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BF-05 Ice Cloud Calibration and Teams.The Pentagon’s F-35 Lightning II has been test-flying in extreme heat, artic cold, rain, humidity, ice and desert winds in a specially engineered climactic laboratory hangar at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida — as a way to prepare and certify the new aircraft to fly into any corner of the world.

“They have been testing since September of last year. They are seeing how the components handle a range of weather conditions. In the hangar they can replicate harsh desert winds and sun along with freezing rain conditions,” said Joe DellaVedova, F-35 program spokesman.

With 13 countries currently involved with the program, the F-35 must be tested in meteorological conditions representative of those locations from which it will operate, ranging from the heat of the Outback of Australia to the bitter cold of the Arctic Circle above Canada and Norway, an F-35 program office statement said. [Continue reading…]

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AC-130Air Force Special Operations Command’s top officer said he wanted to explore the possibility of adding a laser or directed energy weapon to the AC-130J Ghostrider.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, head of AFSOC, told a crowd at NDIA’s SO/LIC conference in Washington D.C. on Tuesday that he thought the technology was mature enough to install a laser weapon onto the AC-130J gunship.

The Air Force has already decided it will mount a 105mm cannon onto the newest variant of the gunship after the Air Force chose to limit the W-model to smart bombs and the 30mm cannon. Heithold explained that the 105mm cannon was needed because it was more accurate and cheaper than firing the Small Diameter Bombs. [Continue reading…]

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New AmpbThe Navy is getting ready to take the next step in its ongoing competition to build a new amphibious assault ship for the service, officials said.

Called the LX( R ), the new amphib will replace the Navy’s existing fleet of LSD 41/49 dock landing ships in the 2020s and 2030s, said Navy spokesman Matthew Leonard.

“LX( R ) will be a versatile, cost-effective amphibious ship — a success story in balancing cost and requirements while delivering key capabilities. Competition will play a prominent role in the LX( R ) acquisition strategy,” he said.

The Navy plans to award the detail design and construction contract for the lead ship by fiscal year 2020 with delivery planned for fiscal year 2026, Leonard added. [Continue reading…]

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Start-up rocket-maker Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX and headed by billionaire Elon Musk, has agreed to drop its lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force after the service pledged to open more satellite launches to competition.

The company based near Los Angeles sued the service last year for the chance to compete in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, or EELV program. The acquisition effort launches military and spy satellites atop Atlas and Delta rockets made by a joint venture between defense giants Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. [Continue reading…]

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CRH-141124-F-ZU869-001The Air Force plans to conduct the first test flight of its new HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter in 2019 as a step toward fielding an operational aircraft in 2021 and reaching full-rate production by 2023, service officials said.

The new helicopter, called CRH, will be engineered to perform high-risk medical evacuations and other rescue and recovery missions. In total, the service plans to acquire 112 new CRH personnel recovery helicopters. [Continue reading…]

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