Phantom Eye to fly missile defence payload

Boeing‘s high-altitude Phantom Eye technology demonstrator has secured its first customer, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

The agency issued a $6.8 million contract modification to prepare Phantom Eye for installation of an unidentified payload following the aircraft’s fourth flight. Boeing recently finished the third flight, and is planning a fourth for envelope expansion.

Phantom Eye, a liquid hydrogen-powered technology demonstrator, is scheduled for eight to nine flights in total.

“[MDA] will be the first payload customer for Phantom Eye starting on Flight 5 later this year,” says Boeing. “Flights 5 and beyond will occur later on this year, perhaps into next year, depending on how those tests go.”

Phantom Eye is capable of carrying 204kg (450lb) of payload.

“There’s significant interest in Phantom Eye,” says Boeing. “We wouldn’t be demonstrating it if we didn’t think there was a market for it. There are a number of very interested parties both in the defence side and the civilian side.”

Phantom Eye first flew in June 2012, but was then grounded for a year following a mishap during landing. The aircraft is designed to fly for up to four days at 65,000ft (19,800m).

MDA did not respond immediately to questions.

C: Boeing


South Korea to buy 36 AH-64E Apaches

Boeing has won a contract to supply South Korea with AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, defeating the Bell AH-1Z Zulu and Turkish Aerospace T-129B for the 36 helicopter AHX requirement.

“Boeing is pleased with the announcement that the Republic of Korea has selected the AH-64E Apache as its new heavy-attack helicopter,” the US airframer said in an email to Flightglobal. “We look forward to working with the US Army and the Republic of Korea Army as they finalise the Foreign Military Sales contract for 36 AH-64E Apaches.”

According to US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notifications in September 2012, the Apache deal is worth $3.6 billion, considerably higher than the proposed AH-1Z contract, which was valued at $2.6 billion.

“The heavily-armed attack helicopters will replace aging helicopters deployed by the army to counter threats by the North Korean military’s armoured units and deter provocations,” Seoul’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration spokesman Baek Yoon-Hyeong was reported as saying.

Industry sources close to the competition had expected a decision in late 2012, but this was delayed by South Korea’s presidential election in December 2012.

This is Seoul’s second major acquisition in a month. On 10 April it selected the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) to upgrade its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters.

Once the US government gives the go-ahead, Raytheon will deliver 134 of the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar systems to South Korea. Deliveries are expected to start in late 2016, after the company completes development work.

Industry sources say that Seoul is likely to make a decision on the F-X III competition for 60 fighters in June. The three contenders for the deal, possibly the world’s biggest fighter buy this year, are the Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle, Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and Eurofighter Typhoon. The type will replace Seoul’s obsolescent fleet of McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantoms.

Heightened tensions with North Korea this year have prompted Seoul to push forward key defence purchases, industry sources say.

MROAM: USAF breaks up P&W monopoly on C-17 engine services

Pratt & Whitney says it accepts a US Air Force decision to break up the company’s 18-year grip on sustainment services for the engines that power the global fleet of Boeing C-17A airlifters.

The USAF has issued a request for proposals seeking competitive bids for a contract to manage the supply chain for the F117, which is the military derivative of the PW2000 turbofan that P&W supplies for the four-engined strategic transport.

P&W has managed all F117 sustainment services since 1995 under a performance-based logistics (PBL) deal that ties fees and payments to meeting certain performance criteria, such as time-on-wing. However, the USAF is now moving to a conventional maintenance services deal.

“There’s been encouragement from Congress to have a competition,” says Bennett Croswell, president of P&W military engines. “It’s really hard from [the USAF] to have a PBL and compete it because no one else has the full intellectual property that we do to be really effective in a PBL. So I can understand that they’re doing what they’re doing.”

At the same time, Croswell says P&W is proud of its performance under the PBL contract, which included a 60% reduction in engine removals since 2008 and a seven-fold increase in time-on-wing since 1995.

P&W now must compete for the new F117 supply chain management contract against several new bidders.

“It will be more of a transactional contract,” Croswell says. “This will inform that debate [about the value of PBLs] because we’re going away from a PBL and now we’ll see how a transactional approach to maintaining this engine, will that cost more or less?”

The competition required P&W and the USAF to reach an agreement on access to some of the company’s intellectual property (IP) on the F117 installed base. P&W will provide the bidders with the same data that it supplies to commercial airlines that operate the PW2000 engine, Croswell says.

“There was an IP discussion and issue for a while, but I think we’ve gotten around that,” he says.

Flightglobal’s Ascend Online Fleets database records the current global C-17 fleet as totalling 251 aircraft, with these flown by the air forces of Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the USA, plus a consortium of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.

Boeing X-48C Blended Wing Body Research Aircraft Completes Flight Testing

By on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013


The Boeing X-48C research aircraft flew for the 30th and final time April 9, marking the successful completion of an eight-month flight-test program to explore and further validate the aerodynamic characteristics of the Blended Wing Body design concept.

All 30 flights were conducted at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center. The X-48C typically flew for approximately 30 minutes on most flights, reaching speeds of up to 140 miles per hour and attaining an altitude of about 10,000 feet. X-48C flight testing began Aug. 7, 2012.

“Working closely with NASA, we have been privileged throughout X-48 flight-testing to explore and validate what we believe is a significant breakthrough in the science of flight – and it has been a tremendous success for Boeing,” said Bob Liebeck, a Boeing Senior Technical Fellow and the company’s BWB program manager.

“We have shown that a BWB aircraft, which offers the tremendous promise of significantly greater fuel efficiency and reduced noise, can be controlled as effectively as a conventional tube-and-wing aircraft during takeoffs, landings and other low-speed segments of the flight regime,” Liebeck said.

The X-48C, designed by Boeing Research & Technology, built by Cranfield Aerospace Ltd., and flown in partnership with NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, is a scale model of a heavy-lift, subsonic vehicle that forgoes the conventional tube-and-wing airplane design in favor of a triangular tailless aircraft that effectively merges the vehicle’s wing and body. Boeing believes the concept could be developed in the next 15 to 20 years for military applications such as aerial refueling and cargo missions.

The X-48C is a modified version of the X-48B aircraft, which flew 92 times at NASA Dryden between 2007 and 2010. The X-48C is configured with two 89-pound thrust turbojet engines, instead of three 50-pound thrust engines on the B-model. In addition, the wingtip winglets were relocated inboard next to the engines on the C-model and the aft deck was extended about 2 feet at the rear.

“With the completion of X-48C flight testing, we have accomplished our goal of establishing a ground-to-flight database, and proving the low-speed controllability of concept throughout the flight envelope,” said Fay Collier, director of NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project. “Both very quiet and efficient, the concept has shown promise for meeting all of NASA’s environmental goals for future aircraft designs.”

Boeing and NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate funded the X-48 technology demonstration research. The effort was aligned with NASA’s ERA project, which has the goals to reduce fuel burn, emissions and noise of future aircraft.

Boeing and NASA will continue to develop Blended Wing Body technology, with the aspiration of developing a larger-scale, transonic BWB demonstrator in the future.

Boeing P-8 testing complete, set for 2013 deployment


The Boeing P-8 Poseidon has successfully completed operational testing and is set to deploy for the first time later this year with the US Navy, programme and company officials say. The aircraft is also set to enter full-rate production in 2013.

“We’re rapidly coming to the conclusion of almost all of our SDD [system development and demonstration] tasks,” says Rick Heerdt, Boeing vice-president for the P-8A programme, during a briefing at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition. “We’re focused and driving towards a full-rate production decision and initial operational capability later this year.”

The first operational squadron will deploy in December 2013, says Capt Aaron Rondeau, the navy’s P-8A Poseidon integrated product team lead.

The only remaining developmental task left to complete is full fatigue life testing on the Boeing 737-dervived airframe, Heerdt says.

Production is ramping up in 2013 to 10 aircraft, from seven in 2012, with three of this year’s examples being for India, Heerdt says. India’s first P-8 will arrive in the country in the second quarter of 2013, with two more to arrive during the third quarter under an eight-aircraft order with the nation’s navy.

Australia is also expected to order a minimum of eight P-8s, Rondeau says. Canberra is expected to have the aircraft delivered and in service around 2016 or 2017, he adds. Australia is already participating in the development of the P-8’s Increment 2 and Increment 3 upgrades.

Increment 2 is broken up into two parts, the first of which will become operational in 2014, Rondeau says. This includes an early iteration of the Multi-static Active Coherent (MAC) sonar system, which consists of dozens of active sonar buoys that send out sonar pings from various directions while passive sonar buoys listen for the returns. Information is networked together to help the P-8 find and kill submarines.

A second, more advanced package will become operational in 2016. It will include an improved MAC, high altitude anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sensors and a high altitude ASW weapons capability, which Rondeau says is a Mk 54 torpedo with a wing-kit.

Increment 3, which is set to become operational in 2020, will add greater network centric warfare capabilities to the P-8, Rondeau says. It will also greatly improve the aircraft’s computer architecture and add new networked anti-ship weapons.

Boeing unveils updated F/A-XX sixth-gen fighter concept

By:   Dave Majumdar Washington DC
6 hours ago



Boeing is unveiling an updated version of its F/A-XX sixth-generation fighter concept at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition in Washington DC this week.

The tail-less twin-engine stealth fighter design comes in “manned and unmanned options as possibilities per the US Navy,” Boeing says. The design features diverterless supersonic inlets reminiscent of those found on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Boeing concept also features canards, which is somewhat of a surprise because the motion of those forward mounted control surfaces is generally assumed to compromise a stealth aircraft’s frontal radar cross-section. But the lack of vertical tail surfaces suggests the aircraft would be optimized for all-aspect broadband stealth, which would be needed for operations in the most challenging anti-access/area denial environments.

Also of note in the manned version of the company’s F/A-XX concept is the placement of the cockpit-rearward visibility appears to be restricted without the aid of a sensor apparatus similar to the F-35‘s distributed aperture system of six infrared cameras.

The Boeing F/A-XX concept is a response to a USN request for information (RFI) from April 2012 soliciting data for a replacement for the service’s Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleets in the 2030s. The Super Hornet fleet is expected to start reaching the end of the jet’s 9000h useful lifespan during that time period.

“The intent of this research is to solicit industry inputs on candidate solutions for CVN [nuclear-powered aircraft carrier] based aircraft to provide air supremacy with a multi-role strike capability in an anti-access/area denied (A2AD) operational environment,” the navy RFI stated. “Primary missions include, but are not limited to, air warfare (AW), strike warfare (STW), surface warfare (SUW), and close air support (CAS).”

Navy leaders had said at the time that they expect any new F/A-XX design to have greatly increased range and offer far superior kinematic performance compared to existing tactical aircraft.

Boeing and USAF will have to recertificate entire F-15SA flight envelope

By:   Dave Majumdar Washington DC
02:40 3 Apr 2013



Boeing and the US Air Force will have to recertificate the new F-15SA’s performance over the Eagle’s entire flight envelope due to its new fly-by-wire flight control systems.

“The entire F-15 flight envelope requires clearance for the F-15SA fly-by-wire system,” the USAF says. “The flight test to certify airworthiness will take approximately a year and a half to accomplish.”

True fly-by-wire is a departure from the traditional F-15 hybrid electronic/mechanical flight control system. Previous incarnations of the jet were equipped with a dual-channel, high-authority, three-axis control augmentation system superimposed on top of a hydro-mechanical system.

However, Saudi Arabia’s 84 F-15SAs on order will have its two outer wing weapons stations activated, making it necessary to implement a fly-by-wire flight control system.

“The main benefit for the fly-by-wire system is to compensate for the stability differences induced by carrying weapons in the one and nine stations – not used to date on any F-15 platform,” the USAF says.

The service adds it is not yet known how the redesigned flight control system will affect the pilot. “It is too early in the flight test programme to appropriately characterise [the] ‘feel’ of the flight controls,” the service says.

The first F-15SA, an advanced derivative of the F-15E, flew a limited flight envelope on 20 February. Other upgrades for the F-15SA include an active electronically scanned array radar and a digital electronic warfare system.

The USAF will not activate the outer wing weapons stations on its own F-15Es, the service says. Nor will the fly-by-wire controls be retrofitted to existing USAF Strike Eagles.

Raymond Jaworowski, an analyst with Forecast International, says that there are two reasons for Boeing and the USAF to undertake the difficult task of redesigning the F-15’s flight control systems this late into the aircraft’s life-cycle.

The first is that Saudi Arabia might have specifically asked for certain capabilities. “It is fairly sizable order,” Jaworowski says. “So whatever they can do to satisfy the customer would be in their best interests.”

A second possible reason for the extensive modification, Jaworowski says, is that Boeing wants to keep the F-15 in production for as long as possible. Keeping the Eagle as modern as possible would help the company compete on the world market before Lockheed Martin‘s F-35 becomes dominant, he says.

“Eventually, 10 years from now, the F-35 will be the dominant fighter on the world market,” Jaworowski says. “In the meantime there are possibilities for additional sales of older fighters like the F-15, so Boeing is going to keep the F-15 with as much current technology as possible in order to pick up those sales.”