Archive for the ‘Aviation’ Category

BELL V-280 Valor Team Selected To Continue In Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft Competition

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

U.S. Army awards Bell a contract for competitive demonstration and risk reduction work on a program engineered to deliver exceptional operational capabilities to warfighters at a sustainable cost

Fort Worth, Texas (March 16, 2019) – Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, has been selected as a project agreement holder for the competitive demonstration and risk reduction (CD&RR) effort as part of the U.S. Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program. Under the agreement Bell will deliver a refined V-280 Valor design, with supporting technical documentation, that builds on the data captured during the more than two years and 170 hours of flight testing under the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) program to inform the FLRAA program of record. 

“Bell and Team Valor are excited to continue working on a system that has proven its ability to bring exceptional capabilities to warfighters,” said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO at Bell. “The JMR TD and V-280 show that rapid maturation of new technology is possible with a solid government-industry partnership fueled by our talented and innovative workforce. We look forward to the FLRAA competition.”

This contract follows the successful U.S. Army led JMR TD program. As part of that program, Bell managed collaboration with the twelve leading companies that make up Team Valor to enable rapid production, systems integration, and deliberate program schedule to validate the V-280’s flight capabilities and operational relevance. The V-280 achieved all program goals, demonstrating its speed by flying above 300 knots and demonstrating low speed agility attitude quickness per ADS-33F-PRF. These characteristics are important to inform FLRAA program requirements to ensure the program will help warfighters meet the challenges of future multi-domain fights.

“This is an important milestone in the history of Bell and Army aviation. We are honored to be part of it,” said Keith Flail, vice president, Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. “The next phase is an opportunity for this team to build on the success of the last six years and continue to bring the proof that we can provide transformative capabilities to our Army in line with their stated goal of 2030.”

The V-280 Valor was developed in support of the government Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, the Army’s number three modernization priority area. The FLRAA program is meant to produce a medium-lift utility rotorcraft replacement with transformational speed, power, and maneuverability, at a sustainable cost, to active duty and reserve aviation units. 

Saab Announces ‘Gripen for Canada Team’

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Saab is bidding for Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) and today announced that leading Canadian aerospace companies IMP Aerospace & Defence, CAE, Peraton Canada and GE Aviation are the ‘Gripen for Canada Team’.

Saab is offering Gripen E, with the support of the Swedish government, for Canada’s future fighter requirement of 88 new aircraft to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s existing CF-18 Hornet fighter fleet. The Canadian Request for Proposal requires companies to deliver high-quality industrial and technological benefits, such as Saab has demonstrated with Gripen for Brazil and is offering for Finland and India’s fighter requirements.

Saab’s bid to the Government of Canada will include a comprehensive proposal to deliver those benefits, with high quality jobs and technology, adding greater economic value and knowledge across Canadian industry coast to coast. Today’s announcement is the first step toward achieving this offer with IMP Aerospace & Defence, CAE, Peraton Canada and GE Aviation as the ‘Gripen for Canada Team’.

 “Over the past two years, Saab and the Swedish Government have been encouraged by Canada’s open and transparent competition to replace its fighter fleet. Today, we are delighted to announce the ‘Gripen for Canada Team’. We have assembled a dynamic roster of innovative leaders within Canada’s aerospace industry, across multiple regions to offer the best solution for Canada’s future fighter,” said Jonas Hjelm, Senior Vice President and head of Business Area Aeronautics. He further stated that, “Saab is committed to securing long-term relationships in Canada that will create a significant number of highly-skilled, sustainable jobs for Canadians within domestic and international supply chains.”

IMP Aerospace & Defence will contribute with in-country production and in-service support for the life of the Canadian Gripen fleet. CAE will provide training and mission systems solutions, while Peraton Canada will provide avionic and test equipment component maintenance, repair and overhaul, and material management. GE Aviation will provide and sustain the fighter’s engines in Canada.

The ‘Gripen for Canada Team’ presents a genuine ‘Made in Canada’ solution and looks forward to demonstrating how Gripen is the best value for Canada’s aerospace industry and taxpayers in terms of life-cycle costs and sustainment throughout the FFCP competition. Saab’s Gripen fighter meets all of Canada’s specific defence requirements, offering exceptional performance, advanced technical capabilities, future-proof upgradeability and NATO interoperability.

Need Flight Deck Jerseys?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

Tidewater Tactical has your flight deck jersey needs covered with every color and size. Both American MFG and Drifire models as well as pants are available.

If you’re in Hampton Roads you can stop in, or contact them via

LIFT Aviation Awarded Development Contract by USAF for Next Generation Fixed Wing Helmet

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

LIFT Aviation is one of several companies awarded developmental Other Transaction Authority Agreements with the US Air Force to develop a Next Generation Fixed Wing Helmet, which was originally an AFWERX project.

This project is moving along quickly as you can see from the quad chart. LIFT Aviation is well known for their commercial AV-1 KOR helmet.

You can definitely see the DNA in their NGFWH candidate.

LIFT Aviation had this to say…

“We are honored to have been selected by the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force to be involved with this program. Innovation is something that has been lacking in the fixed wing helmet that the U.S. Air Force has implemented for the past number of decades and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the USAF and DoD to continue to develop the next generation fixed wing flight helmet. The approach taken with our first flight helmet was to have it be modern, innovative and above all, safe. We can’t wait to bring that same approach while developing this next generation fixed wing helmet to provide our airmen and warfighters the best in flight helmet technology.” states Guido Rietdyk, President and CEO of LIFT Aviation. “The technological advances that we developed in our other businesses in personal safety products in the orthopedic and extreme sports industries under our EVS Sports brand, and in the industrial safety industry with our LIFT Safety brand, in addition to our LIFT Aviation flight focused brand, all have greatly contributed to us being able to draw innovation from a variety of applications and come up with state of the art technology in the cockpit, now working to make our USAF air crews equipped just as well as their air craft are.”

USAF Awards OTA Agreement to Gentex Corporation for Next Generation Fixed Wing Helmet System

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Carbondale, PA, February 26, 2020 – Gentex Corporation, a global leader in personal protection and situational awareness solutions for defense forces, aircrew, emergency responders, and industrial personnel, announced today that it was awarded an OTA Agreement by the United States Air Force for its NGFWH System, following a global-scale competition.

The United States Air Force challenged individuals and businesses from across the world to submit a NGFWH prototype, focusing on addressing shortfalls in previous helmet models, including stability, equipment compatibility, and mass properties. After being tested by USAF pilots and maintainers, the Gentex NGFWH System prototype, created by Gentex’s international team of designers and engineers, was awarded an OTA Agreement for further development and testing.  

The Gentex NGFWH System fully integrates the latest Gentex advancements and innovation in all facets of helmet system design and integration, including the helmet system itself, optics, hearing protection, communications and situational awareness, respiratory protection integration and helmet mounted device integration. The NGFWH System will provide a higher level of protection and operational capability for current and future Aircrew.

“We’re honored to be awarded this contract,” said Robert McCay, vice president of aircrew systems at Gentex Corporation, “It’s a testament to Gentex’s generations-long history of leading-edge technological advancement and innovation.”

This research for this OTA was, in part, funded by the U.S. Government.  The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Government.

Nellis Threat Training Facility

Saturday, February 1st, 2020

SSD Reader and fellow AFSOC Veteran MSgt Steve Venski (USAF, Ret) sent us this write up of his recent visit to the Nellis Threat Training Facility, or as commonly known the “Petting Zoo” near Las Vegas. He thought other readers would be interested as well. We agree.

Deserts rarely give up their secrets willingly. And the deserts of Nevada are no exception. Outside of Las Vegas, off to the northwest, lies the Nevada National Security Site; euphemistically known as N2S2. Covering almost 1400 square miles of Nevada, there are legends and secrets galore. However, much closer to Sin City, is Nellis Air Force Base, home to U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School. The most widely known exercise, is RED FLAG. While the movie TOP GUN has received much press and movies made, the fact is, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) trains all branches of the service (except the Coast Guard; still haven’t figured out how to make those boats fly…) in what’s termed ACM; Air Combat Maneuvering, dogfighting. The airspace of RED FLAG, lies within what’s known as the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR); over 5,000 square miles of Nevada. Get your head around that one.

Towards that end, realistic training is essential. Our adversaries don’t fly the same gear we do. Over the decades, the U.S. has acquired (by hook or by crook), quite a few airframes of what the bad guys would be flying. There exists a formerly classified facility on Nellis Air Force Base, known as the Threat Training Facility. Many years ago, I visited this place, and it took a full-on security clearance to gain admission.

Fast-Forward 20 years….the proliferation of weapons by countries hostile to the U.S., has resulted in explosive growth of the TTF, and a re-thinking of who needs to know about these weapons systems, and why. The classification has come off of the Threat Training Facility, and access has been granted to almost all. Rumor has it, that all the ‘Alphabet Kids’ (The CIA, FBI, NGA, DIA, NSA, NRO), come thru the TTF, for not only hands-on inspection and recognition, but to learn how each piece of equipment works, and to understand its’ capabilities, so as to be able to use it, or to disable it, if necessary. That’s right folks, this is not just a museum where you just look at things, but you’re invited and encouraged to go give things a feel. Because of that, the facility has been given the name of ‘The Petting Zoo’. Seriously. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

-I mean, I could,…but I didn’t.

Once I heard about the ability to enter the ‘New & Improved’ Petting Zoo, I couldn’t wait. While in Las Vegas for SHOT, I made plans for my colleagues and me, to visit the ‘Zoo’.

Let me say this: It does NOT disappoint. The Cliffs-Notes are this: There is more shit in there, than a Corsicana Texas Fruitcake. All small arms and weapons from the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact relatives, are there. Additionally, there are crew-served weapons, and light and heavy artillery. Moving on, there’s armored personnel carriers and tanks. Since the aviators from all branches will be moving through what’s known as ‘Denied Territory’, there’s a very real possibility they will encounter Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs). For visual recognition, the Zoo delivers. All possible types of shoulder-fired missiles, and ground radar systems are present. Every type of Surface-to-Air radar-guided missile system is also there.

Holy Hannah, does it get any better than this? -Oh yeah. Like the man on the commercial said, “But Wait! There’s MORE!” Fixed- wing aircraft, from a MIG-15, all the way up to a MIG-29! Rotary-wing aircraft, include not only the smaller utility helicopters, but the big, honkin’ HIND-24 Russian Attack Helicopter. In Texas parlance, It’s a big sonafabitch. I can imagine it struck fear into the hearts of the Afghan tribesmen when those huge things came roaring over the mountains. -Right up until the time the mujahedeen got their hands, on U.S. Stinger missiles…. Gotta love technology.

As a former member of Air Force Special Operations, I knew ‘The Back-Story being the Real Story’, and I had to ask where all these artifacts had come from. Some of the articles were ‘gifted’ from defectors, as part of their ‘Desperately Seeking Asylum’ deal. Others came from our allies, as they swept thru their adversary’s armies and air forces. Some of them were what’s known as ‘Battlefield Pick-Up’; sorta like Pick-Up Sticks, only with weapons and stuff. -And others were rumored to be outright stolen by some of the ‘Alphabet Kids’, in their missions to acquire the bad guys goodies. Looking out in the five-plus acre lot that just houses the larger aircraft and missiles, I couldn’t help but wonder what stories these things could tell, if they could talk.

Finally, in closing, I will offer this: I have been told there is a base out in the ‘upper reaches’ of the Nevada Test Range, where MIG-21s, 23s, and 29s reside, and are flown by U.S. Aggressor squadron pilots, to train our U.S. military pilots, on tactics and capabilities. 

Lies? Cock-and-Bull story? Like the poster says: “The Truth Is Out There.’ 

-But since you can’t get there, I urge you to go visit ‘The Petting Zoo’, at Nellis AFB.



About the author:

MSgt Steve Venski spent 20 years in the United States Air Force, working in the Avionic Sensors career field.

The Avionic Sensors career field, began the early years of what is now called ISR; Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.

MSgt Venski’s ‘platform resume’ consists of F-4 PHANTOM aircraft, to include both photographic film and electronic reconnaissance. Additionally, laser-target designators, and strike systems.

No career could be complete without serving in Special Operations, of which MSgt Venski did two tours in Southeast Asia, with the AC-130 SPECTRE aircraft.

Upon being some of the last people out of Southeast Asia in 1975, he rotated back to Florida with the 1st Special Operations Wing, out of Hurlburt Field, and enjoyed touring the globe, and introducing bad guys everywhere, to the AC-130 SPECTRE Gunship.

He currently resides in Texas, with his wife and Low-Light Level attack kittens.

“The Meek May Inherit The Earth,

-But The BOLD Shall Command The Skies.”

United States Space Force Emblem

Saturday, January 25th, 2020

We interrupt our SHOT Show coverage to bring you the new US Space Force emblem, recently tweeted by President Trump.

And for those of you who think that USSF doesn’t need camouflage in space, do you actually believe that they go there?

GA-ASI Awarded Gray Eagle ER Modernization Contracts

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

SAN DIEGO–General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has teamed with the U.S. Army to enhance the capabilities and survivability of the MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). The Army awarded GA-ASI multiple contracts to upgrade the Gray Eagle ER’s avionics, datalinks and software in order to improve the UAS’s operational capability in contested environments. The modernization initiative provides an open architecture concept on the aircraft that is capable of hosting government-owned software, as well as increased autonomy required to support Scalable Control Interface and the rapid integration of long-range sensors. These enhancements will enable the Army’s vision for Multi-Domain Operations (MDO).

“GE-ER provides the U.S. Army with a UAS that adjusts to the changing threat environment and mission needs with unmatched endurance.”

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“The Army is investing in the Gray Eagle system because they get a tremendous performance increase as a return on their investment,” said David R. Alexander, president, GA-ASI. “GE-ER provides the U.S. Army with a UAS that adjusts to the changing threat environment and mission needs with unmatched endurance.”

GA-ASI recently completed an open competition to modernize the datalinks on the platform. Tenets for the “best of breed” datalink competition included modular architecture with government-owned interfaces, reduction in size, weight, and power, with increased reliability, Soldier maintainability, and growth for future MDO requirements. Vendors selected include L3Harris Technologies, Airbus, Hughes Network Systems, LLC and Ramona Research, Inc. The modernized datalink solution, while significantly more capable, will cost less per aircraft than the current datalink suite.