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"Bell Helicopter" unveils next-generation tiltrotor

"Bell Helicopter" unveils next-generation tiltrotor | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Bell Helicopter has introduced the V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft as its offering for the Joint Multi Role (JMR) technology demonstrator phase of the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) helicopter programme.

Launched during the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual exhibition in Fort Worth on 10 April, the platform is a new concept aircraft that derives from the company’s experience in developing the V-22 tiltrotor operational with the USAF and USMC. 

‘We believe the future of Future Vertical Lift is in the near, not distant, future,’ John Garrison, CEO and president of Bell, said at the launch. ‘The customer has been very clear in looking for speed, range, payload, reliability and survivability.’

The ultimate aim of the programme is to replace the Black Hawk utility and Apache attack aircraft, and the TD stage will see the development of  the utility variant initially with the attack platform developed alongside it.

Despite the army specification requiring speeds of 230kts from the design, the V-280 is able to travel at speeds of 280kts. It also has a triple redundant fly-by-wire control system, can carry 11 passengers and two pilot/two crew chiefs, has an advanced rotor and drive system, non-rotating fixed engines, and a conventional retractable landing gear.

It also has 'army-centric' large side doors with outward facing seats, a differentiator to the V-22, which enables army personnel to deploy quickly. 

The army is looking for scalability and commonality, which Bell believes it has demonstrated in designs starting from UAV-sized up to the V-22.

‘This is combat-proven technology [demonstrated in] the V-22,’ Garrison continued. ‘We are absolutely confident about the scalability of this.’

However, he pointed out that it is a ‘clean sheet design’ and is being designed specifically for the mission needs of the army: ‘It is designed to be the medium lift helicopter for this mission set.’

The company is currently developing a full-scale model of the aircraft, which it will roll out to the army by June/July this year, ending at the AUSA exhibition in October. The first flight of the utility variant is expected to be carried out ‘early 2017’. 

Garrison did not go into details about partners on the programme, although he said that an announcement is pending regarding this. ‘We’re being sought after pretty aggressively to partner at this time,’ he said.

Boeing, Bell’s partner on the V-22 aircraft, announced in March that it had teamed with Sikorsky for the TD phase of the programme. 

Mitch Snyder, executive VP for military programmes at Bell, told Shephard that although the Sikorsky/Boeing team had flown its concept already, it is only a first generation design and therefore not as advanced as the Valor. 

‘The Bell-Boeing team is still very strong but the tiltrotor design is still Bell’s,’ Snyder reiterated.

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Bell V-280 Valor -- The Future of Vertical Lift Takes Flight

The Bell V-280 Valor, Bell Helicopter's third-generation-tiltrotor, offers the U.S. Army the highest levels of maturity and technical readiness. With its U.S. Army-centric design, the Bell V-280 has the capacity to perform a multitude of missions with unparalleled speed and agility. The Bell V-280's clean sheet design reduces complexity compared to previous generation tiltrotors, with fewer parts, as well as non-rotating, fixed engines. The Valor delivers the best value in procurement, operations and support, and force structure, providing increased maintainability, component reliability and systems designed to reduce operational and support costs.

Visit BellV280.com for more details

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Bell unveils V-280 Valor - Joint Multi-Role (JMR)/Future Vertical Lift (FVL)

Bell Helicopter is unveiling a new third generation tilt-rotor aircraft concept called the V-280 Valor, which it is pitching for the US Army's Joint Multi-Role (JMR)/Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme.

The army hopes to field a new medium-lift rotorcraft to replace its fleet of Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawks in the 2030s developed under its FVL effort. But the service does not simply want a new helicopter; it hopes to induct "leap-ahead" technologies that would enable its future rotorcraft to cruise at speeds approaching 230kts (426km/h). To this end, the army has launched a JMR technology demonstration effort and will select one or more companies to build a flying prototype that would be expected to take to the air in 2017.

While Bell's V-22 Osprey partner Boeing is teaming with rival Sikorsky to pitch a high-speed compound helicopter design based on that company's X-2 prototype, Bell has opted to pursue what it calls a third generation tilt-rotor.

Called the V-280, the Bell concept features a V-tail, a large cell carbon core wing and a composite fuselage. Unlike the older V-22 design, the engines do not move, only the rotor-system tilts, Bell says. Coupled with a fly-by-wire system, the aircraft should have excellent high and low-speed handling qualities, the company says.

The V-280 will be able to cruise efficiently at 280kts (519km/h) carrying 11 passengers comfortably with a mission radius of over 250nm (463km).

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Air Combat Command stands down units due to budget cuts

The United States Air Force will begin to stand down active duty combat units starting today to ensure the remaining units supporting worldwide operations can maintain sufficient readiness through the remainder of the fiscal year.

The stand down is the result of cuts to the command's operations and maintenance account, which must be implemented in part by flying approximately 45,000 fewer training hours between now and October 1 than previously scheduled. 

ACC, as the Air Force's lead for Combat Air Forces, manages the flying-hour programs for four major commands. This decision to stand down or curtail operations affects about one-third of the active-duty CAF aircraft--including those assigned to fighter, bomber, aggressor and airborne warning and control squadrons--stationed in the United States, Europe and the Pacific.

"We must implement a tiered readiness concept where only the units preparing to deploy in support of major operations like Afghanistan are fully mission capable," said Gen. Mike Hostage, ACC commander. "Units will stand down on a rotating basis so our limited resources can be focused on fulfilling critical missions."

"Historically, the Air Force has not operated under a tiered readiness construct because of the need to respond to any crisis within a matter of hours or days," Hostage said. "The current situation means we're accepting the risk that combat airpower may not be ready to respond immediately to new contingencies as they occur."

Some units currently deployed--including A-10s, B-1s, F-16s and F-22s--will stand down after they return from their deployments. The remaining units will stand down operations on April 9. Active-duty aircrews assigned to Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard A-10 or F-16 squadrons under an arrangement known as "active associations" will also stop flying.

The stand down will remain in effect for the remainder of fiscal year 2013 barring any changes to current levels of funding. "We're entering uncharted territory in terms of how we've had to take this year's cuts and make adjustments to mitigate the most serious impacts," Hostage said. "Remaining as mission-ready as possible for combatant commanders is our priority, and we're prioritizing spending to ensure this imperative is met."

Units that are stood down will shift their emphasis to ground training. They will use flight simulators to the extent possible within existing contracts, and conduct academic training to maintain basic skills and knowledge of their aircraft. As funding allows, aircrews will also complete formal ground training courses, conduct non-flying exercises and improve local flying-related programs and guidance. 

Maintainers will complete upgrade training and clear up backlogs of scheduled inspections and maintenance as possible given budget impacts in other areas, such as stock of spare parts.

Although each weapon system is unique, on average aircrews lose currency to fly combat missions within 90 to 120 days of not flying. It generally takes 60 to 90 days to conduct the training needed to return aircrews to mission-ready status, and the time and cost associated with that retraining increases the longer that crews stay on the ground.
"This will have a significant and multi-year impact on our operational readiness," Hostage said. "But right now, there is no other acceptable way to implement these cuts."

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Reduced Flying Hours Forces USAF To Ground 17 Combat Air Squadrons

Reduced Flying Hours Forces USAF To Ground 17 Combat Air Squadrons | D-FENS | Scoop.it

The U.S. Air Force will begin grounding combat air squadrons in response to forced spending cuts that have eliminated more than 44,000 flying hours through September, according to internal documents obtained by Air Force Times.

The Air Force’s budget for flying hours was reduced by $591 million for the remainder of fiscal 2013, making it impossible to keep all squadrons ready for combat, according to an April 5 memo signed by Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, director of operations for Air Combat Command. The across-the board spending cuts, called sequestration, took effect March 1 when Congress failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan.

Seventeen combat-coded squadrons will stand down effective Tuesday or upon their return from deployments, according to the documents. The Air Force will distribute 241,496 flying hours that are funded to squadrons that will be kept combat ready or at a reduced readiness level called “basic mission capable” for part or all of the remaining months in fiscal 2013, the documents said.

“Units will stand down on a rotating basis so our limited resources can be focused on fulfilling critical missions,” ACC Commander Gen. Mike Hostage said in a statement.

The grounding includes F-22s from the 1st Fighter Wing’s 94th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. The squadron is returning from a deployment to the Pacific where airmen participated in a high-profile exercise in South Korea. Other squadrons to stand down when they return to the U.S. include F-16s from the 4th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, which is returning from a deployment in the Pacific; B-1B Lancers from the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.; and A-10s from the 354th Fighter Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

The other grounded units include B-52s from the 2nd and 5th Bomb Wings, F-15Es from the 336th, 492nd, 494th and 391s Fighter Squadrons; F-16s from the 77th Fighter Squadron, 555th Fighter Squadron, 18th Aggressor Squadron and the Thunderbirds; and A-10s from the 81st Fighter Squadron, which will close as a result of the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

Grounded associate units — Active units sharing aircraft with Air National Guard and Reserve units — include the 158th, 169th, 187th, 442nd and 917th squadrons.

Any flying hours not used by the grounded squadrons will be reallocated to meet Air Combat Command requirements. Additionally, all combat aircraft will stand down the last seven operation and maintenance days in September, the memo said.

“Historically, the Air Force has not operated under a tiered readiness construct because of the need to respond to any crisis within a matter of hours or days,” Hostage said in the statement. “The current situation means we’re accepting the risk that combat airpower may not be ready to respond immediately to new contingencies as they occur.”

Air Force officials had warned that mandatory budget cuts would lead to a reduction of flying hours by 18 percent, with readiness dropping to “sub-optimal levels,” according to information provided to Congress. The drop in flying hours would mean that it could take up to six months to repair the damage to readiness, the Air Force warned lawmakers in a February presentation.

Average aircrews lose currency to fly combat missions within 90 to 120 days of being grounded, and it takes from 60 to 90 days to conduct training to return aircrews o mission-ready status, according to Air Combat Command

“We’re entering uncharted territory in terms of how we’ve had to take this year’s cuts and make adjustments to mitigate the most serious impacts,” Hostage said. “Remaining as mission-ready as possible for combatant commanders is our priority, and we’re prioritizing spending to ensure this imperative is met.”

 

Air Combat Command officials announced a stand down and reallocation of flying hours for the rest of the fiscal year due to mandatory budget cuts. The limitation of flying hours means squadrons will stand down or maintain readiness at the reduced “basic mission capable” level, while others will remain at full “combat mission ready.”

The affected aircraft and units, by airframe:

F-22

94th Fighter Squadron — Grounded April 9

27th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through September

3rd Fighter Wing — Two squadrons combat mission ready through September

15th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

49th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

F-15 C/D

67th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through September

44th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through July, then Combat mission ready through September

48th Fighter Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

F-15E

336th Fighter Squadron — Grounded April 9

335th Fighter Squadron — Combat mission ready through September

48th Fighter Wing — Two squadrons stand down April 9

391st Fighter Squadron — Stands down April 9

F-16 C/D

8th Fighter Wing — Two squadrons combat mission ready through September

77th Fighter Squadron — Stands down April 9

55th Fighter Squadron — Combat mission ready through September

79th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through July, then combat mission ready through September

555th Fighter Squadron — Stands down April 9

510th Fighter Squadron — Combat mission ready through September

13th Fighter Squadron — Combat mission ready through September

14th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through September

51st Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

57th Wing — One squadron (Thunderbirds) stands down April 9

158th Fighter Wing — One squadron stands down April 9

169th Fighter Wing — One squadron stands down April 9

187th Fighter Wing — One squadron stands down April 9

354th Fighter Wing — One squadron stands down April 9

4th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable until redeployment

421st Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through September

A-10C

75th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through July, then combat mission ready through September

51st Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

52nd Fighter Wing — Closing

442nd Fighter Wing — One squadron stands down April 9

917th Wing — One squadron stands down April 9

HH-60G

18th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

48th Fighter Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

B-1B

7th Bomb Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

2nd Bomb Wing — Two squadrons stand down April 9

B-2

509th Bomb Wing — Two squadrons combat mission ready through September

B-52

2nd Bomb Wing — One squadron stand down April 9

5th Bomb Wing — Two combat squadrons combat mission ready through September

E-3B/C/G

2nd Bomb Wing — Basic mission capable through September

18th Wing — One squadron basic mission capable through September

552nd Air Control Wing — One squadron basic mission capable through September

SE-4B

55th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

EC-130H

55 Electronic Combat Group — One squadron combat mission ready through September

OC-135B

55th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

RC-135S

55th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

RC-135U

55th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

RC-135V/W

55th Wing — One squadron basic mission capable through September

TC-135W

55th Wing (training) — One squadron basic mission capable through September

WC-135C/W

55th Wing. — One squadron combat mission ready through September

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Abschied vom Waffensystem F-4F Phantom - "Pharewell"- JG 71 Richthofen - Wittmund - VIDEO

Abschied vom Waffensystem F-4F Phantom  - "Pharewell"- JG 71 Richthofen - Wittmund - VIDEO | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Bei  der Bundesluftwaffe rückt 40 Jahre nach Indienststellung der Abschied vom Waffensystem F-4F Phantom näher. Die letzten 14 Kampfjets dieses Typs sind im „Richthofen“-Geschwader in Wittmund im Einsatz.  

 

 

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Neuer Lack für alte Kampfjets | F-4 Phantom - "Pharewell"- JG 71 Richthofen - Wittmund

Neuer Lack für alte Kampfjets | F-4 Phantom - "Pharewell"- JG 71 Richthofen - Wittmund | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Mit einem dreitägigen Programm verabschiedet das Jagdgeschwader 71 „Richthofen“ in Wittmund vom 28. bis 30. Juni die F-4F Phantom: Der Kampfjet war mehr als 40 Jahre lang wesentlicher Bestandteil der Luftverteidigung in Europa. Das Richthofen-Geschwader ist das letzte Geschwader, das noch Phantoms fliegt.

2000 Anmeldungen

Am 30. Juni machen die letzten 14 Kampfjets dieses Typs endgültig den Abflug und damit Platz für den Eurofighter. 20 Maschinen dieses Typs sollen bis 2018 in Wittmund stationiert werden.

Der Abschied von der Phantom wird in Wittmund unter dem Motto „Phantom pharewell“ gefeiert: Am Freitag, 28. Juni, findet ein so genannter Spotterday auf dem Flugplatz statt. Mehr als 2000 Anmeldungen von Fotografen sind dazu schon beim Geschwader eingegangen – den weitesten Weg nimmt ein Phantom-Fan aus Chicago auf sich, so Oberst Gerd Roubal, Kommodore des Jagdgeschwaders 71.

Am Sonnabend, 29. Juni, findet ab 10 Uhr ein Tag der offenen Tür statt: Das Jagdgeschwader 71 „R“ bietet neben der Gelegenheit zur Besichtigung der Phantoms und vieler Gastflugzeuge befreundeter Verbände und Nationen auch Rundflüge durch die Flugsportgruppe JG 71 „R“ sowie Flugvorführungen an. Zu sehen sind unter anderem Phantoms in Sonderlackierung: Zur Außerdienststellung des Kampfjets wurden sie auf dem Fliegerhorst Upjever in den Grautönen der vergangenen 40 Jahre lackiert. Eine dieser Phantom wird später auf dem Fliegerhorst Wittmund ausgestellt.

Zu diesem Tag werden bis zu 130 000 Besucher erwartet. Er endet mit einem Hallenfest ab 19 Uhr.

Den Abschluss der Feierlichkeiten bildet am Sonntagabend, 30. Juni, eine Serenade mit dem Luftwaffenmusikkorps 3 aus Münster ab 21 Uhr auf dem Marktplatz in Wittmund. Bereits ab April sollen auf dem Fliegerhorst die ersten Eurofighter eingesetzt werden.

Sechs Flugzeuge

Roubal zufolge wird im Mai der Eurofighter-Betrieb mit bis zu sechs Flugzeugen aufgenommen und ab Juni soll neben den F 4 Phantoms bereits eine „Schatten-Alarmrotte“ der neuen Jets mitlaufen.

Mit Außerdienststellung der Phantom wird das Geschwader aufgelöst und zur taktischen Luftwaffengruppe. Mit zunehmender Zahl von Eurofightern in den nächsten Jahren soll wieder ein vollständiges Geschwader entstehen.

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Kaman Reorganizes Helicopter Division Around Strengths - K-MAX® UAS - remote controlled cargo delivery

Kaman Reorganizes Helicopter Division Around Strengths -  K-MAX® UAS - remote controlled cargo delivery | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Regarding Kaman’s K-Max cargo UAS—a partnership with Lockheed Martin—Terrance Fogarty, general manager of the UAS Group, said that he expects the deployment be extended again within a week of the end of HAI. “That will take us out to September at a minimum, and there is discussion beyond that but no funding,” he said. “We are available over 90 percent of the time... and they want to keep them in theater. They have lifted over 2.5 million pounds of cargo—how many trucks has that taken off the road?”

He said that unmanned K-Max had even had some armed escorts when flying to certain destinations in Afghanistan when the delivery was really important. The integration within USMC is now so far that it is included in a variety of operations, not just those originally envisaged. “As an example of extending the envelope we have installed some auxiliary fuel tanks in the cargo area—this is essentially an off-the-shelf concept that we designed 10 years ago but gives them an extra 60 gallons of fuel which means around an extra 45 minutes flight time.” While USMC operational data is classified, Fogarty said that Kaman had tested the K-Max UAS up to 15,000 feet in the United States with a 3,500-lb. load out of Yuma, Ariz. “We’ve had a USMC commander saying that this was ‘the rock star’ of UAS for the Marines. We have briefed many officers in the Army look at this and of course the Navy is interested.” Data from the Logistics Innovation Agency and the Army are doing scenarios and cost comparisons on using the K-Max against more traditional forms of supply. The unmanned K-Max is not available for foreign military sales (FMS) currently, although there has been interest from Poland, the British Royal Navy and from the French Navy.

“There is a lot going on and a lot of interest because of our success in Afghanistan. It has allowed us to bring the K-Max back into other people’s thoughts,” he admitted. At HAI, interest has been re-sparked in K-Max and Fogerty says that they have been asked for a helicopter and when could they get one. They are again looking at the K-Max performance during the U.S. fire season and thoughts are moving towards the value of an unmanned aircraft operating here—particularly at night and by using thermal imaging.

Lockheed Martin/Kaman unmaned cargo K-Max.    Gary Tenison, vice president of business development and marketing for Kaman Aerospace, told Rotor & Wing that the company’s recent restructuring is part of a strategy to focus on operators.

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Bell Helicopter prepares to build 25 new UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopters for U.S. Marine Corps

Bell Helicopter prepares to build 25 new UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopters for U.S. Marine Corps | D-FENS | Scoop.it

 Combat helicopter designers at Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas, are making preparations to build 25 new military helicopters for the U.S. Marine Corps under terms of a $13.1 million contract announced Monday.

The contract calls for Bell Helicopter to provide long lead parts and components to build 15 Lot 11 UH-1Y combat utility helicopters and 10 Lot 11 AH-1Z attack helicopters. Long-lead parts take a relatively long time to acquire, and represent an essential first step in a major manufacturing program.

Awarding the contract were officials of Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.

The UH-1Y is an armed twin-engine utility helicopter with modern avionics, powerful engines, and four-bladed rotor system designed to replace the ageing Marine Corps fleet of two-blade-roter UH-1N light utility helicopters.

The helicopter's new engines and four-bladed rotor provide increased power sufficient to lift new avionics, radios, and door guns necessary for today's Marine Corps operations. The UH-1Y has a glass cockpit, forward-looking infrared sensors, new engines, and four-blade rotor.

The UH-1Y can lift a useful load of 6,660 pounds, can fly at speeds of nearly 200 knots, to altitudes as high as 20,000 feet, and can fly for more than three hours between refuelings. It can carry machine guns and fire 70-millimeter Hydra rockets.

 

The AH-1Z, meanwhile, is a twin-engine attack helicopter based on the AH-1W SuperCobra that features a four-blade rotor system, uprated transmission, and a new target sighting system. It has upgraded avionics, weapons, and electro-optical sensors designed to find targets at long ranges and attack them with precision weapons.

At the heart of the AH-1Z weapons systems is the Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumman AN/APG-78 Longbow fire-control radar designed originally for the U.S. Army's AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. The helicopter can carry a payload of 5,764 pounds, can fly as fast as 222 knots, has a range of 370 nautical miles, and can fly as high as 20,000 feet.

The AH-1Z has a crew of two, and carries a 20-millimeter Gatling gun, and can fire 70-millimeter Hydra rockets, AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, and AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles.

Together the UH-1Y and AH-1Z are part of the Marine Corps H-1 program to build new attack and utility helicopters with design commonality to keep costs down. The UH-1Y and AH-1Z share a common tail boom, engines, rotor system, drive train, avionics architecture, software, controls, and displays. More than 84 percent of the two helicopters' components are identical.

On the current contract, Bell Helicopter will do the work in Fort Worth and Amarillo, Texas, and should be finished in September 2014.

 

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F-15 Aggressor Pilot - Red Flag 2013 - Nellis AFB

F-15 Aggressor Pilot - Red Flag 2013 - Nellis AFB | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Air Force Major Scott Snider clambered into the cockpit of his F-15 jet recently for a mission he could hardly have imagined when he graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2002.

At supersonic speed, the 32-year-old Plymouth native climbed high over the Nevada desert on a mission for the fictitious enemy nation of Coyote. Often on such occasions, Snider’s comrades fire up the Russian national anthem beforehand as a rallying cry against the United States.

But Snider is no enemy of America. Quite the opposite.

His job is to train fellow pilots to prevail in mortal combat against Russian and Chinese-designed aircraft and missiles. To accomplish that, he gamely plays the enemy target, replicating what a future foe might do in real combat.

It is all part of a little-publicized overhaul of how the US Air Force prepares for war.

After a decade of dropping bombs on terrorists hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan and providing air cover for troops fighting in Iraq, hundreds of pilots are learning from specially trained “aggressors” like Snider how to confront a sophisticated enemy air force or network of anti-aircraft missiles. For many, the lesson is a first.

Plenty of units have experience in ground attack, but “skills atrophy when it comes to things like air-to-air” combat, explained Snider.

 

Air Force officials stress they are not preparing to confront Russia or China, but are readying for the types of weapons those countries have developed and sold to other countries. Russia has supplied high performance warplanes and missiles to potential US adversaries such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria.

Russia is also developing a new stealth fighter, while China recently tested a prototype for an indigenously manufactured stealth fighter.

The training regimen here — known as Red Flag — grew out of the Vietnam War when, studies show, heavy US air losses took place primarily within a pilot’s first 10 combat missions.

Today, “we can give them those first 10 combat missions prior to actually stepping into combat,” said Colonel Tod Fingal, commander of the 414th Combat Training Squadron that organizes the war games here.

But Fingal, an F-16 pilot, said that constant deployments since Sept. 11, 2001, have meant fewer opportunities to undertake large-scale training to prepare for major conflict. As a result, the fighter force has lost some of it proficiency.

“Now we are absolutely training against a potential adversary that has near-peer capabilities,” he said.

The rigor of the training was on display one day recently as scores of bombers and fighter planes streaked across more than 12,000 square miles of restricted air space and half a million acres of desert wasteland north of Las Vegas.

Snider, who joined the so-called 65th Aggressor Squadron after a tour in the Middle East in 2011, was part of the “red” force. Operating in the air and on the ground, the aggressors try to jam the “blue” forces’ communications systems and radars.

They launch attacks against its flight computers. They even used special equipment hidden in a backpack to temporarily block their global positioning systems.

The trainees are especially challenged by enemy fighter planes replicated by Snider and his fellow pilots. Snider’s modified and camouflaged F-15 is fitted with special radars, weapons control systems, and other characteristics of the Russian Su-30 fighter aircraft, drawn from evaluations by US intelligence agencies and firsthand reports from allies.

He works closely with the National Security Agency, the CIA, and other spy units before concluding, as he put it: “We think this is kind of how the Su-30 would perform.”

“We’re training them to fight and survive the top-of-the-line air threat out there,” he said.

And that training involved creating a dangerous fictitious world, with real-life similarities to global hot spots, as a backdrop. Snider fought for the belligerent nation of Coyote, with its five major cities stretched across the western half of the vast training range. Coyote’s military was threatening the neighboring nation of Caliente, a US ally.

Meanwhile, the smaller nation of Jackal, aligned with Caliente, was wedged between them. Jackal was rich in mineral wealth and Coyote wanted it — and was supporting a well-armed insurgency to help get it.

Real-life Air Force pilots, brought here from bases around the country and overseas to train, were confronted with challenges.

One day they had to set up a no-fly zone over Coyote to prevent it from launching an all-out assault on Caliente. On another they had to take out its communications facilities and sophisticated network of anti-aircraft missiles. In another exercise the threat was posed by Scud missiles set to be launched at Caliente’s population centers. On a different day they had to take out Coyote’s chemical weapons manufacturing capability, as well as the scientist in charge of the program.

The desert floor was dotted with targets: concrete structures in the shape of aircraft; makeshift urban complexes to simulate populated areas; and terrorist training camps. There were also offensive missile batteries — some stationary, others mounted on mobile trailers — like they would find in the real world.

The simulation is a shock to pilots who have been bombing lightly armed Taliban guerillas or terrorist safe houses with virtually no resistance.

“The learning curve is actually really steep,” Snider said of some of the forces he faces high over the craggy mountains of southern Nevada. “It doesn’t matter how good the units are when they show up. It’s kind of like a shock to them.”

Captain Geoff Cohan, 27, of Buffalo, experienced that difficulty firsthand on the opening day of the two-week exercise last month. He was flying aboard a command center known as the Airborne Warning and Control System, a modified jumbo jet with a large radar dome on top that manages the blue forces in battle.

“The first mission that we flew last Monday was really rough,” he said. “We did not fare very well. We died.”

Cohan has twice served in the skies supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but said this has been a whole new experience.

“We’ve never seen as many aircraft airborne at the same time fighting in the same scenario,” he said.

The prospect of having to employ what many pilots are learning here may not be as remote as it once seemed, given the ongoing tensions in places such as Iran or Syria, which have well-armed air forces.

Both have “a very robust air defense system and for the most part [are] comprised of former Soviet- and Russian-produced” weapons, said Sam Clemens, of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, who helps plan the strategy of the so-called aggressor forces here. “We hope we will never get in a big shooting war again but we can’t bury our heads in the sand and say that’s not going to happen.”

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...as he put it: “We think this is kind of how the Su-30 would perform.

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General Reinhard Wolski verlässt Bückeburg - Kommandeur Heeresfliegerwaffenschule & General der Heeresflieger

General Reinhard Wolski verlässt Bückeburg - Kommandeur Heeresfliegerwaffenschule & General der Heeresflieger | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Bückeburg. Turbulent ist es bei den Heeresfliegern und damit auch der Heeresfliegerwaffenschule in den vergangenen Jahren zugegangen: Die bevorstehende Reduzierung der Truppe im Zuge der Strukturreform von rund 9000 auf nur noch 4000 Soldaten, die Übergabe des „Arbeitspferdes“ CH-53 an die Luftwaffe mit Beginn des Jahres, die Probleme rund um die Einführung der neuen Hubschraubermuster NH-90 und Tiger, deren Auslieferung nach jahrelangen Verzögerungen und technischen Schwierigkeiten endlich reibungslos angelaufen ist, um nur die größten Turbulenzen zu nennen. Knapp vier Jahre hat der Kommandeur der Heeresfliegerwaffenschule und General der Heeresflieger, Brigadegeneral Reinhard Wolski, die Heeresflieger durch diese Turbulenzen gesteuert. Am 4. April verlässt er Bückeburg, um einen neuen Dienstposten zu besetzen. Sein Fazit – als Kommandeur der Waffenschule: „Wir haben hier ein sehr, sehr hoch kompetentes Personal. Ich kann jedem nur raten, hier vorbeizuschauen. Wir haben herausfordernde Zeiten hinter uns und noch vor uns. Es gibt viel zu tun.“ Sein Fazit – als General der Heeresflieger: „Für überzeugte Flieger keine leichte Sache.“ Der personelle und strukturelle Abbau in den vergangenen drei Jahren müsse weiter eingesteuert, strukturelle Anforderungen umgesetzt werden. Und: Mit dem „Tiger“ und dem NH90 habe die Heeresfliegertruppe deutlich bessere Fähigkeiten.

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Spanish 'Tiger' Attack helicopters arrived in Afghanistan in an AN-124 transport aircraft - EC665

Spanish 'Tiger' Attack helicopters arrived in Afghanistan in an AN-124 transport aircraft - EC665 | D-FENS | Scoop.it
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Spanish 'Tiger' Attack helicopters are already in Afghanistan - EC665

Spanish 'Tiger' Attack helicopters are already in Afghanistan - EC665 | D-FENS | Scoop.it

The Forward Support Base in Herat (FSB) welcomes and three helicopters 'Tiger' from the Airmobile Forces Army (FAMET), which give protection and security to the Spanish forces in the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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Boarding of the Spanish Tiger helicopter into an AN-124 transport aircraft - enroute to Herat - RC West

Base Aérea de Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid.
Los tres helicópteros Tigre que se desplegarán en Afganistán ya están embarcados en un avión de transporte Antonov para su traslado a Herat.

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Helicóptero de Ataque HA-28 'TIGRE' - EC665 TIGER

Helicópteros Tigre HA-28 del Batallón de Helicópteros de Ataque (BHELA) nº 1, con sede en la base "Coronel Sánchez Bilbao" de Almagro (Ciudad Real), realizan ejercicios de entrenamiento en el campo de maniobras de 'Chinchilla' (Albacete).

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The 3 Spanish #EC665 Tiger in front of the Antonov AN-124 for the airlift to #Afghanistan

The 3 Spanish #EC665 Tiger in front of the Antonov AN-124 for the airlift to #Afghanistan | D-FENS | Scoop.it
The 3 Spanish #EC665 Tiger in front of the Antonov for the airlift to #Afghanistan | @EjercitoTierra : http://t.co/7s2l6bO3Zo - @eurocopter
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Spanish Tigers Deployed to Afghanistan - EC665

Spanish Tigers Deployed to Afghanistan - EC665 | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Three Spanish Tiger combat helicopters arrived in Herat, Afghanistan, early this morning on board an Antonov An-124 transport aircraft.

 

The Tigers from the Spanish army's Attack Helicopter Battalion nº 1 (BHELA 1), whose home base is Almagro, will provide protection and security for troops withdrawing from Afghanistan. They will do so as part of a tactical group of multirole helicopters including Cougars and Chinooks, which will conduct reconnaissance and security missions and convoy escort of withdrawing forces.

 

The deployment will consist of two four-month rotations of 32 personnel each, including pilots, mechanics and headquarters staff. Members of BHELA 1 have already been in Afghanistan since 19 March.

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On RAF rescue duties with Prince William - BBC Documentary

On RAF rescue duties with Prince William.

A new BBC documentary series captures Prince William, or Flight Lieutenant Wales, as never seen before - in his role as a search and rescue pilot based on Anglesey.

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Prince William's lead role in helicopter rescue TV documentary - VIDEO

Prince William's lead role in helicopter rescue TV documentary - VIDEO | D-FENS | Scoop.it
The Duke of Cambridge will appear in Helicopter Rescue which follows the Search and Rescue team at the prince's base at RAF Valley on Anglesey.

 

BBC Wales was given exclusive access to the teams at Prince William'sbase of RAF Valley on Anglesey for the programme Helicopter Rescue.

The TV programme will show the working day of Flight Lieutenant Wales and some of the missions that he is called out on.

In a teaser for the programme ahead of its broadcast on April 8, Flt Lt Wales is shown flying a Sea King helicopter on a rescue mission to a slate quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The 30-year-old has to hover the helicopter as a boy and one of his crew are winched from the ground after the boy had fallen off an old railway bridge onto rocks.

"As captain you're trying to play out the entire rescue, the transit to the rescue and back again in your mind, and pick up any circumstances or problems you can foresee, and try and fix them on the ground before you get airborne," Flt Lt Wales says in the programme.

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Bristow wins UK SAR contract - Sikorsky S-92 & AgustaWestland AW189

Bristow wins UK SAR contract - Sikorsky S-92 & AgustaWestland AW189 | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Bristow Helicopters has been awarded a £1.6 billion contract to provide future SAR services across the UK, bringing an end to the long-running drama to privatise the service.

The Department for Transport (DfT) on 26 March announced the award, which will see 22 Sikorsky S-92s and AgustaWestland AW189s operating from ten bases across the country and will end the current military involvement in SAR.

The DfT claims that under the new service, which will commence from 2015 and run until 2026, the helicopters will be able to reach a larger area of the UK’s SAR region within an hour of take-off than is currently possible.

‘Based on historic incident data it is estimated that there will be an overall improvement in flying times to incidents of around 20% (from 23 to 19 minutes),’ the department said in a statement.

‘Presently, approximately 70% of high and very high risk areas within the UK search and rescue region are reachable by helicopter within 30 minutes. Under the new contract, approximately 85% of the same area would be reached within this timeframe.’

Under the new contract, which is expected to create 350 new jobs for Bristow, new facilities will be established at Inverness, Manston, Prestwick, Caernarfon, Humberside, Newquay and St Athan. Existing facilities at Lee-on-Solent and Sumburgh will continue to be used, while the base at Stornoway will be refurbished. 

The SAR services contract has a phased-in transition period beginning in April 2015 and continuing to July 2017.

The company said that the new helicopters would be equipped with the latest in SAR technology while a transition agreement with the Ministry of Defence would ‘ensure continuity of service and experience for military personnel transferring’ to Bristow.

‘Bristow Helicopters Ltd knows the responsibilities that go with providing this service and we are committed to working in full partnership with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and ensuring a smooth transition process and the long-term continued delivery of a world class SAR operation in the UK,’ Mike Imlach, Bristow Helicopters European business unit director, said in a statement.

The basing location of the 22 helicopters is expected to allow the ability to ‘immediately surge’ up to seven aircraft to a single incident.

The move to see SAR completely provided by contracted civilian crews has been some time coming, with an earlier procurement under the SAR-H programme abandoned after irregularities were found in the bidding process.

That programme would have seen services replaced by a new single-type fleet purchased by preferred SAR-H bidder Soteria – a consortium of CHC, Thales and the Royal Bank of Scotland – and was due to be fully in place by 2016, when the Sea King is planned to be retired.

The failure of SAR-H resulted in the need for an interim contract, which was split between Bristow and CHC and runs from July 2013.

In acknowledging its award of the longer-term contract, Bristow highlighted its history of providing SAR services in the UK since 1971. 

‘In total Bristow Helicopters Ltd has flown more than 44,000 SAR operational hours in the UK and conducted over 15,000 SAR missions, during which more than 7,000 people have been rescued by the company’s crews and helicopters.’

 
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UK tests new self-protection system on Lynx helicopter

UK tests new self-protection system on Lynx helicopter | D-FENS | Scoop.it

A new integrated defensive aids system architecture intended to more effectively protect the UK's military helicopters from attack using surface-to-air missiles has been tested, as part of a three-year technology demonstration effort launched in early 2010.

Tested over the Salisbury Plain training area in Wiltshire, southern England, the common defensive aids system (CDAS) equipment was installed on a British Army AgustaWestland Lynx AH7 trials aircraft. Mounted on either side of the helicopter using external pylons, the package comprised "integrated infrared, laser and ultraviolet sensors and a compact directed infrared countermeasures effector", the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) says.

A new integrated defensive aids system architecture intended to more effectively protect the UK's military helicopters from attack using surface-to-air...

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UK government to outsource helicopter search and rescue operations - Bristow Group - Sikorsky S-92 / AW189

UK government to outsource helicopter search and rescue operations - Bristow Group - Sikorsky S-92 / AW189 | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Britain's search and rescue helicopter services, whose pilots include Prince William, will be sold to United States-based Bristow Group (BRS.N) in a 1.6 billion pound ($2.4 billion) deal that ends 70 years of military involvement in saving lives at sea and on land.

The Department for Transport on Tuesday said that handing the contract to Bristow, which already provides some services, would cut response times by four minutes to an average 19 minutes and increase the high-risk areas reachable within 30 minutes.

"With 24 years of experience providing search and rescue helicopter services in the UK, the public can have great confidence in Bristow and their ability to deliver a first-class service with state-of-the-art helicopters," said Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Under the new contract, 22 helicopters, comprising 10 Sikorsky (UTX.N) S92s and 10 AgustaWestland (SIFI.MI) AW189s, will operate from 10 locations around Britain when the new service is fully operational in 2017.

The Royal Air Force And Royal Navy Sea King helicopters had been in operation for nearly 40 years, the government said, and the time had come for a change in aircraft.

Observer
UK government to sell helicopter search and rescue operations: report
Reuters
(Reuters) - The British government is selling its helicopter search and rescue operations to U.S.-based Bristow Group Inc (BRS.N), Sky News reported on Monday.

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Eurocopter enters race for Polish chopper deal

Eurocopter enters race for Polish chopper deal | D-FENS | Scoop.it
Warsaw (AFP) March 25, 2013 - Eurocopter, the world's leading maker of civil helicopters, will sign an agreement next month aimed at setting up production in Poland, putting it in the running for a Polish chopper deal, a factory president said...
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Helitune announces enhanced rotor tuning algorithm - Rotor Track and Balance (RTB)

Helitune announces enhanced rotor tuning algorithm - Rotor Track and Balance (RTB) | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Helitune has developed a new algorithm to reduce the damaging and potentially harmful blade vibrations in helicopter rotors. The work was conducted in association with the University of Bristol as part of one of the Technology Strategy Board’s (TSB) Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) projects.

 

The current process of Rotor Track and Balance (RTB) for helicopters usually involves many hours of test flights and painstaking mechanical adjustments. The KTP project aims to develop novel RTB techniques, enabling helicopter operators to minimise vibration, reduce operating costs and improve safety and reliability. The project has resulted in the development of the Minimum Flight Routine (MFR) algorithm. 

Based on research work carried out at Bristol University, the MFR is a next-generation algorithm, which allows multi-adjustments for RTB, processing in-flight data and generating a set of mechanical adjustments to bring the rotor within acceptable vibration levels. This streamlined process reduces the number of dedicated flights required to perform RTB and return an aircraft to a serviceable state (from circa 8-9 flights to 4-5 flights), offering a cost-effective, more accurate way to minimise damaging helicopter vibration.

Prof. Nick Lieven of Bristol University said: ‘This KTP project really demonstrates the benefits that can be realised by academia and industry coming together to resolve complex engineering problems. The University of Bristol has benefited by being able to take research originally completed some 15 years ago, applying it to a real-life scenario, providing the opportunity to understand the variable factors that influence helicopter vibrations under real-world operating conditions and ultimately producing tangible, visible results that can be applied and exploited within the industry.’

The project has developed and deployed the MFR technique across Helitune’s entire product range, and the company plans to further develop the technology for its new product range.

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