This morning Airbus Military’s all-new A400M took off for its maiden flight from Seville Airport in Spain. The first entirely new airlifter of the 21st Century took to the air from runway 09 at 10:15 local time (09:15 UTC).
At the controls was Chief Test Pilot Military, Edward Strongman, 60, with Experimental Test Pilot Ignacio â€œNacho » Lombo, 43, in the right-hand seat. Four engineers are also on the aircraft: Senior Flight Test Engineer Jean-Philippe Cottet, 43, who has responsibility for the powerplants; Senior Flight Test Engineer Eric Isorce, 52, with responsibility for systems and performance; Senior Flight Test Engineer Didier Ronceray, 54, with responsibility for the handling qualities of the aircraft; and Test Flight Engineer Gerard Leskerpit, 50.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
Maximum speed: Approx. 420 mph at 47,000 ft.
Cruising speed: 235 mph
Service ceiling: Approx. 47,000 ft.