The U.S. Army and Marine Corp’s next airborne guided weapon, the Lockheed Martin Joint Air-to-Ground (JAGM), has completed its first launch against an armored target. It was also its first flight test in fire-and-forget mode, using only its millimeter-wave radar to find the stationary tank. JAGM is a dual-mode weapon, with both radar and semi-active laser seekers.
Europe’s Dassault-led Neuron unmanned combat aircraft demonstrator has completed low-observability flight trials in Italy. The 12 flights from Decimomannu airbase on Sardinia evaluated radar and infrared signatures against ground and airborne sensors. The aircraft is being moved to Sweden, where it will conduct weapon-drop tests with 250-kg.-class munitions.
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works has been funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory to study a manned demonstrator for its Hybrid Wing Body transport concept, which could fly around 2020 if funded. The preferred approach is a vehicle based on a modified business jet, such as a Gulfstream V.
The Mi-8MTPR-1 is based on Russia’s workhorse helicopter. The receive antenna system is behind the large flat panel above the front of the sponson, and the transmitter array is the box structure behind the landing gear. A canvas cover protects the chaff-flare dispenser.
The U.S. has approved a potential foreign military sales (FMS) program, valued at $3 billion, to convert the U.K’s fleet of Apache attack helicopters to AH-64E standard. The proposed deal covers remanufacture of 50 of the 66 remaining Apaches – in AH-64D Block I standard - to AH-64E or Block III standard. The FMS option is believed to be one of three being studied, including a direct commercial sale by Boeing and AgustaWestland doing the work in the U.K.
JDAM-equipped BLU-109: USAF
A high-temperature incendiary munition designed to destroy chemical and biological weapons facilities without spreading dangerous substances is to be demonstrated by General Dynamics under a U.S. Air Force contract. For the Hammer demo, GD will modify the BLU-109/B hardened-target penetrator bomb to dispense rocket-propelled kinetic fireball incendiary submunitions developed by Exquadrum.
China’s financial turmoil and slowing growth are raising concerns over Asia’s air travel market. The International Air Transport Association says international passenger travel in June rose 3% year-on-year, down from 6.2% in May. But Boeing is forecasting demand for 6,330 aircraft in China over the next 20 years, despite volatility in its financial markets.
RN-Aircraft, part of Russian oil company Rosneft, has ordered an initial 10 AgustaWestland AW189s under a 2014 framework agreement for up to 160 helicopters by 2025. Rosneft has taken a 30% stake in HeliVert, an AgustaWestland/Russian Helicopters venture that will assemble AW189s.
Draganflyer: Draganfly Innovations
U.S and European regulators are concerned small unmanned aircraft pose a safety threat as sightings by pilots increase, at altitudes that conflict with airliners. Analysis by Bard College of 650 sightings reported to the FAA from Nov. 13, 2014 to Aug. 20 show the average altitude was above 3,000 ft., well beyond the 400 ft. legal ceiling for recreational drone operations.
Representing the first tangible tooling for Boeing's 777X program, the first autoclave for curing skins and spars of the aircraft's 235.4-ft.-span carbon-fiber wing has arrived at the new Composite Wing Center in Everett, Washington. Measuring 120 x 28-ft, the 777X autoclaves will be the largest within the company by working volume. The 1.2 million lb. unit was towed by cable across a bridge at the site to prevent overstressing the structure. Boeing has begun detailed design of the initial 777-9X following completion of the firm configuration milestone on Aug 25.
The FAA has begun formal flight evaluation of the Cirrus Vision SF50 single-engine personal jet, one of the final steps toward type certification. Cirrus is aiming for certification FAA by year-end. Aircraft in-flight deployment testing of the airframe parachute recovery system is planned for the fall.
Textron Aviation's Citation Latitude
CessnaTextron Aviation’s Citation Latitude mid-size business jet is also in a tie for seventh with 13 deliveries. The seven-passenger jet entered the market in 2015. To date, fractional ownership company NetJets has taken delivery of about half of all Latitudes delivered. Credit: Textron Aviation
XTI Aircraft, a Denver-based startup led by a team including former presidents of Sikorsky and Cessna, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to gauge investor interest in the LiftFan 600, a six-seat vertical-takeoff-and-landing business aircraft powered by three ducted fans.
Japan’s HTV-5 automated resupply spacecraft has reached the International Space Station, alleviating supply concerns after recent failures of Russian and U.S. commercial cargo missions. Dubbed Kuonitori5, the spacecraft was berthed with the station on Aug. 24, carrying 9,500 lb. of supplies and equipment.
Boeing is only partly blaming “several hundred” planned layoffs at its satellite manufacturing business on uncertainty over Ex-Im Bank export financing – even though Bermuda-based ABS has cancelled a communications satellite order after Congress failed to renew the Bank’s authority to issue loans. The company also blames the defense spending downturn and launch-vehicle failures.
Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.