The Air Force on Aug. 25 inducted the first manned aircraft ever to fly using pulsed-detonation propulsion into the National Museum of the United States Air Force on the grounds of Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Along with it, the hearing-protection technology used by the aircraft’s pilot entered the museum. The Air Force Research Lab developed both technologies using commercially available components. The PDE-powered Long EZ aircraft, built by Scaled Composites, flew on Jan. 31 at Mohave, Calif., making history. During the flight, the pilot wore the attenuating custom communications earpiece system that was integrated with his standard military flight helmet. It shielded his hearing from the 130 decibels of noise produced by the PDE—which compares to about 100 decibels that emanate from a typical fighter engine. (Wright-Patterson report by John Schutte)
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.