Thursday, January 20, 2022

Engine overhauls ordered for Navy C-40A aircraft fleet

The Naval Air Systems Command, Tactical Airlift Program Office, Patuxent River, Md., is conducting market research to identify potential business sources with the resources, capabilities, and experience to successfully perform multiple C-40A engine overhauls beginning as early as 2025 and occurring over a three to five year period.

The C-40A aircraft is a Boeing 737-700C commercial-derivative cargo/transport/Extended Range Twin Engine Operations aircraft that is operated by the U.S. Navy and soon to be operated by the U.S. Marine Corps. The aircraft are equipped with CFM56-7B24 engines and have been modified with government unique items with supplement type certifications.

“At this time, the government anticipates 10 – 20 engine overhauls will be required over a three to five year period,” Navy officials said in contract documents. “Overhaul turn-around-time shall be 120 days between shipping to and shipping from the vendor.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Radian Aerospace secures $27.5 million in funding to develop spaceplane

Radian Aerospace, developer of a fully reusable horizontal takeoff and landing, single-stage to orbit spaceplane, announced Wednesday that the company recently closed $27.5 million in seed funding. The recent round was led by Fine Structure Ventures, a venture capital fund.

The Radian spaceplane will “fill the efficiency and capability gaps that exist with traditional vertical rockets,” the company said in a press release. The vehicle will be capable of a wide range of space operations including the delivery of people and light cargo to low earth orbit with aircraft-like operations.

"To date, a low cost space transport solution has been lacking that can get humans and cargo to and from space at a highly responsive rate," said Brett Rome, venture partner at Fine Structure Ventures. "Radian is well positioned to fill that gap with disruptive technology that helps enable the emerging space economy."

The ability to fly to space, perform a mission, return, refuel, and fly again almost immediately enables in-space and terrestrial missions that are simply not possible with traditional vehicles, the company said.

"Wings offer capabilities and mission types that are simply not possible with traditional vertical takeoff right circular cylinder rockets," said Livingston Holder, Radian's co-founder and former head of the Future Space Transportation and X-33 program at Boeing. "What we are doing is hard, but it's no longer impossible thanks to significant advancements in materials science, miniaturization, and manufacturing technologies.”

“We are not focused on tourism, we are dedicated to missions that make life better on our own planet, like research, in-space manufacturing, and terrestrial observation, as well as critical new missions like rapid global delivery right here on Earth," said Richard Humphrey, CEO and co-founder of Radian.

The company already has launch service agreements with commercial space stations, in-space manufacturers, satellite, and cargo companies, as well as agreements with the U.S. government and selected foreign governments.

"We're talking about materially enabling an industry that's expected to grow to $1.4 trillion in less than a decade,” said Doug Greenlaw, a former chief executive of Lockheed Martin and one of Radian's investors and strategic advisors.

The addressable commercial market opportunity for Radian's disruptive launch vehicle is estimated to be $200 billion, the company said.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Third test flight for massive Stratolaunch experimental aircraft

Stratolaunch LLC is excited to announce the successful completion of its third Roc carrier aircraft test flight on Sunday. Roc is the world's largest aircraft, with a 385-foot wingspan.

The aircraft took off at 11:47 a.m. EST and flew for 4 hours, 23 minutes over the Mojave Desert in California. It reached an altitude of 23,500 feet at an indicated air speed of 180 knots. This flight further prepared the carrier aircraft to support launches of its upcoming hypersonic testbed vehicle, Talon-A.

Launched from the Roc carrier aircraft, Talon-A vehicles are rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customizable payloads at speeds above Mach 5. This capability enables routine access to the hypersonic flight environment, which is critical for scientific research, technological development, and component demonstration.

"We will take the data we gathered and continue to advance the aircraft's operational performance to support hypersonic testing in 2022,” said Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch president and chief operating officer in a company press release.

"The partial gear retraction seen during the flight is a graduated approach to building confidence in the landing gear and gear door hardware. Testing the left main landing gear individually mitigated risk and provided our aircrew with options for landing the aircraft in the event the hardware didn't perform as expected," Krevor said. "We'll review the data and determine when we can get back into the air to continue advancing our unique, hypersonic architecture."

The test flight included a low approach maneuver over the Mojave Air and Space Port.

In addition to testing the carrier aircraft, the team continues to make incredible strides in building its first two Talon-A test vehicles, TA-0 and TA-1. TA-1 completed its initial power-on testing in late December, keeping the company on track to begin hypersonic flight testing in 2022 and to deliver services to government and commercial customers in 2023.

Stratolaunch's mission is to advance high-speed technology through innovative design, manufacturing, and operation of world-class aerospace vehicles.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Newly delivered Coast Guard aircraft ready to be 'missionize'

The U.S. Coast Guard HC-130J Long Range Surveillance (LRS) aircraft acquisition program office has a requirement to “missionize” up to six newly delivered HC-130J LRS aircraft via the installation of the Minotaur Mission System Suite and the C-130J Block Upgrade 8.1.

The Minotaur system incorporates sensors; radar; and command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment and enables aircrews to gather and process surveillance information that can be transmitted to other platforms and units during flight.

“The services will be competitively procured on an unrestricted basis via a noncommercial firm-fixed-price contract,” Coast Guard officials said in contract documents released this week.

The Coast Guard accepted its 14th mission-ready HC-130J Super Hercules long range surveillance aircraft Oct. 27 from L3Harris Technologies in Waco, Texas.

The Coast Guard currently has 18 HC-130J aircraft in either operational use or active production.

The Coast Guard’s fleet of HC-130Js is the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) largest airlift asset, providing critical support to DHS partners as well as carrying out many Coast Guard missions, including search and rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, cargo and personnel transport, and maritime stewardship. The aircraft is capable of serving as an on-scene command and control platform or as a surveillance platform with the means to detect, classify and identify objects and share that information with operational forces.