Japan confirms four F-35s

June 29: Today in Tokyo the Japanese defence ministry confirmed the order for their first 4 Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter aircraft. The jets, scheduled for delivery by 2016, will have a unit price of 9.6 billion Yen (approximately US$ 121 million). Japanese officials have accepted the inevitability of the price increase for these aircraft.

In 2011 Japan selected the F-35 as it’s next generation fighter with initial plans for a total of 42 airframes. Other competing aircraft considered for the JASDF F-4 Phantom fleet replacement were the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The orders for the remaining 38 Japanese aircraft have yet to be confirmed.

Boeing joins KC-390 programme

Boeing has announced that it is collaborating with Brazilian manufacturer Embraer on the KC-390 transport aircraft programme.

June 26: With production of its C-17 Globemaster nearing the end, Boeing has announced that it is collaborating with Brazilian manufacturer Embraer on the KC-390 transport aircraft programme.

Under this agreement, Boeing and Embraer will share some specific technical knowledge and evaluate markets where they may join their sales efforts for medium-lift military transport opportunities.

“Boeing has extensive experience in military transport and air refuelling aircraft, as well as deep knowledge of potential markets for the KC-390, especially those which were not considered in our original marketing plan,” said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, president and CEO of Embraer Defesa e Segurança. “This agreement will strengthen the KC-390’s prominent position in the global military transport market.”

The KC-390 collaboration is part of a broader agreement that Boeing and Embraer signed in April. The companies previously announced that they are exploring ways to cooperate in commercial aircraft efficiency and safety, research and technology, and sustainable aviation biofuels. They will conduct a joint market assessment for the medium-lift military transport market and analyse business collaboration models. The market assessment includes potential customers that had not been considered in the initial market prospects for the KC-390.

“Embraer is a leading global innovator and we both understand the value of working in partnership to provide high-quality, affordable customer solutions,” said Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “This collaboration matches Boeing’s proven excellence in military transport with Embraer’s KC-390 accomplishments to further advance this highly capable and efficient medium-lift aircraft.”

The KC-390 is a Brazilian Air Force project for which Embraer signed the development contract in April 2009. It is the biggest aircraft to be manufactured by the Brazilian aerospace industry.

Boeing’s Silent Eagle still alive

Boeing’s F-15 update, the F-15SE ‘Silent Eagle’ is still being developed.

June 26: Boeing’s F-15 update, the F-15SE ‘Silent Eagle’ designed to be a low-cost alternative to Lockheed Martin’s F-35, is still being developed despite no news released by the company for several months.

It recently completed wind tunnel tests on the Silent Eagle Conformal Weapons Bay (CWB) at its St Louis facility to validate the aerodynamics of the design.

“Boeing and its partners have advanced to the next phase in the development of the Silent Eagle, an evolved derivative of the combat-proven F-15 family of aircraft,” said Roger Besancenez, F-15 Program vice president for Boeing. “We are now testing production-representative hardware as we continue to validate our affordable and low-risk design.”

Boeing is partnering with Korea Aerospace Industries to design, develop and manufacture the CWB. The Silent Eagle is Boeing’s offer in the F-X competition for the Republic of Korea’s multirole fighter aircraft.

More detailed tests later this year will focus on the aerodynamic effects of multiple weapons loads, as well as opening and closing the upper and lower CWB doors.

Boeing this year also completed the final phase of Radar Cross Section (RCS) reduction tests to validate the aircraft’s production configuration. The CWBs can be reconfigured to Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs) to optimise the aircraft for longer ranges and increased weapons loading.

Silent Eagle also features enhanced avionics such as an integrated Active Electronically Scanned Array radar and Digital Electronic Warfare Suite.

F-4F’s final fling at Waddington

A Luftwaffe F-4F will appear at RAF Waddington’s airshow next weekend.

In the final run up to what is proving to be an excellent year for international attendance the RAF Waddington International Air Show airshow team is still receiving confirmations of aircraft participation, this time in the form of the German Air Force F-4F Phantom.

The aircraft, well loved and well used aircraft across the world, is coming to the end of its career with Germany being one of the last operators out of the 12 nations which have had the aircraft. With their scheduled out of service date of June 30, 2013 looming, the airshow team have worked hard to secure the static display, in what may well be the aircraft’s last appearance!

The example on display will come from JG 71 ‘Richthofen’ Wing based at Wittmund, in Northern Germany. The wing is the last F-4F operator in the German Air Force and operates the F-4 in the air-to-air fighter and interceptor role, and is due to replace its Phantoms with the Eurofighter Typhoon next year.

The RAF Waddington International Air Show takes place next weekend on June 30/July 1 and visitors will see 20 countries take part in what is going to be the biggest line up for a number of years. Advanced tickets are still available through Morrisons, HSBC and Santander – to check which outlets are near you please visitwww.waddingtonairshow.co.uk.

X-37 returns to earth

Boeing’s second X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle has successfully returned to earth after 469 days in space.

June 21: Boeing’s second X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) successfully returned to earth on June 16.

The X-37B landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 0548hrs Pacific time, concluding a 469-day experimental test mission launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 5, 2011.

“We congratulate the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base on this second successful mission,” said Paul Rusnock, Boeing vice president of Government Space Systems. “With OTV-1, we proved that unmanned space vehicles can be sent into orbit and safely recovered. With OTV-2, we tested the vehicle design even further by extending the 220-day mission duration of the first vehicle, and testing additional capabilities. We look forward to the second launch of OTV-1 later this year and the opportunity to demonstrate that the X-37B is an affordable space vehicle that can be repeatedly reused.”

OTV-1 was the United States’ first unmanned vehicle to return from space and land on its own. Previously, the space shuttle was the only space vehicle capable of returning to Earth and being reused. The innovative X-37B combines the best of an aircraft and a spacecraft into an affordable, responsive unmanned vehicle.

A400M demonstrates helicopter loading

Airbus Military has successfully demonstrated the loading of helicopters onto the A400M new generation airlifter.

June 18: Airbus Military has successfully demonstrated the loading of NH Industries NH90 and Eurocopter EC725 helicopters onto the A400M new generation airlifter.

In a series of tests at Holzdorf air base in Germany and at Toulouse, France respectively, the NH90 and EC725 were loaded onto, and unloaded from, ‘Grizzly 4’ development aircraft as required for military Initial Operating Capability (IOC).

The tests were the first demonstrations of the A400M’s cargo-carrying capability using a real aircraft, and represent the most challenging loads in terms of their dimensions required for IOC. They will be followed by further exercises showing the aircraft’s ability to carry a wide range of military equipment as required by the launch nations.

Cameroon Air Force orders CN235

The Cameroon Air Force has ordered a single CN235 medium transport aircraft.

June 11: The Cameroon Air Force has ordered a single CN235 medium transport aircraft from Airbus Military.

The CN235 has a six tonne payload and is well-proven in hot, dusty and humid conditions throughout Africa, according to parent company EADS. It also claims it is “flexible and reliable with good short take-off and landing capability, and its cabin can be easily reconfigured for a variety of transport missions such as carrying troops, cargo, mixed loads or for medical evacuation.” The aircraft will serve with the Cameroon Air Force.

“Airbus Military is proud to have gained the confidence of the Cameroon Air Force and looks forward to standing by our customer as a trusted partner for many years to come”, said Antonio Rodriguez Barberán, Airbus Military VP Commercial. “The CN235 is exactly the kind of workhorse required for current and future airlift missions to be performed by the Cameroon Air Force and we are optimistic that its in-service performance will lead to further orders from Cameroon.”

With this new order, Airbus has secured 276 orders for the CN235 for 43 operators around the world in both transport and surveillance roles.

International Gripen

Six Gripens from customer operators fly together

Six Saab JAS 39 Gripens from all the customer nations flew together for the first, and probably only, time during the Aerospace Forum event that took place in Linköping, Sweden last week.

Gripen is operational in the Swedish, Czech, Hungarian, South African and Royal Thai Air Forces. The UK Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) operates Gripen as its advanced fast jet platform for test pilots worldwide. In November 2011 the Swiss Federal Council also selected Gripen as the preferred candidate to replace the F-5.

International Gripen

Six Gripens from customer operators fly together

Six Saab JAS 39 Gripens from all the customer nations flew together for the first, and probably only, time during the Aerospace Forum event that took place in Linköping, Sweden last week.

Gripen is operational in the Swedish, Czech, Hungarian, South African and Royal Thai Air Forces. The UK Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) operates Gripen as its advanced fast jet platform for test pilots worldwide. In November 2011 the Swiss Federal Council also selected Gripen as the preferred candidate to replace the F-5.

Picture: Five Grizzlys together

All five A400M aircraft have flown together for the first time.

June 7: To celebrate having all five Airbus Military A400M flight test aircraft in Toulouse at the same time, the Airbus Military Flight Test team put in place a special formation flight, after which each aircraft continued its specific flight test activity.

This technical flight of the five Grizzlies, MSN1, 2, 3, 4 and 6, was crewed with Airbus Flight Test teams and no particular manoeuvres or tests were undertaken. Following the formation, the different aircraft continued on their daily activity: MSN1 continued with handling quality tests, MSN2 with air-to-air refuelling wing pods hose stability tests, MSN3 with engine performance tests, MSN4 with pressurisation and oxygen tests and MSN6 with function and reliability tests.