23 juin 2022 | International, Terrestre

France requests Switchblade loitering munition to fill ‘urgent’ capability gap

The French Army has started the process of quickly procuring American-made loitering munitions as part of a longer-term effort to field remotely operated weapon systems, according to officials.

https://www.defensenews.com/unmanned/2022/06/22/france-requests-switchblade-loitering-munition-to-fill-urgent-capability-gap/?utm_source=sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dfn-ebb

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  • Russia Researching Future Interceptor Technologies, New Light Fighters

    3 février 2021 | International, Aérospatial

    Russia Researching Future Interceptor Technologies, New Light Fighters

    Piotr Butowski On Jan. 22, Russian state development agency Rostec Corp. published a story on its website about the MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor in which it mentioned that the aircraft’s successor, PAK DP or MiG-41, is currently under development. A few days later, the designation MiG-41 was removed from the text. The program for PAK DP, an acronym that roughly translates to Future Air Complex of Long-Range Interception, deserves close attention, as the conceptual work on it has been commissioned and is financed by the Russian defense ministry. The sums allocated to this program so far are small. The PAK DP is a research project, which aims to develop an initial concept of the aircraft and formulate requirements for a subsequent development effort. Available documents show that the main contractor for the PAK DP research work is the United Aircraft Corp. (UAC), which on Dec. 25, 2018, secured a contract from Russia’s defense ministry. In May 2019, UAC ordered Russian Aircraft Corp. (RSK MiG) and Sukhoi to develop the aircraft concept. It is not clear whether each company is developing its own concept or if Sukhoi has a section of work under the RSK MiG project. That Sukhoi received the order directly from UAC, and not through RSK MiG, suggests the former. RSK MiG and Sukhoi have commissioned individual parts of the work to subcontractors. In 2020, RSK MiG ordered airborne missile designer and manufacturer GosMKB Vympel to conceptualize arming the PAK DP with air-to-air missiles. At the request of RSK MiG, part of the research work carried out in 2020—though it is not known what work specifically—was undertaken by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (MITT). The engineering school  deals with intercontinental and tactical ballistic missiles, as well as hypersonic technologies.  Even before the contract from the defense ministry, RSK MiG had requested the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) perform tests of the PAK DP model in the T-102 wind tunnel in 2017 and 2018. The T-102 is a low-speed tunnel; the research concerned the characteristics of the PAK DP in various configurations of the wing high-lift devices at speed Mach 0.2 and at angles of attack from -7 deg. to 36 deg. A total of 246 measurements of the model were made. Judging by the meager value of these contracts so far—2.5 million rubles ($33,000) for Vympel, 3 million rubles for MITT and 8.9 million rubles.for TsAGI, the project remains in its early stages. In 2019, as part of the PAK DP program, Sukhoi commissioned the development of instructions for counteracting foreign intelligence. With the launch of any military equipment development program in Russia, an accompanying document is developed in which it is determined what features of the new design must be hidden, as well as ways to hide them—including disinformation. The PAK DP program was broadly referenced by representatives of the Russian aviation industry and the air force in previous years. In August 2017, Ilya Tarasenko, then the director general of RSK MiG, said that PAK DP will implement all the technologies that the company has to offer. In November of that year, Sergey Korotkov, UAC vice president and general designer, said that PAK DP will fight against hypersonic targets. “We will have to deal with hypersonic carriers and their weapons, which are also hypersonic,” Korotkov said. People involved in the PAK DP project have publicly used the designation MiG-41 several times. In the above-mentioned RSK MiG order for PAK DP’s wind-tunnel tests, the airplane is called “izdeliye,” or “product” 41. The PAK DP project dates back to the days of the Soviet Union. In the 1980s, MiG was designing MDP, a multifunction long-range interceptor that was developed to achieve a range of 7,000 km (4,350 mi.) while flying at a cruising speed of Mach 2.35. Summing up the available information, it can be said that the purpose of the PAK DP is to fight the most demanding air targets, including hypersonic ones as well as low-orbit spacecraft. The aircraft would also fight against threats similar to those targeted by the current MiG-31, such as heavy bombers and strategic cruise missiles. PAK DP is to achieve the same cruising speed as the MiG-31 at 20 km altitude, Mach 2.35, but with a much longer radius of action. When speaking about the timing of the PAK DP program, UAC President Yury Slyusar said in August 2018 that the creation of the new interceptor “has to be synchronized with exhaustion of the MiG-31’s lifetime.” In other words, the 2030s, Slyusar added. For Russia, however, the date is so distant that it is difficult to forecast anything. Current trends in the Russian economy and the aviation industry indicate that Russia will not be able to afford such an aircraft. It is possible that the tasks currently planned for PAK DP will be partially moved to an intercepting variant of the Su-57 fighter, especially after arming it with the new very-long-range missile “izdeliye 810.” In addition, the Russians may again extend the service life and upgrade the current MiG-31 fleet in order to keep it in service well beyond 2030. Light Strike Aircraft, With or Without Pilot RSK MiG, and Sukhoi too undoubtedly, are conducting conceptual work on variants of lightweight tactical combat aircraft. They all have a lower status than the PAK DP project, given there is no procurement or government financing for the variants under study. Sergey Chemezov, the CEO of Rostec, to which UAC, RSK MiG and Sukhoi belong, told reporters in early December 2020 that the corporation is developing the concept of a fifth-generation fighter “in the light- and medium-weight class.” “This could be a universal platform in manned and unmanned versions,” he added. On Dec. 16, 2020, Andrei Yelchaninov, deputy chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission board, told the Izvestia newspaper that “MiG is working on the creation of a light strike aircraft, which can be either manned or unmanned.” Both Chemezov and Yelchaninov underlined that the work “is conducted on an initiative basis and is not funded by the state.” They also emphasized the export orientation of this project and possible cooperation with a foreign partner. One of Russia’s possible partners is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In February 2017, during the IDEX 2017 exhibition, Chemezov announced that Russia and the UAE had agreed to jointly create a new-generation lightweight fighter. Chemezov proclaimed the signing of an appropriate contract later that year. The aircraft would be produced in the UAE and was intended for the UAE Air Force and neighbor services. In the following years, apart from a few general declarations that the project is up to date, details were not available. There are three known acronyms for Russia’s new lightweight fighter project. The official strategy of UAC for 2016-2035 was published in December 2016. That document interchangeably uses “LFI,” an acronym translated as Lightweight Tactical Fighter, or “PLIB,” translated as the Future Lightweight Fighter-Bomber, as the names of this program. In 2018, the United Engine Corp. (UEC) said in a presentation that the LFI/PLIB’s powerplant could be a single “izdeliye 30” turbofan developed for the Su-57 fighter. According to the same presentation, two modified “izdeliye 30” engines would be used to provide propulsion for the PAK DP. The RSK MiG uses the acronym “LMFS” for its lightweight fighter project. In December 2019, RSK MiG ordered TsAGI to “calculate the aerodynamics of a lightweight multifunction tactical aircraft (LMFS) in a twin-engine configuration” and compare it with foreign counterparts. One of the known RSK MiG LMFS designs is a canard that has a large delta wing, with small control surfaces at the rear and on the sides of the engine nacelles. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 24,500 kg (54,000 lb.) and is designed to reach speeds of up to Mach 2. The ferry range with additional fuel tanks will be 2,160 nm, and the basic weapon load is to be carried inside the fuselage. The current conceptual work on the RSK MiG LFMS is a continuation of the LFI lightweight tactical fighter program launched by MiG as early as 1986. The LFI fighter was later refreshed in the form of the E-721 project for the purposes of the PAK FA stealth fighter program. In 2002, the MiG E-721 lost the PAK FA competition for the Sukhoi T-50 project, the present Su-57. https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/budget-policy-operations/russia-researching-future-interceptor-technologies-new-light

  • Mirabel’s L3Harris delivers 2 F/A-18 Hornets to NASA

    12 novembre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    Mirabel’s L3Harris delivers 2 F/A-18 Hornets to NASA

    L3Harris Technologies recently delivered two F/A-18 Hornet aircraft to NASA after successfully completing depot-level modifications and repair work. Vertex Aerospace LLC selected L3Harris to work on the NASA F/A-18 Hornet aircraft in 2018. “The NASA delivery extends our 30-plus-year legacy of providing professional and quality service from our skilled and experienced workforce,” said Ugo Paniconi, general manager, MAS, L3Harris. As part of the scheduled maintenance work, L3Harris has addressed structural modifications, while maximizing the availability of the aircraft for operational use. L3Harris is a world leader in developing and implementing F/A-18 structural modification and life extension solutions, having already successfully completed major structural programs for the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force, and assisting other F/A-18 users, including the Swiss Air Force, the Finnish Air Force, and the U.S. Navy. https://www.skiesmag.com/press-releases/l3harris-technologies-delivers-2-fa-18-hornet-aircraft-to-nasa

  • Missile Defense Agency to inject competition into homeland missile defense contract

    3 avril 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    Missile Defense Agency to inject competition into homeland missile defense contract

    By: Jen Judson  WASHINGTON — The U.S. Missile Defense Agency plans to hold a competition that could split up the work among contractors to modernize and sustain America’s missile defense system, which is designed to destroy intercontinental ballistic missile threats. Boeing has held the development and sustainment contract for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense systems in place at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Boeing’s contract is set to expire in 2023. The GMD system is made up of more than 44 Ground-Based Interceptors buried in silos in the ground along with ground control stations, detection and fire control systems, and other support infrastructure. Boeing received a sole-source $6.6 billion award in 2018 to build a new silo and 20 more GBIs, as well as to sustain the system. But Vice Adm. Jon Hill, the MDA’s director, told an audience in March at an Association of the U.S. Army event that “we know that contract is not giving us everything that we need for the future, so we are going to compete that contract downstream.” The agency is working to develop a Next-Generation Interceptor that would replace the current GBIs with more capable interceptors. Its plan to upgrade the GBI’s exoatmospheric kill vehicle with a redesigned version was canceled in 2019 due to technical problems. Rather than rework that program, the agency decided to design an entirely new interceptor and stop building new GBIs. A request for proposals for the NGI is due imminently. But along with a new NGI, “we are going to make sure that ground systems, sensors and fire control, all the rest of the system, we have the opportunity to inject that competition because I think that is very important,” Hill said. The MDA previously considered splitting up the contract several times, believing that would reduce cost and create efficiency in the program, but nothing materialized toward that goal. This time, the MDA has released two requests for information with the possibility of splitting up the contract. The most recent RFI was posted on Beta.Sam.Gov in March. “I will tell you that our lead system integrator does a great job today and the partnerships with industry within that construct do a great job, but we think that it’s so large and complex we should be doing everybody a favor by being able to split that up without losing the integration among all those pieces,” Hill said, “so our intent is to move in that direction.” The agency “is exploring different approaches for fulfilling the GMD Program Element requirements. Acquisition approaches under consideration range from an award of multiple contracts to execute segments/missions of the program scope to a single contract to execute the entirety of the program scope,” the RFI states. “Essential to all of the acquisition approaches under consideration is the establishment of an enduring arrangement strategy for the execution of the [Weapon Systems Integration (WSI)] functions across the program lifecycle, either under a single prime contract, or as one of the multiple contracts.” The RFI lays out a possible plan to split up the contract into five pieces. One contractor would provide the NGI, which is being addressed through a separate request for proposals. Another would be responsible for legacy and future ground systems, and another for sustaining the existing GBIs. And a company would operate the weapon system along with military operators and would run fleet maintenance scheduling and deconfliction, site operations, test support, and depot and parts management, the RFI lays out. Lastly, a contractor would serve as the weapon systems integrator, making it responsible for overall GMD integration “including physical and logical integration of the GMD components, GMD system and MDA enterprise level integration, planning and execution of all necessary testing to verify and validate overall requirements compliance,” the RFI states. Responses to the RFI are due April 10. https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2020/04/02/missile-defense-agency-to-inject-competition-into-homeland-missile-defense-contract/

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