The U.S. Air Force will proceed with a service life extension program (SLEP) and avionics upgrade of 300 to 350 F-16 Fighting Falcons to compensate for an expected two-year slip in operational readiness of the F-35A Lightning II, service leaders told the U.S. Congress on November 2.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has gone to sea for the first time. An F-35B short-takeoff vertical landing (STOVL) version landed on the small U.S. aircraft carrier Wasp on October 3 at the start of a two-week trial during which 67 takeoffs and landings are scheduled. Some observers have raised concerns about the potential for damage to carrier decks from the aircraft’s F135 engine. It develops 39,400 pounds of thrust in the hover and 38,100 pounds of thrust in short takeoff.
Civilian and military leaders of the U.S. Air Force outlined priorities they plan to defend against potentially severe budget cuts, citing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, remotely piloted aircraft and a future long-range bomber specifically, among other systems and capabilities.
Sikorsky announced yesterday that the third prototype of the S-76D medium-twin helicopter joined the test fleet, having made its first flight probably in July or August, AIN understands. Sikorsky had planned to reach this milestone early this year. “D3” will be used for avionics and electrical system certification.
Flight tests of the Lockheed Martin F-35 resumed after a two-week grounding. The Joint Program Office (JPO) said that the failure of a control valve had led to the malfunction of the aircraft’s Integrated Power Package (IPP), supplied by Honeywell. But an investigation continues, while a permanent resolution of the problem is being worked, the JPO added.
Sikorsky’s X2 technology demonstrator, a high-speed semi-compound helicopter, flew for the last time on July 14 at the company’s West Palm Beach, Fla. test center, in front of a number of the manufacturer’s military and commercial customers. The sortie took place without the central hub fairing (also known as an “aero sail”), which will not be tested in flight.
Sikorsky flew its X2 technology demonstrator for the last time at its West Palm Beach, Fla. test center last week in front of some of the company’s military and commercial customers. Contrary to previously announced plans, the semi-compound helicopter, which features two contra-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller, flew without its central hub fairing.
A report by the UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) has listed some risks arising from the decision by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to switch its Joint Strike Fighter selection from the F-35B STOVL (short takeoff and vertical landing) version to the F-35C carrier version.
They both deny it, but helicopter manufacturers Sikorsky and Eurocopter have clearly reignited the speed race between their respective semi-compound X2 and compound X3 demonstrators. The X2 will fly again this summer, this time with its full rotor hub fairing. Sikorsky officials last week said that the test will be oriented primarily toward understanding how the “aero sail” behaves in certain conditions.
Sikorsky and General Electric have signed a teaming agreement under which GE Aviation will provide CT7-8 engines for Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider prototype development program. The Raider is a high-speed, high-agility next-generation helicopter drawing on the company’s X2 technology, and which is aimed at providing an armed aerial scout for the U.S. Army, among other applications.