Air­bus DS/Mil­i­tary in Spain

Vayu’s UK Editor, Richard Gard­ner re­ports from Seville, Spain, as Air­bus De­fence and Space presents its an­nual Trade Me­dia Briefing (TMB’15)

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Front Page - Ar­ti­cle and pho­tos: Richard Gard­ner

They say “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain” and even as del­e­gates ar­rived from around the world to at­tend the an­nual Air­bus De­fence and Space ( Air­bus DS) Trade Me­dia Briefing at Seville, this rep­u­ta­tion was easy to un­der­stand as the skies were storm-filled and it was ex­tremely wet at the Head­quar­ters of what was for­merly known as Air­bus Mil­i­tary. But whereas pre­vi­ous an­nual brief­ings had also re­flected stormy prospects for the com­pany’s lat­est prod­uct, the A400M At­las trans­port, this time the at­mos­phere was no­tice­ably more up­beat.

The 2015 briefing was due to take place ear­lier in the year, but had to be can­celled at the last mo­ment ow­ing to a fa­tal ac­ci­dent in May in­volv­ing an A400M mak­ing its first flight af­ter com­ple­tion. The re­port into the cause is due to be re­leased be­fore the end of 2015, but the prob­lem was soon iden­ti­fied and rec­ti­fied and now ev­ery ef­fort is be­ing made to get the pro­gramme back on sched­ule, with de­liv­er­ies steadily build­ing up, as vis­i­tors were able to see for them­selves in Oc­to­ber. There have also been sig­nif­i­cant man­age­ment changes within the group and this is part of the ma­jor re­as­sur­ance cam­paign that has been launched to pacify cus­tomers wait­ing for de­layed de­liv­er­ies and ex­pect­ing im­proved qual­ity con­trol.

Mil­i­tary air­craft chief sales­man, An­to­nio Ro­driguez Bar­beran, pro­vided an ini­tial overview of the mil­i­tary prod­uct line, which was wider in scope than many may re­alise. It ex­tends be­yond the main Seville prod­ucts, the A400M and C295 and CN235 trans­ports, to Eurofighter, the A330 MRTT, UAV de­vel­op­ments and ex­ten­sive mil­i­tary upgrade and sus­tain­ment sup­port ser­vices. Ac­cord­ing to An­to­nio, the com­pany’s aim was to be present in most mil­i­tary mar­ket seg­ments and to be num­ber one or two in each seg­ment. A tall or­der maybe, but Air­bus was al­ready well on its way to achiev­ing this in terms of sup­ply­ing mil­i­tary trans­ports and air tankers. The com­pany’s world­wide pres­ence in­cluded 1,800 air­craft sold to 70 coun­tries, with 145 oper­a­tors an over 5 mil­lion flight hours ac­cu­mu­lated. He added that an ever grow­ing global foot­print was mak­ing the prod­ucts more sup­port­able, and In­dia was iden­ti­fied as one of the coun­tries for fu­ture de­vel­op­ments.

Achieve­ments in the past year: The A400M is now op­er­a­tional with five air forces (France, UK, Ger­many, Turkey and Malaysia) and pre­sen­ta­tions have been made to nine more po­ten­tial cus­tomers, with what are de­scribed as “se­ri­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions un­der­way”. The first air­craft for Spain are also in fi­nal as­sem­bly. Its light and medium air­craft have achieved 28 new or­ders in 2014, in­clud­ing for four new cus­tomers. So far in 2015, 15 more or­ders have been added. Air­bus ex­pects to main­tain its mar­ket share in this cat­e­gory of 75% long term. In ad­di­tion to the pri­mary trans­port role of the C295 and CN235, th­ese types are be­ing con­tin­u­ously de­vel­oped to cover other tasks in­clud­ing search and res­cue, mar­itime sur­veil­lance, marine pol­lu­tion Con­trol, Anti- sub­ma­rine and sur­face warfare and aerial pho­tog­ra­phy. New roles be­ing de­vel­oped in­clude IS­TAR/ EW, Sig­nals In­tel­li­gence, fire- fight­ing, Air­borne Early Warn­ing and the gun­ship fire-sup­port role. An­other grow­ing niche mar­ket for th­ese air­craft is govern­ment and State VIP trans­port. The com­bined C295 and CN235 mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion is around 60%. The big­gest re­gional mar­ket is Asia Pa­cific with 140 sales, Africa and the Middle East have or­dered 130 air­craft, Europe 105, and the Amer­i­cas have or­dered 100 air­craft. Se­lec­tion of the A330 MRTT has con­tin­ued the pat­tern of at­tract­ing new cus­tomers to what is the un­doubted mar­ket leader in the large tanker/trans­port mar­ket. Re­cent or­ders in­clude two for Qatar, and three for a joint NATO MRTT group com­pris­ing the Nether­lands, Nor­way, Poland and Lux­em­bourg. France is to buy twelve, and South Korea has or­dered four.

In­dia has an­nounced its se­lec­tion of the type. To date there are now 26 A330 MRTTs in ser­vice. Eurofighter con­tin­ues to of­fer up­graded Ty­phoons with AESA radar and other im­prove­ments. The lat­est cus­tomer to se­lect the fighter is Kuwait, which is ex­pected to buy 28. Work con­tin­ues on a pro­posal for a new joint Euro­pean MALE UAV def­i­ni­tion

phase. Other upgrade pro­grammes in­clude im­proved Tor­na­dos for Saudi Ara­bia and P-3s for the Ger­man Navy.

An up­dated re­view of the C295 and CN235 pro­grammes was given by Fer­nando Ciria, Head of Mar­ket­ing for Light and Medium Trans­port and ISR pro­grammes. He started by high­light­ing the fact that the C295 was the best- sell­ing mil­i­tary air­craft in its cat­e­gory. Over 160 air­craft had been sold to 23 oper­a­tors in 22 coun­tries. Eleven of th­ese were re­peat or­ders. The new C295W fea­tures en­hanced en­gine per­for­mance and has winglets. Th­ese im­prove­ments give an 8% in­crease in range (out to 2,300 nm with a 4 ton load). The winglets pro­vide an aero­dy­namic gain that trans­lates into a 5.5% fuel ad­van­tage on a typ­i­cal mis­sion. The en­gine mode upgrade also al­lows a larger pay­load from hot and high air­fields – 7.85 tons at 500 nm from an al­ti­tude of 6,000ft. The first flight of the C295W de­vel­op­ment air­craft took place on 11 April 2014 and has now been cer­ti­fied. The first de­liv­ery took place in April 2014 to the Mex­i­can Navy.

Ef­forts to fur­ther ex­pand ap­pli­ca­tions for this ver­sa­tile plat­form have in­cluded mod­i­fi­ca­tions to al­low a fire- fight­ing role and a ver­sion for Spe­cial Forces as a trans­port or a fire- sup­port gun­ship. The ca­pa­cious cabin of the C295 al­lows room for ex­ten­sive mis­sion sys­tems and dis­plays so that the air­craft can act as a Sig­nals In­tel­li­gence or Ground Sur­veil­lance plat­form, with spe­cial­ist sen­sors and mul­ti­ple tar­get track­ing radar, in­clud­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­ter­cept and jam­ming equip­ment. Mod­i­fi­ca­tions to give the C295 more weapons ca­pa­bil­ity in the Mar­itime Pa­trol (MPA) and anti-sub­ma­rine (ASW) roles is be­ing un­der­taken so that air-launched hom­ing tor­pe­does and air-to sur­face mis­siles can be car­ried. The larger C295 and CN235 can both be given a cost­ef­fec­tive MPA or SAR role as they fea­ture high lev­els of manoeuvrability at low level above the sea sur­face, com­bined with an en­durance of up to 11 hours.

The US Coast Guard uses a large fleet of CN235s for law en­force­ment, bor­der pa­trols, and para-res­cue op­er­a­tions. Spe­cial large size bub­ble win­dows give ex­cel­lent vis­ual cov­er­age for crew mem­bers, while elec­tro-op­ti­cal video cam­eras, in­clud­ing in­fra- red, al­low all- weather and night op­er­a­tions. Dur­ing the au­thor’s visit, a well-equipped Omani C295 MPA/ASW air­craft was present on the flight line

un­der­tak­ing var­i­ous ground tests. The lat­est gen­er­a­tion FITS mis­sion sys­tem is in­cor­po­rated. Pal­letised ISR mis­sion sys­tems can be pro­vided to that the air­craft can be used for trans­port du­ties when not re­quired for ISR or MPA du­ties. If re­quired to pro­vide elec­tronic sur­veil­lance and or­der of bat­tle gen­er­a­tion, with on­board ELINT/COMINT anal­y­sis or elec­tronic coun­ter­mea­sures this can also be sup­plied in a very compact pack­age that also has the ad­van­tage of be­ing able to op­er­ate from short run­ways al­most any­where, not re­stricted to in­ter­na­tional air­ports. Is­rael’s ELTA has sup­plied a 4th Gen­er­a­tion AESA radar which has been tri­alled atop a C295 in an aero­dy­namic ro­tat­ing dome for the de­tec­tion of mul­ti­ple small and fast tar­gets, giv­ing 360 de­gree cov­er­age.

For Ground Sur­veil­lance tasks, the C295 can carry high res­o­lu­tion SAR/ GMTI radar ar­rays and an EO/IR tar­get des­ig­na­tion tur­ret, ESM, ELINT and COMINT. It would seem that Air­bus is keen to ex­ploit ev­ery pos­si­ble com­bi­na­tion of ISR and EW mis­sion roles that can car­ried aboard its C295 and CN235 air­craft. At the briefing it also sug­gested that close air sup­port for Spe­cial Forces was an ideal role for the C295, which could de­ploy parachutists and sup­plies and also carry un­der­wing weapons and stores. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with ATK the gun­ship role was an­other ca­pa­bil­ity as pre­vi­ously men­tioned. But its fu­ture plan­ning is al­ready look­ing be­yond the C295 plat­form. The com­pany showed an im­age of an A330 fit­ted with a top-mounted ro­tat­ing radome which might be­come a re­place­ment for the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of Boe­ing E-3Ds, in wide­spread use around the world, but many of which are over 40 years old. Such an A330 AEW&C plat­form would of­fer even more on-board vol­ume for elec­tronic equip­ment, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­trol, elec­tri­cal gen­er­a­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tems, crew rest ar­eas and ad­di­tional op­er­a­tional ISR/EW task­ing po­ten­tial, with ex­tremely long range and/ or en­durance on sta­tion, and high tran­sit speed. How­ever, the fu­ture vi­sion for Air­bus DS didn’t end there. The com­pany briefing also in­cluded im­ages of a mil­i­tary con­fig­ured A320 plat­form (which could pre­sum­ably also be sized as an A319 or A321, de­pend­ing on cus­tomer need) which could have a ground sur­veil­lance, EW or mar­itime pa­trol role, and could be­come a Euro­pean ri­val to Boe­ing’s P-8A Po­sei­don.

An­to­nio Cara­mazana is Head of the MRTT pro­gramme and gave a more de­tailed up­date on progress dur­ing the pre­vi­ous twelve months. He said that the A330 tanker trans­port had been very ac­tive on mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions. This in­cluded The RAF’s Op­er­a­tion Shader in the Middle East in sup­port of Tor­nado op­er­a­tions against ISIL tar­gets, and also help­ing re­fuel other coali­tion air­craft. Twelve air­craft were in ser­vice. The air­craft was also in ser­vice with the Royal Aus­tralian Air Force (5 air­craft) with a de­tach­ment based in the Middle East. Royal Saudi Air Force MRTTs were in­volved in tank­ing sup­port op­er­a­tions for com­bat air strikes against tar­gets in the Ye­men. The RSAF now has six in ser­vice. The UAE has three and some of th­ese have also been used in op­er­a­tions over Syria, Iraq and Ye­men. Most of th­ese op­er­a­tions have in­volved air-to-air re­fu­elling mis­sions, but the air­craft have also been used, par­tic­u­larly by the RAF for over­seas de­ploy­ments car­ry­ing up to 200 troops, and for sup­port­ing com­bat air­craft de­ploy­ments car­ry­ing equip­ment and ground per­son­nel.

Dur­ing the year the re­fu­elling boom func­tion­al­ity has been re­leased al­low­ing full use of the Air­bus de­vel­oped con­trolby- wire boom to re­fuel USAF com­bat air­craft, such as the F- 15 and F- 16, as well as larger types such as other MMRTs and Boe­ing Wed­getails. The MRTT has also be cleared to re­fuel com­bat fight­ers us­ing the FRU drogue and probe method in­clud­ing the Typhoon, Tor­nado, Mi­rage, Rafale, F-18 Hor­net and Su­per Hor­net and AV-8B Har­rier. Night re­fu­elling can now be un­der­taken on all th­ese types and clear­ance trails were suc­cess­fully un­der­taken at Ed­wards AFB and Patux­ant River in the USA for ad­di­tional US types in­clud­ing the EA- 6B, A- 10 and B-1B. This in­cluded the first MRTT wet boom re­fu­elling of the F-35A by RAAF MRTTs. In the UK, ex­pan­sion of the FRU re­fu­elling func­tion­al­ity in­cluded clear­ance of re­fu­elling tri­als with two dif­fer­ent types of C-130J, the E-3D Sen­try, and A400Ms. World­wide med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion flights have been flown and the RAF has car­ried over 500,000 pas­sen­gers aboard its MRTT Voy­agers so far. Some 56,400 flight hours have been flown by the type in ser­vice. A se­ries of en­hance­ments is now be­ing ap­plied to new MRTT de­liv­er­ies. The ini­tial cus­tomers will be Sin­ga­pore, France and Korea for de­liv­ery from 2018. This per­for­mance im­prove­ment pack­age has been trig­gered by new in­creased weight ca­pa­bil­ity re­sult­ing from the stan­dard upgrade of the ba­sic A330 which has struc­tural and aero­dy­namic im­prove­ments. In­side the air­craft, there will also be new com­puter dis­plays as­so­ci­ated with an avion­ics upgrade. Ad­just­ments to the mil­i­tary sys­tems fit­ted in the MRTT in­clude im­prove­ments to the in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion process with more stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of elec­tri­cal and me­chan­i­cal so­lu­tions. It is clear that the MRTT has now

set­tled down to be­ing a very ca­pa­ble and ma­ture mil­i­tary air as­set, and the clear leader in its field, of­fer­ing more us­able cabin space and fuel off-load ca­pac­ity, en­durance and a more mod­ern air­frame than its near­est ri­val.

It then delved to Joey Borken­stein, Se­nior Ad­vi­sor Air Com­bat Op­er­a­tions, to pro­vide an up­date on the Eurofighter pro­gramme. A steady pro­gramme of up­grades con­tin­ues to roll for­ward, though this has pro­ceeded at a slower pace than orig­i­nally in­tended as a re­sult of var­i­ous spend­ing cuts and de­lays across the de­fence bud­gets of the main Euro­pean part­ner na­tions. Keep­ing the mo­men­tum go­ing on th­ese upgrade pack­ages has not been an easy task as some cus­tomers have been slower to re­spond as they have not been so ac­tively en­gaged in com­bat op­er­a­tions as oth­ers, who have long recog­nised the need to adopt pro­gres­sively bet­ter avion­ics, radar and weapons sys­tems. How­ever, the first four upgrade pack­ages are iden­ti­fied and are be­ing im­ple­mented over the next five years, with oth­ers fol­low­ing out to at least 2030, en­sur­ing the Typhoon has a long op­er­a­tional fu­ture ahead of it. One of the most im­me­di­ate up­grades is the clear­ance of new mis­siles. The first of th­ese will be the Storm Shadow/Taurus, which is a very long-range stand-off weapon for use against well de­fended key tar­gets. The Storm Shadow is bat­tle proven aboard Tor­nado and com­bines low ob­serv­abil­ity with high pre­ci­sion. It is to be de­liv­ered for ser­vice on Typhoon by 2017. The MBDA Me­teor is in­tended as an air dom­i­nance long range air-to-air mis­sile with a two way data-link and has an un­prece­dented No Es­cape Zone. This is also due to be cleared over the next year. The next en­hance­ments cover the car­riage of the lat­est Paveway IV pre­ci­sion bombs. Avail­able in 500lbs and 1000lbs ver­sions, the weapon has laser guid­ance, GPS/ INS guid­ance and Typhoon can be con­fig­ured to carry up to six while re­tain­ing its full air de­fence role. The third new mis­sile, be­ing pushed as a pri­or­ity by the UK is the clear­ance for Brim­stone II at­tack mis­siles. Th­ese have been de­vel­oped from the stan­dard Bri­s­tone, which has a proven com­bat record over Afghanistan and Iraq, and fea­tures a dual mode high ac­cu­racy seeker with a very good per­for­mance against small mov­ing tar­gets. It has all-weather day or night ca­pa­bil­ity and is very compact so up to twelve can be car­ried on four triple launch mount­ings, with­out com­pro­mis­ing AAR mis­sile ca­pa­bil­ity. The most anx­iously awaited upgrade re­mains the adop­tion for Typhoon of the Cap­tor- E AESA radar from Selex. This fea­tures the big­gest “field of re­gard” for any AESA of its type, thanks to its mount­ing on a move­able rather than a fixed plate. This wide an­gle ca­pa­bil­ity al­lows even more mul­ti­ple tar­gets to be iden­ti­fied, tracked and ad­dressed, with mul­ti­ple uses, from air-to-air in­ter­cep­tion to sea search and sur­face strike. It has a high re­sis­tance to jam­ming and can op­er­ate with var­i­ous ac­tive and pas­sive de­tec­tion op­tions. Other de­vel­op­ments in­clude an up­graded de­fen­sive aids suite with a more pow­er­ful jam­ming ca­pa­bil­ity and pas­sive ge­olo­ca­tion.

Dur­ing the last year Eurofighter Typhoon op­er­a­tions have con­tin­ued at a high pace with some oper­a­tors, no­tably the UK and Saudi Ara­bia, where they have been in daily com­bat in the Middle East. In­creas­ing sur­veil­lance “probe” mis­sions by Rus­sian long-range re­con­nais­sance air­craft have re­sulted in round-the-clock in­ter­cept scram­ble mis­sions to es­cort the in­ter­lop­ers away from na­tional and NATO air re­gions from Nor­way to Turkey. Con­tin­u­ous de­ploy­ments of NATO Typhoon squadrons to the in­de­pen­dent Baltic States have pro­vided ad­di­tional re­as­sur­ance of NATO sup­port at a time when th­ese for­mer Soviet Union states have felt threat­ened by the sit­u­a­tion in the Ukraine and Crimea.

But it was the flight test pro­gramme for the A400M At­las which was to form a ma­jor part of the up­date briefing at Seville. Since the last Trade Me­dia Briefing the A400M fly­ing to­tals have risen to 7,903 hours on 2,901 flights. Par­tic­u­lar achieve­ments dur­ing 2015 have in­cluded many im­por­tant way points in­clud­ing: the first flight re­fu­elling re­ceiver tri­als from an A330 MRTT, and fuel de­liv­ery to two F- 18 fight­ers, two- ton load ex­trac­tion us­ing para­chutes, DASS (De­fen­sive Aids Sub-Sys­tem) and RWR self-de­fence tests, para­troop de­ploy­ment tri­als and off-run­way sur­face tests. As­so­ci­ated with low- level flights was cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of an en­hanced vi­sion sys­tem with night vi­sion gog­gles. Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of low level free-flight down to 150ft was achieved in late 2014, with height down to 500ft us­ing NVGs. In­frared sen­sors and flare sys­tems were also tested un­der many dif­fer­ent con­di­tions and in­cluded full flare jet­ti­son. The A400M has a very ex­ten­sive DASS sys­tem, which in­cludes radar warn­ing re­ceivers and other sys­tems, some of which are cus­tomer spe­cific. Dur­ing the pe­riod of the me­dia visit sev­eral RAF A400Ms had re­turned to Spain for fit­ting and in­te­gra­tion of the UK’s DASS sys­tem.

Var­i­ous dy­namic air drop tests have taken place with live jumps car­ried out. Th­ese tests con­firmed that there are is­sues in­volved in us­ing the two rear side doors for troop air drops. The tur­bu­lence from the pow­er­ful en­gines causes cross-over prob­lems which can bring de­part­ing para­troops into con­tact

with each other af­ter exit, so mea­sures are in hand to find and eval­u­ate a so­lu­tion. A test air­craft is be­ing fit­ted with a spoiler which ‘it is hoped’ may solve the prob­lem, but tests will con­tinue into 2016 us­ing full-size rep­re­sen­ta­tive dummy troop­ers. Free-fall jumps from the cargo ramp door have been cer­ti­fied for de­par­tures of up to 29 jumpers at a time. Sticks of 12 jumpers can be despatched from the rear ramp. Fur­ther tests in early 2016 in­clude des­patch of two x 58 para­troops in one stick and high al­ti­tude para­troop drops. Heavy cargo drops of loads of up to 4 tons have been cer­ti­fied for grav­ity and para­chute ex­trac­tion. To­tal loads of 12 tons have been despatched us­ing three plat­forms car­ry­ing 4 ton loads each. The art and sci­ence of air de­liv­ery is a com­plex one, es­pe­cially in­volv­ing such an au­to­mated fly-by-wire air­craft and the tests have in­cluded despatch­ing dif­fer­ent size loads from dif­fer­ent po­si­tions on the cabin floor and rear cargo door. The ca­pa­bil­ity will be ex­panded so that 25 ton loads can be despatched in safety. Ev­ery as­pect of the des­patch tri­als has been care­fully recorded and the fi­nal stan­dard of clear­ance will al­low the air­craft to fully un­der­take the tac­ti­cal trans­port as well as strate­gic trans­port roles. Fur­ther tests in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber 2015 have in­cluded land­ings and take-offs from grass run­ways and soil sur­faces. The third stage in th­ese tac­ti­cal op tests in­volves fur­ther op­er­a­tions from sand sur­faces. The land­ing gear of the A400M in­cor­po­rates the first cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of tech­nol­ogy based on mi­cro-strain mea­sure­ment to in­di­cate to the pi­lots that the gear has func­tioned cor­rectly and wheels are on the ground or in flight. The tra­di­tional sys­tem based on prox­im­ity sen­sors has been changed by a cal­i­brated pin (strain mea­sure­ment) de­sign. Due to the air­craft’s land­ing gear con­fig­u­ra­tion this new sys­tem has sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved the land­ing run per­for­mances on low fric­tion sur­faces.

Dur­ing 2016 ad­di­tional ca­pa­bil­ity will in­clude Po­lar area nav­i­ga­tion, au­to­matic aerial de­liv­ery of parachutists via static line and re­fu­elling other air­craft from wing­mounted HDUs. The in­tended ca­pa­bil­ity for aerial re­fu­elling of he­li­copters by the A400M has been dropped for the present. Tests have led to the con­clu­sion that this prob­lem is not eas­ily solved with­out an un­ac­cept­ably ex­ten­sive mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the HDU de­sign, which per­forms very well for all fixed-wing AAR re­quire­ments, meet­ing the ma­jor­ity of op­er­a­tional needs.

The briefing con­tained much more in­for­ma­tion on var­i­ous tech­ni­cal projects that re­flect a very ac­tive con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment pol­icy. The com­pany is keen to sim­plify the ma­noeu­vres in­volved in try­ing to get the max­i­mum fea­si­ble au­to­ma­tion in reach­ing im­por­tant im­prove­ments in op­er­a­tional and safety aspects of aerial re­fu­elling. Th­ese im­prove­ments are aimed to save time, costs and re­duce risks. Cur­rently un­der­go­ing fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies the fol­low up step would be to move to a proof of con­cept in a flight test en­vi­ron­ment to val­i­date the tech­niques.

But, this is an­other story!

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