Update: AUSA 2021: Bell passes halfway point of 360 Invictus prototype assembly

by Pat Host

The Bell 360 Invictus, pictured in July 2021. Bell is on track for flying the aircraft in fiscal year or calendar year 2023. (Bell)

Bell is 60% into assembly of its 360 Invictus prototype that it is developing for the US Army's Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft – Competitive Prototype (FARA-CP) programme and is on track for flying the aircraft in fiscal year (FY) or calendar year 2023.

Chris Gehler, Bell vice-president and program director for 360 Invictus, told Janes on 7 October, ahead of the Association of the United States Army's (AUSA's) annual convention, that the company has been flying the 360 Invictus in its systems integration laboratory (SIL) since August. Here, Bell flies the aircraft with all of the hardware, cockpit, avionics, and flight control computers, among others, to see how all the systems work together.


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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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Bell is 60% into assembly of its 360 Invictus prototype that it is developing for the US Army's Futu...

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