The Royal Canadian Air Force concluded its participation in CRUZEX 2018 in Natal, Brazil, on November 30, following almost two weeks of training alongside members of several militaries from around the Americas.
This was the RCAF’s second time participating in CRUZEX, which was last held in 2013. Operating two CC-130J Hercules cargo aircraft, the CRUZEX Air Task Force was made up of 37 members of 436 Transport Squadron and 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, and two jumpmasters from the Canadian Army Advanced Warfare Centre (CAAWC).
“During CRUZEX, we took the opportunity to fly tactical missions in combat scenarios, performing everything from airborne operations and container delivery system drops, to upgrade flights for our first officers,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Andy Bowser, Air Task Force Commander and Commanding Officer of 436 Transport Squadron. “Perhaps the most important part of the exercise for us was building relationships with our partner nations in the region.”
Second Lieutenant Mariana Dutra (left) and Lieutenant Lay-Ann Lie Vieira Quelie (centre), pilots with the Brazilian Air Force, join a warrant officer from 426 Transport Training Squadron on the ramp of an RCAF CC-130J Hercules for a training flight on CRUZEX 2018 near Natal, Brazil on November 23, 2018. Photograph by Able Seaman Paul Green
Defence diplomacy in the Americas is a key initiative of Strong, Secure, Engaged (Canada’s Defence Policy), and Brazil is one of the Government of Canada’s priorities for engagement in the Western Hemisphere. The RCAF has had a bilateral relationship with the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira) since 2009.
During the combined training scenarios, RCAF members witnessed the operations of, and trained alongside, multiple Brazilian Air Force, Navy and Army aircraft; Chilean and United States Air Force F-16s and KC-135s; a French C-235 transport plane; Peruvian A-37s and Mirage 2000s fighters; and Uruguayan A-37s.
“Exercising in unfamiliar environments like Brazil contributes to the operational readiness of Air Mobility aircrew and technicians, as we may be called upon to fly anywhere in the world to support Canadian Armed Forces operations,” said Captain Samantha Behm, a pilot with 436 Squadron.
Members of CAAWC had the opportunity to jump from Brazilian C-130s and C-295s, and hosted Brazilian Army paratroopers on board RCAF CC-130Js for a jump. The exercise concluded with 160 Brazilian Army paratroops (“paraquedistas”) receiving their Canadian jump wings in a ceremony.
“Through participation in CRUZEX, the RCAF is strengthening international and regional security, and developing important relationships that will enable close collaboration on future humanitarian and military missions,” said Major-General Christian Drouin, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division.
U.S. Army pilots exercised supervised autonomy to direct an optionally-piloted helicopter (OPV) through a series of missions, to demonstrate technology developed by Sikorsky and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The series of flights marked the first time that non-Sikorsky pilots operated the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA), a modified S-76B commercial helicopter, as an OPV aircraft.
"Future vertical lift aircraft will require robust autonomous and optimally-piloted systems to complete missions and improve safety," said Chris Van Buiten, vice president, Sikorsky Innovations. "We could not be more thrilled to welcome Army aviators to the cockpit to experience first-hand the reliability of optimally-piloted technology developed by the innovative engineers at Sikorsky and DARPA. These aviators experienced the same technology that we are installing and testing on a Black Hawk that will take its first flight over the next several months."
SARA, which has more than 300 hours of autonomous flight, successfully demonstrated the advanced capabilities developed as part of the third phase of DARPA's Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) programme. The aircraft was operated at different times by pilots on board and pilots on the ground. Sikorsky's MATRIX Technology autonomous software and hardware, which is installed on SARA, executed various scenarios including:
Automated Take Off and Landing: The helicopter autonomously executed take-off, traveled to its destination, and autonomously landed
Obstacle Avoidance: The helicopter's LIDAR and cameras enabled it to detect and avoid unknown objects such as wires, towers and moving vehicles
Automatic Landing Zone Selection: The helicopter's LIDAR sensors determined a safe landing zone
Contour Flight: The helicopter flew low to the ground and behind trees
The recent Mission Software Flight Demonstration was a collaboration with the U.S. Army's Aviation Development Directorate, Sikorsky and DARPA. The Army and DARPA are working with Sikorsky to improve and expand ALIAS capabilities developed as a tailorable autonomy kit for installation in both fixed wing airplanes and helicopters.
Over the next few months, Sikorsky will for the first time fly a Black Hawk equipped with ALIAS. The company is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to certify ALIAS/MATRIX technology so that it will be available on current and future commercial and military aircraft.
"We're demonstrating a certifiable autonomy solution that is going to drastically change the way pilots fly," said Mark Ward, Sikorsky Chief Pilot, Stratford, Conn. Flight Test Center. "We're confident that MATRIX Technology will allow pilots to focus on their missions. This technology will ultimately decrease instances of the number one cause of helicopter crashes: Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT)."
Through the DARPA ALIAS program, Sikorsky is developing an OPV approach it describes as pilot directed autonomy that will give operators the confidence to fly aircraft safely, reliably and affordably in optimally piloted modes enabling flight with two, one or zero crew. The program will improve operator decision aiding for manned operations while also enabling both unmanned and reduced crew operations.
Via PR Newswire / Lockheed Martin
Boeing will build the U.S. Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft, the MQ-25 aerial refueller, through an $805 million contract awarded on August 30.
Boeing was awarded the engineering and manufacturing development contract to provide four aircraft. The company plans to perform the MQ-25 work in St. Louis.
“As a company, we have made an investment in both our team and in an unmanned aircraft system that meets the U.S. Navy’s refueling requirements,” said Leanne Caret, president and CEO, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “The fact that we’re already preparing for first flight is thanks to an outstanding team who understands the Navy and their need to have this important asset on carrier decks around the world.”
MQ-25 is designed to provide the U.S. Navy with a much-needed refueling capability. According to the U.S. Navy, the MQ-25 Stingray will allow for better use of combat strike fighters by extending the range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C aircraft. MQ-25 will also seamlessly integrate with a carrier’s catapult and launch and recovery systems.
Boeing has been providing carrier aircraft to the U.S. Navy for more than 90 years.
Helicopters and personnel from the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 450 and 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadrons completed an exercise on May 22, 2018, to validate their capabilities in anticipation of an eventual deployment of a Task Force to Mali as part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
The pre-deployment preparation achieved the integration of the CH-146 Griffon and CH-147F Chinook helicopters, the validation of the Forward Aeromedical Evacuation capability, and certification of the headquarters team.
The scenarios were designed to prepare the Task Force to operate in a complex environment that mirrored the realities of the peace support operation planned for Mali.
“The advanced tactical aviation capabilities of the Royal Canadian Air Force will make an invaluable contribution to the United Nations Peace Support Operations in Mali,” said Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, commander of the RCAF. “The Task Force is well-equipped and has formed as an effective composite aviation detachment to fully empower our airmen and airwomen to deliver their support to MINUSMA.”
The Task Force will provide two CH-147F Chinook helicopters from 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based in Petawawa, Ontario, and four CH-146 Griffon helicopters from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based in Edmonton, Alberta. Aircraft spares could also be made available to the Aviation Detachment.
The CH-146 Griffon helicopters will serve as an armed escort for the Chinooks in Mali as they carry out critical mission requirements as part of MINUSMA. As well, Canadian Armed Forces will provide a number of medically-trained personnel who will facilitate medical evacuations for partners and allied forces on the ground and provide logistical support for the mission.
“The validation of the Forward Aeromedical Evacuation capability and Task Force represents a critical step in our preparations to deploy to Mali,” said Colonel Chris McKenna, commander (designate) of Task Force Mali. “Participation in this exercise ensures that RCAF tactical aviation aircraft and personnel are prepared to uphold the commitment to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, as directed by the Government of Canada.”
On March 19, 2018, Canada announced its commitment to deploy a Task Force made up of medium utility and heavy-lift transport helicopters for up to 12 months to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Planning and preparations have been underway since that time, with a view to deploying the Task Force in August 2018.
Canada’s contribution will join 57 MINUSMA partner countries in their continued efforts to bring sustainable peace and stability to Mali and the Sahel.
The restorers of a North American XP-82 Twin Mustang, one of the most unusual fighter/escort aircraft ever deployed by the U.S. military, are aiming to make EAA AirVenture 2018 its first public appearance to celebrate completion of an arduous ten-year restoration project.
The 66th annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in convention will be held in July at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The event is the world’s largest annual gathering of vintage warbird aircraft, with more than 300 participating each year among the 10,000 airplanes that arrive in the region for the event.
The ten-year restoration project in Douglas, Georgia, began after aircraft restorer Tom Reilly discovered the complete airframe on a farm in Ohio. Reilly then scoured the earth seeking engines, propellers and a multitude of other XP-82 parts to continue the restoration.
“The interest and enthusiasm for this restoration has been wonderful and gratifying,” said Reilly, who has chronicled the restoration process online. “There is no better place than Oshkosh to make the first public flights of this aircraft, which is why it is our intent to complete the restoration and testing so we can be a part of AirVenture 2018.”
The XP-82 restoration brings back a unique flying example of an aircraft designed late in World War II as a long-range fighter escort to accompany B-29 bombers for thousands of miles on missions over the Pacific Ocean. Based on the highly successful P-51 Mustang design, the XP-82 used twin fuselages and two specially designed Rolls-Royce Packard-built Merlin engines to supply the speed, range and armament needed for the task. Fewer than 300 of the airplanes were produced as the P-82, with all but five scrapped in the years after the Korean War as the military moved to jet aircraft.
“It has been decades since people have seen this aircraft type fly anywhere,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programs, who coordinates AirVenture features and attractions. “The return of this historic aircraft to the sky is a tribute to the vision and perseverance of the restoration team, and it’s fitting that the group has AirVenture as a goal to fly this beauty before a huge, appreciative audience.”
EAA AirVenture is known as the “World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration” and is EAA’s yearly membership convention. For further information, please visit www.eaa.org/airventure.
Airbus and Dassault Aviation have decided to join forces for the development and production of Europe’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS), which is slated to complement and eventually replace current generation of Eurofighter and Rafale fighter aircraft between 2035 and 2040.
The partnership, sealed in Berlin by Dirk Hoke, Airbus Defence and Space Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, represents a landmark industrial agreement to secure European sovereignty and technological leadership in the military aviation sector for the coming decades.
“Never before has Europe been more determined to safeguard and foster its political and industrial autonomy and sovereignty in the defence sector. Airbus and Dassault Aviation have absolutely the right expertise to lead the FCAS project. Both companies are already cooperating successfully on Europe’s medium altitude long endurance new generation drone programme,” said Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. “FCAS takes this successful cooperation to the next level and we are absolutely committed to tackling this challenging mission together with Dassault Aviation. The schedule is tight, so we need to start working together immediately by defining a joint roadmap on how best to meet the requirements and timelines to be set by the two nations. It is therefore of key importance that France and Germany launch an initial joint study this year to address this task.”
Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, said: “We are convinced that by deploying our joint expertise, Dassault Aviation and Airbus can best meet the operational requirements of the Forces in the development of this critically important European programme. Both companies fully intend to work together in the most pragmatic and efficient manner. Our joint roadmap will include proposals to develop demonstrators for the FCAS programme as of 2025. I am convinced that European sovereignty and strategic autonomy can and will only be ensured through independent European solutions. The vision that France and Germany have set forth with FCAS is a bold one and it’s an important signal in, and for, Europe. The FCAS programme will strengthen the political and military ties between Europe’s core nations and it will reinvigorate its aerospace industry.”
Airbus Defence and Space and Dassault Aviation agree on the importance of efficient industrial governance in military programmes. This also includes the involvement of other key European defence industrial players and nations based on government funding and on the principle of best contribution.
Overall, FCAS defines a system of systems combining a wide range of elements connected and operating together, including a next generation fighter aircraft together with Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the existing fleet of aircraft (which will still operate beyond 2040), future cruise missiles and drones flying in swarms. The overall system will be interoperable and connected in a larger perimeter with mission aircraft, satellites, NATO systems and land and naval combat systems.
The Canadian Space Operations Centre (CANSpOC) is the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Director General Space’s operational unit; it provides space domain awareness and surveillance to the Canadian Armed Forces as well as other governmental and commercial entities. The data it collects and analyzes is used to support domestic, deployed military and civil operations on a global scale.
The CANSpOC recently tracked the Chinese space station called Tiangong-1 (which translates as “Heavenly Palace”). The station, launched in 2011, was China’s first space station. It was home to Chinese astronauts on two occasions but had been unmanned since the summer of 2013. China lost control of the station in 2016 and its orbit began to slowly decay. It burned up on re-entry and broke apart on Sunday, April 1, 2018, over the southern Pacific Ocean.
Tiangong-1 orbited between 42.75°N and 42.75°S, meaning that it was certain the station would only re-enter between these latitudes. This constitutes about two-thirds of the Earth’s entire surface, half of which is covered by water. Canada covers an area from 41.65°S to 83.10°N latitudes. Consequently, the only region within Canada that could have been potentially at risk of falling space debris was the very southern tip of Ontario.
The station’s shape, size and material determined whether it would have completely burned up in the atmosphere or broken up into smaller pieces that could have survived re-entry. Tiangong-1’s considerable mass of approximatively 8,500 kilograms created concerns that pieces of debris might survive re-entry.
The CANSpOC collaborated with military counterparts from Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States to perform a series of predictions of Tiangong-1’s final re-entry point. Predicting the location where a space object will re-enter is a complex task due to the fluctuation of many variables such as the orientation of the object and atmospheric density. As the re-entry date approached, the uncertainty shrank and the predictions became more accurate. The CANSpOC provided warnings and updates to the appropriate entities in Government of Canada such as Public Safety until the space station broke up while entering earth’s atmosphere.
Text Captain Jennifer Howell, courtesy of the RCAF. Photograph by Corporal Justin Roy.
The freshly-painted 2018 CF-18 Demonstration Team jet was towed into a 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, hangar on a sunny April 3 afternoon in front of an eager crowd.
“Wow… oh wow,” said Captain Stefan Porteous. This was the first time he’d seen the finished CF-18 Hornet that he’ll spend the summer flying for air show audiences across North America and the United Kingdom.
“I’d only seen the teaser photos we posted about a month ago,” he said, smiling, with the bright blue, white, red and grey jet behind him. During his address to the crowd, Captain Porteous introduced his maintenance and safety pilot team and thanked the army of people it took to get ready for the 2018 season.
“I realize that a staggering amount of work has gone into completing the paint job and preparing the aircraft for the show season,” he said. “I think that everyone here today, as well as those following this unveil live online, would agree with me when I say that you have done an outstanding job!”
Brigadier-General Sean Boyle, the deputy commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, also attended the much-anticipated unveiling of the “NORAD 60” paint scheme, which honours this year’s 60th anniversary of the NORAD agreement.
“NORAD is a unique example of the depth and breadth of the Canadian and U.S. partnership in the common defense of our continent,” he said. “It is a relationship built on trust, mutual benefit, and a mutual respect for sovereignty. Our collaborative relationship is one of the closest and most extensive in history.”
Brigadier-General Boyle went on to thank the team at 1 Air Maintenance Squadron who, under the direction of designers Captain Jeff Chester and Mr. Jim Beliveau, brought the design to life.
The CF-18 Demo Team now moves to 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia, to fine tune the routine before the first airshow on May 4, 2018.
The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) AirPower History Tour will bring the sights, sounds, and stories of World War II aviation to 26 cities in North America this summer including 8 cities in Canada. It is the first time in history the B-29 Superfortress, one of only two in the world that still fly, will be available for tours and rides at Canadian stops.
The tour’s collection of World War II aircraft provides powerful history lessons to audiences across North America. Visitors to the ramp will be able to view the aircraft up close and tour the cockpit when the airplane is not flying.
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress, first flown in 1942, began active service in 1944 and is perhaps best known as the aircraft whose missions over Japan helped bring about the end of World War II. It was designed as a replacement for the older B-17s and B-24s, with longer range and greater bomb loads. The B-29 was also used in the Korean War in the early 1950s and was a staple of the U.S. Air Force until later that decade. FIFI was acquired by the CAF in the early 1970s when a group of CAF members found her at the U.S. Navy Proving Ground at China Lake, California where she was intended to be used as a missile target. The airplane was rescued and restored and has flown for over 40 years traveling coast to coast each year attracting large crowds at every tour stop.
As part of Canada’s return to peace operations, an Air Task Force (ATF) will deploy to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for a period of 12 months.
The ATF will include two Royal Canadian Air Force CH-147F Chinook helicopters to provide urgently needed transport and logistics capacity for the MINUSMA mission, as well as four CH-146 Griffon helicopters to provide armed escort and protection, along with aircrew and groundcrew. The deployment will include a number of Canadian Armed Forces troops who will facilitate medical evacuations for troops on the ground and provide logistical support.
“As a responsible member of the international community, we recognize the importance of working collaboratively with our partners to promote peace and security. Supported by our diplomatic negotiations, I am confident we can help make a real difference in this region through the deployment of the Air Task Force,” said Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan.
Canada’s contribution will join 57 MINUSMA partner countries in their continued efforts to bring sustainable peace and stability to Mali and the Sahel. Today’s announcement builds on the Government’s significant development, peace and security initiatives in the region.