Flight International — 22 August — 4 September 2017

(C. Jardin) #1


ightglobal.com 22 August-4 September 2017 | Flight International | 19

Meteor plans to
make a bigger
Defence P


orthrop Grumman will de-
liver an early operational ca-
pability (EOC) example of the
MQ-4C Triton unmanned air ve-
hicle to the US Navy during Sep-
tember: just after a previously an-
nounced August target date.
The manufacturer began taxi
testing the Global Hawk deriva-
tive at its Palmdale facility in

California in mid-August, and ex-
pects first flight of the EOC air-
craft will occur in the coming
weeks, Thomas Twomey, Triton
business development lead, tells
FlightGlobal. The company has
built three Triton test vehicles.
“I wouldn’t consider it that
much of a delay: it’s right on
where we said we would deliver

it,” he says. “This is development,
so there’s always challenges.”
The baseline Triton, also
known as the integrated function
capability 3 configuration, will be
equipped with Northrop’s multi-
function active sensor; a maritime
patrol version of an active elec-
tronically scanned array radar.
Northrop will deliver two
baseline aircraft – B5 and B6 – to
NAS Point Mugu, California.
As tensions rise in the Asia-
Pacific region over North Korea’s
ballistic missile development ac-
tivities, the USN will premiere its
newest intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance capability in
Guam in 2018 – a plan the service
laid in place under US President
Barack Obama’s administration.
Following the Guam deploy-
ment, the next batches of Tritons
will operate from NAS Sigonella,
Sicily, and an undisclosed base
in the US Central Command re-
gion, Twomey says. ■


he US Marine Corps is stand-
ing down each of its aviation
units for a 24h period weekly
over a fortnight-long period, as
the service copes with a recent
spike in mishaps, including two
fatal accidents.
“This operational reset will be
taken at the discretion of com-
manders, based on their units’
operational commitments, to
focus on the fundamentals of safe
flight operations, standardisation,
and combat readiness,” the
USMC says.
Gen Robert Neller, the USMC’s
Commandant, says that opera-
tional commitments across the
fleet will not be affected as each
unit observes the temporary
stand down.
The USMC is facing a spiral-
ling mishap rate, according to in-

formation released by the Navy
Safety Center. Its so-called Class
A accident rate has risen to 4.
per 100,000 flight hours since the
beginning of fiscal year 2017, ver-
sus 3.42 during the same period a
year earlier.

On 10 July, the service experi-
enced its deadliest aviation acci-
dent in more than a decade, when
a Lockheed Martin KC-130T op-
erated by the Marine Forces Re-
serve crashed in Mississippi, kill-
ing 16 personnel. Its remaining

12 examples of the tanker/trans-
port remain grounded.
This was swiftly followed by
the loss of a Bell Boeing MV-
off the coast of eastern Australia
on 5 August, which left three Ma-
rines dead.
A safety report issued four
days after the accident states that
the tiltrotor – which had taken off
from the amphibious assault ship
USS Bonhomme Richard carry-
ing 26 personnel – hit the US Na-
vy’s amphibious transport dock
USS Green Bay during its final
approach in the Shoalwater Bay
Training Area off Queensland.
The cause of the crash remains
under investigation, but the
USMC has lifted a temporary
grounding order imposed on
other MV-22s assigned to its 31st
Marine Expeditionary Unit. ■

An MV-22 was lost while operating from the USS Bonhomme Richard

Commonwealth of Australia

Initial deployment of the Global Hawk derivative will be to Guam

Northrop Grumman


n additional Lockheed Mar-
tin F-22 will join the US Air
Force’s operational test fleet by
the end of this year, with the jet
having been taken out of storage
at Edwards AFB, California.
The USAF selected F-22 serial
number 91-4006, an engineering,
manufacturing and development-
model example produced with a
Block 10 avionics configuration.
Modifications expected to cost
$25 million, to upgrade the
parked Raptor to a Block 20 avi-
onics standard, have already
started, the service confirms,
with the platform’s hydraulic,
electrical and flight-control sys-
tems also to be updated.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows
the stored asset as being 16 years
old. Plans to add the extra test air-
craft were included in justifica-
tion documents for the USAF’s
fiscal year 2018 budget request. ■


Raptor brought

back to life with

$25m overhaul


Triton stays on course for early test


USMC puts air safety in the spotlight

Rising incidence of mishaps, including two fatal crashes, prompts 24h stand downs to sharpen focus on procedures
Free download pdf