ST. LOUIS, July 21, 2009 — The first Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis July 20 to begin its initial flight. Boeing [NYSE: BA] unveiled the aircraft July 8 at the company’s Integrated Defense Systems facility in St. Louis.
Boeing will complete delivery of the first of 24 F/A-18Fs to the RAAF later this month, three months ahead of schedule. The remaining 23 Super Hornets, each equipped with the Raytheon-built APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, will be delivered to the RAAF throughout 2010 and 2011.
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President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates won a major legislative victory in the Senate early this afternoon when that chamber sided with their efforts to end the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor program as planned, instead of earmarking for more fighters.
Senators voted 58-40 in favor of stripping an earlier earmark from their Fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill that would have specified $1.75 billion for seven Raptors. The earmark would have had to have been followed by actual appropriations from Congress – a whole other battle – but the Senate vote represented a watershed event in that it registered official opposition the earmark, which was supported by many in industry and some on Capitol Hill and in the Air Force.
“Secretary Gates appreciates the careful consideration Senators have given to this matter of national security and he applauds their bipartisan support to complete the F-22 program at 187 planes,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said shortly after the vote. “He understands that for many members this was a very difficult vote, but he believes that the Pentagon cannot continue with business as usual when it comes to the F-22 or any other program in excess to our needs. Today’s vote is an important step in that direction and the Secretary looks forward to working closely with lawmakers as President Obama’s budget is debated in the coming months.”
Indeed, supporters of more Raptors were lobbying hard right up to the end. “As potential adversary nations are committed to producing their own fifth-generation aircraft in the immediate future to combat and impede U.S. air dominance, the current cap of 187 aircraft is an inadequate number,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Paul Kayye, president of the Reserve Officers Association of the United States.
The floor debate occupied the Senate’s morning session, with passionate speeches on both sides of the issue. Specifically, senators were considering an amendment offered by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking Republican John McCain (Ariz.), who sided with the President, Defense Secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as Air Force leadership. McCain repeatedly took to the floor to espouse their arguments against continuing the program, as well as the need for lawmakers to do their part to rein in government spending and counter waste, fraud and abuse.
“If not now, when?” Levin asked his colleagues. “When will we end production of a weapon system?”
But proponents of the program, led by ardent supporter Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), cited numerous earlier USAF studies and assertions that more than 187 Raptors were required to meet military needs. They further pleaded with colleagues that protecting jobs related to the Raptor was a worthwhile and prudent action, and that turning away from the leading fifth-generation fighter would send all kinds of improper or unnecessary messages to allies and adversaries alike, as well as future USAF personnel.
“The worst thing we can do is discourage those air force men,” said Chambliss, who led a victorious effort over Levin and McCain in 2006 to authorize a multiyear contract for the last batch of F-22s.
The issue, how ever, is not over. The House has passed its version of the bill with a related earmark for more Raptors, and appropriators have yet to weigh in on the issue with their own bills in either chamber. Furthermore, both authorization and appropriations would have to be negotiated and finalized between the House and Senate before sending them to the White House.
There, Obama thanked the Senate for its majority support shortly after the results were announced. He also warned again that he will veto any bill that prolongs the F-22 program.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy
By Neelam Mathews
NEW DELHI – India’s first moon mission – Chandrayaan-I – has lost its star tracker, raising worries that it might not last out its two-year life span even though engineers at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) have devised a functional workaround to the problem.
“With its loss we are really worried,” ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair says.
The sensor, which failed in June, helps keep the satellite oriented so its cameras and other recording equipment are properly aimed at the lunar surface. Controllers are using a combination of onboard gyroscopes, antenna-pointing data and lunar landmarks to determine spacecraft orientation, ISRO says.
“As you know, we did not have experience of this kind anytime earlier,” Nair says. “This is the first time we have understood the intricacies of going around the moon and this data will help us make the subsequent missions much more reliable.”
Launched in October of last year, Chandrayaan-I encountered unexpected temperatures during its first month in lunar orbit, forcing additional corrective action that included activating backup units. Without the quick response, “the entire spacecraft would have baked and would have been simply lost,” Nair says.
Instead, more than 95 percent of the mission objectives have been achieved, and the U.S.-supplied synthetic aperture radar (SAR) onboard is being prepared for its second round of surface imaging.
That raises the possibility it will be able to work with the SAR on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), now being checked out in lunar orbit.
The Chandrayaan-I instrument will begin imaging the lunar surface for evidence of water ice next month, and the LRO Mini-SAR already has produced imagery of the south polar region.
Working together, the similar instruments – both built in the U.S. under the leadership of the Naval Air Warfare Center – may have a better chance of collecting the signatures of ice from past comet impacts preserved by the extreme cold in the deep, dark craters at the poles.
That sort of cooperation in space was one of the items on the agenda during U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to India, which produced a civil space agreement that includes broader commercial launch opportunities (See related story on p.4). Prior to India’s recent election, the agreement was considered unlikely to win the necessary government support because of opposition from the left within the Congress Party coalition.
Meanwhile, Chandrayaan-I continues to send high-quality data to its ground station at Byalalu near Bengaluru (Bangalore). Detailed review of the scientific objectives and the performance results on the mission is scheduled within three months, after which further operational procedures will be worked out, ISRO says. Launched from Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, Chandrayaan-I has made 3,000 orbits around the moon and sent back more than 70,000 images of its surface.
Chandrayaan-I photo: Indian Space Research Organization
Display will be shown at fairs, in public areas, and at the Company’s plants
São José dos Campos, July 21, 2009 – In order to tell the story of aviation in Brazil and,
more specifically, the history of the country’s modern aeronautics industry, Embraer, in the
year of its 40th anniversary, has organized a traveling exhibit to be shown in public areas and
at aviation-related events in a number of cities, until December of this year.
The exhibit will be presented for the first time at the National Civil Aviation Trade Fair in
Brazil (www.FeiradeAviacaoCivil.com.br), which will be held at Santos Dumont Airport, in
the city of Rio de Janeiro, July 24-26. The next stops will be at shopping malls in the city of
São José dos Campos: CenterVale (www.CenterVale.com.br), July 30 to August 9, and Vale
Sul (www.ValeSulShopping.com.br), August 10-16.
“The history of aviation in Brazil is an example of the efforts and prevailing spirit of a
number of Brazilians in making the dream of flight a reality,” said Horacio Forjaz, Embraer
Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs. “As an important player in this history,
Embraer presents several remarkable chapters to show the public the high level of technology
of Brazil’s current aeronautics industry.”
The traveling exhibit presents the history of Embraer and of Brazilian aviation through facts,
images, and airplane mock-ups. The collection goes from the pioneering studies of Alberto Santos
Dumont, the Father of Aviation, at the beginning of the last century, through the creation of the
Aeronautics Technical Center (now called the Aerospace Technology General Command), in the
mid-1940s, to the Bandeirante project that brought about the founding of Embraer, on August 19, 1969, and finally the current line of products and new developments of the Company, which has become one of the world’s primary airplane manufacturers. For more information regarding
Embraer, go to http://www.embraer.com.br.
On August 17-22, the exhibit will be on display at the Company’s headquarters in São José
dos Campos, during its 40th anniversary celebrations. The itinerant display will also be
exhibited at the Botucatu and Gavião Peixoto plants.
Company will exhibit entry level Phenom 100 executive jet and ethanol-powered Ipanema
São José dos Campos, July 21, 2009 – Embraer will participate in the second edition of the
National Civil Aviation Fair, July 24 to 26, at Santos Dumont Airport, in the city of Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil. The event marks the first exhibition of the traveling display created by Embraer
to tell the history of Brazilian aviation and celebrate the Company’s 40th anniversary.
“We are very proud to participate in the National Civil Aviation Fair during the year when
Embraer celebrates four decades of existence,” said Emilio Matsuo, Embraer Executive Vice
President, Technology. “The worldwide acceptance of our products witnesses to the technical
capacity of Brazil’s aeronautics industry to conceive, develop, produce, and support efficient
and competitive aircraft.”
Organized by Sator Eventos, with the institutional support of Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil – ANAC) and the III Regional Air Command (Comando Aéreo Regional – Comar), the National Civil Aviation Fair (www.FeiradeAviacaoCivil.com.br) is a consciously planned event held according to concepts of sustainability and socioenvironmental criteria. In this context, Embraer will show the Ipanema, which is the first assembly-line airplane in the world that is certified to operate on ethanol. This fuel is more economical than aviation gasoline, reduces operating and maintenance costs, and has less impact on the environment.
The Ipanema represents more than 70% of the Nation’s agricultural aircraft, of which over one
thousand have been produced and delivered. Besides its use in agribusiness, especially for crop
dusting, the Ipanema can also be used for firefighting, towing gliders, cloud seeding, stocking
rivers, and combating insects and larvae.
Besides the Ipanema, Embraer will also display the entry level Phenom 100 executive jet. The
airplane has a capacity for up to eight people, with seven interior options designed in a
partnership with BMW Group DesignworksUSA, and has been operating in Brazil since June
2009. Its range of 1,178 nautical miles (2,182 km), including NBAA IFR fuel reserves, allows
nonstop flights from São Paulo to Recife, Salvador, Brasília, Montevideo (Uruguay), Buenos
Aires (Argentina), or Asuncion (Paraguay). The jet was certified in December 2008 and was
confirmed to be the fastest in its category, and the biggest baggage area. Its advanced cockpit
and rear private lavatory are some of the competitive differences of the Phenom 100.
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., July 21, 2009 — Two of the KC-767 aerial refueling tankers that Boeing [NYSE: BA] is building for the Italian Air Force recently performed a series of airborne boom contacts and fuel offloads in observation test flights with the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base. The flights included KC-767 fuel transfers with a U.S. Air Force F-16 aircraft as well as from one KC-767 to the other.
The KC-767 tankers achieved the milestone contacts in late June during a successful Military Utility Observation (MUO) that demonstrated the tankers’ operational capabilities to refuel both a large receiver aircraft and a fighter aircraft using the KC-767 advanced aerial refueling boom and Remote Aerial Refueling Operator (RARO) station.
The MUO is contractually obligated by the Italian Air Force as part of the process required for delivery of the KC-767 tanker to Italy.
During the MUO, the two tankers performed familiarization flights for military personnel, including integrated U.S. and Italian Air Force pilots and boom operators, and also offloaded more than 100,000 pounds of fuel during 65 tanker-to-tanker contacts. Additionally, the tankers performed more than 100 day and night airborne boom contacts with the F-16 aircraft and transferred about 5,000 pounds of fuel.
“This is a key milestone for our International Tanker Program and our Italian customer as we near the end of development of the KC-767 tanker for the Italian Air Force,” said Dave Bowman, vice president and general manager of Boeing Tanker Programs. “The successful boom contacts and fuel offloads by both U.S. Air Force and Italian Air Force crews are additional examples of the outstanding capabilities of Boeing tankers.”
Boeing has three KC-767s in flight test for the Italian Air Force while building one additional tanker for this customer. In addition to the advanced aerial refueling boom and RARO station, the tankers feature wing pod and centerline hose-and-drogue systems. They are wide-body airlifters in a “combi” configuration, meaning the aircraft can be configured to carry all passengers, all cargo or a combination of both.