Leonardo fears US domestic politics will scupper T-X bid
21 March, 2017 SOURCE: Flightglobal.com BY: Dominic Perry London
To be honest, I wouldn't waste my time bidding for this...................Leonardo stands zero chance of winning!
As the battle for the US Air Force’s T-X trainer programme heats up, Italy’s Leonardo fears that its T-100 will be overlooked due to political considerations.
The T-100 – a variant of the Aermacchi M-346 – faces opposition from a combined Boeing/Saab team, which is offering a clean-sheet design, and the Lockheed Martin/Korea Aerospace Industries T-50.
Although the T-100 is being offered through Leonardo’s US subsidiary DRS following the withdrawal of former partner Raytheon from the contest in late January, the company remains the only participant in the competition without a big US airframer as a partner.
Mauro Moretti, Leonardo’s chief executive, speaking on a full-year results call, noted that as the T-X competition was the last of the air force’s big ticket acquisitions, this provided an extra competitive edge.
“It is quite reasonable to assume that whoever didn’t have a result before wants to have a result today,” he says.
However, he is concerned that political considerations will favour domestic suppliers, despite Italy’s considerable defence purchases from the USA, notably the Lockheed F-35.
“If you consider the balance of what Italy is buying in defence in the USA against what we can sell in the same market we know it is absolutely not comparable,” he says.
“I don’t know a similar situation in defence and security between two countries. I hope and think that politically it will be considered to give the best system on the market at the moment the possibility that it needs.”
Moretti defends the T-100, noting that it is the “most mature… the most developed with the most performance you can find on the market at the moment”.
He stresses that the maturity of the platform and broader training system should be an important consideration given the USAF’s need to quickly replace its fleet of aged Northrop T-38 Talons; the service’s current inventory is “quite weak” and “in a disastrous situation”, he says.
Leonardo will submit its bid by the end of March, he says, which will include the location of a US final assembly line.
Who Are Contenders For OA-X Light-Attack Demo?
Mar 22, 2017
Lara Seligman | Aviation Week & Space Technology
A-29 Super Tucano (Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corp.)
This turboprop light-attack aircraft is designed for counterinsurgency, close air support and aerial reconnaissance missions in low-threat environments. Designed to operate in high temperatures and extremely rugged terrain, the A-29 is highly maneuverable and has a low heat signature. It is in service with the Brazilian, Colombian, Chilean, Dominican and Ecuadorian air forces as well as the Afghan air force. The first of 30 Afghan A-29 pilots have graduated from training at Moody AFB, Georgia, and returned to Afghanistan. The full fleet of 20 A-29s will be in place by 2018.
Max. Speed: 367 mph
Combat Radius: 300 nm fully loaded
Endurance: 8 hr. 24 min.
Fuel Capacity: 3,300 lb.
Hard Points: 5 external, 2 under each wing, 1 under centerline fuselage
Photo: Colombian air force
The remainder can be seen at the link below:
First New USAF Pilots Begin F-35A Training At Luke AFB
Mar 22, 2017
Lara Seligman | Aviation Week & Space Technology
Six 20-somethings who have never flown another fighter began training recently on the U.S. Air Force F-35A.
The first class of freshman pilots—or “B-coursers”—is learning to fly Lockheed Martin’s new fighter at Luke AFB, Arizona, Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, head of Air Education and Training Command, told Aviation Week. The pilots began instruction Dec. 5 and, after spending weeks on a simulator, lifted off in the F-35 for the first time in February.
Traditionally, only pilots with prior fighter experience were chosen to fly the F-35. But under the newly written syllabus, fresh undergraduate pilots will get the chance to see what the aircraft can do and offer their unique input to leaders developing tactics, techniques and procedures for the fifth-generation fighter.
The Air Force hopes these first millennials to fly the F-35 will bring a fresh perspective to the table. Their thoughts and ideas will be crucial to reaching the full potential of the aircraft, service leaders say.
First ‘B-coursers’ Begin JSF Training
- Air Force leaders hope iPhone generation will use F-35 in new ways
- Six B-coursers made their first flights in February
- Instructor pilot Lt. Col. Mike Gette describes training agenda
- Air Force expects first class to graduate in August
“Now you are bringing in students as young as lieutenants into the F-35, and they are going to go to the operational unit [without] any kind of biases from flying other airplanes,” says Roberson. “They are going to be able to take us to a whole new level in the F-35.”
Lt. Col. Mike Gette, an instructor pilot at Luke and commander of the 61st Fighter Sqdn., is watching the progress of the first F-35 B-coursers up close. He says so far he has been impressed with the “top-notch” young pilots, who don’t have any fourth-generation “baggage” from flying legacy aircraft.
“I’m excited to get a perspective from someone for whom this is the only fighter they’ve ever flown, which we’ve never [done] before,” says Gette, adding, “They may come up with ways to use it that we just didn’t think of.”
The students, who recently completed training on the T-38, have just finished the “transition” phase to the F-35, where they learn to take off, land, fly formation, operate instruments and handle emergency procedures. All of the pilots passed the final test of that phase—the instrument check ride—with flying colors, Gette says.
The pilots are flying F-35s in the 3i and 2B software configurations.
The first freshman pilots began training in the Air Force’s F-35A in December at Luke AFB, Arizona. Credit: Sr. Airman Devante Williams/U.S. Air Force
Now, the pilots are in the midst of the “air-to-air” phase, which begins with learning basic fighter maneuvers, he says. This starts with one-on-one tactics—offensive, defensive and neutral—before moving into more complicated scenarios. The next phase is “surface attack”—the F-35’s bread and butter—where the students are taught how to find targets on the ground, drop laser- and GPS-guided weapons and use all the air-to-ground sensors on the aircraft.
Finally, the students must “missionize” their skills in combat scenarios. Here, they learn close-air-support, air interdiction, offensive counterair and escort, Gette says. At the same time, the pilots are learning how to employ at night all the skills they have already learned.
The training culminates in a large-force exercise with multiple four-ships—real, not simulated—working together against a more complicated adversary. This test is designed to prepare the pilots for a Red Flag, the Air Force’s premier air combat exercise at Nellis AFB, Nevada, Gette says.
The pilots will graduate in early August, before the 61st begins all over again with a second class of B-coursers. Meanwhile, the 62nd Fighter Sqdn. will begin training another class of undergraduate pilots in May. The 63rd Fighter Sqdn. will eventually be the third F-35 training squadron.
“It’s a brand-new airplane, we’re still learning a lot about it and what its capabilities are, and we are constantly evolving the tactics,” says Gette. “So I’m really excited, actually, to get these guys trained and then see if they can bring a different perspective.”
Last edited by buglerbilly; 22-03-17 at 06:48 AM.
Wednesday | March 22, 2017
Lockheed Martin plans to bid the T-50A, built with Korea Aerospace Industries, for the Air Force's T-X trainer contract. (Lockheed Martin photo)
Lockheed says its T-X trainer could be delivered two years early
By Jacqueline Klimas (@jacqklimas) • 3/21/17 1:55 PM
Lockheed Martin is prepared to deliver its offering for the Air Force trainer jet competition two years ahead of the service's plan, a Lockheed executive vice president said on Tuesday.
Rob Weiss, the executive vice president and general manager of aeronautics advanced development programs, said Lockheed Martin could start delivering T-50As to the Air Force by 2022, ahead of the 2024 initial operating capability requested by the military for the T-X competition.
"If there's a desire for an earlier IOC, we will be ready," Weiss said during a briefing at the company's annual media day.
Lockheed is partnering with Korea Aerospace Industries on the T-50A, a modified version of the T-50, for the bidding process. Proposals are due to the Air Force on March 30.
The Air Force is planning to buy 350 two-seat jet trainers to replace the T-38 Talon.
Weiss also said the off-the-shelf T-50A could be flying six years ahead of other firms' proposals designed specifically to compete for the T-X contract, which he said could be delayed until 2028 or later because of additional hurdles that clean-sheet designs need to overcome.
At least two other T-X offerings will be competing for the $16.3 billion contract. Boeing is partnering with Saab on a clean-sheet design and Italy's Leonardo announced that it will submit a modified version of its M-346 after pulling out of its partnership with Raytheon this year.
Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems, who had been discussing entering the competition as a team, also announced this year they were dropping out.
USAF calls plans to retire F-15s "pre-decisional"
22 March, 2017 SOURCE: Flightglobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC
Not mentioned here, but one of the other things being looked at, is a major Update and Refurb. of the F-15C/D's to include ASEA radar and maximise the warload........................
The US Air Force says it’s too soon to say whether the service will swap out retired Boeing F-15C and F-15Ds for updated Lockheed Martin F-16.
During a 22 House Armed Services Committee, Representative Joe Wilson asked the director of the Air National Guard whether replacing the F-15C and F-15D fleet would have a negative impact on air superiority. Lt Gen Scott Rice answered that updated F-16s could fill the gaps left by the retired F-15s.
This week, Lockheed announced it would move its F-16 production line from Fort Worth, Texas to Greenville, South Carolina.
Lockheed is also competing for the US Air Force’s T-X trainer contract and the company leverages pieces from the F-16 to build its T-50 trainer. Wilson represents a district in South Carolina, although it does not include Greenville.
While Wilson’s question led to a flurry of queries at the Congressional hearing, the USAF maintains plans to retire and replace the C and D models are pre-decisional. The retirement plan is one option the USAF could pursue in the future, but is not imminent, an air force spokesman tells FlightGlobal. Much like the USAF’s plans to retire the A-10 Warthog, the retirement option would depend on the service’s number of F-35s and possible addition of light attack platforms, she adds.
Retirement is not happening and the discussions referenced this at the Congressional hearing are "very, very pre-decisional," an Air National Guard spokesman tells FlightGlobal.
The USAF's deputy chief of staff for operations told Congress he was not sure if the retirement plan was formal.
“But I know we’re looking at maximizing the use of what limited total obligation authority we have,” Maj Gen Scott West says. “And to minimize the number of systems that we operate but still be able to accomplish the mission is what we’re always trying to do.”
Gen Rice agreed those discussions were part of planning choices for fiscal year 2019, but remained pre-decisional. The plan to upgrade existing F-16s with AESA radars was one of several options the USAF entertained last fall, but the service is still discussing them.
Rep Martha McSally, a former A-10 pilot, countered that F-15 serves a unique air-to-air mission, while F-16 does not bring the same expertise.
“That’s correct,” Rice says. “But I think that we’re getting beyond that and I think as we get into the digital age...the system will be even more important than the platform itself.”
Lockheed still weighing light attack plane offering, but T-50 is likely out
By: Aaron Mehta and Valerie Insinna, March 22, 2017
WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin is considering whether it has a plane in its inventory that can meet the U.S. Air Force’s nascent light attack aircraft requirement, but may subvert expectations by not offering the T-50, a top company executive tells Defense News.
Orlando Carvalho, executive vice-president of Lockheed’s aeronautics business, said the company is weighing its options with the recently-released solicitation for a light-attack platform, but indicated a variant of its T-50A trainer design is not currently in the running.
The T-50A is*a version of the Korean Aerospace Industries T-50 trainer, modified by Lockheed to meet the requirements of the U.S. Air Force’s T-X trainer replacement competition. But KAI already sells a light-attack version of the T-50A, marketed as the FA-50. That plane is in use by both the Iraqi and Philippine air forces, which would seem to provide an easy option for Lockheed to offer.
Carvalho said he hasn’t had time to closely study the requirements that were laid out by the Air Force last week for its light attack aircraft experiment. But asked if a variant of the T-50 is being considered as an option, Carvalho said, “the short answer on that specific question is ‘no.’”
Instead, the company is still weighing its options, with Carvalho hinting that a solution may come not from the fixed-wing side of the company but rather from its rotary and mission systems business.*
The Air Force is contemplating a buy of light attack planes to help alleviate strains on its combat aircraft inventory, which has been engaged in the Middle East for over a decade. Service officials believe inexpensive, less-advanced planes could accomplish those missions at lower cost, and are banking on a flight demonstration this summer at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., to help prove whether there is a business case for creating an OA-X program of record.
According to an invitation to industry released last week, the Air Force plans to choose up to four companies to bring non-developmental, low-cost, multi-role aircraft to Holloman for a capability assessment. Over a period of four to six weeks, it will test each plane’s “basic aerodynamic performance” as well as its weapons, sensors and communications capability.*
“We're going to want them to bring us a couple of aircraft that are near ready to go, as off-the-shelf as they can, so that we can fly them, we can do all of those things to see how they perform and see what the art of the possible is,” Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the service’s top uniformed acquisition official, said Wednesday.
“Part of what they've got to put in, though, is going to be how much would it cost to procure, what would it cost to maintain, and estimates in all of these areas so that we can analyze that before we go forward."
While the Invitation to Participate states that the experiment will be limited to up to four companies with one or two offerings each, Bunch acknowledged that could change depending on industry response to the ITP. However, an expansion to the experiment could push the experiment to a later date.
"If there are more [companies] and we need to look at it, we can. But it will drive the schedule,” he said. “And we'll see what the numbers come in at. If we come in, and a whole bunch of people meet it, and we need to go more, then we'll look at it and we'll decide if we need to go more."
OA-X requirements will undoubtedly be refined if the Air Force presses on with a program of record, but the invitation included some specifications for participants in the flight exercise.
The aircraft should be able to fire MK81 and MK 82 bombs, 70mm Hydra rockets and a .50 caliber gun, as well as laser-guided and potentially GPS-guided munitions. While configured with a gun and electro-optical, infrared (EO/IR) suite, it must be able to carry at least two 500-pound munitions. Its EO/IR system must be able to track stationary and moving targets in clear weather during day and nighttime conditions.
High availability is also an essential characteristic. The planes must support an operations tempo of at least 900 flight hours annually over a ten-year period, according to the solicitation.
Textron officials told Defense News last week that they plan to offer two aircraft for the light attack demo: Textron AirLand’s Scorpion jet and Beechcraft’s AT-6. Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano turboprop, which was purchased by the Pentagon for the Afghan air force, is also considered a likely contender.
Compass Call cross-deck continues despite Bombardier protest
23 March, 2017 SOURCE: Flightglobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC
L3 Communications and the US Air Force will continue their Compass Call cross-deck effort, despite a recent protest from Bombardier over a possible sole-source contract.
The protest will not affect the USAF’s Compass Call acquisition strategy, the service’s military deputy for the assistant secretary of the air force for acquisition says this week. L3 Communications will lead the US Air Force’s Compass Call cross-deck effort, which will transfer existing technology from the EC-130H onto a new aircraft, dubbed the EC-37B.
“[L-3] will make the selection of the aircraft...and they will incorporate and put the mission systems into the platform,” Lt Gen Arnold Bunch said during a 22 March defense conference in Washington. L-3 will not be able to select the platform until Congress has passed the fiscal year 2017 defense spending bill.
“But we have made the decision on how we’re going to go forward,” he says. “We’ve already signed all the paperwork off and what we’re waiting to do is get a bill and then we’ll go forward.”
Last year, the USAF determined Gulfstream’s G550 conformal airborne early warning type the only suitable aircraft to host the Compass Call mission. That sparked concern from competitors Bombardier and Boeing, whose 737 Wedgetail and G6000 were nixed by the service.
Bombardier filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office arguing the USAF’s decision and process for Compass Call was non-compliant with US government procurement rules. Boeing has not issued a bid protest.
“The Air Force’s decision to move forward on the Compass Call program by awarding it to a sole source systems integrator and apparently indirectly to a single source aircraft platform is non-compliant with the procurement rules,” Bombardier tells FlightGlobal. “This process denies Bombardier of a fair opportunity to compete for this contract.”
GAO dismissed the case as premature on 10 March, noting that there is consideration of a sole source contract but that the USAF has not yet issued a solicitation. Bombardier’s protest was anticipating improper action that hasn’t happened yet, a GAO spokesman tells FlightGlobal. However, the GAO did not make a ruling on the merits of Bombardier's protest and the company will have another opportunity to raise concerns with the procurement, Bombardier says.
Bombardier argues the company demonstrated that all technical and schedule requirements could be fulfilled, but air force documents state the G6000 BACN does not meet aperture requirements without modification and will require a supplemental type certification that could incur up to $180 million in additional costs and a three-year schedule delay. The USAF also called the G6000’s payload capacity “marginally insufficient.” The USAF’s Compass Call requirements call for a total cargo capacity of 20,000lb including 13,000lb of prime mission equipment.
The air force called out the Wedgetail’s aperture requirements and also stated the aircraft could not meet performance requirements without caveats. The Wedgetail must burn significant gas to reach its maximum 41,000ft altitude, trading loiter time for altitude, and is unable to meet both, according to the USAF.
Although the Compass Call recapitalisation would represent a substantial win on its own, defense contractors might also be wary about the award outcome’s impact on other E-model programmes within the USAF. In September, Boeing military aircraft’s director of global sales Fred Smith told reporters he believed the sole source could impact the JSTARS competition.
Last year, the Air Force Office of Transformational Innovation explored the use of a common business jet for multiple battle management command-and-control platform recapitalisations. The office considered using a commercially available aircraft for several recapitalisation efforts, including the EC-130, E-8 JSTARS and E-3 AWACS. The study looked at "space, payload, power, cooling, in-flight refueling, and mission growth potential” on the jet, according to OTI.
While OTI determined last June that a common business jet would not garner significant savings for the USAF, the study intimates that the service sees commonality between those platforms and recapitalisation efforts. In September, then-Air Combat Command Chief Gen Herbert Carlisle maintained the Compass Call acquisition strategy would not affect the JSTARS recapitalisation, noting the EC-130H mission set, sensor suite and crew configuration vary from JSTARS.
U-2 Expert Says Global Hawk Just Can’t Compare
By Chris Pocock
on March 24, 2017 at 1:48 PM
Chris Pocock may know more about the U-2 than anyone who doesn’t possess a very high security clearance. He’s written four books about the planes and is passionate about the black beauties. Here’s his take on whether Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk can rival or surpass the capabilities of the U-2. Read on. The Editor.
Northrop Grumman believes that it can “beef up” the sensor suite of the Global Hawk “to push its capabilities beyond those of the U-2.”
Really? How can this possibly happen, when this drone’s*maximum altitude is at least 12,000 feet lower; it takes far longer to get there; its payload-by-weight is 50 percent less; its onboard recorder and comms/datalink capability for sensor transmission is inferior; and it has no electronic warfare capability? I could go on.
The depressing thing about Northrop Grumman’s marketing of the Global Hawk has been the company’s evident determination to get the Dragon Lady withdrawn from service. Never mind that the US Air Force U-2 fleet has demonstrated a mission effectiveness rate of 97 percent, and has enough collective airframe life to last another 20 years. That is more airframe life than the Global Hawk, by the way.
The truth is, the US and its allies need the capabilities of both these high-altitude reconnaissance platforms. The Global Hawk offers superior endurance, and an alternative imaging system when carrying the MS-177 sensor made by UTA Aerospace Systems (UTAS). But UTAS also makes the SYERS-2C 10-band multispectral sensor carried by the U-2. The characteristics and status of the MS-177 version that has been flown on the Global Hawk, needs some clarification.
Upgraded imaging systems like MS-177 and SYERS-2C offer the intelligence analyst superior detection of suspicious activity in a wider range of weather conditions. But ultimately, they cannot defeat cloud cover to the extent made possible by radar imaging systems. And here the U-2 offers a distinct advantage, with its Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System (ASARS). This has been providing all-weather, day/night coverage of trouble spots around the world for nearly 30 years. Made and supported by Raytheon, these sensors have been upgraded once already, and now a further upgrade with an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) is being developed for flight-test on a U-2 in prototype form.
This ASARS-2B version promises a doubling in range. That’s important for keeping an eye on countries like North Korea, where the U-2 can offer a deeper look from a safe and higher distance offshore. Incidentally, the U-2 can be quickly dispatched on such a mission from its deployed base at Osan in the south of the Korean peninsula. The Global Hawk must fly hours to reach the same area from its base on Guam. Why not also deploy the drone*to Osan? Like many other countries, Korea won’t allow unmanned aircraft to fly in crowded, non-segregated airspace. Even if it did, the Global Hawk would face problems operating from wet and cold Osan – because it doesn’t have a de-icing system! (Editor’s note: Northrop is testing one now.)
The 11 Block 40 Global Hawks carry the new MP-RTIP radar sensor which offers superior moving target indication (MTI) compared with ASARS. But it is the 21 Block 30 versions that are supposed to replace the 26 operational U-2S models. In his latest report published in January, the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) reminded readers that he had “previously identified ground station, air vehicle, communication system, and cybersecurity shortfalls” in the Block 30 Global Hawk. He noted that a follow-on test and evaluation program was required, but not yet conducted.*
It’s high time that the Air Force removed the threat of retirement, so that the Lockheed Martin SkunkWorks and the U-2 subcontractor team can fully develop the nascent potential that the Dragon Lady still offers. In addition to ASARS-2B, this includes a celestial navigation system to overcome the jamming of GPS signals (think North Korea again!); expanded spectrum SIGINT; extra bandwidth for transmission of sensor data; and a repositioning of the onboard payloads to permit single U-2 to become a ‘Tri-INT’ platform that can carry radar, optical and SIGINT sensors on the same mission.
Chris Pocock is the defense editor of Aviation International News and the author of four books on the history and current operations of the U-2.
With Raytheon Out, Leonardo DRS Touts Lower-Cost T-100
Mar 23, 2017
Lara Seligman | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
With Leonardo’s North American arm replacing Raytheon as prime, the T-100 bid for the U.S. Air Force’s coveted $16 billion T-X contract will come in at a lower price, according to a top company executive.
Consolidating the T-100 integrator and airframe manufacturer under one roof streamlines the proposal’s management structure, said Bill Lynn, CEO of Leonardo DRS, formerly DRS Technologies. Meanwhile, a smaller company means fewer layers of bureaucracy and less overhead, he noted.
“I think that with DRS as the prime, we will have a leaner cost and overhead structure than a bigger company might have,” Lynn said. “I think this bid will be more cost-competitive as a consequence of the team and the structure that we’re bidding it under.”
Leonardo DRS is the new U.S. face of the T-100 bid, which has been on shaky ground in recent months. Reports emerged late last year of disagreements between Raytheon and Leonardo, and Raytheon officially dropped out earlier this year. Leonardo announced that U.S.-based DRS would take the helm in February.
Leonardo DRS plans to stand up a new U.S. facility to build the T-100, which is based on the Alenia Aermacchi—now Leonardo—M-346 trainer. Building a new facility from scratch creates construction and manufacturing jobs, Lynn stressed.
T-100 final assembly as well as some component manufacturing will take place at the U.S. facility, he said.
Lynn declined to say where the facility will be, but anticipates an announcement later this month. Raytheon planned to build the T-100 in Meridian, Mississippi.
Lynn touted the T-100 as a “customer-proven system,” noting that the M-346 has been selected over the competing Lockheed Martin-Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50 in four out of five recent international trainer competitions: Israel, Singapore, Poland, and the United Arab Emirates. The fifth was Indonesia, which selected the T-50. Leonardo has already delivered 30 aircraft for the Israeli air force, which is using the aircraft to train future F-35 pilots.
“Given the opportunity to choose, the customers have overwhelmingly chosen the M-346,” Lynn said.
The T-100’s training system is also proven, Lynn stressed. The company has been successfully using live, virtual, constructive (LVC) training—in which real and simulated aircraft fly together—for years.
“We don’t believe any of our competitors have an operational, proven LVC training capability,” Lynn said.
Bids are due to the Air Force in the next few weeks, with a contract award for 350 aircraft expected by year’s end. Boeing and Saab are offering a clean-sheet design, while Lockheed Martin is partnered with Korea Aerospace Industries on the T-50A.
While Leonardo is focused on winning the T-X competition, the company will also look at offering a variant of the M-346—likely the M-346 fighter trainer—for the Air Force’s OA-X light attack flight demonstration, which could lead to a 300-aircraft buy.
Proposals are due in April.