In Brief

EADS’ former military transport aircraft division, MTAD, became integrated into Airbus.

Airbus integrates MTAD as Airbus Military to manage all military activities

EADS’ former military transport aircraft division, MTAD, became integrated into Airbus. As an Airbus business unit, Airbus Military in Seville, Spain, will be accountable for all military aviation activities within Airbus. The unit is in charge of all EADS military transport aircraft, ranging from the small CN-235 and C-295 transport aircraft, to the multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) based on the Airbus A330, and the A400M. It also includes further military derivatives of Airbus civil aircraft. Airbus Military will continue to provide support and services to customers and operators. The scope of its activities ranges from aircraft and specific military systems development and integration to industrialization, marketing, and sales.

FAA annual aviation forecast predicts growth in the long-term

Officials at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Washington predicted a return to growth for air travel in the long term in their annual aviation forecast, which also calls for aviation infrastructure and environmental improvements contained in the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System plan. Due to the current worldwide economic downturn, the FAA’s 16-year forecast for 2009 to 2025 predicts domestic passenger flights to decrease by 7.8 percent in 2009 and then grow an average of 2.7 percent per year during the remaining 15-year forecast period. The number of passengers on U.S. airlines domestically and internationally is forecast to increase from 757.4 million in 2008 to 1.1 billion in 2025. U.S. aircraft operations are predicted to experience a 5.7 percent decrease in 2009 from 2008 levels. Beginning in 2010, the agency expects operations to grow at an average annual rate of 1.5 percent for the remainder of the forecast period. Additional details on the forecast, including information on general aviation, cargo demand, landing and takeoff operations at airports and FAA facilities, can be found at the forecast Web site at: http://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/2009-2025/.

Three contractors to develop GSE soldier communications and situational awareness systems

U.S. Army leaders are asking three U.S. prime defense contractors to develop wearable Army communications prototype systems that integrate radios, batteries, software, body armor, and combat helmets to help infantrymen increase their situational awareness, decrease their reaction times, and reduce the risk of accidentally injuring or killing one another during network-centric operations. The Army is asking the Raytheon Co. Network Centric Systems segment in McKinney, Texas; General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to develop prototype wearable network-centric warfare systems as part of the Ground Soldier Ensemble (GSE) program. The GSE military network program for soldier communications focuses on providing mature technologies that when integrated together on the soldier minimizes size, weight, and power, while providing improved situational awareness and network connectivity at various echelon levels within an infantry brigade combat team. The Army is asking Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Rockwell Collins to develop prototype GSE systems by integrating rechargeable, high-capacity, lithium-ion batteries, the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS) RT-1922 digital networked radio, Linux-based Army Battle Command software modules, as well as soldier clothing, body armor, and helmets to help infantry soldiers on the battlefield. Raytheon is receiving a $5.5 million contract, Rockwell Collins is receiving a $5.3 million contract, and General Dynamics is receiving a $5 million contract. Awarding the contracts are officials of the Army Tank-Automotive Command in Warren, Mich. This technology development phase asks the three contractors to develop 10 GSE system prototypes for the Army, with an option to build five GSE prototypes for the U.S. Marine Corps. The Army plans to deploy the GSE system alongside parts of the Future Combat Systems program in 2011.

Lockheed Martin F-35B exceeds STOVL thrust requirement

The F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant demonstrated during testing that it produces excess vertical thrust, more than required to carry out its missions. The tests, conducted on a specially instrumented “hover pit,” also validated the performance of aircraft software, controls, thermal management, STOVL-system hardware, and other systems, Lockheed Martin officials in Fort Worth, Texas, say. “The performance level measured was absolutely exceptional,” says J.D. McFarlan, Lockheed Martin F-35 Air Vehicle lead. “We demonstrated 41,100 pounds of vertical thrust against our requirement of 40,550 pounds. This means we will deliver excellent margin for the vertical landing and short takeoff performance we’ve committed to our STOVL customers.” Those users include the U.S. Marine Corps, the United Kingdom Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, and the Italian navy and air force.

Jet-powered Pedator C unmanned aerial vehicle makes first flight

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) in San Diego introduced its next-generation aircraft in the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) series, Predator C Avenger. The first flight of the multimission jet-powered Avenger occurred with the aircraft landing without any discrepancies and ready to fly again once refueled. A test program is ongoing. Avenger employs the same materials and UAS avionics as Predator B and is controlled from and compatible with the standard GA-ASI ground control stations (GCSs) used to control all Predator-series aircraft in use by U.S. and allied military services. The jet-powered aircraft is slightly larger than Predator B, has a Pratt & Whitney PW545B jet engine, and can carry the same mix of weapons as Predator B. Avenger was designed and developed with the intent of making a UAV that was survivable on dangerous missions and to provide the U.S. Air Force and other potential users with an expanded quick-response armed reconnaissance capability. The aircraft will have higher operational and transit speeds than current Predator-series aircraft, resulting in fast response and rapid repositioning for improved mission flexibility and survivability.

Northrop Grumman delivers SBIRS GEO-2 payload to Lockheed Martin

Northrop Grumman Corp., in Azusa, Calif., the payload integrator for the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), the nation’s next-generation missile warning system, delivered the second geosynchronous orbit (GEO) payload to prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, Calif., for integration into the spacecraft and final system-level testing. The payload will be installed on the GEO-2 spacecraft, which will fly in geostationary orbit around the Earth. The U.S. Air Force SBIRS program is designed to provide early warning of missile launches and simultaneously support other missions, including missile defense, technical intelligence, and battlespace awareness. The GEO-2 payload consists of a scanning sensor and a staring sensor, along with other key spacecraft subsystems and electronics, including a pointing and control assembly (PCA). The GEO-2 satellite is scheduled for launch in 2011. The SBIRS team is led by the Space Based Infrared Systems Wing at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base.

Harris to modernize U.S. strategic satellite communications terminals

Harris Corp. in Melbourne, Fla., won a 10-year, $600 million contract for the U.S. Army’s Modernization of Enterprise Terminals (MET) program. The next-generation military satellite communications terminals developed for the MET program will provide the worldwide backbone for high-priority military communications and missile defense systems. As prime contractor, Harris will develop, test, and certify four terminal configurations during a 30-month, First Article Test phase. In addition, Harris will provide production hardware under the five-year base contract, with five additional option years, and will support field activities, such as site preparation, installation, test, operations, and maintenance. The program will be managed by Team DCATS-Project Manager, Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems. Harris will replace as many as 80 AN/GSC-52, AN/GSC-39, AN/FSC-78, and other aging strategic satellite communications terminals around the world with simultaneous X- and Ka-band terminals capable of interfacing with the Wideband Global Satellite constellation as well as with legacy satellite systems. The terminals will support Internet Protocol and Dedicated Circuit Connectivity within the Global Information Grid, providing critical reach-back capability for the warfighter.

Boeing Airborne Laser begins weapon system flight tests

Boeing, industry teammates, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency have begun Airborne Laser (ABL) flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., with the entire weapon system integrated aboard the ABL aircraft. ABL, a heavily modified Boeing 747-400F aircraft, completed its functional check flight from Edwards Air Force Base with the beam control/fire control system and the high-energy laser onboard, confirming the aircraft is airworthy, ready for more airborne tests, and on track for its missile-intercept demonstration this year, Boeing officials say. “With ABL’s return to flight, we are on the verge of demonstrating the speed, mobility, precision, and lethality that ABL could provide to America’s warfighters,” says Michael Rinn, Boeing vice president and ABL program director.

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