Six US Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters have departed the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp following a one-and-a-half-week trial that included 108 test sorties and an F135 engine delivery from a V-22 Osprey as the first combat fighter squadron stationed in Yuma, Arizona, prepares to declare initial operational capability this July.
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Air Force might order four aircraft
Naval Air Systems Command’s V-22 joint program office is looking to enlist as many foreign buyers as possible ahead of its third multiyear procurement in 2018 for Navy versions of the Bell-Boeing Osprey to drive down the unit cost. The command is also waiting on a funding commitment from the Air Force for more special operations CV-22s.
Air Force Special Operations Command has expressed interest in acquiring up to four extra tiltrotor transports as an attrition reserve, bringing the total Air Force purchase to 56. However, those additional buys are not funded in the fiscal year 2016 budget request being considered by Congress.
On April 14, NAVAIR V-22 Program Manager Col. Dan Robinson told reporters at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space exposition that depending on when the funding comes through, those extra CV-22s might be tagged onto the latest multiyear procurement (MYP2) of 101 Ospreys, or beef up the base quantity in the next order slated to start in 2018.
The Air Force is more than 80 percent of the way through its V-22 procurement and the last of 52 aircraft deliveries are due in 2016 for a total of 50 aircraft, minus attrition.
MYP3 would buy 44 Navy variants to replace the C-2 Greyhound for the carrier onboard delivery (COD) mission. Deliveries would start in 2020, Robinson said.
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Scalable laser module fits Avenger UAV
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has improved upon the laser technology matured under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program to create a tactical laser weapon module capable of deploying on an AC-130 gunship or V-22 Osprey.
The company displayed a mockup of the laser module at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space exposition in National Harbor, MD, this week. Company officials claim the module was designed for carriage in the internal weapons bay of the Predator C Avenger unmanned aerial vehicle, but is easily reconfigurable to deploy on a tactical AC-130 or V-22 aircraft, and even a guided missile destroyer or Army ground vehicle.
The high-energy laser technology inside the weapon module is the product of two military programs: DARPA’s High-Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) and the Defense Department’s Robust Electric Laser Initiative (RELI). In fact, the HELLADS program is due to conclude later this year with a series of 150 kilowatt laser test shots at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
In an April 14 interview with Inside the Air Force, General Atomics’ chief laser engineer, Jim Davis, said the laser is scalable to 300 kilowatt, and has evolved from the HELLADS and RELI programs through internal investments.
Davis said the laser system has applications for the Air Force, Navy and Army, but which service carries the technology forward depends on who “writes the first check.” The design has been proposed for the Office of Naval Research’s Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation Program and the Army’s High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator. The Air Force is pursuing airborne lasers to destroy missiles and ground-based electrical equipment like radars.
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The Japanese Ministry of Defense has announced the selection of Northrop Grumman’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and RQ-4B Global Hawk to meet its military modernization requirements. The country has also decided to procure the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey.
The Japanese MOD made the announcements in a series of notices accompanying the release of its fiscal year 2015 budget request. The notices were posted Nov. 21.
Northrop’s E-2D was selected over Boeing’s 737 AEW&C offer for an airborne warning and control platform. The MOD notice said the E-2D rated higher in terms of function and performance, cost and logistics.
The Global Hawk was the preferred platform to meet the country’s high-altitude remotely piloted aircraft requirement, beating the extended-range MQ-9 Guardian aircraft proposed by General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems Inc. The V-22 was the only tiltrotor aircraft considered for Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force.
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