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Longeron upgrade could push the F-15C’s service life into the 2030s

Longeron upgrade would keep F-15Cs flying

24 MAY, 2017 SOURCE: FLIGHTGLOBAL.COM BY: LEIGH GIANGRECO WASHINGTON DC

The release of president Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget, which continues millions of dollars in funding for ongoing upgrades to the Boeing F-15C – as well as a new service life-extension programme (SLEP) for the aircraft’s longerons – has allowed the US Air Force to officially quash rumours of a near-term retirement for the fighter.

In order for the F-15C/D fleet to meet its planned service life within acceptable risk margins, the proposed budget sets aside $7 million in FY2018 for a new longeron SLEP activity.

“The longeron SLEP entails replacing 14 primary tension members in the structure of the forward fuselage and is critical to the safety of flight of these aircraft,” the USAF says in budget documents. “There are other structural issues with the F-15Cs besides the longerons, and full-scale fatigue testing is ongoing to assess these matters.”

Boeing is conducting fatigue testing with a full-scale F-15C and F-15E article, Steve Parker, vice-president of F-15 programmes at Boeing, told reporters in St. Louis, Missouri last week. The aircraft have gone through 30,000h of testing, he says. By replacing the longerons on the fighter – an endeavor that would cost about $1 million per aircraft – Boeing could push the F-15C’s service life into the 2030s.

An earlier USAF analysis examined updating the F-15C’s fuselage, wings and landing gear, which could stretch the aircraft’s life into the 2040s – but would cost $30 million per airframe, Parker says.

“We believe that’s the most costly scenario,” he says. “We don’t believe the scenario is required – we don’t believe the air force is even looking at that scenario, because for $1 million they can replace the longerons.”

Rumours of the F-15C/D fleet’s possible retirement swirled around Washington DC earlier this year after a USAF official mentioned an analysis to replace the fighters with Lockheed Martin F-16s.

But Trump’s proposed budget would continue modifications to keep the F-15C flying into the mid-2020s, including the Eagle passive active warning and survivability system and an integrated defensive electronic countermeasures system. These would autonomously locate radio frequency threats and deny RF threat systems.

The proposed budget also requests $57 million for an infrared search and track system in FY2018, and $16.7 million for upgrades to the platform’s Raytheon APG-63(V)3 radar.

Original post flightglobal.com

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Background

The McDonnell Douglas F-15 was the winner of an Air Force competition for a new air superiority fighter aircraft in December 1968. The first flight of the aircraft was in July 1972 and IOC was in January 1976. Since the start of the program, five different models have been built for the Air Force (plus models for foreign military sales). These are the single-seat A and C models, the two-seat B and D models, and the dual-role two-seat F-15E Strike Eagle. The Air National Guard currently has 116 of the A and B models, and the Air Force has 621 of the other models. The structural configuration of the aging A through D models are much the same.

The F-15A/D models were designed under Air Force ASIP requirements in the late 1960s prior to the adoption of damage tolerance requirements; however, full-scale fatigue and static testing were also conducted. A complete DADTA was performed in the early 1980s to update the maintenance program based on the damage tolerance approach. In the initial design of the F-15, McDonnell Douglas incorporated a fatigue-resistant interference fastener system, but ignored its beneficial effects when establishing the operating stress levels for the structure. This turned out to be fortuitous in that it allowed some margin for increase in severity of the loads spectrum. In fact, the growth in weight of the aircraft and changes in load factor severity have significantly increased the spectrum severity, causing the time required to grow an initial flaw to critical size to be reduced to about one-fourth of its original value. This increased severity was noted through the IATP conducted by the Warner-Robins ALC, and because the change was so significant, it was decided to conduct an additional full-scale fatigue test to the increased severity spectrum. This test was conducted at the Wright Laboratories test facility at Wright-Patterson AFB. The results of this test indicate that the original operational service life goal of 8,000 hours should still be attainable. However, the increased use severity will increase the inspection burden, and some of the wing inspections could become particularly onerous because of the current lack of NDE capability to inspect for small cracks without removal of the fasteners. McDonnell Douglas is currently using the results of the tear-down inspection of the fatigue test aircraft and crack growth analyses to obtain a better estimate of the actual service life expectancy of the F-15.

When the F-15E was designed, the MIL-STD-1520 and MIL-A-83444 damage tolerance requirements had been implemented. This meant that some areas of the original F-15 structures design had to be changed to meet these requirements, and some additional testing was required to prove the structural integrity. To date, the E models seems to be flying close to their design use spectrum.

The structural problems that have been encountered in service on the F-15 fall into the five following general categories:

  • damage to honeycomb structure

  • buffet-induced cracking

  • acoustic-induced cracking

  • corrosion in nonhoneycomb structure

  • low-cycle fatigue cracking

The F-15C and E models have experienced honeycomb water intrusion, corrosion, disbonds, cracks, and in-flight loss of various secondary structures such as wing tips, ailerons, flaps, fin leading edges, and horizontal tail components. These problems have been caused by leak paths, inadequate bond durability, and unexpected dynamic loading. The current solution has been to perform a patch repair or to replace the components with improved honeycomb components.

The areas of the F-15 structure that have encountered buffet-induced cracking are illustrated in Figure A-4. Twintailed aircraft, such as the F-15 and the Navy’s F-18, use vortices generated from the fuselage at high angles of attack to provide additional rudder power for control. Unfortunately, these same vortices provide a very turbulent flow field at intermediate angles of attack and subject the tails to a high-frequency, asymmetric loading that causes early high-cycle fatigue cracking and partial failure of the tail structure. The first sign of cracking due to these loads in the F-15 was in the pod attachments at the top of the tails. Local repairs did nothing but move the failure points and reduce the life. It took a careful analysis of the entire tail response and fuselage attachment stiffness by McDonnell Douglas to simulate the tail vibration modes and deflections that led to these failures and provide the insight to arrive at a solution. This involved increasing the overall stiffness of the tail by adding graphite composite plies to attenuate the vibration. In the case of wing cracking due to buffet, as indicated in Figure A-4, the cause was flow detachment over the outer wing at even modest angles of attack that resulted in high-frequency out-of-plane loading. These loads vibrated the skins and integral stiffeners and caused cracking of the rib mouseholes through which the spanwise stiffeners ran. Again, local repairs did not solve the problem. Eventually, damping systems were applied to the stiffener/rib connections to reduce the problem, and an alternate method of connecting the stiffener cap to the rib was developed.

The primary acoustically induced high-cycle fatigue cracking on the F-15 was encountered on the E model after stores (externally mounted weapons and systems) were qualified for use on the aircraft. The E model is configured for both air-to-air and air-to-ground attack missions, and in the air-to-ground mission radar evasion often requires low-altitude, high-speed cruise and dash to the target. With multiple stores attached to pylons beneath the wings, shocks are formed, which cause high acoustic vibrations to occur on certain skin panels of the fuselage. These vibratory loads have been high enough to cause high-cycle fatigue cracking of some skin panels. To permanently fix such damage, it is necessary to design the repaired structure such that its natural frequency is out of the range of the shock impingement frequency. This is a complex problem that requires knowledge of both the excitation sources and the structural responses. The current approach to fixing these problems on the F-15 has been to replace the damaged structure with parts with greater thickness to increase strength and to apply damping material. Additional research in understanding and developing repairs or modifications for these types of problems (e.g., composite repairs and better damping materials) appears worthwhile.

The corrosion problems in nonhoneycomb structure on the F-15 have been minimal. There have been some problems in the fuselage fuel tank, the outboard leading-edge structure of the wings, and the flap hinge beam. The current solution has been to improve drainage, repair, and replace.

The primary low-cycle fatigue cracking that has occurred in service to date has been in the upper surface of the wing in compression-designed structure that was not sized for fatigue during the initial design. Also, there has been one fuselage cracking problem. The specific low-cycle fatigue cracking locations were as follows:

  • upper wing surface stringer runouts

  • upper wing spar cap seal grooves

  • front wing spar conduit hole

  • upper in-board longeron splice plate holes

FIGURE A-4  F-15 buffet-induced problems.

None of these problems is life limiting, and in all cases preventive repairs have been designed and installed on the aircraft. Source Synopses of Air Force Aging Aircraft Structural Histories

Longeron

Possible Longeron that is being the issue on the F-15’s highlighted in above image – Source abovetopsecret.com

A failure of the upper right longeron, a critical support structure in the F-15C Eagle, caused the crash of a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C, four miles south-southeast of Boss, Missouri, Nov 2.

On 2 November 2007, a Boeing Co. F-15C Eagle fighter jet flown by the Missouri Air National Guard crashed during a training exercise. The following day, the U.S. Air Force grounded the country’s global fleet of 676 F-15s out of “airworthiness concerns” while they conducted inspections to investigate a possible structural failure in the aircraft. An animated video simulation of the Missouri F-15’s mid-air breakup was prepared during the course of the investigation, and the images displayed above are frames taken from that simulation:

Source snopes.com

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F-15E: HERE

China has not yet started building the next aircraft carrier

Why China’s not building next aircraft carrier just yet

Pictures of huge ship components posted online prompted speculation construction was under way

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 May, 2017, 7:32am

UPDATED : Thursday, 25 May, 2017, 11:27pm

Construction of China’s next-generation Type 002 aircraft carrier has not yet started, according to sources familiar with the project.

Military experts told the South China Morning Post Beijing was still studying how to build the steam-catapult-equipped Type 002 safely and reliably.

Recent pictures posted online by military enthusiasts showing some huge ship components at the Dalian shipyard in Liaoning province prompted speculation the shipbuilder, which launched the country’s first domestically built carrier, the Type 001A, on April 26, had begun building a Type 002 carrier.

Zhou Chenming of the Knowfar Institute for Strategic and Defence Studies said the components could possible be parts of a warship, but it was not the Type 002.

“The Type 002 project is not decided yet … it doesn’t make sense that all aircraft carriers will be built by one shipbuilder, according to China’s defence industry traditions,” Zhou said.

“The Beijing leadership always encourages two or three weapons manufacturers to compete with each other, just like the healthy competition between Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group and Shenyang Aircraft Corporation in producing warplanes.”

The Dalian shipyard refitted the hull of a semi-completed Soviet carrier, the Varyag, which Beijing bought from a Ukrainian shipyard in 1998, turning it into China’s first aircraft ­carrier, the Liaoning, which was put into commission with the People’s Liberation Army Navy in 2012.

A video posted online in December showed Professor Jin Yinan, a former director of the strategic research institute at the PLA’s National Defence University, telling a forum that construction of the first Type 002 carrier had started at the Jiangnan Changxingdao shipyard in Shanghai in March 2015.

But another source close to the military said there were no signs the Jiangnan shipyard was building the giant ship.

“It’s make sense that Jiangnan shipyard will win the contract, but we could at least expect to see some components or even a hull in the shipyard if it started construction more than two years ago,” the source, who requested anonymity, said. “However, we can’t see anything so far. The shipyard is empty. It’s impossible to hide such a huge ship.”

Zhou said there was still debate over whether the Type 002 would be conventionally or nuclear powered.

“The decision will be made by President Xi Jinping, who also chairs the powerful Central Military Commission, as the aircraft carrier project deals with a strategic weapon related to China’s long-term, comprehensive defence planing,” he said. “There are several competitive tenders as several Chinese shipbuilders are capable of building a warship of up to 80,000 tonnes. Everyone wants to bid because an aircraft carrier project worth hundreds of billions of yuan can boost local GDP growth.”

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said the leadership had made safety a priority because the Type 002 would be the first Chinese aircraft carrier to use a steam catapult launching system, and there was “no need to play catch up or meet any anniversaries”.

“Installation of steam catapult systems on a flight deck is more complicated than building the ski ramp variant like the Liaoning and Type 001A,” Li said, adding that China’s successful land-based tests of the steam catapult system were only part of the answer.

“Steam catapult testing on land is so different from ship operation. On land, it’s an independent operation, but once you fit the steamers on a ship, you need to make sure the catapult can function smoothly after integrating with other systems and components in a very limited space.”

Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said the huge vessel components at the Dalian shipyard could be parts for China’s biggest amphibious assault vessel, the Type 075 landing helicopter dock, which was similar in size to America’s Wasp-class vessels, with a displacement of 40,000 tonnes.

The military source said the Type 075 was being built by Shanghai-based Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding Company, a subsidiary of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, and it was possible that Dalian had been given a share of the construction work.

“China plans to build at least four Type 075 amphibious vessels. It’s make sense that both Dalian and Hudong are building the same ships,” the source said, adding that Dalian and Jiangnan had worked together on China’s Type 055 destroyer in recent years.

The Type 075 could carry vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) jet fighters and military experts said it would also give China’s navy the ability to launch various types of helicopters to attack naval vessels, enemy ground forces or submarines in the East China or South China seas.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as:

Next PLA carrier still on drawing board

Original post scmp.com

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Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said the huge vessel components at the Dalian shipyard could be parts for China’s biggest amphibious assault vessel, the Type 075 landing helicopter dock, which was similar in size to America’s Wasp-class vessels, with a displacement of 40,000 tonnes.

Image: scmp.com

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CV02

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Argentina, Mexico and Peru to evaluate KAI FA50

Argentina, Mexico and Peru are still interested in acquiring FA50 light fighter jets. According to Infodefensa.com, after a talk with the senior manager & head of the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) Business Development Team, Jason H. Ahn, within the framework of Sitdef, the Peruvian Air Force (FAP) has State assessing the probable purchase of 24 units since the management of the former general commander, General Dante Arévalo Abate, but it is not the only one. Argentina and Mexico are also interested in these fighters.

Korea Aerospace Industries has once again presented as the centerpiece of its show in Sitdef the family of advanced and lightweight combat aircraft Golden Eagle, of which the FA¬50 is a component. According to Jason Ahn, the South Korean company has offered to FAP a package of similar characteristics to those made for co-production of the KT-1P basic training aircraft, and it is always likely that the customer will make some modifications to the basic configuration, in Compliance with US Department of Defense regulations for the export of weapons systems and defense equipment.

KAI remains in anticipation of the approaches that the new state administration of Peru will put on the table to meet the requirements of the FAP in the advanced training segment. It is worth remembering that the remaining MB339A copies have the days counted in active service and the training of pilots is a requirement that cannot wait.

According to the KAI representative, the South Korean Air Force aligns some 80 copies of the Golden Eagle family under a scheme of introduction of fighter jets of greater capacities and technology of last generation, considering that the qualitative advantage is a characteristic of This arms system, in relation to competition, and in relation to the potential threats of the Asian country, which added to an attractive price has aroused the interest of several Latin American governments.

Translated by google – source infodefensa.com

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Argentina????  They just bought the Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard……

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TA50

6th 052D Destroyer Xiamen (154) to be commissioned

# Pennant number Name Builder Launched Commissioned Fleet Status
1 DDG-172 昆明 / Kunming Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co. Ltd. 28 August 2012 21 March 2014 South Sea Fleet Active[28]
2 DDG-173 长沙 / Changsha Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co. Ltd. 28 December 2012 12 August 2015 South Sea Fleet Active[29]
3 DDG-174 合肥 / Hefei Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co. Ltd. 1 July 2013 12 December 2015 South Sea Fleet Active[30]
4 DDG-175 银川 / Yinchuan Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co. Ltd. 30 March 2014 12 July 2016 South Sea Fleet Active[31]
5 DDG-117 西宁 / Xining Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co. Ltd. 26 August 2014 22 January 2017 North Sea Fleet Active[32]
6 DDG-154 厦门 / Xiamen[33] Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co. Ltd. 30 December 2014 Est April 2017 East Sea Fleet Sea trial
7 DDG-118 乌鲁木齐 / Ürümqi [34] Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co. Ltd. 7 July 2015 Est November 2017 North Sea Fleet Sea trial
8 DDG-119 贵阳 / Guiyang[35] Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company 28 November 2015 Est March 2018 North Sea Fleet Sea trial
9 DDG-155
[citation needed]
南京 / Nanjing
[citation needed]
Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co. Ltd. 28 December 2015 Est April 2018 East Sea Fleet
[citation needed]
Sea trial
10 DDG-156
[citation needed]
太原 / Taiyuan
[citation needed]
Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co. Ltd. 28 July 2016 Est November 2018 East Sea Fleet
[citation needed]
Fitting out
11 DDG-120
[citation needed]
成都 / Chengdu
[citation needed]
Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company 3 August 2016 Est December 2018 North Sea Fleet
[citation needed]
Fitting out
12 DDG-157
[citation needed]
南宁 / Nanning
[citation needed]
Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co. Ltd. 26 December 2016 Est April 2019 East Sea Fleet
[citation needed]
Fitting out
13 Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company Under Construction

Source wikiwand.com

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type-052d-destroyer-using-qd280-engines

Forbin air defense frigate fired Aster 30 in training exercise

French Navy fires Aster 30 to train crew, vessel for airborne threats

By: Pierre Tran, May 19, 2017

PARIS — The French Navy’s Forbin air defense frigate fired an Aster 30 surface-to-air missile in a training exercise May 16 to prepare the crew and vessel in engagements against airborne threats, the service said.

“This firing and its preparation are particularly significant as they set up a complete and realistic operational engagement for the frigate and its crew,” the Navy said in a May 18 statement. The firing took place while the Forbin was out at sea, and it was the third missile launch since the ship’s entry into service.

Vice Adm. Marc de Briançon, commander of the surface fleet, watched the firing from the missile test center on the Levant island, operated by the Direction Générale de l’Armement procurement office, the service said.

The DGA Levant missile center located in the Mediterranean sea is tasked with drawing up the most realistic operational test fire possible while observing the highest level of security. The DGA center also evaluates the performance of the complex combat systems.

The Aster 30 arms the Forbin and its sister ship, Chevalier Paul, and will be fitted on the two forthcoming multimission frigates to be adapted to the air defense mission. The missile will also be fitted on the five intermediate frigates ordered last month.

Forbin and Chevalier Paul are French Horizon-class frigates, built in cooperation with Italy. Paris cut an initial plan to build four Horizon vessels for the French Navy.

Original post defensenews.com

Main image meretmarine.com

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Horizon Class anti-air warfare (AAW) frigate: Details

India likely to exercise option for 11 more Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters

India approves procurement of 39 attack helicopters for Army Aviation Corps

Rahul Bedi, New Delhi – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly

22 May 2017

India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the acquisition of 39 attack helicopters for the Army Aviation Corps (AAC).

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, sanctioned the AAC’s long-standing request for attack helicopters on 20 May, with the three proposed helicopter squadrons set to be operated by the Indian Army’s (IA’s) three offensive ‘strike’ formations.

Official sources told Jane’s that the IA is likely to exercise the option to import 11 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters to supplement the 22 acquired by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2015 for over USD1.2 billion.

The AAC is anxious to sign the deal for the additional Apaches – under the same terms and conditions that applied to the IAF procurement deal – before the two-year deadline of 28 September 2017 expires.

Original post janes.com

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Background

In 2015  the Govt. of India approved the purchase of the battle proven AH-64 Apache Gunship Helicopters for the Indian Air Force for approximately $2.5bn. The total amount included the delivery of 22 Apache Helicopters along with Weapons, radars and warfare equipment that will arm the Apache Gunship to the teeth.

The contract however had an open option for India to purchase additional helicopters if required. Internal sources suggest that the Govt.may invoke this option and go for an additional purchase of 39 more Apache Gunships from the U.S.

The first 22 Gunships are meant to replace the aging Mi-35 Attack Helicopters that were bought from Russia for the Indian Air Force. The additional 39 Apache Gunships that the Govt. proposes to buy will be merged with India’s four Mountain Strike Corps. This will give the required offensive firepower to tear into enemy territory, may it be China or Pakistan.

The 39 proposed Gunships will be within the control of the Indian Army and not the Air Force.

The first lot of 22 Apache Helicopters will be delivered to the Indian Air Force within the next three years. The time frame for the additional 39 proposed Apache Gunships is however not confirmed as the deal is not yet signed. Source defencenews.in

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AgustaWestland_Apache_AH1_10_(5968018661)

F-18 Block 3 upgrade is set to begin rolling off the production line in 2020

Boeing sets out upgrade ambitions for Super Hornet, Growler platforms

Gareth Jennings, St Louis – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly

18 May 2017

The US Navy (USN) may roll-out future upgrades for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet beyond the Block 3 enhancement currently earmarked, as it looks to maintain the combat aircraft in service for decades to come.

Speaking at the company’s St Louis facility in Missouri, Larry Burt, director of Global Sales & Marketing for the Global Strike division, said that, while the USN’s focus is currently on the Block 3 upgrade that it set to begin rolling off the production line in 2020, further enhancements are very likely as the USN looks to maintain the combat aircraft in service out into the 2040s.

“When you look at flight plan for the future of the aircraft, there could well be lots of new capabilities added after Block 3. The Block 3 is built around a new processor that is a hundred times more powerful that today’s. This processor resides outside of the aircraft’s Operational Flight Program [computer], and so is not tied to its five-year software development cycle. It is truly open architecture that allows for plug and play of weapons, sensors, and systems,” Burt said.

With a programme of record of 568 Super Hornet strike fighters and 160 EA-18G Growler electronic warfare (EW) aircraft, Boeing is rolling out new airframes at a rate of about two per month. Having revealed its Advanced Super Hornet concept in 2013, the company is now focused on the follow-on Block 3 configuration that will be the new baseline model for all aircraft built from 2020.

Included in Block 3 are upgrades to the Raytheon AN/APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar; an Elbit Systems large area display (LAD) ‘glass’ cockpit and next-generation avionics; an infrared search and track (IRST); ‘shoulder-mounted’ conformal fuel tanks (CFTs); Integrated Defensive Electronic Counter Measures (IDECM); and new General Electric F-414-400 enhanced engines.

Original post janes.com

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