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B-52s Fighting ISIS Soon Will Carry More Smart Bombs

Lara Seligman Aerospace Daily & Defense Repor t     nov 16,2017


The Vietnam-era bomber that flies close-air-support, air interdiction and deliberate targeting missions in U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility today is not your grandfather’s B-52, the airmen of the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron (EBS) told Aviation Week during a visit here Nov. 6. The B-52s here came off the line in 1960 and 1961, but various avionics and weapon systems upgrades in recent years have allowed the aircraft to remain a critical contributor to the modern battlefield.

“How we operate as a crew, the interfaces we have with the avionics system, and the weapons themselves—it’s almost completely different than it was just a few years ago,” said Lt. Col. Paul Goosen, 69th EBS commander.

Sometime in the next few months, the 69th EBS will become the first B-52 squadron to complete a key upgrade of the aircraft’s internal weapons bay, adding both precision and firepower to the fight against militants in the Middle East. The addition of the conventional rotary launcher (CRL) and Mil Std 1760 interface will allow the aircraft to carry smart weapons in the internal bay for the first time, enabling it to drop eight additional smart bombs, Goosen said.

The upgrade is a matter of simply changing out the existing three-fingered bomb rack for a yoke in the front and aft of the bay that will connect to the CRL, a process that only takes a few hours per aircraft, Goosen explained. Some of the B-52s here are currently going through the upgrade, and the entire squadron is expected to complete the modification in the next few months.

The change will also allow the B-52s at Al Udeid to drop Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (Jassm), an advanced long-range, radar-evading cruise missile, from the internal weapons bay.

In addition to smart weapons, the B-52s still employ unguided “dumb bombs” such as the Mk. 82 for terrain denial purposes, such as collapsing mountain passes in Afghanistan, Goosen said.

But thanks to avionics and digital upgrades, the B-52 is more than just a bomb truck. The biggest change in recent years is the Combat Network Communications Technology (Conect) program, which brought the B-52’s avionics into the digital age. Under the Conect upgrade, the B-52s received new computers and full-color, moving-map displays, key data links, and an advanced wideband satellite terminal. Conect enables the B-52 to record images and video of the battlespace, and transmit that data to ground troops.

This upgrade, combined with the advanced targeting pod that the B-52s have been using since 2006, allow the aircraft to provide commanders critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support in addition to firepower, Goosen said.

Today, the bombers are a crucial asset both for ISR and target development. The squadron will often fly over an area ahead of ground troops to surveil the battlefield and report back to commanders, Goosen said. The aircraft is also slated to get Link 16, the tactical data link used by most U.S. Air Force and coalition fighters, which will provide additional capability.

“A picture is worth a thousand words, and a moving infrared video is worth a thousand pictures,” Goosen said. “It really brought us into the 21st century in terms of the fighting capability of modern aircraft.”


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 1-DF-DECONFLICTION SeniorAirmanTylerWoodward0USAF

 How F-22 Is Deconflicting U.S.-Russia Operations Over Syria

l“Shell” was just days into his first deployment to U.S. Central Command (Centcom) when U.S. Navy destroyers launched a surprise strike against the Syrian regime, pummeling Shayrat Airfield with dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles.

In the tense wake of the attack, Shell, a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and Raptor squadron commander who spoke on the condition that Aviation Week identify him only by his call sign, and his squadron of stealth F-22 Lockheed Martin Raptors had a critical job to do: deconflict coalition operations over Syria with an irate Russia.

The U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has leaned heavily on the air-superiority fighter since its debut there in 2014. The F-22, originally designed as an air-to-air platform, has become crucial to the fight, regularly striking ground targets, providing close air support (CAS) for soldiers in battle, and protecting legacy strike fighters from surface and air threats. 

But one of the most critical missions the F-22 conducts in the skies over Syria, particularly in the weeks following the April 6 Tomahawk strike, is deconfliction between coalition and noncoalition aircraft, says Shell. 

Of course, the F-22 is not the only asset deconflicting the crowded skies over Centcom. The Air Force’s airborne command-and-control aircraft and high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, as well as ground-based command-and-control forces, are also helping clear the area. But the stealth F-22’s ability to evade detection gives it a unique advantage in getting noncoalition players to cooperate, says Shell. 

“It is easier to bring air dominance to bear if you know where the other aircraft are that you are trying to influence, and they don’t know where you are,” says Shell. “When other airplanes don’t know where you are, their sense of comfort goes down, so they have a tendency to comply more.” 

The F-22 provided a crucial communications node when tensions between the U.S. and Russia were running high. Following the Tomahawk strikes, Moscow condemned the attack and suspended the so-called “deconfliction line” the two countries used to coordinate air operations over Syria. U.S. President Donald Trump said relations with Russia were at an “all-time low.” 

But U.S. and noncoalition aircraft were still communicating directly, over an internationally recognized, unsecure frequency often used for emergencies known as “Guard,”  says Shell. His F-22s acted as a kind of quarterback, using high-fidelity sensors to determine the positions of all the actors on the battlefield, directing noncoalition aircraft where to fly and asking them over the Guard frequency to move out of the way. 

The Raptors were able to fly in contested areas, in range of surface-to-air missile systems and fighters, without the noncoalition players knowing their exact positions, Shell says. This allowed them to establish air superiority—giving noncoalition forces freedom of movement in the air and on the ground—and a credible deterrent. 

“If we need to let them know that we are there for any reason, then we will let them know that we are there—usually to deter something that they are trying to do that we don’t want them to do,” he explains.

During those weeks after April 6, Shell and his squadron temporarily moved all of their operations into Syria. In addition to helping deconflict and deter noncoalition actors, the F-22s also provided defensive counter-air for allied forces on the ground and in the air, and occasionally conducted ground strikes and CAS, Shell says. 

He stresses that the interactions with noncoalition aircraft were always “professional,” adding that his squadron experienced “nothing that raises any eyebrows.”

Two months after the strikes, Shell’s squadron is back to splitting its time between Iraq and Syria. The aircraft is performing “immaculately,” even in  mission sets it was not built for, such as CAS, Shell says. As of May 28, the Raptor had conducted 1,150 sorties, including 497 CAS sorties, and employed 1,572 weapons since the beginning of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2014, according to the Air Force. 

In the CAS role, the F-22 augments the platforms already conducting that mission in the region, such as the F-15E, the B-52 bomber and the A-10, Shell says. While the A-10 is renowned for the roar of its 30-mm Gatling gun and its long loiter time, the F-22 brings precision-guided munitions (PGM) such as the GBU-32 and Small-Diameter Bomb. PGMs significantly reduce civilian casualties and potential damage to buildings and other structures in the area, Shell points out. 

Although the F-22 can perform CAS well, it is not built for that role as is the A-10— it is just another tool combatant commanders can use to complete the mission, Shell stresses. 

Overall, the most important thing the Raptor brings to the OIR fight is air superiority, Shell says.

“Our ground troops have not been attacked from the air since April 15, 1953, and that is because of the U.S. Air Force providing air dominance,” he adds. “The F-22 is the primary provider of air superiority in Operation Inherent Resolve.”


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1-DF-COCKPIT Spencer-C-Roberts-USNavy 

 In A Fighter Aircraft, Breathing Is No Easy Feat

Developing better methods of monitoring oxygen is key to preventing hypoxia-like cockpit episodes

Flying at 40,000 ft., the last thing a fighter pilot wants to be thinking about is the air he or she is breathing. But at the altitudes most fighters fly, getting sufficient clean oxygen to the crewmembers is a complex technological feat.  

The human body is not designed to survive at extreme altitudes, where thinning air makes breathing a struggle. Modern technology allows fighter pilots to fly as high as 50,000 ft., but not without some risk of a dangerous “physiological episode” (PE), where a change in oxygen flow, cabin pressure or breathing rate can lead to symptoms ranging from tingling fingers to total blackout.

Incidents of PEs are on the rise across the U.S. Air Force and Navy. The surge in these potentially fatal cockpit incidents in the Lockheed Martin F-35ABoeing/BAE Systems T-45 Goshawk trainer and Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fleets has led the services to take a careful look at the various complex systems involved in keeping pilots breathing during flight.

The earliest method for providing oxygen to military aircrew was to store gaseous oxygen (GOX) at high pressure in metal cylinders or bottles. Over time, the military began using liquid oxygen (LOX) systems, which allow for more oxygen to be stored in a smaller container.

Fear Of Losing Oxygen Puts U.S. Fighter Pilots On Edge

The main drawback of both GOX and LOX systems is the amount of oxygen that can be carried on an aircraft, limiting mission duration and flexibility. LOX is also extremely volatile and has a complex logistics tail. Today, GOX and LOX have been replaced in most newer fighters by a system that generates oxygen continuously during flight, called the Onboard Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS).

While the OBOGS revolutionized the way breathable air is provided to military aircrew, it also introduced a new set of problems. The OBOGS cycle typically begins at the engine and flows through various devices before it reaches the pilot, leaving countless opportunities for contaminants—such as a toxin or excess moisture—to enter the airflow.

In the Goshawk and Hornet, for example, the bleed air from the compressor section of the engine flows through a cooling heat exchanger and enters the Cobham-built OBOGS (in the F-35A, the OBOGS is built by Honeywell). There, it first passes through a heater, particulate filter and pressure reducer. The air is then directed through a zeolite material in molecular sieve beds inside two identical canisters. The sieve bed absorbs nitrogen, passing the concentrated oxygen to a mixing plenum and then to the pilot’s regulator and mask. While one canister is generating oxygen, the other is being purged of the nitrogen absorbed by its sieve bed.  

The ability of the OBOGS to produce usable oxygen depends on clean, dry air delivered at the right pressure and volume, flowing into the system. Moisture is a particular problem; due to the sieve bed’s high affinity for water, any contaminants trapped there could be exchanged for moisture and then released from the OBOGS into aircrew breathing air. One solution is to install a water separator in the OBOGS bleed-air line to filter out any moisture from the airflow.

There is also the potential for a toxin such as carbon monoxide to enter the system via the flight line.

The OBOGS was an early suspect in the Pentagon’s investigation into the recent rise in PEs. But so far, neither the Air Force nor the Navy has found evidence to suggest that a problem with the OBOGS itself is causing the spike. In the F-35A, the Air Force believes the life-support system may be causing restricted breathing. In the F/A-18 and EA-18Gcommunities, the Navy believes the issue lies with the environmental control system, which provides thermal control, cabin pressurization, avionics cooling and air supply through various “pipes” throughout the aircraft (including the OBOGS). In the T-45, the latest thinking is that the aircraft is not producing sufficient oxygen flow throughout the system.

Still, monitoring the quality and quantity of air flowing into and out of the pilot through the OBOGS and the greater life-support system will be key to identifying and preventing these episodes. 

The services already have various methods of measuring breathing-gas pressure and oxygen content in the air that comes off the OBOGS—for instance, the upgraded CRU-123 oxygen-monitoring system being installed in the T-45 fleet. The Pentagon is also considering different options to monitor the pressure and oxygen levels of air in the cockpit. However, there is currently no way to monitor the air that is actually entering and exiting the pilot’s body. 

Cobham believes it has a solution. The company’s Aircrew Mounted Physiological Sensing System (AMPSS) monitors a pilot’s inhalation and exhalation throughout flight, according to Rob Schaeffer, Cobham’s product director for environmental systems. The AMPSS is made up of two separate modules, one on the inhale side and one on the exhale side, that monitor the airflow entering and exiting a pilot’s body. The sensors assess that air for changes in pressure, humidity, temperature, oxygen concentration, flow rate, carbon dioxide—anything that might cause dangerous hypoxia-like symptoms.

The company earlier this year delivered eight inhalation sensor blocks to the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, for testing and was set to deliver eight exhalation blocks to the service by the end of September, Schaeffer told Aviation Week that month. Cobham hopes the AMPSS will help the Pentagon collect data needed to identify the root cause of the PEs.

The next phase of development will focus on building a warning feature to alert the pilot of dangerously high or low oxygen levels and tell him or her to take manual corrective action, Schaeffer says. The warning method could be a message on the head-up display, a vibration on the wrist or some other alert.

But the company is carefully considering how much the pilot really needs to know about his or her breathing conditions. A danger alert could cause a pilot to panic unnecessarily over a small change in oxygen concentration or cabin pressure.

“The big question would be if a pilot was able to see the data that was being collected real-time, what would he or she do with that data? Probably nothing, because he or she is not a doctor,” Schaeffer says. “You don’t need to panic somebody who is already under stress.”

Cobham is looking to include a mitigation capability that automatically adjusts the oxygen concentration being fed to the pilot based on data the AMPSS is providing, he says.

The ultimate goal is to build a next-generation, complete life-support system that will predict and preempt the onset of hypoxia-like symptoms.


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U.S. Air Force Completes Integrated Collision Avoidance Tests

U.S. Air Force tests world’s first integrated air and ground collision avoidance system


Our Lockheed Martin F-16 is hurtling toward a mountain valley, peaks looming closer on either side. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, another F-16 powers into the gap from the other direction, on a collision course.

With the fast-approaching F-16 a barely visible dot in the sky, warning chevrons appear at the top and bottom of the head-up display. Seconds from impact, the chevrons come together, and the aircraft’s automated collision avoidance system triggers a fly-up escape maneuver. Rolling abruptly right, we enter a 5g pull to steer clear of the other aircraft.

But then, with the mountainside looming, something else remarkable happens. The system is simultaneously aware of the terrain and, with control already relinquished back to the pilot, we are steered onto a path to safety over the shoulder of the peak. The other F-16 meanwhile executes a similar avoidance maneuver, the two systems having cooperatively agreed on the best escape paths for both aircraft.

In the space of just a few seconds I have experienced firsthand the ultimate test of an automated, integrated system that avoids collisions both in the air and with the ground. To the U.S. Air Force and industry team that has painstakingly pioneered this capability under the long-running Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology (ACAT) program, the test through the mountain pass is the definitive demonstration of the world’s first all-aspect protection system for combat aircraft.

Development of Auto-ICAS (Automatic Integrated Collision Avoidance System) is the culmination of a three-phase effort spanning almost three decades to prevent fighter/attack-aircraft mishaps from controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and midair collisions. These include crashes caused by G-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC), spatial disorientation, target fixation, distraction and task saturation. According to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), 72% of historical Air Force F-16 operational losses since the 1970s would have been preventable with Auto-ICAS, some 24% of which were midair, with the balance a combination of CFIT, G-LOC and spatial disorientation.

Although these CFIT cases add up to less than half of losses not related to engine failure, they account for 75% of pilot fatalities, says Capt. Drew Petry, deputy chief of AFRL’s Control Systems Branch. “If you have an engine failure, you have time to eject, but on a CFIT you do not.”

The real-life figures back this assertion. The all-around protection provided by Auto-ICAS requires a combination of the Automatic Ground-Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS), introduced into service on Air Force F-16 Block 40/50s in 2014, and the Automatic Air Collision Avoidance System (Auto-ACAS), which was flight tested the same year. Phase 1 of ACAT covered development, testing and deployment of Auto-GCAS, while Phase 2 focused on Auto-ACAS. The current third phase covers testing of Auto-ICAS.

Since entering service three years ago, Auto-GCAS has saved seven pilots. Compared to 2000-14, when 19 F-16s and 16 pilots were lost due to CFIT accidents, there have been no Auto-GCAS-preventable losses to ground collisions, G-LOC or disorientation since the system was introduced. AFRL, together with its collision avoidance development partners at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, NASA, Air Combat Command, the Air Force Test Center and Lockheed Martin, predict substantial savings of both pilots and aircraft if the integrated system is installed in the F-16 and Lockheed Martin F-35 fleets. Through 2040, the analysis forecasts a combined tally of 40 pilots and 57 aircraft worth $6.73 billion will be saved.

The ground-collision system, which Aviation Week flew during testing in 2010 (AW&ST Aug. 2, 2010, p. 55), continuously compares the aircraft’s trajectory for the next 5 sec. against a ground profile generated from onboard digital terrain elevation data. If the predicted trajectory touches the terrain and the system calculates the aircraft is in imminent danger of collision, it executes a last-minute automatic fly-up recovery maneuver. 

The air-collision system, which was flight tested in 2014 (AW&ST Dec. 1-8, 2014, p. 55), uses a data link to send information between aircraft and—at the last instant—coordinates avoidance maneuvers to prevent a collision. In keeping with the “do no harm, do not impede operations, avoid collisions,” mantra of the ACAT program, the flight tests proved Auto-ACAS functions nuisance-free in all aspects of fighter air combat maneuvering. In addition, an Auto-ACAS-configured aircraft can use radar to avoid collisions with noncooperative aircraft.

Following a preliminary Auto-ICAS proof-of-concept evaluation by the Air Force Test Pilots School in 2015, a team at Edwards AFB, California, has been working since 2016 to ensure the ground and air collision-avoidance functions mesh seamlessly together. The main program goals for Auto-ICAS are for the ground-collision function to always have priority over the air-collision system. In addition, the Auto-ACAS must be “ground-aware,” meaning that at low altitudes it must select maneuvers that pull away from the ground as well as inhibit avoidance activations that could then force the Auto-GCAS into action (see page 54). “We do not want to turn it away from another F-16 and then turn it into the ground,” says Lockheed Martin ACAT program manager Ed Griffin.

With Auto-ICAS flight testing close to wrapping up, Aviation Week was invited to participate in a two-ship integrated auto-collision-avoidance cooperative mission to collect additional data, as well as demonstrate a variety of Auto-ICAS features. The aircraft I flew on, “Skull 1,” was an F-16 Block 50 of the 416th Flight Test Sqdn., flown by Maj. Jameel Janjua, a Royal Canadian Air Force exchange officer and lead test pilot for the ACAT Fighter Risk Reduction Program. As the “shooter” aircraft, we would play the more dynamic role in interchanges with a “target” F-16, “Skull 2,” flown by Air Force test pilot Maj. Brian Kelly, with AFRL ACAT expert Lt. Col. (ret.) Kevin Price as an observer.

Prior to testing the Auto-ICAS, both aircraft fly in formation to carefully calibrate altitude and ensure both shooter and target barometric altitudes are within 10 ft. Credit: U.S. Air Force

“We have planned a composite collision-avoidance sortie to show you a little bit of everything,” Janjua said as we sat down for the mission briefing. The first part was designed to recreate several collision scenarios, including head-on passes, to show how the Auto-ACAS would take control at an appropriate time with acceptable miss distances. The second phase would demonstrate Auto-ICAS performance near the ground, including the “graduation exercise” flights through a mountain valley. The final part would see us check for nuisances during aggressive basic fighter maneuvering (BFM) and formation rejoins, followed by some very low nap-of-the-Earth flying.

Safety for the higher-altitude testing was maintained by entering “exclusion zones” into the test software, which would restrict the system from triggering maneuvers in specific directions, depending on the individual test point. The Auto-ICAS algorithm, on the other hand, was unaware of these zones and so was still making decisions as if there were no restrictions in place.

As a further safety precaution, our aircraft would be separated by altitude offsets, in which the real aircraft are flying at different altitudes. However, the algorithm is tricked into believing both aircraft are at the same level and, in the event of activation, sends the digital representation of the aircraft up or down, depending on the best escape solution. “When testing near the ground, we increase the altitude split significantly and effectively have no exclusion zones. This allows the aircraft to maneuver where it wants,” says 416th Flight Test Sqdn. Auto-ICAS project lead Charles Eger.

Following a lively takeoff at full military power, we performed G-awareness maneuvers and safety checks. These included toggling the paddle switch on the sidesticks in the front and back cockpits to ensure they would disengage any automatic maneuvers. Verifying functionality is critical before testing. “We are going to put the aircraft in a position where real aircraft could collide if the pilot does not recognize an impending collision and paddle to stop the system from activating or terminate an activation and maneuver away,” says Janjua. 

Flying in fingertip formation with Skull 2, we then calibrated altitudes to make sure both the shooter and target barometric altitudes were within 10 ft. A seemingly mundane procedure, the calibration of altitudes is critical to the mission. “If I am 45 ft. low and he is 40 ft. high, then if you have a 60-ft. error, you are not going to ‘collide’ and the system knows it,” says Janjua. “The Auto-ACAS will see the virtual aircraft will not collide and will just let you pass, so it is so crucial the two altitudes be verified and are the same. If you do not do those initial safety cards at the start, you are asking for danger,” he adds.

Now it was time for our first tests, a series of automatic collision-avoidance maneuvers with very little altitude separation. For the first run at 20,000 ft. we began 4,000 ft. behind and 200 ft. below Skull 2, which was flying at 300 kt. We accelerated to 390 kt. and closed in while maintaining one wingspan separation. Believing we were at the same level as Skull 2, the Auto-ACAS activated, and we performed a bunt while the other F-16 pulled up. “We are trying to run one aircraft into another in the virtual world, and for whatever reason—and we are talking minuscule differences in altitude—the system thought it made more sense for this guy to go up and for us to go down,” says Janjua.

For safety reasons, during collision-avoidance tests an altitude offset is embedded into the system. The difference between what the system believes is happening and the real separation distance is illustrated in this pilot’s eye and HUD view (left and right) and the computer-generated graphic and HUD imagery (right). Note the “X” formed on the HUD as the chevrons meet to indicate imminent activation. Credit: Cameron Law/NASA and Travis Millet/U.S. Air Force

The test provides system designers with quantitative data on whether activation occurred at the appropriate time, if it should have activated at all or whether the reaction was sufficiently aggressive or too early. Regardless, despite the altitude offset, Skull 2 seemed to loom alarmingly close as we closed in at 90 kt. “It is very eye-opening,” agrees Janjua. “Even though you might be thinking, ‘holy cow that was close,’ you are still 200 ft. farther away than you should be. As a fighter pilot who has been flying for a long time, you do not usually see anyone else that close to you.”

The next tests involved closing in on the target at 425 kt. and 20,000 ft. while banking 15 deg. left. This resulted in an activation for us to the left and for the target an activation to the right. We followed this by executing a second low-angle crossing encounter in which Skull 2 closed in on our aircraft, flying 200 ft. above us and decelerating as it banked 20 deg. to the left and crossed our virtual bow. On the first attempt, both aircraft violated the exclusion zones, so although the system activated, neither of us maneuvered. Two repeats of this run resulted in further activations, though only Skull 2’s F-16 was triggered into a roll-and-pull to the right as, on both occasions, we violated the exclusion zone. 

We then descended below 5,000 ft. for the graduation exercise, the staged head-on collision scenario in the saddle between the two mountains—Garlock Peak to our left and Skull’s Peak to the right. For safety reasons, being so close to the terrain, the altitude split between our aircraft was increased to 1,200 ft., even though in the virtual world the system thought we were at the same altitude. With the aircraft moving toward each other at 390 kt. calibrated airspeed, I watched as the chevrons appeared and closed in. Braced for the maneuver I was surprised when the chevrons appeared to touch but our F-16 flew on straight and level, while Skull 2 was activated into a climb.

But this is not necessarily surprising, says Janjua. In this mode, each aircraft creates and broadcasts three avoidance trajectories at any moment in time. It has nine options available, seven of which are roll-and-pull maneuvers at different bank angles, one is a bunt, and one is to maintain and do nothing at all. “Both aircraft do not always have to move. You can stop a collision happening with the minimum of effort, and ‘maintain’ is an option,” he says.

Indeed, when we flew back into the saddle for a repeat of Test Card 13, the result was different. Both aircraft banked to the right and pulled 5g in a climbing turn. Skull’s Peak loomed suddenly to our right, but the combined anti-collision system was instantly aware of the ground threat and kept us at a safe distance. “We saw a lot of ground as it skirted the peak and flew between the mountain and the other aircraft,” says Janjua. “That is essentially what we are trying to do—we are trying to force the system to choose between the airplane and the ground, and the smart decision is that it will avoid both.”

A graphical illustration of the actual miss distance without altitude offset between two F-16s avoiding a collision after Auto-ICAS activated maneuvers in the saddle between two mountains in the Edwards AFB test range area. Credit: Cameron Law/NASA

For our next test point, we again approached the saddle, this time to evaluate the response of the system while conducting a close-proximity overtake within the narrow confines of the valley. Beginning the run 4,500 ft. astern and 1,200 ft. below Skull 2, we accelerated to 390 kt. to prompt a system activation as we passed between the two mountains. This time, again with the system thinking we were at the same level in the virtual world, it commanded our aircraft to fly up.

In real life, however, our wingman was almost directly above us, so when the activation occurred, our F-16 was rapidly approaching Skull 2’s belly. It seemed like another eye-popping moment, but Janjua—who is currently one of the Air Force’s most experienced collision-avoidance test pilots—let the automatic maneuver run its course. Within seconds, he assumed control but pulled the paddle to deactivate the system only when the maneuver was completed.

“I heard the tone, which told me the aircraft was taking control and even though at any point I can [depress the] paddle, and even though our canopy was filled with airplane, I did not paddle until afterward,” says Janjua. “The longest maneuver it can do is 4.5 sec., and if it had lasted that long we would have hit the other aircraft because we were less than 5 sec. from a collision. However, I know from experience, because we have flown it so many times in the simulator, that it is only going to give us about 1-2 sec. maneuver max, because that is all it needs to ‘spoil’ the collision.”

Janjua therefore waited to hear the end of the tone, which meant all the data had been collected for this test point. He then rolled away from Skull 2 and paddled, as a precaution to prevent the one-in-a-million chance that a glitch in the system would activate another maneuver. “I’m paddling not because I’m terminating the previous maneuver, but because I want to prevent another maneuver. I don’t expect it will ever do that, but we are so close, and that’s why we say, ‘paddle, terminate’ for those points.”

In some even more stressful situations closer to the ground, both horizontal and vertical chevrons will appear. “The horizontal chevrons represent an oncoming Auto-GCAS fly-up just as they do in the operational GCAS. ACAS chevrons come in vertically. If there is a situation where both the ground and another aircraft are close enough to you to be a threat, both sets would appear,” says Eger. On our flight, even though we flew through the saddle, the maneuver was designed with enough clearance not to trigger the Auto-GCAS chevrons. “The fact that you did not see them, even after the Auto-ACAS activation, demonstrates that the integrated system kept you away from both the ground and the other aircraft,” he adds. 

With fuel running low, we rendezvoused with “Ghost 66,” a Boeing KC-135R flying at 20,000 ft. in a lazy orbit over the Lake Isabella area. As the three aircraft performed an impressive aerial ballet, I took in the scenery far below and allowed myself to relax for a few welcome moments. Then, with 3,500 lb. of fuel transferred to each F-16, we bid farewell to the tanker and hurried back toward the Mojave Desert for the next task.

We now switched gears to examine how prone the system is to nuisance activations during operationally representative basic fighter maneuvers and normal formation rejoins, even if the pilots are overaggressive or making errors. With the collision-avoidance system disabled but still sufficiently active to provide an audible warning in our headsets if an activation occurred, we began at 5,000 ft. with a series of gun attacks. The first was a low-aspect gun-tracking maneuver in which our aircraft followed Skull 2 as it entered a 2g turn at 350 kt. in military power. We followed in close pursuit, training our gunsight on the F-16 until we were around 600-700 ft. away from it and just outside the 500-ft. bubble, the minimum safety distance allowed for Air Force combat training.

With no tone heard, we set up for a tougher test in which Skull 2 tightened his turn and broke in toward us, or “clamped” to decrease range and increase aspect. Pulling 4g, this maneuver replicated scenarios in which midair collisions have occurred. “BFM will give you problems if you are not paying attention, or if you are task-saturated or target-fixated,” says Janjua. “Typically, it is a mistake that more often will happen with inexperienced pilots, but experienced pilots have had midairs, too.” The testing is particularly demanding because pilots have to push the system to the very edge of acceptable flying in standard training without triggering an activation. “It’s a fine line,” he adds.

Tests prove the Auto-ICAS does not trigger nuisance activations despite getting within the 500-ft. minimum distance of another aircraft during basic fighter maneuvers. Credit: U.S. Air Force

The third BFM maneuver was the most aggressive of all and involved maintaining a low-aspect close pursuit guns track. As we got to within 1,300 ft. of the other F-16, Janjua told Skull 2 to execute a 360-deg. tuck-under-jink maneuver. Pressing home the attack, we corkscrewed and pulled hard, as we deliberately got uncomfortably close to his tail. “I purposely pursued him through that jink, and by continuing to pursue him I’m eating into the range for weapons and safe separation. It is another area where we have had mishaps with pilots who tracked too aggressively and ended up with a midair collision,” says Janjua.

Flying at 435 kt., we came within 375 ft., well inside the permissible training bubble and “ever so slightly closer than I’d have wanted to,” Janjua adds. During our corkscrewing pursuit, he had called out the closing range—“900 . . . 700 ft.”—but a fraction of a second later we were much closer. “We went through his wake, so I had to be careful of jetwash. I eased off the stick as we went through the wake from his wings and jet, because I did not want to overstress the aircraft.”

From a test pilot perspective, this is a particularly unnatural part of the evaluation. “You are forcing yourself to make gross errors to the point where you can prod this bear, but at the same time stay far enough away to avoid a collision,” says Janjua. From a nuisance evaluation perspective, the exercise was a success. Throughout the gun-tracking tasks there was not a single tone in our headsets, indicating the system never wanted to activate.

Testing gunfight scenarios without nuisance activations is pivotal to the acceptance of a system that will not impede operations. “I understand because I am a fighter pilot who has flown in combat. That is why this side of the testing is just as important, because as soon as we have someone who makes a conscious decision to turn off the system, then we have failed. We cannot field a system that is prone to nuisance, because if someone turns it off, what good is it?” says Janjua. 

“We make sure we explore these dark corners, because people are more likely to trust it as a credible system and use it long enough to realize it is going to save them and the lives of their friends. Like Auto-GCAS is doing, as soon as you start to save lives, the system gains capital,” he adds.

From here we descended to around 2,000 ft. over the ground and began a series of rejoin tasks to stress the system for more nuisance activations. These involved our aircraft flying at 400 kt., which was 50 kt. faster than Skull 2, for straight-ahead rejoins from an extended trail with an overshoot, straight-ahead rejoin from tactical flying, and a turning rejoin with an overshoot. The series was repeated at a slower speed at 4,000 ft. Skull 2 reported hearing tones on some of the runs, indicating that there is still some software work needed to eliminate nuisance alerts in some areas. “We will focus a lot of energy there, but it is not an impediment to fielding,” explains Janjua.

We then approached what, for me at least, was another highlight of the flight: a supersonic head-on collision-avoidance scenario. Just setting up for this test point required a high degree of precision flying from both test pilots, as our aircraft climbed to 30,000 ft. and 31,000 ft., respectively, before beginning to run in supersonically toward each other from a distance of about 40 mi. Accelerating to Mach 1.2, we covered the ground rapidly with a closure speed of Mach 2.4, or about 24 mi. per minute.

Everything seemed to happen very quickly as I watched the fuel flow gauge numbers tumble with a blur and the Mach meter indicate our supersonic velocity of 1,350 ft. per second. Trying to pass each other virtually within a wingspan, I watched as the system’s warning chevrons appeared and touched, instantly rolling us to the right and then pulling us into a 5g turn. With an altitude offset of 950 ft. for safety programmed into our Auto-ACAS system, I did not expect to even see the other F-16 but was surprised to glimpse a gray streak as Skull 2 passed on our left and the two aircraft activated in concert. Postflight analysis indicated we had passed virtually with a miss distance of 352 ft.

“Imagine an automation system that’s so good it delays activation until it can give you really the scariest of activations,” comments Janjua. “If we pass at 350 ft., we are a fraction of a second from hitting each other, so if the system delays activation by 0.15 sec. the aircraft hit,” he adds reassuringly. Wing tanks have to be dry for this test point, to reduce loads on the aircraft. “As currently designed, Auto-ACAS and Auto-GCAS will not restrict their commanded roll rate during an automatic maneuver. In these situations, the threat of a collision is deemed greater than the threat of structural damage to the aircraft. A pilot-activated recovery maneuver [using the paddle],  however, will limit its roll rate if there is fuel in the external tanks,” explains Eger. 

Low on fuel, Skull 2 returned to base, leaving us to conduct a final phase of low-level flying to check for nuisance alerts. Janjua let me fly the aircraft down to lower altitude, allowing me along the way to perform some moderate G turns and check the quick responsiveness of the aircraft’s General Electric F110-129 engine.

Starting with a low-level run to simulate tactical terrain masking and threat avoidance, we dipped down to 300 ft, our shadow looming large as we swooped at 450 kt. over the sage bushes dotting the valley floor. Although an “altitude, altitude” warning blurted out as we clipped a ridge at 250 ft., no chevrons appeared on the head-up display. “It just shows how robust the Auto-GCAS is, even though we flew at such high speed and low altitude over ridges and terrain that was flat or sloping terrain. This will wait until the last infinitesimal second before the point of no return,” says Janjua.

We then returned to Edwards, landing after a 2.7-hr. sortie that proved to me that the Auto-ICAS system developed and tested here has not only dramatically expanded the potential flight safety for combat pilots but also has in no way changed the functionality of the baseline Auto-GCAS on the F-16 Block 40/50. 


To integrate Auto-ACAS with Auto-GCAS, developers opted to make the integrated collision-avoidance system “terrain-aware” and to always give the ground-collision system priority over Auto-ACAS. The system algorithm estimates how close an Auto-ACAS avoidance maneuver combined with an Auto-GCAS fly-up will come to the terrain.

To begin selecting the best maneuver, the Auto-ACAS algorithm initially uses aircraft airspeed and dive angle to assess estimated altitude loss, before further processing using a neural net. A module called the automatic maneuver activation control unit, which determines when an activation is absolutely required, then uses a trajectory prediction algorithm in the Auto-GCAS system to compute the altitude loss. For the purposes of the neural network and the ground collision trajectory predictions, the aircraft recovery is assumed to begin at the end of a 3.1-sec. Auto-ACAS avoidance maneuver.

The Auto-ACAS scans the digital terrain 18,000 ft. ahead, and 5,500 ft. on either side of the aircraft to compare the altitude loss with the highest terrain. The scan includes all potential Auto-ACAS avoidances followed by an Auto-GCAS fly-up, except those that begin with the aircraft inverted—in which case the scan area is circular. The Auto-GCAS algorithm scans this area and provides the highest scanned terrain to the Auto-ACAS system. Any Auto-ACAS maneuvers that result in passing close to the ground are penalized or inhibited by the algorithm, favoring only maneuvers that take the aircraft upward. 


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 Broken F-35 Parts Take Six Months To Fix, GAO Finds

Lara Seligman Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, Oct 30, 2017

If a part on one of the U.S. military’s growing fleet of 250 F-35s fails, it takes about six months for the depots to repair it—twice the program’s objective, a key government watchdog has found. 

The Pentagon does not have enough capacity to repair F-35 parts in a timely manner because the establishment of repair capabilities at the military depots is six years behind schedule, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) writes in a recent report on the controversial fighter. These capabilities were planned to be completed by 2016, but some have now been delayed until 2022, according to the watchdog.

Neither the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) nor the military services would take responsibility for the delay, GAO says. Program officials attributed it to the services not providing enough funding for depot requirements, but service officials pointed fingers at the JPO, saying the program office did not clearly identify some depot requirements soon enough for the services to provide adequate funding.

In addition, GAO found that a shortage of spare parts in the F-35 supply chain is leading to low readiness levels. From January through August 7, 2017, prime contractorLockheed Martin reported that F-35s were unable to fly because they were awaiting parts on average about 22% of the time—more than double the Pentagon’s objective of 10%, according to the report.

The program office and Lockheed have identified steps needed to increase the availability of spare parts, GAO writes. Still, parts shortages are expected to continue for several years to come and may worsen if the JPO and Lockheed don’t follow through.

GAO reported the striking repair limitations and parts shortages as part of a wide-ranging report on F-35 sustainment challenges, even as the Pentagon plans to triple the size of the fleet by the end of 2021.

“DOD is taking steps to address some challenges, but without more comprehensive plans and aligned funding, DOD risks being unable to fully leverage the F-35’s capabilities and sustain a rapidly expanding fleet,” GAO writes.

The report also notes that initial Marine Corps F-35 deployments on ships in 2018, and potentially initial Navy deployments, will not include the intermediate-level maintenance capabilities that will allow repairs to be done at sea. This likely will lead to degraded readiness, GAO concludes.

Meanwhile, GAO also reports delays in planned updates to the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), the logistics backbone of the fleet that is central to supporting operations and maintenance.

These sustainment challenges are leading to lower-than-expected aircraft availability and full-mission-capable rates across the fleet, GAO notes.

The F-35 already is the Pentagon’s most costly weapon system, with sustainment costs alone estimated at $1.12 trillion over 60 years, according to GAO.

“Without revising sustainment plans to include the key requirements and decision points needed to fully implement the F-35 sustainment strategy, and without aligned funding plans to meet those requirements, DOD is at risk of being unable to leverage the capabilities of the aircraft it has recently purchased,” GAO says.

JPO spokesman Joe DellaVedova acknowledged that the report is “factually accurate,” but said due to its origination date it does not account for the work the F-35 sustainment team has done over the past few months to accelerate depot capability and capacity, implement solutions to increase spare parts and reduce overall sustainment costs.

GAO conducted the performance audit from October 2016 to October 2017, according to the report.
The JPO pointed to several initiatives it has undertaken to improve F-35 logistics and sustainment, including a disciplined reliability and maintainability program, improved maintenance procedures and manuals, continued improvement in ALIS, better forecasting of spares requirements, improved repair turnaround times from suppliers and incorporation of aircraft design improvements. These efforts are having a positive effect, but “at a slower rate than desired,” according to the JPO.

Additional actions include:

• In fiscal 2017, the JPO moved forward with accelerating depot capability by executing $114 million to fast-track the standup of depots.  

• In fiscal 2017, the JPO invested $3.4 million in Reliability and Maintainability (R&M) improvement projects, with 28 projects in work to reduce the top maintenance cost drivers.  

• In fiscal 2017, the JPO spent $1.4 billion to increase spare part purchases, build up repair capacity and improve the speed of repairs.

• To increase F-35 intermediate-level maintenance capabilities for shipboard deployments, the JPO has identified select avionics and support equipment for repair and is working with the services to resource requirements.

• The JPO has developed a five-year ALIS technical roadmap to address future requirements.

• The JPO has jointly developed a Lifecycle Affordability Board with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and Pratt & Whitney to provide a single location for experts in manufacturing, supply chain management, cost estimating, and acquisition to work jointly on driving down operation and support (O&S) costs.  

“The F-35 Joint Program Office is moving out on all fronts to accelerate depot capability and capacity; implement solutions to increase spare parts and reduce overall sustainment costs,” DellaVedova said. “We remain focused and fully committed to developing, delivering and sustaining this next-generation stealth fighter for the warfighters.”

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1-DF-HYPOXIA OliverCole-USNavy

Fear Of Losing Oxygen Puts U.S. Fighter Pilots On Edge

Lara Seligman Aviation Week & Space Technology -  nov 1,2017

Looking around the cockpit of his familiar F/A-18 Hornet, a former pilot recalls a terrifying realization: “I just remember looking around the airplane thinking, man, I’m not completely certain I know how to fly this airplane anymore.”The pilot was flying about 20,000 ft. above the ground, not expecting to feel the tingling fingers and blurred judgment caused by lack of oxygen.

The A-model Hornet gave no warnings, alerts or cautions that the cockpit pressurization was not functioning. Looking back, the pilot still has no idea how he managed to recognize his symptoms so early.“When you spend your life inside an airplane you just intuitively know how to fly it,” says the pilot, who requested anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “When you start wondering about just your fundamental flying ability . . . that’s not the way you feel flying the aircraft every day.”

The pilot checked the cabin pressure gauge, which immediately revealed the cause of his symptoms. He quickly notified his wingman of his symptoms and began descending to a safer altitude. At some point, he remembers pulling the “green apple,” a green ring in the ejection seat that provides a burst of oxygen to the pilot.

“I don’t remember, I might’ve taken my gloves off, but it was evident based on the tingling and my cognitive ability that something was not right,” he says.

In A Fighter Aircraft, Breathing Is No Easy Feat

The symptoms eventually subsided, and the pilot landed safely. But those few blurry minutes could have been deadly. It turned out that the pilot was suffering from a lack of oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia that can lead to impaired cognition and blackout—potentially fatal when flying high-performance aircraft. 

Across the U.S. military fleets, pilots are reporting more and more hypoxia-like cockpit episodes that, while not necessarily caused by true hypoxia, feature the same symptoms. The events leave pilots short of breath, disoriented and shaken.

The Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet, EA-18GGrowler and T-45 Goshawk trainer as well as the Air Force’s new F-35A fleets have seen a significant surge in these so-called physiological episodes (PE) over the last few years. In the F/A-18 and EA-18G communities, the number of PEs increased almost eightfold from 2009 to 2016 and as of October was up to 108 for 2017 alone (see graph). In the T-45 fleet, PEs increased from just one in 2009 to 38 in 2012, and 29 have occurred so far this year (see graph). There were just 10 PEs in F-35As in 2006-16; in 2017, the Joint Program Office so far has recorded another 10, doubling the overall number reported (see infographic).

The Navy’s comprehensive review of the incidents notes that the apparent increase in PEs in 2010 was likely more reflective of a change in aircrew awareness and reporting mechanisms than a sudden rise in episodes. Still, the Navy deemed the number and severity of PEs across the fleet “unacceptable.”

The rise in these incidents over the last decade is particularly troubling because the Air Force and Navy have a history of PEs contributing to fatal accidents. Air Force Capt. Jeff Haney died in 2010 when an engine bleed-air malfunction caused the control system on his F-22Raptor to shut off oxygen flow to his mask. Meanwhile, the Navy has linked four F/A-18 pilot deaths over a span of 10 years to the pilots experiencing hypoxia-like symptoms.

The most recent incidents have not yet been directly linked to pilot deaths. But in a move that reflects the severity of the problem, due to the events the Navy this year grounded the T-45s  in which Navy pilots train across the country, and the Air Force grounded F-35As at Luke AFB, Arizona, the Air Force’s premier F-35 training base.

Although both types have resumed flight operations, the episodes continue. Tragically, a T-45 belonging to Training Sqdn. Seven based at NAS Meridian, Mississippi, crashed on Oct. 1 in East Tennessee during a training flight, leaving two pilots dead. The incident has not yet been definitively linked to PEs, but that possibility cannot be ruled out.

One of the most disquieting aspects of the spike in cockpit incidents over the last few years is the Pentagon’s failure to identify the problem’s cause and to fix it. Lawmakers have slammed military leadership, particularly in the Navy, for not addressing the issue.

“What’s occurring in the Navy is absolutely unacceptable,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee on tactical air and land forces, during negotiations on the defense policy bill this summer. “This is absolutely critical for our pilots, and it also goes to the confidence of the pilots, the ability of a pilot to know that their system is going to operate and they are not putting their lives at risk,”

“I have no doubt the Navy is taking that issue seriously,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, during an October event at the Heritage Foundation. “But . . . I don’t understand why we can’t figure out what’s causing the oxygen problem.” 

Current and former pilots, flight surgeons and aerospace physiologists across the services tell Aviation Week that getting to the root of the problem has proven so difficult because it involves the interaction of two extremely complex systems: high-performance fighters and the human body.

Just recognizing hypoxia can be tricky, as each pilot experiences different symptoms, ranging from tingling in hands and feet to disorientation and even personality changes. Air Force Maj. Joseph Teodoro, who commands the Aerospace and Operational Physiology unit at Langley AFB in Virginia, has seen a range of strange pilot behaviors, from hysterical giggling to belligerence and even some who, unaware of their critical situation, refuse to go back on oxygen.

But complicating the picture is the fact that many conditions not necessarily caused by a lack of oxygen share similar symptoms, explains Col. Jay Flottmann, an F-22 Raptor pilot and former flight surgeon. True hypoxia—a lack of oxygen in the blood—can easily be mistaken for any number of similar physiological states such as hypercapnia (high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood), histotoxic hypoxia (the presence of a toxin), decompression sickness or even simply dehydration, lack of sleep or nervousness.

Sometimes the issue is mechanical—it could be a problem with the Onboard Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS) or a piece of flight equipment can restrict pilots’ breathing. A faulty valve, for instance, was determined to be a factor in a spate of dangerous cockpit events in the F-22 community. But sometimes physiological and psychological factors can induce changes in pilot breathing, Flottman says.

Despite the complexity of the problem, the PE investigations are making progress. In Super Hornets and Growlers, the Navy is for the first time linking a specific component failure to the cockpit events.

The service discovered that the avionics flow valve inside the aircraft’s environmental control system (ECS)—essentially its air conditioning—has a tendency to freeze, blocking airflow in and out of the system, says Capt. Sara Joyner, head of the service’s Physiological Episode Action Team. The valve controls the airflow through the ECS, which helps keep the cockpit environment stable, so a blockage could cause problematic changes in cabin pressure. The team is adding a heater blanket to the ECS avionics flow valve to keep it from freezing. 

“We are not declaring victory, but we are declaring that we found something to fix, and we are fixing it,” Joyner says.

The Navy also will embark on a broader ECS “reset” that will evaluate each part of the system carefully “to try to put it in the best state possible,” she adds. Meanwhile, in the T-45 fleet, the problem is insufficient oxygen flow to the pilot. The T-45’s comparatively small engine cannot always provide sufficient flow to ensure easy breathing through all flight regimes, Joyner explains.

This is likely due to T-45 system upgrades and additions, which have cumulatively begun to decrease the oxygen flow to the pilot. It is probably not due to the OBOGS.The Navy is undertaking several efforts to optimize that flow, including refurbishing the heat exchangers to eliminate any obstruction or blockages and analyzing the piping to identify any flow loss.In addition, the service is installing CRU-123 oxygen-monitoring systems in the T-45s, an upgrade from the CRU-99 system that monitors breathing gas pressure and oxygen content.

As of Oct. 2, 113 of 170 T-45s had been outfitted with the new system, which also enables postflight download of data on cockpit conditions. All T-45 aircraft will have the CRU-123 installed by the end of the second quarter of 2018, the Navy expects.

On the F-35A, one constant in the three most recent incidents at Luke AFB may prove key to solving the problem. In each of the incidents, initiating the backup oxygen system did not immediately ease pilots’ symptoms. This indicates that the problem is not true hypoxia, says Col. Ben Bishop, commander of the Air Force’s 56th Operations Group and an F-35 pilot.


Bishop believes pilots could be experiencing hypercapnia due to restricted breathing, potentially caused by the life-support system. He does not think the cause is hyperventilation.

“I think there might be something based on how the machine and the human are interacting that’s altering the breathing,” Bishop says.

The team is looking at all flight equipment for an indication of something that would restrict pilot breathing and taking steps to make the life-support system as robust as possible, he says. Already, the Air Force has made a number of changes to flight equipment to mitigate the potential for restrictions of breathing, including reducing the weight of the flight vest to making breathing easier and making changes to the exhalation valve on the mask to prevent sticking. 

Bishop is confident the problem is not caused by air contamination or an OBOGS fault. There are no indications of carbon monoxide or other toxins on the ramp or during pilot examinations, he says. And recent testing of the OBOGS found the system is generating enough oxygen to safely support the pilot.

While initially there was a lot of concern in the pilot community at Luke over the PEs, pilots have begun to regain confidence both in the leadership and in the F-35, Bishop says. Today, although pilots realize the team may never find a single “smoking gun,” they have high confidence that in the event of a PE, they will be able to turn on the backup oxygen system and safely recover the aircraft, he stresses.

“We are not going to make any pilot that’s not comfortable flying the aircraft—who doesn’t have confidence in the F-35’s life-support system—we’re not going to make them fly,” Bishop says. “Up to this point, pilot confidence has been high enough that everyone has been able to return to fly.”


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 2-ME-FIGHTERS DrSeanWilson–PrimeImages

Changing Face Of Middle East’s Fighter Race

The Middle East is still providing opportunities for the fighter business

A wave of fighter modernization across the Middle East and North Africa is proving to be a boon for industry both East and West.

And it is fair to say that without the Middle East market, some Western fighter aircraft types would have faded into history.

Production of the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon has been kept alive by Iraq’s order for Block 52 model F-16IQs, and Bahrain looks set  to sign up to a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deal for upgraded and new-build F-16Vs before year-end.

And the Boeing F-15 Eagle’s production has been massively bolstered by Saudi Arabia’s order for 84 new-build F-15SA (Saudi Advanced) Eagles, while an extensive upgrade program will bring the country’s existing F-15S aircraft up to the same standard.

The Saudi Eagle programs are among the most complex and lucrative U.S. FMS programs ever.

Meanwhile, Kuwait’s April 2016 order for the Eurofighter Typhoon has prolonged Typhoon production until at least 2023, rather than its original end date of 2018.

These purchases have been driven by the need to modernize and increase capacity in the face of new threats, as well as by the call to work more closely with allies. Middle Eastern air forces are taking on a greater expeditionary warfare mission than the defensive stance they took before.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are prime examples of this. A decade ago, their fighters were rarely seen beyond their borders, but the introduction of new airlift capabilities and tanker aircraft such as the Airbus A330 Multi-Role TankerTransport—in service with both services—has given each nation a global reach.

Several times a year, fighters from Saudi Arabia and/or the UAE cross the Atlantic to participate in the multinational Red and Green Flag exercises at Nellis AFB, Nevada, building up closer relationships with international air forces. This year alone, Saudi fighters have also deployed to Sudan and Pakistan for joint exercises.

In the Saudi-led operation against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the UAE has established a base just across the Red Sea in Assab, Eritrea, from which it flies Dassault Mirage 2000s. Reports suggest that UAE Mirage 2000s may also be flying from Al-Khadim airbase in Libya in support of the Libyan National Army forces fighting in the area. 2-ME FIGHTERS-map big

The Royal Saudi Air Force has deployed F-15s to Turkey’s Incirlik airbase in support of the U.S. led-operations against the Islamic State group.

The Saudi-led coalition has also included fighters from Egypt, Kuwait and Morocco.

In 2015, Jordanian and Israeli deployments to a Red Flag exercise revealed a high level of trust and cooperation between the two countries, as the Jordanian fighters refueled from the Israeli tankers en route to Nevada.

Less clear is Qatar’s plan for an enlarged fighter capability. Having placed orders for theDassault Rafale and, more recently, for the F-15QA, Doha has also signed letters of intent for the Eurofighter Typhoon, which when combined would create a three-type fleet of 84-96 fighters, eight times larger than Qatar’s existing fleet.

There is little doubt that Doha has the cash to purchase and operate the aircraft, but whether a fleet is sustainable in the long term is unclear. The country will have to lean heavily on the nations supplying them, and some doubt whether the Gulf country has enough pilots or personnel to fly or maintain that number of aircraft.

Saudi Arabia has much to do to integrate the new F-15SA into service, and uncertainty surrounds the purchase of a second batch of Typhoons. Delivery of all 72 Typhoons under the UK-Saudi Al-Salam deal was completed in September, but UK defense exports to Saudi have been mired in controversy over a judicial review brought about by Britain’s Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) initiative. While the Saudis prevailed in the review, the campaign group is pursuing an appeal. BAE Systems is understood to have offered final assembly of any new Typhoons at a site in Dhahran to appeal to Riyadh, in a similar move to Saudi assembly of new Hawk jet trainers. However, Riyadh is unlikely to make any decision while the CAAT appeal is ongoing.

Several nations are still mulling offers. The replacement for the UAE’s fleet of Mirage 2000 fighters continues to be contested by the Eurofighter consortium with the Typhoon and Dassault with the Rafale, but it is unclear whether there has been any real progress. The UAE reportedly desires involvement in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, but this is unlikely to happen in the near future, given that Israel has only just begun receiving the type. The Israeli lobby in Washington has been highly effective at ensuring that advanced types do not reach its neighbors until 5-10 years after Tel Aviv does.

However, Russia contends that it is making inroads in meeting Emirati requirements. In February, Russian officials announced that Moscow and Abu Dhabi would work together on the development of a fifth-generation fighter, and Russian media assert that the UAE could sign a deal for Sukhoi Su-35 fighters during the Dubai Airshow.

Russia has also made progress in getting back into Egypt, where a new fleet of Mikoyan MiG-29M/M2s—also known as MiG-35s—is being delivered, adding yet another type to Egypt’s burgeoning fighter inventory. In the last 36 months, Egypt has also taken delivery of its first Rafales and Block 52-model F-16C/Ds. It is unclear what Cairo plans to do with its aging fleet of MiG-21s, Chengdu F-7s, Mirage Vs and 2000s, however.

In the coming years, it is likely that countries such as Morocco and Tunisia will be open to new fighter sale campaigns.

Although Morocco has introduced the F-16 to its inventory, it is unclear whether there will be replacement programs for the Mirage F1 and the Northrop F-5, both of which remain in frontline service. The latter continues to serve Tunisia as its primary frontline aircraft, but a replacement will likely have to come online in the next 5-7 years.


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1-TXSEAT-2 MartinBaker

For T-X, U.S. Air Force Seeks Safer New Ejection Seat

U.S. Air Force seeks state-of-the-art escape system for T-X trainer

As it looks to replace its T-38 Talons with the T-X advanced jet trainer, the U.S. Air Force is also looking forward to a new ejection seat that promises to overcome many of the limitations of the seats now in use. During a 5-hr. training session and 1-hr.-long flight in a T-38 with U.S. Air Combat Command’s 71st Fighter Trainer Sqdn., one of a handful still fitted with the original 1960s-era Northrop seat, I saw firsthand how complicated, inconvenient and downright painful an ejection seat can be.

In the late 2000s, the Air Force tapped British ejection-seat maker Martin-Baker to upgrade the Air Education and Training Command’s (AETC's) entire operational fleet of about 450 Talons with a modern Mk. 16 system. Martin-Baker completed the installations in 2014. Before that upgrade, they had all been outfitted with a 1960s-era, Northrop-built model.


A well-made ejection seat can mean the difference between life or death

Until recently, Air Force student pilots trained in legacy T-38 Talons equipped with 1960s-era ejection seat

Martin-Baker finished installing a more modern seat, Mk. 16, in AETC T-38s in 2014

Martin-Baker and UTC are offering next-generation escape systems for the new T-X

The legacy seat is not designed to accommodate the full spectrum of body types. You must weigh at least 140 lb. to fly in the seat or sign a waiver assuming elevated risk, and crew must carry 50 lb. of gear out to the aircraft, since the parachute is not built into the seat, and seat adjustment is limited.
On top of that, the manual ejection sequence is treacherous: Each crewmember must yank his or her own lever to trigger the ejection, which can lead to inflight collisions. The legacy seat also has no restraints to keep the pilots’ legs in a safe position during the violent1-TXSEAT-1 Martin-Baker promo blast.

The new Mk16 is a huge improvement on the legacy Northrop-made seat, accommodating more pilots on both ends of the height and weight spectrum and providing crews with a “zero-zero” escape system designed to safely extract pilots from emergencies in stationary aircraft on the ground as well as in the air. The automatic ejection sequence deconflicts the seats, and leg restraints keep limbs in a safe position. Those details can mean life or death for the pilot.

Now, Martin-Baker is offering its newest Mk. 18 seat to the industry teams vying to build the new T-X, according to Andrew Martin, the company’s vice president of business development and marketing. Competitor UTC Aerospace Systems will likely offer its ACES 5 ejection seat for the 350-aircraft T-X program.
Ejecting from a high-performance aircraft is a violent event at best, but a well-made ejection seat can save a pilot’s life. Credit: Martin-Baker

Martin-Baker likely has the incumbent’s advantage, however, as the existing T-38 and the three competing T-X prototypes are already fitted with the Mk. 16. Lockheed Martinand Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) are offering KAI’s T-50, Leonardo DRS is pitching a version of the Ita1-TXSEAT-3 MartinBakerlian firm’s M346 trainer, and Boeing-Saab proposed a clean-sheet design.

The Mk. 18 improves pilot safety, particularly for pilots on the edges of the weight envelope, in a number of significant ways, Martin explains. The Mk. 18 introduces passive leg and arm restraints, and a neck protection device that deploys airbags over the shoulders and behind the head. Meanwhile, the parachute is a handpacked Irvin-GQ 6000 that is slightly larger in diameter than the Mk. 16’s GQ 5000, in order to accommodate a larger pilot.
In addition, a new tilt mechanism allows a small pilot to tilt the whole seat instead of simply moving the backrest forward. This allows the pilot to sit in “a more optimal position” to reach vital controls, Martin says.
The U.S. Air Force tapped U.K. ejection seat maker Martin-Baker in the late 2000s to upgrade the Northrop-built T-38 seats with a modern Mk. 16. Credit: Martin-Baker

The Mk. 18 also introduces an electronic device for its two-stage propulsion system. The system’s first rocket blast catapults the pilot, who is still attached to the seat, up the rails and clear of the aircraft. Once the pilot enters the airstream, a second rocket goes off to correct for pitch. The Mk. 18’s new electronic device automatically senses the rotational acceleration of the seat and rotates the second rocket motor to the optimal position to correct pitch.

Where the Mk.16 has a simple mechanical sensing system that determines deployment times of the various devices in the seat, like the parachute, the Mk. 18 has an electronic sequencer. The Mk. 18 system measures G and altitude, calculates speed and then uses an electronic sequencer to determine deployment times.
“It does a far finer, more graduated analysis of performance on which it then sets the timings for optimal behavior,” says Martin.

Whichever proposal the Air Force chooses, the new T-X escape system will save lives and allow more pilots to fly. The Air Force is requiring the new seat to accommodate pilots across the full weight envelope, from 103-245 lb.
“We can’t wait for that airplane to be fielded for us, because, like I said before, it’s going to be a game-changer for us,” says AETC Commander Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson.

“We can’t wait for that airplane to be fielded for us, because, like I said before, it’s going to be a game-changer for us,” says AETC Commander Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson. “We need this badly in our Air Force.”


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A F-35A Pilots Report Five More Hypoxia-Like Episodes

Lara Seligman | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report Oct 24, 2017


U.S. Air Force F-35s  at Luke AFB, Arizona, are back in the skies after a spate of so-called physiological episodes (PEs) caused the service to ground the aircraft this summer, but the troubling events have continued across the service’s F-35 fleet, with pilots reporting tingling fingers and other symptoms that indicate hypoxia five separate times since flights resumed at Luke.

These incidents reflect a significant spike in PEs recorded on the F-35A in the past few months. From 2006-2016 the type saw just 10 PEs; in 2017 so far, the F-35 Joint Program Office has recorded another 10, doubling the overall number reported. Five of those 10 took place between May 2 and June 8 at Luke, and caused the Air Force to temporarily ground the F-35s at that base.

Since Luke F-35s resumed flying, pilots there have reported three additional PEs, according to Col. Ben Bishop, commander of the 56th Operations Group and an F-35 pilot. The symptoms were milder than in the initial five events, and in each instance the pilots were able to safely recover the aircraft, he told Aviation Week in an Oct. 23 interview.

The rate of PEs in the F-35A is significantly higher than in the other F-35 variants. Overall from 2006-2017, the JPO recorded 29 PEs across all variants of the F-35: 20 in the F-35A; four in the U.S. Marine Corps  F-35B; and five in the U.S. Navy F-35C.

After months of investigating, the team looking into the F-35A PEs has yet to find one root cause of the problem. The team still is not sure whether the incidents indicate true hypoxia—a lack of oxygen in the blood—or any number of similar physiological states, for instance hypercapnia (high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood, sometimes caused by hyperventilation), histotoxic hypoxia (the presence of a toxin), decompression sickness, or even simply dehydration, lack of sleep, or nervousness.

But although the incidents continue to occur at Luke and elsewhere, the team is at least narrowing down the problem.

The JPO recently briefed the squadron on the test results from the F-35’s Onboard Oxygen Generation System (Obogs), which showed no problems with the system, Bishop said. The PE team is looking at ways to refine the algorithm that controls the fluctuations in oxygen concentration levels so the Obogs delivers oxygen at a steadier rate, potentially making breathing easier. But in all cases the Obogs is producing enough oxygen to sustain the pilot, he stressed. 

Bishop also is confident the problem is not caused by contamination. There are no indications of carbon monoxide or other toxins on the ramp, or during pilot examinations, he said.

There is one telling aspect of the incidents that may prove key to solving the problem. In each of the three incidents that occurred since June, initiating the backup oxygen system did not immediately ease the pilots’ symptoms. This indicates the problem is not true hypoxia, Bishop said.
During pilot training in the Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device (ROBD), which simulates hypoxia, “when you go to 100% oxygen you get relief immediately; that’s not happening in a lot of cases here,” Bishop said.

Bishop believes pilots could be experiencing hypercapnia—too much carbon dioxide in the blood—due to restricted breathing, potentially caused by the life support system. He does not think the cause is hyperventilation.

“I think there might be something based on how the machine and the human are interacting that’s altering the breathing,” Bishop said. “So we’re obviously very interested in understanding how the valves are working and making sure our pilots can exhale comfortably. If you are having trouble exhaling that can change the way your body normally breathes, which can have unintended consequences.”

The team is looking at all pieces of the flight equipment for an indication of something that would restrict pilot breathing and is taking steps to make the life support system as robust as possible, Bishop said. Already, the Air Force has made a number of changes to flight equipment to mitigate the potential for restricted breathing, including reducing the weight of the flight vest to make breathing easier, and making changes to the exhalation valve on the mask to prevent sticking. 

The pilots also have the option to wear pulse oximeters to measure their blood oxygen levels during flight. However, these devices are not always reliable as they can slip off, Bishop said.

Initially, there was a lot of concern in the pilot community at Luke over the spike in PEs, Bishop acknowledged.

“I will say, just being very frank and open with you, when we stood down that first day there were some pilots that were not comfortable flying the airplane,” said Bishop. He stressed that those pilots were in the minority.

But despite the three additional incidents, pilots have regained confidence both in their leadership and in the F-35 life support system since flights resumed. The squadron took steps to ensure pilots knew they could express their concerns, for instance organizing focus groups for the pilots and town halls for the families. The squadron and the PE team also took steps to educate the pilots on the incidents as well as how to recognize their own unique hypoxia symptoms, for instance by training in the ROBD.

“To be honest, there was some misinformation at first, people were not fully aware of exactly how the systems played out and initially there was some concern in the backup oxygen system,” Bishop said. “But by the end of the stand-down, through that education process, the pilots were comfortable.”

Today, although the pilots realize the team may never find a single smoking gun, they have “high confidence” that in the event of a PE they will be able to turn on the backup oxygen system and safely recover the aircraft, Bishop stressed. That is the “number one threshold” for continuing flying operations, he said.

“We are not going to make any pilot that’s not comfortable flying the aircraft, who doesn’t have confidence in the F-35’s life support system—we’re not going to make them fly,” Bishop said. “Up to this point pilot confidence has been high enough that everyone has been able to return to fly.”


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A origem do Gripen

Defesa Aérea&Naval - Guilherme Wiltgen, 30/03/2017


Durante a Guerra Fria, a Suécia sentia-se ameaçada pelos países signatários do Pacto de Varsóvia. A nação precisava de uma aeronave que pudesse superar e conter forças inimigas mais expressivas de aviões de caça.

O norte da Suécia é um local implacável com invernos longos e congelantes, além de amplas áreas sem população. O terreno apresenta um ambiente hostil para a operação de uma aeronave, embora tenha sido este lugar o berço do Gripen.

A defesa dessas vastas áreas exige que um avião desempenhe missões ar-ar, ar-terra e de reconhecimento numa única incursão, sem a necessidade de retorno à base para reconfiguração.

O Gripen também foi concebido para pousar em rodovias, usando-as como pistas temporárias, permitindo à Forca Aérea usar sua flexibilidade logística e velocidade para se proteger de forças invasoras que viessem do mar.

A fácil manutenção e reconfiguração também eram vitais, já que os aviões seriam operados por reservistas suecos com apenas 10 semanas de treinamento, em geral, ao ar livre, em condições isoladas e com gelo.

O relativamente pequeno orçamento de defesa sueco e as severas condições sob as quais o Gripen foi desenvolvido levaram a Saab a torná-lo o caça mais eficiente possível. Um aspecto fundamental é a arquitetura modular e de aviônica aberta do Gripen, que permite a integração com produtos de prateleira sempre que possível, assim como o desenvolvimento contínuo de novas funções para atender as necessidades futuras.

Desenvolvimento contínuo

A Saab trabalha em estreita cooperação com seus clientes em todo o planeta a fim de aprimorar a aeronave. Juntos, possuímos uma longa tradição de desenvolvimento contínuo.

Ao invés de realizar grandes e caros upgrades de meia-vida, a Saab usa um ciclo curto de upgrade que promove melhorias incrementais. Isso garante que a aeronave esteja moderna e que os upgrades possam ser adaptados a um mundo em constante mutação. A melhoria nos custos se estende durante um longo período e os upgrades não são obrigatórios, sempre serão uma escolha do cliente.




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 Caça Japonês de 5ª Geração pode ser alternativa ao FGFA na Índia?

Plano Brazil - Posted by E.M.Pinto 9 de abril de 2017 at 12:03


Depois de ter sido negada a oportunidade de adquirir os caças Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor e devido ao aumento de tensões e ameaças da Força Aérea chinesa na região. Tóquio decidiu desenvolver um avançado caça de 5ª Geração cujo projeto é encabeçado pela Mitsubishi e que atende por F-3 caça o qual pretende-se operar lado a lado dos Lockheed Martin F-35 e F-15.

O F-3 propõe-se a se situar uma classe acima em termos de desempenho e capacidade de transporte de armas aos F-35. O Japão desenvolveu e testou a aeronave protótipo do Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD-X), que será um precursor do F-3 apresentando inúmeras tecnologias furtivas desenvolvidas por Tóquio.

No mês passado, o Japão e o Reino Unido concordaram em explorar opções para o co-desenvolvimento de uma aeronave furtiva e também sugeriu que está interessado em explorar discussões com outros países sobre o desenvolvimento de um jato de combate de próxima geração.

Muitos analistas da Defesa ocidentais sugeriram que Tóquio está tentando aprender com seu erro do passado, especialmente depois que seu último programa de aviões de combate F-2 foi amplamente criticado por ser mais caro do que uma compra de prateleira levando a apenas 100 aeronaves produzidas.

Tóquio está claramente tentando evitar o mesmo destino para o seu programa F-3 Stealth Fighter e está à procura de um parceiro internacional que possa financiar e também adquirir este aviões para facilitar o financiamento do desenvolvimento do programa.


Se por algum motivo o FGFA Indo-Russo não for aprovado e Japão concordar em fazer da Índia um parceiro no projeto,  a Índia terá a oportunidade de usar algumas de suas tecnologias desenvolvidas no programa AMCA.

Com a cooperação técnica ativa de países como Reino Unido e Japão, o projeto tem uma chance maior de sucesso na produção uma vez que, a Força de Autodefesa do Japão já colocou um requisito para cerca de 150 aeronaves.

Enquanto a Força Aeroespacial Russa tem se afastado de fazer encomendas para a Sukhoi referente ao caça PAKFA, reduzindo a pressão sobre a Índia.


Ainda existem muitas ressalvas, até porque persistem dúvidas ainda sobre a real classificação do F-3 como caça de quinta geração e de superioridade para que possa ser posicionado acima do AMCA que obviamente será um multipropósito furtivo nato. Porém, o Japão planeja desenvolver o F-3 e pô-lo na produção por volta de 2030, mesmo cronograma que a Índia propôs para o AMCA, o que pode permitir que a Índia se beneficie da tecnologia comum desenvolvida para ambos os caças.

Fonte: IDRW


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 13-Because I Was Inverted

 “Because I Was… Inverted!” Everything You Need To Know About The Photo Of An F-35C Firing An AIM-9X During Inverted Flight

The Avionist - By Tom Demerly, Aug 18 2017


Check Out These Cool Photos of the F-35C That Would Make Maverick and Goose and Jealous.

How many chances will the U.S. Navy’s F-35C have to launch a close-range, advanced air-to-air dogfighting missile like Raytheon’s AIM-9X in combat while flying upside down? The answer is *probably* none.

But in the unlikely event a U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning II does go into a dogfighting “furball” and it turns into a real-world remake of “Top Gun” without Tom Cruise, Lockheed Martin needed to be sure the F-35C could perform.

This missile launch test at the Patuxent River Naval Base in Maryland on the east coast of the U.S. demonstrated this rather unlikely capability was possible.

Flight test aircraft CF-2 performed the capability demonstration on June 8, 2017 and was photographed by Lockheed Martin photographer Dane Wiedmann using a Nikon D4 camera with a 24-70mm zoom lens while flying high right (or is it left when inverted?) formation in a chase aircraft.

Wiedmann shot the impressive photos at 1/1600 shutter speed to freeze the fast accelerating missile leaving the rails and f-stop 5.0 using ISO 400 setting. Wiedmann took the images early in the day, before 9:00 AM local time, accounting for the nice lighting.

The missile launch demonstration was flown by U.S. Marine Corps test pilot Major Eric Northam of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Three, VX-23, based at Patuxent. Major Northam is a highly experienced tactical aircraft test pilot with extensive experience in the F/A-18 Hornet in addition to the F-35C.

It is noteworthy that the flight test was flown by Major Northam, a USMC test pilot, on an F-35C, the U.S. Navy variant of the Joint Strike Fighter. The U.S. Marines fly the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35B.

As a side note, an AIM-9X, the world’s most advanced infrared–tracking, short–range air-to-air and surface-to -air missile, fired by a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet at a Syrian Sukhoi Su-22 that had dropped munitions near U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria, surprisingly missed its target. According to CNN, the VFA-87’s Super Hornet locked onto the Su-22 Fitter at a range of 1.5 miles and fired an AIM-9X: the Syrian pilot released flares to successfully lure the infrared guided missile away from his tail. The Syrian jet was eventually downed by the same Super Hornet with an AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air To Air Missile).

With the frequent popular media criticism of the F-35 program and a lingering narrative of program limitations that, according to some analysts really don’t exist, these tests for flight and weapons performance at the outer edges of the mission envelope seem to send a promising signal that the F-35 is capable across its entire mission requirement set, including unusual outlying mission requirements like inverted missile launches.

The capabilities of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program continue to be demonstrated across all types and services. Between Aug. 4 and Aug. 11, 2017, the U.S. Air Force conducted the first ever delivery of GBU-31 2,000-pound precision guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or “JDAM’s” at the Utah Test and Training Range near Hill AFB.

Pilots and Airmen of the 419th and 388th Fighter Wings operated the USAF’s F-35A Lightning II during the evaluations, named “Combat Hammer”. This was the first Air Force conducted operational evaluation of air-to- ground munitions for the F-35A following Lockheed Martin verification of capability tests. Official U.S. Air Force media sources quoted the performance of the tests to have, “above average mission and sortie rates”.

USAF Colonel Tim Smith, Commander of the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron detachment located at Hill AFB told media, “Overall, everything went as planned and all participating units performed very well, including the 34th Fighter Squadron F-35As.”


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12-Light Attack40

It’s Not a Fly-Off Competition: U.S. Air Force Tests Process and Planes at Light Attack Demo

The Avionist - By Tom Demerly, Aug 16 2017

New Process Showcased for Sourcing Includes Proposed Light Attack Aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force invited reporters to Holloman AFB in New Mexico for briefings about its new Light Attack Experiment last week. The key message from top Air Force and industry officials was not about aircraft selection, but about new evaluation methods for some proposed Air Force programs.

Adding emphasis to the significance of the program Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein were in attendance at Holloman AFB for the event.

The four aircraft included in the Light Attack Experiment are the proven Embraer A-29 Super Tucano, the Textron Aviation AT-6 turboprop, Textron’s new Scorpion light twin-engine jet and the interesting crop-duster turned combat plane, the Air Tractor/L3 Platform Integration AT-802L Longsword. Examples of each of the aircraft were present at the event for journalists, industry insiders and members of participating nations’ air forces to examine. But the emphasis on this demonstration was process, not planes.

As a possible outcome of the new evaluation and selection process acquisition programs could become more agile, adaptable and bring some future-facing needs to the battlefield faster and at lower cost. This may include a new light attack aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.

Part of the Air Force’s dual focus on process and planes is the open source acquisition methodology used during the Light Attack Experiment. The aircraft in the evaluation test case already exist, they are relatively “off the shelf”. Three of the four aircraft have already been employed in the light attack/counterinsurgency role, with only one, the Textron AirLand Scorpion, being a new developmental aircraft.

This new acquisition process will reduce costs and accelerate suitable programs from the evaluation to operational stage more quickly. The process compliments large-scale full-development program successes like the Joint Strike Fighter program that lead to the Air Force’s new F-35A Lightning II while filling a different, complimentary need.

U.S. Air Force Commander of Air Combat Command, General James “Mike” Holmes made a case for the Light Attack concept to reporters, “So you can imagine a world where you’re able to base some of these airplanes closer to the [forward] area, they can stay on station for a pretty good time, with a turboprop engine, which gives them a lot of time to stay out there. And then ultimately, it comes down again, to that really low cost.”

The Commander of ACC went on to note additional advantages in creating new combat pilots more efficiently, “My take is part of the benefit of this airplane is I can season and produce fighter pilots fast. I can fly a lot of hours on it pretty cheaply, and so I can make an experienced fighter pilot, which is what I’m short, I can make one fast.” When commenting on any potential progression of light tactical turboprop combat pilots to the fast jet community General Holmes told us, “I’ll season them in this airplane and then I’ll bring them back and put them into a short course, into a fourth or fifth gen fighter.”

Finally, in remarks to reporters, General Holmes hinted at an interesting prospect that harkens to the historical roots of Air Force Special Operations going back to the Vietnam era Air Commandos and the use of light combat aircraft in the counterinsurgency (COIN) role when he added, “There is also the possibility that AFSOC may come forward and say they want to employ the airplane.”

While General Holmes was articulate about the possible advantages of the Light Attack concept he was also measured about its potential promise, “I can use them in combat, I think, we’ll find out. When they’re in the United States I can use them to train tactical air control parties at a much lower cost per flying hour and I can use them to support my maneuver unit training with the Army, at a much lower cost per flying hour and still work through all the CAS procedures. It’s a capability, we think, we’re going to do these experiments and see, that would let us continue to do another multi-year approach to fighting violent extremist organizations at a cheaper cost in a fiscal environment where every dollar counts.”

Just as programs like Joint Strike Fighter and Light Attack are vastly different, it makes sense that the development, evaluation and acquisition processes are different also. And because this new pipeline to highly adaptive operational capability places a strong enterprise motive on private industry as opposed to government, it can provide greatly reduced developmental cost to taxpayers.

Light attack was a good place to start with this new, open source evaluation process. The post 9/11 battlefield has changed significantly during the Global War on Terror. It includes a wide spectrum of conflict models for air combat. These include large scale air operations against nation states with conventional air forces flying against heavily defended ground targets in a non-permissive environment, like Desert Storm.

At the other end of the spectrum it includes anti-insurgent air operations in a smaller, more permissive battlespace that does not require stealth, long range aircraft or heavy weapons, like some operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Afghan Air Force is already employing the Embraer/Sierra Nevada Corporation A-29 Super Tucano, one of the aircraft in the Light Attack Experiment, operationally. And this multi-nation user set adds interoperability to the argument for light attack also.

U.S. Air Force subject matter expert on light attack and counterinsurgency Col. Mike Pietrucha spoke to specifically about the Light Attack Experiment and the promise it may offer the Air Force: “The argument is to go for a less expensive aircraft that is more optimized for the kind of warfighting we’ve been doing so that you can spread the burden out, rather than make everything a one size fits all airplane.

Bottom line of that right now, is we have more missions than we have Air Force. When you look at light attack the amount of fuel it takes to keep a turboprop in the air for an hour is the amount of fuel it takes to taxi the Strike Eagle down the runway for six to nine minutes. Just the logistics start to look like an awfully attractive argument.”

The rear cockpit, systems operator station in the AT-802L Longsword features (A.) a unique alpha-control keyboard that is worn on the controller’s arm to actuate some weapons/guidance/designation and communications functions. (B.) A side stick controller moves sensors for target imaging. (C.) The rear cockpit features full flight controls. (D.) There is a large multi-function display from sensors.

If successful, acquisition processes like the one demonstrated during the Light Attack Experiment broaden the Air Force’s spectrum of ways it can acquire new equipment and adapt to a rapidly changing battlespace more quickly as the nature of conflict evolves. This process also improves economic efficiencies while addressing the current pilot shortage by providing new training opportunities.

By nearly every measure, the new acquisition methodology and the Light Attack Experiment concept represent strong, adaptable synergies for modern air power in the rapidly changing battlespace.


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  TECNOLOGIA: O último quadrimestre de 2017 reserva boas perspectivas para o caça JF-17

(mas há chance dele obter também reconhecimento internacional? E como saberemos disso?)

Plano Brazil - Por Roberto Lopes 6 de setembro de 2017 at 15:18


Este último quadrimestre de 2017 é particularmente importante para a curta história do caça leve sino- paquistanês JF-17 Thunder (conhecido na China como FC-1 Xiaolong).

Neste setembro a Força Aérea Paquistanesa (FAP) terá 90 aeronaves Block I e Block II distribuídas por quatro esquadrões de 1ª linha. Um 5º esquadrão está sendo alocado à famosa Escola de Comandantes de Combate (CCS na sigla em inglês) da Aviação Militar local, sediada na Base Aérea Mushaf, de Sargodha, na Província de Punjab.

De acordo com um artigo publicado pela Air Forces Monthly – intitulado Pakistan’s Top Gun Base – a Escola tem quatro propósitos principais:

– Pesquisa e desenvolvimento no campo da tática aérea;

– Ensino de táticas de voo;

– Ensino da utilização de sistemas de armas avançados; e

– Padronização e avaliação das diferentes unidades de combate aéreo.

Em dezembro próximo, o primeiro JF-17B, de instrução, estará sendo aceito pela FAP.

O voo inaugural do biposto aconteceu em abril último, e o aparelho incorpora várias mudanças de design em relação às variantes Block I e Block II, entre elas a adoção de um estabilizador na fuselagem.

Certificação – A entrada em operação do modelo JF-17 Block II permitiu a desativação dos jatos chineses tipo Chengdu -7P que compunham a dotação dos esquadrões aéreos Nºs. 2 e 14.

Dois mil e dezessete também foi o ano em que o caça conquistou, na Força Aérea Paquistanesa, a certificação de aeronave habilitada a operar munições guiadas de alta precisão, como o míssil anti-navio chinês C-802, e o chamado Range Extension Kit (REK), equipamento de assistência ao voo das bombas aéreas.

O JF-17 está apto, igualmente, a voar com o pod eletro-óptico de enquadramento de alvos ASELPOD, fabricado pela empresa turca Aselsan, que aperfeiçoa a capacidade do jato de disparar armas contra alvos fixos e móveis durante missões de reconhecimento aéreo.

A meta mais ambiciosa é usar o Thunder como plataforma de reposição para todos os F-7P e Mirages III/5 paquistaneses que serão desativados, e ainda tê-lo como aparelho qualificado para lançar os principais tipos de munições ar-ar e ar-superfície encontradas em aeronaves contemporâneas, como BVRAAM, WVRAAM, bombas guiadas a laser (LGB), bombas guiadas de precisão (PGB), mísseis anti-navio e, eventualmente, mísseis de cruzeiro disparados do ar – além de vários outros tipos de cargas explosivas e vetores, como as glide bombs e os mísseis anti-radiação.

O problema é que, em termos comerciais, o Thunder ainda não emplacou.

Ele obteve uma encomenda da Aviação Militar de Myanmar (16 unidades), terá 3 unidades voando em testes na Força Aérea da Nigéria, e aguarda uma definição do Ministério da Defesa do Azerbaijão.

O primeiro JF-17 de Myanmar sendo testado na China As negociações com o Egito e a Argentina se esfumaçaram no ar; os entendimentos com a Força Aérea da Arábia Saudita ainda não podem ser considerados encerrados, mas esfriaram muito depois que o relacionamento Riad-Islamabad passou a enfrentar dificuldades (por causa da recusa dos paquistaneses em isolar o Irã, arqui-inimigo dos sauditas).

O investimento da Aviação Militar Paquistanesa na aeronave pode indicar que o avião é, de fato, aproveitável, mas só a sua aceitação por outras forças aéreas daria a medida exata de o quanto ele impressiona.

Até agora os meios aeronáuticos internacionais mais rigorosos preferem rotulá-lo como um jato multifunção leve de 3ª geração (eletrônica) melhorada.

Block III No Paquistão, historicamente, os caças importados do Ocidente tem sido vistos como meios de difusão de sistemas e capacidades de ponta para a frota de combate. Entretanto, com o aumento significativo do custo de aquisição de tais armas, a Aviação Paquistanesa vem apostando na próxima geração do JF-17 – tratada de Block III – como plataforma introdutória dessas novidades.

Os chefes militares paquistaneses esperam que a produção da pré-série dessa versão III possa estar disponível em 2019 ou, no máximo, em 2020. Esse caça empregará um radar ativo de varredura eletrônica (AESA), o que irá qualifica-lo como 1ª linha de defesa contra os bloqueios de guerra eletrônica (EW).

A isso irão se somar outros préstimos, proporcionados por equipamentos como a suíte de contramedidas eletrônicas (ECM) integrada a um sistema EW (guerra eletrônica), e um helmet-mounted display and sight system (HMD/S) para o piloto.

A versão Block III também será configurada para operar um míssil ar-ar tipo high-angle off-boresight (HOBS), como o moderníssimo AIM-120 AMRAAM americano – claro, desde que os paquistaneses sejam autorizados por Washington a comprar tal equipamento (o que, hoje, em plena Era Trump, não parece provável).


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 Programa F-5BR é concluído após 12 anos e 50 aeronaves modernizadas.

Tecnodefesa - Por Roberto Caiafa - ago 29, 2017


Encerrando um programa cujas primeiras entregas aconteceram em 2005, até o final de 2017 a Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) deverá receber os dois últimos exemplares (biplaces) do caça Northrop F-5EM/FM modernizados no Brasil.

O programa foi realizado pela Embraer Defesa e Segurança em Gavião Peixoto (SP), em conjunto com a empresa AEL Sistemas (subsidiária da israelense Elbit), a um custo avaliado de US$ 285 milhões.

Em abril de 2011, um segundo contrato, estimado em US$ 87 milhões, foi firmado para a modernização de 11 caças F-5 adquiridos da Real Força Aérea da Jordânia (oito monoplaces e três biplaces).

Desse segundo acordo, somente um F-5FM biplace foi entregue em outubro de 2014. Com o advento dos cortes orçamentários naquele ano, e no seguinte, ocorreu a interrupção dos trabalhos nos monoplaces, o foco sendo direcionado para os dois biplaces restantes, muito valiosos devido a pouca oferta desse modelo no mercado internacional.

Após 12 anos (um espaço temporal bastante dilatado para a execução de um programa de modernização de uma frota relativamente pequena), as aeronaves mais recentes, e que ainda contam com vida útil estrutural deverão atuar operacionalmente por mais 10 anos, mantendo a caça brasileira atuante durante a entrada em serviço dos primeiros caças SAAB F-39 Gripen E/F, planejada para começar a partir de 2022.

Para um caça tático leve que chegou ao Brasil em 1975, um horizonte operacional de meio século (50 anos) em serviço, sob todos os aspectos, é algo espetacular e demonstra cabalmente o domínio que a Força Aérea Brasileira obteve na operação desse avião de combate. Uma modernização de custo excepcional A última vez que este autor teve contato com um caça Northrop F-5E Tiger II da Força Aérea Brasileira, corria o ano de 2006, Centenário do Voo do 14-Bis, e o Museu Aeroespacial em festa comemorava a data com um show aéreo completo. Naquela ocasião, as primeiras entregas do Tiger modernizado para o padrão F5- EM/FM já estavam acontecendo (iniciadas em setembro de 2005).

O Tiger na versão F-5E ainda dispunha de dois canhões no proeminente nariz. Observar a sonda de REVO. Meu primeiro contato com um F-5EM modernizado se deu na Academia da Força Aérea, no ano seguinte. Com a retirada de um canhão Pontiac M39 de 20mm para dar espaço aos equipamentos do radar FIAR Griffo-F, alguns incautos acreditariam que uma capacidade havia sido perdida no combate aéreo. Ledo engano.

Um novo avião F-5 nasceu no bojo de um bem elaborado programa industrial que combinou desenvolvimento nacional, escala de produção e comunalidade de ítens aviônicos digitais  com uma bem estruturada gestão de projeto por parte da Força Aérea e da indústria.

No campo operacional e doutrinário, a introdução da capacidade beyond visual range (BVR) através dos mísseis Rafael Derby combinados ao Griffo-F revolucionou a FAB. O novo radar, que substituiu os vetustos Emerson Eletric APQ 159 V5, pode detectar alvos voando alto a até 70 km de distância, e 38 Km contra alvos voando baixo pois possui processador de sinais digitalizado e consegue traquear enquanto procura (TWS) vários alvos, com habilidade de engajamento múltiplo e função LD/SD (olhar para baixo/atirar para baixo).

Para armar o F-5EM/FM, a FAB adquiriu no mercado internacional mísseis WVR israelenses Rafael Python IV, usados em conjunto com capacetes designadores de alvos (HMD) Elbit/AEL Sistemas TARGO (capacidade off-boresight), e mísseis BVR Rafael Derby dotados de autoguiamento radar e capacidade Fire and Forget, uma novidade que mudou a forma da caça brasileira combater por completo.

Os novos rádios digitais, integrados a capacidade DataLink das aeronaves AWACS E-99 do Esquadrão Guardião, e combinados com o excelente radar instalado no caça se uniram para formar um sistema de Defesa Aérea eficaz e viável mesmo em ambientes de baixa disponibilidade orçamentária.

O F-5EM/FM modernizado recebeu um pacote de sensores e sistemas defensivos como alerta radar (RWR) Elisra, lançadores de chaff/flares e capacidade de operar o pod de guerra eletrônica Sky Shield, assim como pode empregar a instrumentação AACMI/mísseis de manejo para realizar o treinamento operacional de combate dos pilotos (no caso do Derby, apenas a instalação dos cabides para os mísseis nas asas é suficiente).

Para as missões de ataque ao solo, o F-5EM pode ser armado com bombas “burras” similares as MK82, MK.83 e MK.84 norte-americanas, bombas de fragmentação “em cacho”, bombas inteligentes obtidas através da instalação de kits de guiagem em bombas da série MK, foguetes de 70 mm, bombas antipista BAP-100, etc. Todas as armas citadas são produzidas pela Base Industrial de Defesa brasileira, assim como a munição de 20 mm dos canhões M-39.

O cockpit do F-5EM/FM é totalmente diverso do antigo F-5E, sendo dominado por três displays multifuncionais coloridos e um head-up display grande angular.

O layout do cockpit utiliza tecnologia HOTAS (mãos no manete e no joystick), que privilegia o acesso rápido do piloto aos comandos de voo, sistema de controle de tiro, equipamentos de navegação e comunicações e gerenciamento do armamento/munições a bordo.

Recentemente, o avião recebeu a integração do míssil Mectron MAR-1, projetado para missões SEAD (destruir as defesas antiaéreas do adversário).

O míssil brasileiro ar-ar MAA-1B Piranha II, de curto alcance, também pode ser usado pelo F-5EM/FM. Não se cogita o emprego dos mísseis A-Darter, de 5ª geração, nos Tigers, devido aos custos envolvidos.

Durante um curto período de sua vida operacional, os F-5EM/FM restantes a Força Aérea Brasileira deverão conviver com os primeiros exemplares do jato de transporte militar EDS KC390 a entrarem em serviço.

Nos testes de reabastecimento em voo (REVO) realizados em 2017, o F-5EM/FM fez contato real com a cesta/drogue e reabasteceu simuladamente (a seco), sem maiores dificuldades.


Acesse o artigo no link abaixo:


9-GripenC 231017

F-X2: FAB queria caças suecos desde 2002, disse FHC em depoimento

Defesa Aérea&Naval - Por Fábio Fabrini, 12/09/2017


Ex-presidente, arrolado pela defesa de seu sucessor, declarou à Justiça Federal que, ao final de seu segundo mandato, ‘achou melhor não fazer uma compra que seria paga por outro governo’.

O ex-presidente Fernando Henrique Cardoso disse nesta terça-feira, 12, que a Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) já tinha preferência pelos caças Gripen, fabricados pela multinacional sueca Saab, em 2002, ao fim de seu governo. Em depoimento por videoconferência à 10.ª Vara da Justiça Federal em Brasília, ele explicou que a opção da Aeronáutica foi-lhe manifestada numa reunião, mas que ele preferiu não comprar as aeronaves de defesa naquele momento para não “onerar” a gestão do sucessor, que viria a ser Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

“Depois de um longo processo de escolha, houve uma reunião e a decisão da FAB naquela época era de comprar os aviões suecos. Os suecos estavam dispostos a transferir tecnologia”, disse o ex-presidente tucano. “Não foi tomada a decisão. Como estava se aproximando o fim do meu mandato, achei melhor não fazer uma compra que seria paga por outro governo”, acrescentou.

Fernando Henrique depôs como testemunha de defesa de Lula na ação penal em que o petista é acusado de fazer tráfico de influência para que o governo da sucessora, Dilma Rousseff, adquirisse os caças da Saab e também para viabilizar a edição da medida provisória 627, editada pela petista em 2013, que prorrogou incentivos fiscais de montadoras de veículos.

A denúncia do Ministério Público Federal (MPF) elencou mensagens e documentos mostrando que Lula teria tratado dos assuntos com os lobistas que trabalhavam pela contratação dos caças e a aprovação da MP.

Como revelou o Estado em 2015, um deles pagou R$ 2,5 milhões ao empresário Luís Cláudio Lula da Silva, filho do ex-presidente. Os procuradores sustentam que o dinheiro foi uma remuneração pelo apoio oferecido por Lula.

A investigação sobre o caso não mostrou se, efetivamente, Dilma ou algum outro agente político chegou a ser influenciado por Lula ao tomar decisões. Somente o fato de “vender fumaça”, ou seja, oferecer a possibilidade de interferência em troca de vantagem, é crime, conforme o MPF.

Os advogados de Lula têm sustentado, com base em depoimentos de testemunhas, que a decisão dos caças foi técnica, tomada após estudos de uma comissão da FAB, e não foi influenciada por Lula.
Fernando Henrique disse que não se recorda de ter conhecido Mauro Marcondes Machado, lobista acusado de pagar R$ 2,5 milhões a um dos filhos de Lula para conseguir viabilizar os interesses da Saab e das montadoras que representava.

“Se conheço, não me recordo de quem seja. Em 86 anos, imagine quantas pessoas que eu conheço e conheci e que não me lembro. O nome me soa.”

O ex-presidente afirmou que políticas de incentivo fiscal a montadoras de veículos, a exemplo da tratada na medida provisória, são normais e vêm de muito tempo, exigindo muita discussão de todos os órgãos envolvidos. “Essas decisões são muito mastigadas, não é ele (o presidente) que vai tomar essa decisão, passa pelo Congresso, tem debate, tem discussão. Não são medidas do dia para a noite, há um processo”, comentou.

Nesta terça, 12, também depuseram como testemunhas de Lula o ex-ministro da Fazenda na gestão de Fernando Henrique Pedro Malan, além dos ex-ministros da Justiça José Eduardo Cardozo e da Defesa Nelson Jobim. Os dois últimos exerceram os cargos nos governos petistas.

As testemunhas negaram saber de qualquer interferência de Lula no governo de Dilma para viabilizar a MP e o contrato dos caças. “Absolutamente, não, nenhuma (tentativa de Lula). Quero lhe falar algo que eu presenciei: a presidente Dilma tinha uma característica de não permitir ingerência política de quem quer que seja. Reagia muito mal”, disse Cardozo.

Jobim explicou que uma comissão da Aeronáutica entendeu ente 2009 e 2010 que os Gripen eram os modelos que mais atendiam às necessidade do Brasil. Porém, em sua gestão, a Defesa decidiu fazer uma reavaliação sobre o caso, levando em conta a estratégia nacional de defesa, que envolvia questões mais amplas, e indicou os caças franceses Rafale como melhor opção, embora eles fossem mais caros.

Ele explicou que deixou o governo em 2011 e não participou mais de tratativas a respeito, mas que a FAB manteve sua opção original. Jobim contou que, ao assumir o cargo, em 2007, o então presidente Lula lhe deu carta branca para tocar o projeto dos aviões e nunca interferiu nas negociações. “Em momento algum, o presidente fez qualquer tipo de referência sobre esse tema”, disse.

FONTE: O Estado de

COLABOROU: Manuel Flávio


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 8-DSEI-2017- SAAB-apresenta-o-Gripen-Agressor

 DSEI 2017: Saab apresenta o Gripen Aggressor

Defesa Aérea&Naval - Guilherme Wiltgen 12/09/2017 DSEI 2017


A Saab apresentou hoje durante a DSEI 2017, que está ocorrendo em Londres, o Gripen Agressor.
Essa aeronave foi baseado na versão C do Gripen, e será a plataforma da Saab para o mercado de aeronaves adversárias para o treinamento de combate aéreo.


Acesse o artigo (e o vídeo) no site:



 AEL entrega protótipos WAD “Modelo B” para o programa brasileiro do Gripen

Site CAVOK - Por Fernando Valduga - 15/09/2017


Veja o artigo no site CAVOK:



 FAB Lança o DIMENSÃO 22

DN - 22-17 Especial - 03 Outubro 2017


Uma Força Aérea presente em 22 milhões de km². É assim que a Força Aérea Brasileira, a partir do mês deoutubro, se apresenta na Campanha Dimensão 22.

Um conceito moderno que sintetiza a responsabilidade de atuação da instituição no cumprimento da suamissão, em sintonia com os desafios do futuro. Tem em seu código genético o compromisso de controlar, defender e integrar o País numa dimensão muito maior que os limites geográficos que ele possui.

Muito além do Monte Caburaí (RR) ao Chuí (RS), alcançando dimensões espaciais.

Preparando-se para os 100 anos da instituição, que serão comemorados em 2041, a campanha divulga aresponsabilidade da missão da FAB – “manter a soberania do espaço aéreo e integrar o território nacional,com vistas à defesa da pátria”, representada nas ações de controlar, defender e integrar que serãoamplamente divulgadas para toda a sociedade, através de peças publicitárias de cunho informativo.






Você sabe o tamanho das "Asas que protegem o País"?

O vídeo da campanha Dimensão 22 apresenta oconceito que sintetiza a responsabilidade de atuação da Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) no cumprimento dasua missão constitucional de Controlar, Defender e Integrar, dentro de um cenário tridimensional de 22milhões de km².

Para assistir ao vídeo sobre a DIMENSÃO 22 clique na imagem:

6.2 vídeo-dimensão-22


Programas Gripen NG e KC-390:
Na apresentação do DIMENSÃO 22 consta uma atualização dos Projetos Estratégicos da Força AéreaBrasileira, entre outros o Caça SAAB Gripen NG, a aeronave de transporte multimissão EMBRAER KC-390 eo Programa Estratégico de Sistemas Espaciais (PESE)

Para os Programas Estratégicos da FABPara assistir ao vídeo sobre o Gripen NG clique na imagem:



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5-RolloutGripenE 15-topo

 FX-2: Conheça o cronograma atualizado do Gripen NG no programa Dimensão 22 da FAB

Defesa Aérea&Naval - Guilherme Wiltgen, 04/10/2017 Dimensão 22,


O caça sueco de múltiplo emprego Gripen NG (Gripen E/F) é um modelo supersônico monomotor projetado para missões ar-ar, ar-mar e ar-solo sob quaisquer condições meteorológicas. A FAB receberá 36 unidades da nova aeronave até 2024 para atuar na Defesa Aérea da Dimensão 22.

A versão brasileira, desenvolvida em parceria com empresas locais, contará com modernos sistemas embarcados, radar de última geração e capacidade para empregar armamentos de fabricação nacional.

Em termos estratégicos, representa a entrada do Brasil como parceiro em um programa de alta tecnologia.

Haverá reflexos duradouros para a indústria de defesa nacional, com foco na transferência de tecnologia para o País.




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 Japanese F-4EJ Kai Phantom II Heavily Damaged in Runway Accident, Crew Escapes Fire

The Avionist - By Tom Demerly, Oct 18 2017


Hyakuri Phantom Burns on Ground, Reports Suggest Aircraft Written Off.

A McDonnell-Douglas F-4EJ “Kai” Phantom II attached to either the 301st or 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 7th Air Wing of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force has burned on the ground at Hyakuri Air Base in the Ibaraki Prefecture of Japan. Both crew members escaped from the burning aircraft by climbing out as the fire spread.

The aircraft was taxing at the time of the accident. Press reports suggest the aircraft will be written off as a total loss. The accident happened at 11:45 AM local time in Japan on Oct. 17, 2017.

According to Japanese media and official Japanese Air Self-Defense Force reports the aircraft was participating in a training exercise in the northeastern part of Kanto, on Japan’s main island of Honshu.

The aircraft has been reported as written-off.

Civilian flight operations at the attached Ibaraki Airport, which shares a runway with the Hyakuri Air Base where the accident occurred, were unaffected by the fire according to reports. Ibaraki and the attached Hyakuri Air Base are 53 miles north of the Japanese capital, Tokyo. The facility operates two parallel runways, both 2,700 meters in length.

The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force is one of the few remaining users of the legacy McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The aircraft, built under license and serviced by Mitsubishi in Japanese service, performs a multi-role mission that includes tactical reconnaissance in the RF-4EJ version and attack roles in the F-4EJ configuration.

Video and still photos of the accident showed the two-person aircrew escaping from the aircraft by climbing out of the cockpit close to flames and heavy smoke.

The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) once operated 138 F-4 Phantom II’s as one of the largest international users of the prolific multi-role combat aircraft. The first Japanese F-4’s joined the 301st Hikotai

Squadron in August of 1972 and have been operational ever since. There are a reported 71 Mitsubishi/McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II’s of two versions remaining in JASDF service as of April, 2017 according to Flightglobal Insight.

The Japanese F-4 Phantoms are revered among aircraft spotters worldwide as being among the last of the operational F-4 Phantoms still flying and also because of their colorful paint liveries in Japanese service that include a variety of camouflage schemes as well as solid grey aircraft like aircraft 87-8408 that was destroyed in this accident.


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 Israeli Air Force F-35I “Adir” Involved In A Bird Strike Incident Gets Grounded

The Avionist - By Amit Agronov, Oct 18, 2017


An Israeli Air Force F-35 has been involved in a bird strike during a training sortie. And the incident has fueled some weird speculations…

An Israeli Air Force F-35I “Adir” (Mighty) was involved in a bird strike incident during a training sortie two weeks ago, the Israeli Defense Forces said on Oct. 16. The pilot managed to land the plane safely back at Nevatim Air Force Base in the Negev Desert and no casualties were reported.

This is the first incident to an F-35 in IAF service since the first two aircraft have been taken on charge by the 140 “Golden Eagle” squadron in December last year.

The IDF confirmed those details to Israeli media outlets: “During a training sortie two hits were found on the plane, following to a collision with a bird. After an evaluation and assessment of the damage conducted together with the manufacturer – Lockheed Martin, the plane was sent to a normal maintenance and repair. It will return to full service in the next few days.”

Seven “Adir” aircraft have been delivered to the Israeli Air Force since December 2016. In August, a deal was completed for the purchase of another 17 such aircraft: therefore 50 such aircraft will be operated by the IAF equipping two squadrons. The total amount of the deal to purchase the 50 aircraft is estimated at 6B USD.

Meanwhile, the Golden Eagle Squadron continues to perform a wide array of flight tests to verify the 5th generation aircraft capabilities. The Squadron is scheduled to become operational by the end of this year.

The news of the birdstrike incident was released on the very same day the Israeli targeted a Syrian SAM battery that had attacked IDF aircraft during a routine flight over Lebanon fueling speculations that the F-35 was not grounded by a birdstrike but because it was hit by the Syrian air defenses. In fact, the Syrian Defense Ministry said in its statement that government forces responded to the violation of the airspace and “directly hit one of the jets, forcing [Israeli aircraft] to retreat.” On the other side the Israeli denied any aircraft was hit by the Syrian air defenses (S-200 battery) and this sounds quite reasonable considered that the Israeli have often shown their ability to operate freely in the Syrian airspace and there would have been no reason to disclose a fake birdstrike at all to cover a Syrian hit.


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Interesting Photo Shows F-22 Raptor Landing At RAF Lakenheath With Open Missile Bay

The Avionist - By David Cenciotti, Oct 16 2017


This Is Something You Don’t See Too Often.

The photographs in this post were taken by our contributor Alessandro Fucito on Oct. 12, 2017. They show a U.S. Air Force Raptor jet, belonging to the 1st FW, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, deployed to the UK, since Oct. 8, landing at RAF Lakenheath with the side weapon bay open.

The stealth multirole jet AF 08-154 is one of the six involved in a FTD (Flying Training Deployment) in Europe. The aircraft have just completed a tour of duty at Al Dhafra airbase, UAE, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq. Noteworthy, an AIM-9X Sidewinder can be seen inside the open weapon bay.

The latest variant of the Sidewinder missile is a recent addition to the F-22 Raptor inventory: the IR-guided missile has been integrated on Mar. 1, 2016, when the 90th Fighter Squadron (FS) belonging to the 3rd Wing stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska officially became the first combat-operational Raptor unit to equip an F-22 with the AIM-9X Sidewinder.

Most of US combat planes use the AIM-9X along with a Helmet Mounted Display since 2003 (by the way, one was fired at a Syrian Su-22 recently, but failed for reasons that are still unclear): with a HMD (like the American Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System – JHMCS), information imagery (including aircraft’s airspeed, altitude, weapons status, aiming etc) are projected on the visor enabling the pilot to look out in any direction with all the required data always in his field of vision. The HMD enables the pilot to exploit the full HOBS (High Off-Boresight) capabilities of the AIM-9X and engage a target by simply looking at it.

However the AIM-9X will not be coupled to a HMD as the Raptor is not equipped with such kind of helmet that provides the essential flight and weapon aiming information through line of sight imagery as the project to implement it was axed following 2013 budget cuts.

In 2019, the Air Force plans to equip the F-22 with the AIM-9X Block II, the F-22 will probably fill the gap as the most advanced variant of the Sidewinder is expected to feature a Lock-on After Launch capability with a datalink, for Helmetless High Off-Boresight (HHOBS) at intermediate range: the air-to-air missile will be launched first and then directed to its target afterwards even though it is behind the launching aircraft.

This will not give the F-22 the same ability as an HMD-equipped aircraft, still better than nothing.


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Duas primeiras aeronaves A-29 Super Tucano são fotografadas durante o voo de translado

Site CAVOK - Por Fernando Valduga, 06/10/17


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Os caças e suas gerações

Matéria do site Poder Aéreo de 2009.


Para facilitar a comparação, o desenvolvimento dos caças a partir da Segunda Guerra Mundial pode ser classificado em gerações, de acordo com as tecnologias empregadas.

Incluem aqueles empregados na Guerra da Coréia, até o meio dos anos 1950. A maioria dos aviões não tinha radar, eram subsônicos, usavam bombas de queda livre e metralhadoras e canhões com mira ótica. Exemplos: MiG-15, 17, Gloster Meteor e F-86.

 geração1-f86mig15 geração1-f-104


Estes são os caças desenvolvidos entre 1955-1960, cujas principais características eram o voo supersônico em grandes altitutes, para interceptação. Começaram a ser equipados com radar próprio e os primeiros mísseis guiados. Exemplos: F-104, F-105, F-106, MiG-19, Mirage III, MiG-21, English Electric Lightning.



Aviões de combate que entraram em serviço ou voaram pela primeira vez na década de 1960, introduzindo mais avanços em aerodinâmica e eletrônica: F-4 Phantom, F-5, MiG-23, MiG-25, Mirage F1, Saab Viggen.

geração3-f-4-phantom  geração3-mig-25 


Resultado da introdução da microeletrônica na década de 1970/80, os aviões de 4a geração foram dotados de aviônica mais sofisticada, controles fly-by-wire e cockpit HOTAS: F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18, MiG-29, MiG-31, Su-27 , Mirage 2000, Tornado, Saab Gripen.

geração4-f-14 geração4-mig-29



Versões melhoradas de aeronaves de 4a geração ou introduzidas entre o final da década de 1990 e início dos anos 2000, como o F/A-18E Super Hornet, Sukhoi Su-30/35, EurofighterTyphoon, dotados de novos radares phased array e aviônica.

geração4up-eurofighter-typhoon   geração4up-su-35bm


Caças que empregam formas e tecnologias que desviam e absorvem as ondas eletromagnéticas, tornando-os difíceis de serem detectados por radares. Os armamentos são levados internamente. Nessa classe, o F-22 Raptor, o F-35 e o futuro PAK-FA russo.


Clique no link abaixo para acessar o artigo.


NOTA do BLOG: Gostaríamos que cada leitor deixasse sua impressão pessoal sobre um ou mais aviões que escreveram a História da Aviação de Caça nos últimos 50 anos. Qual avião ou quais aviões, foram mais marcantes? quais aspectos foram mais importantes e decisivos?
Afinal, os aviões que temos hoje e que teremos no futuro, são fruto da técnica, suor e sangue daqueles que fizeram e operaram essas maravilhosas máquinas voadoras do passado.




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