Britain and France are planning to spend over $2 billion in order to plan and develop a FCAS or Future Combat Air System. This Future Combat Air System could replace the current-generation European fighters. The current-generation European fighters have a time frame of 2030. The agreement between Britain and France was made in March 3, 2016.
France’s Dassault Aviation is in charge of leading Britain’s development of the Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle.
The last agreement was during a meet with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande at the defense summit in Amiens, France. During the meet, the two parties agreed to contribute a total of over $1 billion to the Future Combat Air System.
Not only is Britain and France working together, but some of the companies residing in the countries as well. This includes Thales, Dassault, and Snecma in France, as well as Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, and Finmeccanica Airborne and space Systems in the UK.
Michael Fallon, British Defense Secretary, talks about the Future Combat Air System during a statement that was released during the summit.
“The Future Combat Air System project will give the UK and France the most advanced vehicle of its kind in Europe, securing high-end engineering jobs and expertise in both countries with full-scale development of prototypes starting in 2017.”
Dassault CEO and Charman Eric Trappier chimes in and talks about how he feels about the project. According to Ain Online, Trappier was “delighted at the two countries’ shared intention to pursue cooperation in military aviation, and particularly to launch a new phase in 2017 with the ‘scale 1’ development of a UCAS operational demonstrator.”
NASA’s super plan is being referred to as “X-plane” or “experimental supersonic”. This plane will be able to move passengers 2 times faster than the speed of sound, Mach 2.04. Back in 2003, super planes have been taken out of service. The last super plane serviced was the Concorde. These new super planes will allow traveling across the Atlantic Ocean duration times to be cut in half, compared to original conventional jets.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. was awarded $20 million over 17 months to complete the first designs for “Quiet Supersonic Technology”. This technology reduces the loud booming noise that is associated with supersonic flight. A soft thump will be the new “heartbeat” of these “X-planes”
NASA states that the design and build will take several years to complete a demonstration aircraft with the $20 million award. Lockheed and a few subcontractors from GE Aviation will work closely together to ensure that the demonstration plane will be built around GE Aviation engines, with flight testing to begin in 2020.
Charles Bolden, NASA administrator believes that “NASA is working hard to make flight greener, safer, and quieter - all while developing aircraft and travel faster”. He hopes with the cooperation of both Lockheed and GE Aviation team create an aviation system that will help operate more efficiently.
CEO of Samson Motors, Sam Bousfield has produced something astonishing in the advancements of flying sports cars. The Switchblade is a flying car that has aerial and everyday driving capabilities.
His vision of
“landing at an airport, pushing a button to stow wings and tail and drive to your destination”
is coming to reality. Sam has found a way of stowing the wings in the belly of the Switchblade. This is being protected by the shell of the doors. This prevents foreign road objects coming in contact with the wings while the vehicle is on the ground moving.
Sam has developed a sophisticated two hinged beam system that is connected to one side of each wing and then connected to each side of the vehicles body. Accompanying these hinges are beams for each of the wings. The wings are motorized, which allows them to be pushed in and/or pulled out easily.
The Switchblade is first of its kind, where wings or tails do not have to be removed completely from the vehicle while in ground transportation. Other flying cars, there are parts that need to be stored away from the vehicle, sometimes left at the airport after landing.
Sam wanted to the ability to fly, land, and drive easily and not worry about parts being left behind. He designed the Switchblade that would
“provide high performance on the ground, as well as high performance in the air”.
The Switchblade was being tested for the past 2 years in Central Oregon, where composite aircraft production is significantly ongoing. Sam believes that these auto/aircrafts will be the new era in transportation, he states “It is not just change, it is a true evolution.”
The Department of Defense (DOD) has recently unveiled their plans for development of a repurposed arsenal plane which would be capable of carrying large amounts of missiles as well as bombs into battle. This arsenal plane is hoped to fly alongside modern combat aircrafts such as the Lockheed Martin F-35. The DOD also plans on investing in resilient and fast micro drones which can deploy from fighter jets while travelling at Mach 0.9, while having the capabilities of flying through strong crosswinds.
These plans fall under an initiative known as the Third Offset Strategy. America believes that such technology will put the country ahead of its opponents in future combat. Both projects were first announced by the United States Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, during a budget speech.
“[Arsenal plane] takes one of our oldest aircraft platforms, and turns it into a flying launch pad for all sorts of different conventional payloads,” said Carter. “In practice, the arsenal plane will function as a very large airborne magazine, networked to fifth-generation aircraft that acts as forward sensor and targeting nodes – essentially combining different systems already in our inventory to create wholly new capabilities.”
Carter stated that the micro drones had already been demonstrated in 2015 during an operational exercise held in Alaska. The micro drones are built with commercially available aircraft components and are printed through additive manufacturing. Carter did not disclose if the micro drones were explosive, though they are capable of being launched by hand from soldiers on the battlefield.
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Another barrier has been broken through in the aerospace engineering field. SpaceX announced that they have successful implemented a way to reignite the first-stage booster stage and bring it back down to Earth after having launched it. Sounds confusing? That’s because it is. Not only is it complicated, it’s also incredibly difficult to accomplish as well.
A SpaceX member likened it akin to “Launching a pencil over the Empire State Building, putting it in reverse, and having it come back down and land on a shoebox on the ground in a wind storm.”
This amazing achievement comes on the heels of the disastrous June 28 launch that created a long shadow of doubt as well as scrutiny over SpaceX after the company’s launch destroyed a company’s supply ship christened Dragon which was intended for the International Space Station. The success of the Falcon 9 booster has been credited mostly due to a substantial increase in the upper stage engine bell, a more powerful thrust boost and deep cryo oxidizers which are designed to increase performance as well as redundancy in effectiveness.
With plans to dramatically reduce the cost of space launches, SpaceX has plans to reuse it Falcon 9 rocket with the intention of rebooting live tests and experiments on its Grasshopper test rig. This has marked the ending of a wildly successful year for SpaceX culminating in the first flight of the Falcon 9 upgrade and landing the rocket back on land at Cape Canaveral. Onlookers as well as SpaceX employees were captured celebrating and chanting “U.S.A, U.S.A, U.S.A!” Earlier this year Blue Origin made history by recovering it’s suborbital launch vehicle New Shepard which came one month prior to SpaceX’s landing of the booster stage. SpaceX has been approved by the US Air Force to carry national security space modules and has plans to return to routine operations following the improvements to the Falcon 9.
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The first details and information on the unmade air vehicle, coined the Impact, has been given to Flightglobal to release to the public. This unmanned air vehicle has been developed on Meteor Aerospace. Meteor Aerospace is a privately owned Israeli company that was formed in central Israel in 2013.
Meteor Aerospace is trying its best to keep its public exposure to a minimum. The company is even taking precautionary measures to avoid trade shows and limiting announcements. One of the executives at Meteor Aerospace makes a brief comment. “We’re still flying under the radar.”
Flightglobal was able to find out a little bit more details. The Impact will have a high endurance and will be flown at a medium altitude. The Impact will also be able to carry over a 300-pound payload. This is possible because the Impact has a roughly a 100hp fuel injection engine with a flight endurance of over 24h.
Itzhak Nissan, the Meteor Aerospace’s initiative co-founder and chief executive worked at Israel Aerospace Industries for many years. Israel Aerospace Industries is considered the nation’s biggest UAV manufacturer. Nissan stepped away from Israel Aerospace Industries approximately three years ago even though the company had a backlog of over $9 billion. After stepping away, Nissan worked with Hezi Bezalel, an Israeli businessman, in order to be co-founder of Meteor Aerospace.
The company has received orders on the Impact along with options valuing at over $100 million and other systems valued over $75 million. However, Nissan has decided to not disclose any more information other than that there are other potential customers that are in the works of closing deals.
Here is what Nissan has to say about Impact and his company. “Coming to the defense market with a new company makes sense only if you bring new and innovative products. You can’t claim your place among the well-established industry giants if you offer more of the same.”
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The Boeing Company has recently awarded ViaSat Inc., a global provider of secure networking services and high-speed satellite broadband services covering commercial and military markets, a contract for the production of around 90 Link 16 Small Tactical Terminals (STT). These Small Tactical Terminals will be used for the Lots 5 and 6 on the production line for the AH-64E Apache Guardian Attach Helicopter.
The AH-64 Apache is used by the United States Army as well as various other international defense forces and is the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter. The contract awarded by Boeing will cover the full-rate of STT production for Apache helicopters for the next two years. The STT has also been chosen by the United States Government as the long-term radio solution for Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) and Link 16 capability for the AH-64E Apache helicopters. The loyalty to the STT is due to the terminal’s capabilities to save the United States government around $250M while simultaneously meeting the ongoing needs of current warfighters over the life of the program.
"The AH-64E Apache award is a significant milestone for ViaSat in that it enables us to deliver critical communications capabilities for Army aviation while providing a logistically common solution for Link 16 needs across multiple applications," said the general manager and senior vice president of the Government Systems.
Division at ViaSat, Ken Peterman. "Our strategy in the defense market has been to recognize critical warfighter needs and apply our commercial model to develop inventive solutions with availability years ahead of, and at a fraction of the total cost of traditional DoD programs of record. We see this AH-64E Apache award as validation for our strategy and a key first step in laying the groundwork for future terminals that will provide key operational data to warfighters but in form factors previously considered unimaginable."
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European regulators for aviation have plans of doing inspection on many of the AS 350s and other helicopters manufactured by the Airbus Group SE. Some of the inspections are done to test whether or not a replacement for specific parts are needed due to their nature of commonly cracking.
In doing so, European regulators are able to prevent potentially lethal helicopter failures that would be related to the main gearbox or its components.
The AS 350 is a popular choice among the law enforcement, commercial operations, and air ambulance services.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has announced the issuing of the safety mandates on Friday January 22, 2016. This safety mandate covers the main gearbox casings and components in the AS 350. In doing so, it has been predicted that over 3000 Airbus rotorcrafts that will be affected by this. Of the 3000 Airbus rotorcrafts, 1,000 will be registered in the US.
The AS 350 chopper is considered a light utility helicopter which originated in France. The AS 350 was first introduced in 1975 after its first flight in June 26, 1974. On its first flight, the AS 350 was using a Lycoming LTS101 turboshaft engine. This first flight took place in Marignane, France. Today, it still uses the Lycoming LTS101 turboshaft engine. Other variants of the AS 350 use the Turbomeca Arriel powerplant. This turbomeca is mainly used in the twin-engine variant.
Since its inception, there has be over 3,500 that have been built. Its primary users include the Royal Jordanian Air Force, Australian Defense Force, and Brazilian Air Force. Its unit coast is roughly around $2 million USD.
The AS 350 can be designed in different configurations that include seating 4 to 6 passengers with sliding doors on either side of the seats.
Most of the avionics in the AS 350 are supplied by Garmin.
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Boeing and the United States Air Force recently completed the first successful refueling over the state of Washington with a KC-46A tanker.
The F-16C fighter jet took in 1,600 pounds of fuel while flying 20,000 feet above ground. The F-16’s light lasted nearly six hours, meaning a mid-air refuel would be necessary. The refueling operators stayed in contact with the Air Force throughout, making sure they knew exactly when the fuel was needed. Master Sergeant Lindsay Moon was in charge of extending the fifty-six-foot boom into the jet’s receptacle. The exchange went smoothly, as planned.
Controlling the boom from the KC-46A’s air refueling operator station “is night and day different from laying on your belly in a KC-135,” said Moon.
Other crew members included Lieutenant Colonel Donevan Rein - who was piloting the aircraft - and Ricky Kahler, the air refueling operator. They are part of the 418th Flight Test Squadron in Seattle.
The first refueling flight was scheduled for late last year, but delays caused it to be pushed back until January 2016. This test run was a prerequisite for the USAF’s “Milestone C” decision that will begin low-rate production of the KC-46A.
“Program officials anticipate awarding the first production contract shortly thereafter,” the service said.
The KC-46 is 165 feet in length, with a wingspan of 157 feet. The ninety ton aircraft has a payload of 65,000 pounds, and can reach a max speed of 650 miles per hour. A three man crew is used to operate it - two pilots, plus one person to operate the boom.
Subsequent tests will use an A-10 Thunderbolt II for the light/slow receiver, as well as a C-17 Globemaster for the heavy receiver. They must also show it can take fuel from a KC-10 extender.
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Mark Huffman, a consumer news reporter for Consumer Affairs, released an article about the future of self-flying aircrafts. Unmanned aerial vehicles or more commonly known as drones, have been a popular item as of recent. Chinese manufacturer Ehang, has launched the world’s first electric personal autonomous aerial vehicle. Ehang put the autonomous aerial vehicle on display during the Consumer Electronics show which grabbed the attention of many visitors. The autonomous aerial vehicle’s presence dominated the carmakers and their earth-bound autonomous vehicles at the event. The autonomous aerial vehicle is called the Ehang 184.
The autonomous aerial vehicle is controlled through an accompanying smartphone app. The user enters a destination and the autonomous aerial vehicle does the task. The passenger does not need a pilot’s license to operate this, nor is it required.
As of now, Ehang has designed the autonomous aerial vehicle to fly only short to medium distances. However, Ehang has high hopes for the product as it has the potential to penetrate into the transportation, medical care, retail, and shipping industry.Huazhi Hu, the CEO of Ehang, speaks about his passion for the Ehang 184.
"It's been a lifetime goal of mine to make flight faster, easier and more convenient than ever. The 184 provides a viable solution to the many challenges the transportation industry faces in a safe and energy efficient way."
The name, “184” in Ehang 184 comes from the design of the autonomous aerial vehicle. The Ehang 184 is for one passenger and consists of eight propellers and four arms. To enhance the Ehang 184, the company is building a 24-hour flight command center that will be responsive to all of the flying vehicles. The command center is able to stop vehicles from taking off during extreme weather conditions as a precaution if necessary.
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