The Eurofighter Typhoon IPA5 has arrived at Farnborough carrying precious cargo. Beneath the nose radome is the first flight- test example of the Euroradar Captor-E WFoR (wide field of regard) electronically-scanned radar. The sensor was installed only recently and, after a few shakedown flights, the aircraft was ferried south from BAE Systems’ airfield at Warton, Lancashire, for the show.
Defense » Military Aircraft
News and issues relating to the defense aerospace business, with emphasis on current/in-use, in-development and prospective programs for manned military aircraft and unmanned combat aircraft vehicles (UCAVs).
Nine heavy hitters from the Lockheed Martin F-35 program fronted Tuesday’s media briefing here at Farnborough. But even three senior Pentagon officials, one Air Force general and five industry chiefs could not conjure the actual hardware–although the good news at the show yesterday was that the F-35 was given clearance to fly with “a restricted flight envelope.” The four F-35Bs slated to fly to the UK were have been grounded at NAS Patuxent River after a June 23 engine fire at Eglin AFB in Florida.
Textron’s Lycoming Engines division has found new markets for its man-rated piston engines in the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) segment. For Lycoming, which is celebrating its 85th year manufacturing aircraft engines, its participation in current UAS developments isn’t the company’s first foray into providing engines for unmanned aircraft.
The two huge hangars at Cardington airfield, 50 miles north of London, stand as witness to the golden age of the airships in the 1930s. Inside one of them, a successor to those giants of the sky is being prepared for flight. British company Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) is pursuing the goal held by so many proponents of lighter-than-air (LTA) and related technology for so many years. The goal of revolutionizing the air cargo market–and maybe also the persistent surveillance market–with buoyant lift.
Roger Munk’s sudden and untimely death in February 2010 at the age of 62 robbed the airship industry of a true pioneer. He had led a series of British companies specializing in lighter-than-air technology (LTA) for nearly 40 years. HAV was his latest company, founded in 2007 to take forward the hybrid concepts that, he eventually concluded, offered more promise for the future than conventional airships. Before that, his life had been starred with technical success and marred with financial failure.
In recent years, major aerospace companies such as BAE Systems, Boeing and EADS have all expressed interest in lighter-than-air and hybrid air vehicles, for ISR and remote heavy airlift applications. But apart from HAV, only Lockheed Martin (LM) has progressed beyond the drawing board.
In the 1990s, prompted by Fred Smith of Federal Express, the renowned Skunk Works in Palmdale, California, studied concepts for a huge cargo-carrying hybrid named the Aerocraft.
Not to be confused with the Aerocraft that was designed by the Skunk Works in the 1990s (see box, “The Road Not Needed”), the Aeroscraft is promoted by Aeroscraft Corp., which is led by entrepreneur and inventor Igor Pasternak. It is a very large rigid airship for cargo transport that Pasternak proposes to build in two sizes. The ML866 would be 555 feet long and carry 66 tons; while the ML868 would be 770 feet long and carry 250 tons.
Alenia Aermacchi (Outdoor Exhibit 1) delivered the first two M-346 advanced trainers to the Israel Air and Space Force last week. The two aircraft were ferried from Alenia Aermacchi’s factory at Varese-Venegono, northwest of Milan, to their new home at the Hatzerim air base near Be’er Sheva in the Negev desert. Upon receipt of the aircraft, Israel became the third nation to operate the M-346, after Italy and Singapore.
The integration of new weapons on some combat aircraft has become so expensive that European Defence Agency (EDA) held a workshop to discuss the problem. But Saab (Hall 4 Stand E5 and Chalet C35) has some helpful suggestions, based on its experience with the Gripen. The Swedish fighter served as the development platform for the Iris-T and Meteor air-to-air missiles, and other weapons were successfully added on time and budget.
In response to increased scrutiny of armed UAV operations by human rights groups, British legislators and the United Nations, the British Ministry of Defence (UK MoD) has stepped up efforts to reassure the public. Late last year, it allowed media (including AIN) access to the Royal Air Force Reaper ground control station (GCS) at RAF Waddington for the first time. New documents describing UK operational procedures, including targeting, have been released. The UK is one of only three countries to have fired weapons from UAVs in combat, the others being Israel and the U.S.