U.S. Marine Corps Receives 100th H-1 Helicopter from Bell Helicopter

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Bell Helicopter delivered the 100th unit of H-1 Helicopters for the U.S. Marine Corps during a ceremony at Amarillo Assembly Center. A Textron Inc. Company, Bell Helicopter is in contract to make 349 helicopters for the H-1 Helicopter program of the Marine Corps. The H-1 Helicopter program is made up of UH-1Y utility helicopter and the AH-1Z attack helicopter.

John Garrison, president and CEO of Bell Helicopter said: “We are deeply proud to be the marine corp’s partner in these aircraft. They are among the most advanced, capable and affordable attack and utility helicopters serving today.”

The UH-1 Helicopters have a strong lineage of military service that started in the Army back in 1958. Popularly known as the “Huey,” the Marines Corps first use these during the Vietnam War in 1963, as the UH-1E. The Huey helicopters are also the foundation for the AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopters.

Bell Helicopters has the help of major supplier to make the H-1 helicopters. Northrop Grumman supplies the integrated avionics suite while Thales provides the helmet mounted sight and display system. Lockheed Martin Orlando supplies the AH-1Z target sight system (TSS), FLIR Inc. with the UH-1Y BRITE Star II forward-looking infrared sensor, the UH-1Y cabin structure is provided by L-3 Crestview Aerospace, and the T700 engines are from General Electric Aviation.

Apart from the U.S. Marine Corps, Bell Helicopter is also planning to supply their helicopters to foreign military.

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News Source: www.verticalmag.com

Major Manufacturers Withdrew from Air Force Helicopter Bid

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Five big defenses contractors have pulled out from the latest attempt of the U.S. Air Force to replace the its aging fleet of rescue helicopter HH-60 Pave Hawk. Only Sikorsky Aircraft remain as the contender for $6.84 billion contract.

Questions are now raised on whether the contest can proceed as planned as Northrop Grumman Corp, which was teamed with Italy’s Finmeccanica SpA; Boeing Co; Textron’s Bell Helicopter unit; and the U.S. unit of Europe’s EADS withdrew from the competition to build 112 units of search and rescue helicopters for the Air Force.

According to industry insiders, the bidding rules were so narrowly framed that most aircraft in the competition except the one by Sikorsky are effectively excluded. The contest did not offer additional merits to to aircraft that have extra capabilities and exceeds the parameters of contest. Sikorsky Aircraft still plans to offer a variant of its popular Black Hawk helicopter. The HH-60 Pave Hawk was built by Sikorsky Aircraft.

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News Source: www.reuters.com

New US Warship Arrives at her Home Port

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The new U.S. warship named Anchorage, an amphibious transport dock, arrived at its home port in San Diego, California.

Under the command of Capt. Brian Quin, the Anchorage set off to it new home from the Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Ship Building Sit in Avondale, La. on October 30. It passed through the Panama Canal and made a port stop in Manzanillo, Mexico. Anchorage’s journey was completed in 13 hours.

Built by Northrop Grumman, Anchorage is the seventh San Antonio-class LPD delivered to the U.S. Navy. The ship’s primary mission is to embark, transport and land elements U.S. Marine Corps landing force in a variety of expeditionary and special operations capable missions using expeditionary fighting vehicles (EFVs); landing craft, air cushion (LCAC); tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys and CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters.

Anchorage will be commissioned in May in her namesake city of Achorage, Alaska. It is the second ship to be named after the city.

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News Source: www.marinelink.com

Northrop Grumman, Navy Demo Refueling Hardware of X-47B

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Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy have successfully completed a series of flight tests to demonstrate technology that could help extend the operating range and flight duration of future carrier-based unmanned systems.

The flight tests, completed Jan. 21 in St. Augustine, Fla., proved the functionality of the hardware and software that will enable the X-47B unmanned aircraft to demonstrate autonomous aerial refueling (AAR) in 2014, Northrop Grumman said. The AAR activity is part of the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. Northrop Grumman is the Navy’s UCAS-D prime contractor.

“These tests are a critical step toward proving that the X-47B can perform autonomous aerial refueling using either the Navy’s probe-and-drogue refueling technique or the U.S. Air Force’s boom/receptacle approach,” said Carl Johnson, vice president and UCAS-D program manager for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector. “Future unmanned systems will need to use both refueling techniques if they plan to conduct longer range surveillance or strike missions from the carrier.”

The AAR tests were conducted by a Northrop Grumman/Navy team using Calspan Corp.’s (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) Variable Stability Learjet as the X-47B surrogate aircraft, and a K707 tanker provided by Omega Air Refueling (Alexandria, Va.). The tests included simulated flight demonstrations of both boom/receptacle and probe-and-drogue aerial refueling techniques. No fuel was exchanged between the aircraft during the test events, however.

The Learjet surrogate was equipped with real or functional equivalents of the navigation systems, flight control processor and vision system that the X-47B will use to conduct refueling operations. The aircraft contained no refueling receptacle or refueling probe. The K707, which is nearly identical in size and shape to an Air Force KC-135, was equipped with a Navy style refueling drogue only.

For each simulated refueling event, the Learjet/X-47B surrogate was piloted to a rendezvous position approximately one nautical mile from the tanker. Then the pilot transferred control of the aircraft to the X-47B‘s autonomous flight control processor, which controlled the Learjet during the test event.

During a typical refueling event, the tanker operator or a mission operator on the ground commanded the Learjet to fly, in sequence, to each of the major positions associated with aerial refueling: (1) the pre-tanking observation point off one wing of the tanker; (2) the refueling contact position behind the tanker; and (3) the post-tanking “reform” position off the other wing of the tanker.

The UCAS-D program plans to demonstrate in 2013 the ability of the tailless, autonomous, low-observable relevant X-47B demonstrator to safely operate from a Navy aircraft carrier, including launch, recovery, bolter and wave-off performance, followed by the autonomous aerial refueling in 2014. The program also plans to mature technologies required for potential future Navy unmanned air system programs.



First EURO HAWK arrives in Germany

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The first high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE), signals intelligence (SIGINT) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) based on the RQ-4 Global Hawk for the German Bundeswehr, successfully touched down in Manching, Germany last week.

The EURO HAWK took off on July 20 at 2:50 PDT from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and landed at 10:06 Central European Summer Time July 21 in Manching Air Base. It will carry a new SIGINT mission system developed by EADS Deutschland GmbH (Cassidian) and integrated in Manching, Germany.

“Today’s arrival of the EURO HAWK on German soil marks a significant step in delivering this highly capable and unique system to the Bundeswehr,” said Nicolas Chamussy, head of UAVs, Cassidian Air Systems, and member of the board of directors, EuroHawk GmbH.

The EURO HAWK marks several important milestones – it is both the first international version of the RQ-4 and the first HALE SIGINT UAS in Europe. NATO’s AGS will follow close behind and mark the second international RQ-4 and the second HALE UAS in Europe.

The EURO HAWK(R) unmanned aircraft system (UAS), a trans-Atlantic partnership between Northrop Grumman and EADS Deutschland GmbH (Cassidian), successfully lands on centerline July 21 at its new home in Manching, Germany.

With a wingspan larger than most commercial airliners, endurance of 30 hours and a maximum altitude of more than 60,000 feet, EURO HAWK is an interoperable, modular and cost-effective replacement to the fleet of manned Breguet Atlantic aircraft which was in service since 1972 and retired in 2010.

Source: Northrop Grumman

First F-35 Production Jet arrives at Eglin AFB

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The first Lockheed Martin production model F-35 Lightning II to be assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing arrived at EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE last Thursday at 1:18 p.m. CDT. The F-35 aircraft, known as AF-9, will be used for activities in concert with training F-35 pilots and maintainers who begin coursework at the base’s new F-35 Integrated Training Center this fall.

The AF-9 is a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) version of the 5th generation stealth fighter. Overall, the jet is the third production-model F-35 delivered to the U.S. Air Force, with the first two assigned to Edwards AFB, Calif. It is the first aircraft delivered from Low Rate Initial Production lot two and the seventh F-35 delivered in program history to the Air Force. Over the lifetime of the program, a total of 59 F-35s will compose the fighter fleet at Eglin AFB.

“The exceptional capabilities of this 5th generation fighter are now in the very capable hands of the men and women of the 33rd Fighter Wing who are ushering in a new era of F-35 training. We look forward to delivering our full complement of F-35s to the Emerald Coast in the months and years ahead,” said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager.

The F-35A CTOL variant – designed to meet U.S. Air Force requirements – is also the primary export version of the Lightning II. The air forces of Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway and Israel will employ the F-35A. To date, the F-35 program has accomplished more than 925 flights since late 2006.

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.

Source: Lockheed Martin

F/A-18 Shows UCAS-D Can Land On Carrier

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Surrogate flight tests of the software and systems for the Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned combat aircraft system demonstrator (UCAS-D) have resulted in “hands-free” landings of an F/A-18 Hornet on a U.S. Navy carrier.

Controlled by the avionics and software from the X-47B, the F/A-18 conducted 58 coupled approaches to the USS Eisenhower on July 2, including 16 intentional touch-and-gos and six arrested landings, program officials say.

The tests keep the UCAS-D program on track for carrier trials of the unmanned X-47B in 2013. The first aircraft has flown at Edwards AFB, California, and both air vehicles will be delivered to the NAS Patuxent River, Md., test center for shore-based testing in 2012.

Acting as a surrogate, the F/A-18 showed the X-47B will be able to land autonomously under command from the ship. The tests included 28 straight-in, or Case 1, instrument approaches where the unmanned system took over control 8 mi. behind the ship.

The other 30 were visual, or Case 3, approaches where the system took over control as the F/A-18 passed the carrier on the downwind leg and then turned the aircraft on to its final approach, says Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager.

Flights were conducted using precision GPS and Tactical Targeting Network Technology high-speed data links to navigate relative to the carrier and send commands to the aircraft.

Engdahl says the tests demonstrated the Navy’s distributed control concept, in which a mission operator on the carrier always has positive control of the aircraft, but the ship’s air traffic controller, the air boss in the tower and landing signals officer on the flight deck can send commands to the unmanned vehicle as they would to a manned aircraft.

“You send basic commands to the aircraft and the system calculates all the paths itself and puts together a profile,” says Don Blottenberger, deputy program manager. “The carrier exercises oversight and override, everything else is automated.”

The next steps are to complete flight-envelope expansion at Edwards and then ship the X-47Bs to Patuxent River for shore-based catapult launches, arrested landings and carrier pattern work through 2012, Engdahl says.

Further surrogate test flights are planned next year, working with the USS Truman, and one of the X-47Bs will be hoisted aboard the carrier to evaluate maneuvering of the unmanned aircraft on the flight deck.

Carrier trials of the X-47B in 2013 will be followed in 2014 by flight tests of autonomous aerial refueling. Flight tests for this phase of the program will begin late this year using a Learjet as a surrogate.


Firebird MALE aircraft to be unveiled by Northrop

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Later this month, Northrop Grumman will unveil its secret Firebird aircraft to the public at the Pentagon’s Empire Challenge, an exercise designed to demonstrate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies that can be fielded quickly.

Company officials have remained unsatisfied at the dominance of General Atomics in the medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAS market with their Predator, Reaper and Gray Eagle designs despite Northrop’s mature work in the unmanned rotorcraft, airship and high-altitude UAS markets.

“That was a target,” says Paul Meyer, director of the Advanced Technology and Concepts division, who spoke exclusively with Aviation Week about the new aircraft. “That is the one that is unopposed today [but] when we looked at it, we needed to do something different.”

Thus, Firebird is an optionally piloted vehicle (OPV); it was secretly built by Northrop Grumman’s Scaled Composites in 12 months. The aircraft, first flown in February 2010, was showcased last October in a private demonstration for Pentagon officials near Sacramento, Calif. Though unlikely to eclipse Predator or Reaper in order numbers, Northrop officials see an opportunity for a niche market with the OPV while the Pentagon and FAA continue to wrangle over rules for flying UAS in open airspace.

The twin-boomed, Bronco tail design – so named because it was used for the OV-10Bronco ” — was chosen to carry up to four payloads simultaneously, including sensors and communications equipment, and operate up to 40 hrs. in unmanned mode.

Firebird’s information architecture was crafted to offer users in various locations direct access to the payloads, offering service to multiple ground users at once, says Rick Crooks, director of special programs at Northrop’s advanced technology division. The aircraft is designed to fly at about 200 kts.

During Empire Challenge, which takes place May 23-June 3, Northrop plans to showcase the use of up to four payloads – including high-definition full-motion video, electro-optical/infrared sensors, electronic support/direction finding and a communications relay — simultaneously on Firebird. The company plans to land, reconfigure the sensor payload and launch a new sortie within an hour.

Empire Challenge takes place in Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Though hosted by the now soon-to-be defunct U.S. Joint Forces Command, the Army is sponsoring the Firebird entry for the trials.


U.S. hiked the price of Global Hawks

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Following the South Korean government’s announcement of plans to hasten the introduction of the Global Hawk unmanned high-altitude surveillance aircraft, the United States has reportedly raised its quote for the aircraft more than twofold.

Military web journal Defense 21 reported Friday that the United States recently quoted a purchase price of $450 million for four Global Hawks and demanded an additional $350 million in development costs.

Taking into account demands for the settlement of additional expenses at the time of delivery reflecting the rate of increase in consumer prices, the report added that the total purchase amount would be over one trillion won, more than twice the initially predicted amount, and that operation expenses are predicted to increase by 25 percent each year.

The Global Hawk is an unmanned high-altitude aircraft capable of observing and photographing terrestrial facilities and movements even in the presence of clouds using state-of-the-art radar and optical and infrared sensors from an altitude of 20 kilometers. The top-level strategic spy satellite weapon, which over a 24-hour period is capable of generating thousands of detailed photographs in which a single point represents 30 square centimeters, has an operational radius of some 3,000 kilometers.

The reason cited for the sharp rise in the price of the Global Hawk was a decline in demand stemming from reductions in the U.S. defense budget.

Bloomberg reported that U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley stated in a letter submitted to Congress on April 12 that the per-unit price for the Global Hawk would increase by more than 25 percent owing to a 14 percent drop in the number of orders.

Northrop Grumman, the manufacturer of the aircraft, also said that a decision by Air Force authorities to reduce the number of new and improved Block 40 models scheduled for production through 2015 from 22 to 11 also had a major impact. Amid this situation, the effects of U.S. defense budget cuts spilled over onto the South Korean government’s plan to introduce the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

Source: The Hankyoreh

Northrop submits NATO AGS proposal


Last week, Northrop Grumman Corporation’s final proposal was submitted for the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) core capability – a trans-Atlantic cooperation that will meet the security challenges of the 21st century.

Pat McMahon, sector vice president of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems’ Battle Management & Engagement Systems Division, said that ”The updated proposal offers an affordable, executable program that will provide an operationally relevant system to the Alliance.”

Based on the Block 40 configuration of the RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft, the NATO AGS system will provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to ground, maritime and air commanders, anytime and anywhere in the world.

They will be equipped with Northrop Grumman’s Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) ground surveillance radar sensor, which will be capable of detecting and tracking moving objects throughout the observed areas as well as providing radar imagery of target locations and stationary objects. It also includes an air segment consisting of six Block 40 Global Hawks that will be missionized to meet NATO requirements.

“As NATO’s highest acquisition priority and Europe’s highest visibility program, NATO AGS also represents the first international sale of the Block 40 Global Hawk,”said Matt Copija, director of Northrop Grumman’s NATO AGS program.

Flying up to 60,000 feet for more than 32 hours, the combat-proven Global Hawk has flown more than 53,000 hours. The U.S. Air Force Block 30 Global Hawks continue to fly relief support missions over Japan in response to the tragic 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami, and are also supporting the NATO-led coalition effort in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn over Libya.

Source: aviation news.eu, photo from Google images