Category Archives: Helicopters

U.S. Marines Demonstrate Air-Ground Task Force Capabilities in Detroit, Michigan.

USMC Air Assets and 1st Reconnaissance Battalion Stage Visit, Board, Search and Seizure Operation.

Marine Corps units from across the United States performed an exciting demonstration of air combat and maritime special operations capabilities on Friday, Sept. 8, and Sunday, Sept. 10, in downtown Detroit, Michigan as part of Marine Week 2017 in Detroit. Marine Week is a USMC showcase of capabilities to acknowledge the role of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Marine Week demos have taken place since 2009 in U.S. cities without a significant Marine Corps presence. Marine Week has already been celebrated in Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Nashville, Tennessee and Seattle, Washington. This is the first year for a Marine Week demonstration in Detroit.

USMC Capt. Jeff Smith of Florida, told TheAviationist.com that Marine Week was originated “To build awareness and interactions with the public. We’re your Marines and this gives people around the country a chance to see what we do.”

Marine Week Detroit included commemoration of the U.S. Marines’ history, acknowledgement of local Marine veterans and static displays of a wide range of U.S. Marine equipment, vehicles and aircraft.

One of several highlights of Detroit Marine Week was a combined arms Visit, Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) demonstration by Special Operations Marines from the elite 1st Reconnaissance Battalion of the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California. The demonstration showcased the integrated capability of the U.S. Marines to provide their own indigenous air, ground and maritime special operations capabilities in an anti-piracy/anti-insurgent role.

A boarding team of 1st Recon Marines assaults the simulated target barge during the boarding operation demo. (All images Author/The Aviationist.com)

1st Recon Marines extract from their objective using the Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction (SPIE) rig.

The famous 1st Reconnaissance Battalion won praise from now U.S. Secretary of Defense, former General James Mattis, when the unit was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2010. The unit performed a month-long insertion into the region, during which time they sustained no losses but were highly effective in routing insurgent forces and gained a reputation as fierce, effective combatants. One radio intercept between insurgent forces was quoted as saying, “We will not fight them, they are not normal Marines, they run at us when we shoot at them. If we fight them we die…”

The demonstration began with announcers providing background on a fictitious “ongoing intelligence operation” in the region. They had discovered a group of pirate/terrorists who stole the game ball from the local NFL Team, the Detroit Lions, that was to be used in their first game of the season. Without the precious ball, the game could not proceed as planned.

Marine intelligence assets tracked the mock terrorist/pirates who hijacked the game ball to a barge anchored in the Detroit River just inside the U.S/Canadian border. Once reconnaissance assets fixed the position of the perpetrators on the demonstration barge anchored in front of Detroit’s Renaissance Center they handed the intel over to a combined Marine Task Force for the recovery mission.

The first part of the demonstration in the Detroit River was a simulated artillery strike on the barge where the “pirates” were located. Following the mock artillery strike that featured a live “call for fire” radio transmission over the P.A. for spectators, two U.S. Marine F/A-18 Hornets of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (All-Weather) 225 (VMFA(AW)-225) from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, home of the famous “Top Gun” school, made a pass over the barge in the river while pyrotechnics were detonated on the barge to simulate an air strike. VMFA (AW)-225, the “Vikings” were the first Marine Air unit deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

Following the simulated artillery and air strikes on the objective a Marine Special Operations boarding team from the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion used a pair of F470 Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC) with a five-man boarding team on each boat to assault the objective. The teams approached the simulated target barge from opposite sides of the vessel and made their boarding in only seconds.

During the small boat assault a pair of helicopters from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 (HMLA-267) based at Camp Pendleton, California flew up the Detroit River to perform a fast-rope insertion of additional Marine Recon special operators onto the target barge. The pair of helicopters included the newest version of the AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter based on the legacy Cobra attack helicopter and the UH-1Y Venom utility/attack helicopter based on the venerable “Huey” platform. The U.S. Marines are the only air arm in the U.S. military using these variants. The UH-1Y Venom helicopter wore a special paint livery for HMLA-267.

A team made up of a USMC UH-1Y Venom and a AH-1Z Viper helicopter inserted the assault team onto the target barge in the Detroit River for the demo.

Among the Marine special operations team members who staged the mock assault on the barge were Sgt. Steven Echevaria and Sgt. Cody Cunningham from Twin Falls, Idaho. “This is what we do, thank you for having us here. It’s an honor to be able to come here and demonstrate our mission” Cunningham told us after the team returned to the Detroit Riverfront Walk to meet spectators following their assault demonstration.

Following the seaborne and air assault boarding of the simulated target the Marine Recon operators seized their objective, the football for use in the upcoming Detroit Lions football game, and began their extraction.

Prior to the extraction of the boarding team a pair of beautiful MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft from the famous Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (VMM-166) “Sea Elks” of Miramar Naval Air Station made a flyover while transitioning their proprotors from the vertical, hover orientation to the horizontal flight attitude as they accelerated away from show center.

A pair of USMC MV-22 Ospreys demonstrate their tiltrotor capability.

Another flyover featured the largest helicopter in U.S service, a CH-53E Super Stallion from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772 (HMH-772) the “Hustlers” from MacGuire AFB in New Jersey. Considering the age of the CH-53E Super Stallion this aircraft was in excellent condition and appeared to be meticulously maintained.

The USMC CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest helicopter in U.S. service.

The final flyover featured two F/A-18 Hornets of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (All-Weather) 225 (VMFA(AW)-225) and a KC-130J Hercules of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 (VMGR-352), the “Raiders” from MCAS Miramar in California. The trio of aircraft flew in a simulated midair refueling formation over the show venue.

A KC-130J tanker and a pair of USMC F/A-18s perform simulated midair refueling.

The Marine Week demos in Detroit were a unique new way to provide an up-close insight into U.S. Marine capabilities in a setting where they otherwise would not be exposed to them. It brings awareness of the Marine mission and showcases the Marines’ advances in equipment, tactics and capabilities while honoring the Marine legacy both nationally and locally. Much of the promotion of the event was done through social media along with broadcast media, an interesting insight into how the Marines have been progressive and effective with their media management and public relations mission.

Watch A Russian Ka-52 Gunship Helicopter Accidentally Fire Rockets At Spectators During Exercise

Close call: This Is What It Looks Like When An Attack Helicopter Fires At You.

The following video is pretty scary: it shows a Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter accidentally firing rockets towards parked cars and bystanders.

The Kamov Ka-52 Alligator is an all-weather attack helicopter featuring the distinctive coaxial rotor system of the Kamov design bureau. The footage shows two such gunship helicopters approaching what is probably a range, where a group of several cars is parked. Then, suddenly, one of the helicopters fires a rocket at a nearby object almost hitting the cameraman.

According to some sources, the clip, that leaked online on Sept. 19, was allegedly filmed during the ongoing Zapad 2017 drills; however the Russian military denied the claims that spread through the social media and, while not saying when and where it happened, it said the incident happened during another exercise.

“All the reports on social media about a barrage of rockets hitting a crowd of journalist and a large number of casualties are either a deliberate provocation or someone’s personal stupidity,” an official statement reported by RT said.

A public intelligence source cites one of the missiles on the KA-52 as being the Vikhr anti-armor missile and reports that the missiles are, “Virtually jam-proof and the system features automatic guidance to target.” The Kamov KA-52 also carries unguided High Velocity Aircraft Rockets (HVAR’s) of both the S-13 122mm rocket and the smaller S-8 80mm rocket both launched from multiple-round rocket pods. It is not known which munition was discharged in this incident.

The Vikhr anti-armor missile. (Credit: Minpromtorg.gov.ru)

H/T Dawid Szczesniak for the heads-up

 

Side View Of The First Bell V-280 Valor Next-Generation Tilt-Rotor Aircraft Prototype

From this point of view it appears even more futuristic….

As reported yesterday, the first prototype of V-280 Valor, Bell’s candidate to the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD), in the running to replace the service’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters as part of the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, was spotted at Bell Helicopter Amarillo Assembly Center attached to an engine test stand in preparation for the engine tests required ahead of its first flight scheduled next month.

In this post you can see a photograph, submitted by a source who wishes to remain anonymous, that provides a side view of the V-280 prototype, registered N280BH.

Along with the retractable landing gear, a triple-redundant fly by wire control system, and a V-tail configuration, the main V-280 feature is the futuristic tilting gearbox design where the output shaft is connected to the drive system through a spiral bevel gearbox that transfers power to the fixed gearbox and proprotor gearbox, which rotates on two big spherical bearings driven by a conversion actuator mechanism. In this way, the gearbox is the only thing that rotates whereas the engines do not. Moreover, a driveshaft runs through the straight wing, allowing both prop rotors to be driven by a single engine in case of engine loss.

Side view of the V-280 prototype clearly visible outside Bell Helicopter/Textron Plant in Amarillo, Texas.

Here Are The First Images Of The First Bell V-280 Valor Next-Generation Tilt-Rotor Aircraft Prototype

Bell V-280 Valor is a third-generation tilt-rotor aircraft being developed by Bell Helicopter for the United States Army’s Future Vertical Lift program. And here is the first demonstrator aircraft being readied for its maiden flight.

The V-280 Valor is Bell’s submission for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) phase, the technology demonstration precursor to Future Vertical Lift (FVL), a replacement for the service’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters.

The V-280 will have a crew of 4 (including two pilots) and be capable of transporting up to 14 troops. Its cruising speed will be 280 knots (hence the designation V-280) and its top speed will be 300 kts. It’s designed for a range of 2,100 nautical miles and an effective combat range of 500 to 800 nmi although the Army’s requirements for the demonstrator call for hot and high hover performance (at 6,000 feet and 95 F), and the ability to self-deploy 2,100 nautical miles at a speed of at least 230 knots.

Featuring a triple-redundant flight-by-wire Flight Control System and cutting edge avionics, the first prototype of the next generation helicopter is expected to perform its first flight in the next few months. On Aug. 30, what looks like a 100 percent complete aircraft, sporting the registration N280BH, was spotted at Bell Helicopter Amarillo Assembly Center (where the demonstrator aircraft began ground vibration testing with a 95 percent complete helicopter back in February 2017): the Valor is probably being prepared for engine tests ahead of its maiden flight (planned for Sept. 2017).

The T64-GE-419 engines and gearboxes in the nacelles are clearly visible in the interesting images in this post obtained from a short video filmed by our friend Steve Douglass. Interestingly, unlike the V-22’s engines, that rotate with the gearboxes, in the V-280, the gearbox is the only thing that rotates. According to Bell “The output shaft is connected to the drive system through a spiral bevel gearbox that transfers power to the fixed gearbox and proprotor gearbox, which rotates on two big spherical bearings driven by a conversion actuator mechanism.” The Valor’s tilting gearbox design vastly simplifies the Osprey’s complex hydro-mechanical clockwork required for the tiltrotor action.

N280BH at Amarillo is being prepared for engine tests.

The U.S. Army plans to field distinct platforms: a utility helicopter and an attack helicopter. For this reason, a variant, dubbed AV-280, is expected to carry rocket, missiles and also small UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) forward or aft with no rotor interference.

Noteworthy, also spotted at Bell Helicopter Amarillo Assembly Center recently is the first V-22 Osprey for Japan.

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Here Is Japan’s First V-22: The First Osprey Tilt-Rotor Aircraft For A Military Outside Of The U.S.

The First V-22 For Japan Exposed By Photograph Taken At Amarillo During Engine Tests.

The first of 17 V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force is about to perform its maiden flight from Bell Helicopter Amarillo Assembly Center, Texas.

The photo above, showing the first Japanese V-22, the very first Osprey for a military outside of the U.S., was taken at Amarillo by Paul Lawrence Braymen on Aug. 24, 2017, as the tilt-rotor aircraft, sporting Japan’s camouflage and roundel, performed engine tests ahead of the first flight (expected next week).

The JGSDF will receive the V-22B Block C variant, the same in service with the U.S. Marine Corps as MV-22.

The Osprey will undertake humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities and support amphibious operations increasing also the interoperability with the U.S. forces (both USMC and USAF) which operate the aircraft.

The sale of 17 V-22 Osprey and associated equipment for the JGSDF, split in various orders and worth 3B USD, was eventually announced in 2015 in spite of the criticism that has always surrounded the type’s presence in the skies over Okinawa caused by concerns that the tilt-rotor hybrid aircraft might be prone to crashes.

Image credit: Paul Lawrence Braymen