Military aviation news - March 2006
First Gripens arrive in Hungary
On the 21 March 2006, the first five Hungarian Air Force Gripen aircraft arrived in Hungary.
Photograph Courtesy of FMV
The five (5) Gripen multi-role fighters, the latest C and D versions of the aircraft, are the first of fourteen (14) ordered by Hungary. The aircraft were flown by four pilots from the Hungarian Air Force and three from the Swedish Air Force. The flight, which departed from FMV´s facility outside Linköping, lasted for about two hours.
The remaining nine (9) Gripen aircraft will be delivered to Hungary progressively until December 2007.
The Gripen aircraft will now undergo inspection by the Hungarian Ministry of Defence before they are formally handed over to the customer at a ceremony being held on 30 March 2006.
The first groups of Hungarian pilots and technicians, who have been undergoing training in Sweden since January 2005, have completed their training and are back in Hungary.
Hungary is the third nation, after Sweden and the Czech Republic, to operate the fourth generation Gripen fighter. Hungary will receive the latest C and D versions of the Gripen aircraft, equipped with full color cockpit displays, a retractable air-to-air refueling probe and are fully NATO-interoperable.
Full press release at gripen.com
Posted: Thu, Mar 23, 2006 15:15 (CET)
Lockheed Martin delivers new integrated weapons system to A-10C flight test program
The Lockheed Martin-led A-10 Prime Team has delivered a new weapons delivery system to the U.S. Air Force’s A-10C flight-test program. Called the Digital Stores Management System (DSMS), the new system is integrated with the Sniper® and LITENING targeting pods to give the aircraft a ‘smart’ weapons capability for its close air support role.
“The new system automates many of the weapons control functions that A-10 pilots today perform manually,” said Roger Il Grande, A-10 program director at Lockheed Martin Systems Integration – Owego. “Integrated with either targeting pod, the DSMS will vastly improve an A-10 pilot’s ability to identify targets, and provide laser guidance of precision air-to-ground weapons.”
The U.S. Air Force has designated the Joint Direct Attack Munitions and the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser guidance kits for the A-10C aircraft. Each kit converts existing free-fall bombs into accurately guided “smart” weapons, allowing pilots to attack from higher altitudes and in adverse weather conditions.
The Prime Team delivered the latest DSMS software to U.S. Air Force flight test as scheduled. The Air Force has been conducting flight-testing of the A-10C at Eglin Air Force Base, FL, and at Nellis Air Force Base, NV, since early 2005. Deployments of A-10C aircraft to operational squadrons will begin in early 2007.
The DSMS weapons capability is the latest in a series of upgrades delivered by the Prime Team for the A-10 Precision Engagement (PE) program. PE includes a new cockpit instrument panel with two 5x5-inches multi-function color displays, a new stick grip and right throttle to provide true hands-on-throttle and-stick (HOTAS) fingertip control of aircraft systems, and six weapons pylons upgraded to precision weapons-capability. Lockheed Martin is delivering the cockpit hardware as kits to the Air Force for installation by the depot at Hill Air Force Base, UT.
Using the HOTAS, the pilot can designate the targeting pod to monitor an area of interest, confirm target identification, and provide laser guidance to the weapon, whether from the same aircraft or another airborne platform.
Full press release at lockheedmartin.com
Posted: Thu, Mar 23, 2006 15:14 (CET)
Manufacturers probe F-22 anomaly
Lockheed Martin and Boeing are assessing the impact of a heat-treatment anomaly affecting titanium structure in the aft fuselage of the F-22 fighter, but the US Air Force says initial evaluations show no safety of flight issue. No flight restrictions have been imposed, and production and deliveries continue. The anomaly affects the forward booms – large electron beam-welded titanium boxes that support the horizontal and vertical tails. Assessment of the impact, if any, on aircraft service life is under way, but the USAF does not anticipate a need for redesign or retrofit. Boeing builds the aft fuselage, and up to 90 F-22s through production Lot 5 could be affected.
Posted: Mon, Mar 20, 2006 23:53 (CET)
Poland F-16 has successful first flight
Lockheed Martin announces successful completion of the maiden flight of the first Polish F-16 aircraft. The flight took place in Ft. Worth, Texas, USA and marks a key milestone in the success of the Peace Sky program. The F-16 flown yesterday is part of a 48-aircraft order by the Government of Poland and is planned for delivery to the Polish Air Force later this year.
The pilot for the first flight was Paul Hattendorf, a company test pilot for Lockheed Martin. He performed numerous system checks, including engine throttle transients at various altitudes and radar checks using a photo chase F-16 as a simulated target. Hattendorf also took the aircraft to supersonic speeds and performed high-g maneuvers during the flight, which lasted just over an hour. After several additional check flights by both company and U.S. Air Force test pilots, this first Polish F-16 is scheduled to be ferried to Edwards AFB, Calif., in April for more system-specific testing.
“The Poland Peace Sky program continues to progress right on schedule,” said Irma Sippel, director of the Poland F-16 program. “First flight is a significant milestone and the first of several leading to the planned arrival of the aircraft in Poland later this year. We continue to be excited about our progress and about meeting our customer’s expectations.”
Features of the Block 52+ include an AN/APG-68(V) 9 radar fire control system and a Sniper Extended Range pod, which is an advanced targeting pod designed with an infrared pointer, laser, day TV, forward looking infrared, laser spot tracker and advanced algorithms. The pod delivers superior tracking performance and reliability. Additionally, the multi-role fighter developed for Poland is equipped with a helmet-mounted cueing system used for directing precision guided munitions and off-boresight missiles as well as for increasing pilot situational awareness. The aircraft is designed to be fully interoperable with NATO and European Union missions.
Posted: Mon, Mar 20, 2006 23:46 (CET)
Britain warns US over jet software codes
The UK has warned America that it will cancel its £12bn order for the Joint Strike Fighter if the US does not hand over full access to the computer software code that controls the jets.
Lord Drayson, minister for defence procurement, told the The Daily Telegraph that the planes were useless without control of the software as they could effectively be "switched off" by the Americans without warning.
"We do expect this technology transfer to take place. But if it does not take place we will not be able to purchase these aircraft," said Lord Drayson.
The problem stems from strict US guidelines on the transfer of technology to other countries. Under current rules any British requests for the use of US technology can take 20 days to go through, obviously limiting the usefulness of a jet strike force.
Lord Drayson is currently in Washington to speak to members of Congress. His tough talking on the project includes the fact that Britain has a 'Plan B' if the Joint Strike Fighter deal falls through.
Posted: Fri, Mar 17, 2006 13:02 (CET)
Largest ever F-16 modernization program enhances aircraft
The largest ever F-16 modernization program continues to advance, making the aircraft a more lethal, survivable and network-centric weapon system in the Global War on Terrorism.
The F-16 Systems Group of Aeronautical Systems Center's Fighter-Attack Systems Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio , recently awarded an $84 million contract to Lockheed Martin to procure 91 Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) kits to integrate into Block 40 and 42 F-16C and F-16D aircraft.
Full story at F-16.net