Flight_International 28Jan2020

(Jacob Rumans) #1


flightglobal.com 28 January-3 February 2020 | Flight International | 17

Delayed Defiant
pushes the envelope
Defence P


he US Air Force’s (USAF’s)
Lockheed Martin F-35A has
demonstrated a capability to
downlink targeting data about
multiple “air-breathing threats”
to ground forces.
Conducted over the White
Sands Missile Range in New
Mexico in December 2019, the
trial saw a pair of F-35As
interact with the US Army’s
Integrated Air and Missile De-
fense Battle Command System
(IBCS). The combat aircraft pro-
vided “an airborne sensor capa-
bility to successfully detect,
track and intercept near simulta-
neous air-breathing threats,” the
USAF says.
The aircraft and IBCS were


irbus Helicopters is to sup-
ply the UK Ministry of
Defence with an additional batch
of four H145 Jupiter trainers, for
operation by the Ascent Flight
Training joint venture.
Part of a £183 million ($
million) contract revision that
also includes an additional simu-
lator and infrastructure improve-
ments, delivery of the new heli-
copters is due to begin in 2020.
Ascent already operates a fleet
of three Jupiter HT1s, alongside 29
of the manufacturer's smaller


ynetics’ X-61A Gremlins un-
manned air vehicle (UAV)
made its first flight in November
2019, the company disclosed on
17 January.
Lasting 1h 41min and per-
formed over the Dugway Proving
Ground, near Salt Lake City,
Utah, the sortie culminated with
the test asset being destroyed in a
crash after its main recovery
parachute failed to deploy.
“The loss of our vehicle
validates our decision to build
five [X-61As],” says Tim Keeter,
Dynetics’ Gremlins programme
“Overall, I am proud to see all
the hard work pay off and we are
excited to continue this momen-
tum towards the first airborne re-
covery in early 2020.”
Run by the US Defense
Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA), the Gremlins
programme’s aim is to create
low-cost UAVs that could be


F-35 passes muster as airborne sensor

Trial with US Army missile defence system demonstrates fighter’s ability to detect and share data on multiple threats

A-model platform proved effective in extending interceptor range

Lockheed Martin

connected through the Multi-
function Advanced Data Link
during the proof-of-concept

activity, which marked the first
time that F-35s have been
employed as sensors during such

a live fire test involving multiple
“This test validated the F-35’s
capability to serve as an airborne
sensor and extend the range of
critical Integrated Air and Missile
Defense interceptors,” says Greg
Ulmer, Lockheed’s general man-
ager of the F-35 programme. The
connectivity update enabled the
USAF assets to “gather, analyse
and seamlessly share critical in-
formation,” he adds.
Lockheed has not disclosed
the size of the targets engaged
during the trial, but says the work
also demonstrated a way to
engage low-flying threats that are
over the horizon or terrain
masked. ■

air-launched in swarms and then
recovered mid-air. Applications
could include providing surveil-
lance duties, or serving as loiter-
ing munitions.
“When the Gremlins complete
their mission, a [Lockheed Mar-
tin] C-130 transport aircraft
would retrieve them in the air
and carry them home, where
ground crews would prepare
them for their next use within
24h,” says DARPA.
An expected life of about 20
uses “could provide significant
cost advantages over expendable
systems by reducing payload and
airframe costs, and by having
lower mission and maintenance
costs than conventional
platforms, which are designed to
operate for decades,” it adds.
Flight testing should
culminate with Dynetics demon-
strating the ability to launch, fly
and recover four X-61As in less
than 30min. ■


Flight-test Gremlins end

X-61A debut with crash

Current trio of H145-model trainers deliver rear crew instruction

Crown Copyright


UK to increase Jupiter fleet

H135 Juno HT1s, at the tri-service
Defence Helicopter Flying School
at the Royal Air Force’s Shawbury
base, under its Military Flying
Training System contract.
The new procurement meets a
need to provide extra capacity for
rear crew training, which cannot
be performed on the H135. The
move will also free up extra capac-
ity elsewhere in Ascent’s opera-
tion, sources indicate, since some
UK rear crews destined for rotary-
wing service still undertake some
training on fixed-wing aircraft. ■
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