Seen and Heard at the International Paris Air Show 2019

by İbrahim SÜNNETÇİ

Date: Issue 94 - September 2019

The 53rd edition of the International Paris Air Show, which is organized every two years by the SIAE, a subsidiary of GIFAS, the French Aerospace Industries Association was held from 17 to 23 June 2019 at Paris’ Le Bourget Airport. The event spans seven days including four trading days for industry members and three days open to the public. The International Paris Air Show is one of the oldest and largest air shows in the world. Since it takes place biennially, the 54th edition of the show will take place in June 2021 in Le Bourget

Held on an internal and external area spanning over 125,000m2, including 52,000m2 of stands, 335 Chalets representing 35,000m2 of built areas and 38,000m2 of exhibitor outdoor space and buildings. The International Paris Air Show welcomed a record number of exhibitors with more than 2,453 exhibitors/companies from 49 countries. International exhibitors represented more than 50% of the numbers and came mainly from the following countries: 360 U.S., 141 Germany, 141 Italy, 103 UK and 83 Belgium. There were 1,185 French exhibitors from 12 French regions (they displayed their products and solutions at Hall 2 and Hall 4) and 1,268 international exhibitors from 48 countries. At the 2019 Paris Air Show 26 National pavilions were erected. During the show, in total, contracts valued at US$ 140 Million were signed.  

Over the seven days, the 2019 International Paris Air Show attracted 316,470 visitors of which 139,840 were professionals (40% from outside France representing 185 countries) and 176,630 were general public visitors, as well as 2,700 accredited journalists from 87 countries. The show hosted a total of 276 Official Delegations from 98 countries and 7 International Organizations, including 171 Official Defence Delegations from 88 countries and 7 organizations (AED, GCC, G5 Sahel, NATO, UN, EU and OCCAR, including 16 Foreign Ministers, 48 Chiefs of Staff and 18 Vice Ministers or Secretaries of State) and 124 Civilian delegations.

At the 2019 Paris Air Show 140 aircraft were presented including 36 in flight presentations. Among them, new products and aircraft that have left their mark on history: the Airbus A330 NEO, the Boeing B789-9 and KC46, the Bombardier Global 7500, the Lockheed Martin F-35A JSF, the Kodiak 100 from Daher, the Rafale and Falcon 8X from Dassault, the KC-390 and Praetor from Embraer, Textron with the Quote Latitude, the Alpha Electro Pipistrel presented by DGAC, Russian Helicopters and its Ansat, Turkish Aerospace with the T129 ATAK and the commemoration of the 75th D-Day   anniversary of the landing of the C47 THAT’ALL BROTHER and the C53 D-DAY DOLL!

The Show was inaugurated on Monday 17 June by the French President, Emmanuel MACRON. Prime Minister Edouard PHILIPPE came to the Show on Friday 21 June, when it opened to the general public. Nine French Ministers and Secretaries of State and numerous key figures in French politics also visited Paris Air Show 2019.

Turkey’s Participation at the 2019 International Paris Air Show 

Eight Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry companies had booths at the 2019 International Paris Air Show including Aselsan, Roketsan, TUSAS Engine Industries (TEI) and Turkish Aerospace (TUSAS). Turkey’s presence was headlined by TUSAS, which unveiled a full-sized mock-up of its next generation fighter the National Combat Aircraft (abbreviated MMU in Turkish), which is also known as the TF-X (Turkish Fighter – Experimental) with mock-ups of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapon systems on 17 June 2019 at the show. TUSAS also displayed its ever-growing product range including a full-scale mock-up (indeed a ground prototype of the aircraft) of the HürJet New Generation Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) & Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), which TUSAS hopes will replace the T-38M jet trainer fleet in the service of the TurAF, the T625 GOKBEY Turkish Light Utility Helicopter (TLUH) and the ANKA MALE UAV as well as small scale models of the HürKuş Basic Trainer and the Light Attack Aircraft, Airborne Stand of Jammer (Air SOJ), the 10-ton class Multirole Utility Helicopter and the twin-engine ANKA-AKSUNGUR MALE Class Armed UAV. During the 2019 Paris Air Show

TUSAS signed a contract with Avio Aero, a GE Aviation business in Italy. Under the contract Avio Aero will manufacture parts for the main gearboxes & tail rotor of the T625 GOKBEY TLUH in its facilities located at Torino, Italy. At the show a Letter of Intent (LoI) was also signed between TUSAS and Eurojet Turbo GmbH for the delivery of EJ200 turbofan engines (single engine configuration) to power HürJet prototypes. The LoI was signed by TUSAS President & CEO Temel KOTİL and EuroJet CEO Clemens LINDEN. Since the EJ200 turbofan engine, which is considered to be the benchmark in the 20,000lb thrust class military engine market, was specifically was designed to power the twin-engine Eurofighter Typhoon, two major modifications should be done on the EJ200 to convert it into a single engine fighter engine.

TUSAŞ Revealed a Mock-up of the Turkish Fighter 

During the Paris Air Show, on 17 June 2019 TUSAS unveiled a full-sized mock-up of its next generation fighter, the MMU/TF-X, or Turkish Fighter (TUSAS, refers to this program as Turkish Fighter [TF] and exclude the X at the end of its title with an emphasis that it is no longer an Experimental aircraft). Speaking at the aircraft presentation regarding the one-to-one mock-up of a Turkish Fighter, TUSAS President & CEO Temel KOTİL said that when it enters into service, the Turkish Fighter will be “the best fighter in Europe” and capable of carrying the long-range, air-to-air METEOR missile of the European manufacturer MBDA. “We have increased our speed ... We have enough strength to build this fighter,” he added. Previously, the company had revealed its intentions to fly the Turkish Fighter in 2026. However, during his address, TUSAS President & CEO KOTİL disclosed that the aircraft would be completed in 2023, with first flight in 2025 and the next generation fighter will enter the service of the Turkish Air Force (TurAF) in 2028. “Once we develop the Turkish Fighter, we will become the world’s fourth country to have this type of aircraft. Meanwhile; Japan, the Republic of Korea, Iran and India are also working on similar projects. So, there is a competition between countries,” KOTİL added. The ceremony was attended by Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Commander General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Affendi bin BUANG. Turkey has been looking for international joint development partners to collaborate with TUSAS and various Turkish sub-contractors on the MMU/TF-X Program, and Malaysia is one of the potential candidates for this role.

The MMU/TF-X, or Turkish Fighter will be a single-seat, twin-engine combat aircraft (based on the FX-1 concept) with Low Observability and Super Cruise capabilities and is to be equipped with indigenously developed systems and sensors. Replacing the F-16C/Ds currently in the service of the TurAF during the first quarter of the 2030s, the Turkish Fighter will be a fifth-generation indigenous air superiority fighter with secondary ground attack capability, which will escort and provide air protection to the TurAF’s F-35A Lighting II fleet. The TurAF currently operates 238 F-16C/D aircraft and Turkey is likely to procure some 150 TF-Xs in the long term to replace the F-16s. According to TUSAS, the Turkish Fighter will measure 21 meters (68,89ft) long, have a 14-meter wingspan, height of 6 meters and a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 60,000lbs+ (27,215kg+). It will also have a maximum altitude of 55,000+ feet, and a combat radius of 600+ nautical miles. The Turkish Fighter will have a maximum speed of Mach 18 while running on two engines (each generating 27,000lb thrust).

In every aspect of size – height, weight, wingspan, – the Turkish Fighter is bigger than the existing 5th Generation fighters including F-22, F-35, Su-57, J-20 and KF-X. Nevertheless, the overall design of the Turkish Fighter mock-up bears similar features (such as twin-engine and canted vertical tail design) to the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters, but with a narrower and longer fuselage and a wider wingspan. 

Even if it will be an all-weather, multirole fighter the MMU/TF-X’s primary role will be air-superiority. Like the F-22 Raptor air superiority fighters the MMU/TF-X also has both cheek and ventral internal weapons bays. The ventral internal weapons bay can hold up to four launchers for medium/long range (Beyond Visual Range) air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground munitions and missiles weighing between 250lb to 2,000lb. Each cheek weapons bay, on the left and right of the fuselage, can hold two launchers for short-range air-to-air missiles.

The Turkish Fighter will also have new generation features including Low Observability, High Maneuverability (to be better than the F-16), Internal Weapon Bays, Increased Situational Awareness, Interoperability with AEWs, UCAVs and AARs, Super Cruise, Advanced Avionics for Sensor Fusion and Independent Operation Capability (no need for other A/C). The aircraft will be equipped with an indigenously developed gallium-nitride (GaN) Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Integrated Processing Computer (Mission Computer), Infrared Search and Track (IRST) System (in front of the cockpit), Integrated EW Suit, as well as an Integrated Electro-Optical Targeting System (which abbreviated BEOS in Turkish and will have similar function with the Electro-Optical Targeting System [EOTS] on the F-35), a Helmet Mounted Sight System (HMDS, there is no HUD at the cockpit) and an Integrated Cockpit Display System (panoramic cockpit display) like that on the F-35 Lightning II aircraft. As of June 2019 Aselsan, has already been contracted to develop the indigenous AESA Radar, BEOS, IRST System and EW Suit. Negotiations regarding the Integrated Cockpit Display System (panoramic cockpit display) and HMDS are currently ongoing. TUBITAK, on the other hand, has been contracted for the development of the Integrated Processing Computer (Mission Computer).

Within the course of the Turkish Fighter development program, new capabilities and equipment will be added to the aircraft under a “Block Development Approach”. In each Block, the level of local content ratio will also be increased. The first Turkish Fighter prototype will be in Block-0 configuration and is expected to be rolled-out in 2023, when Turkey will celebrate its 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic. Following the ground tests, the maiden flight will be performed with the first prototype aircraft. The Block-0 configuration will not feature either stealth capability or some of the main internal avionics and equipment (such as AESA radar) and various sub-systems onboard the aircraft will be procured from abroad such as turbofan engines, integrated cockpit display system (panoramic cockpit display) and landing gears. The Block-I prototypes will be in air superiority configuration and the first aircraft that enters TurAF service in 2028 will be in Block-I configuration. The TuAF will achieve/declare IOC with Block-I Turkish Fighters. According to TUSAS, the TurAF originally planned for the first entry into service to occur in 2029 but since the company has accelerated its efforts, the entry into service date was able to be moved to an earlier time. TUSAS will start Block-II deliveries in 2031 and following their entrance into TurAF service FOC will be declared. The Turkish Fighter Block-IIs, multi-role model with air superiority plus air-to-ground capabilities, will feature increased local content share thanks to their indigenously developed engines, sub-systems and avionics.  

According to TUSAS, engineers taking part in Turkish Fighter design activities under the Detailed Design & Qualification (Phase-I Stage-II, September 2022 – September 2028) Phase, a total of seven Turkish Fighter prototypes (six for flight tests and one for ground tests) in three different configurations namely; Block-0, Block-I and Block-II, however during the 2019 Paris Air Show it was reported that there will be five Turkish Fighter prototypes. General Electric’s F110 Turbofan Family has been selected as a stopgap solution until Turkey has built its indigenous turbofan engine for the MMU/TF-X. On June 23, 2019 TUSAS President & CEO Temel KOTİL disclosed that they have ordered 5 turbofan engines from General Electric (GE) and at the moment they are in a delivery state. “We will use F-16 engines (probably the F110-GE-129E version due to twin engine configuration) in the first prototypes of the TF-X in the first flights. Development of the indigenous turbofan engine is continuing” KOTİL added. We estimate that four of the engines will be installed on two of the Turkish Fighter prototypes and the fifth engine will be used as spare. Starting from the third prototype the MMU/TF-X aircraft is planned to be powered by a pair of indigenously developed turbofan engines to be developed by TR Motor Power Systems, a national engine consortium (formed by BMC Power [55%], TUSAS [35%] and the SSB [10%]). On 8 November 2018 the SSB signed a Framework Agreement with TR Motor Power Systems for the development of a next generation turbofan engine that will power the MMU/TF-X, or Turkish Fighter, aircraft. Speaking at the signing ceremony SSB President Prof. İsmail DEMİR said the final goal is that the engine would not face limitations from foreign countries in terms of use and exports, and for Turkey to control all technological features and Intellectual Property (IP) rights. SSB President DEMİR also noted that development of the indigenous turbofan engine would be a long process, nearly 10 years, and the agreement that was signed with TR Motor will serve as a framework in this process. On the occasion of the signing ceremony on 8 November a computer-generated image (CGI) of TR Motor’s Turkish Indigenous Turbofan Engine was also shared with the media. Our initial analyses suggest that the current design has several similarities in terms of internal configuration with the F110 Turbofan Family. In this context for example, like the F110-GE-129 and -132 engines the Turkish Indigenous Turbofan Engine also features a Variable Inlet Guide Vane and as in the case with the F110-GE-132 engine it features “blisks” (bladed-disks) in the three-stage modular fan section in lieu of traditional blades to improve performance and maintainability. The engine also incorporates one High Power turbine (HPT) and a Low Power Turbine (LPT). According to our sources the Turkish Indigenous Turbofan Engine to be supplied by TR Motor Power Systems will have similar dimensions and weight with the F110 Turbofan Family.

Roketsan and Micro Satellite Launch System (MUFS) 

Roketsan displayed the scaled (1/10) model of the MSLV at its stand during the 2019 Paris Air Show. The contract for the Micro Satellite Launch System (MUFS/MSLV) Development Project between the Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB) and Roketsan was signed on November 5, 2018. When the project is over, micro-satellites of 100kg and below can be placed in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) at an altitude of at least 400km. With this project, Turkey will acquire capabilities, that only leading countries in the world possess, such as a satellite launch, testing, and manufacturing infrastructure and the ability to establish launch sites.

Under the contract, Roketsan will develop a three-stage Micro-Satellite Launch Vehicle (MSLV) and will establish the Test/Production Facilities and a Launch Site. The MUFS/MSLV Development Project has a 7-year schedule and as of June 2019 seven months of the schedule already have passed. According to schedule, in 2025 Roketsan will execute a mission demo with the MSLV and to install a micro satellite into its LEO orbit. Currently the Conceptual Design Phase of the project is ongoing. In this context Roketsan engineers are carrying out Loss & Gain analysis on several MSLV conceptual designs, one of which will be selected within the scope of this phase and then the Detailed Design Phase will be initiated. 

The Roketsan MSLV will consist of three stages; including a solid-propellant motor cluster (with three rocket motors) in the first stage, a solid-propellant rocket motor in the second stage, and a liquid-fueled rocket motor (will operate at 100-120km altitude, beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, and take satellite/s up to 400km altitude/orbit) in the third stage. The satellite itself will be enclosed in a metal shield known as a fairing during the third stage. The fairing provides protection to the satellite while it is being launched and makes it easier for the launch vehicle to travel through the resistance of the Earth’s atmosphere. When the satellite reaches above the Earth’s atmosphere, the fairing splits apart and burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Measuring 25m in height, the Roketsan MSLV will have a lift of mass of 35 tons.

The MSLV Launch Site will include centers and facilities such as a Launch Ramp, Umbilical Tower, Mobile Integration Tower, Launch Control Center, Mission Control Center, Flight Termination Ground Station, Data Collection, Evaluation, and Analysis Center, Tracking Radar, Fixed Telemetry Antenna, Solid-Propellant Stage Assembly, Integration and Test Facility, Fairing Assembly, Integration and Test Facility, Propellant-Loading Facility and Propellant Storage Area.

Roketsan was also awarded a contract by the Turkish MoND for the development of the National Satellite Launch System (SLS), which also covers the development of a National Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) with an expected capability of placing a payload 1.5 tons into a Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 700km for launching locally designed and manufactured satellites into orbit as well as the foundation of the Satellite Launch Center. The National SLS Project was initiated on July 17, 2013. According to the 2015 Annual Report of the Turkish MoND, the SLS Project called “SIMSEK” (Lightning) aims to support the sustainability of current and planned satellite programs and provide independent access to space, when considering Turkey’s current and subsequent satellite needs. With the establishment of the necessary technological infrastructure in this field, it is planned to launch a satellite with the required qualifications from the year 2023 with the national SLS and to be placed into its orbit.

The SIMSEK SLV, will consist of two separate stages, each with a liquid-fueled rocket engine. The first stage will incorporate liquid-fueled rocket engine cluster and Oxidizer Tank, while the second will hold a liquid-fueled rocket engine and Fuel/Oxidizer Tank. The Satellite will be carried within the Payload Fairing, which is located in the nose section. Measuring 35m in height the Roketsan SLV will have a lift of mass of 160 tons and its main rocket engine will have a diameter of 2.5m.

Under the signed contract, the studies within the frame of the Pre-Conceptual Design Period (Period-I) carried out by Roketsan as the Main Contractor, were completed as of January 2015. In the meantime, alternative roadmaps were determined in order to reduce the risks during the Design and Development Period and to acquire critical technologies for satellite launch systems at a maximum level. As part of the alternative roadmaps study carried out by the SSB Department of Air Defence and Space, technical support from abroad or international cooperation in Period-II were also evaluated. The planning activities for the Design and Development Period (Period-II) are still in progress.

The National SLV will be able to place a payload of 1.5 tons into a Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 700km and will be used for launching locally designed and manufactured Communication Satellites and EO/SAR-based Earth Observation Satellites into orbit. Thanks to the National SLV, indigenously designed and manufactured satellites can be placed into low-earth orbit (LEO) without any restrictions.

Leonardo Unveils its Largest-Ever UAV; The Falco Xplorer 

On June 17, at an unveiling event at the Paris Air Show, Leonardo introduced its latest, third iteration of its Falco Unmanned Aircraft System, the Falco Xplorer. 

It is a 9-meter-long, 18.5-meter-wingspan aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of approximately 1.3 tons, a maximum useful payload capacity of 350kg, intended to operate at 24,000ft, and with a notional endurance of 24 hours. Powered by a 115hp (can be upgraded to 130hp) Rotax 914 engine the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Class Falco Xplorer UAV is expected to enter its launch customer’s (Italian Air Force) service in 2020. According to Leonardo, the Falco Xplorer UAV can climb up to an altitude of 30,000ft with a 200kg payload and can execute its mission at altitudes of 21,000 to 24,000ft with a payload of 350kg. The aircraft is not equipped with a de-icing system. 

Even though the weaponization of the aircraft is possible, according to Leonardo since the Falco Xplorer UAV is aimed to provide Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability over land and sea, their overall design roadmap does not include any plan to install a weapon payload on the aircraft. The Falco Xplorer UAV is equipped with both a C-Band radio Line of Sight (LoS) communication system with a command/control range of 200 to 250km and a Ku-Band satellite communications (SatCom) capability for beyond radio line of sight operations. Featuring a V-shaped tail boom, a pusher propeller, retractable landing gears and an automatic take-off and landing system, the Falco Xplorer UAV’s baseline fit-out includes the Lightweight Electro-Optical Space Sensor (LEOSS) in a 15-inch turret, a Gabbiano T-80UL (Ultralight) multimode synthetic aperture radar that can undertake mapping and ground moving target indication, a SAGE digital Electronic Support Measure (ESM) and Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) System for Radio Frequency (RF) ISR missions and an automatic identification system (AIS) for maritime use. The Falco Xplorer UAV can also be fitted with the Leonardo Spider COMINT System. Leonardo can also flexibly modify the sensor suite in-line with customer requirements, including integrating third-party sensors. The sensors will be integrated through Leonardo’s powerful mission management system, which draws on the Company’s experience in both the manned and unmanned domains and includes protection from cyber-attacks as standard under the Company’s ‘secure by design’ philosophy. The platform’s Ground Control Station (GCS) allows operators to control the aircraft and its sensors and incorporates data exploitation tools, enabling the dissemination of useful information to wider C5I systems. It also provides mission data analysis, mission planning, training and simulation capabilities.

According to Leonardo its technical characteristics place the Falco Xplorer UAV within the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Class II Category and since the system is entirely designed and manufactured in Europe, it is not subject to International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) restrictions.

As of June 2019 Leonardo, already completed the manufacture of first Falco Xplorer prototype and is performing ground tests with the aircraft. Leonardo was expected to execute first flight test with Falco Xplorer UAV in June from Trapani Airport in Italy. But the Company did not issue any news on this expected maiden flight as of July 2019. A series of trials will take place throughout the year and the aircraft is planned to be qualified by the end of 2019. The Falco Xplorer UAV could then be delivered to its launch customer (the Italian Air Force) during the first half of 2020.

Leonardo also has a plan to offer the Falco Xplorer UAV on a leasing model. Speaking to Defence Turkey at the 2019 Paris Air Show, a Leonardo official provided following information on the program, “The existing Falco UAV users have said that they are interested in a platform that had more sensor/payload capability and that had longer endurance. The Falco Evo has SatCom, but this has SatCom and 24-hour endurance. Because we are working closely with customers on the Falco Evo, we talk to them, we know what kind of things they are asking for, and what they are asking for was more endurance, more payloads to be able to do different missions.  It’s not just people wanting to buy it. So, the important thing is that it’s a service that we offer as well as a platform. You can buy one obviously, but you can also hire us to provide just the sensor data, or just the information. So, Leonardo builds, owns and operates the system and the sensors and then deliver just intelligence to the customer, which is similar to the model that we use with the United Nations for the Falco Evo”.

RAS Debuts PN’s Second ATR-72/500 MPA at the 2019 Paris Air Show 

Germany-based aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) company, Rheinland Air Service (RAS) introduced the Pakistan Navy (PN)’s second ATR-72/500 Multirole Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) with ASW capabilities, which is now known as the RAS 72 Sea Eagle, to the general public at the 2019 Paris Air Show. 

The aircraft had previously been in service with the PN as a transport aircraft but has been converted into an MPA configuration at RAS’ facilities in Mönchengladbach, Germany under structural modification work which lasted 12 months.  RAS handed over the second aircraft to the Pakistan Naval Air Arm in late June 2019. 

Pakistan awarded a contract to RAS in 2015 to convert two refurbished ATR-72/500s into MPAs. The work began in January 2016, following the release of export permits by the German Government. The first RAS 72 Sea Eagle MPAs, which were handed over by RAS in June 2018, re-entered service with the PN on 12 December 2018 in a ceremony held at the PNS Naval Air Station Mehran in Karachi. The structural modification work on the first ATR-72/500 aircraft lasted 15 months. According to RAS as of June 2019 the first RAS 72 Sea Eagle aircraft in PN service performed over 300 missions which lasted 500+ flight hours. According to RAS, the PN has the intention to convert three more ATR-72s into MPA configuration but it depends upon budget allocations.

The RAS 72 Sea Eagle Multirole MPA with ASW capabilities is equipped with the Leonardo Seaspray 7300E Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Elettronica ESM/ELINT suite, FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE III high definition electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) turret. The platform also features an Acoustic Processing System, Sonobuoy Launching System, Chaff and Flare Dispensing System, Ku-Band satellite communications (SatCom) system, AIS transponder, Direction Finder, IFF, a PN specific indigenous data link system and two weapon hard-points for Italian lightweight ASW torpedoes enabling anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and maritime patrol capabilities. According to RAS officials, thanks to its modular concept the operator consoles onboard the RAS 72 Sea Egle MPA can be pulled out from the cabin within 2 hours. RAS officials also underlined that the platform features a semi glass cockpit and uprated engine (which offers the same performance as the ATR-72/600 version).

The sensors onboard the aircraft are integrated through the Aerodata AG’s AeroMission Mission Management System running on four multifunctional operator consoles. The AeroMission Mission Management System includes a sensor fusion algorithm and can compile feeds from each sensor to build a complete situational awareness picture for the crew. Due to its onboard communications abilities the RAS 72 Sea Eagle is able to transmit all the information captured on-board in real-time to the dedicated command center.