US ASTOVL programme
A DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION of answers to a Reauest for Proposals (RFP) to demonstrate ana validate technologies for the US Defence Advanced Research Agency’s (DARPA) Thunder Cat advanced short take-off and vertical-landing (ASTOVL) aircraft programme was set for November 24. After examination of the RFP submissions for this joint DARPA/Navy/Marines/NASA project, DARPA was expected to select two contractors during January for Phase 2 of the programme, a three-year long investigation which will focus on detailed exploration of propulsion and other key technologies for the new aircraft. Contractors who have indicated their intention to bid on Phase 2 include General Dynamics, Grumman, Lockeed and McDonnell Douglas, each of which will team with an engine manufacturer.
At a later date, DARPA will also examine conceptual designs which, under Phase 3, will eventually lead to development and construction of two ASTOVL demonstrator aircraft and a planned derivative conventional take-off and landing fighter for the Air Force to replace F-l 6s and a STOVL strike-fighter for the Navy to replace AV-8Bs and F/A-18s. Previously planned development of the two flying prototypes by 1998 now seems certain to slip to a much later date, probably around mid-2001. The decision to move into Phase 3 is not expected to be taken until 1995, after completion of Phase 2, although this could be brought forward if the technologies are proven before this date.
After initial small and large scale model tests, the two demonstration prototypes would be constructed and ground tested by the successful contractor, followed by a one to two year flight test programme. Further development beyond that stage will be dependent on USAF and USN Dudgetary priorities and future service requirements.
DARPA have specified that Thunder Cat must not exceed 24,035lbs (10,900kg) empty weight and must have the same deck-spotting factor as the F/A-18 Hornet. A single-engined configuration is specified and this powerplant is to be in the ‘advanced tactical fighter (ATF) class’, with development contracts likely to be awarded for derivatives of the General Electric FI 20 and Pratt & Whitney FI 19 engines developed to power the YF-22 and YF-23 ATF aircraft. Two preferred augmented lift concepts are specified for the engines, either a gas-coupled or shaft-coupled lift fan, although alternative propulsive lift concepts will be considered if they are seen to offer significant advantages over the specified concepts.
Roles envisaged for the aircraft have also been outlined by DARPA and include nine shipboard mission profiles comprising interception, strike, dose air support, combat air patrol, two interdiction tasks, enemy air defence suppression, reconnaissance and ferrv. Other design parameters include capability to carry a combat load of two AIM-9 missiles, two AIM-120s, a 20mm gun and 400 rounds of ammunition, plus bombs or smart weapons.
As the Air Force are not presently involved in the programme directly, specific requirements tor the land-based version of the aircraft have not yet been put forward by DARPA although Pentagon officials supporting the programme are keen to see the Air Force become involved in order to reduce costs and the DARPA specification takes into account the likely later involvement of the USAF.
RAF re-forms 38 Group
ON NOVEMBER 1, 1992 the RAF officially re-formed No 38 Group and the following day a formal parade was held at HQ Strike Command, RAF High Wycombe, although a planned formation flypast by aircraft from units now under the Group’s control had to be postponed due to bad weather. Previously in control of the RAF’s offensive support assets (strike/ground attack aircraft and tactical support helicopters), the Group absorbed No 46 (Transport) Group in 1976 and then also merged with No 1 (Bomber) Group in November 1983 although the new Group then became No 1 Group, for historical reasons, and No 38 Group disappeared.
No 38 Group will be co-located at High Wycombe with HQ Strike Command and will encompass the RAF’s air transport and air-to-air refuelling assets while being responsible for the RAF stations at Brize Norton, Lyneham, Northolt and Ascension Island. Units under 38 Group comprise 11 squadrons — 10 (VC 10 C.l at Brize); 24, 30, 47, 57 (Reserve) and 70 (Hercules C.l P/C.3P at Lyneham); 32 (Andover C.1/CC.2, HS.125 CC.1/CC.2/CC.3 & Gazelle HCC.4 at Northolt); 55 (Victor K.2 at Marham); 101 (VC. 10 K.2/K.3 at Brize); 115 (Andover E.3/E.3A at Brize) and 216 (TriStar K.1/KC.1/C.2 at Brize).
Other miscellaneous units under 38 Group control are The Queen’s Flight (at Benson with Andover CC.2 and BAe 146 CC.2), No 241 Operational Conversion Unit (operating BAe 146, TriStar, VC 10 on loan at Brize) plus several non-flying units -the Tactical Communications Wing, No 1 Parachute Training School, No 1 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, and the UK Mobile Air Movements Squadron.
GD to sell Fort Worth?
FOLLOWING SALE OF its missile division to Hughes earlier this year, General Dynamics are now reported to be looking at the sale of its Fort Worth Division which is responsible for the F-16 multi-role fighter, a move which has come as a surprise to most observers as this is currently one of the company’s main core businesses.
Lockheed and Northrop are two known prospective buyers and both are currently in discussion with GD about a possible deal. In addition, GD agreed the sale of their Electronic Manufacturing Center (EMC) at Fort Worth together with military computer subsidiary Computer Crossroads of America on November 3 to Israeli defence electronics manufacturer Elbit, marking the first Israeli acquisition in the US defence industry. The EMC facility produces electronics equipment for F-l 6s and this work will continue with Elbit acting as a sub-contractor to GD.
Orion Update shelved
A STOP-WORK ORDER was issued on October 14 on the USN Lockheed P-3C Orion Update IV contract awarded to Boeing Defense and Space Group. A S240 million full-scale engineering development contract was awarded in 1987 and first flight of a prototype conversion (160292) took place in December 1991 since when some $400 million has been spent on the development programme, although there was a delay of two years due to major software integration problems which are reported have now largely been solved.
The first prototype was expected to have been ready for delivery to the Navy in August 1993. Update IV was originally intended for the now cancelled P-7A LRAACA and was to have been a retrofit to all P-3C Update I, II and 11.5 aircraft with conversions beginning in 1994.
Initial aerodynamic and functional testing in a converted P-3C used an Eaton AIL Division AN/ALR-77 ESM with 36 antennae mounted in four groups at the wingtips but this was later abandoned in fovour of a similar Litton AN/ALR-66(V)5 system. The 109 P-3Cs which would have been given the Update IV retrofit, comprising 80 Update II aircraft and 29 with Update I, would also have incorporated Texas Instruments AN/APS-137(V) inverse synthetic aperture radar, AN/AAS-36 IR detection system and AN/ASQ-81 MAD plus on AT&T AN/UYS-2 signal processor.
Having issued the stop-work order, the Navy is now negotiating terms with Boeing on termination of the contract which they no longer see as a cost-effective way of updating the Orion’s mission avionics systems in view of the diminished Soviet submarine threat. The Navy believes cancellation will save $1.5 billion through to 1997.
As an alternative, the Navy is looking to upgrade the entire 247-strong P-3C fleet to a common Update III configuration, to which 138 aircraft were already planned for conversion, by 2006. The last 50 production USN P-3Cs were built to Update III standards, the first being delivered in May 1984 while the first retrofit was carried out in 1987. Retrofits are designated Update IIIR and this conversion work, which includes fitting of an IBM Proteus acoustic processor which doubles sonobuoy handling capacity, a sonobuoy receiver to replace the directional acoustic frequency analysis and recording unit of earlier models, improved APU and a higher capacity environmental control system, is continuing.
Philippine S.211 doubts
SIX AGUSTA (SIAI Marchetti) S.211 jet trainers due for delivery to the Philippine Air Force in December now seem unlikely to be acquired following the announcement on October 12 by the chairman of the Philippine Senate defense ond security committee that he would block payment for these aircraft due to a spate of recent crashes involving the type.
A total of 18 were deliverea to the PAF last year and three of these have been lost since March, killing four pilots and injuring two others. One incident on March 11 in which both crew died resulted in the fleet being grounded for a month although the subsequent investigation suggested that the pilot was to blame for loss of the aircraft, which stalled on finals after engine failure. The other loss in which both crew died occurred on April 20 during a flypast rehearsal when one aircraft dived into the ground from 10,000ft although there were rumours that the pilot may have been committing suicide. Details of the third loss are unknown.
Egyptian 707s and ELI NT Beechs
TWO ELINT-CONFIGURED Beechcraft 1900C-1 s, carrying US civil ferry registrations N31527 and N31544, were delivered to the Egyptian Air Force during September, both aircraft routing through Goose Bay on the 4th during their delivery flights.
Although a number of these aircraft have already been delivered, the latest examples featured considerably more ventral and dorsal aerials on the fuselage, additional aerials above and below the wing, an underfuselage radome just forward of the wing and a total lack of cabin windows.
In addition it was recently reported that three former Egypt Air Boeing 707-366Cs, SU-AOU, SU-AVX and SU-AVY, had entered service with the Egyptian Air Force by last July.
FAF Mirage 2000-5 order
IN ORDER TO increase operational flexibility and attempt to promote flagging Dassault export sales, the French Air Force is to upgrade 37 Mirage 2000Cs to the enhanced Mirage 2000-5 standard.
Developed as a private venture by the company for the export market, the 2000-5 incorporates a number of upgraded features including Thomson-CSF RDY multitarget look-up/look-down Doppler radar and new central processing unit, Thomson-CSF VEH 3020 HUD, Rafale-type multifunction APSI (advanced pilot system interface) cockpit displays and an ICMS Mk 2 countermeasures system with central interface and management unit for Sabre/Serval/Spirale components.
The 2000-5 also has the capability to corry additional weaponry including Matra Mica long-range, multi-target AAMs or Matra Super 530D and BAe Skyflash as alternatives, laser guided bombs and ASMs or the new Apoche stand-off munitions dispenser for the air-to-ground role. An initial order for upgrading the first 15 AdlA aircraft will be signed in 1994 but there are no plans to purchase any new build examples.
Aeronavale Panther purchase
PLANNED PURCHASE OF A FURTHER 15 Eurocopter AS 565MA Panther naval derivatives of the AS 365N2 Dauphin 2 for the French Navy was confirmed recently. First deliveries will begin during 1993 to replace the Alouette Ills of 35 Flotlille at Lanveoc/Poulmic and will be completed within five years.
The Aeronavale, which already operates four similar helicopters on plane guard duties with the carriers Clemenceau and Foch, has an eventuol requirement for up to 40 of the type. The AS 565MA is an unarmed variant of the helicopter for naval search and rescue and sea surveillance with rescue hoist ond sea search radar.
USN issue MLR study contracts
EIGHT CONTRACTS WERE owarded by the US Navy on October 23 for studies into a medium-lift replacement (MLR) alternative to the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor for the USMC. Contracts were awarded only a day after a $550 million contract had been awarded to Bell-Boeing for continued work on the V-22, for the construction of four production, representative aircraft and modification of two existing examples, although the team has also been asked to look at reducing costs and modifying the tilt-rotor to meet the revised MLR requirements.
Under the MLR contracts, six companies will undertake six-month Iona concept exploration studies to examine the viability of conventional helicopter designs as an alternative to meet revised MLR requirements. One contract was awarded to Boeing to look at modified versions of the CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-47 Chinook while a further contract was also awarded to the company to investigate a completely new design. Sikorsky was awarded two similar contracts to look at upgrades of the CH-53 Sea Stallion and SH-60 Seahawk and also explore new designs.
EH Industries were asked to come up with an EH 101 derivative under another SI million contract while another three contracts, each of almost $3 million, were awarded to Bell Helicopter Textron, McDonnell Douglas Helicopters and Piasecki for investigation of further alternative new designs for MLR.
The results of these studies will be available in April 1993 and will be used for comparison in a cost and effectiveness analysis between a modified and cheaper V-22 and each of the new MLR proposals. It is expected that this analysis will take up to 12 months to complete, meaning that no decision is likely before 1994, although as Bill Clinton is a strong supporter of the V-22 there may be an earlier decision in favour of the latter now that he has been elected as the new US president.
More Wasps for Malaysia
IT IS REPORTED that five ex-South African Air Force Wasp HAS.Is exported to Singapore during August are likely to be destined for the Malaysian Navy although only two were reportedly flyable. In addition, six ex-Royal Navy Wasp HAS.Is which have been in storage at RNAY Wroughton for some time were roaded out during August for delivery to Malaysia although it is believed that these will only be used for spares.
Malaysia already has six ex RN Wasps in service with 499 Squadron at Lumut and has had plans to form an additional squadron for some time but has been restricted by lack of funding.
RAF ground training changes
ANNOUNCED ON NOVEMBER 6 were proposals for the rationalisation of RAF ground training which are aimed at eliminating spare capacity and maximising efficiency. Under the new plan it is intended that aircraft engineering training will be concentrated at Cosfora; recruit and administration training at Halton; and, subject to further review, ground communications training at Locking.
This will mean closure of RAF Swinderby, home of the Chipmunk-eauipped Flying Selection Squadron, by July 1993 and closure of the secretarial and supply training centre at Hereford by July 1994 while Newton will be reduced to an enclave by March 1995.
First Slovak AF aircraft
AS THE CZECH ond Slovak Federal Republic’s begin their separation into independent states, which will take effect from January 1, the two halves of Czechoslovakia are already forming their own separate air forces.
The first Slovok Air Force combat aircraft was received in early November when a Sukhoi Su-22M-4 Filter was formally transferred from the Czech and Slovak Air Force at Namest/Oslavou, home of the present CSAF’s 6th Fighter-Bomber Regiment, to the new SAF.
IN MID-OCTOBER, the CIS, US ond Royal Navies carried out joint exercises in the Gulf Region which included the Lynx HAS.3 from the Type 22 frigate HMS Chatham and the Ka-27 Helix from the Udaloy class anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Vinogradov operating from each other’s flight decks.
Both ships also went through radio communication drills ond sent representatives to examine each other’s capabilities and equipment. In addition, the Ka-27 also carried out similar landings on the US Navy aircraft carrier Ranger and the destroyer Kinkaid.
A DEAL IS BEING negotiated for delivery of further new equipment to the Turkish Air Force. The US has offered 50 ex-USAF A-10A Thunderbolt II ground-attack aircraft and a similar number of AH-1 Cobra gunship helicopters. Current plans are for delivery of 28 AH-Is next year with the remainder following within five years and delivery of the A-1 OAs within three years.
Turkey has requested upgrading of the aircraft, including night vision systems, before delivery. Eight AH-Is are already in Turkish service and up to 100 are expected to be acquired eventually, but the A-10A deliveries will make Turkey the first operator outside the USA.
In addition, under a barter deal signed in Ankara on November 5, Turkey is to receive unspecified numbers of armed Mil Mi-8 Hip-E and Mi-17 Hip-H transport helicopters in exchange for foodstuffs and construction services. The deal, which also involves armoured vehicles, night vision systems and rifles, had been under negotiation for some time but was delayed because CIS officials had previously been insisting that at least a part of the payment would be in hard cash.
Egrett order confirmed
DESPITE CONCERN OVER the German Air Force order for ten E-Systems/Grob D-500 Egrelt II high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, Defence Minister Volker Riihe has confirmed that the order will go ahead as previously planned although budget restraints are likely to stretch out payments on the project.
Final German parliamentary approval was expected by the end of this year and it is anticipated that production will now commence in either 1996 or 1997 with the last aircraft being completed in 2001. A new unit, currently referred to simply as ‘S’ Squadron, will be formed at Laage in eastern Germany to operate the aircraft and there will be one fixed ground datalink station at Luchow/Danneberg with another mobile one for out-of-area deployment which can be carried on either a CH-53 helicopter or C-160 transport.
The GAF will purchase nine new aircraft to fulfil its EASysLuft (Erfassungs- und Auswertesystem Luft or airborne data gathering and evaluation system) requirement while the Egrett II demonstrator D-FDEM will become the tenth aircraft although in addition a contract was awarded in August 1991 for development of a two-seat trainer which it is thought will also eventually join the Luftwaffe, bringing total procurement to 11 airframes.
Germany to base Tornados in USA
TO SUPPLEMENT ITS low-level troining capabilities, the German Air Force is to base up to 12 Tornados in the USA by 1994. After evaluating a number of sites, Holloman AFB in Florida has been chosen as the location for the new Tornado IDS advanced training squadron which will be equipped with aircraft and personnel drawn from the five existing IDS Wings in the Luftwaffe.
JBG 38 at Jever will continue its role of ‘Europeanising’ Tornado aircrews, the new unit supplementing rather than replacing it and concentrating on low-level, air-to-ground and combined air operations training. The decision to set-up a base in the USA was brought about due to the reduced availability of low-level flying elsewhere, following the restrictions imposed within Germany, which left only the limited facilities available from Decimomannu, Sardinia and Goose Bay, Canada.
First flight of upgraded A-6e
FIRST OF TWO planned Grumman A-6E Intruder SWIP (Systems Weapon Improvement Program) Block 1A development aircraft, 152935, made its first flight from the Grumman facility at Calverton, New York on September 30, remaining airborne for 2′ 1/2 hours and reaching a maximum altitude of 40,000ft and maximum speed of Mach 0.83.
Partially applied to the last 33 production aircraft, the Block 1 SWIP is also currently being applied to earlier oircraft and includes provision for AGM-65 Maverick, AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-88 HARM and various airframe improvements.
Full Block 1A SWIP includes pilot HUD, 5in by 5in monochromatic multi-function display for the bombardier/navigator station, Tacan upgrade from AN/ARN-84 to AN/ARN-188, GPS, AN/ASN-139
INS, faster GEC Avionics standard central air data computer with greater memory on MIL-STD-1553B digital databus and incorporation of IDAP (Integrated Defence Avionics Programme) which combines RWR with chaff dispensers. In addition, wing fillet and leading edge slat modifications, already flight tested on an A-6 which flew with the mods in August 1991, are incorporated to reduce approach speed and as a result allow landinq weiqht to be increased by 2,400lb (1,090kg).
A second trials aircraft for the Block 1A improvements is scheduled to fly in May of this year and a total of 236 A-6Es, reduced from the previously planned 290, will begin modification after successful completion of the flight trials. All conversions are due to be completed by the turn of the century.
Indian MIG-21 upgrades
DELAYS WITH THE indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which is not now expected to enter service until around 2003-2005, have prompted the Indian Air Force to look at a possible upgrade programme for some of its MiG-2Ibis Fishbeds, about 450 of which remain in service, and which the LCA will eventually replace.
At present the 1AF are also experiencing spares supply problems with their MiG-21 s although the Russian government has proposed setting up a joint venture with Indio for co-production of spares for the aircraft, the aim being to supply these not just locally but on a worldwide basis to operators of the 6,800 MiG-21 s currently still in service.
Planned upgrade of the IAF MiG-21 s, which would probably involve only about 100 of the present fleet, is being held up by lock of funding. If money can be found, the upgrades would be carried out by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and would extend the aircraft’s service life by on extra 10-15 years. The programme would be likely to include a strengthened airframe, new uprated engine (possibly the GE F404), new head-up display and American AN/APG-66 radar, greater firepower, new flaps ond a Western avionics system.
Romanian Mig-21 upgrade
EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS from a number of different companies has led to Israel Aircraft Industries securing a contract worth $300 million for the upgrading of 100 MiG-21 Fishbeds currently in service with the Romanian Air Force. Details of the contract have yet to be finalised but work is scheduled to commence within the next few months on the upgrade which will include new radar, mutlifunction displays, mission computer, smart bomb and advanced missile capability and weapon delivery and navigation systems.
IAI as prime contractor will undertake integration and testing although the work will be done under the supervision of IAI engineers and technicians at Aerostar (formerly lAv Bacau), the Romanian company which has previously undertaken repair yvork on Romania’s front-line military aircraft, including the MiG-2 Is. A prototype upgrade is expected to be complete within two years and it will then be a further three years before the remaining upgrades have been completed.
Green light for Japanese 767 AWACS
JAPANESE INTEREST IN the planned Airborne Warning & Control System version of the Boeing 767 twin-turbofan airliner [AFM January and March News) has now intensified and the Japan Defence Agency (JDA) has revealed that it intends to purchase four examples in Fiscal Year 1993, rather than wait at least a further year, as previously planned.
A price has still to be agreed with Boeing for the purchase, the $500 million quoted by the company being considered too high, but the JDA seem determined to go ahead with the purchase and have indicated their willingness to sacrifice other military equipment in the FY93 defence budget in order to provide the necessary finance. The JASDF aircraft will be used to monitor deployments of Chinese naval forces in the East China Sea and developments in the CIS.
RAAF/RNZAF combine navigator training
COMMENCING IN JUNE 1993, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force will begin combined training of air force navigators following the signing of an agreement in Melbourne on October 22. New Zealand has been examining ways of providing alternative navigator training since disbandment of the Navigation, Air electronics and Telecommunications Training Squadron (NATTS) with its three F27s on July 17, 1992 [AFM October, page 5) and as the RAAF have also been keen to cut costs, the joint programme was a logical step.
when the new programme commences, students from both forces will undertake combined training with 32 Squadron, the RAAF School of Air Navigation, with eight HS.748s at East Sale, Victoria. The two countries will contribute staff and money in proportion to the number of students each country has under training. New Zealand will also train its air electronics operators at East Sale and will have nine permanently based staff there, comprising three navigation and three air electronics instructors, two pilots and one administrative clerk. These personnel will arrive at East Sale in March for aircraft conversion and instructors courses.
A MID-LIFE UPDATE (MLU) programme for the General Dynamics F-16, which has been under development for several years, has now been finalised and Congress has been notified of the intention to sell Si.8 billion worth of upgrades to European F-16A/B operators. Development of the MLU was authorised on May 3, 1991, when a contract was signed with the final partner in the collaborative programme ond a US government contract was issued to GD on June 15,1991.
It is also planned that the USAF’s 223 Block 50 F-16C/Ds will also be fitted with a new modular mission computer under the programme, although previous plans to carry out similar upgrades to 130 earlier USAF F-16A/Bs have now been dropped.
A series of improvements ore being developed, with individual countries being given the choice of which they require on their aircraft. These include a cockpit similar to Block 50 F-l 5C/Ds with wide-angle HUD and night vision goggle compatibility, microwave landing system, digital terrain guidance system, Novstar Global Positioning System, new modular mission computer replacing the existing three, new AN/APG-66(V2A) or AN/APG-68(V5) fire control radar and an improved integrated data modem for intelligence transmission.
Other options include a helmet-mounted display and Hazeltine AN/APX-111 IFF interrogator/transponder, both of which will be taken up by Holland and Norway. In addition to the USAF aircraft, orders for the upgrades are expected from Belgium ($500 for 110 aircraft), Denmark ($300 million for 63 aircraft), Netherlands ($775 million for 170 aircraft) and Norway ($275 million for 56 aircraft).
6 FTS Re-equips
REVISION OF THE training syllabus at Finningley has led to the acquisition of several new types by 6 FTS in recent months. Delivery of the first Tucanos has already been reported (AFM July, page and the expected Hawks for the Low Level Air Defence Training Squadron have also now begun to appear, the first being former 4 FTS examples XXI73 and XX295 which were delivered on September 10 and followed by XX240 and XX250, also ex-4 FTS, before the month end.
By mid-October 6 FTS had 11 Tucanos on strength and had begun retirement of its Jet Provost T.5 fleet and had also added a further new type to its inventory, the Bulldog T.1, four of which are now operational with the unit, comorising XX529/’W’, XX621/T and XX624/Y, all acquired from the locally-based Yorkshire UAS, plus XX713/’Z’ previously with the CFS.
Flogger at Farnborough
A NUMBER OF SOVIET TYPES have appeared at the DRA Farnborough in recent months. Among these is the former German AF/WTD.61 Su-22M-4 Fitter 98+10 which flew into Boscombe Down on August 15, 1991 (AFM October 1991, page 10) and was transferred to Farnborough by road during October while another former GAF/WTD.61 aircraft from Manching, MiG-23BN Flogger 20+48 (c/n 14218, ex 702/EGAF) joined it recently.
An unidentified Mi-24 Hind is also present (probably the former Afghan example known to have been at Boscombe Down) while noted in a fenced compound on the airfield during the SBAC show were a MiG-21 Fishbed fuselage and a MiG-19 Farmer nose section, the latter carrying the serial 2684 in Arabic. In addition, two further MiG-19 noses were noted on the fire dump. All wear sand camouflage schemes and are thought to be from former Egyptian Air Force aircraft.