System Takes Off
Ground and airborne testing of NATO’s first alliance
ground surveillance (AGS) aircraft now is underway. The
tests are the initial step in creating a fleet of five aircraft and
mobile transportable groundstations to support data connectivity, processing and exploitation capabilities for international operational personnel.
The NATO-owned and operated system will perform
all-weather, persistent wide-area terrestrial and maritime
surveillance in near real-time. It will provide intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for a range of
missions, including ground troops and civilian population
protection, border control and maritime safety support, and
humanitarian aid assistance.
A Northrop Grumman team of pilots, test conductors and
directors is responsible for both the aircraft and testing. During its maiden voyage from the company’s facility in Palmdale
to Edwards Air Force Base, both in California, the team and
members of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency watched as the aircraft successfully executed a
comprehensive range of test points before landing.
Fifteen NATO nations are contributing to the initial
procurement of the system; all 28 NATO nations provide
long-term support of the program. Although a derivative of
the RQ- 4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance, wide-
area surveillance system, the NATO AGS contains minor com-
munications software differences to meet criteria for operation
Northrop Grumman is scheduled to begin ferrying the first
NATO AGS aircraft to Sigonella, Italy, in 2016.
Russia Turns to Quality for Navy
In a departure from the Soviet force philosophy of overcoming quality with quantity, the Russian Navy is focusing on
quality as it modernizes its fleet. This effort is characterized by
a reduction in procurement fraud and waste as the fleet adds
multipurpose naval platforms that can be modernized when
new technology becomes available.
These and other points are described in an unclassified
U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence report on the Russian Navy.
Emphasizing a fleet in transition, the report states that a
commitment to new construction was necessary to prevent
the Russian Navy from disappearing in 2020. The future
fleet will consist of multipurpose submarines and surface
ships capable of aerospace defense, antiship and antisubmarine warfare. This represents a major departure from traditional Soviet-era single-purpose naval platforms.
Attack submarines will be a mix of nuclear- and conven-tional-power boats. One smaller class will be designed to
As the U.S. Air Force prepares for initial F- 35 Light- ning II operations, pilots at Hill Air Force Base in Utah are rehearsing missions and honing their skills against ground and airborne threats with new,
full mission simulators linked together. As a complement
to live flights, the simulators present a secure, relatively
realistic environment for pilots to develop tactics and integrate the F- 35 into the Air Force’s arsenal.
The 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base is the
first operational F-35A squadron and will reach combat
readiness in August. More than 140 pilots and 840 maintainers for the Air Force have qualified through the F- 35
Training System. By August, more than 190 pilots and
1,000 maintenance personnel for the Air Force should
be mission ready. The simulator includes a high-fidelity,
360-degree visual display system; is designed to replicate
all F- 35 sensors and weapon systems; and is billed by
Lockheed Martin as the highest fidelity trainer in the
F- 35 pilot-training-device suite.
The F- 35 Lightning II, a fifth-generation jet fighter,
combines advanced low observable stealth technology
Simulating Air Combat Together
with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Following the Marine Corps’ 2015 combat-ready initial operational capability declaration, the Air
Force and Navy intend to attain service initial operational capability in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
U.S. Air Force F- 35 pilots train with
the new full mission simulator.