US Navy seeks new ‘Aggressor' training aircraft

by Gareth Jennings

Seen in USN colours as part of Boeing's pitch for the service's Undergraduate Jet Training System requirement, the T-7A Red Hawk is likely to be one of the candidate platforms put forward for the USN's recently released Tactical Surrogate Aircraft requirement. (Boeing)

The US Navy (USN) has issued a request for information (RFI) for a new Aggressor aircraft for ‘red air' combat training.

The Tactical Surrogate Aircraft (TSA) requirement released on 21 October would see a new aircraft type perform three primary pilot training missions, namely to augment flight time and training in front-line type model series aircraft, provide adversary air support, and to serve as a flight lead aircraft for fleet replacement squadrons.

“The aircraft needs to simulate and/or replicate current and future fighter aircraft systems by providing the training environment and relevant experience to build tactical skills, systems management skills, and decision-making skills required for weapon system employment actions. These actions will be influenced by environmental information, avionics outputs, sensor data, weapon-cueing, and manoeuvre elements,” the RFI said.

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UK Space Command's first satellite set to launch by July

by Olivia Savage

UK Space Command's debut satellite will hitch a ride on SpaceX's Transporter-11 Rideshare mission, a Falcon 9 rocket launching multiple small satellites. Pictured is a model of Tyche displayed at DSEI 2023. (Janes/Olivia Savage)

UK Space Command's first satellite – Tyche – will be launched by July 2024, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 21 May.

The spacecraft, built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), will launch onboard the SpaceX Transporter-11 Rideshare mission from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in the US.

Tyche is a 150 kg research and development (R&D) concept demonstrator spacecraft, based on the company's Carbonite family of electro-optical (EO) satellites, which was initially scheduled to launch in 2023.

Maintaining a 500 km low Earth orbit (LEO), the satellite will use water to manoeuvre in space, the announcement detailed.

Tyche is one of the concept demonstrators being built under project Minerva, which aims to test and demonstrate the various technologies that will underpin the future GBP970 million (USD1.23 billion) ISTARI multisatellite intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) constellation.

Commodore Dave Moody, head of Space Capability at UK Space Command, told Janes in 2023

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US Navy plans MQ-4C deployment on Okinawa

by Akhil Kadidal

An MQ-4C Triton UAV of the US Navy's Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 taxis after landing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on 4 August 2023. (US Navy)

The US Navy is preparing to deploy two Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Tritons at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. This is the first known deployment of this high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on Okinawa.

A US Navy spokesperson confirmed to Janes on 20 May that the “US Pacific Fleet plans to temporarily deploy MQ-4C Tritons and associated personnel from Andersen Air [Force] Base, Guam, to a location in Japan”. The spokesperson added that the deployment had been planned well in advance “in support of US Indo-Pacific Command's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations”.

The deployment, which the Minister of Defense of Japan, Minoru Kihara, described during a press conference on 14 May 2024 as being “extremely important from the perspective of Japan's security”, will see the two MQ-4Cs operate from Kadena Air Base from May to October 2024.

According to a Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesperson, the MQ-4Cs will assist with over-water airborne ISR activities around Japan, “including the southwestern region”.

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DARPA selects Aurora Flight Sciences for Phase 1B of SPRINT programme

by Zach Rosenberg

Aurora Flight Sciences' proposal for DARPA's SPRINT contest. (Aurora Flight Sciences)

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Aurora Flight Sciences to move into the next phase of the Speed and Runway Independent Technologies (SPRINT) programme, the company announced on 20 May, with a USD25 million contract modification.

The SPRINT programme is intended to result in an experimental vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) craft capable of reaching jet-like speeds.

SPRINT's Phase 1B is meant to advance designs from conceptual design review through preliminary design review, in which designers detail the component parts and specifications needed for the design.

DARPA selected four companies for Phase 1A of the programme in November 2023: Aurora Flight Sciences, Bell Helicopters, Northrop Grumman, and Piasecki Aircraft Corporation. The agency declined to specify whether additional competitors besides Aurora Flight Sciences were selected for Phase 1B.

SPRINT seeks designs capable of lifting off vertically from unprepared surfaces and cruising between 400 and 450 kt at up to 30,000 ft altitude with a 5,000 lb payload, according to the programme's initial solicitation. The programme was tendered in co-operation with US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

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The US Navy (USN) has issued a request for information (RFI) for a new Aggressor aircraft for ‘red a...

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