DARPA selects General Atomics and Aurora Flight Sciences to design wing-in-ground effect lifters

by Zach Rosenberg

Aurora Flight Sciences' Liberty Lifter concept. (Aurora Flight Sciences)

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on 1 February selected two companies to design wing-in-ground effect (WIG) concepts for Phase 1 of the Liberty Lifter programme.

The 18-month contract is intended to advance designs from both General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) and Aurora Flight Sciences through preliminary design review (PDR), plus an additional three months for presentation and manufacturing planning.

The Liberty Lifter is intended to result in designs capable of flying 6,500 n mile with six standard cargo containers or two US Marine Corps (USMC) Amphibious Assault Vehicles, handling waves up to 13 ft high (Sea State 5) and flying up to a 10,000 ft altitude.

“The two teams have taken distinctly different design approaches that will enable us to explore a relatively large design space during Phase 1,” said Christopher Kent, DARPA programme manager.

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Northrop Grumman sees bright future for MQ-8 despite US Navy divestments

by Zach Rosenberg

A Northrop Grumman MQ-8C aboard the USS Jason Dunham in 2021. (Northrop Grumman)

Despite the US Navy's (USN's) recent cuts, entirely divesting the MQ-8B and cutting the follow-on MQ-8C fleet to eight operational helicopters, Northrop Grumman anticipates a bright future for the Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Both Northrop Grumman and the USN are focused on expanding the MQ-8's role. The helicopter was built to give Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability, using its Forward Looking InfraRed (FLIR) Systems Brite Star II electro-optical payload and Leonardo Aperture radar to remotely detect targets and threats. The data from these sensors is sent back to the ship and distributed from there, but the USN has of late stressed on feeding data into a digital cloud and distributing it immediately and widely to provide a common operation picture for any forces in the region.

“We are constantly making improvements to the system,” Lance Eischeid, Northrop Grumman's MQ-8 programme manager, told Janes

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Turkey showcases TB3 UCAV ahead of first flight

by Gareth Jennings

Turkey provided a first look at the new TB3 UCAV, ahead of its formal reveal at the Teknofest event in Istanbul to be held from 27 April to 1 May 2023. (Baykar)

Turkey's Baykar has showcased its Bayraktar TB3 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) ahead of its upcoming first flight.

Images posted online by the manufacturer on 27 March showed for the first time the larger and more capable successor to the TB2.

“Counting the days to [its] first flight”, Baykar’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Selçuk Bayraktar, posted from his official Twitter account.

According to Baykar, the TB3 will be formally revealed at the Teknofest event to be held in Istanbul from 27 April to 1 May 2023. No specifications have been released, although Bayraktar said that the UCAV has the ability to fold its wings, suggesting it may be earmarked for service aboard Turkey's planned TCG Anadolu aircraft carrier.

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General Electric T901 delivery to US Army delayed until boreal fall 2023

by Zach Rosenberg

The T901-GE-900 prototype engine installed at General Electric's test facility. (General Electric)

Delivery of the General Electric T901 engine to the US Army is now scheduled for boreal fall of 2023, General Electric said in a statement, delayed from spring 2023.

The delivery has been delayed several times; the spring 2023 date was a delay from a then-projected November 2022 delivery.

The army intends to test the engines and simultaneously deliver one engine each to Bell Helicopters and Sikorsky in early fiscal year (FY) 2024. Both companies will use the engines for their Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) demonstrators, the Bell 360 Invictus and Sikorsky Raider-X, neither of which can take flight without the engine.

Both demonstrators are nearly complete, aside from the engine. The contractors have used inoperative, 3D-printed plastic engines to test how the engine fits with their aircraft in anticipation of T901 deliveries.

“We are laser-focused on execution and working closely with the army to deliver flight-test engines this fall to support the FARA competitive prototypes,” General Electric said in a statement.

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The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on 1 February selected two companies to des...

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