A U.S. Air Force Accident Investigation Board (AIB) report is blaming the Nov. 16, 2010, crash of an F-22 Raptor on Capt. Jeff "Bong" Haney - despite a malfunction of the jet's bleed air intakes, which caused an automatic shutdown of multiple aircraft systems including the primary oxygen system.
An aircraft's engine bleed air system extracts air from a jet engine's compressor section to generate power and supply gases for an aircraft's life support system, among other systems.
The AIB report confirms Defense News' Sept. 8 report, in which an industry source and a pilot both said that a bleed air malfunction had caused the crash by shutting down the oxygen system. The AIB, however, places the blame on Haney for not reacting quickly enough to activate the jet's emergency oxygen system or recover from a dive he inadvertently entered into as he struggled to regain his air supply.
"I find the cause of the mishap was the MP's [mishap pilot] failure to recognize and initiate a timely dive recovery due to channelized attention, breakdown of visual scan and unrecognized spatial disorientation," wrote Brig. Gen. James Browne, president of the AIB.
The F-22's On-board Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS), which supplies breathing air to the pilot and has been under investigation for most of the year, did not malfunction and wasn't a contributing factor, the report said. But the crucial device did shut down because of the bleed-air problem. In September, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said oxygen had not played any role in the crash.
The report notes that "the MP most likely experienced a sense similar to suffocation," but also rules out hypoxia as contribution factor however despite the shut down of the oxygen system.
"Due to the high affinity of oxygen to hemoglobin, the MP would have had adequate blood oxygen supply after the OBOGS failed," the AIB report states. "It was concluded that the late recognition of the MA's [mishap aircraft's] unusual attitude and appropriate corrective actions attempted by the MP demonstrates that hypoxia was not a factor in this mishap."
A knowledgeable source agreed that Haney would not have fully succumbed to hypoxia, but would have been showing symptoms. Despite what the report says, the source said hypoxia would have played a role even if the pilot had not been rendered unconscious.
"The rate at which he descended, though, he would have been at a hypoxia-safe altitude within time to have not fully succumbed to hypoxia and should have only had symptoms versus unconsciousness," the source said.
The environmental control system (ECS), air cycle system, On-Board Inert Gas Generating System (OBIGGS), cabin pressure and OBOGS were all shut down when the aircraft's computer shut off the malfunctioning bleed-air system, according to the AIB report. The bleed-air system remains closed in the event of a malfunction to prevent fires.
The aircraft's memory unit showed "partial pressure to the MP's [mishap pilot] oxygen stopped shortly after 19:42:37 L, which would lead to severely restricted breathing," the accident report reads.
However, Haney did retain enough consciousness to attempt a recovery from a steep dive the aircraft entered into right before the crash. It was too late, however, as the Raptor impacted the ground a scant three seconds later.
However, Haney did not manage to active the Emergency Oxygen System (EOS) to supply him with air, which he needed to do in case the OBOGS shutdown. As the report notes "severely restricted breathing is a physiological symptom which would have prompted the [mishap pilot] to active the EOS."
Pilots have said that the emergency oxygen supply is notoriously difficult to use in the Raptor.
The AIB report states that as Haney struggled for air, "he channelized his attention on restoring airflow to his oxygen mask."
As Haney fought to restore his oxygen supply, he inadvertently began to roll the aircraft and his "visual scan" of the aircraft's instruments and external situation broke down. He entered into a state of "unrecognized spatial disorientation," according to the AIB report. The aircraft rolled 240 degrees and dropped to a 53 degree nose down attitude. Had Haney not been distracted by trying to breathe, he would have recognized the problem, the report reads. Haney didn't make any intentional control inputs for some 39 seconds.
"The fact that the [mishap pilot] went from a controlled flight regime to an unusual attitude and did not take corrective actions for 30 seconds suggests he had unrecognized spatial disorientation," the AIB report reads. "At 19:42:24L the [mishap pilot] recognized the [mishap aircraft's] position and attempted to perform a dive recovery."
Ultimately, the Air Force chose to blame Haney rather than attribute the crash to a malfunctioning bleed-air system and a difficult to use emergency oxygen supply.
NEW DELHI - India's mainstay fleet of Russian-made Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft have been temporarily grounded following a Dec. 13 crash in Pune. Though no reason has been attributed for the latest crash, an inquiry has been set up by the Indian Air Force.
Air Force sources said the entire fleet of Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft have been temporarily grounded for technical checkups. The Air Force has lost three Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft since 2009.
India license-produces Sukhoi-30 MKI at its Bangalore facility of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics. So far, about 130 Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft have been delivered to the Air Force. The total fleet strength of the Sukhoi-30 MKI will reach about 275 aircraft in 2015.
In 2009, the crash of Sukhoi-30 MKI was attributed to fault with the fly-by-wire system.
The Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft are capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, and can fly deep inside China with the help of midair refuelers, as they have a range of more than 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles).
Aerospace industry sales were a projected $218 billion in 2011, an increase of more than 3.5 percent, the Aerospace Industries Association reported at its annual Year-End Review and Forecast luncheon on Dec. 14. Despite the robust numbers, the association is estimating a decline of $400 million in spending for 2012, with a decline of $1.4 billion in military aircraft spending partially offset by a rise in civil aircraft purchases.
The numbers reported by the AIA for 2011 showed growth in every market segment, with military aircraft spending up 6.6 percent to $66.5 billion, civil aircraft spending up 3.1 percent to $49.7 billion, missile spending up 2.0 percent to $25.6 billion, and related products and services up 1.0 percent to $30.0 billion. The cumulative increase marked the seventh consecutive year of sales gains.
Even with the positive reports, AIA president and CEO Marion Blakey said that the momentum won't carry into 2012.
"Given the number we're projecting for 2011, you might imagine that we'll roll right on into 2012," she said. "Not so."
The organization's estimate of 2012 sales anticipates declines in military aircraft ($1.4 billion), space ($1.3 billion) and missile ($500 million) spending.
Employing much of the same language used at the rollout of the AIA's Second to None campaign in September, a public relations effort aimed at combating the momentum building to cut defense budgets, Blakey emphasized potential job losses, citing a report commissioned by the organization that claims more than 1 million jobs would be at risk as a result of sequestration. The number has been called into question by some experts, citing the conflict of interest in having a study funded by the organization.
When asked about the relative merits of job numbers as a result of government spending in the defense industry as opposed to other sectors, Blakey said that discussions she's been a part of haven't focused on picking winning and losing industries.
"No one I hear in Washington is talking about trading off jobs," she said. "It's about cuts."
Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing have submitted proposals to take over support and development of the Aegis combat system, the companies said Dec. 14.
The Combat System Engineering Agent (CSEA) competition also is intended to provide a follow-on system to Aegis, the U.S. Navy's most capable weapon system and the foundation for its fleet air defense, surface warfare and ballistic missile defense (BMD) missions.
Lockheed has held the Aegis development and support contract since 1995, when it acquired Martin Marietta. The system was first developed by RCA starting in the late 1960s. General Electric then bought the company, which in turn was sold to Martin Marietta and subsequently merged with Lockheed.
Aegis, perhaps the world's most effective naval combat system, has been worth many billions of dollars to Lockheed over the years. All 27 Ticonderoga-class cruisers and at least 70 DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers have been built with the system. Spain, Norway, Japan and the Republic of Korea operate Aegis warships, and Australia is building a new class of Aegis destroyers.
A combination of radars, computers and weapons, Aegis was first developed to counter massed attacks by Soviet anti-ship missiles, and has evolved into an effective surface warfare system. Although not designed to target ballistic missiles, the system has been modified with more powerful processors as the basis for the Navy's BMD systems, and is the foundation for the Phased Adaptive Approach effort for the land-based missile defense of Europe.
According to the Missile Defense Agency, 24 Aegis ships - five cruisers and 19 destroyers - have BMD capability. That number is to increase to 32 ships by the end of 2013 as more units are upgraded.
The CSEA effort is intended to provide for the design, development and integration of Aegis weapon system and Aegis combat system future capabilities for existing cruisers and destroyers, and potentially create a new system for DDG 51 Flight III ships beginning in 2016.
Dependent on development, Flight III ships may be fitted with a new combat system or continue with Aegis.
The Navy is expected to award the CSEA contract in the fall of 2012.
A separate competition is underway to develop a new phased-array radar for Aegis. The Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) is to provide new radars to replace existing SPY-1 radars beginning with the U.S. Navy's 2016 Flight III destroyers.
Lockheed, Raytheon and Northrop are working to develop the AMDR, which will be a dual-band system. All three companies are working under Navy contracts to develop an S-band (AMDR-S) radar, with development contracts yet to be issued for the AMDR-X X-band system. The AMDR systems will also include a radar suite controller to integrate the radars.
HELSINKI - Sweden's military exports set a record in 2010 despite a contraction of sales to the home market. Moreover, defense industry leaders are forecasting a stronger year in 2012, with Saab's $3.2 billion agreement to deliver 22 Gripen fighter jets to Switzerland providing a lift.
Arms exports by Sweden amounted to $1.95 billion in 2010. This contrasts with an equally high export level of $1.9 billion in 2009 and relatively modest exports, valued at $429 million, in 2001. The Netherlands was the biggest recipient in 2010, with purchases valued at $300 million.
The significant increase in exports has been motivated by a Swedish government policy to look to the wider international market for off-the-shelf weapons and equipment solutions. With fewer contract opportunities available, Sweden's defense industry has started to generate a higher proportion of its sales through exports.
Sweden exported military equipment and materials to 63 different countries in 2010. This compares with export sales to 52 countries in 2000 and 33 in 1990. Despite the government's broader procurement policy, the defense industry has gained from the establishment of the Defense Export Agency, which was established this year to support export initiatives by small, medium and large defense companies.
Exports of military equipment and materials from Sweden hit the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2004. The upward movement in exports since that time has produced export sales of $1.5 billion in 2006, $1.8 billion in 2008 and the $1.95 billion recorded in 2010.
The industry is forecasting exports will break the $2 billion barrier in 2011, when about 62 percent of production will be exported.
ROME - In their first official breakdown of facts and figures about Italy's air campaign over Libya this year, officials said military aircraft deployed 710 guided bombs and missiles during sorties. Italian Air Force Tornados and AMX fighter bombers deployed 550 bombs and missiles, while Navy AV8s deployed 160 guided bombs, the officials said during an event at Trapani Air Base in Sicily to honor military personnel involved in the conflict.
The Air Force total included Storm Shadow missiles, which sources put at between 20 and 30, which were fired from Tornado IDS aircraft - the first time the Air Force has deployed the missile during operations. The success rate of the Storm Shadow was 97 percent, one official said.
Otherwise, the Air Force deployed Paveway and JDAM guided munitions. AMX bombers for the first time used Litening III targeting pods, while Tornado IDS aircraft used JDAM munitions operationally for the first time.
Although the Air Force used guided bombs in its Kosovo campaign, Libya marked its first "extensive" use of guided munitions, said Air Force chief Gen. Giuseppe Bernardis.
With up to 12 different aircraft flying missions on given days during the seven-month operation, the Air Force racked up 1,900 sorties and 7,300 flying hours using Tornado IDS and AMX aircraft for strike missions, Tornado ECR for air defense suppression, F-16s and Eurofighters for no-fly zone patrol, C-130J and 767 tanker aircraft for refueling, and the unarmed Reaper UAV for reconnaissance.
Patrol and air defense flights accounted for 38 percent of flying hours, surveillance and reconnaissance flights took up 23 percent, ground-attack missions made up 14 percent, air defense suppression flights took up 8 percent, refueling flights took up 8 percent, flights detecting electromagnetic emissions and undertaking electronic warfare were 4 percent, while "armed reconnaissance and attacks on targets of opportunity" took up 5 percent.
More than 340,000 high-resolution pictures were taken by Reccelite pods on Tornado and AMX aircraft while 250 hours of video was transmitted in real time by Reaper UAVs.
Eight Italian Navy AV8 Harrier jets, which enforced the no-fly zone over Libya and operated bombing missions, flew 1,221 hours from the carrier Garibaldi, while 30 ship-based helicopters, including the EH-101, SH-3D and AB-212 types, flew 1,921 hours as part of the operation.
The Air Force also rushed into service its new Boeing 767 tanker aircraft. A third aircraft was delivered in November and the final aircraft is expected in the first quarter of 2012.
Italian Navy statistics released about the campaign revealed that two submarines, the Todaro and the Gazzana, were involved in the NATO Unified Protector operation.
BONN - The German Cabinet decided Dec. 14 to extend the Bundeswehr's mission in Afghanistan by one more year, until Jan. 31, 2013, but also reduced the maximum number of troops to be deployed from 5,350 to 4,900 soldiers. The decision still has to pass the parliament.
The reduction is partly achieved by scrapping the flexible force reserve. However, the remaining 4,900 will also include German personnel of the Airborne Warning and Control System reconnaissance aircraft operated by NATO over Afghanistan. Before the end of this mandate's period, the government wants to further cut troop numbers to 4,400.
One day earlier, the control of the first of two German Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in the northern part of Afghanistan was handed over to a civil official. The Defense Ministry is no longer responsible for the PRT Feyzabad; instead, a diplomat of the country's foreign office in Berlin is in charge.
"This forms part of the changing nature of international commitments in Afghanistan," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a press statement. "They are increasingly taking on a civilian face, as is the case with the incremental transfer of responsibility for security to Afghan authorities and the reduction in international troop numbers."
However, German combat troops might stay in Afghanistan after the planned drawback in 2014. Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière confirmed this in a joint interview together with the foreign minister about two weeks ago. In the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, he mentioned the possibility that German troops would remain in the country to help train local forces.
SAO PAULO - French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Dec. 14 he was confident of selling Rafale fighter jets to Brazil and could beat off rival bids because the aircraft's technology cannot be matched.
The Rafale is competing against Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet and Saab's Gripen for a tender from Brazil to supply 36 multi-role combat aircraft.
The French premier begins a three-day visit to Brazil on Dec. 15."We are confident because we believe that the French offer has the best possible transfer of technology, without equivalent," Fillon said in an interview published with local media.
French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet was quoted earlier this month in Le Monde as saying that unless the Rafale can find a foreign buyer, the government will have to stop funding its production by Dassault Aviation.
The Rafale was used in the recent war in Libya but the fighter has repeatedly lost out in tenders in countries including Singapore, South Korea, Morocco and, earlier this month, Switzerland.
TAIPEI, WASHINGTON and TOKYO - The F-35 could see its wings emblazoned with the red sun roundel, if Japanese media reports are correct.
The Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has been in competition with the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon for the Japanese F-X program for several years. The F-X will replace Mitsubishi F-4EJ Kai Phantoms, due to begin retirement in 2015.
Japan plans to purchase between 40 and 50 fighters for roughly $10 billion. Tokyo is also considering replacing F-15Js within the next 10 years, increasing the number of F-X fighters to 150.
However, both the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the U.S. Pentagon's Joint Program Office are denying any final decision has been made. Boeing discounted the reports, holding out hope the Japanese government will continue to work with the company, as it has with the F-15J.
"We've seen the speculation on the JSF winning but won't comment on that aspect," said Lorenzo Cortes, international communications, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. "The Japanese government could best respond to what's going on. We are expecting a formal announcement as early as this week, but ultimately, it's Japan's discretion as to when they want to do that."
The MoD has repeatedly said they "were unable to confirm neither decision in favor of the F-35 nor the public release of the announcement for Dec. 16," an MoD spokesman said. "Nothing has been decided on the selection, and we can't confirm when the decision will be announced."
Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group, Fairfax, Va., said that if true, Japan's selection of the F-35 is a "very strong endorsement from a respected service." The F-35 has been under attack in the U.S. Congress and media due to a variety of production and program problems.
"Despite all the doubts, they still see the F-35s capabilities and technology as the future," he said. "It's the first new customer outside the original partner nations."
Despite the Japanese endorsement for the F-35, there will be challenges finding a role for Japan's indigenous aviation industry, which is facing layoffs and reduced production with the end of the Mitsubishi F-2 fighter, the country's only active fighter line, scheduled to close soon.
"No licensed production will be tantamount to disaster," a Japanese defense industry source said. "We have excellent engineers, and a generation of skills will be lost."
A U.S. defense industry source in Tokyo said the F-35 program is a "complex multinational program that will take some negotiation to carve out a Japanese aviation industry role."
Part of the problem is the limited number of F-X fighters, 40 to 50, which "means investment would be quite high, so question is, does this position the F-35 to fulfill the F-XX/F-15J replacement program?"
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines launched its newest warship on Dec. 14, a former U.S. Coast Guard cutter that President Benigno Aquino said would be deployed to waters at the heart of a territorial dispute with China.
Aquino said the 378-foot (115-meter) Gregorio del Pilar would lead patrols in the parts of the South China Sea that the Philippines claims exclusively as its own and where exploration for potentially lucrative gas fields is underway.
"The Gregorio del Pilar, named after the newest general of the Philippine revolution, will take the lead in patrols for our sovereignty, and in ensuring that our waters are crime-free," Aquino said.
Aquino was speaking at Navy headquarters in Manila during a commissioning ceremony for the vessel, which replaces a World War II-era destroyer as the country's top warship.
Gregorio del Pilar was acquired from the United States earlier this year amid rising tensions between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea.
Tensions escalated after the Philippines accused the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy of firing warning volleys at Filipino fishermen in the South China Sea, harassing an oil exploration vessel and putting up markers on Philippine islets.
Those areas are much closer to the Philippine landmass than Chinese, but China insists it has sovereign rights to virtually all of the South China Sea, even waters up to the coasts of Southeast Asian countries.
Other parts of the sea, which are reputedly rich in mineral resources and straddle vital sea lanes, also are claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The competing claims have for decades made the sea one of Asia's most dangerous potential military flashpoints.
Meanwhile in Beijing, state media reported that China has sent its largest patrol ship, the 3,000-ton Haijian 50, to the East China Sea to guard the country's territorial rights.
China has repeatedly locked horns with neighbors Japan and Taiwan over a group of uninhabited islands - called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in Chinese - in the East China Sea that Beijing claims are in its territorial waters.
Japan and Taiwan also claim sovereignty over the area, which is similarly believed to be rich in oil and gas.
TAIPEI - Taiwan will reduce compulsory military service from one year to four months, the defense ministry said Dec. 14, in what is widely seen as a first step towards scrapping conscription altogether.
Benefiting from improved ties with mainland China, the island's young men will have to spend shorter time in uniform beginning from early 2015, after parliament passed an amendment to the conscription law late Dec. 13, it said.
"We are gradually introducing a professional military, so there will be no holes in our defense capabilities," said David Lo, the defense ministry's spokesman.
The ministry plans to eventually maintain a permanent professional military of 215,000 soldiers, down from 275,000 conscripted and professional soldiers at present, he said.
Phasing out conscription was a campaign pledge by President Ma Ying-jeou in the 2008 election, and he has stressed that a "small, elite and strong" voluntary military rather than conscription is best for the island's defense.
Taiwan's relatively large army is a legacy of decades of tensions with China, however ties have improved markedly since Ma took office three years ago on a Beijing-friendly platform. He is running for a second four-year term in January.
PARIS - In a bid become major industrial players, Italy's Alenia and EADS defense and security unit Cassidian have signed a preliminary agreement to explore cooperation in medium-altitude, long-endurance and combat UAVs, the companies said in a Dec. 14 statement.
"A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Cassidian on behalf of EADS Deutschland GmbH and Alenia Aeronautica SpA to jointly investigate the potential cooperation in the field of medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV)," a joint statement said.
"Alenia and Cassidian are aiming to strengthen their technological know-how in order to establish a leading role in the UAS market," the companies said. "Thanks to this agreement, the two companies will analyze the requirements expressed by each of their respective governments in the UAS sector with the objective to create a strategic partnership and to expand their global UAS market share.
Cassidian sought the agreement with Alenia to extend its work on the Talarion advanced UAV.
"We look forward to investigating further collaboration with Alenia Aeronautica around a next-generation MALE UAS, like for instance the Talarion, which is of outmost importance for Europe's military aviation industry," Cassisian chief operating officer Bernhard Gerwert said in the statement.
France, Germany and Spain have shown no willingness to sign a development contract for the Talarion after EADS delivered its 60-million euro risk reduction study.
Alenia sees cooperation with EADS as a way of staying current in the UAV market.
"The UAS sector has a strategic importance for the future of Alenia Aeronautica's programs, and we are convinced that this agreement will allow us to become even more competitive in this quickly expanding market," Giuseppe Giordo, chief executive of Alenia Aeronautica and Alenia Aermacchi, said.
An Anglo-French cooperation military treaty, which includes collaboration in UAVs and UCAVs, has sparked concern in Germany, Italy and Spain that the agreement is exclusively bilateral and locks out other European partners.