Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Aircraft spots: UAE C-17 spotted in Amarillo picking up two AH-1Z viper helicopters

Super rare visit in Amarillo from a United Arab Emirates C-17 as they flew in to pickup two 2 AH-1Z Vipers for Bahrain. Needless to say I was there to document it.

Funny thing, millions of dollars of aviation hardware on the ramp and what it finally comes down to loading it - is old fashioned human muscle pushing it like my old Buick that wouldn't start.

Bahrain is to receive its AH-1Z attack helicopters under an FMS deal that was first approved in April 2018 and signed in February 2019. The helicopters are being built under the US military’s Lot 16 production run, with deliveries to Bahrain now expected to commence later this year.

As noted by the US Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) when the procurement was first approved, in addition to the 12 AH-1Z helicopters, Bahrain is to also acquire Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and BAE Systems Advance Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) II guided rockets, as well as Thales’ TopOwl helmet-mounted display system.

The total value of the deal, including spares, support, and ancillary equipment, was estimated by the DSCA to be USD911.4 million.

Video by Steve Douglass 

click to enlarge - video (C) Steve Douglass 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Northrop Grumman concept showcases hypothetical supersonic Air Force One

FARNBOROUGH, England – July 19, 2022 – A new supersonic aircraft tailored to provide quick-reaction capabilities to the U.S. military and allies will be offered through a collaborative agreement between Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Boom Supersonic.

The agreement to together propose special mission variants of Boom’s Overture supersonic aircraft was finalized at the Farnborough International Air Show.


“Pairing Northrop Grumman’s airborne defense systems integration expertise with Boom’s advanced Overture supersonic aircraft demonstrates the power of collaborations like this for the benefit of our customers,” said Tom Jones, president, Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems. “Together we can ensure our military customers have variants of Overture for missions where advanced system capabilities and speed are critical.”

Designed to carry up to 80 passengers at twice the speed of today’s airliners, a special mission variant of Overture has the potential to support government and military missions that require rapid response.

Fitted with specialized capabilities, the aircraft could be used to deliver medical supplies, provide for emergency medical evacuation or surveil vast areas faster than conventional aircraft. The special mission Overture variant could also be used to coordinate other aircraft and ground assets in a variety of scenarios.


“Time is a strategic advantage in high-consequence scenarios, from military operations to disaster response,” said Blake Scholl, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Boom Supersonic. “This collaboration between Boom and Northrop Grumman unlocks Overture’s unmatched high-speed mission capability for the United States and its allies.”

Designed and built in the United States, the first Overture aircraft will be in production for commercial use in 2024, start flight tests in 2026 and begin carrying passengers in 2029.

About Northrop Grumman

Monday, July 18, 2022



The Air Force has yet to pick a winner among the companies still vying to build the service’s sixth generation jet, but a final down-select is “not all that far away,” the service’s top leader told Breaking Defense this weekend. While Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall declined to say when the service will choose a manufacturer for the fighter jet that will be the cornerstone of the Next Generation Air Dominance family of systems, he offered a small clue about the trajectory of the highly-classified program. “It’s not imminent but it’s not all that far away,” Kendall said in an exclusive interview at the Royal International Air Tattoo. “There’s a little hint I’ll drop for you.” The Air Force has confirmed three elements of the NGAD program so far: a manned, sixth-generation fighter, the AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile currently under development, and a suite of drones — what Kendall calls “collaborative combat aircraft” — that will augment the manned fighter in battle.

In June, Kendall announced that the NGAD fighter had progressed to the engineering, manufacturing and development stage, prompting speculation about whether the Air Force had chosen a prime contractor for the program. However, later that month Kendall said there was still ongoing competition for NGAD, raising further questions about the status of the program.

Although Kendall declined to answer most of Breaking Defense’s questions about NGAD, he stated that the program will not have a single prime in the “systems integrator” that oversees the makeup of the family of systems, and that the Air Force has separate acquisition efforts for each of the elements.

“The overarching integrator will probably be the government, with probably some industry help,” he said. “The NGAD platform itself will have a traditional prime [contractor].”

The Air Force has been unwilling to discuss which aerospace companies are involved in NGAD. Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman could potentially manufacture the sixth-gen fighter, but it is unclear whether all three are currently still participating in the ongoing competition.

At least one full-scale NGAD fighter demonstrator made its inaugural flight in 2020. Air Force officials have declined to give further details about the maker of the aircraft or its capabilities, although they have made clear that digital engineering has been a critical technology that has allowed the service to develop it much more quickly than onlookers had expected.

“What we did was an experimental prototype,” Kendall said in June. “We basically had an X-plane program which was designed to reduce the risk of some of the key technologies that we would need for a production program.”

Kendall has said the Air Force plans to field NGAD “by the end of the decade.” How many the service will ultimately buy is still yet to be disclosed.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Artist illustration of what looks like an unmanned version of the B-21 posted by General Atomics,

 What looks like a unmanned version of the B-21 raider popped up online posted by General Atomics. 

The illustration accompanies an article titled "How AI And Supervised Autonomy Will Change Combat."


A recent Freedom of Information Act request revealed the B-21 Raider could be operated in a manned or unmanned configuration.

To date, the Air Force has confirmed that the B-21 will be manned — that is, it will carry aircrew — when it enters service around 2025 and that it will be
nuclear-certified about two years later. 

The service has also said no nuclear missions will take place without crew aboard. However, the service has not given a definitive answer on when the aircraft is expected to feature an uninhabited capability. It is reportedly “not a short-term priority” for the Air Force, and thus unlikely to be incorporated into early production models.

The B-21 Raider is currently under construction at the company’s Air Force Plant 42 facility in Palmdale, Calif., and look set to make its first flight in December 2021, after which it will enter flight test at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

click to enlarge

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

New Bell Invictus photos leak online

click to enlarge 

click to enlarge 

click to enlarge 

Bell’s 360 Invictus advanced helicopter is now 90 percent complete and has had its new open tail rotor system attached at the company’s facility in Amarillo, Texas. Originally designed with a canted, ducted tail rotor, Invictus’ entire tail boom structure was reconfigured to simplify the design and speed building Bell’s pitch for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Recon Aircraft.

New photos of the Invictus (sans engine) began showing up on Twitter and other social media platforms, most likely taken outside the Bell Amarillo Assembly plant.

"One of the things we looked at is as we were doing a competitive prototype, and at the same time are iterating on a weapon system of what the [engineering and manufacturing development] aircraft is going to be — the increment one aircraft — and the way we’re organized is to maintain the connective tissue between those two so that we can keep them as close as possible in terms of what we’re doing on the CP and what the weapon system will be,” Flail recently told reporters on a media trip to Texas." 

As per U.S. Army speed requirements, the tandem-cockpit, single-main-rotor Bell 360 Invictus is designed to fly at least 180 knots. The aircraft’s main rotor system is based on Bell’s 525 Relentless helicopter — which has flown at speeds beyond 200 knots in test flights — but will be scaled to fit the Invictus. While the Bell 525 has five rotor blades, the 360 Invictus will have four.

Bell is competing against Sikorsky and its Raider X helicopter in the FARA contest. The Raider X is a compound-coaxial helicopter with counter-spinning main rotors and a pusher propeller.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Lockheed Martin reveals it's testing lasers on tactical aircraft

WASHINGTON: Lockheed Martin today revealed that it delivered a compact directed energy weapon to the Air Force Research Lab in February, a key milestone in the service’s effort to equip a tactical fighter jet with a laser capable of shooting down anti-aircraft missiles.

“It is the smallest, lightest, high energy laser of its power class that Lockheed Martin has built to date,” Tyler Griffin, a company executive, told reporters earlier this month in the run up to the Farnborough Air Show. “It is a critical benchmark in developing an operational laser weapon system in the airborne domain.”

While the Pentagon has pushed forward a number of different directed energy weapons in recent years, the value of this one, dubbed LANCE, is its minimal space, weight and power requirements. “It’s one-sixth the size of what we produced for the Army going back to just 2017,” Griffin added, referring to the Robust Electric laser Initiative program.

The LANCE acronym stands for “Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments.” Lockheed got the initial contract to design, develop and produce LANCE in November 2017 as part of the Air Force’s Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program.

That effort has three components: in addition to LANCE, there is a beam control system, built by Northrop Grumman, which directs the laser on its target, as well as a pod that is mounted on the aircraft. Boeing is responsible for that pod subsystem, which the Air Force said it received in February 2021.

Friday, July 8, 2022

China hints B-2- lookalike stealth bomber may be flying soon

Ashish Dangwal Eurasia Times 

July 8, 2022

A top Chinese official recently announced plans to perform a test flight for an ‘essential aircraft’ with critical strategic and historical significance, fueling speculation that the long-rumored H-20 strategic stealth bomber could make its maiden flight soon.

Ge Heping, the Party chief of the Chinese Flight Test Establishment, a division of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), made the statement during a rally meeting on Tuesday.

The statement was issued to mobilize personnel involved in the test, State-run Global Times reported, citing the press release. Ge urged everyone involved in the aircraft’s development to realize how crucial it is to complete this mission fully.

The Chinese Flight Test Establishment, also known as the AVIC Flight Test Center, was established in 1959. China’s only national body authorized to carry out validations and flight tests for aviation products, such as military and commercial aircraft, aero engines, and airborne equipment.

However, the aircraft’s designation and type were not made public in either the report or the press release.

The widely expected H-20 strategic stealth bomber was a common assumption among internet users. Some claimed that only H-20 is befitting the description of having strategic and historical significance.

The Chinese military has occasionally offered a few updates on H-20. In January 2021, a scene from the service’s recruitment video featured the flying wing design of the next-generation, long-range strategic stealth bomber being developed for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Gallagher amendment would protect UAP/UFO military /government contractors whistleblowers from losing security clearances


3 (a) AUTHORIZATION FOR REPORTING.—Notwith4 standing the terms of any written or oral nondisclosure 5 agreement, order, or other instrumentality or means, that 6 could be interpreted as a legal constraint on reporting by 7 a witness of an unidentified aerial phenomena, reporting 8 in accordance with the system established under sub9 section (b) is hereby authorized and shall be deemed to 10 comply with any regulation or order issued under the authority of Executive Order 13526 (50 U.S.C. 3161 note; 12 relating to classified national security information) or 13 chapter 18 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 14 2271 et seq.). 

15 (b) SYSTEM FOR REPORTING.— 16 (1) ESTABLISHMENT.—The head of the Office, 17 on behalf of the Secretary of Defense and the DirecVerDate Nov 24 2008 10:01 Jul 01, 2022 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6201 

C:\USERS\AJSCIASCIA\APPDATA\ROAMING\SOFTQUAD\XMETAL\11.0\GEN\C\GALLWI_1 July 1, 2022 (10:01 a.m.) G:\M\17\GALLWI\GALLWI_166.XML g:\VHLD\070122\D070122.024.xml (846812|2) 2 1 tor of National Intelligence, shall establish a secure system for receiving reports of— 3 

(A) any event relating to unidentified aerial phenomena; and 5 (B) any Government or Government con6 tractor activity or program related to unidentified aerial phenomena. 8 (2) PROTECTION OF SYSTEMS, PROGRAMS, AND 9 ACTIVITY.—The system established pursuant to 10 paragraph (1) shall serve as a mechanism to prevent 11 unauthorized public reporting or compromise of 12 properly classified military and intelligence systems, 13 programs, and related activity, including all categories and levels of special access and compartmented access programs, current, historical, and future. 17 (3) ADMINISTRATION.—The system established 18 pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be administered by 19 designated and widely known, easily accessible, and 20 appropriately cleared Department of Defense and intelligence community employees or contractors assigned to the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task 23 Force or the Office. 24 (4) SHARING OF INFORMATION.—

The system 25 established under paragraph (1) shall provide for the VerDate Nov 24 2008 10:01 Jul 01, 2022 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6201 

C:\USERS\AJSCIASCIA\APPDATA\ROAMING\SOFTQUAD\XMETAL\11.0\GEN\C\GALLWI_1 July 1, 2022 (10:01 a.m.) G:\M\17\GALLWI\GALLWI_166.XML g:\VHLD\070122\D070122.024.xml (846812|2) 3 1 immediate sharing with Office personnel and sup2 porting analysts and scientists of information pre3 viscously prohibited from reporting under any non4 disclosure written or oral agreement, order, or other 5 instrumentality or means, except in cases where the 6 cleared Government personnel administering such 7 system conclude that the preponderance of information available regarding the reporting indicates that 9 the observed object and associated events and activi10 ties likely relate to a special access program or compartmented access program that, as of the date of 12 the reporting, has been explicitly and clearly re13 ported to the congressional defense committees and 14 congressional intelligence committees, and is documented as meeting those criteria. 16 (5) INITIAL REPORT AND PUBLICATION.—Not 17 later than 180 days after the date of the enactment 18 of this Act, the head of the Office, on behalf of the 19 Secretary and the Director, shall— 20 (A) submit to the congressional intelligence 21 committees, the congressional defense commit22 tees, and congressional leadership a report de23 tailing the system established under paragraph 24 (1); and VerDate Nov 24 2008 10:01 Jul 01, 2022 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6201 

C:\USERS\AJSCIASCIA\APPDATA\ROAMING\SOFTQUAD\XMETAL\11.0\GEN\C\GALLWI_1 July 1, 2022 (10:01 a.m.) G:\M\17\GALLWI\GALLWI_166.XML g:\VHLD\070122\D070122.024.xml (846812|2) 4 1 (B) make available to the public on a 2 website of the Department of Defense informa3 tion about such system, including clear public 4 guidance for accessing and using such system 5 and providing feedback about the expected 6 timeline to process a report. 7 (6) ANNUAL REPORTS.—Section 1683 of the 8 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 9 2022 (50 U.S.C. 3373) is amended— 10 (A) in subsection (h)— 11 (i) in paragraph (1), by inserting 12 ‘‘and congressional leadership’’ after ‘‘ap13 propriate congressional committees’’; and 14 (ii) in paragraph (2), by adding at the 15 end the following new subparagraph: 16 ‘‘(Q) A summary of the reports received 17 using the system established under title XVI of 18 the National Defense Authorization Act for Fis19 cal Year 2023.’’; and 20 (B) in subsection (l)— 21 (i) by re-designating paragraphs (2) 22 through (5) as paragraphs (3) through (6), 23 respectively; and 24 (ii) by inserting after paragraph (1) 25 the following new paragraph (2): VerDate Nov 24 2008 10:01 Jul 01, 2022 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6201 

C:\USERS\AJSCIASCIA\APPDATA\ROAMING\SOFTQUAD\XMETAL\11.0\GEN\C\GALLWI_1 July 1, 2022 (10:01 a.m.) G:\M\17\GALLWI\GALLWI_166.XML g:\VHLD\070122\D070122.024.xml (846812|2) 5 1 ‘‘(2) The term ‘congressional leadership’ 2 means— 3 ‘‘(A) the majority leader of the Senate; 4 ‘‘(B) the minority leader of the Senate; 5 ‘‘(C) the Speaker of the House of Rep6 representatives; and 7 ‘‘(D) the minority leader of the House of 8 Representatives.’’. 9 (c) RECORDS OF NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS.— 

10 (1) IDENTIFICATION OF NONDISCLOSURE 11 AGREEMENTS.—The Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of 13 Homeland Security, the heads of such other departments and agencies of the Federal Government that 15 have supported investigations of the types of events 16 covered by subparagraph (A) of subsection (b)(1) 17 and activities and programs described subparagraph 18 (B) of such subsection, and contractors of the Federal Government supporting such activities and pro20 grams shall conduct comprehensive searches of all 21 records relating to nondisclosure orders or agreements or other obligations relating to the types of 23 events described in subsection (a) and provide copies 24 of all Relevant documents to the Office. VerDate Nov 24 2008 10:01 Jul 01, 2022 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6201 

C:\USERS\AJSCIASCIA\APPDATA\ROAMING\SOFTQUAD\XMETAL\11.0\GEN\C\GALLWI_1 July 1, 2022 (10:01 a.m.) G:\M\17\GALLWI\GALLWI_166.XML g:\VHLD\070122\D070122.024.xml (846812|2) 6 1 (2) SUBMITTAL TO CONGRESS.—The head of the Office shall— 3 (A) make the records compiled under paragraph (1) accessible to the congressional intelligence committees, the congressional defense 6 committees, and congressional leadership; and 7 (B) not later than September 30, 2023, 8 and at least once each fiscal year thereafter 9 through fiscal year 2026, provide to such committees and congressional leadership briefings 11 and reports on such records. 

12 (d) PROTECTION FROM LIABILITY AND PRIVATE 13 RIGHT OF ACTION.— 14 (1) PROTECTION FROM LIABILITY.—It shall not 15 be a violation of section 798 of title 18, United 16 States Code, or any other provision of law, and no 17 cause of action shall lie or be maintained in any 18 court or other tribunal against any person, for re19 porting any information through, and in compliance 20 with, the system established pursuant to subsection 21 (b)(1). 22 (2) PROHIBITION ON REPRISALS.—An employee 23 of a Federal agency and an employee of a contractor 24 for the Federal Government who has authority to 25 take, direct others to take, recommend, or approve VerDate Nov 24 2008 10:01 Jul 01, 2022 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6201 

C:\USERS\AJSCIASCIA\APPDATA\ROAMING\SOFTQUAD\XMETAL\11.0\GEN\C\GALLWI_1 July 1, 2022 (10:01 a.m.) G:\M\17\GALLWI\GALLWI_166.XML g:\VHLD\070122\D070122.024.xml (846812|2) 7 1 any personnel action, shall not, with respect to such 2 authority, take or fail to take, or threaten to take 3 or fail to take, a personnel action, including the revocation or suspension of security clearances, with respect to any individual as a reprisal for any reporting as described in paragraph (1). 7 

(3) PRIVATE RIGHT OF ACTION.—In a case in 8 which an employee described in paragraph (2) takes 9 a personnel action against an individual in violation 10 of such paragraph, the individual may bring a private civil action for all appropriate remedies, including injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive 13 damages, against the Government or other employer 14 who took the personnel action, in the United States 15 Court of Federal Claims. 16 (e) REVIEW BY INSPECTORS GENERAL.—Not later 17 than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, 18 the Inspector General of the Department of Defense and 19 the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community shall 20 each— 21 

(1) conduct an assessment of the compliance 22 with the requirements of this section and the operation and efficacy of the system established under 24 subsection (b); and VerDate Nov 24 2008 10:01 Jul 01, 2022 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6201 C:\USERS\AJSCIASCIA\APPDATA\ROAMING\SOFTQUAD\XMETAL\11.0\GEN\C\GALLWI_1 July 1, 2022 (10:01 a.m.) G:\M\17\GALLWI\GALLWI_166.XML g:\VHLD\070122\D070122.024.xml (846812|2) 8 1 (2) submit to the congressional intelligence 2 committees, the congressional defense committees, 3 and congressional leadership a report on their respective findings with respect to the assessments 5 they conducted under paragraph (1). 6 (f) DEFINITIONS.—In this section: 7 (1) The term ‘‘congressional intelligence committees’’ has the meaning given such term in section 9 3 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 10 3003). 11 (2) The term ‘‘congressional leadership’’ 12 means— 13 (A) the majority leader of the Senate; 14 (B) the minority leader of the Senate; 15 (C) the Speaker of the House of Rep16 representatives; and 17 (D) the minority leader of the House of 18 Representatives. 19 (3) The term ‘‘intelligence community’’ has the 20 meaning given such term in section 3 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3003). 22 (4) The term ‘‘Office’’ means the office established under section 1683(a) of the National Defense 24 Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (50 U.S.C. 25 3373(a)). VerDate Nov 24 2008 10:01 Jul 01, 2022 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6201 

C:\USERS\AJSCIASCIA\APPDATA\ROAMING\SOFTQUAD\XMETAL\11.0\GEN\C\GALLWI_1 July 1, 2022 (10:01 a.m.) G:\M\17\GALLWI\GALLWI_166.XML g:\VHLD\070122\D070122.024.xml (846812|2) 9 1 (5) The term ‘‘personnel action’’ has the meaning given such term in section 1104(a) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3234(a)). 4 (6) The term ‘‘unidentified aerial phenomena’’ 5 has the meaning given such term in section 1683(l) 6 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 7 Year 2022\

 (50 U.S.C. 3373(l)). ◊ VerDate Nov 24 2008 10:01 Jul 01, 2022 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6301 C:\USERS\AJSCIASCIA\APPDATA\ROAMING\SOFTQUAD\XMETAL\11.0\GEN\C\GALLWI_1 July 1, 2022 (10:01 a.m.) G:\M\17\GALLWI\GALLWI_166.XML g:\VHLD\070122\D070122.024.xml (846812|2)



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