FirstSpear

Archive for the ‘Aviation’ Category

New Research Leads to Army Drones Changing Shape Mid-Flight

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Soon, the U.S. Army will be able to deploy autonomous air vehicles that can change shape during flight, according to new research presented at the AIAA Aviation Forum and Exposition’s virtual event June 16.

Researchers with the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory and Texas A&M University published findings of a two-year study in fluid-structure interaction. Their research led to a tool, which will be able to rapidly optimize the structural configuration for Future Vertical Lift vehicles while properly accounting for the interaction between air and the structure.

Within the next year, this tool will be used to develop and rapidly optimize Future Vertical Lift vehicles capable of changing shape during flight, thereby optimizing performance of the vehicle through different phases of flight.

“Consider an [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] mission where the vehicle needs to get quickly to station, or dash, and then attempt to stay on station for as long as possible, or loiter,” said Dr. Francis Phillips, an aerospace engineer at the laboratory. “During dash segments, short wings are desirable in order to go fast and be more maneuverable, but for loiter segments, long wings are desirable in order to enable low power, high endurance flight.”

This tool will enable the structural optimization of a vehicle capable of such morphing while accounting for the deformation of the wings due to the fluid-structure interaction, he said.

One concern with morphing vehicles is striking a balance between sufficient bending stiffness and softness to enable to morphing,” Phillips said. “If the wing bends too much, then the theoretical benefits of the morphing could be negated and also could lead to control issues and instabilities.”

Fluid-structure interaction analyses typically require coupling between a fluid and a structural solver.

This, in turn, means that the computational cost for these analyses can be very high – in the range of about 10,000s core hours – for a single fluid and structural configuration.

To overcome these challenges, researchers developed a process that decouples the fluid and structural solvers, which can reduce the computational cost for a single run by as much as 80 percent, Phillips said.

The analysis of additional structural configurations can also be performed without re-analyzing the fluid due to this decoupled approach, which in turn generates additional computational cost savings, leading to multiple orders of magnitude reductions in computational cost when considering this method within an optimization framework.

Ultimately, this means the Army could design multi-functional Future Vertical Lift vehicles much more quickly than through the use of current techniques, he said.

For the past 20 years, there have been advances in research in morphing aerial vehicles but what makes the Army’s studies different is its look at the fluid-structure interaction during vehicle design and structural optimization instead of designing a vehicle first and then seeing what the fluid-structure interaction behavior will be.

“This research will have a direct impact on the ability to generate vehicles for the future warfighter,” Phillips said. “By reducing the computational cost for fluid-structure interaction analysis, structural optimization of future vertical lift vehicles can be accomplished in a much shorter time-frame.”

According to Phillips, when implemented within an optimization framework and coupled with additive manufacturing, the future warfighter will be able to use this tool to manufacture optimized custom air vehicles for mission specific uses.

Phillips presented this work in a paper, Uncoupled Method for Massively Parallelizable 3-D Fluid-Structure Interaction Analysis and Design, co-authored by the laboratory’s Drs. Todd Henry and John Hrynuk, as well as Texas A&M University’s Trent White, William Scholten and Dr. Darren Hartl.

By U.S. Army CCDC Research Laboratory Public Affairs

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Navy Seawolves Task Force 116 Vietnam “Rowell’s Rats”

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

You have heard of the Seawolves if you have ever read any stories about the SEALs or The Brown Water Navy in Vietnam. The Navy Seawolves became the most decorated Helo squadron in the Vietnam war. The Navy Seawolves were stood up overseas, and they were decommissioned overseas.  They were set up to provide air support for Navy units fighting in the Rung Sat Special Zone, to support the SEAL Teams and Boat Units. They provide insertion and extraction platforms, close air support, medevac, and taxis from base to base. They did it all. They used hand me down aircraft from the Army and turned them into Navy Seawolves Helicopters. I love learning about the history of units like this, there will never be a movie about them, but the man that made up the Seawolves are the backbone of the U.S. and our military history.

Retired Army Major General Carl McNair, who commanded the 121st Assault Helicopter Company during the Vietnam War, once recalled a story about Army General Creighton Abrams—commander of all military forces in Vietnam—visiting an airbase for an awards ceremony for Army aviation personnel. Riding as a passenger in a jeep along what passed as a flight line, he noted a young man not wearing a cover and ordered his driver to pull over. Abrams had served under General George S. Patton during World War II, so he was tough. Questioning what he thought was a soldier out of uniform, he received a response that went something like: “Sir, I am not a soldier. I am a sailor and a Seawolf, and in the Navy, we don’t wear covers on the flight line.” Abrams responded, “Very well, carry on,” and proceeded on his way. There is nothing better than a General having no idea who you are.

www.usni.org/magazines/naval-history-magazine/2019/june/i-am-sailor-and-seawolf

video.kpbs.org/video/scramble-the-seawolves-yacuzi

Heavy Transport Helicopter for Long-Haul Operations: CH-53K Masters the Art of Inflight Refueling with KC-130J

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

The CH-53K King Stallion heavy transport helicopter has successfully completed several inflight refuelling tests with a KC-130J Super Hercules tanker of the U.S. Marine Corps. Lasting several hours, the test flight took place at the beginning of April off the east coast of the United States. Newly developed, the latest member of the Sikorsky family of CH-53 transport helicopters has thus passed another major milestone. Inflight refuelling has also been defined as an essential capability for the Bundeswehr’s new heavy transport helicopter, or STH. In response to the current Bundeswehr request for tenders, Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky and Rheinmetall have joined forces to offer Germany the top-performing CH-53 K, the most advanced, most intelligent helicopter on the market today.

In particular, the CH-53K’s advanced fly-by-wire flight control significantly reduces the strain on the crew during inflight refuelling operations. This was confirmed during the recently conducted flight tests. The ability to refuel in mid-air is a requirement for covering long distances without having to make intermediate stops, and substantially expands the CH-53K’s operational flexibility. It means that it can be redeployed to distant areas of operation, for instance, and remain aloft for extended periods. The helicopter can carry more personnel and materiel for longer distances and under more challenging operational conditions than any other aircraft of its kind.

Besides the same tanker aircraft, in future the Bundeswehr inventory will include the C-130J transport plane made by Lockheed Martin. The cargo hold of the C-130J is designed to use the 463L-standard air cargo pallets, which the CH-53K can also transport. Using the same pallets in the fixed wing aircraft and transport helicopter offers immense advantages when it comes to loading and unloading materiel.

This interoperability reinforces in a fundamental way military cooperation between France and Germany: at Évreux in Normandy, the two nations are currently creating a joint fleet of C-130J/KC-130J aircraft.  The use of standardized air freight pallets also enables interoperability with other transport planes in Europe such as the A400M, a decisive advantage during joint operations. 

In the meantime, full-scale production of the CH-53K has begun at the Sikorsky plant in Connecticut, as planned. In all, 31 aircraft are currently at different stages of completion. The first USMC CH-53K squadron is expected to be operational by 2023/24.

In Germany the CH-53K is now in the running for the Bundeswehr’s “Schwerer Transporthubschrauber STH” procurement project; the decision as to which heavy transport helicopter to buy is expected to come at the beginning of 2021. The first aircraft could – as required – be delivered starting in 2024, thus enabling a seamless transition from the current CH-53G fleet, coupled with training of personnel and putting the necessary logistics in place necessary for operating in Germany. By this time, the CH53 helicopters supplied to the USMC will already be fully operational, and Marine flight crews and maintenance technicians will be able to draw on their experience to assist in initial training of Bundeswehr personnel. The transition from the CH-53G now in service with the Bundeswehr to the new STH fleet of heavy transport helicopters is to be complete by 2032.

www.rheinmetall.com

AFRL, AFSOC Launch Palletized Weapons from Cargo Plane

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) —

Through a partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Air Force Special Operations Command successfully released simulated palletized munitions in three airdrops at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, Jan. 28 from an MC-130J Commando II, a multi-mission, combat, transport and special operations tanker.

This successful Phase I operational demonstration represents a milestone in executing a palletized munitions airdrop, which refers to the delivery of a large volume of air-launched weapons at any given time.

In this case, munitions stacked upon wooden pallets, or Combat Expendable Platforms, deployed via a roller system. AFSOC used an MC-130J Commando II since its cargo area supported the release of multiple, relatively large munitions.

AFSOC aircrew released five CEPs rigged with six simulated munitions, the same mass as the actual weapons, including four Cargo Launch Expendable Air Vehicles with Extended Range across a spectrum of low and high altitude airdrops. These long-range, high precision weapons destroy moving and non-moving targets.

“In the end, the demonstration accomplished all objectives,” said Jerry Provenza, AFRL CLEAVER program manager. In the three airdrops, all five CEPs separated cleanly from the aircraft, and the munitions separated from the CEPs.

“This successful (demo) is evidence of our commitment to evolve innovative weapons concepts and enhance our partnership with AFSOC to meet the needs of the National Defense Strategy,” said Col. Garry Haase, director of AFRL’s Munitions Directorate. “CLEAVER represents a different approach to launching large numbers of long-range weapons, which will bring a new dynamic to the high-end fight.”

The employment of these weapons directly advances the Air Force palletized munition experimentation effort, an innovative concept in which a multi-engine platform carrying large quantities of network-enabled, semi-autonomous weapons accompanies remotely piloted aircraft and fighter jets in combat missions. 

The CLEAVER, while first envisioned by AFRL’s Center for Rapid Innovation, is now led by program managers from AFRL’s Munitions Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base. Dr. Alok Das, AFRL senior scientist and CRI director, leads a rapid reaction team that provides solutions to the warfighter’s highest priority urgent needs.

Das explains that the CRI is “in the business of innovation” by developing non-traditional solutions that address operational challenges. After assembling the subject matter experts and forming a collaborative team, the CRI developed the prototype CLEAVER.

For this Phase I demonstration, an AFSOC 27th Special Operations Wing MC-130J aircraft flew to the range from Hill AFB, accompanied by an Air National Guard 137th SOW MC-12W Liberty chase aircraft flying from Salt Lake City International Airport. This turbo prop plane with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, made real-time observations, capturing photos and video during three airdrops.

In future demonstrations, AFSOC will release CLEAVER glider vehicles, powered vehicles, and full-up vehicles with optional Warhead and terminal guidance. Provenza said AFRL’s Munitions Directorate will provide vehicles and SMEs in Phase II and beyond. He asserts that AFRL is committed to this strategic partnership with AFSOC.

By Whitney Wetsig, Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs

June 88 – 160th SOAG Recovers Mi-24 in Chad

Monday, June 15th, 2020

June 1988, the 160th SOAG (Originally Task Force 160, the unit was later Designated a Group, the Regiment) received a short-notice directive to recover a Russian made Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter from a remote location in Chad.

At midnight on June 11, 1988, two MH-47s flew 490 miles at night without outside navigational aids to the target location, the Ouadi Doum airfield in northern Chad.

The first Chinook landed and configured the Mi-24, while the second hovered overhead and sling loaded it for return to Ndjamena.

A surprise sandstorm slowed the return trip, but less than 67 hours after the arrival of the C-5 in Chad, the ground crew had the Mi-24 and Chinooks aboard and ready for return to the U.S.

Operation Mount Hope demonstrated incredible teamwork by aviation, ground, and support personnel. Their efforts resulted in the unit’s ability to strike deep and accomplish the mission.

Night Stalkers Don’t Quit!

Jolly Green II, Apache Complete Joint Test Mission

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) —

Those common, vibrating “thwip” helicopter sounds arrived well before they showed up, as 413th Flight Test Squadron personnel turned to look to the north at Eglin Air Force Base, May 19.

Seconds later, two helicopters appeared and the sounds and vibrations intensified. The Air Force’s newest combat search and rescue helicopter, the HH-60W Jolly Green II, led the way down the Duke Field runway. It was followed by the Army’s multi-role combat helicopter, the AH-64 Apache.

The two aircraft landed at Eglin AFB completing their first flight and combined test mission together.

The Apache, from Redstone Army Test Center, Alabama, flew in for system testing with the HH-60W.

“The unique configuration of the AH-64 Apache gave our team the opportunity to test capabilities of the HH-60W in ways normally not possible here,” said Christopher Martin, 413th FLTS HH-60W lead test engineer “Tests like these will ensure the Jolly Green II will be able to perform its critical combat search and rescue mission when fielded in the joint warfighting environment.”

The joint service test-effort marks another milestone in Jolly Green II’s development. This year, the new helicopter has completed extreme environment, communications and defense system testing just to name a few.

The 413th FLTS leads the HH-60W integrated test team along with members of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Detachment 2, and Air Force Operational Test Center.

“We are very proud of the work our integrated test team accomplished in 2020 despite a myriad of operational restrictions due to COVID-19,” said Shawn Hammond, HH-60W test program manager. “The team’s success is due to a mission-focused mindset to ensure the crews flying the Jolly Green II into combat have the most reliable and capable helicopter for the job.”

By Samuel King Jr., Eglin Air Force Base Public Affairs

Bell Teams With Industry Leaders For US Army Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft Program

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Team Invictus brings together programmatic and operational expertise to deliver a transformational, affordable scout aircraft to soldiers, the Bell 360 Invictus

Fort Worth, Texas (June 4, 2020) – Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, has announced agreements with nine premier aerospace industry leaders to form Team Invictus. The companies are producing the Bell 360 Invictus prototype submission as part of the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program. Each industry partner brings unique experience and technological expertise to provide a low-risk path for the Army’s acquisition of a lethal, affordable rotorcraft with advanced mission systems to modernize aviation for multi-domain operations (MDO). 

“Team Invictus is working together to show how cutting-edge technology will give soldiers the ability to confidently operate in the complex and contested battlespace of multi-domain operations,” said Chris Gehler, vice president and program director for FARA at Bell. “Future Vertical Lift is critical for the Army’s ability to win in multi-domain operations with FARA defeating defensive layers and the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) exploiting opened areas to achieve operational objectives.”      

Team members are working closely together to deliver the Bell 360 Invictus prototype using a configuration that emphasizes operational availability, sustainability, and maintainability. The members of Team Invictus include:

Astronics Corporation for a modular framework of airframe power generation, conversion, and distribution products

Collins Aerospace for integration of a new generation of avionics hardware and software featuring cyber-hardened and digital backbone solutions to configure and integrate mission systems

GE Aviation for the 3,000-SHP T901 engine and working on the aircraft Health Awareness System (HAS)

ITT-Enidine Inc. for the passive Liquid Inertia Vibration Eliminator (LIVE) units for all modes of operation including high speed

L3Harris Technologies for the WESCAM™ MX-15D, an advanced, stabilized multi-sensor, multi-spectral imaging and targeting system

Parker Lord for rotor dampers, the main rotor CF bearing, the tail rotor tension torsion strap, and the Active Vibration Control (AVC) System

Mecaer Aviation Group, Inc. for a fully retractable, tail dragger landing gear system 

MOOG Inc. for flight control computer (FCC) electronics, software, and flight control actuation, critical components of the Bell fly-by-wire, Flight Control System (FCS)

TRU Simulation + Training for a high-fidelity flight simulator that gives pilots a true sense of the aircraft flight controls

Team Invictus is applying digital design and manufacturing technologies, including maintenance as part of the design process, and use of emerging commercial practices to bring a holistic view of digital models, processing and analysis to reduce lifecycle maintenance and servicing requirements—and thus reducing sustainment costs.

“Each team member brings a capability that is vital to the success of the Bell 360 and we are honored to have proven, capable, and well-respected industry partners on Team Invictus,” stated Gehler. “This is an outstanding industry team, and we are working diligently to produce a FARA weapon system that is operationally effective and affordably sustainable, as well as complementary and in many ways common to the FLRAA program.”

Following the selection of the Bell 360 Invictus for the competitive prototype in March 2020, Team Invictus continues to rapidly move forward. Team Invictus’ collective expertise reduces program risk while preserving the Army’s FARA schedule leading to a first flight targeted for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022.

To learn more about Bell 360 Invictus and FVL, please visit the Bell 360 Invictus website, and follow us on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

AeroVironment Unveils Quantix Recon, Fully-Automated Hybrid Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aircraft System for Defense Applications

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

• Quantix Recon delivers on-demand, georeferenced aerial imagery, providing quick visibility for on-site mission planning and verification

• Fully-Automated, hybrid vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) design and radio frequency silent mode enable aircraft to conduct missions undetected

• Powerful onboard processing delivers high-resolution imagery immediately on the included operating tablet upon landing – no other devices, internet or software required

AeroVironment’s new Quantix™ Recon, a fully-automated reconnaissance unmanned aircraft system.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif., April 23, 2020 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), today announced the availability of Quantix™ Recon, a lightweight, rapidly deployable, fully-automated reconnaissance solution that delivers high resolution, georeferenced terrain, vegetation and infrastructure imagery, providing ground forces with on-demand actionable intelligence.

With its unique hybrid VTOL design, Quantix Recon combines the vertical takeoff and landing advantages of a multirotor drone with the range, speed and efficiency of a fixed-wing unmanned aircraft. Featuring fully-automated flight operation, Quantix Recon surveys up to 1.6 square kilometers (0.6 square miles), or 20 linear kilometers (12.4 miles) per 45-minute single battery flight. Multiple automated reconnaissance mode options allow users to choose between line (route), area and waypoint targeted data capture. Collected aerial imagery data is compatible with a wide range of available geographic information system (GIS) analytical tools to facilitate further analysis.

“AeroVironment’s Quantix Recon is a low-cost reconnaissance solution that can be in the air within minutes, capturing high-resolution georeferenced imagery of hard to access areas or dynamically changing environments.” said Rick Pedigo, vice president of sales and business development for AeroVironment. “Because it does not rely on radio signals during flight, Quantix Recon offers greater stealth for concealed operations and is unaffected by radio frequency jammers, providing greater protection for frontline troops while reducing cognitive load.”

Powerfully simple to use, Quantix Recon is fully-automated and hands-free with five optional flight altitudes, ranging from 150 feet to 800 feet.  Simple, automated operation makes Quantix Recon easy for users to vary the coverage area and image resolution to suit their aerial reconnaissance needs.

Quantix Recon is equipped with dual 18-megapixel cameras that can capture both high resolution true color and multispectral georeferenced imagery. Powerful, on-board processing allows users to immediately view the high-resolution geospatial imagery on the included operating tablet as soon as the aircraft lands, requiring no other devices, internet or software. And, through the operating tablet’s Quick-Lookä HD app feature, users can pinch and zoom navigation down to centimeter-level ground sampling distance, enabling them to pinpoint and react to critical issues with precision and speed.

To learn more, visit www.avinc.com/Quantix-Recon, or view the recorded Quantix Recon Press Briefing at event.webcasts.com, using the password “QuantixRecon.”