April 17, 2017

News Briefs – April 17, 2017

Navy: Jets will be modified as it determines oxygen problem

A fleet of U.S. Navy training jets will fly again after oxygen problems grounded the planes for more than a week.
Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker said in a statement April 15 that T-45C aircraft will resume flights as early as Monday.
Instructors and students in the two-seat trainers will wear modified masks. They will also fly below 10,000 feet to avoid use of on-board oxygen generating systems.
The changes allow training to continue while the Navy determines what’s causing a lack of oxygen in some cockpits. Shoemaker said the challenge is complex but remains “our top safety priority.” “
The Navy operates nearly 200 of the training planes at three naval air stations in the Southern U.S. They are NAS Meridian in Mississippi, NAS Kingsville in Texas and NAS Pensacola in Florida. AP

U.S. launches qualification tests for upgraded nuclear bomb

Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories are claiming success with the first in a new series of test flights that are part of an effort to upgrade one of the nuclear weapons that has been in the U.S. arsenal for decades.
An F-16 from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., dropped an inert B61-12 bomb over the Nevada desert last month to test the weapon’s non-nuclear functions as well as the plane’s ability to carry the weapon.
With a puff of dust, the mock bomb landed in a dry lake bed at the Tonopah Test Range.
Scientists are planning to spend months analyzing the data gathered from the test.
Officials say the first production unit of the B61-12, developed under what is called the Life Extension Program, is scheduled to be completed in 2020. AP

Next-generation aircraft carrier: builder’s sea trials done

A shipbuilder says the USS Gerald R. Ford, the first of the Navy’s next generation of aircraft carriers, has completed the builder’s sea trials.
Rolf Bartschi is Newport News Shipbuilding’s vice president for the Ford’s construction. He told The Virginian-Pilot that the carrier spent a week at sea undergoing tests of its systems with Navy representatives aboard. Those trials concluded April 14, he added in a statement.
Construction on the $12.9 billion carrier began in 2009, meeting with cost overruns and delays. The carrier was supposed to have been completed by September 2015 for $10.5 billion. But issues arose with the Ford’s advanced systems and technology, including aircraft landing equipment and power generration.
The shipbuilder says the Ford next must undergo acceptance trials by the Navy prior to delivery. AP

Airplane manufacturer ATR signs 20-aircraft deal with Iran

European airplane manufacturer ATR says it has signed a deal with Iran Air for 20 aircraft with an option for 20 more.
ATR spokesman David Vargas confirmed the deal for the 20 ATR-600s, a twin-propeller aircraft, were signed April 13. He declined to offer a value for the deal.
The deal comes on the back of the nuclear deal Iran struck with world powers, which saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
That deal allowed airplane manufacturers to rush into the Iranian market. Already, Chicago-based Boeing Co. and its European rival Airbus have signed multi-billion-dollar deals with Iran.
U.S. politicians have expressed concern about the airplane sales to Iran and President Donald Trump remains skeptical of the atomic accord overall. AP

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