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Thread: USAF Gameplan

  1. #1341

    Initial speed requirements pushed UH-1Y out of Huey competition

    06 April, 2017 SOURCE: Flightglobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

    The US Air Force originally set out stringent speed requirements for its UH-1N Huey replacement that would have pushed Bell Helicopter’s UH-1Y Venom out of the competition.

    In February, the service announced it would delay the release of its final request for proposal to recapitalise its Huey fleet, after contractors told the service their off-the-shelf solutions would not meet all of the proposed requirements. The competition has peaked the interest of at least four contenders including Sikorsky’s UH-60M Black Hawk, Airbus UH-72A Lakotas, Leonardo AW139 and Bell’s UH-1Y. The USAF is discussing the requirements with industry and plans to release a second RFP this month, with the final RFP slated for this summer, a service spokesman says this week.

    For Bell, the air force’s specific requirements for speed, endurance and payload affected its bid, Scott Clifton, director of global military business development at Bell, tells FlightGlobal. The UH-1Y fell short of the air force’s proposed speed requirement by three to seven knots, Clifton says. Bell would have needed to modify the UH-1Y to meet those speed requirements, which would have delayed the timeline to field the aircraft. The GE T700-401C powers the UH-1Y today, but the Venom could reach higher speeds by upgrading to the 701D engine found in Sikorsky’s Black Hawk and Boeing’s Apache.

    “When it said ‘it needs to go this fast,’ the speed was slightly different,” Clifton says. “So we had put in slightly upgraded engines and we wouldn’t be able to meet that at the time of proposals.”

    The air force is also seeking a helicopter that can meet very hot, high altitude conditions for a three-hour mission, Clifton says. Much of the Huey’s mission guarding the air force’s Minuteman III silos is conducted out of America’s far north, including two bases in North Dakota and Montana. The remainder of the Huey’s mission is focused on transporting political leaders out of Washington DC in the event of a nuclear attack, although it ferries VIPs during peacetime. The service’s concern on high, hot conditions focused on its third silo base at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, Clifton says.

    “They focused on worse case scenario and that was a summertime, hot day out of F.E. Warren,” he says. “Which is understandable, you can’t plan to fly things out of Washington, D.C. in the spring when it’s cool.”

    Based on the air force’s requirements today, Bell would also modify the UH-1Y’s cabin to reach the new Huey’s payload and troop capacity needs. The payload and engine modifications would only mean a minor delay for Bell’s delivery, Clifton says.

  2. #1342

    Air Force explores next-generation ejection seat

    07 April, 2017 SOURCE: Flightglobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

    The US Air Force is conducting market research for a next-generation ejection seat for fighters and bombers, according to a 5 April notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities web site.

    The service plans to release a draft request for proposals in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017 and a final RFP in the second quarter of FY18, programme schedule slides state. The air force will select two qualified sources and award contracts at the beginning of FY19. A production decision would come in the middle of FY20.

    The contract could also open the door for production of a domestic ejection seat, namely United Technologies Aerospace Systems (UTAS)’ Advanced Concept Ejection Seat (ACES) 5 ejection seat, and line up a potential competitor to the UK-based Martin-Baker. In a recent interview, Brig Gen Scott Pleus, director of the F-35 Integration office, told FlightGlobal it would be premature to halt the ACES 5 source qualification until the USAF receives the results from a study on Martin-Baker’s seat for the F-35.

    The planned seat would integrate with the USAF’s existing fighter jets and bombers. Today, UTAS employs its ACES II ejection seat on the USAF’s F-22, F-16, F-15, A-10 and B-1 aircraft. In September, the air force awarded AMI Industries Inc, a United Technology Corporation company, a $14.4 million contract to upgrade the B-2 with the ACES II. The seat features a detachable seatback that would not require the removal of the bomber’s escape hatches for maintenance.

    In 2014, Martin-Baker completed installation of new US16T ejection seats on the USAF’s fleet of Northrop T-38 trainer aircraft.

    Martin-Baker is also fielding its US16E (MK16) ejection seat on the air force’s fleet of F-35As. The escape system has faced criticism over its weight restriction, limiting flights by pilots weighing less than 61.7kg (136lb). The USAF believes the weight restriction on the F-35A's Mk16 seat could be removed this spring.

  3. #1343

    Wright-Patt to Oversee Light-Attack Plane Test Flights in New Mexico (excerpt)

    (Source: Dayton Daily News; posted April 6, 2017)

    By Barrie Barber

    WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, OH. --- The Air Force will put light attack planes through aerial paces this summer over the New Mexico desert as aerospace makers hope to land a future deal.

    The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base managed test flights will explore what’s available, the cost to buy, operate and maintain the plane, if it can be mass produced quickly and exported to other countries.

    Contractors have a deadline Friday to submit proposals for the OA-X, as the experimental light attack plane is called, but the Air Force says it will not immediately release the names of the companies.

    Cheaper to fly?

    The Air Force will investigate if it’s feasible and cheaper to build a commercial “off-the-shelf” light attack plane by the hundreds to fly into less heavily defended air space at less cost compared to flying more expensive jets, such as fast moving F-16 Fighting Falcons, to do the same job, said Jack Blackhurst, director of the Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Directorate at Wright-Patterson.

    “We don’t think this mission is going to go away anytime soon and so there’s going to be a need for this kind of activity, close air support, for some time,” he added. “It’s really a cost argument.”

    Textron AirLand was expected to enter the Scorpion jet and sister company Beechcraft has indicated it will enter the AT-6 Wolverine for flight tests, according to a spokeswoman.

    Other companies will likely jump in. “We’re expecting three or four players to play but there could be many more,” said Blackhurst, a retired Air Force colonel.

    Aerospace manufacturers will be in a potential high stakes face-off.

    “It’s pay to play,” Blackhurst said. “They have to bring their airplanes to Holloman Air Force Base (in New Mexico) and then we’re going to run through a series of …close air support missions where we will have our pilots actually flying those planes.”

    Test flights will take flight over the summer. In the future, the plane was expected to be tested overseas. Results will reach Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein at the end of the experiment.

    A decision on what’s next was targeted by the end of the year. “This isn’t a fly-off, it’s not a competition, there’s no down select involved here at all,” he said. “It’s just tell me the data. What’s out there that could work.” (end of excerpt)

    Click here for the full story, on the Dayton Daily News website.



  4. #1344

    Boeing puzzles over UH-1N replacement requirements

    02 May, 2017 SOURCE: Flightglobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

    Boeing and Leonardo Helicopters, along with their rotorcraft competitors, are baffled by the US Air Force’s requirements for the UH-1N Huey replacement programme but are pressing ahead with a bid based on the MH-139, a militarised version of the commercial AW139 medium-twin.

    From Boeing’s perspective, the protracted Huey replacement programme is playing out like a repeat of the cancelled Common Vertical Lift Support Platform programme, with one mission set driving high speed, endurance and payload requirements.

    The air force has hung onto stringent requirements set out in the CVLSP programme, including the ability for the helicopter to hover at 6,000ft in temperatures up to 35°C (95°F), but the helicopter industry has struggled to meet those standards, JD Clem, Leonardo helicopter division USAF director, told reporters this week at Leonardo’s AW139 facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Still, the service has not given up on requirements they set out years ago in CVLSP, he adds.

    “I know that some of the requirements are the same that they were then and some of them I scratch my head on,” he says. “But they seem very reluctant to re-engage the process to try and redefine what those requirements are and justify them at this point...All I can say is, I’m not gonna throw a rock at them, they have a set of requirements they passionately believe in and they think they require all that stuff.”

    Today, a fleet of UH-1Ns defend the USAF’s Minuteman III missile silos and fulfills a continuity of government mission. Most of the air force’s nuclear silos are scattered over North Dakota and Montana.

    An industry day set for 8 May may help clarify the air force's timing and requirements for the UH-1N replacement.

    “The acquisition transition has moved from this continuum of best value approaches...back toward something that has more of a developmental feel,” Rick Lemaster, director tiltrotor business development at Boeing, says this week. “I don’t know why they did what they did. That’s what we’re looking to do at industry day is understand the rationale in what they’re looking to accomplish.”

    As Boeing and Leonardo attempt to navigate the tricky waters of US defence acquisition, they’re also waging an aggressive media blitz in the Huey replacement competition. After a technical glitch grounded a March media flight, the MH-139 took off with reporters this week over Philadelphia. With ominous grey skies dissipating just long enough for the 20min flight, the MH-139 powered up its two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67C engines, switched to autopilot and accelerated to 120kt at 1,000ft before crossing over the Delaware River. The helicopter induced minimal vibration and crossed 10 miles from its takeoff point in about 10min.

    Back on the ground, a large American flag hangs over a production line humming with the construction of AW139s, AW119 light-singles and the AW609 tiltrotor. The facility produces about a third of Leonardo's AW139s, but Boeing would build all 84 replacement aircraft for the USAF in Philadelphia if it captures the UH-1N replacement bid, Clem says.

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