Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Air defense Systems at the Paris Airshow

The Paris Airshow is providing an opportunity to system producers to introduce new anti-aircraft systems and improvements of existing air defence systems. Among the systems displayed here are air defense missiles, radars and balistic defense systems, such as the Arrow (mock-up of the launcher and missile are displayed on the outdoor display) and the Russian S-400 (shown By Almaz Antey only as as model).

Raytheon is introducing two extensions to the SL-AMRAAM system, which can now carry four SL-AMRAAM-ER (Extended Range) missiles or four SL-AMRAAM and two SL-Sidewinder AIM-9X missiles. Another new system is the IRIS-T-SLS, a truck mounted air defense system, considered as an integral part of the future European MEADS system. The IRIS is displayed in its fully engineered version, mounting four vertically launched missiles, carried on standard IRIS-T launchers, for the first time.

IAI's Advanced Artillery Radar was unveiled here at the airshow as a model. This radar has matured considerably in the past months, and is considered as an important early warning and target acquisition system for future short and medium range counter-artillery and missile defense systems currently underway in Israel and abroad. One example is the MR-SPYDER-MR, a medium-range outgrowth of the Spyder-SR which is also on display at the airshow.

Views from the flight line

The Paris Air Show has turned into more of a business event, rather than an aviation enthusiast event. Nevertheless, the flight displays are still breathtaking, most notable was the MiG-29OVT, demonstrating its unique maneuverability.

Alenia's C-27, recently selected for the USAF light transport aircraft was aso impressive with short takeoff and landing display. A new view in the Paris sky was the Multi-Role Tanker (MRTT), the first aircraft slated for the Australian Air Force is on the static display, while EADS' test aircraft was demnstrated in flight.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Where are the pilots?!

Unmanned aircraft are becoming popular displays at airshows, admittedly, only few of them actually fly here. In fact, much of the innovation is directed into unmanned platforms, offering shorter development cycles and faster time to market. UAVs are proposed primarily for military applications, but civilian uses are also on the horizon.

In the following images, show few of the new unmanned systems displayed here at the 47th Paris Airshow. First we present the largest versions, also known as Medium-Altitude Long Endurance MALE

An Armed Predator MQ-1B, configured with an MTS payload and specially modified versions of the Hellfire laser guided missile. Operated by the US Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan.

IAI unveiled the Heron 2, a MALE unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), also known as Heron TP or by its IAI designation Eitan. In Paris, the real aircraft is on display. The Heron TP (Turbo-Prop) is the largest UAV built Israel to date. Its wings span over 26 meters, length is 14 meters. Heron TP is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney PT6A turboprop engine developing 1200 hp. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 4650 kg carrying a mission payload of over 1,000 kg. It is designed to operate at an altitude of 45,000 ft, above the commercial aviation routes. Heron TP can stay on a mission for 36 hours, and as it uses a satellite communications link, its range is not limited by line-of sight communications. Heron TP was displayed with different payloads, including radar and electro-optical payoads. Quad launchers of Lahat missiles were also displays, hinting on an optionally armed configuration of such UAV.

A full scale model of the Hermes-900 was unveiled by Elbit Systems. Hermes 900 is an outgrowth of the hermes platform, selected for operation or currently operational with five military forces including Israel's military, Singapore, and the UK (for the Watchkeeper program). The Hermes 900 will be able to operate by the same units operating the Hermes 450, supported by the same ground equipment and payloads. It will be able to carry heavier payloads of up to 300 kg for longer missions.

Global Hawk is a familiar face at the airshows. This year, Northrop Grumman is showing the RQ-4B and RQ-4N in scaled-down models, depicting the special configurations for the Navy's maritime patrol and Air Force's HALE missions.

A surprising exhibit was unveiled by the Chinese company AVIC I, showing two model versions of unmanned systems, a jet powered High Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) platform and a fast recce super-drone called DarkSword. Defense Update will try to collect more details on these platform later during the show. Your comments on this new and intruiging UVS are welcome!.

EADS is also demonstrating a 1:10 model of a new MALE UAV concept, which is unique in its modularity. The aircraft is configured as a main module, which includes the airframe, twin engines avionics, controls and tail section. Two sets of wings are designes, a high aspect ratio and low aspect ratio wing. Payloads are also modular, providing SAR, MPR and EO systems. A satellite communications module can be placed on the upper front section, or, when line of sight is sufficient, the section will be covered by a flat cover. EADS also displays the Sharc rotary wing demonstrator which recently passed its maiden flight test. The Sharc joined other EADS rotary UAS already shown in the past, including the Orca shipborne VTUAV and small Scorpio systems, which included this year the small Scorpio 8 and medium size Scorpio 30 systems.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Welcome to the Airshow!

Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and MiG-29OVT are scheduled to take part in the daily flying displays, in addition to the Aermacchi's M346 jet trainer and Airbus’s A330 MRTT aerial tanker aircraft, which is competing the Boeing 767-200 for the US Air Force aerial tanker meda-deal.

Military helicopters will be represented by Eurocopter’s Tiger and NH90. Among the commercial and business jets planned for the display are the giant A380 and extended range version of the triple seven - Boeing’s B777-300ER.

Several regional and business jets are expected, including Dassault Falcon 7X, Embraer’s EMB 190, Legacy 600, Gulfstream’s G450 and G550. A newcomer at Paris is the BA609 from Bell-Augusta, the first commercial tiltrotor aircraft.

The MiG-29OVT will participate in the flight display, demonstrating breathtaking maneuverability and performance offered by the thrust-vectored engines. Sukhoi will not participate in the flight display. The company will display a full scale model of its new SuperJet-100 (formerly designated RRJ). The aircraft is undergoing static tests in Russia and is expected to be ready for the first flight by the end of 2007. Engines, avionics, missiles and radar for the MiG and Sukhoi fighters will be highlighted by many Russian exhibitors, including radar producer NIIR-Fazotron, developer of the Zhuk AESA radar, Chernysjev engine plant and others. Almaz-Antei will also participate, highlighting its air defense and missile defense systems, challenging NATO's declared willingness to join forces with Russia to create a reliable missile defense system for Europe.