Tactical Tailor

Archive for the ‘Aviation’ Category

US Air Force Fully Confirms Satcom Direct RO/RO Ku-band TRASC C-130 Capability Following 26-hour Endurance Test

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

Melbourne, Florida/ 15 April 2024 – SD GovernmentSDG, the satellite communications provider for global governments and the US Air Force, has successfully tested the Roll-on/Roll-off (RO/RO) Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) satellite communications (SATCOM) capability SDG developed with Florida-based R4 Integration, Inc. (R4i) in a 26-hour 20-minute mission aboard a Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules. Following the intense validation flight, the SD/R4i Tactical Removeable Airborne Satellite Communications (TRASC) BLOS solution is now fully available for US Air Force use.

Performed as part of Exercise Gnarly Explodeo, the maximum endurance mission recorded 100% reliability and availability from the TRASC system as it facilitated secure command and control data communications, defense applications, intelligence updates, electronic flight bags, video conferencing, voice over internet and WiFi calls. The equipment connects with the Intelsat FlexAir service, which employs an optimized high-throughput global satellite network to deliver dedicated airtime to government users. The SD/R4i TRASC system supports the commander of Air Mobility Command (AMC), General Mike Minihan, in achieving his intention to have 25% of the AMC fleet connected by 2025.

The SD/R4i TRASC BLOS solution integrates the SD Plane Simple® Ku-band terminal within a Multi-Purpose Hatch System (MPHS) designed to replace the existing C-130 standard upper forward or center fuselage hatches.The SDG team assisted US Air Force maintainers as they installed the system on a 41st Airlift Squadron, 19th Airlift Wing C-130J, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.

“This platform enables global command and control, providing our crew with unparalleled situational awareness,” remarked Colonel Denny Davies, 19th Airlift Wing and Little Rock commander, after the mission. “It makes the C-130 much more resilient and capable in the vastness of the Pacific, reinforcing the Air Force’s core tenant of distributed control.”

The turnkey solution mounts the SD Plane Simple® antenna in the MPHS. It includes a compact RO/RO BaseBand kit that integrates a secure enclave, modem, Link-16, airborne router, and power supply.  The stand-alone system only requires AC or DC power from the aircraft to operate and distribute real-time BLOS connectivity.

“SD prides itself on rigorously testing all our equipment before we put it into service. The success of this endurance flight exemplifies the power of our advanced technology and its versatility in delivering new capabilities to our forces. We are proud to add this connectivity solution to our growing military portfolio and look forward to supporting the system as it enters into service,” says Hayden Olson, Head of SD Government. “We are already receiving requests for demonstrations of the capabilities of the equipment to USAF representatives, such is the interest in the system.”


AFSOC to Resume CV-22 Flight Operations

Sunday, March 17th, 2024

Following the March 8, 2024 Naval Air Systems Command flight bulletin returning the V-22 Osprey to operation with safety controls in place, Air Force Special Operations Command is implementing a multi-phased approach to ensure our aircrew, maintainers and aircraft are ready to resume flight operations.

Lt Gen Tony Bauernfeind, AFSOC Commander, directed the operational standdown of the CV-22 fleet December 6, 2023 in response to preliminary investigation information indicating a materiel failure following the November 29, 2023 mishap near Yakushima, Japan. This was followed by NAVAIR issuing a flight bulletin grounding the V-22 enterprise.

Phase one of AFSOC’s return to fly plan includes ground and simulator training integrating planned flight controls, safety briefings, a review of maintenance records and refining by-squadron training plans to implement the new safety protocols.

Phase two is a multi-month program for aircrew and maintainers. Aircrew will focus on regaining basic mission currency and proficiency then expansion to full mission currency and proficiency. While maintainers have remained engaged conducting maintenance necessary to sustain the CV-22 during the standdown, they will receive training in line with the maintenance protocols directed by the NAVAIR return to fly bulletin. Each squadron will progress through this phase at different speeds based a variety of factors including maintenance requirements for aircraft, experience level of personnel in the squadron and weather impact to flight schedules.

Phase three will include resumption of full mission profiles, multi-lateral exercises and operational taskings and deployments.

This phased approach affords AFSOC the time required to maximize opportunities to learn as much as possible from the Safety Investigation Board and Accident Investigation Board to mitigate risk to our aircrew, maintainers, and joint partners. 

The NAVAIR flight bulletin announcement can be found at: www.navair.navy.mil/news/NAVAIR-returns-V-22-Osprey-flight-status/Fri-03082024-0553.

Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

GA-ASI Makes First Flight of XQ-67A OBSS

Friday, March 1st, 2024

SAN DIEGO – 29 February 2024 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) flew the XQ-67A Off-Board Sensing Station (OBSS) for the first time on Feb. 28, 2024. OBSS is an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) program and GA-ASI was selected in 2021 to design, build and fly the new aircraft.

With flight of the AFRL-funded XQ-67A, GA-ASI has validated the “genus/species” concept first developed with AFRL as part of the Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Platform Sharing (LCAAPS) program focused on building several aircraft variants from a common core chassis.

Under LCAAPS, AFRL and GA-ASI explored development of a chassis, termed a “genus”, as the foundational core architecture from which several “species” of aircraft can be built.

“This provides an alternative acquisition approach for military aircraft that enables faster development, lower costs and more opportunities for frequent technology refresh,” said Trenton White, OBSS Program Manager and aerospace engineer in AFRL’s Aerospace Systems Directorate. “XQ-67A is the first “species” to be designed and built from this shared platform. Flight demonstration of this system is a major first step toward showing the ability to produce affordable combat mass.”

“OBSS is the first aircraft type built and flown using a common core chassis developed by GA-ASI that promotes commonality across multiple vehicle types,” said GA-ASI Vice President of Advanced Programs Michael Atwood.

Platatac Aviator Helmet Bag Now Available in ERDL

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024

Made out of 500 denier nylon and lined with polyester 3D air mesh which offers a layer of padding against damage to your gear. Dual carry handles and an adjustable shoulder strap mean you can have your hands free to carry extra gear to your aircraft.

The three external pockets can easily store all the equipment you may require while in flight, including NVG’s, spare batteries, documentation/publications/maps, cold weather gear and more. Dual zippers on each pocket for convenience, plus clips to compress the bag further for secure storage while not in use.

If ERDL isn’t your bag, there are five other colors to choose from.


Saab Receives Gripen Order for Hungary

Monday, February 26th, 2024

Saab has today signed a contract with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) and received an order for four additional Gripen C fighter aircraft for Hungary.

This order follows an amendment to the contract between FMV and the Hungarian Government signed in December 2001 regarding 14 Gripen C/D fighters for the Hungarian Air Force. The contract amendment for the four additional aircraft was signed by the Hungarian Ministry of Defence and FMV on 23 February 2024. With this new contract amendment, Hungary will operate a total of 18 Gripen C/D aircraft to protect and defend the Hungarian and NATO airspace.

“With the Gripen fighter, Hungary has one of Europe’s most capable air forces. We look forward to continuing our close collaboration with the Hungarian Government and defence industry,” says Micael Johansson, President and CEO of Saab.

Saab currently has a contract with FMV regarding support for Hungary’s Gripen aircraft, and Saab is ready to provide additional upgrades and support for the Hungarian fighters beyond 2035. 

Saab and the Hungarian Ministry of Defence have also signed an MoU regarding development of high-tech industrial areas and fighter aircraft capabilities. The cooperation includes support for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for VR technologies in Hungary. 

Air Force Awards Xwing Military Approval to Fly Autonomous Air Force Cargo Missions Across California

Monday, February 19th, 2024

San Francisco, CA, February 13, 2024 – Xwing, the leading supplier of modular autonomy technology for aviation, has announced the successful completion of its recent participation in AGILE FLAG 24-1. The company transported mission-critical cargo with daily autonomous missions throughout the week-long exercise, accumulating over 2,800 autonomous flight miles to military bases and civilian airports, including March Air Reserve Base, Vandenberg Space Force Base, Sacramento McClellan Airport, Meadows Field Airport, and Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

“We saw first-hand during AGILE FLAG that the use of Xwing’s autonomous aircraft eliminated the need to fly a larger aircraft such as a C-130 to deliver critical cargo to the warfighter on short notice,” said Maxime Gariel, President, CTO and co-founder of Xwing, “When you fly missions autonomously, you operate with the speed and efficiency required for dispersed ACE operations, delivering cargo and personnel at a much lower cost and risk.”

AGILE FLAG 24-1 was a Total Force exercise, which ran from January 22 – February 4, 2024 bringing together Air Combat Command (ACC) and Air Mobility Command (AMC) at military bases and public airports throughout California centered on Agile Combat Employment. After rigorous safety and technical assessments of the Xwing aircraft and operations, the Air Force awarded Xwing a Military Flight Release (MFR) to operate their autonomous aircraft for Public Aircraft Operations (PAO). These approvals allowed Xwing to deliver official Air Force cargo with autonomous taxis, takeoffs, and landings at military and civilian installations.

“Achieving an Air Force Military Flight Release certification is a momentous milestone removing the barrier to transition and unlocking key testing and experimentation opportunities,” said Kate Brown, AFWERX Autonomy Prime deputy branch chief. “AGILE FLAG was an opportunity to showcase autonomous light cargo logistics and demonstrate operational relevance and increased technical readiness.”

A core component of ACE operations is the ability to flexibly execute dispersed logistics to unsurveyed locations with little or no ground support. Air Force operational leaders assigned Xwing cargo missions based on real-time logistics needs of the exercise. This included delivery of sensitive weather equipment and other critical cargo to various locations throughout the week-long event, and demonstrated an increase in the speed to deliver critical parts and reduced the number of requests for traditional heavy lift aircraft, the two key enablers that autonomous aircraft offer operational commanders. The exercise required Xwing to navigate through the busy Los Angeles basin, where the autonomous aircraft successfully integrated with heavy traffic at March ARB and complied with Air Traffic Control (ATC) instructions. Xwing successfully illustrated the role of autonomy as a force multiplier and risk mitigator to rapidly disperse contingency operations into unknown, contested, degraded or operationally limited (CDO) environments.

“Our technology has proven effective over hundreds of successful autonomous flights,” said Craig Milliard, Xwing Flight Test Manager, who remotely supervised the flights from a ground control station at Sacramento McClellan Airport, “This exercise gave us the opportunity to stretch the operational envelope into new environments, day and night, with real-world cargo proving that we can effectively complete Air Force mission objectives.”

Xwing’s participation was part of a newly awarded Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract. Details of Xwing’s first Agile Flag mission can be found via AFRL. This is a continuation of Xwing’s partnership with AFWERX which included a Phase II contract that began in May of 2023.

Schiebel Camcopter S-100 Receives Operational Approval from Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

Thursday, February 15th, 2024

Australia, Perth, 13 February 2024 – Wedgetail Aerospace, supported by Schiebel Pacific, successfully obtained the approval from the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to operate the Schiebel CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) in civil airspace. It is the first large (>150 kg) Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS to attain this civil approval from the Australian authorities.

Wedgetail Aerospace, in close cooperation with Schiebel Pacific and the Australian authorities, completed the process to achieve their experimental approval with a series of flight demonstrations in Western Australia. This endorsement enables the S-100 to operate in Australian civil airspace. Possible applications now being pursued include fire and disaster monitoring, cargo delivery, as well as inspections and surveillance.

Additionally, Wedgetail Aerospace is a CASA approved training organisation and will offer an S-100 license for civil operations. Of note, the S-100 is regularly flying under a Defence Aviation Safety Agency (DASA) UAS permit, which the Royal Australian Navy obtained back in 2017 for their S-100 operations.

“This is a significant milestone for Schiebel Pacific and its Australian RPAS operations. The CASA approval enables us to offer the outstanding capabilities of the CAMCOPTER® S-100 system to the civil sector. With strong local partners, our wealth of experience in the operation of the S-100 and now with the approval of CASA, we are very well positioned for the Australian commercial market,” said Fabian Knechtl, Managing Director at Schiebel Pacific.

“Wedgetail Aerospace are delighted to have been able to work with Schiebel to achieve the first approval in Australia to operate a Large Category UAS and will now bring this transformational technology to the commercial market”, said Thomas Symes CEO of Wedgetail Aerospace.

Accelerator for the Future Combat Air System Successfully Completed: Start-Ups Selected

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024

Taufkirchen, 12 February 2024 – Thirteen weeks of intensive work lie behind them: In August 2023, HENSOLDT Ventures and Starburst invited start-ups and mentors to apply for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) Accelerator. The aim of the accelerator was to create an ecosystem for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups to develop dual-use and defence applications for FCAS. The results of the FCAS Accelerator were presented at the closing event in Taufkirchen, with Member of the Bundestag Florian Hahn, HENSOLDT CEO Thomas Müller and HENSOLDT Chief Strategy Officer Celia Pelaz also in attendance.

“For the future-oriented FCAS project, we need new ideas and the courage to implement them – which is why we focused explicitly on players who are not yet firmly anchored in the security and defence industry. With the accelerator, we set ourselves the goal of identifying and selecting first-class innovators,” said Celia Pelaz, Chief Strategy Officer at HENSOLDT. “We have succeeded in doing just that.”

Almost 70 companies responded to the call to apply for the accelerator. HENSOLDT and the CPT selected nine of them for a boot camp with twelve mentors, focusing on the discovery and development of solution concepts for FCAS and examining long-term integration into the FCAS programme. This included an exchange with military leaders, but also a presentation of the NATO Innovation Fund, the European Defence Fund (EDF) and the EU Defence Innovation Scheme (EUDIS).

“The three start-ups we will be working with for FCAS are focusing on artificial intelligence, disruptive sensors and electronic materials and components, respectively. More specifically, this involves a new type of chip-based parallel computing cloud platform, the development and production of cooled high-end infrared detectors and new types of metal bonding processes with higher conductivity and efficiency,” explained Moritz Pichler, Executive responsible for HENSOLDT Ventures. There will also be collaboration with two other start-ups.

Member of the German Bundestag Florian Hahn, CSU, paid tribute: “What we are seeing today at the FCAS Accelerator closing event is that start-ups are able to make a decisive contribution to high-tech projects.” He added: “They all represent what we need in Germany and Europe: Courageous people who are pioneers and develop technology that will determine our security in the future.”

A further accelerator programme is currently being planned and could start as early as autumn 2024.