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Archive for the ‘Aviation’ Category

Gentex Announces Contract with Republic of Korea for Pilot Protective Clothing Set

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021


CARBONDALE, PA February 9, 2021 – Gentex Corporation, a global leader in personal protection and situational awareness solutions for defense forces, emergency responders, and industrial personnel, announced today that it has signed a contract with the Republic of Korea for the Gentex Pilot Protective

Clothing Set II (PP-II) to be used as a Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) defense system. The PP-II includes complete head to toe CBRN protection including CBRN suit, gloves, socks, and the Tacair respirator for F-15 and F-16 pilots.

The $20.6M production contract of the TACAIR product line provides the Republic of Korean Air Force with a system that seamlessly integrates mission essential equipment such as the Gentex oxygen mask, optical and communications devices. The contract also includes extensive training on product operations and maintenance, as well as testing and storage for up to 10 years shelf life. The Gentex TACAIR Hood Assembly incorporates the MBU-20/P oxygen mask technology for positive pressure breathing (PPB) protection for both altitude and high G levels.  The comfortable lightweight system is completely man-mounted and requires no aircraft modifications or power.

“For over 60 years, Gentex has been the leader in aircrew protection solutions,” said Robert McCay, vice president at Gentex, “This contract brings our industry-leading protection to the Republic of Korea, and we are proud to continue to protect global defense forces.”

Gentex’s portfolio of air products includes helmets, optical protection, respiratory, and situational awareness solutions. For more information visit, www.gentexcorp.com/gentex/defense/air.

Air Mobility Command Hosts Operational Demonstration for Latest AE Innovation

Monday, February 15th, 2021


Air Mobility Command hosted the final operational demonstration for the Patient Loading System at Scott Air Force Base, Jan. 25-28.

The PLS is a portable and constructable ramp used to safely on and offload patients to high-deck aircraft, such as the KC-10 Extender, KC-46 Pegasus and KC-135 Stratotanker.

“This upgraded system represents a new frontier in our ability to support the global aeromedical evacuation mission,” said Brig. Gen. Norman West, AMC command surgeon.

Eight medical technicians from the 375th Medical Group were first trained on how to construct the system, then assembled it to demonstrate the capability to AMC leaders.

“Our AE system is designed to make us self-sufficient, so we don’t have to rely on non-medical staff to load our patients or equipment,” said Lt. Col. Todd Roman, medical modernization division chief at the AMC Office of the Surgeon General. “We have to teach our staff to put this together, which is what we’re doing this week. We’re also testing to see how long it takes to put it together.”

According to Roman, the goal is for an eight-person medical team to construct the system within eight hours. Despite having never seen it before, the team met all assembly requirements. They also provided invaluable feedback to improve instructions and ease of assembly as the system moves to final production.

“The ability to configure the device to meet the requirements of all three high-deck aircraft allows us to be adaptable to the aircraft available, even in the most resource-limited environment,” West said.

The current PLS design has multiple drawbacks, including weight limitations and steeper ramp incline. Additionally, since it was designed for Civil Air Reserve Fleet aircraft, its military utility is limited to the KC-135.

During AE missions that use low-deck aircraft, such as the C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules, patients can simply be carried on and off the aircraft. But high-deck aircraft present a unique challenge.

“For our high-deck aircraft, we need a mechanism to get our patients from the ground to deck level,” Roman said. “The PLS is designed to provide a safe, alternative method to loading patients when mechanical means are not available.

“This is a significant accomplishment from a strategic standpoint, because in this peer/near-peer competition, we can now use nearly any cargo aircraft for AE missions,” Roman continued.

The system also allows AMC to better project the joint force, one of its four command priorities focused on rapidly delivering combat power, humanitarian aid and disaster response, anywhere in the world and at a moment’s notice.

“The U.S. Air Force AE system is world-class and has been adapting to ‘aircraft of opportunity’ even before the retirement of the C-9A Nightingale, which was AMC’s last dedicated AE airframe,” Roman said. “This system further improves our AE capability by giving combatant commanders greater flexibility in our ability to evacuate patients using any available aircraft, regardless of available base support.”

By MSgt R.J. Biermann, Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

Newly-Acquired Air Force Research Lab Test Aircraft to Aid Personnel Recovery Research

Monday, January 11th, 2021


A small aircraft that is poised to make a big impact on military personnel recovery made a brief stop in the Dayton area on its way to St. Mary’s County, Maryland, where it will be used to test the Air Force Research Laboratory-developed Low Altitude Sensing Helmet system.

The CubCrafters XCub aircraft was ferried from Yakima, Washington, to Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport near Dayton, on its journey to the AFRL 711th Human Performance Wing’s contracted research flight test organization facility, Dec. 21. The aircraft was recently purchased by AFRL to advance the initial “Lysander” flying experiment, which will demonstrate the Low Altitude Sensing Helmet system, known as LASH.

LASH, a portable kit developed within the AFRL 711th Human Performance Wing’s Airman Systems Directorate, contains specialized equipment including a flight helmet, a thermal camera, night vision goggles and various other components. The kit can quickly and easily be installed onto nearly any general aviation aircraft to equip pilots for low-level, low-speed, nighttime flight – something that is essential for personnel recovery and other “featherweight airlift” special missions, according to Dr. Darrel G. Hopper, 711th Human Performance Wing project lead.

“The Air Force’s CODE (Combat Operations in Denied Environment) program determined that these types of missions could not be executed effectively by the large aircraft that we have been using over the last 20 years in areas where we have air dominance,” Hopper said. “Project Lysander was conceived as a method of rescuing isolated personnel in both heavily defended and undefended airspace. A critical element of the project was determined to be a carry-on kit that could allow such operations.” He explained that the LASH system kit was designed to fill this need and provide pilots with sensory situational awareness required to fly safely, at night, at extremely low altitudes and slow airspeeds.

Hopper explained that LASH came about after the Air Combat Command and the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation office at AFRL asked the 711th Human Performance Wing’s Airman Systems Directorate to lead this research effort.

“They called on us based on our expertise in this type of work,” Hopper explained. “Our directorate has decades of experience in researching, developing and fielding helmet- and cockpit-mounted displays and other wearable vision aids for combat pilots, aircrews and special operations warriors.”

After careful study of mission requirements and aircraft capabilities, AFRL researchers designed the LASH kit using a number of mostly commercial-off-the-shelf components. The kit was packaged into a compact, easy-to-transport, one-person carrying system that could be easily fitted temporarily to virtually any small aircraft without additional modification.

Hopper said the CubCrafters XCub was identified by ACC as the safest and most capable commercial-off-the-shelf aircraft for the initial flying experiment to test the LASH System kit.

“If we can demonstrate that the XCub can be flown safely at night at low speed and low altitude using the LASH night vision aids, then we can expand LASH system kit use to other types of short takeoff and landing general aviation aircraft.”

After the aircraft reaches the flight test organization in Maryland, it will first be used to fit-test the LASH system. AFRL researchers and contractor partners will next refine the installation and de-installation process as well as baseline-test metrics, and develop the associated test cards, while flying without the kit. The first flights with the LASH system are scheduled for early spring 2021. If flight tests are successful and program objectives are achieved, the LASH system could be on track for technology transfer and possible deployment as early as 2022.

“This system offers the potential to greatly expand our capability to perform necessary personnel recovery and related missions,” Hopper said. “The acquisition and delivery of this test vehicle is a critical milestone in getting the LASH technology and featherweight airlift capability into the hands of the warfighter.”

Hopper added that after the XCub test aircraft has completed its role in this project, AFRL will be able to use it as a test asset for future research projects as well.

Story by Holly Jordan, Air Force Research Laboratory

Photos by by Richard Eldridge

Saab Receives Follow-on Contract for GlobalEye

Monday, January 4th, 2021

Saab has today received a follow on contract with the United Arab Emirates regarding the sale of two GlobalEye systems, Saab’s advanced airborne surveillance system. The order value is USD 1.018 billion and the contract period is 2020-2025.

The original contract with the United Arab Emirates for GlobalEye was signed in 2015. This contract is an amendment to that signed in 2015.

“We are proud that the United Arab Emirates continues to show great trust in Saab and our solutions. It shows that Saab remains on the cutting edge regarding advanced technology. The GlobalEye program is running according to plan and we have an efficient cooperation with the customer”, says Saab’s President and CEO, Micael Johansson.

The work will be carried out in Gothenburg, Linköping, Arboga, Järfälla and Luleå in Sweden and in Centurion, South Africa.

The contract was signed by the customer on the 30th of December 2020, hence the order was booked during the fourth quarter 2020.

GlobalEye provides simultaneous air, maritime and ground surveillance. It combines sophisticated radar technology with the ultra-long range Global 6000 aircraft from Bombardier.


Four Additional Schiebel Camcopter

Friday, December 18th, 2020

Vienna, 14 December 2020 – Naval Group, on behalf of the French Navy, has accepted for operational use two further CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) with a total of four Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs). They will be deployed on the Mistral-class amphibious helicopter carriers (Porte- Hélicoptères Amphibie – PHA) Tonnerre and Mistral.

The acquisition comes after the successful integration of the CAMCOPTER® S-100 on the French Navy Mistral-class vessel Dixmude, which was finalised in 2019. This was the first time in Europe, that a rotary wing UAS had been connected to the combat system of an amphibious helicopter carrier.

The acceptance tests of the two systems took place in the last week of October with representatives of Naval Group and the French Navy in attendance.

Over the next few months the newly acquired CAMCOPTER® S-100 UAS will be integrated on the French Navy’s vessels Tonnerre and Mistral, significantly enhancing the helicopter carrier’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

The CAMCOPTER® S-100 VTOL UAS operates day and night and can carry multiple payloads up to a combined weight of 50 kg. Due to its minimal footprint, reliability and airworthiness pedigree, it is ideally suited for maritime operations around the globe.

Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group, said: “After the successful integration on the Dixmude, we are very proud of the confidence the French Navy has in the proven and reliable CAMCOPTER® S-100 and we are looking forward to the integration on the Tonnerre and Mistral and their operational deployment.”

LCDR Serge D., UAS program officer, French Navy: “The S-100 on Mistral-class will be the first operational tactical UAS for the French Navy and this is a major step towards the Mercator plan.”

Porte Hélicoptère Amphibie Maintenance Architect at Naval Group, Philippe V., said: “We participated in the successful factory acceptance test, which was an important milestone for this acquisition, prior to the global integration onboard conducted by Naval Group.”

Navy Announces Aerial Vehicle Operator Warrant Officer Specialty

Friday, December 11th, 2020

The Navy announced a new warrant officer specialty designator whose job will be to operate carrier-based MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial vehicles, which are expected to start appearing in fleet carrier air wings sometime in 2024.

The Navy announced a new warrant officer specialty designator whose job will be to operate carrier-based MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial vehicles, which are expected to start appearing in fleet carrier air wings sometime in 2024.

The establishment of the Aerial Vehicle Operator (AVO) warrant officer specialty became a reality Dec. 9 with Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite’s approval of the new designator, which was announced in NAVADMIN 315/20.

Over the next 6-10 years, the Navy will recruit, train and send to the fleet, a community of roughly 450 warrants in grades W-1 through W-5.

Those selected for the program will first complete Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. Upon graduation, they will be designated as Warrant Officer One and must complete basic flight training as well as advanced training on the MQ-25 aerial vehicle. Once complete with basic flight training, these officers will earn their own distinctive Navy “wings of gold” warfare device and be assigned the 737X designator.

“AVO’s will start out operating the MQ-25 Stingray, the Navy’s first carrier based unmanned aerial vehicle, which is expected to join the fleet with an initial operating capability in 2024,” said Capt. Christopher Wood, aviation officer community manager at the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Millington, Tenn.  

The use of warrant officers as the primary operators of unmanned aerial vehicles came about because the expected career path they’ll have as they move up the ranks will be as technical specialists who complete repetitive tours, which fits the Navy’s model on how warrant grades are utilized.

“Unlike traditional Navy Chief Warrant Officer’s, the majority of these officers will be accessed much younger and trained along the lines of current Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers in the unrestricted designators,” Wood said.

“However, Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers require assignments that progress in tactical and leadership scope to be competitive for promotion, while warrant officer AVO’s will be technical specialists and spend their careers as operators.”

Navy Recruiting Command will begin accepting applications for initial AVO accessions in fiscal year 2022. In addition to street-to-fleet warrants, enlisted Sailors will also be able to apply for the program, and potentially earn the 737X warrant officer designator.

“Currently, the plan is to grow the community from the ground up with Warrant Officer AVOs,” Wood said.  “However, Naval Aviation will continue to evaluate the requirements of the program as it matures.”

Commanding and executive officers, as well as department heads of MQ-25 squadrons, will be filled by aviators and flight officers administratively screened for those commands.

“During the first 4-5 years of the program, some MQ-25 AVOs will come from other Type/Model/Series as we build up the knowledge base, with the first 3-4 deployments having a mix of existing unrestricted line and new warrants making up the ready room.”

And though right now the community will be focused on the MQ-25, in the future, warrant officer AVOs may also operate the MQ-4C Triton while on shore duty following their initial MQ-25 sea tour.  As the Navy’s footprint in unmanned aerial vehicles increases, so could the scope of the AVO community.  

Special Operations Terminal Attack Controller Course

Monday, November 30th, 2020

The Special Operations Terminal Attack Controller Course (SOTACC) is hosted by the 24th Special Operations Wing, which allows trains SOF from all branches and partner nations to receive their Joint Terminal Attack Controller certification. Students conduct special operations focused close air support missions from several types of aircraft.

(U.S. Air Force photos by Tech. Sgt. Rose Gudex, ST Combat Camera)

USAF Rated Preparatory Program Now Accepting Applications for FY21 Spring Class – Open to Enlisted

Thursday, November 19th, 2020


Active duty Department of the Air Force officers and enlisted Airmen and Space Professionals interested in becoming a rated officer have until Dec. 31, 2020 to apply for the Spring 2021 Rated Preparatory Program.

This will be the third year that the Air Force has partnered with the Civil Air Patrol for this training. The 2021 class will take place at the Denton Enterprise Airport in Denton, Texas.

“The Rated Preparatory Program provides Department of the Air Force officers and for the first time enlisted applicants, who are interested in cross-training to a rated career field the opportunity to gain and strengthen their basic aviation skills,” said Col. Scott Linck, Aircrew Task Force deputy director. “This program will allow them to enhance their knowledge through developmental modules and acquire valuable flight time in order to increase their competitiveness as candidates for future undergraduate flying training boards.”

Applicants selected for the RPP will first complete an online self-paced ground course followed by a one-week in-resident course to introduce them to aviation fundamentals. Program participants will garner approximately seven to nine flight hours, ground instruction and additional training time in a flight simulator.

Officers who complete the program are required to apply to the next available Undergraduate Flying Training selection board. Enlisted participants who complete the program are required to apply to at least one of three Air Force commissioning sources: U.S. Air Force Academy, Reserve Officer Training Corps or Officer Training School.

Airmen who can meet the requirements below are encouraged to apply:

1. Any active duty officer who meets UFT board requirements.

2. Any active duty enlisted Airman or Space Professional who meets UFT board requirements and qualifies for a commission through one of the three commissioning sources (Reference PSDM 20-96 for further information).

3. Be a U.S. Citizen.

4. Be of high moral character and personal qualifications (members currently having open law violations or criminal investigations, previously convicted by court-martial or having received an Article 15 are ineligible to apply).

5. Have the unit commander’s approval and endorsement.

6. Have a current passing Physical Fitness Test score.

7. Have a Pilot Candidate Selection Method score prior to the RPP class start date.

8. Have less than 5 hours of total civilian flight time (applicants with greater than 5 hours of civilian flight time may apply, but will only be considered on a space available basis).

9. Officers: Obtain a U.S. Air Force Initial Flying Class I, 1A, Ground Based Controller or III flight physical prior to entry into the RPP.

10. Enlisted: Obtain an FAA Class III physical prior to entry into the RPP (Reference PSDM 20-96; consult a local Aviation Medical Examiner).

11. Complete an on-line self-paced ground course that will be provided prior to the class start date.

12. Be prepared to retake the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test and Test of Basic Aviation Skills at the first available opportunity upon completion of RPP, preferably within two to four weeks.

“When comparing applicant scores pre- and post-RPP, results show, on average, a 20% improvement in student AFOQT scores and a 35-point increase in PCSM scores,” said Maj. Sean Stumpf, Aircrew Task Force talent management branch chief. “Approximately 90% of officers who went through the program in 2019 and applied for UFT were selected. We are hoping for the same results from the most recent class that went through the program this summer.”

Interested applicants can find additional information on how to apply through the MyPers website.