10 février 2024 | International, Aérospatial

F-35 engine review pushed back months as government takes closer look

The engine upgrades are expected to give the F-35 more power, thrust and cooling ability as well as allow a major modernization of the fighter.


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  • Who is Secretly Building the USAF’s New Fighter?

    17 septembre 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    Who is Secretly Building the USAF’s New Fighter?

    MARCUS WEISGERBER Officials are mum, so here's a roundup of clues. Among the big questions surrounding the secret U.S. Air Force fighter-jet demonstrator revealed this week is: who built it? Will Roper, the head of Air Force acquisition, declined to say much about the new plane, other than it has actually flown, that some of the plane's systems have been flight-tested, and that it was designed and built using digital engineering. So let's look at some clues, starting with a likely predecessor to the Next Generation Air Dominance project that produced the new demonstrator. In January 2015, Frank Kendall, then defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, told the House Armed Services Committee about a DARPA-led project that was developing new planes and engine technology for the Air Force and Navy. “The intent is to develop prototypes for the next generation of air-dominance platforms — X-plane programs, if you will," Kendall said. Dubbed the Aerospace Innovation Initiative, the project aimed to “develop the technologies and address the risks associated with the air dominance platforms that will follow the F-35, as well as other advanced aeronautical challenges.” Roper wouldn't say whether the NGAD and AII projects are linked, but they sound quite similar. He instead said that he disclosed the plane's existence, in part, to encourage companies to invest more in digital engineering. "The obvious candidates for the NGAD prototype are Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, though General Atomics might be a possible designer—but that's a long-shot," Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha Partners, wrote in a Tuesday note to clients. "Textron's Scorpion program had recently proven that in one year's time, it could take a new clean sheet design to flight, but we doubt it's been able to elevate this skill to combat aircraft." The plane's engine, Callan wrote, was built by either GE or Raytheon Technologies' Pratt & Whitney. Here's the case for why each of the following companies could have built the new NGAD fighter. Boeing The Chicago-based aerospace giant already knows a lot about digital engineering, having partnered with Sweden's Saab to design and build their T-7A training jet in less than a year, near-lightspeed by U.S. military standards. Air Force officials have gushed about the T-7A, which beat out two other planes, the Lockheed Martin T-50 and Leonardo T-100, that were already being used by foreign air forces. The Boeing plane has a mission computer that can run third-party software and apps, allowing for easy updates. It is also designed for quick assembly: it takes just 15 minutes to assemble the forward and aft fuselages, compared with some 24 hours to assemble a F/A-18 Super Hornet fuselage, according to Leanne Caret, the CEO of Boeing Defense. Northrop Grumman It often gets overlooked that Northrop owns Scaled Composites — the Burt Rutan-founded, XPrize-winning design shop behind SpaceShipOne, the first aircraft to carry private citizens into space. Like Boeing, Northrop's Scaled built a plane from scratch for the Air Force's pilot training jet contest, but in the end didn't submit a bid. Northrop has seen an uptick in classified Pentagon work in recent years. It's been presumed that a sizable portion of that cash has gone to build B-21 stealth bombers, whose existence has been disclosed but are being built in secret. It's conceivable that some of the classified cash flowing into the company's Aeronautical Systems business is for the NGAD test aircraft. Northrop is also building the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, the new intercontinental ballistic missiles that will replace the Cold War Minuteman III, using the same digital design technology often touted by Roper. Lockheed Martin The company's Advanced Development Programs division — far better known as the Skunk Works — has long developed super-advanced, super-secret planes for the U.S. military, including the famed U-2 and SR-71 spy planes and the F-117 ground-attack jet. They also built the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. “ADP seems pretty busy across a number of fronts, but also...looking at the Digital Century Series and also looking at where the services are going to go in terms of sixth-gen and next-gen aircraft,” said Michele Evans, who leads Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and its Skunk Works operation, last week. Evans also touted Stardrive, a Lockheed effort to incorporate more commercial technology and practices into its manufacturing. “Think of model-based systems engineering, think about factory of the future, software development in terms of containerization technologies like Kubernetes, and agile [software] and then even into sustainment in terms of how we use data analytics and AI,” she said. “I think the technologies are just going to provide tremendous opportunities to speed up the development in the delivery of platforms going forward.” Someone else The most intriguing possibility is that the new jet may not be the product of one of the defense giants at all. There is evidence that the digital-design tools that Roper touted are allowing smaller upstarts to enter markets once reserved for only a few established contractors. In July, for example, an Air Force solicitation for proposals for drones to accompany manned jets drew 18 entries. “It shows there's a lot of interest from very large [companies], which you would expect, to very small,” Gen. Arnold Bunch, the head of Air Force Materiel Command, said in a Wednesday videoconference call with reporters. “I actually believe as we do the digital campaign and we look at doing digital engineering, it will actually open the door to more people to be able to participate that may not have before.” https://www.defenseone.com/business/2020/09/who-secretly-building-usafs-new-fighter/168541/

  • Roper Sees Air Force ‘Flying Cars’ In Production By 2023

    17 avril 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    Roper Sees Air Force ‘Flying Cars’ In Production By 2023

    "We are going to accelerate this market for domestic use in a way that also helps our military," Roper stressed. "The Air Force is all in." By THERESA HITCHENSon April 16, 2020 at 7:15 PM WASHINGTON: ‘Flying cars' using electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) technology could be in full-up production for Air Force use in moving cargo and people within three years, says Air Force acquisition head Will Roper. Such a capability, Roper enthused, would give the US military the ability to undertake missions “in three dimensions that we normally do in two,” giving the services “much greater agility.” This is why the Air Force program for investing in commercial firms now pursuing eVTOL vehicles is called “Agility Prime,” he noted. The Air Force will take a first look at vendor offerings in a virtual pitch event at the end of the month, with a focus on small eVTOL vehicles that could be used for missions involving transport of only a few people. Roper told reporters today that the size of any future Air Force vehicle buys would depend on what missions eVTOL vehicles prove capable of carrying out. “If it's helping us to do logistics at the edge, we could end up buying these in higher quantities. If it's things like security and rescue, it will be smaller quantities,” he explained. Roper has previously said he envisions large flying cars for carrying cargo, as well as smaller vehicles for Special Operations-type missions. But no matter what, Roper added that he expects that granting commercial producers Air Force safety certifications and allowing them to rack up flying hours under Agility Prime “will really help accelerate domestic use of these vehicles and [allow some companies to] get FAA certification sooner that it would have come if we had not interjected ourselves into the market.” The Agility Prime program will hold a “virtual launch event” April 27 to allow vendors to showcase their capabilities and interact with potential investors from both the private sector and the military, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) announced earlier this week. Roper, who will give a keynote, said the event originally had been planned as a live demonstration of capabilities by chosen vendors at the annual South By Southwest music festival in Austin that was scheduled for March 13-22, but cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The objective of the event is to reinforce the Air Force commitment to partnering with industry, investors, and the interagency to help ensure there is a robust domestic capability in this new aerospace sector,” AFLCMC explained. Agility Prime is designed as a “challenge” where eVTOL vehicle makers compete in a series of demonstration that ultimately could result in a contract for full-scale production. According to documents provided for potential competitors on the program website, the Air Force is asking potential vendors to be able to complete a flight test by Dec. 17. In the first round, companies will need to demonstrate the following specifications: Payload: 3-8 personnel Range: Greater than 100 miles Speed: Greater than 100 mph Endurance: Greater than 60 minutes Roper said the second round of the competition would be dedicated to larger vehicles for cargo, and multiple people. Agility Prime is a unique effort that involves a number of service entities working together, including AFLCMC, the Program Executive Office for Mobility, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability (AFWIC) office, AFWERX, and the new AFVentures office that serves as an intermediary between vendors and venture capital providers. Roper said that besides helping to move the US into a prime spot in an emerging marketplace, he intends Agility Prime to also serve as an example to the commercial sector that the Air Force is serious about being “a good innovation partner.” One of the hallmarks of Roper's term as Air Force acquisition chief has been his focus on figuring out how to leverage commercial research and development to help DoD ensure that it can stay ahead of China in the pursuit of new technology — arguing that innovation is the new battlefield. https://breakingdefense.com/2020/04/roper-sees-air-force-flying-cars-in-production-by-2023

  • India is one step closer to spending billions on new naval helicopters from US, allies

    28 août 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Naval

    India is one step closer to spending billions on new naval helicopters from US, allies

    By: Vivek Raghuvanshi NEW DELHI — India's Ministry of Defence's apex procurement body, the Defence Acquisition Council, approved procurement of naval multirole and naval utility helicopters, but induction will not be made anytime soon. MoD's DAC approved the purchase of 24 MH-60 Romeo multi-role helicopters from the U.S. through a foreign military sale at a cost of more than $2 billion. DAC also approved purchase of 111 naval utility helicopters, costing around $3.39 billion, to be built under the Make in India policy by domestic private companies in partnership with overseas original equipment manufacturers. But this is only budgetary approval for purchase of two types of naval helicopters; that budget has yet to be allocated, and no timeline has been set for when the procurement process would kick-start, said a senior MoD official. “The procurement of naval multirole helicopters will take at least three to five years, while induction of naval utility helicopters will take from eight to 10years,”he noted. Another MoD official said the budgetary allocation for the naval multirole helicopters would come in the next three to six months; thereafter MoD will issue a letter of request, or LOR, to the U.S. Department of Defense, outlining specific requirements., beginning negotiations. MoD plans to pursue the procurement of 111 naval utility helicopters under Make in India's strategic partners policy, under which choppers will be produced by selected private companies though a possible joint venture and technology transfer from foreign companies. No private defense company in India have produced helicopters before, which could create a lengthy selection process. In July last year, Indian Navy floated a request for information (RFI) to both domestic and foreign original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, to participate in naval utility helicopter program. Foreign OEMs including Airbus Helicopters of France, Russian Helicopters of Russia, Lockheed Martin and Bell of United States have expressed interest in supporting procurement efforts. Domestic private defense companies Adani Group, Bharat Forge Ltd, Reliance Defence, Mahindra Aerospace and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd have also responded to the RFI to build naval utility helicopters in the country. https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2018/08/27/india-is-one-step-closer-to-spending-billions-on-new-naval-helicopters-from-us-allies

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