Tag: B-52

AGM-183 ARRW Test Launch Finally Succeeds After Three Botched Attempts

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AGM-183 ARRW Test Launch Finally Succeeds After Three Botched Attempts
File image of a B-52H Stratofortress designated to the 419th Flight Test Squadron removing from Edwards Air Force Base, California, for a captive-carry trip examination of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid

Response Weapon Instrumented Measurement Vehicle 2 hypersonic model at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the Southern California coastline.(Air Force picture by Matt Williams) The tool’s booster melted and also sparked for the anticipated period, attaining hypersonic rates. The U.S. Air Force introduced that it ultimately effectively launched an AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon(ARRW )from a B-52H Stratofortress off the Southern California coastline on May 14, 2022. As opposed to the previous 3 efforts, where the ARRW was not launched in 2 celebrations as well as did not discharge its engine in the only effective launch effort, the tool

this time appropriately divided from the airplane as well as sparked its booster. Journalism launch did not reveal any kind of considerable information, aside from recognizing that, complying with the splitting up from the B-52 bombing plane, the ARRW’s booster melted and also stired up for an undefined anticipated period, attaining hypersonic rates 5 times more than the rate of audio (Mach 5). The rate pointed out in journalism launch is not to be taken as a precise indicator, as the optimum rate of the AGM-183 is anticipated to be well over of Mach 5.

Also if in some cases it is said that the hypersonic rates area goes from Mach 3 onwards, from a design viewpoint the worth that divides supersonic rates from hypersonic rates is Mach 5. This is because, from Mach 5 onwards, the power of the hypersonic things suffices to trigger chemical variants in the particles of the air flow bordering it, with nitrogen and also oxygen being mostly influenced.

“This was a significant success by the ARRW group, for the tools venture, and also our Air Force,” claimed Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons. “The group’s proficiency, perseverance, and also dedication were type in getting rid of the previous year’s difficulties to obtain us to the current success. We prepare to improve what we’ve discovered as well as proceed relocating hypersonics ahead.”

Like the previous efforts, the examination was performed by a B-52 coming from the 419th Flight Test Squadron as well as the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force, both at Edwards Air Force Base. As we pointed out in various other events, the B-52 is intended to end up being the initial bombing plane in the United States toolbox to get hypersonic tools, adhered to by the B-1B Lancer.

“The examination group saw to it we performed this examination faultlessly,” claimed Lt. Col. Michael Jungquist, 419th FLTS leader and also GPB CTF supervisor. “Our highly-skilled group made background on this initial air-launched hypersonic tool. We’re doing every little thing we can to obtain this game-changing tool to the warfighter asap.”

Screenshot from U.S. Air Force video clip revealing the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon(ARRW)prior to it is packed on the B-52H Stratofortress. While it has actually not been clearly stated in journalism launch, the examination is expected to have actually happened over the Point Mugu Sea Range, where likewise the previous efforts were carried out. Like taken place for the previous examination trips, a NASA WB-57F airplane, typically

utilized to movie rocket as well as rocket launches, was seen flying in the location on May 14, 2022, by means of trip monitoring internet sites. The AGM-183A ARRW is based upon hypersonic move automobile modern technology stemmed from the Air Force as well as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency( DARPA)Science and also Technology(S&T)Demonstration called Tactical Boost Glide(TBG). A fragmentising move car is released from a traditional rocket, or a lot more exactly a Solid-Rocket Motor(SRM)booster, to the top ambience as well as, once it gets to hypersonic rates

, it divides from the rocket and also glides to its target at accelerate to Mach 15. At these rates, there is no requirement for a traditional eruptive warhead as the kinetic power alone provided throughout effect would certainly suffice to damage most targets. The Air Force additionally specifies the ARRW as an”functional hypersonic air-launched tool making it possible for the U.S. to hold repaired, high worth, time-sensitive targets in danger in disputed atmospheres from standoff ranges.” The rocket will certainly offer a survivable, deadly, long-range strike capacity to pursue premium capacities of a prospective opponent, such as deep-inland strike versus targets of calculated value as well as seaside strike versus premium systems. These attributes issue of the incredibly broadband as well as the ability to steer the slide lorry far from risks (InterContinental Ballistic Missiles

lack this ability and also therefore are extra foreseeable)which, subsequently, make the tool practically difficult to obstruct. The troubles experienced in 2015 practically brought the program to an end, with a sudden decrease in the ARRW’s allocate FY2023. Throughout its initial ever before launch effort in April 2021, the projectile stopped working to divide from the B-52’s pylon, stopped working to spark its booster after splitting up throughout the 2nd effort in July and also stopped working to divide once more throughout the 3rd effort in December. Contrasted to the preliminary proposition, the Fiscal Year 2023 spending plan demand reveals an ask for$46.6 million to acquire just one

AGM-183A projectile throughout the year.”[ We’re] not leaving [from ARRW] It’s moneyed in FY 23,”Maj. Gen. James Peccia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for budget plan informed press reporters throughout an interview for the budget plan demands disclosure.

“And after that we’ll make an evaluation afterwards.” About Stefano D’Urso Stefano D’Urso is a self-employed reporter as well as factor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A grad in Industral Engineering he’s likewise researching

to attain a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and also OSINT methods put on the globe of existing disputes as well as army procedures are amongst his locations of proficiency.

DARPA Discloses Second Successful Flight for Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept

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DARPA Discloses Second Successful Flight for Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept
Artist’s idea of Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept(HAWC)automobile.(Photo: DARPA )The examination, the very first for Lockheed Martin’s HAWC model, took place last month yet was maintained under covers to stay clear of rising stress with Russia. DARPA and also the U.S. Air Force lately finished a cost-free trip examination of the Lockheed Martin variation of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept(HAWC). According to a protection main stated by CNN, the examination took place in mid-March yet the information was kept for 2 weeks to stay clear of intensifying stress with Russia as angry combating in Ukraine still proceeds after greater than a month considering that the start of the intrusion.

It interests keep in mind that the timeline divulged by CNN potentially places this 2nd HAWC examination in the exact same duration of the asserted work by the Russians of the Kinzhal hypersonic aero-ballistic rockets in Ukraine. In the exact same duration the United States additionally initially held off and after that terminated an examination of the Minuteman III global ballistic rocket (ICBM) to prevent any kind of misconception by Russia.

After launch from a B-52H bombing plane made use of as service provider airplane off the west shore, the HAWC lorry, was increased to its Aerojet Rocketdyne scramjet engine ignition envelope in the supersonic rates’ variety. From there, it promptly sped up to and also kept cruise ship much faster than Mach 5 (5 times the rate of noise) for a prolonged amount of time, getting to elevations higher than 65,000 feet and also flying for greater than 300 maritime miles.

“This Lockheed Martin HAWC trip examination efficiently showed a 2nd layout that will certainly permit our warfighters to competitively choose the ideal abilities to control the field of battle,” stated Andrew “Tippy” Knoedler, HAWC program supervisor in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “These success raise the degree of technological maturation for transitioning HAWC to a solution program of document.”

This is the 2nd effective trip in DARPA’s HAWC program that we understand of. Last September, a various lorry arrangement from Raytheon and also Northrop Grumman effectively flew throughout the initial cost-free trip examination pertaining to the program. In both events information concerning the examinations have actually been limited, as this is thought about a very delicate program.

A B-52H Stratofortress designated to the 419th Flight Test Squadron removes from Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 8. The airplane performed a captive-carry trip examination of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon Instrumented Measurement Vehicle 2 hypersonic model at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the Southern California shore.( Air Force image by Matt Williams)The objectives of the initial 2 objectives were the lorry combination and also launch series, secure splitting up from the launch airplane, booster ignition and also increase, booster splitting up as well as engine ignition, as well as cruise ship. The HAWC trip examination information will certainly be assessed to confirm budget-friendly system styles as well as making strategies that will certainly field air-breathing hypersonic rockets to functional devices. DARPA stated in journalism launches the involvement of the U.S. Navy to the examinations without defining the duty, also if it is possible that the factor may live in using the sea varies off the west coastline, like the Point Mugu Sea Test Range, for a circumstances. Hypersonic air-breathing automobiles use air caught from the ambience to accomplish continual propulsion without the demand of revolving components. The fast-moving, pressed air circulation coming with the scramjet engine’s inlet is combined with a hydrocarbon gas as well as sparks, prior to being expelled trough a nozzle which moves the rocket at a rate more than 5 times the rate of noise. The rate and also ability to move of hypersonic cruise ship projectiles

enable both evasion of defenses, as rate as well as ability to move make it challenging to find in a prompt method, and also fast strikes. Their substantial kinetic power can properly ruin targets also without high nitroglycerins. While the HAWC program appears to be going on without troubles, an additional United States hypersonic tool, the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, is enduring the effects of its numerous fell short examinations. The United States Air Force prepared the ARRW to be its very first functional hypersonic tool, nevertheless the solution has no

strategies any longer to purchase its very first projectiles in the 2023 budget plan. As reported by Breaking Defense, according to Defense Department budget plan records, the Air Force originally asked for$46.6 million to acquire one ARRW projectile in FY23. The solution, nevertheless, later on made a decision to move that financing back right into the study

and also growth section of the budget plan. It is not recognized yet just how this will certainly influence the ARRW program. About Stefano D’Urso Stefano D’Urso is

a factor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a permanent design trainee as well as striving pilot. In his extra time he’s additionally an amateur air travel digital photographer and also trip simulation fanatic.

First Flight Test Of Hypersonic AGM-183A ARRW (Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon) Fails, Again.

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Screenshot from U.S. Air Force video showing the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) before it is loaded on the B-52H Stratofortress.

The ARRW missile’s rocket motor failed to ignite after it was released by the B-52 over Point Mugu Sea Range.

The U.S. Air Force conducted its second AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) booster flight test on July 28, 2021, but, for the second time, it did not go as planned. The ARRW test missile, designated Booster Test Vehicle 1b (BTV-1b), was released by an Edwards AFB’s B-52H Stratofortress over Point Mugu Sea Range but its rocket motor failed to ignite after the separation.

Several objectives were planned for this test, including demonstrating the safe release of BTV-1b and assessing booster performance. While it did not meet all flight objectives, the Air Force said that the test demonstrated several first-time events as the program continues to track toward fielding a hypersonic capability in the early 2020s.

According to the press release, the ARRW missile cleanly separated from the aircraft and successfully demonstrated the full release sequence including GPS acquisition, umbilical disconnection and power transfer from the aircraft to the missile. The missile also demonstrated fin operation and de-confliction maneuvers which ensures a safe operation for the aircrew.

“Developing first-of-its-kind missiles is difficult business and this why we test,” said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, the Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons. “This is a critical capability for our Air Force and we have the very best team working to figure out what happened, fix it and move out to deliver ARRW to our warfighters as quickly as possible.”

The first flight test attempt happened in April, but in that occasion the Air Force stated that the BTV was unable to complete the launch sequence and was not released by the B-52, which then safely returned to Edwards AFB with the ARRW missile still on board. The test flight attempt, which was already late as it was initially planned by the end of 2020, was then delayed another time while the issue that prevented the launch was investigated.

The AGM-183A ARRW is based on hypersonic glide vehicle technology derived from the Air Force and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Science and Technology (S&T) Demonstration known as Tactical Boost Glide (TBG). A fragmenting glide vehicle is launched from a conventional rocket, or more precisely a Solid-Rocket Motor (SRM) booster, to the upper atmosphere and, once it reaches hypersonic speeds, it separates from the rocket and glides to its target at speeds up to Mach 15. At these speeds, there is no need for a conventional explosive warhead as the kinetic energy alone delivered during impact would be enough to destroy most targets.

An illustration depicting the boost glide concept applied to the AGM-183A ARRW and its flight profile. (Photo: Airman Magazine/U.S. Air Force)

The Air Force also defines the ARRW as an “operational hypersonic air-launched weapon enabling the U.S. to hold fixed, high value, time-sensitive targets at risk in contested environments from standoff distances.” The missile will provide a survivable, lethal, long-range strike capability to go after high-end capabilities of a potential adversary, such as deep-inland strike against targets of strategic importance and coastal strike against high-end systems. These characteristics are a consequence of the extremely high speed and the capability to maneuver the glide vehicle away from threats (InterContinental Ballistic Missiles lack this capability and thus are more predictable) which, in turn, make the weapon almost impossible to intercept.

In an interview to Airman Magazine last month, the former Director of Defense, Research and Engineering Dr. Mark J. Lewis spoke about the advantages of hypersonic technology:

So, what does that combination of speed, maneuverability, and altitude do for me? One, it lets me get to a target quickly. I get inside an opponent’s OODA loop, observe, orient, decide, and act. I’m going so quickly, that I don’t give them enough time even to know what I am much less react. A rule of thumb, if I’m traveling at about five times the speed of sound, I’m going about a mile every second. Think about that.

Count the seconds, that’s how many miles you’ve covered and so a decision-maker, someone who’s looking at one of the systems coming towards them, if they wait 10 seconds to decide, that’s 10 miles I’ve traversed. All right, that’s the first thing.

The second is maneuverability, that means I’m unpredictable. I’ll compare it to an intercontinental ballistic missile, an ICBM. By its very nature, when an ICBM launches, and shortly after it lofts and then the warhead separates, you pretty much know where it’s going to land. Physics governs the trajectory. It’s governed by gravity, and it is the dominant force.

A hypersonic vehicle in the atmosphere can add aerodynamic forces to other forces, to gravity, for example. So that means I can use control surfaces. I can bank right. I can go left. I can pitch. I can dive. I can do all these things, and so it’s much harder to figure out where I’m going. Again, it makes it more difficult for an adversary to anticipate, intercept and act against: the other thing that hypersonics gives me.

A hypersonic vehicle, by its very nature, is going fast. It has energy. That energy can be part of what I deliver. So today you launch a missile, and in the end, you depend on a warhead, something that explodes to create an effect. A hypersonic vehicle traveling fast enough can create an effect all of its own just using its own kinetic energy, so that’s a valuable contribution. When you put all those things together I think you can see why it’s a very, very attractive capability.

Now, why would we want this? The way that we fight wars, the American way of fighting, we rely on technology. We also rely on our skilled warfighters. But it’s that combination of technology and our skilled people that give us that edge. I would argue that’s been true since the founding of this nation. That’s one of the things that the American warfighter brought to the field of battle from the very beginning of this nation. Hypersonics continues that. Hypersonics is a result of how we’ve been operating for the last however many years. What are the next technologies that we need to focus on to modernize and change the way we do things?

The ARRW program seems to be still on track, according to the Air Force, as it is moving forward at a very aggressive pace. Time is critical however, as Russia and China have been openly bragging about their new hypersonic capabilities and claiming that they already have operational hypersonic weapons, so the Air Force is accelerating the time scale, pushing boundaries and taking calculated risks to move this important capability forward.

Hypersonic weapons, like the ARRW, however, are double edged weapons, as described by Dr. Lewis in two examples. “Suppose a target is very heavily defended with a high-end integrated air defense system, or IADS. In that case, hypersonic strike systems allow the U.S. to rapidly take out that IADS from long range with highly survivable, lethal effects. With stealth, they can’t see me, but with hypersonics, they might be able to see me, but they can’t stop me. […] If someone can sink an aircraft carrier or render an airfield unusable with a tactical hypersonic system, then they produce the effect that in some ways is equivalent to using a strategic system. Very simply an adversary (that has hypersonic weapons) no longer needs to have a world-class air force to beat our world-class Air Force. They no longer need to have a world-class navy to beat our world-class Navy.”

Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

First Flight Test Of Air Force’s Hypersonic AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) Fails

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Lockheed Martin rendering of the AGM-183 ARRW.

The first flight test of the AGM-183A ARRW failed on Monday, April 5, 2021, over the Point Mugu Sea Range.

The U.S. Air Force’s long-awaited first flight test of its hypersonic AGM-183A ARRW (Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon), a boost-glide hypersonic system being developed by Lockheed Martin, failed when “the first booster vehicle flight test encountered an issue on the aircraft and did not launch” on Apr. 5, 2021.

According to a release, a B-52H Stratofortress bomber took off and headed over the Point Mugu Sea Range intending to fire the first booster test vehicle for the AGM-183A, but the test missile was unable to complete the launch sequence and was not released by the “mothership” that returned to Edwards AFB, where it safely landed.

The test was actually “spoiled” by the presence of a NASA WB-57F and a Navy P-3 over the Pacific Ocean near the Point Mugu Sea Test Range, located southwest of Los Angeles.

In particular, the WB-57F registered N927NA, is one of the NASA Canberras based at Ellington Field, Texas, but often deployed to different bases, both within CONUS and abroad to conduct “special operations” alongside scientific research projects (on hurricanes, radiation impact on clouds, and so on). The aircraft  with up to 6,000-lb payload carried and a pallet system under the main fuselage area, can fulfil a wide variety of special missions, including filming rockets and missile launches. Like the attempted first one of the AGM-183A.

For instance, in 2007 there were speculations and theories about the type of mission flown by the WB-57 in war zones fueled by pictures of the aircraft operating from Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan without the standard NASA logo and markings. Officially, the aircraft performed geophysical and remote sensing surveys as part of the U.S. aid to the Afghan reconstruction effort. The WB-57 collected  AVIRIS (Airborne Visible Infra Red Imaging Spectrometer) data that could be analyzed to provide information on mineral assemblages that could aid in resource and hazards assessments.

Then, the WB-57s carried BACN – Battlefield Airborne Communications Node payloads in Afghanistan, often testing new sensors and antennas used by the BACN to relay comms between command and control centers and ground troops located within valleys and ridges in the Afghan mountains during specific testing campaigns from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

In Afghanistan these unique aircraft have been used to test Northrop Grumman’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) a technological “gateway” system that allows aircraft with incompatible radio systems and datalinks to transfer information and communicate.

A B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 419th Flight Test Squadron takes off from Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 8. The aircraft conducted a captive-carry flight test of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon Instrumented Measurement Vehicle 2 hypersonic prototype at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the Southern California coast. (Air Force photo by Matt Williams)

Back to the AGM-183A ARRW, the strike weapon consists of a rocket booster and hypersonic glider warhead. After being launched from an aircraft, the booster rocket accelerates to high speeds before releasing the hypersonic glide warhead payload which then glides unpowered to its target at hypersonic speeds up to Mach 20.

“The ARRW program is a rapid prototyping project aimed at delivering a conventional hypersonic weapons capability to the Warfighter in the early 2020s,” says the U.S. Air Force. “The weapon system is designed to provide combatant commanders the capability to destroy high-value, time-sensitive targets. ARRW will also expand precision-strike weapon systems’ capabilities by enabling rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets.”

As explained in a previous article, “the Air Force is currently looking to obtain a range of capabilities in hypersonics, with a range of weapons in different size categories. As a matter of fact, the service is looking both at a larger weapon with greater range to be carried by the bombers and a smaller one with less range or payload to be carried by fighter aircraft too. An example of this was seen in the F-15EX’s renderings which featured a hypersonic missile under the fuselage’s center pylon. The introduction in service of hypersonic missiles in the next years will increase the firepower of the B-52, the first scheduled to receive the new weapons, and the B-1. Gen. Ray stated that the AGM-183 ARRW should be integrated on the B-1 as soon as possible, as the bomber is expected to perform excellently in the standoff role with the weapons carried on the external pylons.”

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

The Only Two B-52 Bombers To Be Resurrected From The “Boneyard” Undergoing PDM Together At Tinker AFB

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The B-52H bomber nick named “Wise Guy,” sits in post dock nearing completion of its regeneration back to active service, Nov. 19, 2020. The bomber sat in the desert for 10 years at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group’s National-Level Airpower Reservoir located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona and is the second B-52H aircraft to be brought back to active service. The first aircraft was nick named “Ghost Rider” and was regenerated in 2015. Both bombers are here at the same time and will return to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ron Mullan)

“Ghost Rider” and “Wise Guy”, the two only two B-52 Stratofortress bombers to be resurrected from the Arizona desert have been undergoing programmed depot maintenance, before returning to Minot Air Force Base.

Only two B-52 Stratofortress bombers have been restored out of the Boneyard to be returned to the fleet: “Ghost Rider”, tail number 61-0007, and “Wise Guy”, tail number 60-0034.

Both aircraft were retired at the 309th AMARG (Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, where they were supposed to remain to be cannibalized of parts needed by other front-line BUFFs and never to fly again.

The first to be resurrected was Ghost Rider, that eventually returned to service in 2015 with the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota, after being mothballed for seven years in the desert day. As reported in detail recently, the second “Lazarus” B-52, nicknamed Wise Guy, spent 10 years in the desert before being resurrected late last year.

The two aircraft were regenerated at the Tinker Air Force Base’s Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, where they currently are, undergoing  PDM (Programmed Depot Maintenance), a very complex process, that each B-52 undergo every four years, made of heavy checks, during which the aircraft is almost completely disassembled and each part is inspected and all defects are fixed before they are rebuilt and sent back to their home stations as they were (almost) brand new. Even the paint is stripped off the entire airframe so that technicians can analyze every part of the aircraft and make repairs where needed.

Ghost Rider, is currently undergoing routine PDM whereas Wise Guy is undergoing PDM as the final part of a three-phase process to resurrect the aircraft. The aircraft will soon join the fleet at Minot AFB, bringing the number of B-52 bombers mandated by Congress to full strength at 76 aircraft.

We have provided some exclusive photographs and footage of Wise Guy undertaking FCF (Functional Flight Check) ahead of moving to the paint shop that you can find in the article linked here.

A public release provides some interesting details about the two aircraft’s specific regeneration processes:

Though they are both the same type of aircraft, there were many challenges to overcome with each aircraft as it travelled through the regeneration process.

John Raihl, 565th AMXS aircraft section chief, said the biggest challenge with Ghost Rider was establishing a plan to ensure all required inspections, maintenance, and modifications were accomplished on schedule and within budget. The plan was implemented in coordination with the B-52 System Program Office, Logistics and Engineering, as well as the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group’s 76th Expeditionary Depot Maintenance Flight.

“Using scripting tools, the enterprise team drafted a script that achieved this in addition to maximizing concurrent work across different maintenance disciplines,” said Raihl.

Wise Guy presented the enterprise team with a different challenge: two major electrical wiring projects.

“Rewire I and II projects were the biggest challenges due to the scope of the project, as well as the limited experience we had with those specific wire bundles,” Jennifer Smith, 565th AMXS avionics/electric section chief, said.

Main landing gear structural defects also presented unique challenges for Wise Guy during the initial regeneration phase, as well as during the PDM cycle.

Travis Reese, AFLCMC lead regeneration engineer, said, “Repairs necessary to prepare Wise Guy for first flight presented risk to the overall project. Additionally, these temporary repairs had to be removed and permanently addressed, adding scope and complexity for the technicians in the 565th AMXS structural repair section.”

Additionally, the 76th Commodities Maintenance Group partners had to manufacture all of the wire harnesses from original drawings. This process alone took more than four months prior to the aircraft arriving at Tinker Air Force Base, Smith said.

The experience grown with Ghost Rider translated into important Lessons Learned that the team could apply when working on Wise Guy:

“By utilizing enterprise team meetings ahead of the aircraft’s arrival, we were able to expand Ghost Rider’s process script into a precise script,” said Mike Bassham, 565th AMXS sheet metal section chief. The script process enabled the team to measure milestones for all major jobs for the purpose of keeping the aircraft on schedule and determining where they needed to apply additional resources to tackle constraints, he added.

Jeff Base, 565th AMXS director, explained that hundreds of people across the OC-ALC are involved in regenerating and, or overhauling aircraft requiring a total Team Tinker effort.

“AFLCMC provides engineering and logistics support, the 76th EDMX traveled to the 309th AMARG to prepare aircraft for flight after years in storage, the 76th CMXG overhauls and manufactures parts, the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group overhauls engines and manufactures parts,” Base said.

David Strawderman, AFLCMC’s B-52 System Program Office regeneration project manager, echoed Base’s comments, adding the motivation and dedication of everyone involved ensured both regeneration programs were successful.

A lot of people were involved in the activities to regenerate Wise Guy: over 100 personnel from nine organizations in less than four months! Pretty impressive. Still, the result is a fully airworthy B-52 ready to generate new missions for several years to come!

Check Out These Exclusive Shots Of B-52 “Wise Guy” Flying Again After Being Resurrected From The “Boneyard”

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The B-52 “Wise Guy” is only the second Stratofortress bomber to ever be restored out of the Boneyard to be returned to the fleet. As already reported in detail in this previous article, “Wise Guy” […]

The post Check Out These Exclusive Shots Of B-52 “Wise Guy” Flying Again After Being Resurrected From The “Boneyard” appeared first on The Aviationist.

Listen To Three B-52s Discussing Their “Gameplan” For Landing After Black Sea and Astral Knight Missions

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HERO34 #61-0034 flying over Poland with Polish Air Force escort. (Image credit: Polish AF).

On Sept. 23, 2020, five U.S. B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers belonging to the 5th Bomb Wing, from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, deployed to Europe as part of BTF 20-4, flew missions over Eastern Europe: two two-ships, flying as “HERO 31/32” and “HERO 33/34” operated in the Black Sea area; one single-ship, “LEMAY35”, flew to Poland.

The radio callsign of the latter is noteworthy, as it appears to be a tribute to Gen. Curtis Emerson LeMay, Strategic Air Command commander from 1948 to 1957 (the longest tenure of any US military commander in nearly 100 years) and later 5th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. LeMay had a clear vision of SAC being so obviously powerful that it would be perceived by any and all enemies to be unbeatable and so deter them from any aggressive action. He was instrumental in SAC’s acquisition of a large fleet of new strategic bombers, establishment of a vast aerial refueling system, the formation of many new units and bases, development of a strategic ballistic missile force, and establishment of a strict command and control system with an unprecedented readiness capability. Under LeMay command, SAC grew from a  to close to 2,000 heavy bombers, and nearly 800 tanker aircraft.

While LEMAY integrated with the assets involved in Astral Knight 2020, the two HERO flights operated in the Ukrainian airspace (closely monitored by several Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance assets flying in the Black Sea area likely interested in recording the reactions of the Russian air defenses to the presence of the B-52s in the area) and caused two Russian Su-27 Flanker to scramble, before returning to RAF Fairford.

On their way back to the UK, HERO33 (#60-0029) and HERO34 (#61-0034), that were also escorted by 2x Polish F-16s and 2x MiG-29s, rejoined with LEMAY35 (#60-0044) and flew as a three-ship towards RAF Faiford. Interestingly, the bombers talked one another on their OPS frequency and discussed the “gameplan” for recovery. Their radio comms, in the clear (not encrypted), were recorded on 321.0 Mhz by @EHEH_Spotter as the formation progressed over Germany, and we can listen them in the following video (the footage is cool, but is not related to this specific mission):

At the beginning of the clip LEMAY 35 is about 4NM behind HERO flight and starts rejoins with the two B-52s flying in the block 270-280, at 300 kts. The trailing BUFF asks the channel of the air-to-air TACAN (30Y) so that it can read the actual distance from the preceding B-52s. The initial plan was to reach Fairford as a three-ship, but, because of the weather, the formation splits and the B-52s perform separate ILS procedures. The leader will fly at 280 knots, the number 2 at 275 KIAS and the number 3 will keep 250 KIAS so that they get 23NM between them.

The following cool video shows the arrival of LEMAY 35:

Astral Knight mission

As mentioned, LEMAY 35 supported Astral Knight 2020. We got to learn a bit more about the exercise thanks to a telephone media briefing that took place as the B-52 operated over Poland, not too far from the Belarus border.

“This year we’re building on the lessons learned from Astral Knight ’19, enhancing our ability to build a resilient, integrated air and missile defense enterprise,” said U.S. Air Forces Maj. Gen. Derek France. “We will be putting our combined airmen and soldiers through a demanding set of scenarios over the course of this week using both live fly and computer-based scenarios.  Our goal at the end of this week is to enhance command and control integration, improve coordination interoperability, land and air capabilities, and successfully overlap operations into an integrated air and missile defense architecture.”

“Astral Knight incorporates a variety of U.S. Air Force and Polish Air Force aircraft, including elements of our current bomber task force in theater as well as Army Patriot missile systems and Polish ground-based missile systems.  Additionally, we will – and most importantly will be integrating our air operations centers, on the U.S. side at Ramstein, and the Polish air operations center in Warsaw to give us a greater combined awareness of the air defense picture.”

Basically, it’s a pre-Article five defensive scenario.

“The scenarios we’ve developed over the course of the week involve a variety of threats,” Gen. France added. “We have forces that are capable of engaging each of those, and when we talk about command and control, which is one of the focus areas of this, it’s about putting the right force to defend against the right threat and the right place at the right time. If we do that, our operators will hit homeruns all day long. But it’s the understanding of how to posture those correctly. And so it is a variety of threats, everything from ballistic missiles to aircraft to cruise missiles to unmanned aerial things. And some of them are live fly, some of them are simulated, and some of them are injects that go into the planning system so that we plan against them.”

“This exercise is also an avenue to enhance our partnerships across the Baltic region between U.S. joint partners and other nations such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, as mentioned, and Sweden as we share common interests in maintaining a Europe that is safe and secure and prosperous.  By training together in the region, we’re able to enhance our flexibility, our interoperability in the interests of strengthening combined response capabilities and demonstrating international resolve.  Our partners fly a variety of different weapons systems, and it’s important and crucial that we expand those capabilities by integrating with one another.”

“The ever-evolving security situation in this theater requires precise focus and dedication, and Astral Knight is one of the key measures that ensures our nations are able to respond to any situation with speed and agility.  Enhancing our readiness through demanding and challenging exercises such as Astral Knight ’20 allows our joint and multinational team to be ready for any challenge we may face in the future.”

“And the bottom line is this: that no nation can confront today’s challenges alone.  But because of the relationships we have built in these AOCs and through this exercise, they become the bedrock for us to undertake Astral Knight and present a ready and capable defense that is able to defend this area.”

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Risk Of Thunderstorms Prevented Dutch F-35s From Escorting U.S. B-52 During Allied Sky Mission

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A RNlAF F-35 on the ground at Leeuwarden. (Image credit: KLu).

On Aug. 28, 2020, six B-52H Stratofortress bombers took part in Allied Sky, a single-day mission that saw the strategic bombers overfly all 30 NATO nations.

Allied Sky was conducted by two teams: four B-52s with the 5th Bomb Wing, from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, were tasked to cover European portion of the mission flying single-ship sorties; two B-52s, also belonging to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, flew as a two-ship formation over Canada and the United States.

As reported in detail in this previous article, the one-day mission provided an opportunity for the B-52 to integrate with several NATO nations’ air force fighter aircraft and aerial refueling aircraft: RAF Typhoons and FAF Mirage 2000 over the Baltic off Lithuania; BAF F-16s over Belgium; RDAF F-16s and RNoAF F-35s over Scandinavia;  Polish Air Force F-16s and MiG-29s over Poland; Czech Air Force JAS 39 Gripen over Czech Republic; Romanian Air Force F-16s and MiG-21 Lancers over Romania; Bulgarian MiG-29s over Bulgaria; Croatian MiG-21s over Croatia; Hellenic Air Force F-16s over Greece; Italian Air Force Typhoons and F-35s over Italy; Portuguese F-16s over Portugal; Ukrainian Su-27s and MiG-29s over Ukraine.

According to the initial plans, also the F-35A Lightning IIs of the Royal Netherlands Air Force would have had to take part in Allied Sky escorting one of the B-52s. The KLu had announced the participation of the Dutch Lightning II jets on social networks but the mission was cancelled due to bad weather:

Indeed, as Sidney Plankman, a Dutch MoD spokesperson confirmed to the Algemeen Dagblad media outlet in an article published on Sept. 19, 2020, the intention was that the brand new F-35s from Leeuwarden Air Base would escort the B-52s. However, “there was a great risk of lightnings that day. Therefore we have decided not to do it.” Noteworthy, most probably due to more clement weather conditions, the Norwegian F-35s were able to escort the B-52 that flew up north to Scandinavia on Aug. 28.

On the day before the Algemeen Dagblad article was published, the Dutch MoD issued a news release to explain that the RNlAF F-35s are temporarily not flying with thunderstorms.

“Damaged pipes have been found on F-35A fighters. These are pipes from the On-Board Inert Gas Generation System (OBIGGS) in a fuel tank. All countries with F-35As were advised to avoid flights near storm cells and to protect the aircraft on the ground by a shelter or lightning rod,” says the Dutch MoD statement. “The OBIGGS ensures that the risk of explosion of fuel vapors in the event of, for example, a lightning strike is reduced to a minimum. The damaged pipes can make the fuel tanks less well protected. After damaged pipes were found on 4 (non-Dutch) aircraft, further inspections followed. More damaged pipes were found, including at Dutch F-35As. The cause of the problem is still under investigation.”

The public release also says that the problem with the OBIGGS and the current investigation will not affect the achievement of the Initial Operational Capability (IOC), that the Dutch fleet should declare by the end of 2021.

Two Dutch F-35s in flight. (Image credit: KLu).

A well known issue.

The F-35 has suffered from issues with the OBIGGS for several years. The deficiencies with the system that is supposed to pump nitrogen-enriched air into the fuel tanks to inert them were first discovered during tests in 2009. The testing revealed a design fault that could cause the F-35 to explode if struck by lightning. For this reason, the aircraft was restricted from flying within 25 miles of “known lightning conditions” until the issue with the OBIGGS was fixed. Those restrictions were lifted after the OBIGGS was redesigned in 2014 but new flaws in tubing used to circulate inert gas into fuel tanks to prevent explosions were found again. In June 2020, Bloomberg reported that the deliveries of the new F-35s had been halted because of the issue and then started again with the same 25 miles restriction as a safety precaution.

In August 2020, a picture showing Vermont ANG F-35A jets sitting on the ramp at Volk Field, Wisconsin, on Aug. 11, 2020, protected by mobile lightning rods during Northern Lightning Exercise made the news again.

F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 134th Fighter Squadron, Vermont Air National Guard, sit on the flight line after a day of flying training mission at Northern Lightning 2020, Volk Field, Wis., Aug. 11, 2020. Elements of the 158th Fighter Wing deployed to the annual exercise that gives the wing and aircraft training in deploying and conducting combat missions in a joint environment, including F-22 Raptors, F/A-18 Super Hornets and F-16 Fighting Falcons that flew with them in the nearly month-long exercise. (U.S. Air National Guard photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Campbell) (This image was created by blending a series of multiple exposures.)

The lightning rods in the image appear to be versions of LBA Technology, Inc‘s portable PLP-38-MOB model, which the Marine Corps also purchased to shield their F-35Bs from lightning strikes at deployed locations in 2018, wrote The War Zone.

But, while lightning rods can help protecting the F-35 Lightning II (a bit of ironic, isn’t it?) when it is on the ground, it looks like there is no other way to safeguard the precious aircraft than keeping it away from thunderstorms when it is airborne. And this can be a problem, both in planning and executing missions, especially those which need to be flown at all costs and in all-weather conditions (like QRA – Quick Reaction Alert).

Cockpit Video Shows Russian Su-27 Flanker Crossing Within 100 feet Of The Nose Of A B-52 Over The Black Sea

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equence of screenshots from the video released by the Pentagon show the unsafe pass of the Su-27 on Aug. 28, 2020. (Image credit: DoD/TheAviationist)

As we have already reported with plenty of details, on Aug. 28, 2020, six U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers participated in Allied Sky, a single-day mission that saw the BUFFs overflying all 30 NATO nations.

In particular, one of the B-52s of the 5th Bomb Wing from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, currently deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, as part of Bomber Task Force 20-4, using the  radio callsign “NATO 01” and keeping its Mode-S transponder on, undertook an interesting tour flying from RAF Fairford across Eastern Europe to the Black Sea area and then back via (among the others) Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and France.

During its 12-hour tour, NATO01/61-0034 was escorted by JAS 39 Gripen over the Czech Republic; by F-16s and MiG-21 Lancers over Romania; MiG-29s over Bulgaria; MiG-21s over Croatia; F-16s over Greece; Italian Air Force Typhoons and F-35s intercepted and escorted NATO 01 over Italy. As explained in the previous article, when over the Black Sea, off Crimea, the B-52 was also escorted by two Russian Air Force Su-27 Flankers that, according to the Pentagon, carried out an unsafe and unprofessional intercept on the U.S. bomber. We linked the press release in yesterday article but let’s have a look at in more in detail here:

At approximately 11:19 a.m. on Aug. 28, 2020, two Russian Su-27 Flanker pilots intercepted a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber that was conducting routine operations in the black sea over international waters. The Russian pilots flew in an unsafe and unprofessional manner while crossing within 100 feet of the nose of the B-52 multiple times at co-altitude and while in afterburner causing turbulence and restricting the B-52’s ability to maneuver.

“Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions, are unnecessary, and inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander. “While the Russian aircraft were operating in international airspace, they jeopardized the safety of flight of the aircraft involved. We expect them to operate within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent accidents,” he added.

Our B-52 Stratofortress aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace exercising our freedom of navigation and overflight. The U.S. Air Force routinely operates aircraft in the region in accordance with recognized international safety standards as prescribed in International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules of flight.

We don’t know where the intercept took place. However, we have an idea of the route the aircraft flew thanks to Planeradar.ru:

B-52 flying off Crimea over the Black Sea. (Image credit: PlaneRadar.ru)

It’s not the first time and it won’t probably be the last one the Russian intercept is deemed “unprofessional” and “unsafe”. We have reported about several such incidents, most of time involving U.S. Navy P-8A Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft in the Black Sea or off Syria, when Russian and also Chinese fighters allegedly performed Top Gun-like stunts close to a U.S. aircraft. However, in most such cases just footage filmed by the onboard camera is released and we have never really seen interceptors aggressively maneuvering in front of the U.S. aircraft. Quite the contrary, the footage usually released only shows the interceptors closing on the wings of their target, without doing anything really dangerous, so much a former RC-135 aircraft commander who flew the S, U, V, W, and X models, commenting the intercepts, once told us “what passes for dangerous and provocative today was ho-hum to recon crews of my generation (although we weren’t shot at like the early fliers from 1950-1960).” Moreover, back in the days, some “stunts” were performed at the request of the intercepted aircraft.

This time, it’s different. The Pentagon has released a clip, possibly filmed with a smartphone, of the Russian Su-27 crossing extremely close to the nose of the B-52. That’s, by all standards, dangerous and unprofessional. Take a look by yourself (if you can’t see the video in the tweet below click here):

Thus far, these stunts have never caused real damage but we should not forget some incidents of the past.

On Apr. 1, 2001, a U.S. Navy EP-3E with the VQ-1, flying an ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) mission in international airspace 64 miles southeast of the island of Hainan was intercepted by two PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy) J-8 fighters. One of the J-8s piloted by Lt. Cdr. Wang Wei, made two close passes to the EP-3 before colliding with the spyplane on the third pass. As a consequence, the J-8 broke into two pieces and crashed into the sea causing the death of the pilot, whereas the EP-3, severely damaged, performed an unauthorized landing at China’s Lingshui airfield. The 24 crew members (21 men and three women), that destroyed all (or at least most of ) the sensitive items and data on board the aircraft, were detained by Chinese authorities until Apr. 11, 2001.

On Sept. 13, 1987, a RNoAF P-3B had a mid air collision with a Soviet Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker over the Barents Sea. While maneuvering below the P-3B, the Su-27P collided with the outboard right propeller of the Orion: the impact shattered a fin tip of the Su-27P and caused fragments of the propeller to puncture the P-3B’s fuselage, causing a decompression. The Orion experienced severe vibrations and the outboard right engine was shut down. Both aircraft were able to return safely to their bases.

Now, considered all the tensions of this Cold War 2.0 era, imagine the reactions would a Russian fighter collide mid-air with a U.S. strategic bomber..