The U.S. Marine Corps has deployed the new RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to Afghanistan through an early operational capability. The 135-pound-mtow aircraft is undergoing initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E), a phase the service expects to complete this year.
Naval Air Systems Command
The U.S. Navy recently completed engineering and manufacturing (EMD) development of the ship-based component of the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (Jpals). The EMD phase of Jpals Increment 1A for ship systems included auto landings by F/A-18C Hornets to the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. The Increment 1B phase calls for integrating the system on aircraft.
Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy conducted the first flight of the MQ-8C Fire Scout on October 31. The unmanned helicopter, which is based on the Bell 407, flew twice that day at the Point Mugu range at Naval Base Ventura County, Calif.
On the first flight in restricted airspace, the MQ-8C flew in a pattern around the airfield for seven minutes to validate autonomous control systems; on the second flight, it reached an altitude of 500 feet while flying in a pattern. The aircraft was operated by a combined Navy/Northrop Grumman flight-test team located at the naval base.
The U.S. Navy declared the P-8A Poseidon ready to join the fleet following completion of the aircraft’s initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) phase. The Navy issued its IOT&E report on July 1, according to the Naval Air Systems Command (Navair). The service conducted testing from last September to March.
The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) awarded the Bell Boeing team a five-year contract on June 12 to supply 99 V-22 Osprey tiltrotors. The second multiyear procurement (MYPII) contract, with an earlier $1.4 billion contract award in December, has a total value of $6.5 billion. It specifies 92 MV-22s for the Marine Corps and seven CV-22s for the Air Force for delivery through September 2019.
The U.S. Navy is upgrading the communications network on its E-6B Mercury airborne command post to provide the battle staff on board with faster, more reliable access to both classified and unclassified information. The service recently received the third fleet E-6B outfitted with the Internet protocol bandwidth expansion (IPBE) upgrade.
The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) and Northrop Grumman said the MQ-4C Triton broad area maritime surveillance aircraft completed its first flight from the company’s Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility on May 22. The Global Hawk maritime derivative flew for 80 minutes in restricted airspace and reached an altitude of 20,000 feet.
Boeing subsidiary Insitu has sold several export variants of its Integrator unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to international customers, the company said this week. The Block 2 variant for export is described as a separate baseline system to the 135-pound maximum takeoff weight (mtow) Integrator being developed for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps RQ-21A small tactical UAS (STUAS) requirement. The Integrator and its smaller sister, the 44-pound mtow ScanEagle, use a common pneumatic catapult launch and SkyHook catch cable retrieval systems, and a common command-and-control system.
The U.S. Navy awarded a contract to BAE Systems valued at $400 million over five years to maintain T-34, T-44 and T-6 training aircraft. BAE’s Aerospace Solutions business, based in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., will perform scheduled inspections, repairs, modifications and logistical support of more than 300 aircraft operated by the Chief of Naval Air Training.
The U.S. Marine Corps has extended the deployment of two K-Max unmanned helicopters used for cargo resupply missions in Afghanistan by six months, through March next year. The extension, announced on July 31, is the second this year and includes an option to extend the deployment through September next year.
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