen said.

He admitted there was a manpower shortage problem within AIDC but assured lawmakers that, after coordination with Lockheed Martin and the recruitment of more engineers, the refitting team now had an additional 200 people, which would ensure completion of the project by 2023. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the SCMP website.


bug2 - 22-10-2019 at 10:31 AM

EuroDASS unveils plan for new Typhoon DASS/EW suite

Richard Scott, London - Jane's International Defence Review

21 October 2019

Praetorian Evolution builds on the Typhoon’s existing Praetorian DASS but introduces a new all-digital architecture and expands EW functionality beyond platform self-protection. Source: EuroDASS

The four-country EuroDASS consortium - UK's Leonardo, Italy's Elettronica, Germany's Hensoldt, and Spain's Indra - has outlined its vision of a next-generation electronic warfare (EW) suite for the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft.

Known as Praetorian Evolution, the future Defensive Aids Subsystem (DASS) builds on the Typhoon's existing Praetorian DASS but introduces a new all-digital architecture and expands electronic warfare (EW) functionality beyond platform self-protection. EuroDASS has developed its roadmap independent of the Praetorian Long Term Evolution (LTE) study activity awarded earlier this year, although Praetorian Evolution work is expected to inform LTE outputs.

The Praetorian DASS provides the Typhoon with threat detection, evaluation, and countermeasures against air-to-air and surface-to-air threats using radio frequency (RF) and infrared guidance. The system includes electronic support measures, an active missile approach warner, electronic countermeasures, towed decoys, and initiation of chaff/flares.

However, the existing Praetorian DASS was defined in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and its architecture now imposes constraints on further development with regard to further expansion, capability insertion, and long-term sustainability. Details of Praetorian Evolution were given to military and industry stakeholders at a EuroDASS Future Capability user conference in London on 9 October.

According to Phil Liddiard, Leonardo's vice-president combat air, work to define a future DASS architecture has been driven by new and more complex threats, the requirement to embody additional capabilities such as combat intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and a desire to develop a 'futureproofed' software-based system architecture that is easier to maintain and upgrade. "As a consortium, we've been looking for the last three years at various solutions," Liddiard told Jane's . "That work pre-dates the LTE as we recognised the need some time ago to get a head start on working up what we thought was the best option."

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bug2 - 29-10-2019 at 10:26 AM

NH Industries outlines upgrade path for NH90

28 October, 2019 SOURCE: BY: Dominic Perry Donauworth

Three-way consortium NH Industries (NHI) is in negotiations with operators of its NH90 military helicopter over future upgrades for the 11t-class platform, even as it works through a retrofit programme on early build examples.

The manufacturer is already working to qualify what it calls the “step 2” software standard, which adds performance-based navigation to the helicopter, allowing it to fly in instrument flight rules conditions in civil airspace.

NH Industries

That step 2-standard software should be available from 2022, but it is up to each nation to decide when to update their helicopters, says Eberhard Scholl, vice-president NH90 NAHEMA programme at Airbus Helicopters – the largest shareholder in the NHI consortium.

“The development is common, but the retrofit plan is not decided,” he says.

In addition, discussions with France are ongoing over the development of a special forces modification for the Troop Transport Helicopter variant.

Additions would include fast-roping capability from the main cabin and rear ramp, plus a new Safran-developed sensor suite enabling operations in degraded visual environments.

“We are in the contract negotiation phase right now; there are still discussions on affordability,” says Scholl.

Further out, NHI is beginning to define the contents of the step 3 software standard – to arrive in around 2025 – and a future mid-life update (MLU) for the helicopter.

NH Industries

“There is a requirement for software release 3 – this will be the big product evolution of the NH90 before the MLU,” he says.

However, he emphasises the need to begin defining the requirement shortly in order to meet the 2025 deadline to field the enhancement.

Additional weapons could also be integrated onto the platform should there be customer demand, says Scholl. This includes the HForce common weapons system developed by Airbus Helicopters.

“There is no customer requirement [for HForce on the NH90] but we are marketing it; integration is technically possible,” he says.

Meanwhile, the consortium continues a retrofit effort to bring 140 helicopters delivered early in the programme in an initial operational capability standard to the latest configuration.

Around 100 aircraft still need to be upgraded, says Scholl, with the process to run until 2023.

Additionally, NHI is preparing to close the final assembly line for the NH90 located at Airbus Helicopters’ site Albacete, Spain.

Although the plant will still produce major component assemblies for the NH90, as well as other Airbus Helicopters programmes, orders from the domestic customer are not sufficient to justify continuation of the final assembly line, says Scholl.

Final assembly activities will be spread among the programme’s three remaining facilities: Donauworth, Germany and Marignane, France – both Airbus Helicopters sites - and Tessera, Italy, which is run by Leonardo Helicopters, the second largest NHI shareholder. Fokker is the third member of the consortium.

bug2 - 7-11-2019 at 11:40 PM

Saab flies new electronic attack pod on Gripen for first time

Gareth Jennings, London - Jane's Defence Weekly

07 November 2019

The Saab EAJP pod flew on the Gripen for the first time on 4 November. Source: Saab

Saab flew its Electronic Attack Jammer Pod (EAJP) on the Gripen combat aircraft for the first time on 4 November, the company announced.

According to Saab, the pod's interfaces with the aircraft's hardware and software, as well as cockpit control and monitoring, were tested during the flight. "The purpose of Saab's new EAJP pod is to protect aircraft against radars by sophisticated jamming functions, thereby blocking the opponent's ability to attack them," the company added.

The EAJP is part of Saab's Arexis family of electronic warfare (EW) systems, and the test marked the latest milestone since the system was first briefed to reporters earlier in the year.

Speaking at the company's production facility in Linköping in late May, Petter Bedoire, Saab's head of marketing and sales for EW, said that the podded system that is aimed at affording the Gripen E/F (or any other modern combat aircraft) an electronic attack (EA) capability analogous to the Boeing EA-18G Growler aircraft.

The Arexis EA Jammer Pod provides forward and aft coverage to support the ingress, strike, and egress of a package of strike aircraft. It utilises a VHF/UHF surveillance and acquisition radar in the L and S bands that incorporates gallium nitride (GaN) AESA technology.

With flight trials of the pod now underway, Saab has noted a 12-month lead time for any customer wishing to adopt it.

This podded system is part of a wider EW capability that has been developed for the Gripen E/F, and that is so far delivering highly positive result in test. Speaking at the same media event earlier in the year, Marcus Wandt, one of four Saab test pilots committed to the Gripen E programme, noted, "We expect a lot from [the new integrated EW suite], and we haven't been disappointed so far."

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bug2 - 9-11-2019 at 06:00 PM

Airbus Airs Proposals for German Eurofighter Typhoon Development

by David Donald - November 8, 2019, 7:21 AM

Armed with loaded cannon and Iris-T missiles, a Typhoon from Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 74 takes off from Neuburg in southern Germany, one of two Luftwaffe bases that maintain aircraft on 24/7 quick reaction alert to defend German airspace. (Photo: David Donald)

Airbus Defence and Space has fleshed out its proposals to continue the development of the Eurofighter Typhoon for the Luftwaffe with further details. Spain is also involved in the effort, which diverges to some extent from the roadmap for the UK’s Typhoons.

For Germany the development is based around two requirements: the Quadriga program to replace the Luftwaffe’s aging and technology-limited Tranche 1 Typhoons, and a subsequent need to replace the Tornado fleet. A contract for the Quadriga program is expected in early 2020, but the Tornado replacement decision has yet to be taken (the Typhoon is competing against the Boeing Super Hornet/Growler).

Quadriga encompasses 26 single-seat and seven two-seat aircraft, including two attrition replacements, with an option for five more single-seaters. If a contract is received in early 2020, the first aircraft are due for delivery in 2024 and will be built at an annual rate of between eight and 10 aircraft. They will feature an enhanced defensive aids suite and an AESA radar.

Germany and Spain have agreed to adopt the Mk1 version of the Captor E radar. This is a development that features a multi-channel receiver. The first production version of the AESA radar (for Kuwait) is known as the Mk0 (or Radar 1 Plus). In the meantime, the UK has a separate requirement for a Mk2 radar that incorporates electronic attack functions.

Airbus is anticipating a contract for the Mk1 radar around the same time as the Quadriga go-ahead. As well as equipping the new-build aircraft, the radar will be retrofitted to 110 Tranche 2/3 Typhoons in current Luftwaffe service, along with 19 Spanish Tranche 3 aircraft. Deliveries of radars are scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2022. By that time the MBDA Meteor long-range missile will be in full service. The weapon is already in Luftwaffe stock and will be issued to front-line squadrons next year. The Typhoon on offer to Switzerland is essentially similar to the Quadriga standard.

To replace the Tornados the Luftwaffe is seeking 85 aircraft to be delivered from 2030. Airbus is proposing two batches of Typhoons that will be capable of taking over all of the Tornado’s roles. The first batch of 45 aircraft would have what Airbus describes as “strategic capabilities”—in other words, the ability to carry nuclear weapons. Luftwaffe Tornados have a NATO nuclear tasking using U.S.-owned B61 tactical weapons.

A second batch of 40 Typhoons would be equipped to perform the defense-suppression/escort-jammer role, replacing the capability currently offered by the Tornado electronic combat role (ECR) variant. Kurt Rossner, Airbus’s head of Combat Air Systems, suggests that an initial ECR version of the Typhoon would be a two-seater fitted with an emitter-location system and carrying large underwing jamming/electronic attack pods.

Weaponry would include air-to-air missiles and ordnance such as the MBDA Spear EW air-launched electronic attack/decoy munition. Further development could see podded elements being accommodated internally.

An ECR variant is one element of the four-nation Typhoon long-term evolution (LTE) plan, which also encompasses other elements such as new weapons and sensors, extended range, greater connectivity and operability, coordinated missions with remote carriers, and enhanced cockpit/planning systems and survivability.

Many of these elements would initiate the implementation of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) ahead of the introduction to service of the planned New Generation Fighter (NGF) around 2040. Rossner noted that LTE developments would also help to inform the UK-led Tempest program.

bug2 - 13-11-2019 at 09:16 PM

Europe Signals Electronic Attack Plans

Nov 13, 2019

Tony Osborne | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Airbus has lifted the lid on a new airborne electronic attack (AEA) mission for the Eurofighter, giving the aircraft capabilities analogous to Boeing’s EA-18G Growler.

The proposals for the Eurofighter ECR may be primarily aimed at German requirements to replace the Panavia Tornado, but they also appear to represent a growing European determination to develop more local solutions to deal with the proliferation of more capable ground-based air defense systems.

In recent weeks, Sweden’s Saab has flown its Arexis electronic attack (EA) jamming pod, developed from the electronic warfare (EW) system of the Gripen E/F—which it is proposing for use on other fighter platforms. Sweden is also involved in a five-nation joint activity with France, Italy, Germany and Spain through the European Union’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) initiative to develop a European AEA attack capability that could be either integrated inside an aircraft or within a pod and used on both manned and unmanned platforms.

- Eurofighter ECR could perform escort and stand-in jammer role
- EU PESCO program studying multinational AEA developments

Europe largely let its electronic warfare and destruction/suppression of enemy air defenses (DEAD/SEAD) capabilities “atrophy” as a result of the counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, a former senior NATO commander told Aviation Week at the International Fighter Conference on Nov. 12.

In those campaigns where Western air forces had control of the skies, the only real threat was provided by man-portable missiles.

When NATO fighters were sent in to strike Libya in 2011, European air forces ended up leaning on U.S. EA-6 Prowlers and EA-18 Growlers provided to deal with Libya’s 1970s-era air defenses.

Now, state-on-state competition has prompted renewed interest in the EW and DEAD/SEAD capability, a need “validated” by the positioning of advanced Russian anti-access, area-denial systems in western Syria.

Airbus’ proposals for the so-called Euro-Growler are centered around the fitment of specially designed Escort Jammer Pods, development of which is being led by German defense electronics firm Hensoldt for the proposed future fleet of enhanced Typhoons to replace the Panavia Tornado. The Luftwaffe currently operates two versions of the Tornado: the interdictor/strike (IDS), a strike/attack version; and the Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR) version, equipped for the DEAD/SEAD mission but not for electronic jamming.

“We are providing a capability that has never existed in Europe,” says Marco Mehling, operational requirements manager for Eurofighter future business at Airbus. “This is way more than just replacing the Tornado ECR, but also taking on the electronic attack mission.” Eurofighter is competing against the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for the Tornado replacement, with Boeing said to be offering the EA-18G Growler as a Tornado ECR replacement.

Berlin’s request for information (RFI) for the Tornado replacement calls for the future aircraft to perform the DEAD/SEAD mission, but not the AEA role—although Berlin has a requirement, known as luWES.

The ECR mission could be performed by single-seat or twin-seat Eurofighters equipped with panoramic displays proposed through the Long-Term Evolution plan. Credit: Airbus Defense and Space

Up to three pods can be carried on a single Typhoon, although a minimum of two pods are required for full 360 deg. coverage.

Inside the pod are two active, electronically scanned array (AESA) transmitters fitted at each end of the pod using solid-state, gallium-nitride semiconducting materials. Each pod also features Hensoldt’s Kalaetron electronic support measures and digital radio frequency memory technology. The pods are entirely independent of the Eurofighter’s electrical systems and are powered through ram air turbines.

Some of the elements of the pod have been produced as part of Hensoldt’s work on a standoff jammer, elements of which will be test-flown on a Pilatus PC-12 next year. The system will “focus on effective radiated power,” says Ralph Schnell, Hensoldt’s sales manager for electronic warfare. “This will allow us to give the aircraft as much standoff range as possible,” he says.

“We are taking a Eurofighter as is,” says Mehling. “The pods will give the aircraft new capabilities and we are not contingent on Eurofighter upgrade programs.”

Airbus has already proposed an updated Eurofighter for the Tornado replacement missions. The aircraft is equipped with additional weaponry, an AESA radar and changes to the pylons. The changes to the pylons allows the innermost pylons to be plumbed for fuel tanks and the wing-mounted pylons, which would normally carry fuel tanks, to take the jammer pods instead.

An upgrade to the Eurofighter’s defensive aids suite will add an emitter location system.

Mehling says the capability can be used on single- and twin-seat aircraft. However, he notes that a twin-seat aircraft would allow for a specialized EW operator to control the systems from a decoupled cockpit equipped with panoramic, wide-area displays, which are envisaged for the aircraft’s Long-Term Evolution program (AW&ST Oct. 2-15, 2017, pg. 39).

The company has not named an anti-radiation weapon for the platform, but Germany already has stocks of the U.S. AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile and the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile.

Escort jamming would be provided by the pod on the second-innermost pylon, while stand-in jamming would be done by MBDA’s Spear 3 missile fitted to the second-outermost pylon. Credit: Airbus Defense and Space

Eurofighter ECRs can also be outfitted with a full weapons load for both the air-to-air and air-to-ground mode. Stand-in jamming could be performed by the EW versions of the MBDA SPEAR 3 network-enabled missile or the planned unmanned remote carriers envisaged for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), both of which could be carried by the Eurofighter ECR.

Germany is said to need 85 new combat aircraft to replace the Tornado. According to Airbus, around 45 would be equipped for ground attack and strike missions, while 40 would perform the EA mission. Airbus notes that being able to fit the pods across the fleet—rather than to a specialist subfleet as on the Tornado—means there may no longer be a need for specialist (EW) squadrons in the German Air Force.

It will also act as a “building block for the FCAS,” says Mehling.

But uncertainty surrounds when Germany may make a decision on a Tornado replacement.

Airbus officials say they are expecting Berlin to issue an updated RFI in the near future, suggesting a further nudge to the right.

However, more imminent is the so-called Quadriga requirement for 38 additional EF2000s to replace the German Tranche 1 fleet. The Quadriga fleet is expected to include 26 single-seat and seven twin-seat aircraft, as well as options for an additional five single-seat aircraft. Airbus hopes to be on contract for the Quadriga fleet in early 2020, with deliveries expected around 40 months later.

bug2 - 14-11-2019 at 09:57 PM

France lays out Rafale upgrade path to 2070

Gareth Jennings, London - Jane's Defence Weekly

13 November 2019

With the first F3R-standard Rafales now entering service, the French Air Force and French Navy have a roadmap to improvement that should take the platform out to about 2070. Source: Dassault

France has laid out the upgrade path it intends to rollout for the Dassualt Rafale to keep the multirole combat aircraft in air force and naval service through to about 2070, a senior service official said on 13 November.

Speaking at the IQPC International Fighter conference in Berlin, Major General Frederic Parisot, Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Programmes, French Air Force (Armée de l’Air: AdlA), said that there will likely be a further four upgrade phases for the platform beyond the latest F3R configuration currently being rolled out, and that it is the country’s plan for the Rafale to serve as the force-multiplier alongside the New Generation Fighter (NFG) currently being developed with Germany and Spain as part of the wider Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de Combat Aérien Futur (SCAF).

The Rafale’s current F3R configuration features major software and hardware upgrades that include the integration of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) and the latest laser-guided version of the Sagem Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (AASM) modular air-to-ground precision weapon; the Thales RBE2 active electronic scanned array (AESA) radar; the Thales TALIOS long-range airborne targeting pod; and automatic ground collision avoidance system (Auto-GCAS); an improved buddy-buddy refuelling pod; as well as the Spectra electronic warfare system.

The F4 standard plans to operate between 2023 and 2030, and it adds enhancements to the Thales RBE2 active electronic scanned array (AESA) radar, the TALIOS pod, and the Reco NG reconnaissance pod; upgrades to the aircraft’s communications suite; improved pilot helmet-mounted displays; a new engine control unit; and the ability to carry new weaponry such as the Mica Next-Generation (NG) air-to-air missile and 1,000 kg AASM. Further to the software and hardware improvements, the F4 upgrade will include a satellite antenna, as well as a new prognosis and diagnostic aid system designed to introduce predictive maintenance capabilities.

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bug2 - 15-11-2019 at 10:13 AM

Thailand to modernise ageing F-5 and Alpha Jet fleets

Gareth Jennings, Berlin - Jane's Defence Weekly

14 November 2019

The Royal Thai Air Force is to upgrade its fleets of Northrop F-5 and Dornier Alpha Jet aircraft under plans announced by an official on 14 November.

Speaking under the Chatham House Rule, the official said that the F-5s that were first received in 1980 will be modernised with updated avionics and a structural upgrade to give them another 15 years of operational service. The Alpha Jets, 16 of which were received second-hand from Germany in 2000, will receive new avionics only.

As the official explained the F-5 effort will include a radar “that can see beyond 40 miles” and a beyond visual-range missile.

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bug2 - 19-11-2019 at 10:45 AM

UAE Ministry of Defence Announce Deals Worth Dh7 billion at Dubai Air Show

(Source: Gulf News; posted November 18, 2019)

By Sami Zaatari

The United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Defence announced today that it had signed a $460 million deal with Dassault Aviation to upgrade its fleet of Mirage 2000-9 fighters, as well as a smaller deal with MBDA France for related weaponry. (Twitter photo)

DUBAI --- The UAE’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Monday said that it had signed several deals worth over Dh7 billion on the first day of the Dubai Airshow.

The agreements were made with 10 different local and international companies, with the signings ranging from providing aircraft munitions, spare parts and maintenance for the country’s air force.

The biggest signing was made with UAE-based Global Aerospace Logistics, in a deal worth Dh3.5 billion for the maintenance of helicopters in the UAE’s fleet.

The MoD said that it also signed a Dh1.7 billion deal with French aerospace company Dassault Aviation for enhancements on its Mirage fighter jets. MBDA France also signed a Dh93 million deal to provide aircraft munitions.

A deal was also made with Lockheed Martin worth Dh76 million for the purchasing of equipment and maintenance for the UAE’s F-16 fleet.

The MoD signed a Dh69 million deal with Boeing for maintenance and support of its aircraft fleet and simulator training.


bug2 - 23-11-2019 at 11:51 PM

JUST IN: Boeing Says F-15EX Initiative Progressing Despite Budget Impasse


By Jon Harper

Image: Boeing rendering of a digital model of an F-15

ST. LOUIS — Boeing’s plans to deliver the first two test aircraft for the F-15EX fighter program by the end of next year are still on track, despite the budget gridlock on Capitol Hill, according to a company executive.

Congress has yet to pass a defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 2020, and the Pentagon and other federal agencies have been operating under a continuing resolution since Oct. 1. CRs are problematic for the Defense Department because they inhibit new-start programs such as the F-15EX.

The Air Force plans to buy 80 of the jets over the next five years, and eventually procure a total of 144 aircraft.

“We'd love to get them on contract and that can't happen unless the [appropriations] bill is authorized by the Congress,” Prat Kumar, vice president for F-15 programs at Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said Nov. 18 during a briefing with a small group of reporters at the company’s St. Louis facilities. “For now, we are leaning in and it's safe to say that right now we are progressing because the company has stepped forward and made some investment into this program ahead of the CR … and us getting on the contract.”

Kumar’s comments came just days before Congress, as expected, passed another continuing resolution to keep the government funded at fiscal year 2019 levels through Dec. 20.

“If that extends for too much longer then it starts putting a lot of pressure on us” to be able to meet the test jet delivery goal, he said.

The company hopes to sign a contract in the March timeframe. Kumar said it could deliver two test jets to the Air Force within nine months of getting on contract.

Boeing is leveraging billions of dollars in investment that has already been made by the Pentagon and foreign customers in many of the technologies that will be integrated into the F-15EX platform.

The EX will be a significantly upgraded variant of Boeing’s F-15.

It will include: an advanced cockpit system with a large area display; enhanced aerodynamics via fly-by-wire controls and 9g performance; increased survivability with a fully integrated electronic warfare suite and an active electronically scanned array radar; increased lethality and multi-role flexibility with 12 air-to-air and 15 air-to-ground weapon stations; and advanced mission systems such as the advanced display core processor II and operational flight program suite 9.1X, according to a presentation by Lori Schneider, Boeing’s F-15EX program manager.

“EX is really a true integration program where we're leveraging a hot production line from [previous F-15E orders by] Qatar and then bringing in all the modernization elements that the Air Force has been investing in” for its aircraft fleet, she said.

Schneider noted that the platform will have open mission systems that will enable new technology to be integrated as it evolves.

“The first jet that rolls off the line will be as fully capable as the last jet” when system upgrades are made, she said.
The Air Force is developing new air-launched hypersonic weapons that will be able to fly at speeds of Mach 5 or faster and be highly maneuverable against enemy air defenses.

“F-15EX will be a great tool to deliver those weapons in the future,” Kumar said. “The payload [capacity] is just enormous, so you can hang a lot of heavy load weapons like future hypersonics with this jet.”

Boeing is also leveraging digital modeling and advanced manufacturing techniques to improve the way its aircraft are constructed. For the F-15, the company is pursuing what it calls a digital airframe.

“It's leveraging the [digital] model-based engineering capability and applying that incrementally throughout the platform,” Schneider explained.

The technology is already being employed in the construction of new F-15 wings, nose barrels and forward-center fuselages. It has led to a dramatic reduction in both the footprint required to build the parts as well as the number of people involved, while also improving quality, Kumar said. For the wings, it has enabled a 50 percent footprint reduction and a 70 percent reduction in manpower, he said.

Plans call for using the technology to also build the forward fuselage and later the aft-center fuselage and aft fuselage.

“By the time we are done through this journey, we'll have a completely digital airframe [that is] much more manufacturable, affordable, higher quality — and it enables us to insert technology much more rapidly in this jet because you don't have to re-engineer any of the bays as much as you needed to do before,” Kumar said.

Meanwhile, Boeing is positioning itself to get on contract for the F-15EX as soon as possible once Congress passes a budget for fiscal year 2020. After the budget is passed, the Air Force is expected to issue a request for proposal that Boeing will respond to before the funds will be released. That will entail a lot of paperwork.

“We've been working very closely and collaboratively with the Air Force throughout really the spring, summer and fall … so when the final RFP releases we're pretty much ready to go,” Schneider said. The company has been communicating with acquisition officials regarding requirements, statements of work, tasking and other issues, she added.

Key congressional committees and subcommittees that oversee defense spending have included funding for the F-15EX in their fiscal year 2020 appropriations and authorization bills, which have yet to be passed. But nothing is guaranteed at this point, Kumar noted.

“We feel very optimistic they'll stay in the budget,” he said. “But until [the bill and contract are] signed, you know there's always risk.”

bug2 - 18-12-2019 at 02:06 PM

AFRL Camber Morphing Wing Takes Flight

(Source: Air Force Materiel Command; issued Dec 16, 2019)

The Variable Camber Compliant Wing developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory made its first flights in September and October; this wing changes shape to improve performance and adapt itself to flight conditions and missions. (USAF photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio --– The Air Force Research Laboratory recently completed the successful flight demonstration of a game-changing camber morphing wing technology that could significantly increase aircraft range and performance.

The AFRL-developed Variable Camber Compliant Wing is capable of changing shape to improve aerodynamic performance and morph itself to various flight conditions and missions. Wing camber, or the shape of a wing surface, is a fundamental element of aerodynamic flight. Conventional wings with discrete hinged control surfaces have greater drag, whereas wings with a smooth camber are efficient and maneuverable.

The ability to morph the wing according to aerodynamic conditions would give an aircraft increased lift when needed without a weight penalty—typically at takeoff and landing—and greater fuel-efficiency and maneuverability when in flight.

This flight experiment demonstrated the second iteration of the VCCW, a smaller, more compact version than the first, which was used primarily in wind tunnel experiments. This eight-foot wing was designed to be flown on a commercial-off-the-shelf remotely controlled aircraft, simulating an unmanned air vehicle. During the series of flights, held in September and October 2019, the wing was flown at low speeds, completing a number of maneuvers and demonstrating active shape control for optimized drag reduction and increased agility.

The VCCW features a smooth and continuous skin construction, which not only reduces noise by eliminating sharp surfaces and gaps, but improves aerodynamic performance as well. According to Dr. James Joo, AFRL Advanced Structural Concepts team lead and VCCW program manager, the improved aerodynamics translates into potentially significant fuel savings.

“Early estimates show VCCW technology saving aircraft fuel consumption by 10 percent,” said Joo. “This was one of our main goals, and it fits the Air Force’s efforts to reduce overall energy costs.”

Jared Neely, AFRL research engineer and designer of the morphing wing, called this demonstration an important step in advancing flexible wing technology for warfighter use.

“The success of this demonstration has given us confidence that this technology can be leveraged to higher-class vehicles, to take advantage of the many benefits this technology can truly offer.”

Joo added that although other research organizations have explored the morphing camber concept, AFRL’s version is unique because it is a true flexible wing without any discrete control surfaces to assist in takeoff and landing. This seamless surface can increase overall range, making it ideal for a variety of long-range platforms. He says the team will continue to refine the concept and look into additional ways it can benefit existing aircraft.

“We are excited about the success of this demonstration,” said Joo. “We are continuing to explore the opportunities that this technology can offer for future Air Force aircraft development.”


bug2 - 19-12-2019 at 10:27 AM

LM begins F-16V production for Bahrain

Gareth Jennings, London - Jane's Defence Weekly

18 December 2019

Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashed Al Khalifa, ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United States, visited Lockheed Martin’s production line in Greenville to mark to start of the country’s contract for 16 new-build F-16Vs. Source: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin has begun production of 16 F-16V Block 70/72 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft for Bahrain, the company announced on 17 December.

The event was marked by a visit to the production facility at Greenville, South Carolina, by Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashed Al Khalifa, ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United States.

In June 2018, Bahrain became the launch customer for the F-16V when it signed a USD1.12-billion contract for 16 new aircraft. The Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) will also upgrade its 20 Block 40 F-16C/D aircraft to this latest standard to make a total fleet of 36 F-16V aircraft.

As the most up-to-date version of the Fighting Falcon, the F-16V features the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array radar (derived from the F-16E/F Block 60 AN/APG-80 and also known as the Scalable Agile Beam Radar), a new Raytheon mission computer, the Link 16 datalink, modern cockpit displays, an enhanced electronic warfare system, and a ground-collision avoidance system.

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bug2 - 25-12-2019 at 07:40 PM

Greece Signs Contracts to Upgrade Mirage 2000 Fleet

(Source:; posted Dec. 23, 2019)

Dassault delivered the last of 15 new-build Mirage 2000-5 Mk. 2 aircraft to Greece in November 2007, which served alongside ten Mirage 2000-5 upgraded to the same standard; all will be modernized under a €260 million contract. (Dassault photo)

The Greek Ministry of Defense announced on Monday December 23 that it had signed maintenance contracts with French companies Dassault Aviation, Safran Military Engines and Thales to upgrade the Mirage 2000-5 combat aircraft operated by the Hellenic Air Force.

These contracts extend over seven years and relate to the upgrade and sustainment of the aircraft’s electronics and of its engines.

The agreement was announced in early December, when Parliament passed legislation to strengthen the air force. According to Greek press reports, the value of the contracts amounts to €260 million.

Dassault, the main contractor of the Mirage 2000, did not reply to a request for confirmation; the company has closed for the holidays. The other firms involved are Thalès, who supplies radar, avionics and other on-board electronics, and Safran, who supplies the engines.

In September 2004, Greece modernized its Mirage 2000 fleet for a first time, upgrading ten of them to the new 2000-5 Mk2 standard, and also ordered 15 additional new-build aircraft – the final Mirage 2000s produced.

The Mirage 2000-5 Mk.2s have a more powerful RDY-2 multifunction radar, MICA air-to-air missiles, additional air-to-ground capabilities with the SCALP-EG cruise missiles, a new self-protection system, new inertial navigation (INS) and an in-flight refueling capacity using a pod.

Story history:
-- Dec. 24 @ 16:30 CET: Value of upgrade contract was corrected to €260 million.


bug2 - 18-1-2020 at 05:47 PM

Airbus Demonstrates First Fully Automatic Vision-Based Take-Off

(Source: Airbus; issued Jan 16, 2020)

TOULOUSE, France --- Airbus has successfully performed the first fully automatic vision-based take-off using an Airbus Family test aircraft at Toulouse-Blagnac airport. The test crew comprising of two pilots, two flight test engineers and a test flight engineer took off initially at around 10h15 on 18 December and conducted a total of 8 take-offs over a period of four and a half hours.

“The aircraft performed as expected during these milestone tests. While completing alignment on the runway, waiting for clearance from air traffic control, we engaged the auto-pilot,” said Airbus Test Pilot Captain Yann Beaufils. “We moved the throttle levers to the take-off setting and we monitored the aircraft. It started to move and accelerate automatically maintaining the runway centre line, at the exact rotation speed as entered in the system. The nose of the aircraft began to lift up automatically to take the expected take-off pitch value and a few seconds later we were airborne.”

Rather than relying on an Instrument Landing System (ILS), the existing ground equipment technology currently used by in-service passenger aircraft in airports around the world where the technology is present, this automatic take-off was enabled by image recognition technology installed directly on the aircraft.

Automatic take-off is an important milestone in Airbus’ Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off & Landing (ATTOL) project. Launched in June 2018, ATTOL is one of the technological flight demonstrators being tested by Airbus in order to understand the impact of autonomy on aircraft. The next steps in the project will see automatic vision-based taxi and landing sequences taking place by mid-2020.

Airbus’ mission is not to move ahead with autonomy as a target in itself, but instead to explore autonomous technologies alongside other innovations in areas such as materials, electrification and connectivity. By doing so, Airbus is able to analyse the potential of these technologies in addressing the key industrial challenges of tomorrow, including improving air traffic management, addressing pilot shortages and enhancing future operations. At the same time Airbus is leveraging these opportunities to further improve aircraft safety while ensuring today’s unprecedented levels are maintained.

For autonomous technologies to improve flight operations and overall aircraft performance, pilots will remain at the heart of operations. Autonomous technologies are paramount to supporting pilots, enabling them to focus less on aircraft operation and more on strategic decision-making and mission management.


bug2 - 6-2-2020 at 11:52 AM

Beyond Centurion

(Source: Eurofighter GmbH; issued Feb. 03, 2020)

Beyond the Typhoon Centurion configuration seen here, which is still far from being implemented, Eurofighter is already looking at follow-on improvements, but there is still no AESA radar on the horizon for the four partner countries. (RAF photo)

Luke Gili-Ross has lived and breathed Project Centurion. When the project started, he was serving on 41 Squadron, the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon Test and Evaluation unit, but following retirement Luke joined BAE Systems as the Typhoon Project Pilot. Here Luke talks us through the next steps on the journey.

Rapid Updates:

From the standard that was delivered in January 2019, there are already a significant number of refinements on top of what the squadrons are currently operating in theatre. These incremental updates affect Paveway IV, Meteor, AMRAAM and Brimstone. It’s a rapid change programme that’s being delivered at an unprecedented rate. Other updates are continually being made to the Human Machine Interface (HMI).

For pilots the really big step change was when they moved from the P1E standard to the P2E standard; but the change from P2E to the P3E feels smaller because we have already implemented significant changes to the HMI. These changes are being further developed and refined, in order to allow us to springboard to the next stage.

Litening V:

A new standard of targeting pod — Litening V — is being integrated onto the aircraft which follows on from the current Litening III. It’s being introduced to counter the increased threats that require operating at a greater standoff range to the target area and which require the best possible sensors. Litening V is also useful for night operations when its technological superiority can be best leveraged. The better the sensors, the better the image quality and the easier it is for the pilot to operate effectively in the darkness.

The other evolutionary benefit of the new pod is processing power. As well as providing enhanced tracking of multiple moving ground targets, it can also be used for tracking multiple air tracks. This aspect is becoming more and more relevant as we move into a more congested, contested and low observable battlespace.

Existing Weapon Updates:

Several weapons that have been on the aircraft for some time, like ASRAAM, are being updated to counter the proliferation of threats and the advancement of countermeasures available. This will make a real difference to the air forces.

Sensor Improvements:

Over the next three to five years there will be big changes to all sensors. This will include E Scan, and PIRATE — the Passive Infrared and Tracking Equipment. The latter is a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and infrared search and track (IRST) device, which allows pilots to work day or night. It’s able to track multiple targets passively, which is a key requirement for the future environment.

Cockpit Information:

As sensors improve then so too does the information coming into the cockpit. The operational task for pilots, especially at night in an ambiguous environment, is a real challenge, and it’s important that we make the aircraft as easy to operate as possible. We are constantly looking at how we can alleviate some of the pressures faced by pilots. For example, we can offload some of the tasks and improve the tracking performance through Litening V because the pilot would no longer have to manually manipulate the pod.

Striker II Helmet:

One of the key enablers to leveraging the new sensor and weapons capabilities is the Striker II helmet. RAF pilots are currently working with BAE Systems on its development. It fuses the head down colour imagery of the Human Machine Interface (HMI) and night camera capability, allowing the pilot to look out of the cockpit rather than down at screens — thus building their situational awareness.

Capability and Training:

There has been significant improvement over the last two years in the HMI. At the same time new design standards, allowing the aircraft operation to be more intuitive, have been introduced. Standardising everything in the cockpit should allow pilots to sit in the cockpit and operate it with relative ease and, as new capabilities are introduced, they will quickly appear familiar to the pilots.

Robustness and Availability:

Forces need an aircraft that’s always available and always works, day in, day out. They don’t just want that level of availability in operations, they want it in front line training every day. Earlier this year the Eurofighter consortium supported the German Government and Airbus during the evaluation phase of Switzerland’s ongoing assessment for a new combat aircraft.

We took two of the latest standard aircraft to Switzerland and they were flown two or three times, day and night, for two weeks. We used no spares and the aircraft were available on time for every single sortie. Maintaining this level of availability, while continuing on the development journey, is crucial.


bug2 - 19-2-2020 at 11:12 PM

Indonesian Air Force’s upgraded F-16 makes first flight

Ridzwan Rahmat, Singapore - Jane's Defence Weekly

19 February 2020

A recently upgraded Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara: TNI-AU) F-16 A/B fighter aircraft has conducted its first flight.

The aircraft, with serial number TS-1610, conducted the flight on 18 February from the Iswahyudi Air Force Base in Madiun, East Java.

The airframe is the first Indonesian F-16 to undergo the Falcon STAR (Structural Augmentation Roadmap) and enhanced mid-life upgrade programmes, the TNI-AU said in a statement on the same day. The aircraft operates with the service’s Skuadron Udara (Aviation Squadron) 3.

As part of the upgrades, the aircraft received structural enhancements, enhanced avionics and weapon systems, and can operate up to 8,000 actual flying hours, said the TNI-AU.

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bug2 - 28-2-2020 at 01:54 PM

U.S., Allies Bolstering Electronic Warfare Systems


By Jon Harper

EA-18G Growler
Navy photo

The global military airborne electronic warfare market offers major opportunities for equipment manufacturers as countries respond to growing threats, according to a recent report from Frost & Sullivan.

The study titled, “Global Military Airborne Electronic Warfare Market, Forecast to 2028,” projects $30.8 billion in revenue for contractors between 2018 and the latter part of this decade. About $21 billion of that will come from planned future procurements of EW systems.

The investments are a response to weapons modernization by advanced adversaries, said Brad Curran, a senior aerospace and defense industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

There is a new generation of enemy missiles with extended ranges that are better able to survive jamming, he told National Defense.

“Our near-peer adversaries have really moved the ball forward with their capability for anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles,” he said. “We’ve got some catching up to do.”

A number of initiatives are underway to address the threat, including ensuring Navy EA-18G Growlers have the most up-to-date software and jamming capability, Curran noted.

Last year, Northrop Grumman received $1.2 billion in new contracts for electronic warfare systems including an airborne next-generation jammer, according to Curran. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are other primes that are heavily involved in developing EW technology.

The United States is expected to lead the way in electronic warfare spending over the forecast period, but European allies and partners are also beefing up their defenses.

“Norway, Sweden, Finland — they’re also very concerned about air and naval deployments by Russia,” Curran said. “They’re really stepping up their electronic warfare as well. So you’ve got companies like Saab and Kongsberg and others that have really helped to improve that capability.”

In the Asia-Pacific, countries like Japan, South Korea and Australia are also investing.

“With the … farther offshore naval and air capability that the Chinese are developing, those countries are also very, very interested in advancing their electronic warfare capability,” Curran said.

In the Middle East, Israel is another major player in the market, he added.

Foreign partners keep a close eye on U.S. military modernization and the systems the Pentagon is buying. That opens up opportunities for foreign military sales, he noted.

“When we talk about those other big global players, or at least wealthy countries … that will upgrade their systems, in most cases they’re going to follow and trace” their U.S. ally, Curran said.

bug2 - 9-3-2020 at 10:13 PM

USAF to upgrade F-16s with pylon-based IR warner from Elbit

Gareth Jennings, London - Jane's Defence Weekly

08 March 2020

The US Air Force (USAF) has contracted Elbit Systems of America to equip its reserve Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft with a pylon-based missile approach warning system (MAWS).

The USD471 million contract, which was announced by the Department of Defense (DoD) on 5 March, will run for 10 years and see an undisclosed number of F-16s operated by the Air National Guard (ANG) and Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) fitted with pylon-based infrared missile warning systems.

Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and will run through to February 2030.

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bug2 - 27-3-2020 at 03:11 PM

Stealth Master

(Source: BAE Systems; issued March 24, 2020)

The Eurofighter Typhoon has one of the world’s most advanced Electronic Warfare (EW) systems.

Here we talk to Mark Hewer, Leonardo’s Vice President Integrated Mission Solutions, about how the Eurofighter Typhoon’s EW system allows the aircraft to operate stealthily, evading threats and preventing engagement.

How Does Digital Stealth Work?

There are two main elements to being able to act stealthily: being aware of your environment and being hard to observe. The Eurofighter EW suite covers both. Firstly, the system provides full awareness of surrounding threats so the pilot knows where they are and what modes they’re using. This picture is enhanced further by pulling in data from other operators in the theatre, networking via the Eurofighter EW system.

With an up-to-the-moment, accurate and comprehensive picture of the environment, a Eurofighter pilot can make sure they don’t even come within range of potentially-dangerous radar.

However, staying away from threats isn’t always possible, so the second core element of stealth is to make yourself hard to see. Here, the Eurofighter EW suite employs a range of electronic countermeasures that allows the aircraft to digitally hide its signature, becoming invisible to radar, or to digitally create a complex and confusing picture (noise) for a threat operator, denying them a clean targeting opportunity and preventing them from launching a missile in the first place.

Digital Means Adaptable

Importantly, the Eurofighter’s advanced, reprogrammable EW suite allows the aircraft to react to a constantly-changing threat environment in ways that physical stealth cannot.

Consider today’s threats. The latest surface-to-air missile systems are having their hardware regularly upgraded, are being networked, and can change their behaviour almost instantaneously via software-reprogramming. In short, they are constantly evolving, creating a dynamic and challenging threat environment.

This means that the advantage of aircraft which use traditional physical stealth technology, which is designed to make the aircraft hard-to-observe by threat radar systems, is eroding. Counter-stealth techniques are on the rise and have been successfully employed as far back as 1993.

This vulnerability against high-end threats with counter-stealth techniques is difficult to address because the basic elements of physical stealth (an aircraft’s skin & surface treatments, internal structure, and configuration) cannot easily be changed. However, in contrast, the Eurofighter’s EW systems, which are readily re-programmable, can evolve digitally to maintain the aircraft’s combat advantage even as threats change around it.

The secret to this advantage is ‘mission data’, a term which sounds relatively benign but is critical to an aircraft’s EW performance and often life-saving. Mission data is the threat intelligence that allows the Eurofighter’s sensors to recognise a threat and use the appropriate electronic countermeasure or evasion technique to keep the Eurofighter safely out of harm’s way. For some aircraft, mission data is controlled by foreign nations or platform manufacturers, meaning that updates can be months, even years apart.

With Eurofighter, which has an open, reprogrammable system which can be updated by the operator, a new threat which is reported as ‘unknown’ during today’s mission can be programmed into the system in hours, meaning that the threat will be identified and dealt with during the very next mission.

Leonardo provide full training to sovereign nations in the programming of Eurofighter and development of tactics and countermeasures (optional) so they are able to capitalise on the equipment’s capability rapidly and effectively.


bug2 - 27-3-2020 at 10:16 PM

USMC begins AESA upgrade for ‘classic’ Hornets

Gareth Jennings, London - Jane's Navy International

26 March 2020

The US Marine Corps is to fit the Raytheon AN/APG-79(V)4 AESA radar to 98 of its classic Hornet aircraft. Source: Raytheon

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has begun the process of replacing the radars of some its Boeing F/A-18 legacy Hornet combat aircraft with a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) system, with the first procurement contract awarded on 26 March.

The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has awarded Raytheon USD30.2 million to procure AN/APG-79(V)4 AESA radar systems for the first nine USMC F/A-18C/D Hornets, with deliveries to be completed by May 2022.

This first contract comes 14 months after Raytheon announced that it had been selected to fit the AN/APG-79(V)4 AESA radar to 98 of the USMC's F/A-18C/D fleet, replacing its own AN/APG-73 mechanically scanned radar. According to the company's statement at the time, deliveries will run from 2020 through to 2022. No contract value was disclosed.

Jane's first reported the USMC's plans to upgrade the radar on its Hornets when the NAVAIR issued a request for information (RFI) in March 2018. At that time it was noted that the change to an AESA system was needed due to the increased reliability and sustainability requirements, as well as the associated capability improvements. The 98 AESAs and 14 spare systems are being procured to cover seven fleet squadrons of 12 aircraft each.

The AN/APG-79(V)4 is a scaled version of the AN/APG-79 AESA radar already fitted to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, and shares 90% commonality for synergies in maintenance and support. The USMC will benefit from the same global sustainment and upgrade path already in place for the AN/APG-79.

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bug2 - 31-3-2020 at 02:48 PM

USA approves new IFF, datalink for Korean F-16s

By Greg Waldron

31 March 2020

The US government has cleared a potential sale of Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) and the Link 16 tactical datalink to South Korea for its Lockheed Martin F-16s.

The deal is worth $194 million, and includes a range of services and equipment related to the acquisition, says the US State Department.

Source: Greg Waldron
A Lockheed Martin KF-16 at the Seoul ADEX show in October, 2017.

“The proposed sale will improve the Republic of Korea’s capability to meet current and future threats by increasing its interoperability with U.S. Air Force and other coalition forces through an improved datalink and Mode 5 IFF, producing a more effective Alliance for its F-16 fleet,” it says.

“The Republic of Korea will have no difficulty absorbing this upgrade into its armed forces.”

Lockheed is the main contractor for the deal.

Seoul is in the process of upgrading 134 F-16 C/Ds to the F-16V standard, with new avionics as well as an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, the Northrop Grumman APG-81.

bug2 - 28-4-2020 at 12:17 AM

Saab Flies New GaN Fighter Radar

by David Donald - April 24, 2020, 11:08 AM

Saab’s new AESA array, seen here installed in JAS 39D “800”, has just under 1,000 gallium nitride transmit/receive modules. (Photo: Saab)

Saab has flown its active electronically scanned array (AESA) X-band radar in a Gripen fighter for the first time, the company announced on April 24. The flight took place at Saab’s Linköping airfield on April 8. During the 90-minute sortie undertaken by a JAS 39D trials aircraft (serial 800), the radar was successfully tested against aerial targets of opportunity and a range of ground targets. Speaking to AIN, Anders Carp, senior vice president and head of Saab's Surveillance business area, noted that the radar demonstrated good capability and stability throughout the test mission.

“This is an important step in the development of our new fighter AESA radar,” said Carp in a company statement. “We see great possibilities for the radar, and its modular, adaptable and scalable design means it can also be used for a range of other applications.”

Under current plans, Saab expects to continue initial radar trials for around three to four months, with Gripen 800 due to fly around 15 times with the new sensor. As part of the evaluation, the radar will be employed against fighter targets.

Saab has been at the forefront of AESA radar design employing gallium nitride (GaN) technology, having pioneered the technology with its latest iterations of the Giraffe ground- and sea-based radars, electronic warfare equipment, and with the Erieye ER S-band radar employed in the GlobalEye surveillance aircraft.

The new AESA array is made up of hundreds of transmit/receive modules (TRMs), each one essentially a mini-electronically scanned radar. Radars made with GaN semiconductors have better performance—notably in terms of electronic counter-countermeasures, small target detection and wider bandwidth—than most current AESA sensors that employ gallium arsenide (GaAs) TRMs, while consuming less power and generating less heat.

What is currently known simply as the “Saab AESA fighter radar” comprises the GaN array married to the back end of the PS-05/A Mk 4 mechanically-scanned radar that is the current option for the Gripen C/D. Saab has built virtually all of the elements of the radar itself, including the TRMs that are manufactured in a foundry at the company’s primary radar design and production facility, the former Ericsson plant in Gothenburg. The company began ground-testing of the array well over a year ago.

In the Gripen installation, the array is fixed with Saab opting for this configuration due to its simplicity and reliability. The concept of using a repositioner was initially discarded as advanced digital processing can overcome most of the problems associated with radar performance at the outer edges of the scanning volume without adding the internal space required to accommodate a repositioning system. However, Carp commented that a repositioning system could be employed if trials showed that it was necessary.

The array is essentially the same as that which was ordered in late September 2018 for what Saab describes as an "undisclosed U.S. government customer". At the same time, however, the Pentagon announced the award of an $8.2 million contract to Saab USA for the research and development of an "active aperture array". The contracting agency was Naval Air Systems Command, with the array being intended for the Office of Naval Research and Office of the Secretary of Defense Foreign Comparative Testing Program. Saab has already flight-tested this array on another testbed in support of the U.S. program and delivered it to the customer earlier this year.

Saab claims that its new ITAR-free array is ready to go to market, and would take between 12 and 18 months to deliver given the need to complete development and testing, and to establish production. The radar has an obvious application as a retrofit for Gripen C/Ds, and could also be included as an option instead of the PS-05/A Mk 4 for new C/D sales, with the potential of revitalizing that aircraft’s sales prospects. Other opportunities include other fighter types, particularly as an upgrade option.

The company sees opportunities for the X-band radar beyond fighters, including installation in advanced trainer and aggressor aircraft. Moreover, the radar has been designed in a modular fashion, and is scalable. This opens up a wide range of applications, including scaled-up radars of almost Erieye ER size for X-band surveillance. Ship- and UAV-based opportunities are also being studied.

For now there are no plans to equip the new-generation Gripen E/F with the GaN radar as the GaAs-based Leonardo ES-05 Raven is fully integrated for that requirement, but it could be substituted if a customer specified it. Saab also points out that the work being performed by the company on an AESA radar for the KF-X fighter in collaboration with South Korean industry is a separate project.

bug2 - 28-4-2020 at 11:35 PM

Saab AESA trial offers Gripen C/D users new upgrade path

By Craig Hoyle

28 April 2020

Saab has begun promoting an active electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna for its PS-05/A fighter radar, offering an upgrade option for operators of its Gripen C/D, and other legacy types.

During a roughly 90min debut flight aboard a Gripen D test aircraft conducted from the Swedish company’s Linkoping site on 8 April, the AESA sensor “collected data while detecting and tracking objects”, Saab says.

Source: Saab
New array was installed on Gripen D test aircraft

Anders Carp, head of the company’s aeronautics business area, describes these as having been “targets of opportunity” such as general aviation aircraft, due to a lack of commercial airliner activity during the coronavirus crisis.

“We had a very successful first flight, both in terms of capability and stability,” Carp says.

Future tests, to be conducted following data validation from the sensor’s airborne debut, will be expanded to incorporate “fighter targets”, he notes. In all, around 15 flights are planned over a period of three to four months.

Integration of the AESA array – which features more than 500 gallium nitride transmit/receive modules – required no alteration to the Gripen’s power or cooling provision, Carp says. “We’re just changing the array itself, and using exactly the same back-end as the [PS-05/A] Mk4” with some software updates, he notes.

“We have the possibility now to get the full radar range to use [MBDA’s] Meteor or similar [air-to-air] missiles,” Carp notes of the enhancement.

The availability of an ITAR-free AESA array offers a potential upgrade path for existing Gripen C/D operators, which in addition to the Swedish air force include the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand.

As well as being a candidate for such updates, the new array will also be offered with Saab’s proposed Gripen Aggressor platform, which is intended to meet growing military demand for adversary training services.

“The Gripen is a fairly small aircraft compared to many of the competitors, which makes the size of the radar suitable for many other platforms,” Carp notes. This could potentially include advanced jet trainers, and even unmanned air vehicles, he suggests.

Carp points to the fighter AESA design as having drawn on Saab’s experience with developing other X-band sensors, including for the Giraffe 1X short-range ground-based air-defence radar. Its underlying technology could be scaled up to approaching an “Erieye-size” sensor for airborne ground surveillance tasks, he indicates.

“If there’s a customer that wants it now we’re ready to start production – we’re more or less ready to take orders,” Carp says.

Source: Peter Liander/Saab
Active electronically scanned array is ready for production orders

Saab has already delivered an array almost identical to the design flown in the Gripen to an undisclosed US military customer. The company last October announced its receipt of a contract to supply the system, but will not disclose the operator or platform type.

Saab’s AESA product will not compete with the Leonardo Raven ES-05 array installed on the airframer’s new-generation Gripen E, which is in production for Sweden and launch export buyer Brazil.

bug2 - 29-4-2020 at 09:37 PM

USAF releases M7.2+ upgrade to more than 600 F-16s

Gareth Jennings, London - Jane's International Defence Review

28 April 2020

An OFP M7.2+ standard F-16 undergoing pre-release flight trials. The USAF plans to roll out the upgrade to more than 600 of its F-16 aircraft. Source: US Air Force

The US Air Force (USAF) has released the latest software and hardware upgrade planned for more than 600 of its Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft, the service disclosed on 28 April.

The Operational Flight Program (OFP) M-series 7.2+ upgrade, earmarked for retrofit to current Block 40/42/50/52 F-16s, was released in April following a USD455 million development programme led by the F-16 System Program Office (SPO) located at both Hill Air Force Base (AFB) in Utah and Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.

As noted by the USAF, OFP M7.2+ adds 42 major capability enhancements onto older model F-16s, including the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar (deemed to be the top priority for Northern Command [USNORTHCOM]), the ability to employ the Lockheed Martin AGM-158B Joint Air-To-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) and latest variant Raytheon AIM-120D Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM).

The F-16 SPO, the 309th Software Engineering Group (SWEG), the OFP Combined Test Force (CTF) including the Air Force Test Center Developmental Test, 53 Wing Operational Test, and the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Test Center are partnered to develop and field software capability upgrades, the air force said.

OFP M7.2+ has been a totally in-house development for the USAF, with the OFP CTF located at Eglin AFB in Florida conducting more than 4,200 sorties and 4,600 flight hours, including participation in the 2019 Northern Edge Exercise.

The OFP M7.2+ is part of a wider modernisation process planned for the USAF's F-16 that includes a service-life extension programme (SLEP) to extend the service lives of up to 841 Block 40-52 F-16C/D aircraft from the current 8,000 hours to nearly 14,000 hours.

(301 of 611 words)

bug2 - 1-5-2020 at 03:03 PM

CHAMMAL: The Versatility of Rafale in the Spotlight with "Flex" Missions

(Source: French Air Force; issued April 29, 2020)

(Unofficial translation by

A French Air Force Rafale single-seat fighter deployed to the forward air base in Jordan with the new RECO-NG reconnaissance pod fitted to its centerline pylon. This pod has been operational since the end of March. (French Defence Staff photo)

Since the end of March, the fighter detachment of the deployed air base (BAP) in the Levant has received a RECO-NG (new-generation reconnaissance) pod, which offers the possibility of diversifying its missions in Iraq and Syria as part of the fight against Daesh.

“Flex missions mean flexible: Two aircraft on patrol with the ability to achieve three complementary effects: ground support, air defense, and intelligence, "said Colonel Benjamin Souberbielle, commander of the BAP. "The novelty consists in the use of this sensor almost daily above the theater, while carrying out our usual missions of air defense and air support to ground troops," he adds.

With its 4.6 m length and weighing 1,100 kg, the RECO-NG pod is particularly noticeable. Positioned under the fuselage of the Rafale, it allows photography by day and night. This means weapons caches, tunnels, vehicles, training camps for Daesh combatants can be identified. "With the pod, the photos are of excellent quality. The meticulous tracking and the high-performance zoom allow clear identification," explains the unit's image interpreter. This system is also very agile: once in flight, the pilot can decide to modify the target according to the opportunities that arise during the mission.

“The RECO-NG pod represents an additional capacity brought to the Coalition and optimizes our capabilities already present in the theater. The Coalition’s Air Operations Command Center, based in Qatar, designates the points of interest for us to photograph," said the Rafale Detachment Commander. "These shots also provide us with national autonomy in assessing the situation, in addition to sharing information with the Coalition."


ADMK2 - 1-5-2020 at 11:14 PM

Quote: Originally posted by bug2  
Saab AESA trial offers Gripen C/D users new upgrade path

By Craig Hoyle

28 April 2020

Saab has begun promoting an active electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna for its PS-05/A fighter radar, offering an upgrade option for operators of its Gripen C/D, and other legacy types.

During a roughly 90min debut flight aboard a Gripen D test aircraft conducted from the Swedish company’s Linkoping site on 8 April, the AESA sensor “collected data while detecting and tracking objects”, Saab says.

Source: Saab
New array was installed on Gripen D test aircraft

Anders Carp, head of the company’s aeronautics business area, describes these as having been “targets of opportunity” such as general aviation aircraft, due to a lack of commercial airliner activity during the coronavirus crisis.

“We had a very successful first flight, both in terms of capability and stability,” Carp says.

Future tests, to be conducted following data validation from the sensor’s airborne debut, will be expanded to incorporate “fighter targets”, he notes. In all, around 15 flights are planned over a period of three to four months.

Integration of the AESA array – which features more than 500 gallium nitride transmit/receive modules – required no alteration to the Gripen’s power or cooling provision, Carp says. “We’re just changing the array itself, and using exactly the same back-end as the [PS-05/A] Mk4” with some software updates, he notes.

“We have the possibility now to get the full radar range to use [MBDA’s] Meteor or similar [air-to-air] missiles,” Carp notes of the enhancement.

The availability of an ITAR-free AESA array offers a potential upgrade path for existing Gripen C/D operators, which in addition to the Swedish air force include the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand.

As well as being a candidate for such updates, the new array will also be offered with Saab’s proposed Gripen Aggressor platform, which is intended to meet growing military demand for adversary training services.

“The Gripen is a fairly small aircraft compared to many of the competitors, which makes the size of the radar suitable for many other platforms,” Carp notes. This could potentially include advanced jet trainers, and even unmanned air vehicles, he suggests.

Carp points to the fighter AESA design as having drawn on Saab’s experience with developing other X-band sensors, including for the Giraffe 1X short-range ground-based air-defence radar. Its underlying technology could be scaled up to approaching an “Erieye-size” sensor for airborne ground surveillance tasks, he indicates.

“If there’s a customer that wants it now we’re ready to start production – we’re more or less ready to take orders,” Carp says.

Source: Peter Liander/Saab
Active electronically scanned array is ready for production orders

Saab has already delivered an array almost identical to the design flown in the Gripen to an undisclosed US military customer. The company last October announced its receipt of a contract to supply the system, but will not disclose the operator or platform type.

Saab’s AESA product will not compete with the Leonardo Raven ES-05 array installed on the airframer’s new-generation Gripen E, which is in production for Sweden and launch export buyer Brazil.

ITAR free? Wow, amazing... Oh, who makes the Gripen (all models) engines again? Oh that’s right... General Electric...

Yeah, not exactly as ‘ITAR free’ as SAAB’s marketeers would have you believe...

bug2 - 4-5-2020 at 06:41 PM

Northrop to prototype comms gateway for 5th gen fighters

By Greg Waldron

4 May 2020

Northrop Grumman will develop the prototype of a new system that enables improved communications among diverse platforms.

The company labels the system gatewayOne, and is undertaking the work under the US Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) effort, following a contract with the USAF Life Cycle Management Center.

F-22 and F-35A
Source: Greg Waldron
A USAF F-22 and F-35A at the Seoul ADEX defence show in October 2017.

“Northrop Grumman is providing engineering, management and technical assistance for the Air Force’s integration of net-centric 5th-to-5th generation aircraft communications capabilities and other platforms into a modular, open-architecture gateway,” says the company.

A flight representative configuration will take place in an integration laboratory, followed by an airborne demonstration after four months. The rapid pace of development is part of a USAF initiative to develop ABMS prototypes in short sprints. The company did not provide a contract value.

ABMS is envisaged as a communications network linking aircraft, satellites, ships, ground vehicles and command and control stations. It will allow the sharing of battlefield information directly and in real time, instead of relying on fractured communications systems that are specific to certain types of aircraft and armed forces.

The USAF operates two 5th generation types, the Lockheed Martin F-35 and F-22. Longer term ABMS is seen as linking these two types as well as a diverse range of other aircraft, naval assets, and ground units. The USAF hopes that ABMS becomes the sole network of all US military services, but the US Navy and US Army have yet to commit.

In addition, Northrop adds, the capability could help network proposed “attritable aircraft,” which will be affordable un-manned systems that accompany manned aircraft in challenging combat scenarios.

While ABMS holds great promise for networking diverse assets, it recently came in for criticism from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). In an April report, the GAO contended that the initiative in several areas such as an organisational structure, detailed plans, and overall cost estimates.

bug2 - 7-5-2020 at 10:47 AM

RAFAEL and Leonardo Will Supply the M-346FA with Rafael's Litening 5 and RecceLite Systems

(Source: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems; issued May 6, 2020)

Integration of two pods developed and widely sold by Israel’s Rafael – the Litening 5 targeting pod and the RecceLite ISR pod – will give the lightweight fighter variant of Leonardo’s M346 jet trainer substantially enhances capabilities. (Leonardo photo)

TEL AVIV --- RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems will supply 5th generation Litening-5 and RecceLite systems to equip Leonardo's M-346FA light combat aircraft. This is the first integration of 5th generation EO pods to Leonardo's M-346FA platform.

The M-346FA is the multi-role combat variant of the most advanced jet trainer that has been designed for a wide range of training capabilities, long-term reliability and cost-effective operations. The FA variant is also able to operate very effectively as a multi-role tactical aircraft, capable of air-to-surface, air-to-air and tactical reconnaissance missions.

Integrated with RAFAEL's pods, the jet will now have combat-proven, stand-off capabilities using the Litening 5 multi-spectral airborne targeting pod. The Litening 5 pod is in use by 27 air forces and carried by over 25 platforms globally. Litening 5 delivers real-time, forward-looking infrared (FLIR+SWIR) and day HD color camera imagery. Its high-resolution sensors and effective EO/IR design ensure reliable operation at significant stand-off ranges. Litening 5 allows the operation of all types of air-to-surface smart weaponry, such as laser-guided, GPS-guided and EO/IR imaging-guided munition. Litening pods have logged over 2 million flight hours, with more than two-thirds in contingency operations worldwide.

With the RecceLite ISR system, the light-attack aircraft will be able to perform target search, using advanced AI, ATR (Automatic Target Recognition) at the interpretation ground station, and other smart algorithms for efficient detection, tracking, and sensor-to-shooter closure. Using its advanced ISR, image processing, and artificial intelligence, the system achieves optimal data-exploitation at the ground station, of intelligence data relayed in real-time and mission execution in near-real-time. RecceLite has been delivered to 13 customers world-wide and integrated onto various aircraft, including the F-16, F-18, Jaguar, AMX, Tornado, Typhoon, Gripen, Heron TP, Reaper and others. It is used by air forces in Europe, the Far East and South America.

Guy Oren, VP, Head of RAFAEL's Electro-optical systems directorate: "This new cooperation with Leonardo opens new markets to integrate our advanced systems to additional light, cost-effective platforms, based on our vast experience and integration legacy in all domains."

Emanuele Merlo, Leonardo's Aircraft Division SVP Trainers: "We see a growing number of nations that have requirements for trainers that are also able to perform close-air support missions, and the addition of RAFAEL's globally combat-proven 5th gen. targeting and ISR pods is a significant, force-multiplying enhancement to our platform."


bug2 - 29-5-2020 at 10:58 PM

Eurofighter: Flight Tests Continue with the E-SCAN Radar

(Source: Leonardo; issued May 29, 2020)

While the four Eurofighter partner nations paid over €1 billion to develop an AESA radar for the aircraft, none has yet ordered it. Flight-testing of the radar is currently proceeding for Kuwait and Qatar, which have both ordered it for their own Eurofighters. (Leonardo photo)

A Eurofighter flight test campaign dedicated to the configuration chosen by Kuwait, with E-SCAN radar and other important enhancements, is certainly demanding and complex. Mario Mutti, Head of Project Test Pilot Fighters and Standardization of Leonardo's Aircraft Division, tells us how it is proceeding.

Leonardo ISPA 6 (Instrumented Series Production Aircraft) is the most advanced Eurofighter Typhoon test aircraft with E-SCAN radar and it recently joined the other EF Typhoon test aircraft after the successful completion of an important lay-up in November last year.

"The testing campaign for the new radar is particularly demanding - Mario Mutti, Head of Project Test Pilot Fighters and Standardization of Leonardo's Aircraft Division tells - there is a need for very large and dedicated work areas, the support of other aircraft that act as "smart" targets, an extremely accurate post-flight data analysis that involves multiple sites (in Italy and partner Countries) and optimizes the "set-ups" of the next flight. A very complex flight test system.

“The Italian Air Force contributes in a fundamental way: the aircraft available in support of test flights are always on time and offer a very consistent capability both quantitative and in terms of skill. The complex scenarios planned in flight are possible only thanks to the experience of the military pilots and our two-seater prototype that allows for synergy, even in the cockpit, between test pilot and flight test engineer."

This challenging programme was completed as planned notwithstanding the difficulties created by the pandemic conditions under which the teams were operating; all flight test points were tested and all the required evidences obtained to provide final clearance on Kuwait’s Typhoon. The tactical advantage given by the radar’s Antenna Repositioner – allows a field of regard 50 per cent wider than conventional E-SCAN fixed plate systems - was clearly evident since the early stages of development.

"The COVID emergency did not stop us, on the contrary, it strengthened us! - Mutti continues - Very stringent procedures, always in line with national and corporate protocols allowed us to operate with a motivated team that has challenged adversity with great dedication and sense of responsibility. International sharing is actually more difficult and efforts are being made to restore it to maximum effectiveness."

With the above flights, ISPA6 has completed the overall P3Eb Flight Test campaign, which represent a significant step forward to allow the delivery of the Eurofighter to the Kuwait Air Force.

"The Eurofighter is always an excellent platform – Mutti comments with satisfaction - and demonstrates its extensive development capability already foreseen in the design phase. Ergonomics are even more optimized and the new radar is perfectly integrated into a general growth of capabilities that includes sensors, weapons and increasingly advanced and performing functions”.

The Eurofighter Typhoon ISPA 6

ISPA 6 is one of the three EF Typhoon test aircraft equipped with the Electronic Scan Radar made by the EuroRadar Consortium, led by Leonardo UK in Edinburgh, and it’s currently allocated to the EF/NETMA P3Eb (Eurofighter Consortium/NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency - Phase 3 Enhancements Package b) development programme to perform E-SCAN Entry Into Service flight tests and provide final clearance to the Kuwait customer.

After its first flight in the current configuration, at the end of last year, on the 3rd of March ISPA 6 started the so-called “E-SCAN XCR#1” flight test campaign and performed several sorties successfully concluded on the 27th of March. The first sorties were performed in cooperation with Leonardo’s IPA2 (Instrumented Production Aircraft) test aircraft and the last ones were conducted in cooperation with Eurofighter Typhoons of the Italian Air Force.

Recently ISPA 6 has flown to refine ECCM (Electronic Counter-Countermeasures) Radar capabilities, while in the next months will perform final E-SCAN software release certification flights; then will progress flying to test further E-SCAN software capabilities by the end of the year.


bug2 - 2-6-2020 at 12:00 AM

Romania to upgrade IAR-99 trainer fleet

By Dominic Perry1 June 2020

Romania is to modernise its 10 remaining IAR-99 Standard trainers, having invited the jets’ original manufacturer Avioane Craiova to perform the upgrade work.

Under the procurement, the Craiova-based manufacturer must now submit a suitable offer to the defence ministry in order for the contract to proceed.

Source: Catalin Cocirla/Wikimedia Commons

No details of the modernisation programme have been released by the Romanian defence ministry, but it says the effort to raise the aircraft to the SM standard is to enable “advanced pilot training”, bridging to the Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters operated by its air force.

In addition, SM-level aircraft will be able to conduct close-air support missions and to interdict low-speed aerial targets, says the defence ministry.

Bucharest hopes the contract, worth a reported $100 million, will be signed within a month, enabling the work to take place over the 2020-2024 period.

Powered by a single Rolls-Royce Viper engine – licence-built by local firm Turbomecanica – the IAR-99 first flew in 1985. Cirium fleets data shows the Romanian air force as operating 10 Standard aircraft, all built in the late 1980s, plus 11 C-variant examples, dating from a previous upgrade of the design in the late 1990s which also included new-build jets.

bug2 - 19-6-2020 at 12:27 PM

Germany picks Hensoldt for Eurofighter AESA radar integration

By Craig Hoyle

18 June 2020

Berlin has approved a contract for sensor house Hensoldt to complete development, production and integration work on an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for its air force fleet of Eurofighter combat aircraft.

“With this decision, Germany is taking on a pioneering role in the field of key technology for the Eurofighter for the first time,” says Hensoldt chief executive Thomas Mueller.

German Eurofighter
Source: Bundeswehr
Combat aircraft will gain Mk1 AESA sensor via German programme

Announced by the German government’s budget committee on 17 June, the deal for Mk1 AESA sensors is worth more than €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) to Hensoldt. “In contrast to the development of the radar to date in a consortium under British leadership”, the company notes that it will assume full design authority for the system.

“This will create high-tech jobs in Germany and give the Bundeswehr the equipment it needs to respond to new threats,” Mueller says. ”In addition, it is a signal for Europe that Germany is investing in a technology that is of crucial importance for European defence cooperation.”

Hensoldt expects the business to create another 400 jobs at its Ulm site in Bavaria. Meanwhile, Airbus Defence & Space will be responsible for equipment design supporting the installation.

Speaking the day before the confirmation, Airbus Defence & Space chief executive Dirk Hoke hinted at the step.

“On the German side, we see strong support to accelerate the project of the electronic radar for Eurofighter,” he said during a lecture webcast by the Royal Aeronautical Society. Hoke also hopes that Berlin will place a Project Quadriga contract before year-end to supply the Luftwaffe with another 38 of the aircraft.

Germany’s commitment makes it the first of the four core Eurofighter partner nations – also including Italy, Spain and the UK – to fund AESA production and integration for its fleet. Export customers Kuwait and Qatar are also acquiring AESA technology, with their Typhoons to have Captor-E sensors developed by the Leonardo UK-led Euroradar consortium.

The UK, meanwhile, continues to work on a development of Captor-E for future integration with some of the Royal Air Force’s Typhoons.

bug2 - 20-6-2020 at 03:43 PM

18 JUNE 2020 00:00 GMT+0

South Korea's ADD to study possible upgrades for FA-50 light attack aircraft

by Dae Young Kim

South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD) is aiming to enhance the range and combat capabilities of Korea Aerospace Industries’ (KAI’s) FA-50 Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft, 60 units of which are currently in service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF).

South Korea’s ADD is aiming to improve the combat capabilities of the KAI FA-50 light combat aircraft, 60 units of which are currently in RoKAF service. (KAI)

As its ageing F-5E/F and F-4E combat aircraft are gradually decommissioned, the RoKAF would like the twin-seat, single-engined FA-50, which was originally developed to provide close air support, to play a bigger role in the force, a military official told Janes on 18 June.

As a result the ADD will conduct a study from July to December to examine how to expand the aircraft’s capabilities in several areas, including the possibility of it carrying conformal fuel tanks for extended range, as well as targeting pods and new weapons systems, including beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs).

The FA-50 Fighting Eagle is the light-strike variant of the T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainer. Developed along similar lines to the Yak-130 and M-346, the FA-50 has an internal General Dynamics M197 20 mm three-barrel Gatling-gun (modified M61A2) and seven external stations (one on centreline, two under each wing, and an air-to-air missile [AAM] rail on each wingtip) for AAMs and air-to-surface missiles (ASMs), rocket pods, bombs, munition dispensers, practice bombs or equipment, and training targets.

bug2 - 24-6-2020 at 10:35 AM

Certification paves way for September delivery of first five-bladed H145 helicopter

By Dominic Perry23 June 2020

Airbus Helicopters will by end-September begin deliveries of its H145 medium-twin with a new five-bladed main rotor following recent European certification of the modification.

Announced in 2019, the upgrade sees the H145 gain an additional 150kg (330lb) of useful load from the higher performance of the new bearingless main rotor.

H145 five-blade
Source: Anthony Pecchi/Airbus Helicopters

The improved rotor helps lift maximum take-off weight by 100kg, to 3.8t. Although the extra blade adds weight, savings elsewhere enabled by its performance result in a net reduction of the helicopter’s empty weight by 50kg.

Approval from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency for the new variant was announced on 19 June; US certification will follow later this year, with validation of the H145M military variant due in 2020, says the airframer.

Assembly of the new standard – known as the D3 – is already under way at the airframer’s Donauworth facility in Germany. First to receive the variant will be Norwegian emergency medical services operator Norsk Luftambulanse.

Production of the current four-bladed model will continue until around year-end, says Airbus Helicopters.

“Offers for the four-bladed H145 will be decided on a case-by-case basis to satisfy existing contracts and fleet customers,” says the manufacturer.

Airbus Helicopters is also offering the upgraded main rotor as a retrofit option, with around 80 kits ordered to date; work on the initial helicopter to gain the modification will begin in the fourth quarter.

Certification of the five-bladed rotor covers the full range of capabilities, including single-pilot, single-engine, and instrument flight rules operations, along with night-vision goggle capability. Airbus Helicopters accumulated 550 flight hours with two test aircraft during the campaign.

bug2 - 27-6-2020 at 12:57 PM

26 JUNE 2020 00:00 GMT+0

Airbus to provide E-Scan radars for German and Spanish Eurofighters

by Gareth Jennings

Airbus has been contracted to develop, deliver, and integrate electronically-scanned (E-Scan) radar sets for German and Spanish Eurofighter combat aircraft.

A Eurofighter with a Captor-E radar displayed in the open nose. Airbus has been contracted to develop and integrate an upgraded version for the German and Spanish air forces. (Hensoldt)

The contract, announced on 26 June, covers 110 of the radar sets for the Luftwaffe and an initial five sets for the Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire Español: EdAE) from 2023. The value of the award made by the German and Spanish governments was not disclosed, although German sensor-house Hensoldt recently said it would receive EUR1.5 billion (USD1.7 billion) as lead for the project.

“The new sensor will equip Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 Eurofighters as well as new aircraft,” Airbus Defence and Space said, with division CEO Dirk Hoke adding, “The contract for the Captor-E radar is a main achievement to equip Eurofighter with sensors that ensure todays dominance of the aircraft also in the threat scenarios of tomorrow. With Eurofighter, Germany and Spain are investing in a strong backbone of European air defence and in the leading project of the European defence industry.”

News of the award came days after the governments of both nations approved funding to develop, build, and integrate a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system for their Eurofighter combat aircraft fleet.

Airbus will now subcontract the work to Germany’s Hensoldt as the lead contractor, with support from Spain’s Indra.

bug2 - 1-7-2020 at 11:24 PM

01 JULY 2020

GE awarded F-15EX engine contract ahead of potential competition

by Gareth Jennings

General Electric (GE) has been awarded USD101.3 million to launch engine production for the Boeing F-15EX Advanced Eagle combat aircraft, ahead of the US Air Force (USAF) potentially opening the requirement up to competition.

The General Electric F110-GE-129 engine will power the F-15EX at least through to the end of Lot 1 production in November 2022, after which time the USAF may or may not open up the requirement to other powerplant providers. (General Electric)

The firm-fixed-price contract announced on 30 June covers Lot 1 production of the F110-GE-129 engine through to 30 November 2022.

The USAF had always intended to sole-source GE for production of the F-15EX engine claiming that, with the F110-GE-129 already certified for installation, any competition could add up to three-years to the programme. However, following a protest from rival provider Pratt & Whitney, the service issued a sources sought notification on 15 May in which it asked for bids to build up 461 engines to power 144 aircraft (plus spares). Responses to that request were due to have been submitted in early June, with any request for proposals to follow after. Should the USAF decide it does require a second supplier, these alternate engines could potentially be introduced from Lot 2 onwards.

bug2 - 2-7-2020 at 01:56 PM

01 JULY 2020

Colombian Air Force completes Tucano modernisation

by Roberto Jose Garcia Hernandez

The Colombian Air Force (FAC) has received back into the service the last of 14 Embraer EMB-312 (AT-27M in national service) Tucano turboprop trainer and light-attack aircraft.

Colombia has 14 AT-27M Tucanos which have now all been through a modernisation programme. (Roberto José García Hernández)

The Colombian Aeronautic Industry Corporation (CIAC) delivered the final aircraft on 30 June, following a six-year upgrade effort across the fleet.

Designed to extend the type’s lifespan by 15 years, the retrofit programme involved the installation of new and strengthened wings and landing gear. A new avionics suite provided by Rockwell Collins (now Collins Aerospace) and a ‘glass’ cockpit from Cobham replaced the old analogue cockpit with modern systems and two large multifunction electronic displays.

Besides the new equipment, the CIAC also performed a complete overhaul to the airframes to deliver the aircraft in a zero-hours condition. These works included structural inspection of the aircraft using non-destructive inspection techniques, manufacture, and replacement of certain structural components, an overhaul of the hydraulic power units, painting, and corrosion control.

bug2 - 2-7-2020 at 11:47 PM

Hensoldt Leads New Radar Consortium: Billion-Euro Orders for New Eurofighter Radar Signed - Partner Spain

(Source: Hensoldt; issued July 01, 2020)

Hensoldt has been contracted by Airbus to design, develop and supply 130 ECRS Mk 1 electronic scanning radars which will be fitted to German and Spanish Eurofighter combat aircraft in a deal valued at 1.5 billion euros. (Hensoldt photo)

TAUFKIRCHEN, Germany --- Sensor system supplier Hensoldt has been awarded a contract by Airbus Defence and Space to develop and produce a new AESA (Active Electronic Scanning Array) radar for the German and Spanish Eurofighter fleets.

The project is jointly financed by the Eurofighter partner nations Spain and Germany, who will also be the first users of the radar in their fleets. Following budget approval by the Spanish government and most recently by the German Bundestag in mid-June, the contracts worth over 1.5 billion euros have now been signed.

"The fact that Germany and Spain are taking a pioneering role in the modernization of the Eurofighter is a signal of confidence in European defense cooperation," said Hensoldt CEO Thomas Müller. "This decision ensures that our armed forces will continue to be able to fulfill their mission in the future while being protected in the best possible way."

The contracts cover the German-Spanish new development of core components of the Eurofighter radar – including a digital multi-channel receiver and transmitter/receiver modules of the antenna – and the equipping of approximately 130 Eurofighter aircraft of tranches two and three. The development is being carried out by a Spanish-German industrial consortium under German leadership with the support of the Eurofighter nations Great Britain and Italy.

Hensoldt has already been involved in the development and production of the Eurofighter sensor technology currently in use. At its radar centre in Ulm, Hensoldt currently employs 2,200 people, and in the Eurofighter radar sector alone, the company expects to create 400 highly qualified jobs over the entire programme period. The sensor specialist is also investing around 15 million euros in the necessary capacity expansion, primarily at the Ulm site.

Hensoldt is a pioneer of technology and innovation in the field of defence and security electronics. Based in Taufkirchen near Munich, the company is a German Champion with strategic leadership positions in the field of sensor solutions for defence and non-defence applications. With approximately 5,500 employees, Hensoldt generated revenues of 1.14 billion euros in 2019.


bug2 - 23-7-2020 at 07:13 PM

Typhoon’s E-scan Radar Introduction Months Away

by Jon Lake - July 21, 2020, 8:00 AM

Typhoon trials aircraft IPA5 with the Captor-E radar undergoes tests in an anechoic chamber. (Photo: Eurofighter)

The Eurofighter Typhoon has lagged behind some of its competitors in fielding an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA, or E-scan) radar, but the service introduction of the Captor-E AESA radar on the aircraft is now just months away. Captor-E is currently in production for Kuwait, which will receive its first aircraft this year, and under contract for Qatar. Airbus Defence and Space and sensor system supplier Hensoldt has also signed a contract for an AESA radar for retrofit to the German Tranche 2 and 3 and Spanish Tranche 3 Eurofighter fleets.

The effort to produce an AESA radar for Typhoon began in 1993, with the Anglo/French/German AMSAR (Airborne Multi-Mode Solid-State Active-Array Radar) research and development program. Captor-E, as it is known today, owes its origins to the 2002 British and German industry CECAR (Captor E-sCAn Risk reduction) project, which began as a strand of AMSAR. The project team aimed to develop an AESA derivative of the existing Captor, while adding a new AESA antenna to the existing Captor-D "back end," retaining all features and capabilities of the original system.

A CAESAR (Captor AESA Radar) demonstrator flew aboard a UK MoD-operated BAC One-Eleven on February 24, 2006, and later on Eurofighter Development Aircraft DA5 starting May 8, 2007. The Euroradar consortium offered to provide a CAESAR-based AESA solution for the Eurofighter, but it became clear that a fixed antenna would be handicapped by a more limited scan in azimuth, and by reduced range at the edges of azimuth coverage. To overcome the deficiency, Euroradar explored a number of "moving AESA" designs, using a single or double swashplate repositioner to provide much wider scan limits, and developed CAPTOR-E using just such a system.

Plans originally called for the incorporation of an AESA radar on all Tranche 3 Eurofighters, and they were built with structural provision for a heavier AESA antenna, together with improved cooling and increased electrical power. The Eurofighter E-scan program was not accorded a high priority, however, not least because the mechanically scanned (M-scan) Captor demonstrated such impressive operational capabilities.

Competing visions of a Typhoon AESA led to further delay, but in 2012 Eurofighter GmbH established an AESA radar roadmap, with several versions of the basic Captor-E to meet different customer requirements. Work on Captor-E began using industry funding, and an initial radar was fitted to the UK Typhoon test aircraft, IPA5 (ZJ700) in time to be shown on static display at the 2014 Farnborough air show.

Eurofighter GmbH and the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) signed a €1 billion contract to develop the electronically scanned Captor-E radar on November 19, 2014, and work accelerated after Eurofighter and Finmeccanica (now Leonardo) signed an $8.7 billion contract with Kuwait for the delivery of 28 AESA-equipped aircraft in April 2016, with Qatar then signing a contract with the UK for 24 aircraft in December 2017.

Leonardo led the development of Captor-E within the four-nation Euroradar consortium (Leonardo in the UK and Italy, Hensoldt in Germany, and Indra in Spain) and acted as the design authority for the radar, while BAE Systems took equipment design responsibility, integrating the radar onto the Typhoon aircraft. The AESA radar, in Radar 1+ (now known as Mk0) form, is being introduced to the Typhoon as part of the Phase 3B Enhancements (P3Eb) program.

Flight trials began on July 8, 2016, using IPA5 and, from September 2016, IPA8—a German Tranche 3 Eurofighter. From December 23, 2019, the two aircraft were joined by the first Typhoon in Kuwait Air Force configuration—Instrumented Series Production Aircraft 6. Between March 3 and 27 ISPA6 conducted the so-called “E-scan XCR#1” flight test campaign using other Typhoons as radar targets. That completed E-scan entry-into-service flight tests and the overall P3Eb flight test campaign, readying the way for deliveries to Kuwait.

Flight testing confirmed the tactical advantage conferred by the radar’s repositioner, which gives a field of regard 50 percent wider than that provided by conventional fixed E-scan antenna systems. ISPA6 has continued flight testing to refine the radar’s ECCM (electronic counter-countermeasures) capabilities and to conduct final E-scan software release certification flights.

Plans originally called for the “four-nation” version of Captor-E for the original partners to use the same hardware as the export standard Radar 1+, but with additional documentation and performance data to satisfy the four-nation requirements set down by NETMA. However, when Hensoldt recently announced that it had won a contract to develop and produce a new AESA radar for retrofit to the in-service German and Spanish Eurofighter fleets, it revealed that plans had changed.

The aircraft will initially be fitted with the same Mk0 radar as that supplied to Kuwait and Qatar, but the radars will subsequently be upgraded to Mk1 standards with a new digital multi-channel receiver and new transmitter/receiver modules (TRMs), which will be developed under the new €1.5 billion contract. Hensoldt will be the design authority for the new German Mk1 E-scan radar, while Airbus will carry equipment design responsibility. Leonardo will provide the necessary support to enable Hensoldt to assume its role and will continue to provide the processor for the new German radar, which will be assembled at Ulm in Germany, rather than at Leonardo’s Crewe Toll factory in Edinburgh.

No decision has come on which radar will be fitted to the 38 new-build Eurofighters sought under Germany’s Quadriga program, nor for any additional aircraft acquired to replace German Tornados. Germany has previously indicated an interest in the so-called Radar 2 version of Captor-E under development for the UK Royal Air Force and whose features include an expanded and enhanced electronic attack capability, and which Leonardo is developing for service from around the mid-2020s.

Radar Two is expected to be an incrementally improved version of Captor-E, almost certainly with a different antenna. The new antenna will still incorporate a repositioner, but might not have embedded IFF, which could make it harder to use the array as a means of communicating with other aircraft. Radar 2 would have maximum commonality with Radar 1+ in its other hardware and operating interfaces.

Euroradar has said very little about Radar 2, or the EAP and Bright Adder demonstrator programs that preceded it, partly due to secrecy surrounding the British-led program and Hensoldt’s sensitivities (Ulm is developing the Mk1 radar) as well as to avoid denting sales of the current Radar 1+. Although Radar 2 remains some years away from service, it is, according to one program insider, “a real thing, happening very soon, and it’s going to be transformational for Typhoon.”

bug2 - 23-7-2020 at 11:14 PM

Eurofighter ready to deliver long-term enhancement ‘menu’ to operators

By Craig Hoyle

23 July 2020

The Eurofighter industry consortium remains on course to deliver a broad-ranging “menu” of capability options to its core partner nations before year-end to inform their decisions on the type’s long-term evolution (LTE) path.

“We have done a lot of technical definition work with the customers, giving them a range of options,” Paul Smith, Typhoon operational requirements manager for Eurofighter partner company BAE Systems Air, tells FlightGlobal. These range from performing a technical refresh of the Typhoon’s current capabilities to a full update, replacing the type’s entire avionics and system architecture.

Source: BAE Systems
Eurofighter platform is set to receive fresh package of capability enhancements

Smith says industry expects programme partners Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK to instead opt for a middle option. “The gist is a very large-area display, with no HUD [head-up display], fully utilising the [BAE] Striker II helmet, and refreshing the communications and data storage and high-speed data networks, improving the ability to share and move data rapidly.”

Engine and flight-control system enhancements could seek to boost the fuel-efficiency of the type’s Eurojet EJ200 turbofans, in conjunction with the use of an aerodynamic modification kit.

Additionally, the use of one- or two-dimensional thrust-vectoring nozzles could deliver handling benefits while carrying asymmetric heavy stores and during high angle-of-attack flight, and also improve short-field take-off and landing while reducing wear for operators in hot environments. Typhoon export customers include Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Other benefits of the LTE package will include increased flexibility in weapons release sequencing, as a result of flight-control software updates, and the ability to more rapidly integrate new stores. Planned future additions include the Anglo-French MBDA future cruise/anti-ship weapon and the same company’s Spear-EW electronic-attack missile, and what Smith refers to as other “novel effectors”.

Eurofighter was awarded a roughly 18-month study-phase contract for the LTE activity in mid-2018, and is due to deliver its proposals within the coming months.

“We are getting a better feel for what the nations want, and are looking for a decision gate by the end of the year to downselect the core capabilities that are going to be front and centre in LTE,” says Smith. Some aspects – such as any thrust-vectoring control enhancement – could be an option adopted by only one or two users, he notes.

Embodiment of the LTE updates on in-service aircraft is expected to start in the 2026-2027 timeframe, Smith says. The partner companies are already exploring whether such modifications could be performed as Eurofighter nations conduct other scheduled work, such as integrating active electronically scanned array radars as part of broader enhancements to the type.

“What we’re trying to do is maximise the availability of the aircraft and rationalise any future return-to-works programme,” Smith says.

He adds that in addition to updating Typhoon’s capabilities, such enhancements are also “A means to prove a lot of the underpinning technologies” for the UK’s BAE-led Tempest future combat air system project, including areas such as the use of an open mission systems architecture.

Source: BAE Systems
Developmental Tempest platform will draw an technologies employed during Eurofighter upgrade

bug2 - 24-7-2020 at 01:09 PM

Chile OK’d for F-16 upgrades

By: Aaron Mehta   2 hours ago

Chile looks to update its F-16 fighters. (Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook/Air Force)

Updated at 6:35 PM EST to include information on the number of planes being upgraded.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department has cleared Chile to purchase modernization upgrades for its F-16 fleet, with a potential $634.70 million price tag.

Chile currently operates 44 F-16s. That includes 10 Block 50 models purchased in the early 2000s, as well as 36 older models bought second-hand from the Netherlands. Reports that Chile would look to upgrade their existing F-16 fleet first emerged in 2017, but final details had not been made public. Analysts have also speculated that Chile may look to buy a small number of new F-16s to supplement its fleet.

The upgrades included in this potential sale include 19 Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS); six inert MK-82 (500LB) general purpose bomb bodies; two MXU-650KB Air Foil Groups (AFG); 44 LN-260 Embedded GPS/INS (EGI) and 49 Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radios (MIDS JTRS).

Also included are avionics equipment and software upgrades, new radios, upgraded IFF transponders, secure communications equipment and other parts. The upgrades are expected to go across the 44 plane fleet.

“The proposed sale will improve Chile’s capability to meet current and future threats by modernizing its F-16 fleet, which will allow Chile to maintain sovereignty and homeland defense, increase interoperability with the United States and other partners, and deter potential adversaries,” per a statement on the website of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

Lockheed Martin, which produces the F-16, will be the prime contractor on the deal, should it go through. All DSCA announcements must be cleared by Congress, at which point negotiations begin; quantities and dollar values often change in the final agreement.

Although this is the first FMS case ok’d for Chile since the start of fiscal 2017, the F-16 has proven to be a reliable sales vehicle for Lockheed abroad, with 14 F-16 related FMS requests cleared by DSCA during this time period.

bug2 - 30-7-2020 at 11:53 PM

Another Stage In E-99 Modernization Project Concluded

(Source: Brazilian Air Force; issued July 29, 2020)

(Unofficial translation by

The first E-99 airborne early warning aircraft upgraded by Embraer for the Brazilian Air Force shown just after going through the pain shop at the company’s facility in Sao Paolo. (BR AF photo)

The Modernization Project of the E-99 aircraft concluded, last Friday (24), at the Embraer facilities in São José dos Campos, in São Paulo (SP) state, with the painting process of the first unit that will be delivered to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB).

The completion of this stage is a milestone for the project and confirms yet another step towards the technological update of the vectors of the Force.

The E-99M project was started in 2012 and is carried out by the Combat Aircraft Program Coordinating Committee (COPAC) with Embraer and international suppliers such as SAAB, AeroElectronica International (AELI) and Rohde & Schwarz. In addition to modernization and updating of mission systems and related subsystems, the project also has technology transfer agreements that will enable technological advances of Brazilian defense industry.

The project manager, Lieutenant Colonel Aviator Fabio Pires Vieira, clarified the importance of completing another stage of the project. "The conclusion of this stage is an important indication that, despite all the adversities faced due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the aircraft will be delivered for operational use this year, as planned," he said.

The use of AEW & C aircraft is indispensable in a scenario of aerial operations, given the flexibility of positioning the aircraft together with the ability to detect traffic at low altitude, allowing radar coverage of the areas of interest of the Air Force Command (COMAER) , in addition to aircraft control, regardless of the Command and Control structure on the ground.

The modernization of the E-99's airborne sensors will allow the Brazilian Air Force to expand its capability to carry out Flight Control and Alarm missions and Electronic Reconnaissance, among others.


bug2 - 15-8-2020 at 07:15 PM

Spain’s Indra gets a key role in new Eurofighter radar development

Sebastian Sprenger

21 hours ago

A German Eurofighter Typhoon takes off during the Blue Flag multinational aerial exercise at the Ovda air force base, north of the Israeli city of Eilat, on Nov. 11, 2019. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images)

COLOGNE, Germany — Spanish defense contractor Indra is joining Germany’s Hensoldt as a co-lead in the development of a new radar for the Eurofighter warplane, the company announced.

The news comes after the German parliament in June approved a contract award to aircraft manufacturer Airbus worth almost $3 billion for a new version of the active electronically scanned array radar, dubbed Captor-E. More than half of that investment will go to sensor specialist Hensoldt, a former Airbus subsidiary. The contract is aimed at retrofitting roughly 130 German and Spanish aircraft in the mid-2020s, according to Hensoldt.

Officials in Europe have billed the radar upgrade as a key prerequisite for keeping the Eurofighter relevant for future missions and possible sales — including ongoing acquisition decisions in Finland and Switzerland.

Indra becoming the co-lead for the Captor-E’s follow-on generation, dubbed Eurofighter Common Radar System Mk1, represents a boost to the company’s prospects when it comes to developing a new generation of air warfare equipment.

“The contract will allow Indra to create long-term highly-skilled jobs, in addition to reinforcing its technological expertise and role as a key supplier in the field of airborne sensors, as well as the leader of the Sensors technological pillar within the FCAS program,” the company wrote in a statement, referring to the German-French-Spanish Future Combat Air System program.

The pairing of Hensoldt and Indra for the fully digitized Mk1 version of the radar represents something of a fork in the road for the aircraft’s radar developments. To date, the “Euroradar” consortium — made up of Leonardo’s British and Italian arms as well as Hensoldt and Indra — has overseen technology development for the multinational fighter program through the Captor-E, or Mk0, version.

Kuwait and Qatar also purchased Mk0 upgrades for their respective Eurofighter fleets, though the Mk1 version is slated to go only into Spanish and German planes.

The British military has said it wants its own sensor for the fleet of Royal Air Force Typhoons, reportedly with more specialized performance in the areas of air-to-ground and electronic warfare, as well as with an eye on connectivity to the American-made F-35 fighter jet.

Italy has yet to declare which way it wants to go, meaning Leonardo stands to lose a lead role in the Mk1 development.

The ongoing industrial teaming arrangements for the Eurofighter radar, complete with hedging and betting on political developments, can be seen as a precursor for a similar dynamic in Europe’s race for a next-generation air weapon. The United Kingdom is spearheading the development of the Tempest fighter jet as a competition to the mainland’s FCAS proposal.

For Airbus, a co-lead in the project with France’s Dassault, the Eurofighter is something of a test bed and bridging technology on the way toward more futuristic weaponry.

bug2 - 20-8-2020 at 11:17 PM

20 AUGUST 2020

USAF to launch ARES modernisation plan for F-22 fighter

by Gareth Jennings

The US Air Force (USAF) is to launch its latest modernisation drive for the Lockheed Martin F-22 combat aircraft, dubbed Advanced Raptor Enhancement and Sustainment (ARES).

The proposed ARES modernisation plan for the F-22 will follow on from the REDI II effort and will potentially run for 10 years. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

A pre-solicitation synopsis placed on the government procurement website by the F-22 Program Office (AFLCMC/WAU) on 19 August noted that the service intends to award Lockheed Martin a sole-source contract for future upgrades to the ‘fifth-generation’ fighter.

“The proposed contract is a follow-on effort to the Raptor Enhancement, Development, and Integration II (REDI II) contract, and will satisfy future modernisation requirements, enterprise management, and select sustainment requirements to improve efficiencies within the F-22 programme,” the synopsis said. Also adding it is contemplated that the indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract will be awarded by June 2021 with a base ordering period of five years and a five year option.

The USAF did not note what specific modernisation plans are to be included in the ARES effort, nor did it say what its value could be.

As noted by Janes World Air Forces , since its introduction into service in 2003 the F-22 has been subject to a rolling upgrade path that has included improved avionics, updated life support systems, and new air-to-air and air‐to‐ground weapons.

bug2 - 16-10-2020 at 11:42 PM

Thales launches compact AESA radar

By Dominic Perry

16 October 2020

Thales has unveiled the AirMaster C, a new version of its active electronically scanned array (AESA) airborne surveillance radar that combines a smaller footprint with several advances in technology.

Designed for integration on smaller platforms – the C stands for compact – Thales believes the sensor can bring high levels of performance at a comparable price point to current systems.

Source: Airbus Helicopters
H160M will be equipped with AirMaster C

“I believe today we have realised some breakthroughs… I would say that this radar has no competitor for the time being,” says Francois Arpaguas, head of the airborne surveillance product line at Thales.

Weighing under 20kg (44lb), the AirMaster C offers 120° of coverage, and can be configured as a single or multi-panel unit, depending on the requirement.

While still under development, the radar has passed through “some major milestones”, says Arpaguas, including validation of its core silicon-germanium antenna technology.

Arpaguas says the design is finalised, with the programme now moving to the “procurement and preparation of prototypes”. Laboratory testing, flight trials and qualification of the system will now follow.

So far the only confirmed application for the AirMaster C is aboard the Airbus Helicopters H160M Guepard being developed for the French armed forces, which is due to enter service in 2026. Althugh no firm contract is in place, the radar is the subject of “preparatory studies” to ready its integration on the 6t-class rotorcraft.

However, Thales says the radar will be suitable for fixed- or rotary-wing platforms, including unmanned air vehicles, such as the Airbus Helicopters VSR700.

Market research carried out by the manufacturer revealed that operators want a compact radar that offers reliability, ease of use – especially where there is no dedicated operative aboard the aircraft – and which delivers improved intelligence.

Thales says that the significant levels of processing capability and artificial intelligence embedded in the AirMaster C will bring greatly improved operation, allowing customers to “see more, more of the time”. The AESA system will also improve reliability, it claims.

bug2 - 17-10-2020 at 12:32 PM

Thales launches its new AirMaster C ultra-compact airborne surveillance radar


According to a press release published on October 16, 2020, Thales launches AirMaster C ultra-compact airborne surveillance radar able to cover the full spectrum of land, air and maritime surveillance missions and offers state-of-the-art target detection capabilities.

Thales AirMaster C ultra-compact airborne surveillance radar. (Picture source Thales)

Threat detection, identification and surveillance missions depend on a force’s ability to operate in any type of environment and all weather conditions. Drawing on its experience with the successful Master series of radars, Thales has developed a new, ultra-compact surveillance radar with enhanced target detection capabilities for fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and UAVs. With its low integration and operating costs and high availability and performance, the AirMaster C sets a new standard for airborne radars.

The nature of armed confrontation is constantly evolving. From the intrastate conflicts of the post-Cold War period to the asymmetric threats of the early 21st century and, more recently, the resurgence of rivalries between major powers, armed forces around the world must constantly adapt as they face different types of adversaries in a diverse array of environments: open ocean, coastal areas, remote deserts and urban spaces.

Responding to these rapid changes, Thales has developed the AirMaster C, a new surveillance radar with an ultra-compact, programmable 2D active antenna based on SiGe (silicon-germanium) technology. SiGe is much more energy efficient than other technologies used for AESA radars, and allows the radar to self-cool. Weighing less than 20 kilograms and housed in a single unit design, the radar has a 30% lower SWaP (size, weight and power) than the other radars in this class.

In addition to this breakthrough SiGe technology, other innovations are deployed. Multi-polarisation (a capability displayed by many cameras) will allow the radar to automatically select the optimal settings to maximise detection performance on each mission. The radar also offers a simultaneous short-range and long-range detection capability, similar to the human eye, for instantaneous surveillance. With its 2D navigation and weather modes, the AirMaster C will also provide valuable navigation support in all types of environments and weather conditions.

The AirMaster C is a smart software-defined radar designed to reduce aircrew workload. With its autonomous sensors, self-learning functionality and the ability to analyse and classify huge volumes of data, the radar can automatically adapt to different uses, terrains and environments. The AirMaster C builds on the innovative design and proven success of the Master series.

Notified by the French Armament General Directorate (DGA), preparatory studies are being carried out by Thales in collaboration with Airbus Helicopters for the integration of the AirMaster C on board the Guépard helicopter. This is the future light joint army helicopter, which will have to carry out a wide variety of missions for the three French armies.

ADMK2 - 18-10-2020 at 01:42 AM

I still think putting a pod mounted air surveillance / targetting radar on a helicopter / UAV is an excellent, low cost idea...

Really maximises the capability of those long ranged SM-6 and ESSM Block II missiles we are getting, with OTH targetting possible...

ARH - 18-10-2020 at 01:43 AM

Quote: Originally posted by ADMK2  
I still think putting a pod mounted air surveillance / targetting radar on a helicopter / UAV is an excellent, low cost idea...

Really maximises the capability of those long ranged SM-6 and ESSM Block II missiles we are getting, with OTH targetting possible...

My mind is still boggled by the fact this hasn't happened yet.

ADMK2 - 18-10-2020 at 01:50 AM

Quote: Originally posted by ARH  
Quote: Originally posted by ADMK2  
I still think putting a pod mounted air surveillance / targetting radar on a helicopter / UAV is an excellent, low cost idea...

Really maximises the capability of those long ranged SM-6 and ESSM Block II missiles we are getting, with OTH targetting possible...

My mind is still boggled by the fact this hasn't happened yet.

Particularly these generation of software defined radars, with increasing levels of AI.

It should be easy enough to just let the radar do it’s thing and pipe that data down to the fleet CMS systems and let the helo / UAV do it’s thing, without any dedicated operators needed on the aircraft.

For the ships, it’d be just another data feed into the combat centre, but one with the benefit of not being affected by the radar horizon and far more available than our Wedgetails are ever going to be, if it were affordable to put these on ALL aircraft in the fleet...

bug2 - 20-10-2020 at 12:43 PM

FAB Receives Final Modernized F-5M Fighter

(Source: Brazilian Air Force; issued Oct. 16, 2020)

(Unofficial translation by

The Brazilian Air Force on Oct. 14 took delivery of the 49th and final F-5E Tiger fighter upgraded by Embraer to the latest F-5M standard. The aircraft, registered FAB 4810, will be operated by the 1º/14º “Pampa” Squadron based in Canoas (RS). (FAB photo)

On Wednesday afternoon (14/10), a delegation from the Department of Aerospace Science and Technology (DCTA) of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) traveled to Gavião Peixoto (Sao Paolo state) to take delivery of the final F-5M fighter aircraft modernized by Embraer. The aircraft, registered FAB 4810, will be allocated to the Pampa Squadron (1º / 14º GAV), located in Wing 3, in Canoas (RS).

The General Director of the DCTA, Air Brigadier-Major Hudson Costa Potiguara, the Deputy Director, Air Brigadier-Major Ricardo José Freire de Campos, and the President of the Coordinating Committee of the Combat Aircraft Program (COPAC), Air Brigadier-Major Valter Borges Malta participated in the event, in addition to other FAB authorities.

To receive the aircraft, test flights were performed by pilots and test engineers from the Flight Research and Testing Institute (IPEV) and the aircraft instruments were certified by technicians from the Institute for Development and Industrial Coordination (IFI), both connected to the DCTA, completing the delivery of 49 modernized aircraft of this fighter.

EMBRAER Defense & Security Contracts Vice President, Márcio Monteiro, opened the delivery ceremony and stressed the importance that this program generated, stating that the development of embedded software and the engineering involved in this process expanded the company's knowledge.

The modernization of the F-5M fighters began in 2005 and throughout this period it provided a significant technological evolution to the Brazilian air defense, with the addition of new weapons and the introduction of Beyond Visual Range (BVR) combat.

“We are ending a cycle very well concluded by EMBRAER, with everything that our Preparation Command wants. Congratulations to EMBRAER, COMGAP, COMPREP, COMAE and DCTA for their efforts to make this aircraft operational,” said DCTA's Director-General, Brigadier-Major Potiguara. The FAB delegation, made up of officers from the DCTA Institutes responsible for the modernization process of the F-5M, were also shown the production line of the KC-390 Millennium aircraft and the fourth production aircraft, which is about to be delivered to the Air Force.

The delegation was also introduced to the new multi-mission F-39E Gripen fighter, which recently arrived from Sweden and which made its first flight in Brazil on September 24th. The Gripen Design and Development Center and the Gripen Flight Test Center (GFTC) delivered the presentation.

The aircraft is conducting a series of flight tests in the interior of São Paulo and should make its official presentation in Brasília on October 23, the date on which Aviators and the Brazilian Air Force are celebrated.

Brazil ordered 36 state-of-the-art fighters from the company Saab in the FX-2 program, whose main characteristic is the technological transfer to the Brazilian industry. Based on this aspect, the project includes the Gripen Design and Development Center and the Gripen Flight Test Center.

In both these locations, Swedish and Brazilian engineers are brought together to develop solutions that the new weapons platform will require in its service career. According to Marcus Wandt, test pilot at Saab, everything is on schedule for the aircraft to reach its full capability and to meet system requirements.


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