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[*] posted on 3-8-2017 at 05:24 PM


France and Germany To Develop New Fighter Without UK?

by Chris Pocock - August 2, 2017, 3:32 PM


The Anglo-French unmanned Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project versus (inset) a concept for a potentially alternative manned-unmanned Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS) that France and Germany would co-develop. (BAE Systems, Airbus D&S)

A Franco-German agreement last month to “jointly develop a future combat aircraft system” raises questions about the future of a similar Anglo-French agreement to develop a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) that was concluded in principle in March of last year. The Franco-German pact resulted from the annual meeting of the two nations’ Ministerial Council in Paris on July 13. French president Emmanuel Macron described it as “a revolution.” A joint statement declared that the two countries would develop a “roadmap” for the project by mid-2018.

The £1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) contract for two Anglo-French FCAS operational demonstrators has not yet been issued by the two governments. Both BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation have said recently that they hope to receive it by year-end. The two companies previously received funding from the two governments for a joint feasibility study, then some pre-development work. Meanwhile they continued to work separately on the Taranis and Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrators respectively. Taranis is an all-British effort for which BAE Systems is the lead contractor; Dassault enjoys the same status on the six-nation pan-European Neuron project. Both these UCAVs have completed flying demonstration programs, although France recently decided to extend flight tests of the Neuron for a second time.

Despite the potential of the agreement in Paris to disrupt further Anglo-French cooperation, BAE Systems managing director for military air systems Chris Boardman welcomed it during a meeting with defense journalists at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) last month. “The world is thinking about a next-generation fighter,” he said. “One way or another, the UK will have an involvement—I think,” he continued with less certainty.

The Paris agreement did not specify a manned or unmanned aircraft, or a mix. But the mix is apparently favored in Germany, where a “Next Generation Weapon System” (NGWS) concept is evolving. As described by Airbus Defence & Space, this would consist of a stealthy manned fighter flying with “swarm drones” to protect it and act as offboard sensors. The German and Spanish air forces need more than 100 fighters to replace their aging Tornado and F-18 fleets, Airbus D&S project manager Achim Pittner told employees in the company’s in-house newspaper. “This is an enormous opportunity for us. We need a partnership with governments and industry, which we intend to lead,” he added.

Boardman of BAE Systems noted that his company was not necessarily reliant on future collaborative European fighter programs. He referred to a recent Anglo-Japanese announcement on potential collaboration, and to the rather more definitive agreement that BAE Systems reached last January to design and develop a next-generation fighter with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). That deal is worth £119 million ($155 million) to the British company, it revealed in its half-yearly financial report published today. But the contract has not yet been signed. 

The Paris agreement last month also referred to the ongoing effort to create a “Eurodrone,” eg the European MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System). France, Germany, Italy and Spain awarded a two-year project definition contract to Airbus D&S, Dassault and Leonardo last September. France and Germany have now agreed that this RPAS should be twin-engined; the U.S. Reaper UAVs that France, Spain and the UK are operating are single-engined. The agreement predicted the signature of a development contract in 2019—one year later than specified when the study contract was awarded. At that time, the first flight of a prototype was foreseen in early 2023, with first deliveries two years later.

France and Germany have also resolved to seek a “European solution” to their future maritime patrol aircraft requirements; to cooperate on the next version of the Tiger attack helicopter; and to develop a common program for tactical air-to-surface missiles. 
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[*] posted on 4-8-2017 at 12:34 PM


Russia’s 6th-Generation Fighter Jet to Get Lasers Capable of Burning Missile Homing Heads

(Source: TASS; published July 27, 2017)

Otherwise known as "my dick-ski is far bigger than your pathetic American wang............"

MOSCOW --- Russia’s sixth-generation fighter jets will be furnished with lasers capable of physically burning an enemy’s missile homing heads, Adviser to the First Deputy CEO of Radio-Electronic Technologies Group (KRET) Vladimir Mikheyev told TASS on Thursday.

Russian Vice-Premier Dmitry Rogozin announced in March 2016 that Russia had started work on an advanced fighter jet. KRET is developing onboard equipment and electromagnetic weapons for future fighter aircraft on its own initiative.

"We already have laser protection systems installed on aircraft and helicopters and now we are talking about developments in the field of powered lasers that will be able to physically destroy attacking missiles’ homing heads," the adviser said.

"Roughly speaking, we’ll be able to burn out ‘the eyes’ of missiles that ‘look at us.’ Naturally, such systems will be installed on sixth-generation aircraft as well," he added.

KRET currently supplies President-S onboard defensive aids systems, which include a laser station of electro-optical suppression. With its interference, suppression and flares, the President-S causes an enemy’s missiles with various homing heads to fly past aircraft and helicopters.

In addition to electromagnetic guns, the Russian sixth-generation fighter jet will also get guided electronic munitions, the adviser to the KRET first deputy CEO said.

Sixth-generation fighter jets will perform ‘formation’ flights where one or two manned aircraft will fly alongside 20-30 drones that will be capable of carrying any weapons, Mikheyev said.

"One drone in a formation flight will carry microwave weapons, including guided electronic munitions while another drone will carry radio-electronic suppression and destruction means and a third UAV will be armed with a set of standard weaponry. Each specific task is solved by different armaments," he said.

The KRET adviser didn’t specify these guided electronic munitions or the mode of their operation.

As Mikheyev earlier told TASS, the unmanned variants of the sixth-generation combat plane will be armed with electromagnetic (microwave) guns. As the KRET adviser explained at that time, a microwave gun focuses and redirects electromagnetic radiation that heats up an object, for example, an antenna, and physically destroys it.

The size of a ‘formation’ flight may be adjusted when work with real prototypes begins, the KRET adviser said.

It is the unmanned version of the sixth-generation fighter jet that will be able to carry electromagnetic guns or microwave weapons, Mikheyev said.

"The use of microwave weapons is highly problematic for a plane with a pilot due to the need to preserve his life. But if we develop an additional system of protection against our own microwave weapons, we’ll lose even more space and the weight margin. Besides, even the most complex and effective system can be insufficiently efficient," Mikheyev said.

Russia’s sixth-generation combat plane that will replace the T-50 fighter will be able to make radar photographs of enemy aircraft and determine their type and armament without the involvement of human operators, the KRET adviser said.

According to him, KRET is developing a radio-photonic locator for the future combat plane. The company already has its experimental prototype and is creating its full-scale mockup. A new radar system will considerably surpass all existing radars by its power and range, he said.

"The radio-photonic radar will be able to see farther than existing radars, in our estimates. And, as we irradiate an enemy in an unprecedentedly wide range of frequencies, we’ll know its position with the highest accuracy and after processing we’ll get an almost photographic image of it - radio vision," Mikheyev said.

As the KRET adviser said, "this is important for determining the type [of an aircraft]: the plane’s computer will immediately and automatically identify a flying object, for example, an F-18 with specific types of missile armament."

The new radar will also have better anti-jamming capabilities through its ultra-wide band and the huge dynamic range of its receiver. It will also additionally perform electronic warfare missions, transmit data and serve as a means of communication.

The sixth-generation fighter jet will also get "a powerful multi-spectral optical system operating in various ranges - the laser, infrared, ultraviolet and, actually, in the optical band, which, however, considerably exceeds the spectrum visible to humans," Mikheyev said.

This new optic system will supplement the radio-photonic radar, he noted.

KRET has developed the experimental prototype of the radio-photonic radar for the sixth-generation fighter jet. The prototype transmits, receives and processes the signal, Mikheyev said.

According to the KRET adviser, work has progressed on developing onboard radio-electronic equipment for the sixth-generation aircraft, in particular, the radio-optical photonic antenna array of its onboard locator.

"Both the emitter and the receiver have been built on the basis of the experimental prototype as part of the R&D work. All this works and performs the location - we emit an ultra-high frequency signal, it is reflected back and we receive and process it and get the radar picture of an object. We see what we need to do to make it optimal," he said.

"Now a full-fledged mockup of this radio-optical photonic antenna array is being developed as part of the research and development work, which will allow us to test the characteristics of the serial prototype," the KRET adviser said.

"We will be able to understand what it [the radar] should be, in what geometrical sizes and what its ranges and power should be," he noted.

KRET is also testing the technologies of the new radar’s specific elements - its emitter, the photonic crystal, the receiving path and resonators, Mikheyev said.
Sixth-generation fighter jet

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in charge of the defense sector announced in March 2016 about the commencement of work on the sixth-generation fighter jet.

As Head of the Directorate for Military Aviation Programs at the United Aircraft Corporation Vladimir Mikhailov told TASS in June last year, the Russian sixth-generation fighter jet prototype would perform its debut flight before 2025.

In a previous interview with TASS, KRET Adviser Mikheyev said that the new combat plane would come in two variants - the manned and unmanned versions. New fighters will operate in a ‘formation’ led by a piloted plane. Drones will be able to carry electromagnetic guns, fly at hypersonic speed and go into the outer space.

This time, Mikheyev added that the unmanned variant would get maneuverability unavailable for piloted aircraft, which are limited by the human’s ability to withstand overloads. While both the manned and unmanned variants will be made on the same basis, they will differ by their armament, equipment and external outlook, he said.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 6-8-2017 at 07:14 PM


Oh yeah Russia stronk? Well OUR turbo lasers can make 0.5 past lightspeed and do the Kessell run in 12 parsecs, so there!



In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 17-8-2017 at 12:54 PM


Defense Dogma Could Challenge Franco-German Fighter Jet Plans

Aug 17, 2017

Tony Osborne | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Germany may want to take a lead role in the development of a new European fighter, but the resulting aircraft could favor French needs.

Because the defense doctrines of the two countries differ greatly, pundits suggest that the two countries may not be easy bedfellows when it comes to agreeing on specifics for the new combat aircraft.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared in July that their countries would start paving the way for development of a new European fighter aircraft, during a meeting of the Franco-German Ministerial Council in Paris on July 13.

Strengthening Franco-German Ties
- France and Germany plan road map for a new fighter by mid-2018
- Chancellor Merkel and President Macron want Germany and France to become pillars of European defense
- Differences in defense doctrine in Paris and Berlin could mean that requirements fail to align
- The move is part of an attempt to deepen the defense relationship between the two countries and strengthen their position as European defense industrial pillars.

In June, the European Union announced it would establish a new research and development funding mechanism for multinational defense programs. French, German, Italian and Spanish plans for a new unmanned reconnaissance platform are likely to be beneficiaries of this fund, and the new fighter project—a road map for which is to be drawn up in mid-2018—will no doubt also use this new funding stream.

“On the face of it, both France and Germany are natural partners for developing a new combat aircraft,” says Justin Bronk, an airpower fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute think tank.

Both nations have an advanced civil and military aviation industry base, and neither has committed to the F-35 program, he says, although Germany has reportedly expressed an interest in the U.S. fighter.

And, Bronk adds, each is driven by the imperative to develop a new combat air system to preserve both national industrial capabilities and the security of those capabilities. But, he says, there will be “significant amounts of friction” about requirements and design priorities “long before issues of costs and delays . . . that have traditionally bedeviled European aviation cooperative endeavors.”

Bronk says France’s doctrine of expeditionary warfare could clash with Germany’s more defensive approach and ultimately result in operational requirements that fail to align.

French defense doctrine has traditionally meshed better with Britain’s, leading to many joint development programs, including the Sepecat Jaguar attack aircraft, helicopter/missile projects and most recently development of an unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrator slated to fly in 2025.

“The Luftwaffe [German Air Force] remains an overwhelmingly defensive force,” says Bronk, partly due to historical and constitutional constraints about the use of military forces.

“This is likely to skew German requirements toward air defense capabilities and interoperability with NATO allies at the expense of priorities for strike weight, sensors and unrefueled range,” Bronk expounds.

It could be argued that the French approach has resulted in significant export success for Rafale and the various Mirage models.

Bronk’s view is shared by Fabrice Pothier, a fellow for defense policy and strategy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who states that any defense partnership between Paris and Berlin will require a “fundamental change of strategic mindset.

“If a Franco-German defense drive can be started, the rest of Europe will follow, so the logic goes,” says Pothier.

It is unclear whether the road map will pave the way for other nations and their industries to enter the project, although Airbus officials have suggested that involvement in such a program would likely mean Spanish cooperation.

The idea for a new European fighter has its roots in Germany’s NextGen Weapon System studies, detailed by Berlin in early 2016. It called for “concrete European collaboration,” to go forward with a manned or unmanned fighter platform.

But there could also be industrial challenges, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier suggested in late July.

Although he welcomes the idea of a new European combat aircraft program, Trappier cautions that the timelines to replace the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale may not overlap. 

If the new fighter is indeed intended to be a replacement for Rafale and Typhoon, Trappier suggests that Germany may have to find an intermediate platform for the aging Panavia Tornado if it wants to replace that aircraft before 2030-35. Panavia had been exploring industry’s ability to keep the fighter bomber in service until 2040 (AW&ST June 20-July 3, 2016, p. 35).

Bronk says allowing more European countries to enter the program may be the only real way of enlarging the future fighter’s customer base enough for the program to become tenable. He adds: “Recent European defense aviation projects have tended to be uncompetitive on the export market compared to their American counterparts.”
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[*] posted on 21-8-2017 at 03:13 PM


Technology Acquisition To Precede Taiwanese Fighter Program

Aug 21, 2017

Bradley Perrett | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The government, the air force and the defense ministry are all on board. A quarter of a century after Taiwan last developed a fighter, they agree that it should do so again.

Taiwan’s inability to order foreign combat aircraft since the early 1990s is a clear driver behind the proposed program, which could well survive even if a decision is made in Washington to make the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning available to the island. 

The first step toward a new indigenous fighter should be a technology-acquisition effort, says the defense ministry’s technology agency, which would lead the early stages of the program. No timetable has been published, but there are reasons to think full-scale development, if approved, would begin in the early to mid-2020s: Time is needed for preliminary research, but all of Taiwan’s fighters obviously will need replacing no later than the 2030s.

A considerable production program could emerge: Taiwan has 343 frontline combat jets. The prime contractor would presumably be the government’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC), which in the 1980s and 1990s developed and built the previous Taiwanese fighter, the F-CK-1, also known as the Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF).

It is far too early to design the aircraft, says Ma Wan-June, head of the aerospace division of the technology agency, the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology. “It is not a fighter yet; it is a bunch of technologies,” he tells Aviation Week. When it finally emerges, the design may turn out to be quite different to recent fighters such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning, he says, because Taiwan has its own defense requirements.


With a vectoring nozzle, NASA's X-31 demonstrated extremely short landing. Credit: James Darcy/U.S. Navy

Whereas varied and unpredictable threats elsewhere push fighter designs toward multirole capability—and therefore up in size—Taiwan has a very specific air-defense problem for which a traditional short-range interceptor is a large part of the answer.

Indeed, if the fighter program runs into political opposition its critics will probably call for more interceptor missile batteries instead. At its narrowest, the Taiwan Strait, separating the island from mainland China, is less than 130 km (80 mi.) wide.

Not even the technology-acquisition effort for the fighter is funded yet. “I do not want to have a lot of money at the start,” says Ma, adding that he is in discussions to secure the funding.

His challenge should not be great, since the government says it will increase defense spending by 50% in 2018, taking the military budget’s share of gross domestic product to 3% from 2%. This remarkable surge in spending cannot be achievable so quickly—finding ways to allocate defense money takes time—but it explains how the government of an economy smaller than the Netherlands’ can hope to pay for an indigenous fighter. 

The administration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has said it should pursue the program, the institute is in favor of it and, according to Ma, so is the air force. The defense ministry set out a case in 2016, saying Taiwan had the ability to develop a fighter.

Tsai’s administration, elected in 2016, is strongly supportive of local defense industries. Her Democratic Progressive Party favors a distant relationship with China, which claims ownership of Taiwan. The party’s tendency to regard Taiwan as a country, not a province that must eventually be reunited with China, helps explains its robust commitment to defense.

Consistent with that is a push to acquire F-35s, despite the U.S.’s uncertain willingness to supply those fighters to the island, for fear of upsetting China. Considering China’s ability to rain inexpensive short-range ballistic missiles on Taiwanese runways, the F-35B version, capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings, would be especially valuable. F-35 availability would not necessarily deter Taiwan from developing its own fighter, however. The island’s inability to order Western fighters since 1992 has been a strong lesson in the need for self-reliance.

The institute needs to conduct research across the range of fighter technologies to prepare for the program, Ma says. That includes even propulsion, since it wants to modify the foreign engine chosen for the fighter. 

A specific propulsion program is underway, Ma says, but he will not discuss it. The institute has, however, previously disclosed work on a stealthy vectoring exhaust nozzle needed for short takeoff and landing. As detailed in 2012, the nozzle would deflect from the engine axis by 30 deg. up and down and 15 deg. to each side, moving at 45 deg. per sec. 

This could also be an answer to the vulnerability of Taiwan’s runways. The X-31 experimental aircraft, built for NASA in the 1990s by Boeing and Airbus Group predecessor companies, was controllable at extraordinary angles of attack, thanks to a combination of thrust vectoring, canard configuration and advanced flight controls. In 2003 the capability was applied to landing demonstrations in which it approached at 24 deg., double its usual angle of attack. With its nose so high, it could touch down at 69% of its normal speed and needed only 21% as much stopping distance. Fighters using the technology “would be able to operate from dramatically shorter runways or roads,” Boeing said at the time.

Of all the technologies that Taiwan must master for the fighter program, flight control is perhaps the one at which it is already most adept; the industry will not need a foreign supplier to provide the flight-control software for the Advanced Jet Trainer that it has begun developing. The institute regards itself as strong in radar as well, and has built a prototype sensor with an active, electronically scanned array. It has useful knowledge in stealth, materials and other technologies from its considerable missile programs.

The timing of the trainer program, launched in April and due for first delivery in 2021, suits the prospective fighter project well. Trainer work will refresh skills in development of fast military jets at AIDC over the coming four years while smaller teams work on critical technology for the fighter. While Ma will not comment on timing of the prospective fighter program, the technology-acquisition effort will probably be ready to shift up a gear around the time AIDC engineers are released from trainer work. Then much greater resources would be needed for full-scale development of the fighter.

It would probably not be much later, if there is any delay at all, because Taiwan clearly will need new fighters in the early 2030s if it does not sooner import some in large volumes. All three of Taiwan’s current fighter types entered service in 1994-97 and so can hardly be expected to last until 2040, though F-35 availability could make an indigenous program less urgent. 

Its 143 F-16A/Bs are being upgraded to a high standard that should keep them competitive through the next decade; the Obama administration allowed that after refusing a Taiwanese request for 66 F-16C/Ds. Taiwan is also modernizing F-CK-1 IDFs. 

The other front-line fighters in Taiwanese service are Mirage 2000s. They, the F-CK-1s and the F-16A/Bs replaced F-104s and F-5s, though 62 of the latter remain in the inventory as second-line aircraft. The common characteristic of all five types is that they are small, befitting the short ranges needed for interception over the strait. This raises a strong likelihood that a future indigenous fighter would be smaller and perhaps cheaper than such types as the F-35, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-X and Turkish Aerospace Industries TFX.

Emphasis on internal fuel and weapon stowage and the need for serpentine inlet ducts drive up the size of stealth fighters, however. In 2013 KAI unsuccessfully proposed a smaller, single-engine alternative to the South Korean defense ministry’s KF-X concept. KAI’s KFX-E had an empty weight of 9.3 metric tons (20,500 lb.), compared to the 10.9 metric tons of the ministry’s C103 concept. KFX-E was still bigger than the F-16, and it lacked a weapon bay.

Air-to-air combat success comes from the combination of an aircraft and its weapons, Ma points out, adding that Taiwan has more expertise in missile design than in fighter design. Maybe spending more money on the missiles and less on the fighter would make sense, he suggests. But, again, it is too early to decide.
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[*] posted on 21-8-2017 at 07:59 PM


USAF Picks Key Technologies For F-22 Follow-On

Aug 17, 2017

Lara Seligman | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report


Sixth-Gen Fighter Concept: Lockheed Martin

LANGLEY AFB—The U.S. Air Force has identified the key technologies it needs to develop for a next-generation air superiority fighter that will replace the F-22 Raptor, including a more powerful, fuel-efficient engine for extended range and increased stealth relative to current capabilities.

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, stresses the importance of developing a sophisticated new aircraft to replace the F-22, particularly as potential adversaries develop ever more advanced weapons like Russia’s recently designated Su-57 stealth fighter.

“That’s a good-looking airplane, and certainly it will pose threats to our fourth-generation airplanes and we will have to continue to work to improve the F-22 all the time and the F-35 to try to keep an advantage there,” Holmes said in an interview here Aug. 17. “Eventually you will run into a limit in your ability to improve those platforms, and so we need to have something else ready.”

The Air Force has spent the last few years studying what it will take to ensure control of the skies for the rest of the century as part of its Air Superiority 2030 effort—including an F-22 follow-on, or Penetrating Counter Air (PCA). The air arm is still working through an analysis of alternatives to determine the capabilities of the new platform, but “we think we have the technologies picked out,” Holmes said.

Extended range will be a key feature, likely to allow the new fighter to self-deploy and to accompany the new B-21 bomber on deep penetration missions. Increased range drives increased airframe size and engine power, Holmes explained. PCA’s engine will need to be more fuel efficient, have more thrust and more cooling air to support a longer-range and even stealthier airframe than current technology allows, he said.

The Air Force together with engine manufacturers Pratt & Whitney and General Electric have been working on a new class of combat aircraft propulsion systems based on three-stream engine technology that might fit this bill. The third stream provides an extra source of air flow that, depending on the phase of the mission, is designed to provide either additional mass flow for increased propulsive efficiency and lower fuel burn for longer endurance, or additional core flow for higher thrust and cooling air to boost combat performance.

This technology, which is being matured under the Air Force’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP), is part of the service’s efforts to develop PCA, Holmes acknowledged.

Stealth also will be a key requirement for the new aircraft, despite potential tradeoffs such as speed, and the advancement of counterstealth radars that some argue make stealth obsolete, Holmes said.

“It’s a cat-and-mouse game, and it’s never over,” he said. “It’s not that you build something that can help detect stealth airplanes and now there’s no need to pursue stealth—it keeps going and you keep countering each other’s advantages and coming up with new ideas.” 
 
The Air Force also is looking at the weapons a future air superiority fighter might require, and how many it would need in internal weapons bays, as well as its mission systems—for instance sensors and fusion capabilities, Holmes said.

Holmes declined to specify what developmental weapons technologies the Air Force has picked for the new fighter to field, saying “it will have appropriate weapons for its mission.”

The Air Force for the first time revealed a funding line for a secretive “Air Dominance Air-to-Air Weapon” in fiscal 2018 budget documents this year, requesting $1 million to stand up the project. Little is known about the next-generation air-to-air capability, but it may be a successor to the Raytheon-built AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile the Raptor currently carries, or possibly a longer-range version of those weapons. A longer-range air-to-air missile also could equip future non-stealthy aircraft that have to stand off from surface-to-air missile threats.

Now that the Air Force has identified key technologies for PCA, the next step is to make them a reality—“taking ideas and getting to where they are manufacturable and buildable,” Holmes said. But he made the caveat that PCA depends on alignment with the results of Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ Defense Strategic Guidance, as well as getting sufficient funding to keep all of the technology development activities on track.

Overall, the Air Force requested $294.7 million in fiscal 2018 to continue studying options for PCA.

“Right now our focus is on getting the money to keep those development activities on track so that we won’t be missing a piece of it when we get ready to go forward with an airplane,” Holmes said.
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[*] posted on 23-8-2017 at 12:00 PM


U.S. Air Force Next-Generation Fighter Taking Shape

Aug 23, 2017

Lara Seligman | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The U.S. Air Force has begun lifting the veil on its next-generation air superiority fighter, with one top general telling Aviation Week the service is working on a more powerful, fuel-efficient engine to extend the range of the new platform, as well as advanced stealth technology to allow it to avoid enemy radars. 

Details of the Air Force’s work on the next-generation fighter, officially known as Penetrating Counter Air (PCA), have been tightly held as the service works to finalize the capability requirements for the new platform. But Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command (ACC), says the service has now identified the key technologies it needs to meet the threat.

As potential adversaries develop ever more lethal weapons such as Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile system and the recently designated Su-57 stealth fighter, Holmes stresses the importance of developing a sophisticated new aircraft to replace the Air Force’s premier air-to-air fighter, the F-22 Raptor. 

What Will PCA Look Like?
- ACC chief says Russia’s Su-57 threatens fourth-gen fighters
- Air Force must continue improving F-35, F-22, and move to next-gen
- PCA will have more powerful, fuel-efficient engine for increased range
- Increased stealth compared to current platforms is also key

“That’s a good-looking airplane [the Su-57], and certainly it will pose threats to our fourth-generation airplanes; we will have to continue to work to improve the F-22 all the time, and the F-35, to try to keep an advantage there,” Holmes said in an interview at Langley AFB, Virginia, on Aug. 17. “Eventually you will run into a limit in your ability to improve those platforms, and so we need to have something else ready.”

The Air Force has spent the last few years studying what it will take to ensure control of the skies for the rest of the century as part of its Air Superiority 2030 effort—including an F-22 follow-on. The service is still working through an analysis of alternatives to determine the capabilities of the new platform, but “we think we have the technologies picked out,” Holmes says.

Extended range will be a key feature, likely to allow the new fighter to self-deploy and to accompany the new B-21 bomber on deep-penetration missions. Increased range drives increased airframe size and engine power, Holmes explains. PCA’s engine will need to be more fuel efficient, have more thrust and more cooling air to support a longer-range and even stealthier airframe than current technology allows, he says.


Boeing’s latest concept art for the next-generation fighter is a sleek, tail-less design. Credit: Boeing

The Air Force, and engine manufacturers Pratt & Whitney and General Electric, have been working on a new class of combat aircraft propulsion systems based on three-stream engine technology that might fit this bill. The third stream provides an extra source of air flow that, depending on the phase of the mission, is designed to provide either additional mass flow for increased propulsive efficiency and lower fuel burn for longer endurance, or additional core flow for higher thrust and cooling air to boost combat performance.

This technology, which is being matured under the Air Force’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program, is part of the service’s efforts to develop PCA, Holmes acknowledges.

Stealth also will be a key requirement for the new aircraft, despite potential tradeoffs such as speed, and advances in counterstealth radars that some argue make stealth obsolete, Holmes says.

“It’s a cat-and-mouse game, and it is never over,” he says. “It’s not that you build something that can help detect stealth airplanes and now there’s no need to pursue stealth—it keeps going and you keep countering each other’s advantages and coming up with new ideas.”

The Air Force also is looking at the weapons a future air superiority fighter might require, and how many it would need in internal weapons bays, as well as its mission systems—for instance sensors and fusion capabilities, Holmes says.

He declined to specify what developmental weapons technologies the Air Force has chosen for the new fighter to field, saying “it will have appropriate weapons for its mission.”

Directed-energy lasers have been floated as one possible armament for the future fighter. In addition, the Air Force for the first time revealed a funding line for a secretive “Air Dominance Air-to-Air Weapon” in fiscal 2018 budget documents, requesting $1 million to stand up the project. Little is known about the next-generation air-to-air capability, but it may be a successor to the Raytheon-built AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile the Raptor currently carries, or possibly a longer-range version of those weapons. A longer-range air-to-air missile also could equip future nonstealthy aircraft that have to stand off from surface-to-air missile threats.

Now that the Air Force has identified key technologies for PCA, the next step is to make them a reality: “taking ideas and getting to where they are manufacturable and buildable,” Holmes says. But he makes the caveat that PCA depends on alignment with the results of Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s Defense Strategic Guidance, as well as getting sufficient funding to keep all of the technology development activities on track.

Overall, the Air Force requested $294.7 million in fiscal 2018 to continue studying options for PCA.

“Right now our focus is on getting the money to keep those development activities on track so that we won’t be missing a piece of it when we get ready to go forward with an airplane,” Holmes says.
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[*] posted on 23-8-2017 at 04:05 PM


It is going to have to be a gargantuan fighter if it is to have the range to escort the B21. I don't know why they don't just arm the bombers with AAM's now. It isn't like maneuverability, or lack there of is much of an issue these days for missile engagement.



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[*] posted on 23-8-2017 at 08:30 PM


Quote: Originally posted by ARH  
It is going to have to be a gargantuan fighter if it is to have the range to escort the B21. I don't know why they don't just arm the bombers with AAM's now. It isn't like maneuverability, or lack there of is much of an issue these days for missile engagement.


Perhaps... An AIM-9x Block II missed on a 45 year old SU-22 and an AMRAAM had to get the job done in only June this year...

People are pretty excited about the improved lethality of modern missiles, but give little appreciation for the improvements in modern counter-measures...




In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 24-8-2017 at 03:27 PM


Cobham to provide KF-X missile launchers

24 August, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Greg Waldron Singapore

Cobham has been selected to provide the weapons carriage and release equipment for South Korea's developmental KF-X fighter aircraft.

Cobham missile systems will delivery an unspecified number of the launcher units by 2020, says the company in a brief statement. Cobham says the deal is worth in excess of £7 million ($9 million).

“Cobham’s [Missile Eject Launcher] is an established market leader and continues to deliver consistently high performance and reliable service,” says Ken Kota, general manager of Cobham Mission Systems.

“It is a highly robust, long stroke ejection system that allows the interchangeable carriage and release of either Meteor or AMRAAM air-to-air missiles without role change.”

Seoul launched its KF-X programme in 2015, and plans to manufacture more than 120 fighters to replace its ageing McDonnell Douglas F-4s and Northrop F-5s.

Several key systems have been identified. The aircraft will be powered by two General Electric F414 engines, and Elta Systems will develop an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the aircraft.

Indonesian is a partner on the project, and stands to obtain up to 80 IF-X fighters, which will be based on the KF-X.
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[*] posted on 26-8-2017 at 03:14 PM


New Russian MiG Interceptor Will Be Able to Operate In Space – Developer’s CEO

(Source: RT Russian Television; posted Aug. 24, 2017)

The cutting-edge interceptor aircraft, which has been under development for several years, will be able to reach space and even potentially operate without a pilot, according to the CEO of the MiG corporation working on the project.

The research and development of the PAK DP (perspective aviation complex of long-range interceptor) was launched by the MiG Corporation in 2013. PAK DP, dubbed by media with the unofficial designation MiG-41, is expected to replace the aging long-range interceptor MiG-31 and its variants.

The new fighter will be a spiritual successor of MiG-31, MiG Corporation CEO Ilya Tarasenko stated, shedding some light on the interceptor under development.

“[The development] is at the stage of finalizing the image of the plane. It will be a gradual transition from MiG-31 to PAK DA,” Tarasenko told RT at the Army-2017 expo in Kubinka on Wednesday.

VIDEO: http://youtu.be/05NpDHL_InI

Although Russia's new MIG-41 project of a hyper-speed jet is shrouded in secrecy, a few tantalizing details have come to light.

The “Army-2017” forum is held in the “Patriot” Congress and Exhibition Center, Alabino Military Training Grounds and Kubinka Airfield in Moscow Region. The forum features cutting-edge novelties of the defense industrial complex and is a platform for holding negotiations and striking deals. Aside from the experts, the event also attracts the general public to marvel at the deadly military hardware on the ground and in the air.

The plane, however, will not be just a modernization of MiG-31, it will be an entirely new machine, having “the ability to operate in space, new weapons, new speeds, new operational range,” Tarasenko told Zvezda TV channel on Tuesday.

“It will be an entirely new plane, where entirely new technologies to operate in the Arctic zone will be utilized. This plane will safeguard the whole border of our homeland. Later, the project will become unmanned,” TASS quoted Tarasenko as saying.

While the plane is still under development, it might go to into production by the mid-2020s, Tarasenko believes.

“We’re shaping our technical offer, so that the customer would make a decision on the need to develop the plane. … According to our internal estimates, we should make it to the serial development in 2025,” Tarasenko told RT.

To meet expectations, the new plane should be able to fly at speeds at least four times faster than the speed of sound, Russian media earlier reported, citing renowned test pilot Anatoly Kvochur. If the plane would be able to reach such speeds, it would be likely packed, to some degree, with artificial intelligence control systems, to help human pilots to cope with the extreme flight conditions, aviation expert Fabrizio Poli said.

“It will have certain elements of artificial intelligence built into the jet, because, obviously, flying at those speeds, the human brain is not capable of thinking that fast,” Poli told RT. “There are a lot of new technologies going to be put into this aircraft, for sure.”

The plane might be also equipped with laser weapons, as Russia possesses prototypes of such arms, according to Vladimir Mikheev, an aide to the Radio-Electronic Technologies Concern Deputy CEO, who believes, however, that such systems will belong to the sixth-generation fighters.

“The laser weapons will allow this interceptor aircraft to intercept enemy missiles and disengage the targets,” Poli said.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 27-8-2017 at 11:29 PM


Ah-huh.

Please find attached the first known image of the MiG-41...



IMG_0368.JPG - 21kB




In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 28-8-2017 at 07:12 AM


oooooooooh! I like that!!! How much?!
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[*] posted on 28-8-2017 at 01:19 PM


$20.00 to you!
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[*] posted on 30-8-2017 at 07:47 AM


Will you take that in Palm Oil?



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[*] posted on 30-8-2017 at 08:20 AM


how about 20 dollars in lego?? :D


seriously, though, my two boys invented a plasma drive and (funnily enough) it would look very similar to a star wars drive

Nitrogen Plasma Jet



Basically you take a 9000 lb thrust engine and turn it into a 92000lb thrust engine

uber cool
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[*] posted on 30-8-2017 at 01:41 PM


Nice...............
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[*] posted on 31-8-2017 at 07:24 AM


yes, nice, a 5 cycle engine;

  1. Turbofan
  2. Turbo-Ram Jet
  3. Ram Jet
  4. Ram-Plasma Jet
  5. Air Independent Plasma Rocket


We are talking an exponential increase in speed as the air is heated to 29000K

So, the Russians might be on to something. :)


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[*] posted on 31-8-2017 at 02:11 PM


Yeah they are, BS and Vodka! :no::lol::lol:
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[*] posted on 13-10-2017 at 09:23 PM


South Korea's KF-X Grows Considerably In Development

Two-seat version and European weapons added to Seoul’s new fighter

Oct 13, 2017

Bradley Perrett and Kim Minseok | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-X fighter keeps growing. What began as a concept design as big as the Eurofighter Typhoon has repeatedly gained length and wingspan and is now likely to be heavier than that earlier aircraft.

The indigenous fighter will have a two-seat version, developers have confirmed, following years of depictions of it with just one seat. And the type will be equipped with MBDA Meteor and Diehl IRIS-T air-to-air missiles, says South Korea’s defense procurement office, outlining a plan to avoid complete reliance on U.S. weapons.

KF-X Timing
- KAI contracted for full-scale development in December 2015
- First flight is due in 2022
- The air force should receive its first developmental unit in 2024
- Volume deliveries of the first version are scheduled to begin in 2026

The twin-engine KF-X is intended to fly in 2022. The Republic of Korea Air Force and KAI have said the service will receive its first unit in 2024, but KF-Xs delivered before 2026 must be developmental units. The first version is not due to be fully developed until 2026 and will lack features intended for later variants. Indonesia is a junior partner in the KF-X program.

The defense ministry’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD) led preliminary design and is still deeply involved as KAI works on detail development. The military procurement office, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), chose the General Electric F414 engine for the KF-X in 2016.

The newest design, C107, is the latest in a series that began sometime before 2012. The iteration numbered C104 was chosen as the basis of the KF-X when Lockheed Martin won the separate F-X Phase 3 import competition in 2013 with the F-35 Lightning; the competition winner was required to support KF-X development.

This design series has featured tailplanes; an alternative concept with canard control surfaces would have been used had a European supplier won F-X Phase 3. Designs before C107 have been shown only as single-seaters, though a model of a two-seat version was glimpsed on a television report about KAI in 2016. In describing C107, officials have confirmed that a second seat will be available.

The extra place is unrelated to the increase in size. Rather, the aircraft has been enlarged to create more space and to give it a better aerodynamic shape, DAPA officials said at a briefing on the program.

Thanks to DAPA’s release of low-resolution plan drawings of the latest five design iterations, it is now possible to tell some of the story of the evolution of the KF-X since 2012. Although the aircraft has grown and the wing has been enlarged, the designers have stuck with the planform of the mainplane: It has 40 deg. of leading-edge sweep, 10 deg. of forward sweep on the trailing edge and an aspect ratio of 2.7.

The first design in the series was C101. By 2012, it had evolved to C103, which had the general configuration that has persisted until now. At the time of program launch, C103 was thought to be the current design, but in 2014 designers had proceeded to C104, adding conformal antennas and refining the placement of internal equipment. Low-resolution drawings suggest little change to the external shape, if any. 


With development due to be completed in 2026, the KF-X’s wing and fuselage have both grown during several design iterations. Credit: Colin Throm/AW&ST



The dimensions of C104 are unknown, but C105, from 2016, was bigger than C103. Span rose to 11 m (36 ft.) from 10.7 m (see table) and length by 40 cm (16 in.). At least half of the lengthening was probably associated with enlargement of the wing, since the chord and therefore the carry-through structure in the fuselage had to be longer. The wing was moved back in relation to the fuselage, so its trailing edges were now behind the leading edges of the fins. The fuselage appears to have been slightly widened.

Also, the canopy shape changed to improve some unstated aspect of performance, perhaps stealth, while the F414 was incorporated and the intake design was revised. The F414 was the bulkiest and most powerful engine under consideration, so its selection may have had something to do with the enlargement of the design.

Despite these changes, empty mass rose only 2%, to 11.1 metric tons, suggesting weight savings had been found. The aircraft was still just a little lighter than the Typhoon, the fighter with which the KF-X has been most comparable in size.

Further growth appeared in C106: span, wing area and fuselage length all increased. The cockpit moved forward. The dimensions of C106 are unknown but C107, for which figures are available, is apparently about the same size. While C107’s span, up 20 cm, is only modestly greater than C105’s, the fuselage is considerably longer. The aircraft is now fully 1.2 m longer than it was in the C103 concept. Empty mass is unavailable, but it is now likely to be significantly greater than the Typhoon’s.

The shapes of the forward fuselage and the inlets have been improved in C107. The wing roots are extended forward, blending with the fuselage, while the tail fins have moved forward and, with trailing edges now swept forward at a greater angle than before, are almost cropped triangles. They have probably been heightened in compensation for the loss of moment arm caused by their relocation; the whole aircraft has gained 30 cm of height from C103’s 4.5 m.

The engines were closely spaced before C107; now they are farther apart, improving survivability and providing volume between them. The nose is blunter in plan, rather like that on designs for Japan’s proposed indigenous fighter. More changes can be expected, because three more design iterations will be prepared by June 2018.


This is apparently KF-X design C105 or C106, now superseded by C107. Credit: DAPA

The reason for the second seat has not been disclosed. Fighters designed before the 1990s routinely have two-seat versions. In some cases, the second seat is now used not just for training but for carrying another crew member in combat, as became popular during and after the Vietnam War. But the F-22 Raptor, F-35 and Avic Chengdu J-20 have only single-seat versions, relying on advanced simulation to prepare pilots for solo flights.

Provision for a second seat in the KF-X may indicate that the type’s avionics will not be sufficiently advanced to support the most demanding strike missions without two crew members.

MBDA and Diehl have agreed to supply Meteor and IRIS-T missiles, respectively, says DAPA, presumably meaning that terms have been settled. But South Korea still needs the permission of Germany to use the IRIS-T and from the countries behind the MBDA consortium—Britain, France and Italy—for the Meteor. There is no indication of when government authorization will be received. The Meteor and IRIS-T are long- and short-range air-to-air missiles, respectively.

South Korea also plans to use the most equivalent U.S. weapons, the AIM-120 Amraam and AIM-9 Sidewinder.

Negotiations for integration of those missiles are not complete, DAPA says. Washington agreed in June to give technical information on its two air-to-air missiles and nine other U.S. weapons, but this will only be data of the level called 1A: size, weight and basic interface particulars. South Korea is still seeking level 1B information: full interface data needed for integrating and operating the weapons.

Full-scale development of the KF-X began in late 2015 after years of national debate. One objective is to free South Korea from depending on Washington’s permission in integrating weapons, as it must when it buys fighters straight from the U.S. and would if it equipped the KF-X with U.S. avionics. 

A related objective is to avoid the U.S. vetoing an export contract for the KF-X by withholding the weapons from the intended customer. But the fighter will be subject to U.S. export controls, anyway, because it will use the F414.

Cobham will supply weapon carriage and launch equipment for the development program under a contract that probably sets the company up for volume production.

The ejection launcher, featuring a long stroke to shove weapons safely away from the aircraft at 9 m per sec., suits the AIM-120 and Meteor, says Cobham, announcing its order. The company will deliver an unspecified number of launchers in 2020 under the contract, which it says is worth more than £7 million ($9.2 million).

The timing and value indicate that this is a contract for equipment for prototype and perhaps early production aircraft, probably also including engineering support.

Cobham does not mention the prospect of supplying the launcher for the full production run of KF-Xs, but a satisfactory supplier to the developmental stage of a program is well placed for follow-on volume work.

The launcher suits carriage and ejection of internally and externally mounted weapons, Cobham says. The KF-X was initially designed with a weapon bay, but installation of this feature has been deferred until a second version is developed.

Elsewhere in the program, a critical foreign authorization has been received. In April, Washington said Indonesia could have access to U.S. technology used in KF-X development, though it seems unlikely that it will receive all the information shared with South Korea. Lockheed Martin has sent 30 engineers to KAI, DAPA says. By the end of the year, that number will grow to 40.

Indonesia has sent 80 engineers to KAI.

South Korea is developing four major avionics systems for the KF-X: a radar with an active, electronically scanned array (AESA); an infrared search-and-track system; an electro-optical targeting pod; and an electronic warfare suite.

Radar development is due to be completed by 2026 at a cost of 360 billion won ($320 million), says DAPA. The sensor will have about 1,000 transmit-and-receive modules. Critical design review for the radar is due in mid-2019.

Hanwha and ADD are building what they call a hardware demonstration model, combining a Hanhwa AESA antenna and power supply with a receiver-exciter and processor from Elta Systems Ltd. The Israeli company was chosen this year to validate Hanwha’s radar development program, but its role will evidently be rather deeper than that.

Hanwha completed the antenna and power supply in June, says DAPA, adding that the two components will be sent to Elta in September for assembly into a complete radar that will be tested until March 2018.

Another item, called AESA technology demonstration equipment, has been built. Tested in the back of a C-130H transport with the rear door open, it had about 400 transmit-and-receive modules.

South Korea requires 120 KF-Xs and 60 KAI FA-50 light-attack aircraft to replace 34 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 32s and 140 F-5E/Fs. Indonesia reportedly wants to buy 50 KF-Xs. 
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[*] posted on 18-10-2017 at 02:37 PM


ADEX 2017: KAI refining KFX configuration ahead of key milestones

Gareth Jennings - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

17 October 2017


While the baseline twin-engined configuration for the KFX has been decided upon, the final refinements are being made ahead of upcoming design reviews. (IHS Markit /Gareth Jennings)

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is in the process of refining the final configuration of its Korean Fighter Experimental (KFX) aircraft ahead of a number of milestones that are due in the coming months and years, Jane’s was told on 17 October.

Speaking at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX) 2017, a senior programme official said that, while the baseline twin-jet configuration has been chosen, the final refinements are now taking place ahead of a planned preliminary design review (PDR) mid next year.

“We are putting the final touches on the configuration, and plan to have a PDR in June 2018,” the official who asked not to be named said, adding that this PDR would be followed by a critical design review (CDR) in September 2019; a rollout of the first prototype in 2022; and an entry into service in 2026.

The KFX fighter was first revealed by South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) in 2010.

Indonesia joined the project in 2012, with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) covering joint development of the platform that Jakarta refers to as IFX.

KAI is leading the USD8 billion project in partnership with Lockheed Martin, with Indonesia expected to invest USD1 billion to acquire fighter aircraft technologies, knowledge of production techniques, and an option to procure up to 50 fighters at a later date. Jakarta should also benefit from any future exports of the aircraft.

While initial operational capability (IOC) for the KFX/IFX was planned for 2023, budgetary constraints and concerns over technical risk prompted KAI to re-align the programme from a ‘fifth-generation’ fighter into a less sophisticated '4.5 generation'.

(292 of 519 words)
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[*] posted on 27-10-2017 at 05:46 PM


South Korea Tackles Challenging Systems Development In KF-X

Indigenous systems development intensifies KF-X challenge

Oct 26, 2017

Bradley Perrett and Kim Minseok | Aviation Week & Space Technology

For an industry newcomer, developing a fighter airframe is difficult enough even when complex onboard systems are supplied by experienced foreign companies. Creating and integrating the most difficult equipment domestically is surely something to avoid.

Yet that is what South Korea is doing with its Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-X indigenous fighter. To succeed, its engineers are adapting nonfighter and even nonaviation technologies. They are sidestepping challenging advances where they can and using some outside suppliers.

Perhaps the most notable system program aims at developing an indigenous radar with an active, electronically scanned array.

But there are many other indigenous installations in the KF-X as well. From flight-control computers to hydraulics and the electronic warfare suite, South Korean engineers are, at least nominally, taking the lead. Whether they are always in fact leading is not so certain, since many foreign companies have been hired to assist.

Until 2015, as the defense ministry’s ambitious technology agency campaigned to launch KF-X, the fighter was supposed to have appeared first in a version with its most advanced systems supplied from abroad; local engineers would use the program to catch up and develop indigenous equipment for a later version. 


LIG Nex1’s AESA design, of which this is mockup, was probably sized for the KF-X. Credit: Bradley Perrett/AW&ST

But the country decided to go it alone that year following the revelation that the U.S. would not share integration technology for systems such as advanced radars—that is, let South Korea know how such equipment was designed and built. A point that has never been explained is why indigenous development was preferable to using European and Israeli systems.

Regardless, the result is that the technology organization, the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), has been taking on much of the hardest work, assisted to varying degrees by South Korean companies, mostly Hanwha and LIG Nex1. Those companies are also working on systems in which they had more experience and were always likely to handle. KAI is necessarily deeply involved as the prime contractor.

The choice last year of Hanwha’s defense electronics business, Hanwha Systems, to work with ADD to develop a fighter radar was a surprise; LIG Nex1 had much more experience in the field. Indeed, LIG Nex1 displayed a mockup of the antenna of what was probably its KF-X radar concept at the Seoul Aerospace and Defense Exhibition, held Oct. 16-22. The mockup, about 80 cm (32 in.) in diameter, presumably indicates the size of the still classified ADD design.

Hanwha Systems is working on the fighter’s targeting pod, no doubt with much support from ADD. The country has not made such a device before, but it has technology from naval infrared sensors. The key challenge involves reducing size and weight, says a project manager on the supplier side of the fighter program. ADD also has experience in developing a reconnaissance pod.

The choice of a pod, in contrast to the Lockheed Martin F-35’s internal system, was probably driven by ease of integration and a lack of space in the smaller South Korean aircraft. Using a pod implies a planned second, stealthy version of the KF-X will not have low radar signature in the surface-to-air role. The weapon bay intended for the second version is not likely to accommodate a large internal air-to-surface load, anyway.

By contrast, the electronic warfare (EW) system that LIG Nex1 is working on will be internal. The technology comes in part from the ALQ-200 EW pod used by South Korean F-16s and F-4s, says another supplier-side source.

The same company is supplying the flight-control computer, radar altimeter and flight data recorder. All of these are derived from systems developed for the Korean Air Lines Co. MUAV surveillance drone.

The predecessor program most relevant to KF-X is the one that developed the T-50 trainer and its light-attack versions. The T-50 used the conventional aeronautics hydraulic pressure of 3,000 psi (21,000 kPa). KAI wanted consideration of the more modern figure of 5,000 psi, which should have cut weight and bulk. But familiarity with 3,000-psi technology and the availability of testing equipment led to the decision to stay at that level, says the second supplier-side source. Spanish hydraulics specialist CESA will assist in hydraulics development, as well as in designing the arrestor hook.

Since the KF-X is bigger and carries more systems, notably a radar, electrical capacity is much greater than in the T-50. Power in the LIG Nex1 system is up more than 50%.

The head-up display (HUD) will be manufactured under license from BAE Systems by LIG Nex1, which will have to design the interface with the rest of the avionics. BAE also made the less advanced HUD in the T-50. 

KAI chose Heroux-Devtek and Hanwha to develop the landing gear. Most of the work will surely be done by the experienced Canadian company, although this has not been officially announced.

The KF-X’s engine is the General Electric F414. Hanwha’s propulsion division, Hanwha Techwin, will make parts and, according to the companies’ joint statement, lead integration and installation. Again, the foreign manufacturer is likely to play a larger role than is acknowledged. 
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[*] posted on 31-10-2017 at 10:58 PM


Supersonic test keeps Gripen E on target

31 October, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Craig Hoyle London

Saab's Gripen E remains on track for delivery to the Swedish and Brazilian air forces from 2019, with the Swedish company's first prototype having recently passed a significant performance milestone.

Aircraft 39-8 was flown at supersonic speed for the first time on 18 October, with test pilot Marcus Wandt describing its performance as "very smooth" during a sortie flown over the Baltic Sea. "The aircraft sustained supersonic speed for a number of minutes, whilst carrying out manoeuvres," the company says.

Powered by a GE Aviation F414 engine, the Gripen E will be capable of "supercruise" performance: sustaining supersonic flight without the use of its afterburner.

"The Gripen E flight test programme is going extremely well, whilst the delivery schedule to our two customers remains our key focus," says Jonas Hjelm, the head of Saab's aeronautics business area. Aircraft 39-8, the first of the airframer's three prototypes, has accumulated more than 20h of flight time since its debut on 15 June, 2017.


Saab

Sweden has so far committed to acquiring 60 Gripen Es, while Brazil has ordered 28 single-seat examples and eight in a two-seat configuration, being developed in co-operation with Embraer.

Speaking during an earnings presentation on 24 October, Saab chief executive Håkan Buskhe commented: "The programme in Brazil is going to plan," with the nation's first serial example now in production.

Meanwhile, Buskhe says he believes Saab "should be able to settle a couple of Gripen orders within the next 16 months". The company is offering to deliver new-build C/D-model examples to potential buyers in Eastern Europe, while Botswana has also shown interest in the type.
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[*] posted on 14-11-2017 at 06:56 PM


Japan to Delay Multi-Billion Dollar Fighter Jet Development – Sources (excerpt)

(Source: Reuters; published Nov 13, 2017)

Tim Kelly, Nobuhiro Kubo

TOKYO --- Japan will delay a decision to develop a new advanced fighter jet, four sources said, as military planners struggle to settle on a design and officials splash out on new U.S. equipment such as ballistic missile interceptors and F-35 stealth planes.

Faced with a growing military threat from North Korea and increased activity by Chinese air force jets over the East China Sea, Japan is under pressure to improve its defenses on two fronts.

Any delay to the new fighter, known as the F-3, will raise a question mark over the future of what could be one of the world’s most lucrative upcoming military contracts, estimated at more than $40 billion to develop and deploy.

A decision after the first half of 2018 would be too late for it to be included as a core program in a new five-year defense equipment plan beginning April 2019 that Japan will reveal at the end of next year.

“The direction is for the F-3 decision to be put back,” said one the sources who have knowledge of the discussion. The people who spoke to Reuters asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to talk to the media.

They said the decision, on whether to forge ahead as a domestic program or seek international collaboration, would now likely come after 2018.

“Regarding the F-3 decision, including whether we will delay a choice, we have haven’t come to any conclusion,” a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence Acquisition Technology & Logistics Agency said. (end of excerpt)

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

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-defence-fighter-jet/...

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[*] posted on 23-11-2017 at 11:56 AM


Japan Works On Extensive Bonding Of Fighter Parts

Major assemblies of a fighter could be created with adhesive

Nov 23, 2017

Bradley Perrett | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Japan’s defense ministry and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) are working on a bonding technology that would largely eliminate fasteners from aircraft structures, thereby greatly reducing weight. The work is part of research for a possible indigenous or internationally developed aircraft to meet Japan’s Future Fighter requirement.

The ministry’s technology organization, the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA), is undertaking the work and reported its progress at an annual technology seminar, held in Tokyo Nov. 14–15.

The indigenous Future Fighter would be mostly made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. Japan took a big step in this direction with the fighter it developed in 1990–2000, the MHI F-2, in which the wing, horizontal tail and some of the fuselage was made of such composite. The F-2’s composite structure needed only half as many fasteners as a metal structure would have, because some parts had complex integral shapes; they did not have to be built up from several pieces.


ATLA cut this bonded part from an engineering sample of a fighter center fuselage. Credit: Bradley Perrett/AW&ST

ATLA now proposes to eliminate fasteners within major assemblies by gluing the detail parts together. This reduces structure mass because the adhesive has little weight, and parts that are glued together, not weakened by fastener holes, can be thinner. The result weighs about 10% less than was achieved in the F-2’s composite assemblies and 26% less than conventional metal structure, says ATLA.

In the ATLA-MHI process, the detail parts, such as skins, ribs and spars, are made separately in autoclaves and then bonded together under pressure, says a project engineer. It appears that the use of fasteners will be largely restricted to joining major assemblies.

The cut in structure mass will result in the usual virtuous cycle of weight savings. With less weight to carry, the wing, for example, can be smaller and the landing gear less strong and therefore lighter. Designers will be able to choose a smaller, lighter powerplant or, sticking with the maximum thrust they can achieve, go for higher performance.

ATLA started its two-phase project in the fiscal year beginning April 2014. Engineers are applying the technology to the section of a fighter that offers the biggest weight savings but presents the greatest technical challenges: the massively constructed center body, which includes the wing carry-through structure.

This part of the aircraft absorbs high and complex loads from maneuvering and landings; the main landing gear is attached below. For a combat aircraft as large as the Future Fighter, the assembly will weigh 4-5 metric tons, so applying the technology in that instance will alone save approximately half a ton of structural weight. Moreover, if the technology is good enough for the center body it certainly will work for less demanding sections, such as the forward fuselage and tail.

The testing has been going smoothly, says the project engineer.

In phase one, which is ending this year, a large section of the upper center body, measuring 1.9 X 1.5 X 0.7 m (6.2 X 4.9 X 2.3 ft.), was constructed and tested. In phase two, due to run from fiscal 2015 until the end of fiscal 2018, a section comprising all of the upper center body and extending beyond the wing roots will be made. The lower center body is not included; in ATLA’s Future Fighter design it is metal, because it includes the main landing gear attachments and weapon bays.

Assuming that the process of adhesive bonding is verified in the phase-two test piece, the process will be ready for production after fiscal 2018. Bonding is also used in the structure of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning. It is unclear how much further the Japanese have progressed in this area. It is key that weight savings in their structure do not come from the use of unusually strong material. The research program is using composite that would ordinarily be used for a fighter.

Since the assemblies will be glued together, it will not be possible to pull them apart to replace a damaged component. Instead, damage will have to be repaired, says the project engineer. This leaves open the chance that a large and costly assembly will have to be replaced.

In other technology work underpinning a possible indigenous Future Fighter, engineers are researching what they call Integrated Fire Control for Fighters. This would provide three functions: cooperative engagement, in which one aircraft fires using data from another; cooperative passive location of targets, triangulating threat signal bearings from several aircraft; and cooperative building of a situation picture.

Networking and exploiting data from several aircraft sounds simple in principle, but in practice it presents considerable challenges. For example, the cooperating aircraft and their targets are all moving in three dimensions at high speed. Engineers have to figure out how to create and maintain a common frame of reference.

The Japanese seem confident they can do that with considerable precision, since the function for passive location of targets is intended to deliver data tight enough for firing weapons. 
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