Platform Aerospace offers VTOL-capable Vanilla Unmanned aircraft for US Army programmes

by Pat Host

The Platform Aerospace Vanilla Unmanned Group 3 aircraft on display at the 2021 AUSA trade show in Washington, DC. The aircraft is displayed with Logos Technologies' RedKite electro-optical wide-area motion imagery pod (foreground) and BlackKite infrared WAMI pod (background). Platform Aerospace is adding VTOL rotors to the Vanilla for an unspecified Pentagon customer and offering the capability for US Army programmes. (Janes/Pat Host)

Platform Aerospace is offering a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) variant of its Vanilla Unmanned ultra-long endurance Group 3 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for US Army programmes, according to a company executive.

Greg Pappianou, company chief growth officer, told Janes on 22 October that these programmes do not include the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, which had VTOL UAVs such as the L3Harris FVR-90 hybrid quadcopter participate in a capstone rodeo in early 2021. Platform Aerospace wants to deliver this VTOL capability for a Pentagon customer, which Pappianou declined to specify, and then offer the Vanilla VTOL variant as an additional product offering.


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NASA launches DART on planetary defence trial

by Nick Brown

A Falcon 9 launches from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, carrying the DART spacecraft on its terminal mission to the Didymos binary asteroid system. (NASA)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission payload out of Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on 24 November 2021, the first tangible mission under the US banner of ‘planetary defense'.

The spacecraft is on a circa10-month journey to cover the 6.8 million miles to the binary asteroid system Didymos, where it will deliberately impact on the 160-m diameter moonlet Dimorphos, orbiting the main Didymos asteroid.

It is anticipated that the 610 kg DART's 6.6 km/s impact will deflect Dimorphos' orbit around Didymos by several minutes, which will be ascertained by terrestrial sensors. This will in turn be verified by a European Space Agency mission named Hera, which is set to launch in 2024 and conduct high-resolution surveys of the Didymos pair from 2026.

This marks the first attempt by humanity to deliberately interfere with celestial bodies and to defend the planet from hazardous impacts.


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Brazil receives series-production F-39 Gripen fighters

by Victor Barreira

The four series-production F-39E fighters received by Brazil on 24 November join the F-39E FTI aircraft received in 2019. (Sgt Bianca/FAB)

The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) has achieved a major milestone in the ambitious and complex effort to modernise its air combat capability with the formal receipt of an initial four series-production Saab F-39E Gripen multimission fighters.

The jets were accepted by FAB Commander Lieutenant Brigadier Carlos de Almeida Baptista Junior at the Saab Aeronautics plant in Linköping, Sweden, on 24 November.

The aircraft will be subsequently be shipped to Brazil for the FAB's Jaguar Squadron, located at the Anápolis base of Wing 2 in the State of Goiás.

The FAB's Procurement and Acquisition Center (COPAC) purchased a package of 36 Gripen NG aircraft (28 single-seat F-39Es and eight dual-seat F-39Fs) as well as two flight simulators on 24 October 2014 for SEK38.9 billion (USD4.25 billion) to meet the FAB's F-X2 requirement.

The last two fighters are scheduled to be delivered to the FAB in 2026.


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Berlin Security Conference 2021: MBDA in dialogue with Germany for Enforcer Air missile for helicopters

by Gareth Jennings

MBDA continues to pitch its Enforcer missile to the German government as a possible air-to-surface solution for helicopters. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

MBDA is continuing talks with the German government over the possible acquisition of the helicopter-launched Enforcer Air precision-guided missile, as deliveries of the baseline shoulder-launched version are set to commence.

Speaking to Janes at the Berlin Security Conference 2021, Head of Sales and Marketing, Guido Brendler, said MBDA continues to pitch Enforcer Air to Germany in particular, and to the wider light attack helicopter market more generally. This is happening, he said, as the company prepares to hand over to the Bundeswehr the first shoulder-launched missiles that were contracted in late 2019.

“We are in talks with Airbus [for integration aboard the H145M operated by German special forces]. Enforcer Air is dependent on the core [shoulder-launched Enforcer] product, but that is on track with the first missiles set to be delivered this year, as we speak”, Brendler said on 24 November, adding, “The small precision guided missile requirement is there, and certainly Germany is our first gateway market [for Enforcer Air] as our reference customer [of Enforcer]”.


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Platform Aerospace is offering a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) variant of its Vanilla Unmanne...

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