Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Air Force celebrates JSF arrival, rolls out nation's airpower future

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- Air Force officials said the unveiling of the F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter was a "historic occasion" during a rollout ceremony here Aug. 26.

The F-35A, on display during the ceremony, was delivered here in July by Lt. Col. Eric Smith, the Air Force's first F-35 pilot.

"This is indeed a new era," said Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., the Air Education and Training Command commander and host of the milestone event.

The aircraft was developed in a span of only 15 years, one-eighth of the 118 total years powered flight has existed, he said. The F-35 brings advanced technological capabilities for the future and the nation's defense -- something the general explained was clearly unimaginable when Orville and Wilbur Wright performed their maiden flight Dec.17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, N.C.

"While this celebration is taking place in the Air Force hangar with the Air Force variant of the F-35, this is really a story about the fully integrated team of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, industry and community partners who have been working years to make this day possible," said Col. Andrew Toth, the 33rd Fighter Wing commander. "In fact, Marine Col. Art Tomassetti, my vice, (today's master of ceremonies), and test pilot, has been with this program for more than a decade. So, some of us have been waiting a long time to see this day."

During the past two years, the integrated and multi-service team "Nomads" transformed their corner of Eglin AFB into the Department of Defense's F-35 Integrated Training Center. The center includes a university setting in which maintainers are expected to live, work and train alongside pilots in operating the fifth-generation stealth fighter.

More than 400 guests watched the JSF unveiling inside a newly constructed Air Force hangar, a place where a future generation of F-35 maintainers, pilots and leaders will learn their craft.

"Eventually about 2,200 maintainers and 100 pilots a year will pass through our schoolhouse doors," Toth said. "In 2014, the program should mature enough to have the Air Force send students fresh from basic training."

Delivery and success of the new program required the Air Force overcome a great number of challenges. It will continue to do so until the F-35 capabilities reach their full potential for the interest of national security, Rice said.

"But with all the wonders of technology and the amazing physical performance of the F-35, let me say that none of this happens without magnificent people," he said.

Wing leadership said they're already reaping the benefits of multi-service collaboration in co-located facilities.

"What this aircraft behind me is a visual representation of our exciting future," Toth said. "The 33rd Pursuit Group of the past is nothing like the 33rd FW of today, except in the longstanding spirit of air power. With the F-35 program, we foresee air dominance for our services and partner nations for the next 30 to 50 years."

Saturn: T50-2 flame-out at MAKS not engine failure

Saturn has responded to quickly to questions raised about the 117S engine after a flame-out on Sunday forced Sukhoi T50-2 test pilot Sergei Bogdan to execute a rather hasty take-off abort procedure. It didn't help that the starboard engine flame-out occurred in front of about 200,000 witnesses at the MAKS air show hoping to catch a glimpse of Russia's premier new stealth fighter.

The 117S is one of the key innovations supporting both the Su-35 and PAK-FA prototpye programmes. The new engine boosts thrust compared to the Saturn Al-31FP by 16% to 14,500kgf in maximum reheat for the SU-35BM, and perhaps even higher for the PAK-FA version. (Jane's also has reported that Russia has agreed to transfer the Saturn/UMPO 117 to AVIC for the J-20.) And it introduces a digital engine control system fully integrated with the T50 prototype's flight control system. It appears to be the latter feature that caused the engine breakdown, according to Flightglobal's Moscow-based correspondent Vladimir Karnozov, who writes today:

Speaking to Russian media two days after the incident, NPO Saturn general director Ilya Fedorov acknowledged that the starboard Item 117 "suffered surge".

According to Fedorov, this happened due to a malfunctioning multi-parameter sensor, at some point of time it began feeding "erroneous data" to the airplane's control system. He thanked Sukhoi test-pilot Sergei Bogdan for prompt reaction to the engine failure. "It was a test for the new machine. During flight trials on any brand-new aircraft - and this airplane is undergoing flight trials - malfunctions such as this one are not only possible, but even mandatory". Fedorov stated that flight trials are meant for finding and eliminating any would-be malfunctions "so that these do not happen after the new type becomes operational".

Fedorov further insisted that "the motor did not fail - in fact, it was put by erroneous control input into a wrong mode that caused surge... this is not an engine failure, but the wrong data input caused by a malfunctioning sensor feeding data to the flight control system". Saturn head further insisted that the T50-2 starboard engine "is intact". "After what had happened, the motor was checked with dedicated equipment, the malfunctioning sensor was replaced by a good one. Today, there is no issue with this engine".

Friday, August 26, 2011

Austria: Eurofighter Typhoon on QRA interception training with new Lufthansa A380 “Wien”

On Monday the 22nd of August, after Vienna's Mayor Dr. Häupl christened the new Lufthansa A380 “Wien” at the hub of Austrian Airlines, two Austrian Eurofighters conducted a QRA training interception of the new Airbus on its flight through Austrian airspace. The Eurofighters, scrambling from their base in Zeltweg/Styria, intercepted and flew in formation with the A380.

Austrian Eurofighter pilot Major Günter Taschler said: “The challenge was how to approach the big wing span of the civil aircraft, in order to make eye contact with the pilot. It is also not that easy to approach the aircraft from below, since the airflow generated by the large surfaces of the aircraft can become difficult for the Eurofighter.”
This mission confirmed the excellent readiness of the Austrian Eurofighter fleet, always ready to provide the best air sovereignty in Austrian airspace.

Monday, August 22, 2011

MAKS'11 [Part-2]

Exclusive pictures of Russia’s Sukhoi T-50 5th Generation Stealth Fighter at MAKS 2011.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Russia's 5G fighter makes first demonstration flight

Russia's Sukhoi T-50 5th generation fighter performed its first demonstration flight at the MAKS 2011 International Aviation and Space Show on Wednesday.

The flight was observed by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and other dignitaries.

Experts said the pilots had not performed any aerobatic stunts because the plane is still going through a series of test flights.

It was important for the manufacturers to show that "the plane no longer exists just on paper, but is fleshed out in metal and up in the air."

The T-50, developed under the program PAK FA (Future Aviation System for Tactical Air Force) at the Sukhoi OKB, will be the jewel in the Russian Air Force's crown. The service has relied on the Mikoyan MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-27 family of combat aircraft as the core of its fighter force since the mid-1980s, but these aircraft are seen as approaching obsolescence.

The T-50 is Russia's first new major combat aircraft designed since the fall of the Soviet Union. When an operational fighter based on it is put into service, possibly as soon as 2015, it will be the Russian Air Force's first stealth aircraft, featuring low-observable technology that makes it almost impossible to detect with radar.

Like its U.S. counterpart, the F-22 Raptor, it will be able to cruise at supersonic speeds, and be capable of pulling high-G maneuvers that older aircraft cannot match thanks to thrust-vectoring exhaust nozzles and a hi-tech flight control system.

The T-50 made its first flight at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur factory airfield in Siberia in January, and since then two prototypes have been undergoing flight tests at the Zhukovsky flight test center near Moscow.

MAKS'11 [Part-1]


India's inches closer to its stealth fighter

Russia on Wednesday lifted the curtains on its Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter, the platform on which India's fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) will be based. In a major leap forward for the Indian Air Force's FGFA programme, a T-50 prototype blazed through the skies at the MAKS 2011 international airshow outside Moscow --- the stealth jet's first public appearance.

The Russian air force is expected to kick off induction of its version of the stealth fighter in 2016.

India and Russia are jointly designing and developing the FGFA at a cost of $35 billion (Rs 1,57,500 crore), the biggest military programme in the country's history.

India plans to have a fleet of 250-300 co-produced fifth-generation fighters ---equivalent to the US Air Force’s F-22 ‘Raptor’. The IAF hopes to begin inducting the FGFA in 2018. China’s J-20 stealth fighter project is unlikely to materialise before 2020.

The 30-tonne FGFA will be a swing-role fighter with stealth features, advanced avionics, smart weapons, top-end mission computers and 360-degree situational awareness. The fighter will also have supercruise ability, allowing it to fly at supersonic speeds without kicking in fuel-guzzling afterburners.

Two T-50 prototypes have flown 80 test sorties since January 2010. The prototypes have been used to expand the fighter’s flight envelope. A third prototype will begin flight trials by the year-end for mission systems testing.

Indian Sukhoi 30MKI to be upgraded into “Super Sukhoi”

Moscow: The Indian Sukhoi 30MKI fighter aircraft will be upgraded with certain fifth generation aircraft characteristics to convert it into a “Super Sukhoi”, Alexy Fedorov, President and Chairman of the Board of Irkut Corporation of Russia announced during the MAKS 2011 show here.

India has five squadrons of Sukhoi 30MKIs numbering around 100 aircraft which are to be upgraded into the “Super Sukhoi” format. The upgrade will apply not only to the aircraft in service with the Indian Air Force (IAF) but also to those yet to be delivered to India and to be licence-manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Fedorov said.

The upgrade will include a new cockpit, an upgraded radar and certain stealth characteristics to make it less visible to enemy radar than the present Sukhoi 30. Most significantly, the aircraft will be able to carry a heavier weapons load including the airborne version of the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile, he added.

Fedorov said the Super Sukhoi will be a potent aircraft similar in features to a fifth generation aircraft, however, he refused to provide s specific details of the upgrade stating that the exact nature of the upgrade was still to be decided between the Indian and Russian sides. Discussions are currently on regarding various aspects of the proposed upgrade, he said.

The Irkut chief did not provide any indication of the price of the upgrade project. However, going by the general cost trends of similar upgrades, the price could run close to a billion dollars. The Super Sukhoi would be a potent weapons platform offering both ground attack of precision targets and air superiority roles.

Indo-Russian fifth generation fighter likely to compete in South Korean tender

Moscow: The export version of Russia’s T-50 fifth-generation fighter, also called as the PAK-FA, is likely to compete in a South Korean tender for 60 fighter aircraft with advanced Stealth capability. The version is being jointly developed by India and Russia and will be ready to fly in 2016.

India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will be a major beneficiary of this procurement as many of the aircraft electronics systems are to developed in India as part of the workshare agreement between India and Russia. The two countries are sharing the development cost of the project estimated at US$35 billion.

A RiaNovosi report quoting an unnamed official of the Moscow based Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade said that the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) had expressed an interest in having the T-50 compete along with Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightening II Joint Strike Fighter, Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle and the Eurofighter Typhoon. A report from Seoul said that the DAPA is likely to issue request for proposals late next year for the acquisition to happen by 2016-17. The PAK-FA is expected to ready for delivery in 2016-17 for both the Russian and India Air Forces.

The PAK-FA is scheduled to make its first pubic appearance at the Moscow International Air Show (MAKS 2011) currently on in the Russian capital. Two prototypes of the aircraft have been making test flights since 2010.

India plans to induct the FGFA by 2017. Defence Minister A K Antony had said during the Aero India 2011 show, "the difficulties in joining this programme are over. We've signed a deal with the Russians, and we will see the FGFA inducted by 2017".

Mikhail Pogosyan, chief executive of Russia's United Aircraft Corp said during a brief media interaction here that the Indo-Russian fifth generation project was on track.

HAL team in Moscow to assess 5th gen fighter with Russia

Sukhoi T-50, the base platform of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) which is being jointly developed by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Russia, will make its first public appearance today at the MAKS Air Show in Moscow. The event has caused much excitement at HAL which is sending a delegation to Moscow for the event.

The HAL delegation headed by senior officials who are involved in the FGFA programme will attend the air show to witness Sukhoi T-50’s first public flight.

The Bangalore headquartered defence PSU is also among the participants at the MAKS Air Show.

HAL will be developing the FGFA along with Russia’s Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi Design Bureau (SDB), the latter being the manufacturers of the Sukhoi-30 MKIs which have substantially improved the strike capability of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The official website of the MAKS Air Show said that for the first time the T-50 (also known as PAK-FA fighter) would take part in a public flight display. The air show will be held till August 19.

The aircraft, which has already undergone a number of flight tests in Russia since its first flight in January 2010, will have advanced features such as stealth, super cruise, ultra-manoeuvrability, a highly integrated avionics suite, enhanced situational awareness, internal carriage of weapons and Network Centric Warfare capabilities.

The aircraft at the MAKS air show will be a single seat aircraft, but the FGFA being developed for India will be a two-seat version of the Sukhoi T-50.

A total of 500 aircraft will be developed by India and Russia initially with the two countries inducting 250 aircraft each.

The T-50 will be the major attraction in the air show which is expected to be attended by 30 countries, including the USA.

The T-50 will be keenly watched by the Americans as this Indo-Russia joint venture is said to be a global competitor to the US’s stealth aircraft - F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II.

Russian International News Agency (RIA) Novosti has reported that the aircraft has been placed on a shortlist of a South Korean tender for the delivery of advanced fighter jets.

The report added that Korea is seeking to buy 60 fighters with advanced stealth capability from “a foreign aircraft maker”.

The F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II are said to be the other competitors.

This apart, the US Senate Armed Services Committee is also pushing for a while to sell the F-35 Lightning II to India regardless of the Indo-Russian FGFA programme.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Safe Skies 2011

An Alabama F-16C taxis in front of Ukrainian SU-27s and MIG-29s, on the ramp at Mirgorod Air Base, Ukraine. This aircraft is the first Air National Guard fighter to ever land on Ukrainian soil in preparation for SAFE SKIES 2011, a joint Ukraine, Poland, U.S. aerial exchange event in Ukraine

More than 140 members of the Air National Guard landed aircraft in Ukraine, preparing for a U.S. European Command sponsored aerial military-to-military exchange event titled SAFE SKIES 2011.

A rainbow unit of Air National Guard airmen comprised of members from Alabama, California, Washington and Massachusetts flew into a base that until the July 15 had only seen use by Mig-29s and Su-27s. Following the advance teams of maintenance and support personnel, seven F-16Cs from Alabama and Iowa cut through the calm, blue Ukrainian sky. The F-16Cs were among the first American Fighter Jets to ever touchdown in this former soviet-bloc country.

These National Guard airmen are part of the State Partnership program which will play a major role in SAFE SKIES 2011, a joint U.S., Ukraine and Polish event where by the Air National Guard pilots will fly engagements with Ukrainian Su-27, Mig-29s and Polish F-16s on Air Sovereignty operations in preparation for the 2012 Olympics and 2012 EUROCup and 2014 Winter Games in Europe. This event is co-sponsored by U.S. European Command, with an overall goal of promoting and enhancing multinational cooperation in an effort to promote airspace security

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Russian fifth-generation fighter to make first public flight at Moscow air show

Russia's Sukhoi T-50 fifth-generation fighter, also known as PAK-FA, will perform its first public flight at the MAKS-2011 air show near Moscow in August, Nikolai Zanegin, Deputy General Director of Russia's Aviasalon company, said on Wednesday.

“Numerous visitors will see the fifth-generation fighter in the sky for the first time ever at the air show,” Zanegin said in an interview with Russian magazine National Defense.

The Sukhoi T-50 fighter is being developed by the Sukhoi design bureau and built at a plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in Russia's Far East.

The first prototype conducted its maiden flight in January 2010 and has so far carried out over 40 test flights. Two more prototypes are at various stages of testing. The Russian Air Force has said it had plans to acquire over 60 T-50 fighters after 2015.

Although the T-50’s specifications remain classified, reports indicate that the design incorporates the latest fighter jet developments, including advanced stealth capability, supersonic cruising speed, and integrated control and avionics systems.

Military experts say that the T-50 will compete with the Lockheed Martin F-22, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and the Eurofighter Typhoon from the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS).

The MAKS-2011 air show will be held at Zhukovsky outside Moscow on August 16-21. In all, 627 companies, including 473 Russian and 154 foreign, have registered to take part in the
air show as of June 1.

After the P-8, India wants to unmanned systems for maritime surveillance

During Aero India 2011, we had the privilege to have a discussion with Admiral (Retired) U.S. Navy (USN) Walter Doran, who is currently the president of Raytheon Asia. Briefly touched upon in discussing the emerging strategic partnership between the Indian Navy (IN) with the United States Navy (USN) in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and some future scenarios.

In fact, cooperation between various services, close cooperation and synergy between the IN and USN have progressed to the extent that such a kind of cooperation has the potential to transform India into one of the closest allies of the United States on a par with Britain Britain, Israel and Japan, and, implicitly, put it as a privileged strategic partner in Asia Pacific.

While surveillance systems in the state of art are simultaneously entering service in the IN and USN in the form of MMA (Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft) Boeing P-8 Poseidon and, potentially, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (AEW & C ), there was another action of the most significant strategic point of view. Is that Northrop Grumman received and responded to a Request for Information (RFI) of the Indian Ministry of Defense for Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (MCA), an unmanned aerial system (UAS) for the IN (after have obtained necessary clearances from the U.S. Government).

The BAMS UAS MQ-4C (formerly known as the RQ-4N) is a modified version for recognition of the maritime RQ-4 Global Hawk, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for High Altitude and Long Term (HALE), already proven in combat.

More Pictures of F-35 at Edwards Airforce Base...

F-35 at Edwards Airforce Base...