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Archive for the ‘Aviation’ Category

New Bundeswehr Air Defense System: Rheinmetall, Diehl and Hensoldt are Lining Up Together

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

Rheinmetall Electronics GmbH of Bremen, Diehl Defence GmbH & Co. KG of Überlingen and Hensoldt Sensors GmbH of Taufkirchen have signed a joint agreement to cooperate in a special partnership known as an “Arbeitsgemeinschaft”, or ARGE. Under the framework of ARGE NNbS, the three companies will submit a tender for the future German short-range and very short- range air defence system, the LVS NNbS.

The NNbS project bridges a current capability gap when it comes to protecting ground troops during deployed operations as well as securing tactical operation centres and other assets against short- and very short-range aerial threats.

The three companies aim to provide a national, low-risk solution that will be quickly available thanks to the use of commercially available systems and system components. The conceptual system design of ARGE NNbS relies primarily on proven systems and subsystems, including integration of components already in use by the Bundeswehr.

A further advantage of ARGE NNbS is comprehensive logistical support in Germany for the short-range and very short-range air defence system.

Thanks to the complementary core competences of the three national bidders, the ARGE possesses the prerequisites, qualifications and expertise to meet all of the customer’s needs.

Rheinmetall’s Electronic Solutions and Vehicle Systems divisions bring expert technological knowledge and years of experience in developing and supplying defence systems, especially in the fields of vehicles, communication and integration.

Diehl Defence specializes in the development and manufacture of guided missiles. It has established itself in the international marketplace with modern system solutions for ground-based air defence.

As a supplier of key national technologies, Hensoldt will be contributing its expertise as well as battle-tested products such as radars. The company is noted for its comprehensive product commonalities, including product family concepts, especially in the spheres of airspace surveillance and target classification and identification.

Bell and US Army Advance Development of V-280 Valor and Aviation Modernization

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

Bell is executing the second phase of a Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction contract to inform the imminent program of record competition for U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA)

Fort Worth, Texas (March 31, 2021) – Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company and the U.S. Army have agreed to terms on the execution of the second phase of the Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) contract that was awarded in March 2020 for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program. This new contract is an important milestone and testament to the continued momentum for Army modernization. Bell’s flight-proven V-280 Valor design advances from an aircraft with transformational speed and survivability towards a low-risk weapons system ready to support joint combined arms and maneuver operations around the world.

“This is the next step to a program of record and Bell is proud to closely collaborate with the Army to transition our flight-proven V-280 Valor into a highly-capable and sustainable FLRAA weapons system,” said Keith Flail, executive vice president, Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. “Bell and our Team Valor teammates continue to optimize our platform based on research, design, and thorough flight-testing of the aircraft to deliver an outstanding capability for the Army.”

During phase one of the CD&RR, Bell provided detailed iterations on the V-280 design, data to highlight the feasibility of executing the program of record requirements, and executed trade studies using model-based systems engineering. This work will continue under phase two as the Army finalizes requirements for the program of record planned for 2022.

Bell has already safely delivered groundbreaking performance and successfully completed a rapid design, build, and test program with the V-280. Since its first flight in 2017, the V-280 team has executed a rigorous flight test program flying more than 200 hours through over 160 individual test flights that delivered critical data to validate Bell’s digital models and performance.

As the FLRAA competition moves to a program of record, Bell continues to take a holistic approach to transition the V-280 to a weapons system that ensures exceptional performance and is affordable throughout the lifecycle. From the outset, the Bell V-280 Valor was designed for efficiency—using simplified and inherently reliable designs, adhering to Army Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) requirements, reducing maintenance costs, and increasing reliability. Bell applied digital design and manufacturing technologies, included maintenance as part of the design process, and used emerging commercial processes to bring a comprehensive view of digital models, processing, and analysis. This methodology has reduced programmatic risk, improved lifecycle maintenance and servicing outcomes, increasing program affordability.

“This aircraft is not an engineering science project. The V-280 tiltrotor provides a critical and combat-proven capability needed to maintain our U.S. military’s ability to deter adversaries by radically improving over the current fleet’s speed, range, versatility, and sustainability. Our program has provided evidence that the V-280 is a transformational long-range assault aircraft solution for the Army and we are proud to move forward as a team to continue to mature the weapons system,” said Ryan Ehinger, vice president and program director, FLRAA at Bell.

To see updates on the V-280 Valor and learn more on the capabilities, please visit the Bell V-280 website.

AeroVironment Earns ISO 14001 Certification for Environmental Management System – Aligns with the Company’s Zero-Emission Unmanned Systems

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

• Certification represents third-party validation of company’s commitment to conducting business in an ethical, environmentally sensitive and proactive manner

• Complements the AS9100 Revision D (2016), Quality Management System the company has held since 2018

• AeroVironment’s battery-powered small unmanned aircraft and tactical missile systems emit no greenhouse gasses during operation

SIMI VALLEY, Calif., March 24, 2021 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), today announced the company has earned International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 certification for its Environmental Management System.

The international ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management standard provides an environmental management system framework for companies to help identify, monitor and control their environmental impact, such as resource consumption and waste production. 

“AeroVironment’s purpose is to secure lives and advance sustainability through transformative innovation. Earning ISO 14001 certification demonstrates our commitment to advancing sustainable practices,’’ said Kenneth Karklin, AeroVironment senior vice president and chief operating officer. “By developing a formal Environmental Management System that is ISO 14001 certified, we are able to actively measure and closely manage the overall environmental impact of company decisions, placing a greater focus on AeroVironment’s environmental footprint.”

“With a 50-year history of doing more with much less, AeroVironment offers a portfolio of battery-powered small unmanned aircraft and tactical missile systems designed for rapid deployment and small logistical footprint. Employed directly by frontline troops, AeroVironment’s solutions avoid the greenhouse gas emissions produced by conventional internal combustion aircraft, rocket-powered missiles and ground vehicles while delivering the situational awareness and precision that helps their operators Proceed with Certainty,” Mr. Karklin added.

AeroVironment’s ISO 14001:2015 certificate (CERT-013516) took effect February 9, 2021 after a multi-month audit with SAI Global Assurance, a leading global management systems certification body. The certification addresses all of the company’s operations in Ventura County, California as well as its operations in Huntsville, Alabama, Wilmington, Massachusetts and Lawrence, Kansas. The certification complements the AS9100 Revision D (2016), Quality Management System Certification AeroVironment received in 2018.

In line with its founding principles, AeroVironment has become one of the largest electric UAS manufacturers, delivering a suite of zero-emission, energy efficient, battery-powered UAS and tactical missile systems as well as developing stratospheric, solar powered high-altitude pseudo-satellites (HAPS) for global connectivity. These innovative vehicles are designed to deliver valuable new capabilities to their users while also reducing their logistical footprint and environmental impact. 

To learn more about AeroVironment’s Environmental Management System and Corporate Social Responsibility program, visit www.avinc.com/about/corporate-social-responsibility.

US Army Soldiers Provide Romanian Airmen New Equipment Training, Support Allied Readiness

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. – Tobyhanna Army Depot personnel extended the organization’s reach last month when they traveled to a Romanian seaside community to train allies of the United States.

A two-person team traveled to Constanta, Romania last month to conduct Defense Advanced GPS Receiver (DAGR) New Equipment Training (NET) for Romanian Air Force artillery battalions. NET is an enduring workload for the depot and delivers training to military units after receipt of new assets, ensuring Warfighters across the globe know how to use lifesaving equipment on the battlefield.

Depot personnel spent a week instructing Romanian Airmen on the overall operations of the DAGR, typically used as part of the Patriot missile system. While NET missions often encompass a wide range of service members, this iteration of the training focused on a targeted group of 11 users, who were educated on the functionalities of DAGR. Students learned through classroom instruction as well as hands-on, practical exercises designed to ensure they could perform to Army Standards when operating the asset. Tobyhanna’s instructors gave the students rave reviews for their enthusiasm.

“The Romanian Airmen were very sharp and quick to learn. They made our job easy,” said Gregory Wirth, a training instructor in the Field Logistics Support directorate. Fellow training instructor Vincent Zuranski agreed.

“We had a great rapport with the class,” they said, adding that one highlight of the trip was the authentic Romanian food the Airmen treated them to every day. Wirth and Zuranski also noted the region’s rich history, home to many ancient Greek and Roman settlements.

The mission was the NET team’s first excursion out of Northeastern Pennsylvania since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel into the country was relatively easy, returning home to Tobyhanna was a significant challenge, according to Wirth.

“Because COVID-related guidelines are always changing, there was uncertainty about what we’d need to do to get back to the U.S.,” said Wirth. “We ended up needing a negative COVID test for return travel through Germany – not something easy to navigate while in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. Luckily, our students and personnel at the embassy helped us obtain the necessary information so we could get home.”

Despite the challenges, the duo said the opportunity to travel was more than welcome.

“As someone who travels for a living, I found it difficult to not be able to support our important missions across the world. It was extremely exciting to get back out on the road to support our Warfighters,” Zuranski said.

In addition to DAGR, Tobyhanna provides NET for military personnel on the Common Remotely Operated Weapons System (CROWS) and a variety of other systems. The mission is directly aligned with the depot’s long-range strategic plan, Toby 2028, specifically the C5ISR Readiness and Shape the Future lines of effort.

The program benefits all members of Team Tobyhanna, according to Eric Walker, who supervises the NET team.

“NET ensures Soldiers worldwide get the training they need to keep themselves, and the world, safe. When our NET instructors return home, they share any new knowledge with the depot employees who are responsible for repairing the equipment here on-post. It’s win-win and a program we’re proud very to support.”

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 4,000 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.

By Danielle E. Weinschenk, Lead Public Affairs Specialist

General Dynamics To Provide FAA With Radios For Backup Emergency Air Traffic Control Communications

Sunday, March 14th, 2021

General Dynamics awarded $99 million contract to provide new URC-300E transceivers to the FAA to replace legacy emergency backup radios

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has chosen General Dynamics Mission Systems to provide new URC-300E transceivers as part of their Emergency Transceiver Replacement (ETR) program. The eight-year, IDIQ contract has a value of $99 million if all options are exercised.

The URC-300E will replace current legacy radios and provide both Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) operation for civil and military air traffic control (ATC) communications in the event of a catastrophic failure, such as a facility fire or natural disaster. ATC controllers will use the URC-300E to maintain essential ground-to-air communications with aircraft during the critical moments after such an event. The new URC-300E transceiver is specifically designed to maximize radio frequency (RF) performance and enable users to operate multiple URC-300Es as close as 6.5 feet apart without interference – an unprecedented capability compared to currently available man-pack radios which can require up to 50 feet of separation. This close proximity capability enables rapid grab-and-go, multi-channel operations during emergency situations.

“For the past three decades General Dynamics has provided ground-to-air radio systems to the FAA including the recent delivery of the 20,000th CM-300/350 (V2) radio as part of the NEXCOM 2 program,” said Bill Ross, a vice president of General Dynamics Mission Systems. “The URC-300E is another example of our team’s dedication to delivering technologies and products that support the FAA’s efforts to continuously improve the National Airspace and safety of flight.”

The URC-300E, the FAA variant of the URC-300 transceiver, is a versatile, software-defined platform that supports multiple waveforms with exceptional radio frequency (RF) performance to support ground-to-air, line-of-sight and other mission critical applications. It is designed with a flexible, core architecture similar to a commercial smartphone that enables additional features and functions to be added in the field via quick and simple software upgrades, as they become available. This enhanced technology, coupled with the radio’s ability to operate on standard lithium ion batteries, essentially makes the radio “future proof”, resulting in significant time and life cycle cost savings.

The URC-300 is the first ruggedized man-pack radio to achieve compliance with global standards and certifications including Radio Equipment Directive (RED), REACH, RoHS, ETSI EN 300 676 compliance, and it readily supports worldwide 25 kHz and 8.33 kHz deployments. The radio is also currently being certified by the Federal Communications Commission for civilian use and is sponsored by the U.S. Air Force for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Spectrum authorization. In addition to supporting emergency grab-and-go scenarios, the URC-300 supports many other applications including man-pack, vehicular, scalable deployment and rackmount applications as it is ruggedized and meets MIL-STD-810 requirements and is interoperable with its predecessor, the URC-200 (V2) radio, and many of its accessories. General Dynamics began delivering URC-300 radio systems to commercial and DoD customers in Q4 2020.

For additional information on the URC-300, please visit gdmissionsystems.com/URC300.

Desert Storm Attack Pilot Integrates 30-years of Tactics with New Technology

Saturday, March 6th, 2021


A Tyrannosaurus rex replica named “Stan” proudly stands in front of the Google Corporation’s headquarters in California. With his threatening gaze and gaping mouth, he provides a stark contrast to the rest of the campus. Google highlights the extinct apex predator as a sobering reminder innovation is more than just a term – we must ‘innovate or die’.

The story, however, isn’t entirely fair to the T. rex. The enthusiasm for innovation is omnipresent in both political and military leaders. Our society reveres entrepreneurs, lauds innovative companies and understands evolution can lead to revolutionary change. There are reasons, however, not to be innovative – especially when it comes to moral decisions between life and death. As military members authorized to use deadly force, we have to balance human decision-making and technological advances. This concept is well understood by both senior leaders and technology developers, and ensuring the success of our future conflicts depends on maximizing the capabilities between these two entities.

Lt. Col. John “Karl” Marks’ story, in a lot of ways, is parallel to Stan’s. However, he is far from extinct. Marks, an attack pilot with the 303rd Fighter Squadron, is just 100 hours shy of reaching 7,000 hours in the A-10 Thunderbolt II cockpit, securely holding the record for most hours in the aircraft of all time. He is a legendary figure in his own right; choosing, experimenting, and teaching the iterations of add-ons and changes the weapons system has received over the years. Marks began his career during the Cold War when the A-10 was focused on developing tactics to defend against Soviet tanks in Europe, and he just culminated his 13th combat deployment overall, this one his 6th to Afghanistan supporting troops on the ground for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

One of his most memorable deployments was during Operation Desert Storm. On February 25, 1991 – at just 26 years old – then-1st. Lt. Marks and flight lead, Capt. Eric “Fish” Solomonson flew a trio of missions over Kuwait and Iraq, destroying 23 Iraqi tanks, using infrared AGM-65 missiles and the infamous GAU-8 cannon. Mission planning 30-years ago consisted of paper maps and cardstock lineup cards. Flying was far less automated and correcting for dive angle and airspeed was a must. Direct hits were annotated with a grease pencil on the inside of the canopy and battle damage assessments were written on the walls of the debrief room upon return. One day, three missions, all ordnance expended – a wildly successful day and campaign for these two attack pilots.

Compared to today’s aircraft, the A-10 from 1991 seems primitive. Today, the engines are pretty much the same and the basic airframe hasn’t changed much; internally, though, it’s completely upgraded. The targeting pod now integrates with helmet-mounted display allowing not only for flight data to be displayed but also the target, the cannon now has a stabilization system to hold it on target while firing, GPS avionics advancements have led to GPS-guided weapons system integration, and additional systems can now automatically detect and respond to incoming threats with countermeasures.

The system upgrades definitely simplify a pilot’s decision about life and death quicker and with increased certainty. The trade-off, however, is the result of a several-step process. The question is not whether technology or humans should make life-or-death choices, but instead, who is responsible for each step in the process. The Air Force invests significant resources to enable pilots to become proficient in their roles as decision makers focused on whose life to risk, when, and for what objective.

Marks’ leadership in the air is valued for his ability to adapt to new technology and tailor the aircraft’s inputs appropriately. Studies show unless these inputs are intuitive, commanders and troops alike will revert to simpler, combat tested tools which are inherently more comfortable. Marks, for example, is one of the few A-10 pilots who prefers to fly with binoculars in the cockpit. The targeting pod, while upgraded, lacks color and the binoculars provide an extra layer of reassurance and speed when identifying friend versus foe.

Some of the younger A-10 pilots may politely mock Marks for flying with binoculars, but his aura is infectious, his war stories second-to-none. At the end of the day, they value his experience and seek to emulate his tactics.

“Karl is truly a legend,” said Col. Mike “Angry” Schultz, commander of the 442nd Fighter Wing. “He is methodical and meticulous – his experience comes with ease but never arrogance. We are grateful to have him in our wing and his continuous desire to learn, teach and mentor the next generation of fighter pilots is not only humbling, but a true testament to the love of his craft.”

As he approaches 7,000 hours, Marks has experienced every upgrade in the aircraft, and acknowledged his time in the cockpit is unfortunately coming to an end.

“Being able to get out there and fly the A-10 keeps me coming to work every day,” Marks said. “It’s still challenging, it’s still awesome, and they keep bringing new technology and new ways of fighting which keeps it relevant. We may not be the fastest aircraft, but when we talk about the aircraft’s abilities from a close air support platform – we are simply still the best.”

The technological advances the A-10 has seen over three decades are nothing short of impressive and its value to combatant commanders is unparalleled. Investing in new technology while developing a pilot’s tactics is paramount to maintaining our competitive edge. The A-10 is the number-one combat search and rescue platform in the world, and training opportunities to practice newer techniques, like forward arming and refueling points and agile combat employment, will keep the aircraft relevant in peer-to-peer conflicts. The most valuable weapon system, however, is the men and women that fly the airplanes. The steps taken now in accelerating and adapting to change remain the most important drivers in our nation’s future conflicts.

Unlike Stan, who couldn’t possibly have adapted to stop the asteroid that wiped out his fellow dinosaurs, the U.S. Air Force as a whole, and the A-10 community specifically, will continue to accelerate change so we’ll continue to be ready for the future fight.

By Maj Shelley Ecklebe, 442nd Fighter Wing

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