RAFALE evaluation in SWITZERLAND

French Air Force RAFALE fighter aircraft takeoff

The next aircraft (the last one was the Gripen) being evaluated in the framework of the replacement of the Swiss F-5, is the Dassault-Aviation-manufactured RAFALE until November 7. Two two-seaters stationed at Emmen airfield – Switzerland – are being tested the same way the two Swedish Gripens were tested previously.

Latest Dassault Aviation creation, the RAFALE performed its maiden flight on July 4, 1986! Its program highlighted all the major French suppliers such as: SNECMA for the M88 engine; Thales (former Thomson – CSF) for the RBE-2 phased array radar; Dassault systems; SAGEM (electronics and optronics); and the English Messier – Dowty for the landing gear.

Unlike the Mirage 2000 which versus its American competitors, the RAFALE does not fear its opponents as far as technical performance is concerned:

  • RBE-2 phased array radar
  • Latest generation SPECTRA (electronic warfare system)
  • OSF (Front-sector optronic system)
  • a GPS (Global Positioning System)
  • last but not least: a lower cost of development and maintenance compared to the majority of its opponents…

The RAFALE has a wide range of weapons at its disposal: the infrared and radar MICA missile, the SCALP (air-to-surface cruise missile) as well as the future long-range European METEOR missile. The multirole Dassault fighter aircraft is able to be equipped with various American-made bombs: Laser-guided Paveway III, for instance, but it is a shame that foreign weapons have not been licensed for the RAFALE yet.

The RAFALE fighter aircraft are parted into three standards:

  • F1 standard: air-to-air-mission dedicated only. This standard fields the French Fleet Air Arm.
  • F2 standard: encompasses the F1 standard, and has the air-to-surface capability to its disposal. The French Air Force is fielded with these aircraft.
  • F3 standard encompasses the previous skills plus the strategic capability which enables this fighter to carry out nuclear-deterrence/strike missions, reconnaissance missions, and anti-ship-strike missions. This latter standard might field the Swiss Air Force (without the nuclear and anti-ship capabilities)

SOURCE :

AVIANEWS Article

Photos 1 & 2 French Air Force, Rafale 5/330 Squadron Côte-D’argent at Dijon.

Photo 3 Pascal Kümmerling, Rafale of the 5/330 at Geneva during BEX meeting in 2007.

Bern, 09th of October 2008 – Photo: Pascal Kümmerling – The second applicant to the replacement of the Tigers ( TTE ) landing at Emmen. The French RAFALE has already started the second TTE in-flight and ground-test series in Switzerland. The European EADS Eurofighter third and last applicant will follow in November.

About thirty flights are scheduled among which some night flights for the tests at Emmen. Around 50 sorties will be needed. They will be carried out by F/A-18s, and F-5s in order to make up the targets (means playing the role of targets) and the formation flying tests. The assessment flights occur within the frame of the flights share, which means that there should not be any increase in the number of sorties on the airfields that are concerned.

The sequel: The arrival of the European EADS Eurofighter is expected on November 6, 2008. The testing syllabus is the same for the three fighter aircraft.

The flight and ground tests will be examined as well as the tenders that were handed in on July 2nd, 2008. The collected data will be used as a basis for a second call for tenders in January 2009.

The choice of the type of aircraft should come after the evaluation of the second tender, assessing equipment and price, and when everything has been put down on a balance-sheet report expected in May 2009. Then the choice should be stated in July 2009.

These aircraft belong to the 1/7 « Provence » Fighter Squadron stationed at Saint Dizier – Robinson. The « Provence » was the first squadron that had been operational with the RAFALE. The first 1/7 RAFALE flight happened in 2006. Photos: Pascal Kümmerling.

VERY SPECIAL THANKS to Pascal Kümmerling since this post is adapted from his articles on his blog called AVIA NEWS: http://psk.blog.24heures.ch/

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Charles « Chuck » YEAGER – 65 years ago !

THE RIGHT STUFF  / L’ETOFFE des HEROS

Supersonic aircraft X-1 in flight
Photo: NASA

Captain Charles « Chuck » YEAGER broke the sound barrier with the help of his friend Jack RIDLEY on a 14th of October 1947 – He did it 61 years ago!

Brigadier General Charles Chuck Yeager next to his X-1 aircraft

(U. S. Air Force illustration/Mike Carabajal)

Supersonic aircraft X-1
Photo: NASA

Supersonic aircraft X-1 pre-flight inspection

Photo: U.S.Air Force Link

XLR-11 ROCKET POWERED AIRCRAFT

Birth of Manned Rocket Research Airplanes: 1946 to 1975

The first reliable, effective rocket engine that would provide boost for experimental research aircraft was produced by four members of the American Rocket Society (ARS) who combined forces to form Reaction Motors Incorporated (RMI) (Rockaway, New Jersey) for developing the Experimental Liquid Rocket (XLR-11) rocket motor. The XLR-11 engine had four separate rocket chambers. Each chamber provided 1500 lb of rated thrust and could be operated independently as a means of throttling thrust in quarters, up to 6000 pounds. The XLR-11 possessed remarkable longevity, powering an impressive fleet of rocket aircraft for more than a quarter of a century (1946 to 1975). This fleet of vehicles were the first rocket aircraft devoted solely to high performance experimental flight research. They were not constrained by military or commercial demands and ranged from being the first to break the sound barrier (XS-1), to the first to reach Mach 2.0 (D-558-II [fig. 5]), to the first to exceed the X-2 Mach 3.2 record (X-15 with two XLR-11 engines).

D-558-II airplane on Rogers lakebed

Figure 5. The D-558-II airplane on Rogers lakebed.

The X-1E – Early Development of Energy Management

Design efforts to extend aircraft performance produced increased wing loadings, W/S, and decreased lift-to-drag ratios, L/D. These design changes were beneficial in reducing drag to achieve supersonic and hypersonic speeds, but were also detrimental in that they reduced the area of the maneuvering footprint and presented difficulties in the approach and landing.

As L/D values decreased, the glide slope angle and the rate of descent increased, making it more difficult for pilots to estimate distances and times required for acceptable landings. The X-1E (fig. 6) was modified with a low-aspect-ratio wing having a thickness-to-chord ratio of four percent – the only aircraft of the X-1/D-558 series to have sufficiently low L/D values to require unique energy management techniques. This X-1E was the first to experiment with approach patterns designed to give
the pilot more time in the traffic pattern to manage energy.

The landing pattern was approached in a conventional manner except that altitudes and speeds were somewhat higher than for
powered aircraft. The initial reference point was established at 12,000 ft (mean sea level) on a downwind heading (180 deg remaining to turn). The downwind leg was offset some four miles from the centerline of the landing runway. On downwind, abeam the touchdown point, landing gear and partial flaps were deployed at a speed of 240 knots. Full flaps were usually deployed on the final approach. At the initial reference point the pilot had almost three minutes until touchdown – additional time for handling increased speeds and sink rates.7,8

X-1 supersonic aircraft on Lakebed

Figure 6. The X-1E airplane on Rogers lakebed.

X-1E supersonic aircraft under B-29 Mothership

Secret declassified USAF pilot Charles Chuck Yeager after breaking the sound barrier on X-1

Report from www.archives.gov

X-1 supersonic aircraft instrument panel

(Text from the NASA at: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/home/index.html)

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FRENCH AIR FORCE BASES TO CLOSE DOWN:

The French Prime minister François Fillon has addressed an official statement this morning:

After the reform, “The French Army will have shed 20 Regiments/Batallions”, The Air Force will have shed 11 Air Bases,and the Navy will have shed “a Fleet Air Arm Base”.

The units or sites concerned are small, medium, and large ones – from tens of people up to 2,502 people as far as Metz AF Base is concerned.

  • As early as 2009, the French government plans the closing down of the AF Base 101 stationed at Toulouse.
  • In2010 Colmar-Meyenheim (Haut-Rhin) AF Base 132 should close down (1,276 people).
  • From 2011 -2012, Nîmes Garons Fleet Air Arm Base (1,332 people) will close down, as will the AF Base 112 stationed at Reims (1,545 people), and Taverny Air Base (Val-d’Oise, 986 people) as well. The AF Base 128 (Metz-Frescaty, Moselle, 2.502 people), AF Base 103 of Cambrai-Haynecourt (Nord, 1,364 people), AF Base 217 at Bretigny-sur-Orge (Essonne, 1,955 people). Overseas AF Bases: 365 Lamentin (650 people) in Martinique in the French West Indies, and overseas AF Bases 190 Papeete – Faa’a (Tahiti), in Polynesia (920 people), and AFB 181 Sainte-Clothilde, La Réunion. The radar Air Force Base 943 Nice Mont-Agel is to be shed too.

While 83 military sites will close down, it is deemed that around 60 sites will be operationally-meant reinforced. Evreux (Eure) Air Force Base 105 is expected to get a reinforcement up to 800 people.

The French government plans 54,000 jobs to be axed in the Armed Forces and Defense within a seven-year period. The current France strength is 320,000 (without the Gendarmerie). The French Air Force should reach down to 50,000 strength.

 

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First RAF pilot to fly F-22 Raptor

(source: http://www.af.mil)

A former RAF Leeming F3 pilot has spoken for the first time since arriving in the United Kingdom at the controls of one of the United State’s 5th generation fighters – the F-22 Raptor.

Speaking after a 7 ½ flight which involved eleven refuelling transfers, Flt. Lt. Dan Robinson spoke of his fortune at being the first RAF pilot to fly the aircraft. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO

© UK Crown copyright 2008

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Why not fly NUCLEAR AIRCRAFT ?

I was reading a gripping blog in French called “Objets du ciel » (broken link) when I bumped into an amazing article written by Carl Conrad. I first thought that this post was unbelievable. I daresay that all the articles he writes are amazing. I am going to report hereafter what I have read about this topic – nuclear-powered aircraft – from different sources, but Carl Conrad’s article is the one that inspired me most.

Convair NB-36H X-6

© Photo: National museum of the USAF

As a major oil crisis is looming, airlines are cancelling some less financially viable air links of theirs. The future of aviation as we currently know it, seems to be in jeopardy. Nothing seems to be used as a substitute for any current kind of energy, not even electricity. What about nuclear-powered engines?

Nowadays, nobody would bear any nuclear-powered test flights. However those tests did occur within a USAF-carried-out weapons system (WS 125-A) nuclear-powered bomber aircraft programme. Those tests were performed with a 1,000-kilowatt-nuclear jet engine airborne on a Convair NB-36H. This aircraft named « The Crusader », took-off 47 times during the 50s. The engine was not used for propelling. It only worked at an altitude which was deemed sensible. Those tests allowed to assess the nuclear engine drive performance. Every flight would involve troops deployment in the area to prevent as soon as possible from any accident fallout spreading. The aircraft was modified in order to enhance the five crew member’s safety. The USAF considered the concept not realistic and gave the programme up in late 1956.

However, this technology might be coming back to fly some drones for long-lasting flights. People might be relunctant to see nuclear-powered drones taking-off and flying past over their heads. Who knows? Maybe some day.

Another project to mention: Project Orion should have become a 4,000-ton, long-range spacecraft powered by controlled nuclear pulses, or explosions. For this purpose, a small test vehicle was built. It was dubbed « Hot Rod », and was conventional-explosive-powered craft. Finally, Orion was cancelled in 1965 because it would not have been politically correct and because of technical challenges.

I have not found a piece of information about nuclear-powered craft after the year 2004. By the way, if someone knows further information about nuclear-powered aircraft, they will be welcome if they want to add some comments.

SPECIFICATIONS:
Span: 230 ft. 0 in.
Length: 162 ft. 1 in. (as B-36H, the NB-36H was slightly shorter)
Height: 46 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 357,500 lbs. (max. gross weight)
Armament: None
Engines: Six Pratt & Whitney R-4360-53 radials of 3,800 hp each (takeoff power) and four General Electric J47-GE-19 turbojets of 5,200 lbs. thrust each
Crew: Five ( pilot, copilot, flight engineer and two nuclear engineers)

PERFORMANCE:
Maximum speed: Approx. 420 mph at 47,000 ft.
Cruising speed: 235 mph
Service ceiling: Approx. 47,000 ft.

Sources:
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/

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