Tag Archives: USAF

Lockheed Martin and Boeing team up in a new USAF Long Range Strike Bomber program

LRS

Few days before Russia reminded the world its strategic bomber fleet is capable to deploy on intercontinental range (skirting the U.S. airspace) Boeing and Lockheed Martin announced they are going to team-up together against Northrop Grumman in the new US Air Force strategic LRS-B (Long Range Strike Bomber) program.

The partnership of Boeing and Lockheed dates back to 2008, when a Next Generation Bomber programme, cancelled in 2010, was on the run.

The LRS-B programme, announced in 2011, brought the partners back together. The companies are to use proven technologies – to minimize the risk. President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing Defense, Space & Security said:

Boeing and Lockheed Martin are bringing together the best of the two enterprises, and the rest of industry, in support of the Long-Range Strike Bomber program, and we are honored to support our U.S. Air Force customer and this important national priority.  Stable planning, along with efficient and affordable development and production approaches, enables our team to reduce development risk by leveraging mature technologies and integrating existing systems.

When it comes to the new bomber, USAF plans to order 80-100 airframes. These are to be long range and have stealth capabilities. The full operational capability would be achieved circa 2025.

The bomber is to use as many ready parts as possible to reduce the risk of failure. Price of a single airframe is estimated to be as little as $550 million.

Additionaly, a unmanned version of the bomber and a new long range missile are also going to be developed within the scope of LRS-B initiative.

The LRS-B budget for 2012 tax year was $581 million. $6,3 billion are planned for the period of 2013-2017.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Top image Credit: Boeing

Enhanced by Zemanta

Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney sued by F-22 pilot's widow

AirForce Times has run an article stating that the wife of Capt. Jeff Haney who died when his F-22 Raptor crashed in Alaska in November 2010 has agreed to a binding settlement after launching a lawsuit with the main contractors for the jet.

Anna Haney wife of Capt. Jeff Haney filed the lawsuit in May, stating that the jet is “dangerous and defective” and was the reason that her husband had been killed.

In the AFT article John Gagliano, the attorney for Anna Haney, confirmed that a settlement had been reached but refused to provide any further details as to what the settlement terms are.

In fact according to court documents from the U.S District court for the northern district of Illinois, the settlement terms are confidential and the recording of the proceedings that took place on Aug. 8 is to be sealed. It’s though that the settlement will be approved during September in a special meeting.

Only last month the Pentagon announced that a primary cause of the hypoxia type symptoms suffered by some Raptor pilots was that of a faulty valve on the G vest worn by the pilots. There are some pilots who still are reluctant to believe that this is the cause of the problems that have affected the jet.

Based on the Air Force investigation, Capt. Jeff Haney crashed as a consequence of a human error.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

British pilots flew armed U.S drones during the Libyan conflict

Several online news outlets, including the British Newspaper The Guardian, have been running news articles stating that British exchange pilots in the U.S flew armed American Predator drones during the Libyan conflict. The disclosure had slipped out during a parliamentary answer, some 10 months after the end of the conflict, during which the British Government had insisted that no British armed drones had been used. Whilst technically still true the MOD (Ministry of Defence) has since admitted that RAF personnel on an exchange program had indeed flown the armed predators during the conflict whom became a key part of the air war.

During the conflict, between April and October (2011), the Predators performed some 145 air strikes according the figures released by the Pentagon; it remains unclear how many of those air strikes were flown by British personnel. The Guardian quoted a RAF source as saying that the British pilots would have followed British ROEs (Rules Of Engagement) rather than U.S. ones. “If they were asked to go beyond their own nation’s rules, then they would refuse to do so.”

The Defence Minister Lord Astor had “let the cat out of the bag” on Tuesday Jul. 26 during questions and said “Her Majesty’s government do not use armed remotely piloted air systems against terrorist suspects outside Afghanistan. However, UK personnel flew armed remotely piloted air systems against Gaddafi’s forces in Libya in 2011, in support of the NATO humanitarian mission authorised under UNSCR resolution 1973.”

The MoD was quick to make a statement on the subject: “There were no and are no UK remotely piloted air systems operating outside of Afghanistan. The UK armed forces routinely embed UK personnel with allied nation units (and vice versa) via exchange programmes. As confirmed by Lord Astor, UK personnel embedded within a US unit flew armed remotely piloted air systems missions against Gaddafi’s forces in Libya in 2011,” the spokesman said to The Guardian.

In 2007, to operate its MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) drone alongside the USAF in support of UK ground forces in Afghanistan, the Royal Air Force formed 39 Sqn at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.

British Reapers provide real-time video imagery to ground commanders, with the capability to attack ground targets if required.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Crown Copyright

F-22 to deploy to Japan. With a solution to the oxygen problem (and some concerns about the AMRAAM missile)

As the debate about the F-22 “invicibility” goes on after the confrontation with the Eurofighter Typhoon during the Red Flag Alaska, some good news should ease some tension will help ease tension within the Raptor community.

First of all, the U.S. Air Force has finally narrowed down the root cause of the hypoxia like symptoms that have been plaguing the F-22 missions in the last couple of years.

“We have eliminated one of the hypotheses that the air force scientific advisory board postulated as a potential root cause for the hypoxia-related incidents and that was contamination. We have the data that has confirmed that” said USAF chief of staff Gen. Norton Schwartz in an article appeared on Flighglobal.

Indeed, USAF has collected data which suggests the problem is with the pilot’s life support system and specifically hardware defects associated with it. “Part of that is the upper pressure garment of the g-suit assembly [...] Part of that has to do with hose and valve and connection hardware in the cockpit.”

The modifications are going to be fully tested and should be starting to be installed next fall. In the meanwhile, the current restrictions to 40,000 feet, to fly within 30 minutes from an airport as well as some maneuvering limitations which are in force on the F-22 fleet will continue until the modifications are implemented on the aircrews equipment.

With the changes, SECDEF Leon E. Panetta gave the go ahead to the deployment of a squadron of F-22s to Kadena, in Japan, that will take place in the next coming days. Panetta has in fact approved the Air Force’s plan which foresees a gradual lifting of restriction which will allow the service to resume normal F-22 operations over time (including the air space patrol flights in Alaska, currently undertaken by other types of aircraft), ensuring the safety of the pilots.

The hop to Kadena, Okinawa, was allowed along a route over northern Pacific and by lifting the limitation about the distance from the nearest landing field (extended to 1.5 hrs). The aircraft will be accompanied by KC-135 tankers that will have to carry at least one F-22 pilot, whose task will be to give Raptor pilots advice should the need arise.

It’s not clear how the F-22 (more or less secretly) deployed to UAE last spring, considered the restrictions to fleet.

The oxygen deprivation problem isn’t the only problem that continues to affect the U.S. Air Force.

Something which has been going on as long but has received far less publicity is the series of issues experienced by the AMRAAM missile.

The problem with the AMRAAM, described by Strategy Page isn’t F-22 specific to be fair (although the AIM-120 is the Raptor’s main air-to-air missile), as it deals with the rocket motor that powers the missile in flight.

It has been found that if the missile experiences low temperatures (like those that can be found at high altitude)  the motor becomes unreliable.

The USAF tests a few missile when ever it receives a new batch of missiles, it was during this test that the problem was found, as such there have been no deliveries for 2 years whilst the manufacturer looks into the cause.

Although the AMRAAM entered service some 20 years ago (1992) the missile has gone through some upgrades during that time and it’s likely that components in the rocket motor have been slightly changed. And the result is this problem.

The manufacturer continues to look into the problem whilst the USAF holds onto the funding to pay for these faulty missiles.

Written with David Cenciotti

Image credit: Richard Clements

Photo: Pararescueman (with swim fins) jumps from a HC-130P/N King during a special rescue demo

The following cool photo, allegedly taken on Oct. 27, 2010 (even if the EXIF says Sept. 11, 2009) shows pararescuemen from the 920th Rescue Wing jumping from an HC-130P/N King while performing a freefall rescue demonstration, at Cocoa Beach, Florida.

As enough evident, the airman wears swim fins, he’ll need to swim to shore as part of the demonstration for Air Force Week Cocoa Beach.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force