A comeback for airships? How many times have you heard that before? However, thanks to generous funding by the Pentagon, four separate projects to develop very large buoyant air vehicles for unmanned persistent surveillance missions are under way in the U.S. Three of them are to take to the air within the next few months.
L-3 Communications has confirmed plans to more than double the size of its Mobius optionally manned aircraft. The new version will be 140 percent larger to allow for a two-seat manned configuration. The second seat can be occupied by a second pilot and/or sensor operator.
The existing development model has a maximum takeoff weight of 3,000 pounds and a wingspan of almost 27 feet.
Northrop Grumman unveiled a new optionally piloted vehicle in the medium-altitude, long-endurance (Male) class, which is currently dominated by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems with its Predator/Reaper series. The Firebird will fly in piloted and multisensor configuration later this month at Empire Challenge 2011, a military intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) exercise hosted by the U.S.
Northrop Grumman announced the first carrier landing of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, on the USS Harry S. Truman. In addition, the Pentagon has now authorized an additional 10 aircraft, following a successful Defense Acquisition Board review.
A Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint STARS (surveillance target attack radar system) aircraft has been fitted with an advanced imaging sensor for the first time.
Boeing has won the KC-X competition and been awarded a $3.5 billion contract for Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) of the 767 NextGen Tanker, including four aircraft. Follow-on contracts to procure 175 production aircraft in 18 lots will be worth at least $30 billion. The new tanker will be designated KC-46A and the first 18 are planned to be in service by 2017.
The SJ30 twinjet saga has taken another interesting twist in the wake of last year’s bankruptcy filing of the aircraft program’s current owner, Emivest Aerospace. The parent company of one of the SJ30’s airframe parts suppliers, Metalcraft Technologies of Cedar City, Utah, has emerged as a “stalking horse” bidder for Emivest’s assets and has submitted a purchase agreement to buy the manufacturer for $7.625 million.
Boeing has won the KC-X competition and been awarded a $3.5 billion contract for engineering and manufacturing development of the 767 NextGen Tanker, including four aircraft. Follow-on contracts to procure 175 production aircraft in 18 lots will be worth at least $30 billion. The new tanker will be designated KC-46A and the first 18 are planned to be in service by 2017.
The first flight of the Northrop Grumman X-47B demonstrator for the U.S. Navy took place at Edwards AFB on February 4. Northrop Grumman which has been working on the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) contract since August 2007, rolled out the first of two air vehicles in December 2008 and originally predicted a first flight in late 2009.
Boeing has won the enhanced medium-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance systems (EMARSS) competition to supply low/medium-altitude airborne reconnaissance systems to the U.S. Army. The Army pre-specified the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350ER as the platform for EMARSS, as well as the basic specification.