As VF-31 and VF-213 conduct the final deployment of the F-14 Tomcat, on board Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), their aircraft are now equipped to provide real-time reconnaissance and target identification data to forward ground controllers. In November 2005 the squadrons requested that their F-14Ds be upgraded to be able to download data to the Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER) system. Squadron personnel determined that it would be possible to modify their aircraft using off-the-shelf technology for just $800 each. Naval Air Systems Command personnel installed the first systems onto the Tomcats on 10 December, just six weeks after the initial request. On 11 December a VF-213 aircraft launched the Tomcat's first ROVER-capable mission. Above, the new system is visible on the underside of a VF-213 Tomcat.
Sea Stallion Envelope Expanded
Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 conducted wind envelope expansion testing of the CH-53D Sea Stallion on board Boxer (LHD 4) in September 2005, right. A lack of wind envelope data restricted the Sea Stallion's use on multipurpose amphibious assault ships. Test data allowed both the day and night flight envelopes to be significantly increased, and the aircraft is now able to operate off LHDs with wind speeds of up to 45 knots off the bow.
CH-53K on the Horizon
On 3 January the Sikorsky company received an $8.8 million initial system development and demonstration contract for the follow-on to the CH-53E Super Stallion, designated CH-53K. (An artist's concept of the new aircraft is shown at right.) Technologies under consideration for the new aircraft include a glass cockpit; high-efficiency rotor blades with anhedral tips; low-maintenance elastomeric rotorhead; upgraded engine system; cargo rail locking system; external cargo improvements; and survivability enhancements. Fleet Marines should start receiving the first of 156 new heavy lift helos in 2015.
Osprey in Production
The Marine Corps accepted the first production MV-22 Osprey in a ceremony at Bell Helicopter facilities in Amarillo, Texas, on 8 December 2005. The aircraft passed operational evaluation in summer 2005, and in September full-rate production was authorized. The first operational MV-22 squadron, VMM-263, stands up in March, with initial operational capability in 2007.
For the Record
The next Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer will be named in honor of VAdm. James Bond Stockdale, a former Naval Aviator who received the Medal of Honor for his actions as a POW in Vietnam.
The next combat logistics force underway replenishment naval vessel will be named after RAdm. Alan B. Shepard, Jr., a former Naval Aviator who became the first American in space.
The RQ-4A Global Hawk conducted its first wargame exercise 28 November-8 December 2005, demonstrating the unmanned aircraft's long-range maritime surveillance capabilities.
Concluding a 1999 contract with IMP Aerospace for standard depot level maintenance of the H-3 Sea King fleet, the last overhauled aircraft was delivered to the Naval Air Systems Command in November 2005.
John C. Stennis (CVN 74) conducted sea trials and returned to her homeport in Bremerton, Wash., on 17 December 2005 at the conclusion of her docked planned incremental availability period. Upgrades included the installation of the Steer Control Console, which consolidates the mechanical features of the older helm and lee helm into an electronic system.
George Washington (CVN 73) conducted sea trials and returned to her homeport in Norfolk, Va., on 17 December 2005 at the conclusion of her docked planned incremental availability period. Upgrades included modernization of spaces to support the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
On 18 January the pilot of an F/A-18C Hornet of VFA-97 was killed in a crash at NAF El Centro, Calif.
A T-34C Turbo-Mentor of VT-27 suffered Class A damage after a forced landing in Texas due to an inflight engine failure on 12 January.
On 10 January a T-39N Sabreliner of VT-86 crashed in Georgia during navigation training, with four fatalities.
An SH-60B Seahawk of HSL-48 crashed into the water while operating off De Wert (FFG 45) in the eastern Pacific on 13 December 2005. Three crew members were lost at sea.
On 6 December 2005 a VMAT-203 AV-8B Harrier II crashed in the Atlantic; the pilot safely ejected.
EDITED BY WENDY LELAND
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|Title Annotation:||aircraft upgrades, helicopter testing, contracts|
|Publication:||Naval Aviation News|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2006|
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