Tag Archives: EADS

Eurofighter Typhoon Enhancement Program delivers robust simultaneous multi-/swing-role capability

Top image shows Eurofighter IPA (instrumented production aircraft) 7 flying over Cassidian´s Military Air Systems Center in Manching with an impressive payload: Laser Designator Pod, two Supersonic Fuel Tanks, two IRIS-T Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles, four AMRAAM Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles as well as four Paveway IV bombs loaded.

Along with IPA4, IPA7 has just finished the flight testing of the so-called Eurofighter Typhoon Phase 1 Enhancements (P1E) program, that will be ready for the customers by the end of 2013.

According to Cassidian, the defence division of EADS, “P1E implements full Air-to-Surface capability on Eurofighter Typhoon – including Laser Designator Pod -, full smart bomb integration, modern secure Identification Friend or Foe (Mode 5), improved Radios and Direct Voice Input, Air-to-Surface Helmet Mounted Sight System, improved Air-to-Air capabilities including digital integration of Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles and updated MIDS (Multifunctional Information Distribution System) Datalink functionalities for enhanced interoperability with Coalition Forces.”

P1E is considered a significant leap in Eurofighter’s operational capabilities, that make the aircraft capable to employ multiple weapons, simultaneously in all weather and it is the first major upgrade after the Main Development Contract.

Image credit: Cassidian

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[Updated] Airbus A330 Multi-role Tanker Transport loses refueling boom in flight. Again.

According to Flight Global an Airbus A330 Multi-role Tanker Transport (MRTT) which is destined for the UAE has lost its refueling boom whilst in flight at around 7.20pm local time on Sept. 10, 2012.

The tanker had taken off from Airbus’ Getafe site near Madrid and was over the sparsely populated Caceres region at around 27,000ft when the EADS designed boom detached itself from the aircraft causing only minor structural damage and fell to the ground. No injuries were reported from the Airbus Military crew which was flying the jet at the time and no injuries were sustained on the ground.

After a search, the damaged boom was recovered early on Sept. 11.

Airbus has launched an inquiry as to what has happened and the cause of the detachment, no further details seem available at time of writing.

Flightradar24.com gives you the possibility to track the entire flight using the playback feature. Just insert the aircraft callsign “MRTT014” into the search box.

Here’s a screenshot of the path followed by the Airbus tanker on the Sept. 10 test flight:

This is not the first time the A330 experiences flying boom problems. On Jan. 19, 2011, one of the Royal Australian Air Force’s
multi-role tanker transports operated by Airbus Military suffered the detachment and partial loss of the boom during a test sortie with a Portuguese Air Force F-16.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Airbus Military

Anglo-French UAV papers go missing (along with wisdom). Do you still carry your mission critical data on paper?

In early February it was announced that France and the UK were working together on a joint drone project, a Medium Altitude Long Endurance surveillance drone with a possible secondary offensive capability.

According to an article appeared on Feb. 23 by the Telegraph newspaper, a high level executive from Dassault Aviation had his briefcase containing sensitive documents stolen from the Gare du Nord (Paris) railway station whilst en route toLondon for a high level meeting to discuss the drone.

It would appear that the thief (or thieves) used a typical deception stunt to pull off their rather brave crime: one man harassed a female colleague of the executive and whilst the executive had turned his back to deal with this, an accomplice struck and took the bag. This all took place at 5.00 PM LT whilst the platform was crowded with travellers waiting to take the Eurostar train to London via the Channel tunnel and the crime was captured on the stations CCTV cameras.

The article does speculate that the one in Paris could be a hit from a foreign intelligence agency but does come to the more mundane conclusion that this was a couple of well rehearsed opportunist thieves, not really understanding what was contained within the bag.

Dassault and the British Government brushed off the incident stating that the documents were not that secret, however, the episode does pose the question about security of possible secretive information in the days of video conferencing with document sharing, encrypted hard disks and USB tokens, and biometric authentication.

Although we don’t deal with multi-million dollar projects, we use Virtual Private Networks, SSH Tunnels, and strong authentication for data communication, signing, encrypting and decrypting texts, E-mails, files, directories, partitions etc.

Why was this executive carrying what one must assume is paper documents (as nothing is mentioned about a laptop/notebook computer) about a future military project?

Even if we assume the executive was carrying a contract or something similar that required signatures from both parties, wasn’t a private flight with an business jet much safer than public transportation?

The drone project itself was agreed upon during a meeting in early February between Nicolas Sarkosy and David Cameron and aims to develop a next generation unmanned air combat system with a prototype to be flown by 2020.

It is thought that British company BAE systems and Dassault Aviation are teaming up together to develop the new drone, to the annoyance of EADS who have their own UAV project in development called Talarion.

Details of the new UAV, that is believed to be based on the BAe Mantis drone demonstrator, are not really clear as the project is so new and quite clearly hasn’t got that far at present. However, someone somewhere could have, if not the technical specification of the robot, maybe the contractual details of the French/British project.

And elsewhere there’s someone working on an intelligence service or industrial competitor willing to pay to have a look.

Written with The Aviationist’s Editor David Cenciotti

BAe Mantis UAV demonstrator (image credit: BAe Systems)

The F-35 unable to meet South Korea's fighter competition requirements?

On Jan. 30, South Korea released a request for proposal for a next generation fighter plane that the ROKAF (Republic of Korea Air Force) is going to procure within the so-called F-X stage III.

Given the recent reports (later denied by the company), according to which Boeing has stopped development of the modifications for the F-15 Silent Eagle, the project saw the Lockheed Martin F-35 as the favorite choice. So far.

Two of the “must have” requirements included in the RFP may be a bit of a problem for the F-35. In fact, Seoul’s future combat plane has to fly at Mach 1.6 or faster and has to field external weapons on pylons.

The projected top speed of the F-35 is mach 1.6 which is the bare minimum required but as of writing has not been accomplished yet and, being a stealth plane, the Joint Strike Fighter was designed to carry weapons internally.

Lockheed Martin’s director for the F-35 Korea campaign Randy Howard spoke to the Korean Times and said that “the F-35 is designed to carry weapons internally. That’s what it does, and that’s why it is stealthy” although he did concede that if Korea insists on external weapons his company would simply customise the aircraft to Seoul’s needs.

The F-35 has 6 hard points to carry external weapons but this capability would not be ready for when the Koreans want to test out the aircraft during the June – September 2012 time frame. However, Koreans expect to recive US government assurances that the fighter will indeed meet both selection criteria, if not before June, at least once development has been completed.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

Similar concerns don’t seem to disturb the other two F-X contenders. The above mentioned Silent Eagle is a modification of an existing model which already meets all of the requirements as does the Eurofighter Typhoon, recently defeated by the Dassault Rafale in the Indian MMRCA competition.

Noteworthy, the Eurofighter Typhoon is the only non-stealthy aircraft in the South Korean competition that, initially, featured the radar-evading capability as one of the tender’s mandatory requirements (later lifted to have more choice).

Next months will tell us whether Boeing will be able develop the Silent Eagle in time, Lockheed Martin will convice Seoul that the Lightning II can meet all the requirements or Eurofighter will walk away with the $7.62billion contract.

There could even be a fourth option in that Korea sticks with what it knows and orders a further 60 F-15Ks like those that have recently taken part to the Red Flag 12-2 at Nellis AFB.

Watch this space, by October all could have been revealed.

Written with The Aviationist’s Editor David Cenciotti

Image credit: Tony Lovelock

Is Boeing calling time on the stealthy F-15 Silent Eagle? Lockheed Martin hopes so.

Silent Eagle, not to become reality?

The Korea Times has reported that there is a possibility that aviation giant Boeing may not full fill its promise to provide the stealthly version of it’s F-15 to South Korea.

In an article published on Jan. 25, titled Boeing may give up offering stealthy jet journalist Lee Tae-hoon wrote that “a source familiar with Boeing’s plan to modify its F-15s said little progress has been made in the making of the F-15SE, especially in the development of its conformal weapons bay (CWB), which allows the aircraft to carry weapons internally.”

According to the informed source “only 10 percent of work has been completed for the research and development of the F-15SE’s conformal weapons bay.”

Boeing’s proposal had included canted vertical stabilisers and a conformal weapons bay on each side of the aircraft to reduce the radar cross section of the aircraft, all compulsary requirements to Korea’s KX-III procurement program to acquire advanced jets. Seoul had removed these requirements to allow other manufacturers the chance to compete, although had signed a memorandum of understanding with Boeing back in 2010. However Boeing announced late on 2010 that it had suspended development of the proposed features.

Tae-hoon also reported that other industry officials noted that it will be physically impossible for Boeing to complete the development of the CWB and canted tails by the end of October this year when Seoul plans to finalize the deal after three to four months of evaluations and negotiations. “Boeing will most likely change their offer. They won’t offer the Silent Eagle” a senior official of Lockheed Martin, which is competing with Boeing and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) for the FX-III bid, said asking for anonymity.

“They are going to offer the F-15K because that’s the only plane they can deliver by 2016.”

This opens the door for the F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon to get a toe hold in Korea.

Although EADS could try to offer a version with conformal fuel tanks and thrust vectoring, neither variant of the Typhoon is stealth. Therefore, since radar-evading capability remains a crucial factor in deciding the next South Korea fighter jets, Lockheed Martin F-35 seems to be favorite and this would explain Tom Burbage (Executive VP of Lockheed Martin and General Manager of F-35 Program Integration) optimism over the deal in the recent Press Briefing held in Rome.

What is yet to be determined is which of the three versions of the F-35 Lockheed has put forward to Seoul for consideration.

Written with The Aviationist’s Editor David Cenciotti

Credit: Boeing