Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Thales in July reported delivering the first shipset of avionics hardware it is providing for British Royal Air Force CH-47 Chinooks as part of Project Julius, a $650 million avionics and engine upgrade of the RAF Chinook fleet.
Working under contract from Boeing, Thales U.K. is supplying an integrated glass cockpit based on its TopDeck avionics suite, designed for military and civil helicopters including the Sikorsky S-76D. The RAF Chinooks also will receive more powerful Honeywell T55-L-714A engines.
Speaking July 20 at the Farnborough Airshow, Peter Hitchcock, managing director of the Thales U.K. avionics business unit, said software for the new suite was being finalized on a simulator and would be delivered within a month. Two helicopters were to be upgraded initially, with first flight of a Mk. 4 Chinook expected this year.
The RAF Chinooks will be fitted with four 6X8 multifunction displays, two on either side of an existing central instrument panel, a new radio management system and electronic standby instruments. Thales also will offer a stowable tablet computer with touchscreen interface, an electronic flight bag application serving as a tactical display with moving-map and mission planning capability.
Hitchcock said the new cockpit is based on TopDeck building blocks. “We’ve used as much of the TopDeck core elements as we can,” he said. “We focused on how to optimize and tune those (elements) for the requirement” while adding additional functionality sought by the RAF.
Project Julius was initiated in December 2008 based on an urgent operational request to modernize the RAF’s HC2/2A Chinook fleet for operations in Afghanistan. Including eight extended-range HC3 models, the upgrade involves 46 aircraft and is expected to be fielded in 2011.
Boeing announced plans Aug. 2 to relocate its C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) and B-1 program from Long Beach, Calif., to Oklahoma City between 2011 and 2012.
The legacy aircraft modernization programs, employing about 800 people in southern California, are part of the Maintenance, Modifications & Upgrades (MM&U) division of Boeing’s Global Services & Support business unit. About 550 positions will be relocated to Oklahoma City. The remaining positions will be reduced from the programs over the next two years as contracts are fulfilled, according to Boeing.
“Making a decision like this is never easy, but as we reviewed our anticipated operating costs for the next several years, it became clear that Boeing needs to take major actions on these programs in order to remain affordable for our customers,” said Mark Bass, MM&U vice president and general manager. “We remain committed to maintaining the excellent record of performance that our employees deliver for our U.S. Air Force B-1 and C-130 AMP customers during this transition.”
Boeing said it received the first APG-82(V)1 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar test set for the U.S. Air Force F-15E Radar Modernization Program (RMP) from Raytheon on June 10. The radar test set was to undergo further tests at Boeing’s Electronic Systems Integration Lab in St. Louis before being integrated into an F-15E.
The APG-82(V) 1 replaces the legacy Hughes/Raytheon APG-70 multimode radar with an AESA radar, improving detection and tracking of enemy targets.
“One AESA-equipped F-15E can detect and track multiple targets simultaneously and gain the same battle picture and prosecute the same number of attacks that currently require several mechanically scanned radar assets,” said Brad Jones, Boeing director for U.S. Air Force Development Programs. “Adding AESA multiplies the effectiveness of the F-15E.”
Raytheon is producing five AESA radar test units as part of the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the program and will support Boeing’s integration of AESA into the F-15E. Integration will take place at Boeing facilities in St. Louis, followed by developmental and initial operational test and evaluation flight programs.
Other RMP elements include a wideband radome, modified Environment Control System, and modified Radio Frequency Tunable Filters, which allow the radar and electronic warfare system to operate simultaneously, Boeing said.
ITT Electronic Systems received the first international order for its AN/ALQ-211(V) 9 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS) through a Foreign Military Sale (FMS).
Andrew J. Dunn, ITT Electronic Systems vice president of International Business Development, said the FMS sale to an unnamed country launches the company’s electronic warfare program for legacy F-16s. The AIDEWS system is contained in a pod retrofitted to the aircraft.
Dunn, interviewed July 20 at the Farnborough Airshow, said the order represents a “launch quantity” of about a dozen systems.
ITT Electronic Systems, Clifton, N.J. already is in full-rate production of the AIDEWS system for F-16s destined for Pakistan and Turkey through FMS. The company envisions a retrofit market of potentially hundreds of systems from countries such as Chile, Jordan, Romania and Bulgaria acquiring used F-16s.
Dunn said at this point there have been only “discussions” with the U.S. Air Force aimed at replacing the legacy Raytheon and Northrop Grumman EW systems on American F-16s.
W. L. Gore & Associates, Newark, Del., entered into a strategic partnership with A. E. Petsche Co., of Arlington, Texas, to distribute GORE FireWire cable products for the F-35 Lightning II program.
According to a July 19 announcement at the Farnborough Airshow, A. E. Petsche will manage the requirements of all program partners to ensure optimum stocking levels and timely distribution.
“Our commitment to the JSF F-35 Lightning program is well established through many years of support. This alignment addresses emerging needs to provide value-added services that extend beyond the physical product,” said Tom Sharp, Gore’s Joint Strike Fighter program manager. “And one of the most significant benefits of this partnership is that these additional services will come without any increase in cost to the customer.”
A.E. Petsche provides logistics services supporting interconnect products to the aviation industry. As of December 2009, the company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Arrow Electronics. The company will stock F-35 products in the United States and Europe, meeting demand through its ZERO-BASE Inventory Program.
“Through this partnership with W. L. Gore & Associates, adding F-35 Lightning products to our existing product range will provide just-in-time delivery solutions for this important program,” said Glenn Davidson, A.E. Petsche CEO.
Databus test system supplier AIM GmbH established a new AIM-USA enterprise, based in Philadelphia, to support its customer base in North America. Bill Wargo, formerly vice president of sales and marketing at L-3 Communications Telemetry East, was named president of AIM-USA, which as of October will be the only authorized AIM GmbH sales and technical support center in the United States.
“This strategic move provides a solid base for the future and enables us to better serve our U.S. customers,” Wargo said. “We are establishing a network of technically qualified U.S. personnel including sales engineers and field applications engineers, who will be strategically based throughout the U.S. to provide the best service and support possible in any time zone.”
Boeing subsidiary Insitu, of Bingen, Wash., was awarded the long-awaited Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS) Tier II contract to supply its Integrator unmanned aircraft system.
The $45 million contract from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), announced in July, marks the first time Insitu, acquired by Boeing in 2008, has been designated as prime contractor.
STUAS will provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support for Marine Corps land forces, the Naval Special Warfare Command and Navy ships. The contract had been under consideration since 2007, experiencing a series of delays. Insitu beat out competing bids from Raytheon, with the KillerBee UAV; UAS Dynamics, an Elbit Systems of America and General Dynamics joint venture, with a Hermes 90 configuration; and Textron AAI Corp.’s Aerosonde Mk 4.7.
Insitu will begin the 24-month engineering, manufacturing and development phase to build and test its Integrator UAS for STUAS Tier II system requirements. Also participating in the contract, Harris Corp. will provide systems engineering support and serve as lead integrator for its Communications Relay Payload; Corsair Engineering, Kirkland, Wash., will provide IPT leads for integrated logistic support and training systems; and Black Ram Engineering Services, also of Kirkland, will provide systems engineering, flight test and system certifications.
The Insitu/Boeing team was considered the front-runner for the contract, based on its already fielded ScanEagle UAV. The 135-pound MTOW Integrator is larger than ScanEagle, which allows it to support more payloads, including electro-optical, infrared, radar and communications relay. The Integrator and the ScanEagle have a common ground station, the SkyHook wingtip capture retrieval system, and a common pneumatic catapult launcher. “We’re taking the lessons learned from ScanEagle to make sure the Integrator sets the standard going forward,” Steven M. Sliwa, Insitu CEO and president, told reporters July 30.
Under the contract, Integrator will support two operational assessments. The first will determine if an early operational capability option will be exercised, leading to the fielding of up to five systems in fiscal 2011. The second will support low-rate initial production of two systems, one each for the Navy and Marine Corps. Initial operating capability is expected in fourth quarter of fiscal 2013. The Integrator platform then is expected to move to full-rate production of up to 56 systems.
“Although the initial program may be modest, we believe it’ll be an order of magnitude higher over time,” Sliwa said.
ADS-B Data Services
ITT Corp. said air-traffic surveillance data collected from its nationwide Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) network is available for sale to customers such as airlines, airports and aviation service providers.
In an announcement July 20 at the Farnborough Airshow, ITT said precise, continuously updated positional information collected through its system architecture, which fuses data from surveillance sources including the satellite-based ADS-B network, terminal and enroute air-traffic control radars and the Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X (ASDE-X) runway surveillance system at major U.S. airports, can be streamed to customers to help optimize business operations.
The system, which is separate of the ADS-B operational path, supports streaming as well as archiving and retrieval of data for historical trend analysis, and a situation awareness application offering flight track visualization for purposes such as fleet management. “ITT is delivering a complete, accurate and rapidly updating data service that provides tracking and flight data for all aircraft operating in the U.S. National Airspace System,” said John Kefaliotis, ITT vice president of next generation transportation systems.
“With strict adherence to guidelines for data delivery provided by the FAA, ITT looks forward to offering the highest quality data service to a wide range of aviation industry businesses for which the highest quality aviation data set available is of commercial value.”
ITT in August 2007 was awarded the contract from FAA to build a nationwide ADS-B ground infrastructure consisting of 794 radio stations, control stations for processing data and service delivery points at air-traffic control facilities. Segment 1 of the contract calls for the construction of 330 radio station sites, or about 40 percent of the network, by September. Nationwide availability is expected in 2013.
Holt Integrated Circuits was misidentified on the contents page of Industry Leader Profiles in the August 2010 issue, page 23. Holt, based in Mission Viejo, Calif., provides single-chip IC data bus solutions to the avionics industry.