Military Aviation

Military aviation news - December 2006

216 modernization kits for Turkish F-16s

The U.S. government awarded a $635 million contract to Lockheed Martin for the upgrade of Turkey's fleet of F-16 fighter jets.

Under the contract, which runs untill 2016, Lockheed will supply 216 modernization kits to upgrade F-16s operated by the Turkish air force and to provide testing and training help.

More details at

Posted: Tue, Dec 27, 2006 16:44 (CET)

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter completes first flight

Fort Worth, Texas, December 15, 2006 -- The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II lifted into the skies today for the first time, completing a successful inaugural flight and initiating the most comprehensive flight test program in military aviation history.

“The Lightning II performed beautifully,” said F-35 Chief Pilot Jon Beesley following the flight. “What a great start for the flight-test program, and a testimony to the people who have worked so hard to make this happen.” The most powerful engine ever placed in a fighter aircraft – the Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan, with 40,000 pounds of thrust – effortlessly pushed the F-35 skyward.

The flight of the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35 variant began at 12:44 p.m. CST at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, when the jet lifted off and began a climb-out to 15,000 feet. Beesley then performed a series of maneuvers to test aircraft handling and the operation of the engine and subsystems. He returned for a landing at 1:19 p.m CST. Two F 16s and an F/A-18 served as chase aircraft.

The stealthy F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, 5TH Generation fighter designed to replace a wide range of existing aircraft, including AV-8B Harriers, A-10s, F-16s, F/A-18 Hornets and United Kingdom Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers.

F-35 first flight takeoff F-35 first flight landing

The first F-35 Lightning II flew for the first time on Friday, Dec. 15. The plane is shown climbing out shortly after takeoff from Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. The stealthy, multi-service F-35 is the most powerful single-engine fighter in history, and is designed to replace the F-16, F/A-18 Hornet, the Harrier and the A-10.

Full press release @ Lockheed Martin

Posted: Sun, Dec 17, 2006 20:55 (CET)

Lockheed Martin F-35 completes first ground taxi test

FORT WORTH, Texas , December 8, 2006 -- The F-35 Lightning II moved under its own power for the first time on Thursday afternoon, initiating the last series of tests before the fighter jet’s first flight.

After a series of systems checks at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, F-35 Chief Pilot Jon Beesley advanced the throttle and the F-35 moved out of its hangar to begin taxi tests. The jet then traveled at up to 30 knots (~ 35 m.p.h.) on the runway, testing systems such as brakes and nosewheel steering in advance of first flight. Medium-speed taxi tests of 65 knots (~ 75 m.p.h.) and 80 knots (~ 92 m.p.h.) are planned next, weather permitting. The first Lightning II is powered by the Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan, the most powerful engine ever installed in a fighter aircraft.

F-35 taxiing The first F-35 Lightning II taxis along the runway at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 7. The test initiated the last round of evaluations before the jet's first flight, and marked the first time the aircraft moved under its own power.

The stealthy F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, 5TH Generation fighter designed to replace a wide range of existing aircraft, including AV-8B Harriers, A-10s, F-16s, F/A-18 Hornets and United Kingdom Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers.

Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 Lightning II with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Two separate, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development: the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136.

Source: Lockheed Martin

Posted: Sat, Dec 9, 2006 19:43 (CET)

Northrop Grumman outlines B-2 bomber enhancements as USAF reveals plan to also boost strike fleet with new aircraft design

High-energy laser weapons are a potential future upgrade for the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit bomber, which is expected to remain in service beyond 2050. Improved passive and active stealth techniques are also expected to be needed beyond 2020 to keep the type viable as a penetrating bomber, the company says.

Northrop is proposing a series of incremental upgrades to keep the USAF's 21-aircraft B-2 fleet viable while the service pursues a three-phase approach to developing and fielding a new long-range strike (LRS) capability. The plan is to resize and modernise the current bomber fleet, develop a new aircraft to replace its Boeing B-1Bs and B-52s around 2020 and then, beyond 2035, field a new long-range strike capability that could include hypersonic vehicles.

Northtrop's future bomber © Northrop Grumman

Northrop says a "mannable" subsonic design could meet LRS requirements, while Lockheed favours supersonic and unmanned (Below)

Lockheed's future bomber © Lockheed Martin

Full article is available here

Posted: Tue, Dec 5, 2006 16:21 (CET)

Sukhoi holding's newest jets to take to the skies in 2007

(MOSCOW, November 29) - Sukhoi, Russia's state-owned aircraft manufacturing holding, said Wednesday (Nov 29) its newest military and civilian aircraft will take to the skies in 2007.

The company head, Mikhail Pogosyan, said Sukhoi will conduct flight tests of the Su-35 advanced multi-role fighter and SuperJet-100 medium-haul passenger airplane prior to the MAKS-2007 International Aviation & Space Salon set for August 21-26.

The Su-35 Flanker-E is an advanced version of the Su-27 interceptor and is powered by two AL-37F engines. It is a versatile fighter that combines high maneuverability and the capacity to intercept air targets with ground and sea attack capability using both unguided and guided, including high precision, weapons.

Sergei Sergeyev, deputy general director of the holding and head of Sukhoi's China office, earlier said a prototype of the Su-35 has already conducted test flights, but refused to give more details. He said the company has started to promote the Su-35 fighter on the Chinese market.

The SuperJet project is a family of medium-range passenger aircraft developed by Sukhoi in cooperation with major American and European aviation corporations, including Boeing, Snecma, Thales, Messier Dowty, Liebherr Aerospace, and Honeywell.

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, a subsidiary of the Sukhoi holding, said last month it plans to produce at least 700 SuperJet planes, and intends to sell 35% of them to North America, 25% to Europe, 10% to Latin America, and 7% to Russia and China.

The company said SuperJets-100 will go into service in late 2007-early 2008.

Source: RIA Novesti

Posted: Tue, Dec 5, 2006 16:12 (CET)

Russia starts supplies of Su-30 fighters to Venezuela

MOSCOW: Russia has shipped the first two Su-30MK2 multi-role fighters to Venezuela under a contract signed in July 2006, an aircraft manufacturing industry official said Thursday.

Russia signed $1-billion contracts on supplies of 24 Su-30MK2 Flanker fighters and 30 helicopters to Venezuela prior to this year's visit to Russia by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, triggering criticism from Washington, which regards the Venezuelan regime as a potential security threat in the region.

"The first Su-30MK2 fighters for the Venezuelan air force have been transported to Moscow by an An-124 Condor transport plane, and later they will be shipped to Venezuela," the official said, adding that two more fighters will be delivered to the Latin American country by the end of 2006.

Russian-made fighters will substitute American F-16 and French Mirage fighters currently deployed by the Venezuelan air force.

The Su-30MK2 is an export version of a formidable Su-27 Flanker air-superiority fighter capable of accomplishing a wide variety of combat missions at significant distances from the home base, in any weather conditions and severe jamming environment, both by day and night.

Source: RIA Novesti

Posted: Wed, Dec 1, 2006 12:11 (CET)

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