Tag Archives: Transport

Airforce Life Cycle Management Center helps design transport isolation system

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) is playing a unique role in the United States’ comprehensive Ebola response efforts in West Africa through the center’s involvement in developing a transport isolation system.

The system will enable safe aeromedical evacuation of Department of Defense patients in C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster IIIs.

The Human Systems Division — one of nine divisions within AFLCMC’s Agile Combat Support Directorate — is leading the integration of multiple System Program Offices to support the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s task to rapidly field the transport isolation system (TIS) by January.

Lt. Col. Scott Bergren, the chief of the Aircrew Performance Branch, is among those involved in the project.

“AFLCMC was notified the third week of October that its help was needed,” Bergren said. “We also were informed that the intent was to fly this system in an operational test beginning Dec. 1. So we were given a month and a half to ensure this system is safe to fly. All involved offices within AFLCMC have rallied to help get the TIS out the door.

“While DTRA is providing overall program management and contracting actions, our efforts have focused on quickly collecting the test data needed to assess the safety of the system for use in identified aircraft,” Bergren continued. “For example, we reached out to the Navy and obtained existing test data for subcomponents of the TIS used in Navy weapon systems today. This prevented us from having to redo those tests, which saved time. Fortunately, we have those connections and our division possesses the capability to analyze test data and certify components already in use within DOD.

“We’re thinking differently and more creatively to ensure we keep pace with the Pentagon’s timeline for this isolation system,” Bergren added. “We want to ensure this project is completed on time and safely.”

An example of creative thinking is that the AFLCMC team identified a proven LED lighting system used in the KC-135 Stratotanker platform today as a means to provide medical lighting in the TIS.

“This avoided a development effort by the contractor and cut roughly two weeks from a schedule in which every day counts,” Bergren said.

According to Melina Baez-Bowersox, a technical lead engineer in the Aeromedical Branch, additional challenges arise anytime there is a proposal to add a new system or equipment to an Air Force platform, such as an aircraft.

“Part of our responsibility is to assess the TIS’s capability by testing and evaluating the system on the aircraft,” she said. “We ask ourselves, ‘How does it (TIS) behave?’, ‘What does adding the system do to the structural integrity of the aircraft?’, ‘Is the TIS safe for patients, aircrews and the aircraft?’

“Ultimately, we want to be able to safely transport infected individuals back to the United States in a way that contains Ebola exposure to others while also preventing contamination of an aircraft or losing a precious Air Force asset,” she continued.

“We’re the right organization to be involved to deliver this critical capability that is quite complex and under an extremely compressed timeline,” said Col. William McGuffey, the chief of the Human Systems Division. “It’s another example of how AFLCMC acquires, fields and sustains systems and capabilities to support the urgent needs of other Air Force major commands and the DOD.

Pentagon officials say they do not expect the 3,000 U.S. troops heading to or already in the region to need the TIS because military personnel will not be treating Ebola patients directly.

“But we want to be prepared to care for the people we do have there just out of an abundance of caution,” Defense Department spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said.

Currently, transport of Ebola patients from overseas is done by Phoenix Air, a government contractor based in Georgia whose modified business jet is capable of carrying just a single patient.

The Pentagon’s TIS will be similar but larger than the units used by Phoenix Air, whose containment system is a tent-like structure held up by a metal framework within the aircraft.

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Qatar Selects Airbus A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport

By on Monday, March 31st, 2014

Airbus Defence and Space has been selected by Qatar to supply two A330 MRTT new generation air-to-air refuelling aircraft for the Qatar Emiri Air Force.

Qatar’s choice of the A330 MRTT makes it the seventh nation to select the type following Australia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom which have ordered a total of 34 aircraft, and India which is in the final stages of contractual negotiations for six aircraft. A total of 17 aircraft are currently in service.

The A330 MRTT is derived from the highly successful A330 commercial airliner and proven in-service as a tanker/transport with multi-role capability.

The Airbus Defence and Space A330 MRTT is the only new generation strategic tanker/transport aircraft flying and available today. The large 111 tonnes/ 245,000 lb basic fuel capacity of the successful A330-200 airliner, from which it is derived, enables the A330 MRTT to excel in air-to-air refuelling missions without the need for any additional fuel tank. The A330 MRTT is offered with a choice of proven air-to-air refuelling systems including an advanced Airbus Defence and Space Aerial Refuelling Boom System, and/or a pair of under-wing hose and drogue pods, and/or a Fuselage Refuelling Unit.

Thanks to its true wide-body fuselage, the A330 MRTT can also be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry up to 300 troops, or a payload of up to 45 tonnes/99,000 lb. It can also easily be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC). To-date, a total of 34 A330 MRTTs have been ordered by five customers (Australia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom), with one (Saudi Arabia) having already placed a repeat order.

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Thai Navy Discussing Transport Purchase with PTDI

07 November 2013

If the transaction will be concluded, it will be the first export contract for the supply of military transport version of the N-219 (photo : Inilah)

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) is in discussion with PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) over the potential purchase of up to 20 twin-turbo N219 utility transport aircraft, IHS Jane’s has learned.

PTDI officials attending the Defense and Security 2013 exhibition in Bangkok told IHS Jane’s on 5 November that they expect to sign a contract in 2014 to build and supply the aircraft in collaboration with local company Thai Aviation Industries (TAI).

As expected, the Thai Navy as part of the new aircraft will replace the outdated N22 Nomad Searchmasters and F27 Friendship, put the Thai military in the 1980s. (photo : thai aviation)

Officials said the agreement is likely to centre on the production of the aircraft in Indonesia with technologies transferred to TAI to facilitate localised maintenance, repair, and overhaul activities


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Airbus shows off new military transport plane

By on Monday, June 24th, 2013

The new Airbus military transport plane, much delayed and much needed by European defence forces, flew in to the Paris Air Show on Friday with the French President on board.

The plane, offering an exceptional range of capabilities, was a highlight of the fifth day of the 50th Paris Air Show when the gates were also thrown open to the public.

French President Francois Hollande, flew in to the show in one of the first Airbus A400M military transport planes.

Hollande came from a base west of Paris to the Le Bourget business airport were the show takes place every two years, but was to return to nearby Paris by road later in the day.

The A400M is set to enter service with the French Air Force within weeks, following years of troubled development owing in part to problems with its powerful turbo-prop engines.

The plane, a star at Le Bourget, was built to transport 37 tonnes of personnel, armoured vehicles or helicopters up to 3,300 kilometres (2,000 miles) to rustic landing strips near battle or disaster zones.

Delays in production meant that the aircraft was not available to transport French troops when Hollande sent forces into Mali.

“It is ready and will be a great success,” Hollande forecast, both in military terms and commercially, generating badly-needed jobs for the French economy.

The French leader vowed that the plane would honour its “rendez-vous on July 14,” the national holiday when military aircraft of all stripes participate in an aerial parade above the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Airbus expects to sell 400 of the cargo planes in the next 30 years, 174 of which have already been ordered by Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey.

It is four years behind schedule however, and has exceeded its initial budget by 6.2 billion euros ($8.2 billion), or about 10 percent.

As Hollande strolled through the show, two women activists from the Femen movement bared their breasts to highlight the plight of two others jailed since May 29 in Tunisia for having also demonstrated topless.

They were quickly handcuffed and taken away by the president’s security detail.

– New Airbus ‘Hushliner’ A350 flies over –

Another professional highlight of the show was a brief flyover by the new Airbus A350 passenger jet, in the air for just the third time since its maiden flight a week ago.

Airbus spokesman Alan Pardoe insisted the flyby was “not choreographed” but a part of the extensive flight tests, which are to total 2,500 hours, that all new planes undergo before they can be delivered to clients.

Dubbed the “Hushliner,” the plane passed in front of an effectively hushed crowd, followed by eight screaming jets of the Patrouille de France precision military flying team.

“It’s very elegant,” approved Genvieve Lefranc, a pensioner from the southern Dordogne region who came to Le Bourget with friends to see the A350.

“Handsome and majestic,” commented Jacques Juillet, another of those who made the trip, before adding: “Our pride and joy.”

Pardoe said Airbus was not sure when the plane first flew over Toulouse, southern France, “whether there was any prospect of getting it here,” noting that “the weather has kept us on our toes.”

Heavy thunderstorms that have drenched the show this week are not the kind of atmosphere that test officials prefer to begin with, he explained.

Airbus has booked 613 firm orders for the plane, 53 percent of which is composed of titanium and advanced aluminium alloys, and which has a list price that starts at $254.3 million for model that has 270 seats.

It is expected to cut fuel consumption by about 25 percent compared with most current long-haul airliners, competing directly with the Boeing 878 Dreamliner.

The public showed that they were highly impressed by the aircraft, as they milled about with cameras, folding chairs and strollers on the first day the show was open to the public.

Gray skies did little to dampen the mood as crowds gathered to see all sorts of aircraft, from combat helicopters and jets to tiny drones that can stream high-definition images to smartphones and iPads.

Show organisers broadcast snippets of conversations with the A350 cockpit and carefully selected musical backgrounds, while the drones danced in formation to the soundtrack from “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Tony Bennett singing “Fly Me to the Moon.”

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China tests new military transport plane

By on Monday, January 28th, 2013

China has carried out a test flight of its biggest-ever army transport aeroplane, state media said Sunday, as the country strengthens its military capabilities.

A successful test flight of the Y-20, a long-range heavy transport jet, took place on Saturday in the northwest of the country, the People’s Daily newspaper reported on its website.

The plane was developed in China to transport military combat and support vehicles and can carry up to 66 tons, the report said, making it China’s biggest home-grown military transport plane to date.

The Y-20 would be a “huge boost to the intercontinental strategic projection abilities of China’s air force”, the Beijing News cited an army expert as saying.

China has invested heavily in upgrading its military in recent years, rattling its neighbours in Asia. It insists its army spending is relatively low as a proportion of GDP and is not aimed at any other country.

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China Unveils Photos of New Y-20 Heavy Transport

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In a subdued Christmas Eve presentation, Beijing has once again unveiled the presence of a new military aircraft.  Chinese websites posted indistinct photographs of what is being promoted as being the first domestically-produced heavy-lift military transport.

The new aircraft, designated the Xi’an Aircraft Corporation’s Y-20, is the latest in a long series of new military aircraft China has introduced to the world recently.  In a theme that is quickly becoming a Chinese tradition, the Y-20 was featured on Chinese websites in advance of a formal government announcement.  Shortly after the photographs appeared, Beijing quickly confirmed that the Ministry of Defense is developing a new heavy transport, supposedly the Y-20, as part of its military modernization campaign and for service in humanitarian and disaster-relief efforts.


The first prototype of the Chinese four-engine Y-20 transport aircraft undergoing taxi tests at Xi’an Aircraft’s Yanliang airfield in China’s Shaanxi Province located in east-central China. Photo via cjdby.net forum

The photographs were purportedly taken from long range at Xi’an Aircraft’s Yanliang airfield in China’s Shaanxi Province located in east-central China.  Although the websites used to display these photographs profess to be administered by Chinese aviation enthusiasts, most experts claim such presentations are actually the work of the Chinese government as a means of highlighting China’s technological prowess.

Some features of the new aircraft can be identified despite the poor quality of the images presented.  The aircraft bears a striking resemblance to the US Air Force C-17 Boeing-built transport, but appears to be of a size that might fit somewhere between the C-17 and the Airbus A400M. The new Chinese tactical transport aircraft will also challenge the Brazilian C-390 scheduled to fly in 2014.

The aircraft is powered by four jet engines that appear to be Russian Soloviev D-30KU engines.  The Soloviev D-30KU is a twin-shaft, low-bypass turbofan engine currently in service on Russian Ilyushin Il-62M and Tupolev TU-154M airliners and Ilyushin Il-76MD cargo transports.  The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) currently operates a small fleet of Russian-manufactured Il-76 transports powered by the D-30KU engine.

Chinese prototype and test aircraft have frequently been fitted with older engines and parts from other aircraft prior to entering production.  Some sources are speculating that a production-model of the Y-20, should it actually go into production, would likely be powered by Chinese-built, high-bypass WS-20 powerplants in lieu of the D-30KUs.

The Y-20 also features a high-wing configuration and T-tail and is estimated to weigh-in at 200 tons or so.  The aircraft’s nose also shares a similarity with the Ukrainian-built Antonov An-70 medium-range transport.

Although not confirmed, several analysts believe design of the Y-20 likely began in 2005.  Rumors have swirled throughout the defense community for years speculating that China was pursuing development of a heavy cargo transport.  Currently, the PLAAF has a small, but growing fleet of transports that includes 20 Ilyushin Il-76 transports.

In the aftermath of a massive 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province, the PLAAF was able to deploy only a small number of transports to ferry relief supplies to the stricken area while the USAF managed to fly several fully-loaded C-17s into the area.  The Chinese government considered this testimony to American air superiority to be a humiliating indictment of China’s failure to care for its own.  This event likely energized Y-20 design efforts.

A model of the Y-20 was featured in a Chinese trade show in 2009, but the speed with which a full-scale model has appeared has come as a minor surprise.  China is known to have pumped billions of dollars into military modernization and it is suspected that large sums have been earmarked for development of a domestically-produced turbofan engine capable of powering a heavy-lift transport.

Theoretically, the Y-20 would give China a global airborne military capability to challenge the monopoly long enjoyed by the United States.  Chinese political and military leaders are painfully aware that a long-range, heavy-lift transport is necessary for China to be considered a serious force of global reach.

As can be said of many prototype aircraft that have appeared throughout aviation history, the appearance of a full-scale model doesn’t always translate into production of a model capable of delivering a level of performance equaling that demonstrated by existing aircraft currently in operation.  This is especially true of the Y-20 since Chinese designers have struggled for years to develop a domestic engine capable of powering an aircraft of this size.

Although many defense analysts continue to downplay advances in Chinese technology, it is true that Beijing has made remarkable progress in its space program, in developing advanced military hardware, and in conducting intricate military operations mastered by only a small number of nations.

As with all new advances unveiled by Beijing, questions will continue to fuel speculation that the Y-20, and a majority of China’s recently publicized military aircraft, is based on stolen technology.  A Chinese-born engineer working for Boeing was found guilty of delivering classified information related to American rocket technology to Chinese agents in 2010 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.  This same individual was accused of attempting to deliver classified data related to the C-17, but this charge was subsequently dropped.

While the technology featured in the Y-20 may eventually be discovered to be copied from other aircraft, such knowledge will have minimal impact on future development of Chinese aircraft.

Of greater importance is recognition of the expanded capabilities a truly functional Y-20 would give China.  A fleet of Y-20s would enable China to transport significant military forces far beyond its own borders.  In order to challenge US capabilities, many analysts estimate China would require a fleet of at least 300 heavy-lift aircraft, an estimate that may not be outside the realm of possibility.

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Brazilian Air Force, Embraer Conclude the KC-390 Military Transport Aircraft PDR

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In last week of August the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) and Embraer Defense and Security concluded the preliminary design review (PDR) of the military transport jet aircraft KC-390 development project.

“We are quite pleased with the results and we are sure that the project is on the right track”, said Colonel-Engineer Sergio Carneiro, Project KC-390 Manager at FAB. “We checked all the main aspects of the aircraft’s project and the KC-390 meets the Brazilian Air Force’s expectations.” The next review, the Critical Design review (CDR) is scheduled in seven months, in March 2013, will freeze the final configuration of the aircraft, enabling the company to release production drawings, the last phase before the construction of prototypes.

Embraer presented to the Air Force Command the technical characteristics of the project’s solutions adopted for structural and aircraft systems, including the definitions of the main components and their interfaces, demonstrating that the project has reached its expected maturity at the current phase. The discussion included an evaluation of the cockpit’s ergonomics. Equipped with advanced mission and flight systems, the KC-390 is the largest aircraft ever built by the Brazilian aircraft industry and will establish a new standard for mid-sized military transport aircraft, in terms of performance and load capacity.

If all goes well, the C-390 will make its maiden flight in 2014 with first deliveries to the FAB scheduled in 2016. The KC-390 will replace the C-130 Hercules for transport and in-flight refueling missions.

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