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Sikorsky-Boeing delivers Defiant X proposal to US Army

Sikorsky-Boeing delivers Defiant X proposal to US Army

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Sept. 7, 2021 – Today the Sikorsky-Boeing team released the following statement on the early submittal of the proposal for DEFIANT X for the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA).

This statement can be attributed to Paul Lemmo, president, Sikorsky, and to Mark Cherry, vice president and general manager, Vertical Lift, Boeing Defense, Space & Security:

“Continuing a 75-year partnership with the U.S. Army, providing and sustaining the iconic BLACK HAWK, Chinook and Apache, the Sikorsky-Boeing team looks to the future with the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft – DEFIANT X. Today, Team DEFIANT completed and submitted the proposal for the U.S. Army’s FLRAA competition, offering low-risk, transformational capability that delivers on an Army critical modernization priority and advances the future of Army aviation. DEFIANT X delivers speed where it matters, survivability, unsurpassed power, maneuverability, superior handling in any environment and lower lifecycle costs – while operating in the same footprint as the BLACK HAWK. We are confident that DEFIANT X, supported by our longstanding Army industrial base suppliers, is the best choice for delivering overmatch on the Multi-Domain Operational battlefield in INDOPACOM and across the globe.”

For more information on DEFIANT X visit or follow #DEFIANTX on social media to join the conversation.

About Sikorsky and Boeing

Together, Sikorsky and Boeing have built 90 percent of the U.S. Army’s current military rotorcraft and have totaled more than 20 million flight hours. We’re the team that has brought forward iconic military rotorcraft including: Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache. The iconic UH-60 Black Hawk has proven itself to be the premiere assault platform in the world and DEFIANT X will bring the next level of capability that the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft requires.

Additional background:

  • The Sikorsky-Boeing team continues to conduct flight tests and expand SB>1 DEFIANT’s flight envelope. This test data is correlating the DEFIANT X virtual models and was included in our proposal to the U.S. Army.
  • Together, Sikorsky and Boeing, supported by a nationwide Army industrial base of suppliers, have more than 20 million Army flight hours of proven performance over the last 75 years.  We are committed to delivering a weapon system that delivers transformational capability and affordability across the entire system, over the full lifecycle – including efficient sustainment, reuse of military construction and minimized training time and costs.
  • We’ve designed-in affordability through ease of maintenance, reliability and advanced manufacturing techniques.  Our investments in digital transformation, configuration design and aircraft sizing have driven a best-value solution for the Army. DEFIANT X has the same operational footprint as the BLACK HAWK allowing the Army to leverage existing operations, airfield configurations and hangars, avoiding costly infrastructure investment. And because our configuration flies like a helicopter with enhanced capabilities, training pilots is similar to the training that exists in the Army today.
  • Our digital design and advanced manufacturing enables the Army to lower cost across the entire lifecycle of the platform – including fleet management affordability and efficiency and rapid, affordable upgrades.
  • DEFIANT X is designed for fleet reliability and availability, including long maintenance-free operating periods, real-time vehicle heath management and fewer parts.
  • Our open system approach allows the Army to easily modernize DEFIANT X over time, providing the flexibility and adaptability needed to stay ahead of the evolving threat as missions and conditions change.
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Airbus Presents Optimate: A Next-Generation A350 Cockpit on Wheels

Airbus Presents Optimate: A Next-Generation A350 Cockpit on Wheels

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Airbus, Airbus UpNext, has begun testing new technologies on an innovative electric vehicle in order to support automated taxiing and improve pilot assistance.

The goal of the three-year research project, named Optimate, is to enhance human-machine interaction, flight safety, and aircraft navigation systems by combining a wide range of cutting-edge technologies, such as sophisticated automation, computer vision, data fusion, and machine learning.

Developing and testing automatic taxiing based on more precise and dependable position calculations, as well as evaluating the possibility of using quantum sensing to enhance position availability and navigation system resilience, are important goals of Optimate.

Examining how a virtual flight assistant and collaborative map may help pilots make strategic decisions and communicate with air traffic control and airline operations centres is another goal.

The new architecture and algorithms will be verified on a test bed electric vehicle that can roll along airport runways like an aeroplane and replicates the essential features of an actual aircraft cockpit in order to assist lower CO2 emissions from  test operations. With the help of cutting-edge automation technology including the most recent LIDAR and external cameras, together with GPS, satcom, and 5G, it will resemble an A350 cockpit on wheels.

Utilising the virtual assistant for a completely automated gate-to-gate voyage on an A350 flight test aircraft will be the project’s final phase.

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India is currently in the process of developing its own 72-seater aircraft.

India is currently in the process of developing its own 72-seater aircraft.

India stands on the cusp of pioneering its aircraft development, a potential reality in the near future. With the Indian aviation market poised to become one of the world’s top five largest markets, there’s a burgeoning demand for carriers like Indigo, Air India, and Akasa. Together, they’ve placed orders for over 1400 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus, marking one of the highest orders in the aviation industry.

‘Made in India’ passenger aircraft.

To transform the dream of a ‘Made in India’ passenger aircraft into reality and propel the local aerospace ecosystem, India requires a comprehensive National Aerospace Policy. Notably, Airbus and Boeing have yet to establish final aircraft assembly lines (FALs) within India, spurred by the significant orders received.

India has exerted considerable pressure to establish assembly lines domestically, mirroring the success of similar initiatives abroad. With its aviation market growing at an unprecedented rate, India boasts the largest order book for new aircraft, estimated at a staggering $70 billion over the next decade. Existing airports bustle with travelers while new ones are either under construction or in the planning phase.

The timeline for India to realize the Prime Minister’s vision of a Made in India commercial aircraft hinges on various factors. Leveraging its prowess in exporting IT services and aerospace technologies, India is poised for the next stage of development.

The success rate of China’s C919 and ARJ21.

In the realm of commercial aerospace manufacturing, Europe and the US have long held the reins, but China has emerged as a formidable contender in recent years. China’s journey began in 2002 with the ARJ21, a regional jet, and later the C919, a larger narrow-body aircraft. While the ARJ21 encountered delays and is seen as a modest achievement, the C919 boasts over one thousand orders, marking a significant success.

Both programs heavily rely on foreign technologies sourced from global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), underscoring the importance of collaborations and creating an appealing environment for foreign companies to operate within China.

Indian HAL has 80 years of history.

India, too, boasts a rapidly growing aerospace sector that traces its roots back to pre-independence times, predating China’s endeavors by over 60 years. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), initially established as Hindustan Aircraft Ltd in 1940, spearheaded this journey. Given its early establishment, India was poised to become a major player in aerospace manufacturing.

HAL shoulders much of the responsibility for developing aircraft for defense purposes, including the TEJAS, attack and multirole helicopters, trainer aircraft, and notably, the Dornier D228, a passenger version aircraft representing a significant breakthrough for the Indian Aerospace Industry. Demand for helicopters is also on the rise, further showcasing India’s potential in the aerospace domain.

India’s aviation market Demand.

One drawback in the defense sector is the inherent uncertainty surrounding government budgets and delays in allocating funds for helicopter purchases. On the civilian front, aircraft demand remains consistently high, especially when they meet passenger needs and receive regular approvals from authorities.

India’s aviation market is distinct, calling for unique aircraft programs. With a high density of flyers, there’s a prevalent preference for short-haul flights from rural areas to major cities. As the air travel network expands to Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, the number of operational airports is expected to surge from the current 140 to 230-240.

The demand for smaller aircraft, particularly for serving Tier 1-3 cities, is paramount for airlines. While the Dornier aircraft has been utilized for some routes, its availability limitations and noise levels have raised concerns. Jet planes emerge as preferable options for Indian travelers due to their efficiency and comfort, aligning better with the needs of airlines.

Establishing a sustainable aircraft program requires long-term commitment and substantial risk capital, often necessitating government support akin to what’s observed in developed markets. For instance, COMAC, over its lifetime, received significant state-related support ranging from $49-72 billion, while Airbus, over the years, obtained $22 billion from the EU.

Encouraging private investment is crucial for fostering growth in the aerospace sector and nurturing indigenous aircraft development in India. Such initiatives could significantly bolster the country’s aviation industry and enhance its self-reliance in this critical domain.

Indian Regional Jet (IRJ).

Introducing the Indian Regional Jet (IRJ), a cutting-edge project led by India’s National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and set to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). This regional airliner aims to redefine air travel with its design, offering a capacity of 80–100 passengers. The base model, known as the RTA-70, will boast 80–90 seats while distinguishing itself with a cost that’s 20 percent lower than its global counterparts.

Development is well underway, with plans for a 90-seater variant expected to take flight by 2026. This next-generation aircraft promises impressive specs, including a range of 1,350 nm (2,500 km), and requiring a take-off and landing field length of 900m (2,950 ft). With dimensions of 28.6m in length and a wingspan of 29.4m, it reaches a service ceiling of 30,000 ft and cruises at 300kt, all while meeting Stage 4 noise criteria.

Saras Aircraft.

Meanwhile, NAL’s innovative spirit extends to the NAL Saras, another project in the works. Already, prototypes like the Mark1 and its successor, the second version dubbed ‘Mark 2,’ are pushing boundaries. The Saras Mark 2 showcases versatility, offering ranges of 600 km with 19 passengers, 1,200 km with 14 passengers, and an impressive 2,000 km with eight passengers. With a top cruise speed exceeding 600 km/h and an endurance of six hours, it’s a game-changer.

Max. take-off : 7600 kg (16755 lb)
Operating empty wt. : 5100 kg (11244 lb)
Max. fuel weight : 1832 kg (4039 lb)
Max. pay load : 1710 kg (3770 lb)

Power plant
SARAS is powered by two Pratt and Whitney Canada.
PT6A-67A turbo-prop engines (flat rated to 1200 shp)
driving 2.6 m diameter 5 bladed constant speed propellers
at 1700 rpm in a Tractor configuration.
Main dimensions
Span : 18 m (59.05 ft)
Length : 17.3 m (56.8 ft)
Height : 5.5 m (18 ft)

Performance (ISA)
Take-off distance : 820 m (2690 ft)
Landing distance : 665 m (2182 ft)
Max. rate of climb : 10 m/s (1980 ft/min)
Max. range* (19 pax) : 750 km (405 nm)
Max. range* (10 pax) : 2350 km (1270 nm)
Ferry range* : 2400 km (1295 nm)
Max. cruise speed : 485 km/hr (260 Kts)
Endurance : 6 hours . With 45 min reserve

Equipped with propeller engines initially, the Saras is poised for future upgrades to jet engines if project requirements align. NAL’s ambition shines through in its cost-effective approach, targeting ₹50 crore per unit for the Saras Mk2, undercutting the ₹55 crore Dornier 228 with its unpressurized cabin and altitude restrictions. Anticipating government support, NAL aims to secure orders for 50-60 units to ensure manufacturing viability, with an initial order of 15 aircraft from the Indian Air Force potentially expanding to 120–140 units in the coming years.

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Boeing’s Software Advances Enable Future Manned-Unmanned Refueling

Boeing's Software Advances Enable Future Manned-Unmanned Refueling

Boeing has used a digital F/A-18 Super Hornet and MQ-25 Stingray to develop its manned-unmanned teaming technology.

Testing reveals that the software is developing for prospective use by the US Navy in the future, including the possibility of deploying the teaming capability on F/A-18 Block II and III Super Hornets.

A Boeing-led team used the platforms’ current communications links to practically simulate an F/A-18 pilot controlling an unmanned MQ-25 to release a refuelling drogue and refuel the Super Hornet in a simulator lab.

The upgraded software is an evolution of earlier experiments conducted by Boeing. To further demonstrate Boeing’s preparedness to provide this capability to the Navy, test teams not only changed the software but also brought in hardware and datalinks that were already set up on both platforms to run the finished product.

Pilots will have more flexibility when refuelling from larger distances because to the software developed by Boeing, which will drastically shorten the time it takes for an F/A-18 to communicate with a MQ-25.

“MUM-T refuelling was intended to be as realistic as possible,” stated Juan Cajigas, the director of the Advanced MQ-25 programme. Aerial refuelling resembles a ballet performed by two aircraft joining forces. The ability for a single pilot to safely and effectively oversee the operations is a significant advancement in aerial refuelling technology.

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