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Archive for the ‘Aviation’ Category

US Military Lands C130 on Newly Renovated Angaur Airfield in Palau

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

KOROR, Palau — A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules delivered U.S. Army Pacific Soldiers onto the newly renovated Angaur Airfield for training exercises in the Republic of Palau, Sept. 5.

The successful arrival of the military cargo plane validates the airstrip’s use by military and commercial aircraft, a little more than a week after the project’s completion and ceremony August 27. In the weeks prior, a U.S. civil-military engineer joint task force reconstructed and expanded the runway as part of the Angaur Airfield Joint Improvement Project.

The U.S. Ambassador to Palau, John Hennessy-Niland remarked that making a rudimentary airstrip capable of hosting cargo aircraft is a significant milestone in support of the people of Palau. “The completion of the Angaur Airfield Joint Improvement Project is a game changer,” said Hennessy-Niland. “Palau now has a secondary airstrip. This had been a long-standing request from the government of Palau and the State of Angaur.”

Adding a second airfield allows the U.S., along with other allies and partners in the region increased opportunity to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance in times of crisis or address other regional security concerns.

The USARPAC Soldiers are arriving as part of Defender Pacific 20, a theater-wide exercise that demonstrates strategic readiness by deploying combat credible forces in support of the Compact of Free Association agreement and the U.S. National Defense Strategy.

“The deployment of forces onto a newly certified airstrip demonstrates our ability to rapidly project joint combat power across the Indo-Pacific Command and reinforce international rules-based order,” said Col. James Bartholomees, USARPAC Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. “This new runway demonstrates America’s investment in our important alliances and partnerships and our overall commitment to the people of Palau.”

U.S. Army Pacific worked closely with the U.S. Embassy, Government of Palau, and the Joint Region Marianas command in Guam to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19 through 100% testing and quarantine measures. USARPAC would like to thank the Palau Ministry of Health for all their efforts and assistance with COVID-19 testing and clearance. All soldiers tested negative for the virus prior to their arrival to Angaur.

Courtesy of US Army News.

SECAF Unveils New “eSeries” Classification in Nod to Department’s Digital Future

Sunday, September 20th, 2020


Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett told Air Force Association conference attendees that the future of Air and Space technology will include aircraft, weapons and satellites which will be digitally engineered and virtually tested before ever taking physical form.

A true paradigm shift, systems being considered for acquisition will be designed, developed and manufactured on a digital foundation, just like the Boeing eT-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer. The new process is part of the Department’s digital eSeries approach.

The secretary made her remarks during the keynote speech at this year’s Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference, which is being held virtually due to the global pandemic.

“To inspire companies to embrace the possibilities presented by digital engineering, today the Department of the Air Force is announcing a new weapons system designator—the ‘e’ series,” Barrett said. “Aircraft, satellites, weapon systems and more that are digitally engineered will receive an ‘e’ prefix.”

The first U.S. Air Force aircraft designed using the digital approach, the eT-7A Red Hawk, embraced model-based engineering and 3D design tools which reduced assembly hours by 80% and cut software development time in half. The aircraft moved from computer screen to first flight in just 36 months.

Other Air and Space Force programs have leveraged the power of digital engineering to reduce design and testing time. In the future, more Air and Space Force acquisition programs will be using digital engineering principles to design, code and build systems.

According to Air Force officials, an eSeries digital acquisition program will be a fully-connected, end-to-end virtual environment that will produce an almost perfect replica of what the physical weapon system will be. It will bring unprecedented speed and agility to help compete in the technology battlespace by enabling thousands, even millions, of virtual iterations at machine speeds to design the best possible system — but only build the single, best design.

By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

First-Light GLIDR – An Advanced Illumination System for Aviators

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

Coming this November, the First-Light GLIDR was developed under an AFWERX SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) contract to create the ultimate aircrew light.

This PALS compatible light can also be mounted to clothing and helmets thanks to the 360-Degree, rotating steel clip.

There’s even a headlamp band.

It’s compact (60 x 53mm or 2.37 x 2.09 in) and lightweight (2.7oz with battery, 2.2oz without battery) and is powered by a single AA battery.

It offers White Light, NVIS (Mil Spec 3009) and IR (880nm).

Light Specs:

High White: 100 Lumens
Medium White: 40 Lumens
Low White: 10 Lumens

White Constant-On:
High: 5 Hours
Medium: 18 hours
Low: 30 Hours

White Beacon:
50 Hours

NVIS (Mil Spec 3009):
High: 5 Hours
Medium: 20 hours
Low: 40 Hours

Infrared Constant-On:
High: 10 Hours
Medium: 25 hours
Low: 40 Hours

Infrared Beacon: 60 Hours

Infrared and White-Light Beacon Flash Rate: 60/minute

Light Dispersion
White: Foucused Beam
NVIS: Flood Beam
Infrared: Omnidirectional

Waterproof 1 meter for 30 minutes (MIL-STD-810H / IPX7)

Offered in Midnight Black and Dark Gray.


SBIR Grant Fast-Tracks 3D-Printed Runway Mat Development

Monday, August 24th, 2020

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A $1 million SBIR Phase II grant from the U.S. Air Force will help fast-track the development of a new innovative runway mat.

Pablo Zavattieri, the Jerry M. and Lynda T. Engelhardt Professor in civil engineering at Purdue University, is working with Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies (ITAMCO) to develop the new runway mat. The team uses metal 3D printing methods for its technology.

“The objective of the research is to develop a robust sheet or roll technology that serves as an alternative to the AM-2 mat for temporary or expeditionary flight operations,” Zavattieri said. “AM-2 matting has served the U.S. military well since the Vietnam War, but the materials and technology in the ITAMCO-led research project will offer many benefits over AM-2 matting.”

The proposed matting solution is composed of an upper surface that mates with a lower surface and contains a type of architectured material called Phase Transforming Cellular Material (PXCM) geometry to mitigate anticipated loading and shear stresses.

Zavattieri said a portable and lightweight airfield mat must be easy to install and store, yet capable of withstanding the stresses of repeated takeoffs and landings of aircraft.

“Products made with PXCM geometry have the ability to change from one stable configuration to another stable or metastable configuration and back again,” Zavattieri said. “This means the new runway mat could potentially heal itself, resulting in a much longer life span than a runway made with AM-2 matting. Another benefit is that debris on the runway will not hamper the runway’s performance with our technology.”

In Phase II, the team will move into the prototype and testing stage. The prototype’s ability to restore itself to its original contour and attain full operational capability 30 minutes after compaction and preparation of the final repair site will be tested.

LIFT Aviation Flight Caps

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

If you’re looking for a lightweight alternative to a flying helmet, check out LIFT Aviation’s family of Flight Caps.

Offered in four variants, they all feature a FIDLOCK buckle system and snap button straps for securing communications equipment while in flight.

Flux Flight Cap

This is an open cockpit flight cap is made from a water repellent coated polyester. It features a comfort mesh lining and strategically placed perforations to provide ventilation.

Flux Flight Cap – L1

This version of their open cockpit flight cap is made from premium-grade leather with strategically placed perforations to provide ventilation.

Flux Flight Cap – Zero 1

The Zero – 1 is LIFT Aviation’s top of the line open cockpit flight cap. It’s made from ultralight, super vented Ariaprene panels that wick moisture away from your skin.

FLUX Ultralight Flight Cap

Their newest Open Cockpit cap is also designed to be their lightest. It’s made from a highly breathable, water repellent coated polyester material.

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.



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.