industry news

MD Helicopters delivers first batch of MD 530Fs to Afghan Air Force

13 September

MD Helicopters has completed the initial delivery of the new-generation MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters to the Afghan Air Force as part of a $1.4bn contract.

The indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract was originally awarded in September last year for a period of five years. Under the deal, MD Helicopters carried out the delivery of the first five of the 30 new MD 530F aircraft that are slated to enter into service with the Afghan Air Force’s Aviation Unit this year.

MD Helicopters chief executive officer Lynn Tilton said: “It is an honour to deliver these first five of 30 new Cayuse Warrior aircraft to the Afghan Air Force in support of their vigilant efforts to protect their country and their citizens in the global fight against terror.”

The multipurpose helicopter features the company’s newly certified glass cockpit fitted with advanced technologies. The MD 530F Cayuse Warrior fleet also comprises a ballistically tolerant crashworthy fuel system, including a main fuel tank and a 38-gallon auxiliary fuel tank.

Tilton added: “The MD 530F Cayuse Warrior has played a critical role in creating an effective, efficient, and sustainable airforce in Afghanistan.

“It has been a proven performer in support of training and combat operations since joining the Afghan fleet, and has evolved to become the standard for light scout attack helicopter solutions worldwide.”

The company will deliver an estimated 150 armed MD 530F Cayuse Warrior and / or MD 530G attack helicopters to the US and partner nation military aviation forces.

The 9.8m-long MD 530F Cayuse Warrior is an armed version of MD Helicopters’ OH-6 Cayuse light observation aircraft and can be used to improve the scout attack, armed escort and close air attack capabilities of the Afghan Air Force.

Arotech’s FAAC receives funding for US Army’s VCTS follow-on programme

12 September

FAAC has received funding to extend capabilities of the US Army’s Virtual Clearance Training Suite (VCTS) follow-on programme.

The VCTS follow-on programme is managed by the US Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI).

Awarded by the Army Contracting Command – Orlando, the follow-on effort has been designed to be carried out in three phases, each providing a block upgrade of capabilities to the fielded VCTS systems.

The $10.2m funding, in the form of exercised options through to January 2021, has been awarded for the second phase of the programme under the follow-on contract originally awarded last year.

FAAC president Kurt Flosky said: “This award represents the army’s commitment to ensuring that VCTS remains in sync with the evolving route clearance mission, maximising the systems utility to train individual skills required for the new enablers in addition to providing comprehensive collective training experience to the entire team.

“We are pleased to continue supporting the PEO STRI team in enabling soldiers performing route clearance missions to train as they would fight.”

The follow-on contract will offer additional training capabilities to VCTS, thereby enhancing its realism and improving the clearance operations training the system provides.

Already fielded at 28 training installations and operational units, the VCTS system offers training for critical vehicle operator and crew tasks that can be repetitively trained in a simulator, or are considered time consuming, resource constrained or dangerous to be conducted on actual equipment.

FAAC operates as part of Arotech’s Training and Simulation Division (ATSD), which develops, produces and markets advanced high-tech multimedia and interactive digital simulation-based solutions.

Sikorsky delivers M28 STOL aircraft to Ecuadorian Army

12 September

Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky has delivered a new M28 short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft to the Ecuadorian Army.

Built at Sikorsky-owned Polish aerospace manufacturing facility PZL Mielec, the twin-engine turboprop aircraft arrived in Ecuador completing a 13,500km trans-Atlantic flight from Poland.

The aircraft was delivered within five months after receiving the contract award in April this year. It will provide the Ecuadorian Army with a multi-role transport capability that can carry out operations in varied climates and terrain.

Sikorsky Latin America regional executive Adam Schierholz said: “The M28 aircraft’s powerful turbo-prop engines, a large cabin with clamshell rear door, and the airframe’s rugged structural characteristics, will give the Ecuadorian Army a highly versatile short take-off and landing platform with which to perform multiple types of missions in diverse climates.”

“Weighing 16,500lb, the aircraft can accommodate 19 passenger seats or carry up to 2,300kg of cargo, in addition to conducting parachute missions via the rear cabin door.”

Under the deal, PZL Mielec was responsible for providing training to the army pilots and mechanics.

The M28 STOL aircraft has the capability to operate from runways or airstrips, which are otherwise inaccessible by other jets, and can fly in extreme environmental conditions and temperatures ranging from 50°C to -50°C. Weighing 16,500lb, the aircraft can accommodate 19 passenger seats or carry up to 2,300kg of cargo, in addition to conducting parachute missions via the rear cabin door.

More than 100 M28 STOL jets are currently used in both commercial and military configurations across the world.

In addition to other missions, the aircraft has the ability to transport passengers, carry out parachutist training, and perform border patrol and supervision over fisheries.

The Polish Air Force uses the M28 Bryza aircraft variant to conduct both maritime and transport operations.

US AFLCMC awards contract for adaptive engines to Pratt & Whitney

12 September

The US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) has awarded a $437m contract modification to United Technologies division Pratt & Whitney for the delivery of adaptive engines.

The next-generation adaptive propulsion risk reduction engines will be supplied for potential air superiority applications.

Pratt & Whitney Military Development Programs vice-president Chris Flynn said: “We look forward to continuing the maturation of adaptive engine technologies in collaboration with the USAF for the next-generation of combat aircraft. In addition to providing a seamless transition between high thrust and fuel efficiency, adaptive propulsion can enable an unprecedented range of capability growth in mission systems and heat dissipation capacity at the air vehicle level. We are committed to giving the warfighter a technological advantage.”

In addition to providing architecture for demand-modulated adaptive engines, the company is maturing a technology range that includes control systems, power and thermal management systems for increased range, persistence, survivability and maintainability capabilities for the USAF’s advanced weapon systems.

Furthermore, Pratt & Whitney is using varied learning from design and test activities that are completed as part of the Adaptive Engine Technology Development (AETD) effort.

The learning will enable the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) to upgrade the technologies required to address the future mission requirements of air superiority applications.

Pratt & Whitney is focused on designing, manufacturing and servicing aircraft and helicopter engines, in addition to other auxiliary power units.

USAF Secretary outlines strategy for new software acquisition model

11 September

US Air Force (USAF) Secretary Heather Wilson has outlined the strategy for upgrading and modernising the service’s old and outdated software acquisition model.

The presentation was made during the Air Force Information Technology and Cyberpower Conference held in Montgomery, Alabama, US.

According to Wilson, the upgrade to the software acquisition model is important to enable the airforce to compete or be in line with the technological advances of potential adversaries.

Wilson said: “We are facing a rapidly innovating adversary who is challenging us, and we have to be willing to accept more risk in our acquisition process. This is particularly true when it comes to software.”

She added that the US Air Force Weapons Systems Software Management Guidebook is an outdated document that cites practices from an even older document.

Wilson said: “It is ten years old. It was written before Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest were even incorporated. So, we’re now leaving the past behind. We’re going to accelerate to a new future driven by the threat that we face and move to a new paradigm for software development.”

With new advanced developments and acquisitions in hardware and software, the USAF will help support the implementation of the new National Defense Strategy in the US.

In May, the USAF opened a new software lab in Boston.

Australian Navy’s lead Anzac-class frigate to undergo AMCAP upgrade

11 September

The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) lead Anzac-class frigate HMAS Anzac is set to undergo a Mid Life Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) upgrade at BAE Systems Australia’s Henderson shipyard.

HMAS Anzac will join its sister warships HMAS Perth and HMAS Arunta as part of the AMCAP upgrade project.

The Anzac-class fleet upgrade is being undertaken by the Warship Asset Management Agreement (WAMA) Alliance to retain the vessels in service with the navy until they are replaced by the RAN’s Hunter-class frigates.

Under the AMCAP upgrade, HMAS Anzac will be integrated with modernised ventilation systems, new sewage systems, and improved diesel engines that would help increase the vessel’s power and efficiency. The frigate will also undergo a replacement of the air search radar capability with the Australian CEA L-Band radar, along with the replacement of the full communications suite on the vessel.

BAE Systems Australia chief executive Gabby Costigan said: “The upgrade of the ANZAC fleet, through our role in the WAMA alliance, demonstrates the breadth and depth of work that BAE Systems Australia has done to date in the sustainment of the Anzac-class fleet over more than two decades.”

HMAS Arunta will be undocked by the end of the year after more than 12 months out of service. It will then set sail to carry out sea trials before its planned return to service, which is slated for next year.

The remaining seven Anzac-class frigates are scheduled to be back in service with the Australian Navy by 2023.

Australian company CEA Technologies has been selected to develop and deliver the new Air Search Radar System that would complement the vessel’s existing anti-ship missile defence system.

Robotic Research to expand US Army’s AUSTC for counter-WMD mission

10 September

The US Army has awarded a new contract to Robotic Research to expand work on its Autonomous Unmanned Systems Teaming and Collaboration (AUSTC) for the counter weapons of mass destruction (Counter-WMD) mission.

Valued at $50m, the contract has been awarded by the US Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) for a period of five years.

Robotic Research president Alberto Lacaze said: “It is a great honour to expand our work for the US Army, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and the Special Forces community on the family-of-systems for autonomous collaborative robotic teaming in support of challenging subterranean missions. The Robotic Research team shares the army leadership’s commitment to rapidly fielding effective autonomous counter-WMD solutions for our nation’s warfighters.”

The AUSTC effort is designed based on prior and ongoing Robotic Research’s small business innovative research contracts in support of the Mobile Autonomous Counter-WMD System, Increment B (MACS-B) programme.

The MACS-B programme offers a wide range of subterranean mission objectives such as mapping and reconnaissance; location and characterisation of WMD materials, relay of intelligence and situational awareness to ground forces and commanders to make informed decisions in support of military operations; and autonomous teaming and collaborative operations to include unmanned ground and air vehicles.

The AUSTC focuses on increasing autonomy, 3D / 4D mapping, localisation, target ID, tracking, collective 3D visualisation, weapons system integration of unmanned autonomous systems and subterranean communications.

The AUSTC and MACS-B programmes have been designed to improve autonomous unmanned systems teaming and collaboration capabilities in subterranean environments for the US Army and Special Forces units.

Boeing selects Rolls-Royce AE 3007N engines for US Navy MQ-25 aircraft

10 September

Boeing has selected Rolls-Royce to deliver its AE 3007N engines to power the US Navy’s newest MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial tanker. Under the deal, Rolls-Royce will install a single AE 3007N engine on each of the unmanned combat aerial vehicles.

Manufactured in Indianapolis, US, the AE 3007N is the latest model of the Rolls-Royce AE family of engines and has been designed to deliver more than 10,000lb of thrust and additional electrical power to the tanker. The $805m contract for the engineering and production of four Stingray aircraft was awarded to Boeing by the US Navy on 30 August.

The MQ-25 aircraft will be deployed with the navy to carry out autonomous, carrier-based air-to-air refuelling, providing the service with an enhanced refuelling capability.

Work on the aircraft manufacturing project is planned to be carried out at Boeing’s production facility in St Louis, Missouri, US.

Rolls-Royce customer business, government relations and sales customer business executive vice-president Jarrett Jones said: “Congratulations to Boeing for being selected to develop this historic aircraft in support of the US Navy. For Rolls-Royce, it will expand our UAV expertise with unmanned aircraft in the US Navy fleet, which includes the Triton and Fire Scout aircraft.”

The US Navy intends to use the MQ-25 unmanned aerial tanker to expand the use of the service’s combat strike fighters by extending the range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler and Lockheed Martin F-35C aircraft.

The aircraft will also have the capability to be easily integrated with an aircraft carrier’s catapult, as well as launch and recovery systems.