YF-24 Secret USAF Aircraft - Does the YF-24 really exist?
For several years project researchers have debated the possible existence of a classified aircraft called the YF-24, which was referenced in the bio of test pilot Colonel Joseph Lanni. It was later redacted, causing speculation that the plane could be a foreign jet under evaluation by the US Air Force, a one-of-a-kind technology demonstrator or stealth prototype, or simply a typo.
The Pentagon has denied the existence of a YF-24, while some USAF watchers remain similarly unconvinced.
Dave Majumdar recently posted this interesting article on the DEW Line, citing an engineering paper for a Boeing Multirole Fighter concept dating back to the 1990s.
The design – known as the Model-24F – shares commonalities with Boeing concepts for the future F/A-XX programme.
According to Majumdar, the design reflects a more agile aircraft than the current Lockheed Martin F-35 and “has provisions for two-dimensional thrust vectoring and some other interesting features.
Interestingly, a more recent study shows what appears to be a tailless version of the same aircraft, with vertical and horizontal stabilisers removed and a redesigned back-end. The earlier Model-24F design apparently utilises 1998 technology, while the MRF-24X study incorporates 2003 technology and appears to be a step closer to more recent Boeing F/A-XX concepts.
Whether Boeing built and flight tested a full scale demonstrator aircraft based on the Model-24F during the 1990s, and indeed whether it was related to the mysterious YF-24, remains unknown. If nothing else, these intriguing engineering studies may help map the evolution of an aircraft design from early concepts to a future air superiority fighter.
Airbus Military reveals first flight date for French A400M
Airbus Military expects to secure full civil certification for its A400M Atlas transport "within days", and to fly its first of at least 174 production examples in early March, says programme head Cédric Gautier.
Speaking at the company's San Pablo final assembly site in Seville, Spain on 15 February, Gautier said issues with the airlifter's Europrop International TP400-D6 engines encountered during 2012 have been resolved, and that the type will meet its full performance and payload requirements from entry into service.
Gautier identifies the period between 2 and 6 March as being the target for the first flight of French air force aircraft MSN7, with Airbus Military already having begun its production acceptance test activities ahead of the milestone event. "For the time being it is running extremely well," he says.
To be delivered in late May or early June, the first production Atlas underwent its first auxiliary power unit test in Seville on 14 February, with first engine cranks performed the following day and ground engine runs due to commence soon.
Airbus Military's delivery schedule for 2013 will see two additional A400Ms handed over to France, and one to the Turkish air force. Its final delivery of the year will be made in the SOC1 operating standard, which will introduce an initial aerial delivery capability and self-protection equipment.
Final assembly work in 2014 will be increased to cover the transfer of the programme's next 10 transports, including first examples for the UK and Germany.
Meanwhile, activities involving Airbus Military's fleet of five "Grizzly" development aircraft has passed 1,500 test flights, and more than a combined 4,500h, since the MSN1's debut sortie in December 2009.
The US Department of Defense has announced long-lead funding for four Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighters destined for Japan, which will be built as part of the programme's eighth lot of low-rate initial production.
"It is notice of the official contracting action associated with long-lead requirements to support the first four of Japan's 42 aircraft," Lockheed says. The company was in February 2013 awarded a similar contract for 35 aircraft that will be built under the same production lot.
They have ordered their aircraft via the US government's Foreign Military Sales mechanism. "Since procure aircraft through the Foreign Military Sales process, they are announced separately," Lockheed says. "It's expected the long-lead funding for these aircraft will be announced in the near future."
The long-lead funding for the four Japanese aircraft is worth $40.2 million, according the DoD. The aircraft will be delivered in 2016.
Embraer says that it has successfully completed a critical design review (CDR) for its KC-390 tactical transport and tanker aircraft in conjunction with the Brazilian air force. The review was completed on 22 March, the company says.
"We have concluded an important stage of the KC-390 programme and, therefore, we gave an accounting to the FAB [Brazilian air force] of the work done. We will now begin the production phase of the prototypes," says Luiz Carlos Aguiar, president and chief executive officer of Embraer's defence unit.
Completion of the CDR means that Embraer can start building the first KC-390 because the aircraft's aerodynamic and structural configuration are now set.
Additionally, the aircraft's avionics architecture and systems installations have also been finalized. Manufacture of the prototype "will soon begin and all of the activities of the project are focused on taking the first flight in the second half of 2014," Embraer says.
The KC-390 is the largest airplane ever conceived and built by Brazil.