Lockheed's Plan To Bring Its Version Of The Airbus A330 Tanker To America

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Lockheed Martin's proposed LMXTs will start life as A330 aircraft assembled at Airbus' plant in Mobile, Alabama. Those planes will then head to Lockheed Martin's facility in Marietta, Georgia for conversion into tankers inside a facility that it previously used to do modernization work on C-5 Galaxy transport planes if it wins a forthcoming U.S. Air Force contract. The company revealed this and other aspects of its proposed plans for actually assembling and converting LMXTs, as well as additional details about the aircraft's U.S.-specific configuration. 

Larry Gallogly, the Director of the LMXT Program at Lockheed Martin, laid out the company's current plans for the LMXT  The company formally announced last September that it would submit this aircraft, a U.S.-specific derivative of the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport, or MRTT, in response to the U.S. Air Force's requirement for additional tankers to "bridge the gap" between the end of its planned purchases of Boeing KC-46A Pegasuses and the acquisition of a still largely undefined advance future aerial refueling aircraft. This interim tanker program is commonly referred to as both the Bridge Tanker and KC-Y.

Cracks in tails of RCAF Cyclone helicopters 

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16th December 2021

Cracks in the tails of 19 Royal Canadian Air Force Cyclone helicopters are a cause for concern, says an expert.

Michael Byers, a professor and defence policy analyst at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said the cracks could be indicative of much larger problems with the aircraft.

"Each of these helicopters costs more than $150 million, and the oldest helicopter in the fleet is only five years old," he said on Sunday. "So the fact that there is this problem does raise some very serious concerns as to the quality of the helicopters, the safety of the helicopters."

Only two of Canada's 23 Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopters are currently fit to fly. The rest of the multibillion-dollar fleet is in need of repair.

On Nov. 26, cracks were found in the tail of one of the helicopters at 12 Wing Shearwater in Dartmouth, N.S. Because of this, the rest of the fleet was examined and most of the helicopters were found to be compromised.

6ARW 91ARS at MacDill AFB to Receive 24 KC-46A

On 21 December 2021, the Department of the Air Force selected MacDill AFB (FL), as the preferred location to host the next active duty Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aircraft.

The decision was made after conducting site surveys that assessed locations based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support, environmental considerations and cost.

Once chosen, it is expected that twenty-four KC-46As will replace the active duty 6th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotankers at MacDill.

The new Air Mobility Command tankers will bring many enhanced capabilities, such as boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie, worldwide navigations and communication, cargo capacity on the entire main deck floor, receiver air refueling, improved force protection, and multi-point air refueling capability.

A final basing decision will be made after an environmental impact analysis, which is expected to take place in fall 2023. Fairchild AFB (WA), is considered a reasonable alternative and will also undergo an environmental impact analysis. As it stands now, there will be 179 Pegasus aircraft in USAF's inventory by 2029.

Air Force Says KC-46 Is A “Lemon” That It’s Trying To                                    Make Lemonade Out Of

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The U.S. Air Force has described its bedeviled KC-46A Pegasus tanker as a “lemon,” amid ongoing problems that prevent it from performing its primary aerial refuelling mission on a day-to-day basis. Now the Air Force is trying to find other ways to make use of these aircraft, of which it has already received 42 examples located at four operating bases.

With deliveries set to continue at a rate of two aircraft per month, the service is now looking to put the Pegasus to work by fast-tracking at least some of the aircraft already delivered into “limited operations,” but probably not involving its core mission set of aerial refuelling.

Nevertheless, the move could enable the Pegasus to at least provide some utility during real-world operations as the Air Force counts down to the declaration of full operational capability, which won’t happen until late 2023 or 2024 at the earliest.

“As I look over the 10 years, I have to say… right now where we’re at in the program is we’re making lemonade out of lemons,” General Jacqueline Van Ovost, the head of Air Mobility Command, told members of the press, as reported by the Defence One website.

The embarrassing setbacks that have become an all-too-familiar aspect of the next-generation tanker program were also highlighted yesterday in an unusually candid tweet from the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), which admitted that problems with the tanker put “America’s ability to effectively execute day-to-day operations and war plans at risk.”  

General Van Ovost said that work on the RVS isn’t expected to be complete until “late 2023.” Of course, when the RVS fix is finalized, it will still take time to integrate it into all the existing aircraft as well as to train the personnel to use it. All of this will combine to push back the timeline for when the KC-46s will actually be viable tankers for full-spectrum combat operations. 

The persistent difficulties the KC-46 is having in its ability to master aerial refuelling suggest that the formal move to a limited operational capability will still see the Pegasus flying more, but in non-tanking missions.

As well as being configured to refuel American, allied, and coalition military aircraft, the KC-46A has always been designed to carry passengers and cargo, as well as patients in an aeromedical role. More recently, the Pegasus has also been tested as a command and control platform hosting the Advanced Battle Management System, or ABMS, which you can read more about here and here. All these mission options have already been flown in at least an evaluation capacity, and could potentially be expanded into more regular operations, too.

BY THOMAS NEWDICK

Israel in talks to sell F-16 fighters to Canada's Top Aces

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* Update to Ex Israel F-16 to Top Aces *

The deal has been finalized for the acquisition of the Israeli F-16s 

On 27 January 2021, the first batch of three F-16As (serials 129, 220 and 250) and one F-16B (serial 017) were being prepared at Tel Aviv airport for there trip to Mesa Arizona USA and loaded into a Antonov Airlines An-124 UR-82029. and arrived into Mesa on the 28 January 2021

The Israeli Defence Ministry is in talks to sell 29 decommissioned F-16A/B 'Netz' fighters to Canadian private contractor Top Aces. The deal is worth $ 100 million (approx. $ 3.5 million per aircraft) and is set to be the largest of its kind ever.

These aircraft were acquired by the Israeli Air Force in the late 1970s and the last of them were withdrawn from service in 2016.

They are extensively battle tested due to the several operations in which the Israeli Air Force has taken part. The best known at home is Operation "Opera" in which the Nezts destroyed a nuclear reactor in 1981 by flying "in open space" against SAM anti-aircraft batteries. Also in the same year, a Netz destroyed a Syrian Mil-Mi 8 helicopter as the first aircraft shot down by an F-16 in the world. 

 

Israel withdrew the A/B variant of the type following the introduction of the more modern C/D. Subsequently, the nation has put up for sale forty Netz fighters which are also targeted by Croatia.

Top Aces has already announced for some time the entry of the F-16 into its fleet. 

 

"As part of its future fleet, Top Aces intends to introduce the F16 which is considered by many to be the most agile fighter aircraft of its generation. Its superior speed, acceleration, manoeuvrability, small visual and radar signature, and ability to integrate advanced sensors and threat systems have made it the aircraft of choice for the USAF and USN Aggressor fleets since 1988," the company says.

 

If the deal is finalized, the former IAF F-16s will join Top Aces' Alpha Jet and Skyhawk aircraft to provide adversary air service to the company's customers. Top Aces has over 40 fighter pilots who come from the Canadian, German and American armed forces and 80% of them are Top Gun Fighter Weapons School graduates.

 

Written by Matteo Sanzani

Photo Credit: Israeli Air Force

US Air National Guard selects next C-130J locations

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The Air National Guard has identified the bases for new C-130J Super Hercules cargo aircraft.

The three sites will eventually be home to a combined 24 aircraft, replacing older C-130H aircraft.

The sites are:

  • Savannah Air Guard Station, Georgia (165th Airlift Wing);

  • Louisville Air Guard Station, Kentucky (123rd Airlift Wing);

  • Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas (136th Airlift Wing);

 

During site surveys, The Air Force teams looked at mission, capacity, cost and environmental factors for each location, according to a spokesman for the Air Guard.

 

The candidate sites were selected by the Air Guard and approved by the Air Force secretary.

The 24 aircraft include 16 planes that NGAUS convinced Congress to add to defence budgets in recent years. Another eight aircraft were previously set to replace A-10 Thunderbolt IIs in Maryland but are being redirected because the fiscal 2021 defence budget request retains Air Guard A-10s at Martin State Airport in Middle River, Maryland.

The Air Guard currently has 17 C-130 wings located in 17 states. Each wing has between 1,100 and 1,200 personnel.

In all, two Guard wings fly the newer C-130J while the others fly the C-130H. Some of the older model planes were originally built in 1971 and, in recent years, have been the subject of modernization efforts upgrading avionics, engines and propellers. That work continues, but is in some jeopardy due the Air Force prioritizing the purchase of more advanced aircraft.

Out of the Air Force’s fleet of 309 C-130s, just under half, or 149, are flown by the Guard.

 

The Guard flies 133 H-model planes and 16 J-models. The active component flies 108 J-models. And the Air Force Reserve flies 42 H-models and 10 J-models.

Lockheed Martin Delivers 123 F-35s In 2020

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Lockheed Martin announced on 31st December 2020 that it has delivered its 123rd F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft this year. The aircraft, an F-35A, was built at the company’s Final Assembly and Checkout (FACO) facility in Cameri, Italy, and delivered to the Italian air force last week.

According to Lockheed Martin, 74 F-35s went to the U.S. military, 31 to international partner nations and 18 to foreign military sales customers.

“The F-35 joint enterprise team rapidly responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to deliver the unmatched combat capability the F-35 brings to the Warfighter,” said Bill Brotherton, Lockheed Martin acting vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. “Achieving this milestone amid a global pandemic is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the team and their commitment to our customers’ missions.”

Citing supplier delays related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,

Lockheed Martin decided last May to reduce its original goal of delivering 141 F-35s in 2020 to 117-123 aircraft. The company reports that there are currently more than 600 F-35s in operation around the world with 1,200 pilots trained on the aircraft. The F-35 fleet has currently logged more than 350,000 flight hours.

Three King Air 350ER Aircraft for Canadian Armed Forces Under MAISR Project

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L3Harris Technologies has been awarded a firm-fixed price contract to missionize three new King Air 350ER aircraft for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) under the manned airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (MAISR) project.

The contract is being executed under the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program and is managed by the U.S. Army, Program Executive Office (PEO) Aviation, Fixed Wing Project Office. The contract was awarded via the Other Transaction Authority (OTA) competitive procurement process.

The MAISR project will provide the Canadian Armed Forces, specifically Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM), with a rapidly deployable, airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability for its deployed operations, ensuring an innovative, flexible and interoperable force.

The aircraft will feature a suite of L3Harris systems, including full-motion video sensors, a mission management system and communication datalinks. The capability upgrades offer increased threat indications and warning, as well as high-accuracy target detection and location.

“Our L3Harris team is ready to combine our ISR, missionization and modification solutions to deliver a system that will enhance the capabilities and security of Canada and its allies,” said Sean Stackley, President, Integrated Mission Systems, L3Harris. “L3Harris has the distinction of successfully delivering more certified, special mission King Airs on-time and on-budget than any other contractor in the world, and we look forward to maintaining that tradition.”

Missionization on the aircraft will include sensors integration, secure communications and navigation systems, as well as pilot, operator and maintenance training. L3Harris will complete the modifications at its facility in Greenville, Texas, supported by the company’s facility in Mirabel (Quebec), Canada.

The fully integrated is expected to be delivered to the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) in 2022.

 

The aircraft will be based at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton in Ontario.

The acquisition of the aircraft and mission systems with related support under the FMS program was approved by the U.S. State Department in October 2018. The three Beechcraft King Air 350ER (Extended Range) platforms are being delivered by Textron Aviation Inc. under an FMS contract awarded in December 2019.

  RSAF KC-135R Stratotankers get new lease of life

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The First of  four ex Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) KC-135Rs arrived at Ontario airport CA on September 30th 2020 N573MA. The other registrations, N569MA, N571MA and N572MA .

Reports suggest that Aerospace Management company Meta Aerospace has bought this aircraft, as well as three others that Singapore retired last year.

The sale comes as the U.S. Air Force is actively exploring multiple potential plans to hire contractors to provide badly needed aerial refuelling support for non-combat activities.

With the recent KC-46A Pegasus delays and the increasing age and the pressure on the USAF's existing fleet of air-to-air refuelling aircraft, this would be a welcome relief.

The RSAF tankers are equipped with a boom as well as a probe-and-drogue system which makes them even more versatile for a civilian operator, especially since the US Navy is already using private contractors for some time.

The recent retirement or the airframes, and high maintenance standard of these four aircraft means they are a useful asset to a third party operator.

Also, purchasing non-US military hardware means they don’t have to be de-militarized, making these four ex-RSAF tankers even more valuable for an existing operator and little conversion is required post acquisition.

USAF squadrons amidst political turmoil            United States versus Germany

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In a surprise move on 29 July 2020, the Pentagon stated it will begin winding down US operations at Germany’s Spangdahlem Air Base by pulling out the F-16 Fighting Falcon squadron. Furthermore, they are cancelling plans to move special operations MC-130J Commando IIs and MV-22B Ospreys from RAF Mildenhall (UK) to Spangdahlem. Also the plan of moving KC-135R Stratotankers from Mildenhall to Ramstein Air Base seems to be halted.

Having threatened to pull out troops for years now, the feud between the US and Germany now seems to have peaked after years of German Defence austerity measures and controversy over the German nuclear task under NATO flag. Spangdahlem's 480th Fighter Squadron, named the "Warhawks", part of the 52nd Fighter Wing, is now slated to become one of the 31st Fighter Wing units, based at Aviano Air Base (Italy).

It was stated that the US Defence Department will move 11,900 servicemen from American military installations across Germany, including 6,400 whose jobs which would return to the Continental United States (CONUS). What will become of Spangdahlem is still unclear. Meanwhile, two wings that had planned to move to Spangdahlem and Ramstein will now stay put.

 

The Statement said Both the 100th Air Refuelling Wing and the 352nd Special Operations Wing will remain in the UK . In due time, the USAF will not have any fighter jets left in Germany. Ramstein Air Base's situation will be unaffected and will be the largest USAF hub in Germany. 

Boeing's New F-15EX Eagle Fighter Jets

                For the US Air Force

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The US Congress approved funding for a total of eight F-15EX's in the Fiscal Year 2020 defense budget. The aircraft that is seen in the picture that the Air Force has now released shows that it carries the serial number 20-0001. A second example is also under construction, according to Boeing.

The Air Force has requested money to buy an additional 12 aircraft in the 2021 Fiscal Year and hopes to purchase a total of 76 F-15EXs over the five-year Future Years Defence Program.

 

The service's full F-15EX fleet could eventually comprise 144 jets.

The Pentagon's contracting notice notably makes no specific mention about the procurement of engines for any of these aircraft. On June 30, the Air Force awarded a separate contract to General Electric for an unspecified number of F110-GE-129 engines to power at least some of the initial batch of F-15EXs, citing an "unusual and compelling urgency." 

The Air Force had planned to power all of its F-15EXs with F110-GE-129s, but is now preparing to hold an open competition to select an engine type after it became apparent that Pratt & Whitney would protest any sole-source award to General Electric. Pratt & Whitney is expected to submit its F100-PW-229 engine as an alternative.

The first eight F-15EX aircraft will be based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and they will initially support testing efforts. The delivery of the first two aircraft is scheduled for the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2021, which begins on Jan. 1, 2021. The remaining six aircraft are scheduled to arrive in the 2023 Fiscal Year. The Air Force is using the Strategic Basing Process to determine the fielding locations for subsequent aircraft lots.

First KC-10 Extender Tanker Heads To The Boneyard                                           For Retirement

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Photo Credit Matt Ellis

The U.S. Air Force sent the first KC-10A Extender tanker 86-0036 from the 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey to  309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group on July 13 2020.The unit that manages the Pentagon's aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Tucson, Arizona 

This comes just a day after the 40th anniversary of the type's first flight. The retirement also comes amid a brewing battle between the service and Congress over its aerial refuelling tanker plans given persistent problems with its new KC-46A Pegasus's.

 

In its most recent budget request, for the 2021 Fiscal Year, the Air Force announced  to retire 16 KC-10As, along with 13 KC-135s, in the coming year. The service has since backed away from this proposal in the face of significant backlash from Congress, as well as from within the U.S. military itself

A key issue is that the KC-46A program has been dogged by a host of major quality control and technical issues, especially with the plane's Remote Vision System (RVS), over the years.

Unlike in previous tankers, where an individual would lie at the rear of the aircraft and visually observe the situation while manipulating the refuelling boom into receiving aircraft, boom operators in the KC-46A use the RVS to do this remotely from the plane's main cabin. 

The existing RVS has proven to be difficult and potentially dangerous to operate under certain circumstances and the Air Force has said that it will not use the KC-46As for day-to-day refuelling activities, in combat or elsewhere, until Boeing implements a fix. The goal is for Boeing to have finished the development and testing of the new RVS by 2023.

The Osprey Tiltrotor Officially Joins the U.S. Navy

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The first Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to serve with the U.S. Navy joined the fleet Monday, June 22 at Naval Station North Island in San Diego, California. The aircraft is the first to join VRM-30 (“Titans”).

The CMV-22B Osprey replaces the older C-2 Greyhound cargo plane in the carrier onboard delivery (COD) role.

 

The Osprey will haul mail, supplies, personnel, and even F-35 fighter engines from airfields on shore to the Navy’s supercarriers operating at sea.

The airplane is the first in the Navy’s high visibility white-and-grey paint job, a colour scheme it uses to identify unarmed, non-combatant aircraft.

USAF's Last 'Spooky' Gunship Heads to the Boneyard

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The U.S. Air Force has sent the last AC-130U “Spooky” gunship to the Boneyard, capping a career spanning three decades. The gunship, named “Gunslinger,” was sent to the Arizona desert for what is likely a one-way trip on June 26 2020.

Another of the heavily armed transport planes, “Big Daddy,” earned a coveted black letter for excellence and a spot at the Hurlburt Field outdoor museum.

 

A black letter is significant because it means there are absolutely no discrepancies whatsoever on the plane,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mark Lennon, a section chief with the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit. “A black letter is when there’s no discrepancies on the status page. The crew chief’s last name and first initial goes in that place. It shows that aircraft has really been maintained with excellence.”

The AC-130U Spooky has been replaced by two other gunships: the AC-130J Ghostrider and AC-130W Stinger II. The AC-130J is on track to test fire an airborne laser weapon system in 2022.

RCAF C295 getting ready to go in Spain

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The Canadian FWSAR program continues marking milestones with the 1st 4 operational C295 already painted and ready to fly! at Seville Spain

     The US military has suspended all travel, deployments, exercises for the entire force

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Weeks after putting a hold on permanent change-of-station moves and non-essential travel both abroad and in the United States for the next two to three months, the Pentagon has issued a stop-movement order that will affect all personnel and Defence Department civilians.

The order affects travel for exercises, as well as deployments from combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Pentagon announced Wednesday

“Approximately 90,000 service members slated to deploy or redeploy over the next 60 to 90 Days from March 25th will likely be impacted by this stop movement order,” the release said.

Exceptions include:

  • Travel for military medical patients or providers.

  • Movements of Navy ships, as long as they observe 14-day quarantine periods.

  • Those who are already in the process of travelling.

  • Those who are away on temporary duty.

RCAF Reveals CP-140 Aurora Upgrade

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The Royal Canadian Air Force revealed the first flight mid-February of the upgraded CP-140 Aurora (serial 140108) as part of an initial flight test programme

The secretive Block IV-modified CP-140 made a test flight to verify the safety of the design for flight from Halifax to Greenwood (NS). The flight was carried out by a crew of the 14 Wing and was fully supported by the RCAF Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment (AETE).

The Block IV modifications - the last of the modernisation phases for the Aurora - include three major improvements; a beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) satellite communication (SATCOM), a link 16 Datalink, and a self-defence system. The initial operational capability (IOC) for the Block IV is expected in June 2020, followed by a full operational capability (FOC) in September 2022.

The Aurora Incremental Modernisation Project (AIMP) started in June 2015 and involved 23 individual projects to acquire, integrate and install new mission systems and sensors onto the aircraft for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. CP-140 104108 arrived for modification on 6 November 2017, while the actual work started on 10 October 2018. The integration testing of upgrades on this prototype aircraft began on 13 December 2018, and the ground test readiness review was conducted on 29 April 2019, clearing the way for the start of ground testing.

The modified aircraft are designated as CP-140M.

The RCAF operates a fleet of seventeen CP-140s in the primary airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) role of which fourteen are expected to be modified. Canada has planned two upgrade programmes for its fleet, the aforementioned AIMP and the Aurora Structural Life Extension Project (ASLEP).

The latter is to increase the aircraft’s capability and operational life respectively.

Both AIMP and ASLEP will cost the Canadian taxpayer USD 1,983 billion and this will extend the operational life of the CP-140 Aurora fleet to 2030.

New B-21 image shows subtle changes from

                           B-2A design

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The image is only the second depiction of the B-21 to be released by the USAF.

The rendering shows an aircraft that looks very similar to the Northrop Grumman B-2A. Both aircraft are flying wings, a shape that is inherently less observable with radar because it lacks 3-D features such as a vertical stabiliser to bounce back radar waves to an adversary.

However, the B-21 seems to have a sleeker profile compared to the B-2A. The aircraft doesn’t have the same engine shoulders that the B-2A had. Engine air inlets have been push forward near its nose and are only visible as small shallow triangular scoops on either side of the cockpit.

Engine fan blades and inlets are highly visible on radar. Reducing the exposure of those features could help the B-21 shrink its radar cross section.

The aircraft also has an extended beak nose in front of its cockpit, compared to the B-2A. Presumably, this hides the cockpit hump behind the underside of the aircraft, further reducing its cross section.

The B-21 cockpit also has only two window panes, compared to the B-2A’s four windows.

The new aircraft also appears slightly smaller, though it is difficult to size as there are no objects nearby in the image for comparison. It is also an artist rendering so it is not clear how closely the 3-D image represents the aircraft’s true scale. A smaller air-frame inherently has a smaller radar cross section than a larger one.

The stealth bomber may also have a lower radar cross section because of other design features.

For example, the first B-21 image released several years ago showed the flying wing had a simpler backside, with just six trailing edges versus 10 on the B-2A. Fewer trailing edges presumably also gives the aircraft a lower radar cross section as there are fewer surfaces to bounce back the radar in the direction of an adversary’s radar-guided surface-to-air missile battery.

What is left unseen by the latest artist rendering includes any new radar absorbent coating materials on the B-21 or any engine heat suppression technology. Hiding engine heat would help the aircraft avoid detection from infrared sensors. If those improvements in those areas are readily available, Northrop Grumman would likely incorporate the technology as well.

The first B-21 is being built at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. The USAF plans to fly the aircraft for the first time in December 2021 about 22mi (35km) north across the Mojave Desert to its testing site at Edwards AFB.

Lockheed announces mega-contract for 50                       Super Hercules aircraft

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Pentagon’s No.1 weapons supplier Lockheed Martin Corp announced on Monday that it will deliver 50 C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifts to the U.S. government through a C-130J Multiyear III award, which was finalized by the U.S. government on Dec. 27, 2019.

The award comes as a delivery order under an existing Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract awarded in August 2016.

The Department of Defence awarded more than $1.5 billion in funding for the first 21 C-130J aircraft on the multiyear award. The overall award, worth more than $3 billion, provides Super Hercules aircraft to the U.S. Air Force (24 HC/MC-130Js), Marine Corps (20 KC-130Js) and Coast Guard (options for six HC-130Js). Aircraft purchased through the C-130J Multiyear III award will deliver between 2021-2025, and will be built at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia, facility

Alaskan Aggressors fly south for mobile training

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354th Fighter Wing maintainers inspect a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron on the flight line at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Jan. 6, 2020. The Airmen operated in a windchill factor of minus 54 degrees to ensure the F-16s were ready to depart for Sentry Aloha 20-1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

The 18th Aggressor Squadron departed Eielson this week to participate in exercise Sentry Aloha 20-1, which is scheduled to take place Jan. 8-22.

 

For more than 20 years, Sentry Aloha exercises have provided tailored, cost-effective and realistic combat training for the U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and other military personnel. It provides U.S. warfighters with the skill sets necessary to perform homeland defence and overseas combat missions.

 

“Our very own 18th Aggressor Squadron has departed for this year’s mobile training across the Pacific,” said Col. Ben Bishop, 354th Fighter Wing commander. “These professionals will carry out our mission in the Pacific theatre and prepare our total force partners for 21st century combat.”

 

Sentry Aloha is the first stop of the year for the 18th AGRS Mobile Training Team. Their mission in the exercise is to replicate adversary tactics, techniques and procedures by creating a realistic combat scenario.

 

To support the exercise, 354th Maintenance Group professionals orchestrated a successful launch of F-16 Fighting Falcons in freezing temperatures, which reached negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit on the flight line.

 

Other participating units include KC-135 Stratotankers from the Wisconsin Air National Guard, F-15 Eagles from the 144th Fighter Squadron California Air National Guard and F-16 Fighting Falcons from the125th Fighter Squadron Oklahoma Air National Guard as well as E3 Sentry aircraft from Oklahoma. The visiting aircraft will take part in simulated combat exercises with the 199th and 19th Fighter Squadron’s F-22 Raptors.

Following Sentry Aloha, the 18th AGRS will fly to Anderson AFB, Guam, to train with other U.S. and international partners in exercise Cope North.

Hill’s 388th fighter wing conduct F-35A combat power exercise Elephant Walk 

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah: The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th FW conducted a combat power exercise here Jan. 6, launching 52 F-35A Lightning IIs in rapid succession. An "elephant walk" refers to the close formation of military aircraft before takeoff.

The fighter wings are home to 78 aircraft. As the Air Force’s only combat-capable F-35A units, the wings must be prepared to launch any number of aircraft to support the national defense mission at a moment’s notice. Last year, they began regularly supporting combat operations with the F-35A with consecutive deployments.

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Currently, the wings fly 30-60 sorties per day from Hill’s flight line. During the exercise, Airmen launched roughly the same number of daily sorties, but they took off in quick intervals. 51 aircraft in 14 minutes

Launching aircraft from multiple squadrons simultaneously presents various challenges and allows the wings to evaluate the capabilities of maintenance professionals, as well as pilots and command and control teams.

The exercise was part of normal, scheduled training operations and not a response to any current events.

Ottawa advances FWSAR programme with C295 acceptance

Source: Airbus Defence & Space

Canada has formally taken receipt of its first C295 fixed-wing search and rescue (FWSAR) aircraft from Airbus Defence & Space, with the asset to be used in support of personnel training activities in Europe for the next several months.

Accepted at the manufacturer’s San Pablo site in Seville, Spain, the twin-turboprop is the first of an eventual 16 being acquired via Ottawa’s FWSAR programme.

Announcing the development on 20 December by Twitter, Airbus says that following additional testing and training the aircraft will be flown to its home base at Comox, British Columbia, “by mid-2020”.

The Royal Canadian Air Force will field the FWSAR-configuration aircraft – locally designated as the CC295 – as replacements for aged De Havilland Canada DHC-5s and Lockheed Martin C-130Hs flown during search and rescue operations.

Adaptations made for the Canadian programme have included installing Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion avionics, reinforcing the lower rear fuselage and adding an upper escape hatch for use in the event of ditching at sea, fully enclosing its main landing gear and incorporating vortex generators on the rear ramp.

Mission equipment includes a maritime search radar, turret-housed electro-optical/infrared sensor and enhanced vision system, plus two onboard operator stations, maritime automatic identification system equipment and large bubble observation windows.

The air force’s Comox base – which also will be home to a new FWSAR training centre – will eventually accommodate five CC295s. Three aircraft each will be stationed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Trenton, Ontario, and Greenwood, Nova Scotia, with the remaining two airframes to be positioned as required to support operations.

Iran Iraq Conflict

Due to the escalation of tension in Iran and Iraq the reports of combat aircraft leaving the US into this area will not publish as this could cause a security issues 

US Defence Budget 2020

The Trump Administration’s 2020 Budget, and the Pentagon is asking for 17 more aircraft than it received in 2019. A quick tally of the aircraft shows the number of fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles the services are asking for is down slightly, while the number of helicopters is up. Also, the Air Force is purchasing eight new F-15s in a deal that smells fishy, given the Acting Secretary of Defence's work career.

The tally, shared on Twitter by Aviation Week & Space Technology defence editor Stephen Trimble, shows a slight increase of 17 aircraft year over year, from 362 authorized in 2019 to 379 proposed for 2020.

The aircraft are broken down into a number a categories as follows:

Fighters:

DoD wants 110 fighters in 2020, down from 117 in 2019. The Air Force is asking for 48 F-35As, down eight from 2019. The Marines want just 10 F-35Bs, less than half their 2019 purchase. Only the Navy is buying more F-35s, with the service requesting 20 of the carrier-capable F-35C model. The Navy is also buying 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

The real wild card here: the Air Force is asking for eight F-15EX fighters, part of a goal of buying 80 through 2024.

At the same time, the Air Force is asking for eight less F-35s. The service has said in the past it would not spend money on F-15s at the expense of the F-35 program, but that appears to be exactly what happened.

Other Aircraft:

The Air Force is asking for 12 KC-46A Pegasus tankers, three less than in 2019. The service will eventually order at least 179 of the aircraft, and at this rate, it’ll take about thirteen years to buy them all. It’s also asking for another squadron of 24 MQ-9A Reapers and a dozen HH-60W combat search and rescue helicopters.

The Navy and Marines

Are asking for three more KC-130J tankers, six more P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and two MQ-4C Triton long-range unmanned aerial vehicles. The service also wants to purchase 22 F-5 Tiger IIs, recently retired from the Swiss Air Force, to act as aggressor aircraft for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps fighter pilots to train against.

Helicopters:

More than half of the Pentagon’s aircraft request for 2020 consists of helicopters, with the U.S. Army taking the lion’s share. The Army will request 48 AH-64 Apache helicopters remanufactured to the new AH-64E Apache Guardian standard, enough for two attack helicopter battalions. It’s also asking for 73 UH-60M Blackhawk transport helicopters, about 15 more than it got in 2019. Nine CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopters round out the Army’s request.

With a few exceptions, the rest of the helicopters go to the Marine Corps. The Marines are asking for six of the enormously expensive CH-53K King Stallion helicopter, ten MV-22 Ospreys, and six VH-92A helicopters, otherwise known as the new Marine One: the official vertical lift ride of the President of the United States.