August’s top stories: WaveRider fails again as Syrian Air Force loses further aircraft
4 September 2012
The US Air Force’s experimental X-51A WaveRider failed another test as Syria lost further fighter jets at rebel hands. Airforce-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from August 2012.
The US Air Force confirmed that its third flight test of the experimental X-51A WaveRider hypersonic jet failed having suffered problems with a cruiser control fin. Air Force Research Laboratory X-51A programmer manager Charlie Brink confirmed the failure, citing a problem with the subsystem before the jet's scramjet engine was even ignited.
"All our data showed we had created the right conditions for engine ignition and we were very hopeful to meet our test objectives," Brink said. A problem with the control fin was identified by the air force 16 seconds after its launch, causing the aircraft to spin out of control and eventually crash, 15 seconds after separating from its preliminary rocket booster.
WaveRider is one of several projects aimed at developing a hypersonic aircraft, with the Pentagon and NASA hoping that the project will lead to the production of faster missiles. However, the future of the programme is now in jeopardy with the US Air Force now left with only one X-51A in its inventory.
Iran's ambassador to Russia Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi confirmed that the nation will withdraw its $4bn lawsuit against Russia if it honours a contract for the delivery of S-300 surface-air-missile systems originally signed in 2007.
The case stems from former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev's cancellation of the contract after the UN Security Council enforced an arms embargo on Iran. Iran's Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Aerospace Industries Organization sued Russia's state-arm-exporter Rosoboronexport in the Geneva International Court of Justice in April 2011, demanding the company either honour the contract or pay compensation.
Although the nation originally sought $900m, the court added a further $3bn. The UN-imposed embargo banned the supply of missiles, missile systems, tanks, fighter helicopters, fighter jets and warships to Iran.
A Syrian Air Force MiG-23 fighter jet crashed near Syria's border with Iraq, with the Free Syrian Army claiming to have shot it down. State media quickly denied the claims, claiming that the aircraft downed after it suffered technical glitches.
Syria's state-run news agency Sana alleged that the aircraft encountered problems with its control mechanisms during a routine training mission. The FSA countered the official account, claiming to have captured the surviving pilot. The rebels also provided video footage which appeared to corroborate their claims, featuring an MiG-23 fighter jet bursting into flames as anti-aircraft fire can be heard in the background.
Syria President Bashar al-Assad's regime has used the aircraft more frequently as it looks to stem the loss of areas taken by the rebels, including districts of Aleppo and Damascus.
Boeing, alongside its partner Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, demonstrated expanded control of UAVs using mobile ad hoc networks and Swarm network technology.
Conducted during June 2012, ground-based operators in Oregon, US, controlled two ScanEagle UAVs using a laptop and military radio. The technology enabled operators to connect with the autonomously operating UAVSs, allowing them to obtain information without using a ground control station.
Boeing Phantom Works Advanced Autonomous Networks programme director Gabriel Santander said: "This swarm technology may one day enable warfighters in battle to request and receive time-critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information directly from airborne UAVs much sooner than they can from ground control stations today."
A Romanian Air Force IAR-99 Falcon trainer crashed near Craiova airport, killing one pilot and injuring people on the ground. Craiova airport technical director Adrian Predescu confirmed the crash, claiming the aircraft to have crashed during a routine training flight.
"There's been a plane crash. A military plane, crashed during a training exercise near the airport on the north side. From what it seems the plane is totally destroyed. One of the pilots died, and the other is receiving care from SMURD," said Predescu.
The pilot was killed upon impact, however the trainer was able to eject prior to the crash. Emergency responders arrived at the scene and treated him for his injuries and several fire crews were called to extinguish the resulting fire.