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9 avril 2014 3 09 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
Better Survival Vests Coming to Navy, Marine Aircrews

The Navy's redesigned aircrew vest, in a new color and with better protection, will be distributed fleetwide by 2016 (Navy)

 

Apr. 8, 2014 - By Meghann Myers – Defense News

 

Aircrews will soon be outfitted with safer aircrew vests.

 

The new vest boasts more coverage of vital organs, a snugger fit and a better color, Dan Ratcliff, the aircrew systems program manager for Naval Air Systems Command, explained in a presentation Tuesday at the Sea-Air-Space expo outside Washington, D.C.

 

“When we started the operations in the desert, we were all wearing sage green,” Ratcliff said, referring to the forest green color of the legacy aircrew vests. “Sage green works great in the jungle, but if you put it in the desert, it’s not so good.”

 

With the purchase of tan flight suits came tan flight gear, which didn’t always work, he said, and couldn’t adapt to wooded or jungle environments.

 

So NAVAIR came up with “coyote brown,” a hue that camouflages in forests and deserts.

 

The fielding has started with Marine fliers at Medium Tiltrotor Squadrons 261, 264, 266 and 635, as well as Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269. The new vests are on track to go fleet-wide by 2016.

 

The vest worn over the flight suit is designed to fit a multitude of body shapes, Ratcliff said, while reducing the fatigue that comes from moving around in a roomy vest. For added comfort, the armored back plate can be removed while seated.

 

The hard armor in the vest is the same Small Arts Protective Insert ceramic plates used by the Army and Marine Corps, and the soft armor is custom-made, he added.

 

The vest comes in seated and mobile aircrew models. For mobile aircrew, an 80-foot tether allows crew members to move around in flight, but comes with a quick-disconnection release for emergencies.

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9 avril 2014 3 09 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
Boeing to target current P-3 operators for MSA sales

 

 

Apr.8, 2014 by Jon Hemmerdinger - FG

 

Washington DC - Boeing’s maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA), which is based on a Bombardier Challenger 605 platform, will be an ideal aircraft for countries that already operate Lockheed P-3 Orions, the company says.

 

Speaking at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition near Washington DC, company officials add that potential customers will also be countries in the Asia-Pacific and Persian Gulf.

 

“Likely customers are going to be [countries] with a challenging maritime environment,” says Jeff Brown, Boeing’s director of business development for electronic and information solutions. He adds that the MSA will be an ideal platform for performing surveillance of economic maritime zones within roughly 170nm (320km) of coasts.

 

“A plane like the Challenger can get to station quickly and spend a longer amount of time there” than turboprop-driven alternatives like the P-3, says Brown.

 

He declines to name potential customers, but Flightglobal’s MiliCAS database shows that Persian Gulf and Asia-Pacific operators of the P-3 include Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. P-3 operators in other regions include Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal and Spain.

 

A prototype MSA achieved first flight on 28 February, following modifications to a Challenger 604 test asset performed by Toronto-based Field Aviation. The test aircraft was subsequently flown to a Boeing facility in Yuma, Arizona, where flight testing will continue, Field says.

 

Flight testing is scheduled to conclude by the end of 2014, with production to start in 2015, Field says.

 

Boeing says it has targeted 20 to 30 potential customers, and estimates the market value to be $10 billion over 10 years. The aircraft will be marketed to coast guards, militaries and other government operators, according to Field.

 

The base version of the MSA will be manned by two pilots and three system operators. It will be offered with a Selex ES Seaspray 7300 maritime surveillance radar and a FLIR Systems Star Safire 380 electro-optical/infrared sensor. Options will include two additional crew stations and equipment such as satellite communications and a side-looking airborne radar, says Field. Future aircraft could also be outfitted with weapons mounted on wing hardpoints, it adds.

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9 avril 2014 3 09 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
Raytheon Moving Out On Air Missile Defense Radar

Raytheon's air missile defense radar is meant to increase detection range, according to the company. (Raytheon illustration)

 

Apr. 8, 2014 - By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS – Defense News

 

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. — With a temporary work stoppage lifted, Raytheon is working to develop its air missile defense radar (AMDR) for the US Navy’s future Aegis destroyers.

 

“We’re two months into the contract, but we’re more than two years into technical development,” Tad Dickinson, Raytheon’s AMDR program manager, said at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition outside Washington.

 

The company already has built a test array structure, a roughly 14-by-14-foot array to check fittings of the components of the electrically scanned radar, which will replace SPY-1 radars used on today’s Aegis ships.

 

The S-band AMDR will have more than 30 times the sensitivity of the SPY-1, and is designed to dramatically increase the fidelity of the system to track ballistic missile targets.

 

Raytheon beat proposals from Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to win the AMDR contract. Work was temporarily halted when Lockheed filed a protest, but the work stoppage ended in January when the protest was dropped. Raytheon and Lockheed will both work on AMDR, which will be integrated into the Lockheed Aegis system.

 

Raytheon is working toward the program’s first critical design review, scheduled for November. The system is intended to be installed in the yet-to-be-named DDG 124, a destroyer to be funded in 2016. Delivery of the first set of AMDR radars is scheduled for 2019, Dickinson said.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 19:20
DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

 

08 avril 2014 Romandie.com (AFP)

 

PEKIN - Le secrétaire américain à la Défense Chuck Hagel et de hauts responsables militaires chinois se sont accusés mutuellement d'être responsables de la tension dans la région lors de réunions mardi à Pékin.

 

Les deux grandes puissances militaires se sont montrées en désaccord sur de nombreuses questions - disputes territoriales entre la Chine et ses voisins, Corée du Nord et cyber-espionnage - mais ont aussi proclamé leur volonté de dialogue.

 

M. Hagel a dû faire face à un auditoire hostile d'officiers de l'Armée populaire de libération (APL). L'un d'eux a affirmé que les Etats-Unis craignaient la montée en puissance de la Chine et qu'ils semaient le trouble dans la région afin de gêner Pékin parce qu'un jour la Chine sera devenu un défi trop important à gérer pour les Etats-Unis.

 

Plus tôt, il avait essuyé les vives critiques du vice-président de la Commission centrale militaire, le général Fan Changlong, lors d'un entretien avec ce dernier, selon l'agence de presse officielle Chine Nouvelle.

 

Faisant référence à des propos tenus par le chef du Pentagone lors de sa tournée asiatique, le haut responsable militaire chinois a déclaré: Le peuple chinois, y compris moi-même, est mécontent de tels commentaires.

 

Le porte-parole de M. Hagel a convenu que les deux avaient eu un échange de vues très franc.

 

Dimanche à Tokyo, M. Hagel avait mis en garde Pékin contre toute action unilatérale pour résoudre ses contentieux territoriaux, en invoquant le précédent ukrainien.

 

Tous les pays ont droit au respect, qu'ils soient grands ou petits, avait-il déclaré après une rencontre avec son homologue japonais, Itsunori Onodera, ajoutant: Je veux en parler avec nos amis chinois.

 

Dans son discours à l'université de défense nationale de l'APL, M. Hagel a évoqué sans détours les points de discorde avec Pékin, reprochant à la Chine son soutien sans faille à la Corée du Nord et mettant en garde Pékin contre toute action de coercition vis-à-vis de ses plus petits voisins en mer de Chine méridionale et orientale.

 

Alors que les tensions sont vives entre la Chine et le Japon et les Philippines, M. Hagel a réitéré le soutien de Washington à ces pays, disant: Notre engagement aux côtés de nos alliés dans la région est indéfectible.

 

Une vive rivalité oppose Pékin et Tokyo à propos d'îles en mer de Chine orientale, qui fait craindre une confrontation armée entre les deux puissances asiatiques. La Chine est également engagée dans une bataille de souveraineté sur d'autres îles en mer de Chine du sud, notamment avec les Philippines et le Vietnam.

 

Le ministre chinois de la Défense, le général Chang Wanquan, a accusé le Japon et les Philippines d'être à l'origine des tensions, invitant Washington à modérer ses alliés.

 

Il a réitéré, lors d'une conférence de presse conjointe, que la souveraineté de la Chine est indiscutable sur les îles que Pékin et Tokyo se disputent et a assuré que la Chine ne fera jamais de compromis sur cette question centrale.

 

Il a toutefois affirmé que la Chine ne serait pas la première à provoquer des incidents.

 

En novembre dernier, Pékin avait déclenché un tollé régional en proclamant unilatéralement une Zone aérienne d'identification (ZAI) en mer de Chine orientale, dont le tracé incluait des îles Senkaku, administrées par le Japon, mais revendiquées par la Chine sous le nom de Diaoyu.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 19:20
Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base,

Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base,

 

Apr. 8, 2014 - By JENN ROWELL, (GREAT FALLS, MONT.) TRIBUNE – Defense News

 

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it will remove 50 Minuteman III missiles from its silos to meet nuclear reductions called for under an arms-reduction treaty with Russia.

 

The empty silos will remain in warm status, meaning they will remain fully operational and can be armed with missiles at any time.

 

The Air Force and U.S. Strategic command will determine which 50 missiles will be pulled from the 450 silos currently deployed across the three missile fields operated by Malmstrom, F.E. Warren and Minot Air Force bases.

 

The empty silos count toward the non-deployed launcher limit of 800 under the New START treaty, which was ratified by the Senate and entered force in 2011.

 

The determination of which missiles will be removed hasn’t been made yet and there’s currently no timeline for that decision other than the New START deadline of February 2018.

 

To keep all 450 silos, the military has to make other cuts to the nuclear force to meet the limits of 800 non-deployed and 700 deployed launchers.

 

The Navy will convert 56 launch tubes, or four on each of its 14 nuclear submarines, so they can’t be used to carry nuclear weapons. They will also remove weapons from 40 launch tubes and keep 240 armed, for a total of 280 counted toward the New START limit of 800.

 

The Air Force will also convert 30 B-52H bombers to conventional aircraft so that they cannot carry nuclear weapons.

 

The Air Force will maintain 66 nuclear-capable bomber aircraft.

 

Because the silos will remain fully operational, no ICBM squadrons will be cut, according to defense officials. An environmental assessment also is no longer needed.

 

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Monday night that the plan is good for Montana and good for national defense strategy. He also said ICBMs continue to be the most cost-effective leg of the nuclear triad.

 

“Right now, for the dollars spent, the ICBMs are the most effective component,” he said. “No ifs, ands or buts about that.”

 

Keeping 50 silos empty at all times allows the Air Force to conduct more thorough maintenance without disrupting normal operations, Tester said. The empty sites will also continue to be secured by Air Force security units.

 

“[ICBMs] are still our ace in the hole, and we need to make sure that’s there so that our country has a strong defense,” Tester said. “We have got these assets, we don’t ever want to have to use them, but if we need to use them, they’re there.”

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 18:20
Fourth AEHF Protected Communications Satellite Begins Integration Months Ahead of Schedule


SUNNYVALE, Calif., April 8, 2014 – Lockheed Martin

 

The fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite produced by Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] is taking shape after early deliveries of its payload and propulsion core. AEHF-4, expected to launch in 2017, will enable the constellation to reach full operational capability.

The propulsion core manufactured by Lockheed Martin and payload produced by Northrop Grumman arrived at the AEHF integration facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., earlier in the year. Both were delivered significantly ahead of baseline schedule. The propulsion core arrived eight months early, and the payload arrived two months early.

“We’re driving a shorter timeline for bigger cost savings. In fact, we are putting plans in place to finish six months ahead of our baseline schedule,” said Mark Calassa, vice president of Protected Communication Systems at Lockheed Martin. “AEHF’s propulsion system reflects Lockheed Martin’s investment in more efficient spacecraft. To complement its traditional chemical propulsion, AEHF uses the highest power electric propulsion system ever flown for orbit raising and station keeping.”

Lockheed Martin is under contract to deliver six AEHF satellites and the mission control segment. Users are testing AEHF-1, AEHF-2 and AEHF-3 on orbit, and the fourth satellite will enable the system to reach full operational capability. The fifth and sixth satellites will add to the capacity of the operational system and are being assembled at Lockheed Martin.

AEHF is the most secure communications satellite system used by the U.S. government. Its jam-resistant communications are resilient against enemy forces, including nuclear attack, and a single AEHF satellite provides greater capacity than its compatible legacy five-satellite Milstar system. AEHF’s five-fold increase in data rates speed up protected communications, such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data. The constellation serves troops and national leaders, including the president and Pentagon officials.

 

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 115,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 16:20
US Army leads development of improved coating for howitzer breech spindles

An M776 howitzer's corroded chrome-plated standard obturator spindle sits next to a newly plated production at the US Army Aberdeen test center in Maryland, US. Photo Conrad Johnson, RDECOM.

 

8 April 2014 army-technology.com

 

The US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's (RDECOM) Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) is working on a project to identify, evaluate and implement an improved coating process for howitzer breech spindles.

 

Working in collaboration with the Product Manager Towed Artillery Systems (PM TAS), the ARDEC has shortlisted three new coating and application processes for further testing based on performance and cost. It had been evaluating 12 material formulations in small samples.

 

The selected processes include high power impulse magnetron sputtering from Sheffield Hallam University, accelerated plasma arc from Phygen Coatings, and electroless nickel plating.

 

The team had developed a list of ten primary metrics necessary for a new coating and application process, which included resistance to corrosion, mechanical wear and high temperatures.

 

In an effort to ensure that the coatings withstand the rigours of soldier use, the team has joined forces with the Aberdeen test center for live-fire testing on a howitzer range.

 

After the first round of firing, the spindle undergoes 30 days of weathering in a caustic and acidic propellant byproduct, called a swab water. This is to replicate potential combat conditions, and is followed by another round of firing and then a final weathering cycle.

 

ARDEC project technical lead and materials engineer Dr Christopher Mulligan said the new processes are vastly outperforming the legacy chrome electroplating in terms of corrosion and wear.

"The new technique will boost the howitzer performance, reduce the logistical burden on the soldier, and reduce environmental hazards."

 

The team has also identified and funded a newly developed chemical vapour deposition type coating known as Carbonyl from Canada, and is planning to start testing over the next few months.

 

A final decision is expected to be made within 90 days of the completion of testing of all processes, with an aim for a production-ready coating within six months to a year.

 

The new technique will boost the howitzer performance, reduce the logistical burden on the soldier, and reduce environmental hazards. According to Mulligan, it will save the government more than $2m each year.

 

The evaluation of foreign processes and materials is being funded through the foreign comparative testing (FCT) programme.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 16:20
Les trois versions différentes du F-35 - photo  Lockheed Martin

Les trois versions différentes du F-35 - photo Lockheed Martin

 

07/04/2014 par François Julian – Air & Cosmos

 

C'est inédit dans l'histoire du F-35 de Lockheed Martin : le coût total du programme Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aurait baissé l'an dernier, si l'on en croit les estimations du GAO, la cour des comptes américaine. Selon un rapport publié récemment, le coût de revient du F-35, pour le contribuable américain, serait passé de 343,8 Md$ pour l'année fiscale 2013, à 332,3 Md$ pour l'année fiscale en cours. Ces montants incluent la mise au point des trois versions du F-35 et l'acquisition de 2443 machines de série, pour les besoins de l'US Air Force, l'US Navy et les Marines.

 

Le GAO ne détaille pas avec précision ce calcul, ni la raison de cette baisse de coût. Pour autant, il semble que cela soit le résultat de la restructuration du programme entamée en 2012, visant à rationaliser l'ensemble des coûts, à la fois de développement et de production.

 

Dans rapport séparé, le GAO donne également une estimation du cout unitaire de chacune des versions de l'avion. Le prix du F-35A (version conventionnelle) est évalué à 124,8 M€, celui du F-35B (version à décollage court et atterrissage vertical) est de 156,8 M$, et celui du F-35C (version embarquée) est de 142,6 M$. A l'horizon 2019, il est prévu de faire baisser le prix du F-35A aux alentours de 80 M$, celui du F-35B à un peu moins de 110 M$ et celui du F-35C à environ 90 M$.

 

Le GAO maintient tout de même l'alerte sur le programme F-35  : si ce dernier ne connait plus de dérapage budgétaire et calendaire, l'inquiétude demeure sur l'avancement de la mise au point du logiciel faisant fonctionner l’avionique de bord. De même, il n'est pas impossible que le programme JSF ait à subir des coupes budgétaires, le Pentagone ayant sur le bras d'autres programmes d'aéronefs très couteux, comme par exemple le ravitailleurs KC-46A ou bien encore le très mystérieux nouveau bombardier LRS-B.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 16:20
US Global Strike Command Issues Master Plan

 

April 7, 2014 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: US Air Force Global Strike Command; issued April 7, 2014)

 

AFGSC Releases 2014 Strategic Master Plan



BARKSDALE AFB, La. --- Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, recently approved the Air Force Global Strike Command Strategic Master Plan for 2014.

The objective of the plan is to provide AFGSC Airmen with a roadmap to capture the command's priorities, Wilson said.

The plan is designed to "capture my priorities and guidance for the command," he added, and provides a framework for progression with the presentation, employment, sustainment and modernization of global strike capabilities.

Additionally, the SMP is the primary means by which the AFGSC commander communicates his strategic vision and priorities to the command to support the President and the combatant commanders.

"The SMP reminds us of our enduring mission, vision and command values," Wilson said. "It also reviews the current context of that mission - our strategic environment, to include threats and challenges. Finally, it captures my priorities for the command as we move forward."

Those priorities include:
-- Deter and assure with a safe, secure, and effective nuclear force
-- Win the current fight around the globe
-- Continue to strengthen and empower the team
-- Shape the future

Wilson told Airmen that the SMP was designed to provide general strategic direction for the command, and is designed for every Airman in AFGSC.

"It is only a framework - your energetic and disciplined effort will provide the specifics to realize the command priorities, and to accomplish our mission to provide safe, secure, and effective forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations in support of the President and our combatant commanders," Wilson said. "As a team, I am confident that we will meet that challenge."

Airmen who would like to read the Strategic Master Plan can read it here.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 16:20
Canadian satellites "on target" to revolutionise maritime domain awareness

 

04/02/2014 Richard de Silva – Defence IQ

 

The Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper is prioritising sovereignty as the top focus for its Arctic strategy, according to a public statement made this year at the World Economic Forum. It is also looking to strengthen regulations of the oil-and-gas and mining sectors and ocean shippers in the region.

 

To achieve this, a robust surveillance and communications network is a must but, with budgets as tight as they are, there remains anxiety over the ability to meet full expectations. In efforts to lower long-term costs and provide the widest coverage available, Canadians are looking to the stars. The RADARSAT Constellation Mission, an initiative to cover surveillance requirements from national defence through to environmental protection, continues to receive strong backing ahead of its completion deadline of 2018.

 

RADARSAT-2

As one of Canada’s most sophisticated satellites, RADARSAT-2 offers a next-generation synthetic aperture radar (SAR) earth observation satellite. Launched in December 2007, it provides all-weather, day-and-night coverage of the entire globe to support fishing, shipping, oil and gas exploration, offshore drilling, mapping and ocean research. To date, it has become an essential resource for protecting Canada’s territories, including its interests in the Arctic, a region that has a notorious lack of surveillance infrastructure compared to much of the other corners of the world.

There are some recent concerns that the success of RADARSAT-2 is proving to be a headache for the Canadian government. According to a November 2012 admission by the Department of National Defence (DND), estimates by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) have indicated that the government’s “data allocation will expire by August 2017” due to the exponential growth of the demand for information in maritime domain awareness, a statement that has since been contradicted by sources at the CSA.

Federal departments had initially agreed to an allotment of $445 million worth of data in exchange for financial contribution to building the satellite, which is owned and operated by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. of British Columbia. The company is open to selling more credits but budget approval is always an uphill struggle and other international organisations are also demanding a share.

 

Canada’s case for space

Canadian space assets are already used extensively in support of both domestic and expeditionary maritime domain awareness operations. Space-derived data, especially RADARSAT-2 and space-based collection from the automatic identification system (AIS) – including its integration into the terrestrial AIS and the occasional use of commercial electro-optical imagery – are all key components of Canada’s maritime domain awareness programme. It is therefore an undeniably integrated approach.

In essence, radars detect the majority of the targets within the country’s area of interest and the AIS is a key to identifying the targets detected. As an example, there are approximately 7,000 ships criss-crossing between Gibraltar and Halifax. If those trying to view the big picture were to use radar exclusively, they would not be able to discern which of those 7,000 targets are actually of a security concern. By overlaying the AIS on top of that, analysts are able to identify vessels. The problematic targets then can be the subject of additional scrutiny through the input of intelligence sources or civil agencies.

Of course, a ship may have a technical issue with its AIS which would prevent identification, so near real-time vessel detection is achieved through strategically placed satellite ground infrastructure and special radar processors that allow for the very rapid generation of ship detection reports.

While the Armed Forces are naturally concerned most with sovereignty issues, the same capabilities can be used to support whole of government missions, including safety and navigation resource monitoring, pollution control and so on. In particular, ice monitoring is a critical necessity for the safety of navigation.

 

Enhancing satellite value

Next to demand, the amount of SAR data that RADARSAT-2 collects per orbit has increased in recent years. Since the surveillance satellite programme first began, programme managers have anticipated this trend and have focussed efforts on automation. Analysts working in the maritime domain awareness area can collect and download within the Canadian AOR in an almost real-time fashion. The SAR processor and the software that it runs through to automatically detect ships first determines the characteristics of that ship and then converts it into an OTH-Gold track message that can be sent on to a recognised maritime picture command and control system. From the beginning of that process to the end, the system can guarantee to its end users, the Canadian Navy, that they will receive data within 30 minutes. On the vast majority of occasions, the time is less than 15 minutes and even running as little as 8 minutes.

The process is as efficient and as quick as one can get to using a common radar to see a ship in the ocean and then populating it on a radar plot. The upside of the OTH-Gold messages is that with each track, instead of being a 150 megabit image, offers a 30 kilobit OTH-Gold track, which includes an image chip so the Navy has some idea of what the ship looks like. This track can be easily moved through normal communications or even emailed to ships not connected to the command and control system, as demonstrated during a recent RIMPAC exercise. The dissemination of data can therefore be done in a flexible way, but the key remains in an automation process that boasts a very low error rate. Currently, the Canadian system has an error rate far less than 10 per cent.

 

Meeting the launch date

According to the CSA and DND, the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) “remains on target for a 2018 launch”. The paradigm shift compared to earlier methods lies in the deployment of three satellites, but with a constellation designed to be scalable up to six, should future requirements demand. In this way, the capabilities of the system are distributed across several satellites, increasing revisit, and introducing a more robust, flexible system that can be maintained at lower cost and launched into orbit using smaller, less expensive launch vehicles. RCM will provide complete coverage of Canada's land and oceans at least once a day, as well as daily access to 95 per cent of the world to Canadian and International users.

“In the majority of our area of interest, we will get ship reports at least every 12 hours and, in the strategically important Arctic, we will get the ship reports every eight hours,” says Colonel Andre Dupuis, Director of Space Requirements at the DND.

“That's all the way out to 2,000 nautical miles and that is, frankly, unheard of in the maritime domain awareness world, where your entire AOR can get a refresh to provide commanders and decision-makers with a real understanding of what the maritime environment looks like from a security and defence perspective.

“It will completely revolutionise how allied navies look at monitoring the open ocean.”

RCM developments will mean that 50 per cent of radar coverage is available to support expeditionary operations, be they in the Arctic or in the South China Sea, which will monitor ship traffic for both cooperative vessels using AIS or uncooperative targets. Everything that Canada is undertaking in the field of maritime domain awareness, particularly in its use of space assets, can be enacted at the unclassified side. Thus, a huge capability will emerge to allow for easily consumable information sharing between partners, allies, governments and private organisations.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Boeing Updates Timing of C-17 Production Line Closure

 

 

Apr 7, 2014 ASDNews Source : The Boeing Company

 

Boeing [NYSE: BA] today adjusted slightly the timing for ending C-17 Globemaster III production and closing its Long Beach, Calif., C-17 final assembly facility after a successful two-decade production run of the world’s premier airlifter.

 

Based on current market trends and the timing of expected orders, Boeing anticipates completing C-17 production in mid-2015, an adjustment of approximately three months from an initial estimate of late 2015. The company announced plans to end C-17 production in September 2013.

 

Boeing expects inventory–related charges of approximately $50 million, which will be recorded in the first quarter, as a result of this announcement.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Airbus Defense and Space Delivers 17th HC-144A Aircraft to USCG

 

 

Apr 7, 2014 ASDNews Source : Airbus Defense and Space

 

    HC-144A Ocean Sentry Continues as the Coast Guard's Primary Maritime Patrol Aircraft

 

Airbus Defense and Space, Inc. has delivered the 17th HC-144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft to the U.S. Coast Guard. The Ocean Sentry is based on the Airbus CN235 tactical airlifter with more than 235 currently in operation by 29 countries. This is the second of three HC-144A's planned for delivery this year.

 

The latest aircraft will join a fleet of 16 Ocean Sentries operating from Coast Guard Air Stations in Cape Cod, Mass.; Mobile, Ala.; and Miami. The Coast Guard is planning to stand up the fourth HC-144A air station in Corpus Christi, Texas, later this year.

 

Read full article

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Navy to Deploy Electromagnetic Railgun Aboard JHSV

 

 

Apr 7, 2014 ASDNews Source : US Navy

 

The U.S. Navy plans to install and test a prototype electromagnetic railgun aboard a joint high speed vessel in fiscal year 2016, the service announced today.

 

This test will mark the first time an electromagnetic railgun (EM railgun) has been demonstrated at sea, symbolizing a significant advance in naval combat.

 

EM railgun technology uses an electromagnetic force - known as the Lorenz Force - to rapidly accelerate and launch a projectile between two conductive rails. This guided projectile is launched at such high velocities that it can achieve greater ranges than conventional guns. It maintains enough kinetic energy that it doesn't require any kind of high explosive payload when it reaches its target.

 

Read full article

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Nucléaire: Washington suspend la coopération avec Moscou

 

MOSCOU, 8 avril - RIA Novosti

 

Washington compte suspendre sa coopération avec Moscou dans le cadre du programme de sécurité nucléaire Nunn-Lugar en raison de la crise ukrainienne, rapporte mardi le journal russe Kommersant citant Anne Harrington, responsable de la National Nuclear Security Administration.

"Nous avons suspendu tous les travaux concernant la protection physique des entreprises nucléaires en Russie. Pour le moment, entre 40 et 70% des équipements nécessaires y sont installées, mais nous sommes obligés de reporter la fin des travaux", a fait savoir Mme Harrington.

Lancé en 1991, le programme Nunn-Lugar prévoit l'octroi d'une assistance américaine aux ex-républiques soviétiques dans le domaine du démantèlement des armes nucléaires et chimiques. Le budget total du programme s'est élevé à 8,79 milliards de dollars, indique Kommersant.

En 2012, le ministère russe des Affaires étrangères a déclaré que les propositions de Washington concernant la prorogation du programme ne correspondaient pas aux intentions de Moscou. Les Etats-Unis se sont alors déclarés prêts à négocier sur ce sujet.

Les deux parties ont par la suite convenu de réformer le programme avant de conclure en juin 2013 un accord provisoire qui réduisait le nombre de projets communs russo-américains et limitait l'accès des inspecteurs US aux sites nucléaires.

Les pays ont néanmoins accepté de poursuivre leur coopération dans la sécurité des matières radioactives, la gestion de l'uranium enrichi et le stationnement des sous-marins nucléaires. Tous ces projets seront désormais suspendus.

Washington renonce notamment aux projets prévoyant le transfert du plutonium et de l'uranium hautement enrichi dans un dépôt unique ainsi que le déploiement de systèmes de protection dans les sites d'Oziorsk (Oural) et d'Arzamas-16 (Russie centrale).

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Boeing to Provide Maintenance Training Devices for US Navy P-8A Poseidon

 

 

Apr 7, 2014 ASDNews Source : The Boeing Company

 

    Contract includes replica components and high-fidelity simulators

 

Boeing [NYSE: BA] will broaden its support for the U.S. Navy's fleet of Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft through a recent order for maintenance simulators.

 

The Navy plans to begin using six virtual trainers, one ordnance load trainer and 14 hardware-based devices to train P-8A maintenance personnel at Naval Air Station Jacksonville starting in 2016.

 

Read more

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Remote Troops Closer to Having High-Speed Wireless Networks Mounted on UAVs


Apr 08, 2014  (SPX)

 

Washington DC - Missions in remote, forward operating locations often suffer from a lack of connectivity to tactical operation centers and access to valuable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data. The assets needed for long-range, high-bandwidth communications capabilities are often unavailable to lower echelons due to theater-wide mission priorities.

DARPA's Mobile Hotspots program aims to help overcome this challenge by developing a reliable, on-demand capability for establishing long-range, high-capacity reachback that is organic to tactical units.

The program is building and demonstrating a scalable, mobile millimeter-wave communications backhaul network mounted on small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and providing a 1 Gb/s capacity. DARPA performers recently completed the first of three phases in which they developed and tested key technologies to be integrated into a complete system and flight tested in subsequent phases.

"We're pleased with the technical achievements we've seen so far in steerable millimeter-wave antennas and millimeter-wave amplifier technology," said Dick Ridgway, DARPA program manager. "These successes-and the novel networking approaches needed to maintain these high-capacity links-are key to providing forward deployed units with the same high-capacity connectivity we all enjoy over our 4G cell-phone networks."

 

Phase 1 accomplishments include:

+ Smaller, steerable millimeter-wave antennas: During field testing, the program successfully demonstrated steerable, compact millimeter-wave antennas that rapidly acquire, track, and establish a communications link between moving platforms. Steerable millimeter-wave antennas will enable the formation of a high-capacity backhaul network between aerial and ground platforms.

+ Low-noise amplifiers: Performers also demonstrated an advanced low-noise amplifier (LNA), which boosts the desired communications signal while minimizing unwanted noise. The prototype achieved the record for the world's lowest noise millimeter-wave LNA at about half the noise figure of a typical LNA.

+ More efficient and capable power amplifiers: Efficient millimeter-wave amplification is required to achieve the long ranges (> 50 km) desired in the Mobile Hotspots program. During Phase 1, performers demonstrated output power exceeding 1 watt and 20% power added efficiency (PAE) from a single gallium nitride (GaN) chip operating at E-Band frequencies (71 GHz to 86 GHz). Output powers exceeding 20 watts and approaching 20% PAE were also achieved using power-combining techniques.

+ New approaches for robust airborne networking: Mobile ad-hoc networking approaches were developed to maintain the high-capacity backhaul network among mobile air and ground platforms. Phase 1 performers developed unique solutions to overcome connectivity and network topology challenges associated with mobility and signal blockages due to terrain and platform shadowing.

+ Low-Size, Weight, and Power (SWAP) pod design to carry it all: Performers created engineering designs for small, lightweight pods to be mounted on an RQ-7 Shadow UAV. The pods, with all of the Mobile Hotspots components inside, are designed to meet the challenging program goals of widths no more than 8 inches, weight less than 20 pounds, and power consumption less than 150 watts.

 

Phase 2 of the program began March 2014. Two performers, L-3 Communications and

FIRST RF, were chosen to lead teams comprising several Phase 1 performers. Phase 2 goals include the integration of the selected Phase 1 technologies into Shadow-compatible aerial pods and ground vehicles.

Phase 2 will conclude with a ground demonstration of at least four Shadow-compatible pods, two ground vehicles and a fixed ground node. A planned third phase will encompass field testing of the Mobile Hotspot systems on networks of multiple SRQ-7 Shadow UAVs and mobile ground vehicles.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Blackhawks of 4th Sqdn, 6th Air Cav Regt

Blackhawks of 4th Sqdn, 6th Air Cav Regt

 

April 8, 2014: Strategy Page

 

Not surprisingly, for the country that pioneered the development and production of helicopters, American models comprise 48 percent of the military helicopters now in service. The most common, with 18 percent of the military market, is the S-70 (also known as the UH/SH/MH-60 Black Hawk) a ten ton transport that replaced the UH-1 (a 4.6 ton helicopter developed in the 1950s and was known as the “Huey” during the Vietnam War) in the 1980s. However the UH-1 still has 8 percent of the market and has been much upgraded and is no longer manufactured. But many firms specialize in refurbishing UH-1s and Huey will be around for a few decades more. The civilian version of the UH-1, the 5.3 ton Bell 212/412 has four percent of the military market and is still in production. The 22 ton CH-47 is a heavy transports (carrying up to ten tons) and has five percent of the market and the smaller (1.3 ton) OH-58 and MD500 are scout helicopters and each has four percent of the market. The 11 ton AH-64 has five percent of the market.

 

Mi-24 RAE 2013

Mi-24 RAE 2013

Russian Cold War era helicopters have 16 percent of the market. These include the 11 ton Mi-8/17 transport with 11 percent and the 12 ton Mi-24 gunship with five percent. The rest of the military helicopters are mainly European models although China and India are beginning to introduce their own designs.

 

The United States has the largest military helicopter fleet, with 30 percent of the world total. Russia is second with 5 percent followed by South Korea and China (4 percent each), Japan, India and France (3 percent each) and then Turkey, Germany and Italy with 2 percent each. By tonnage lift the U.S. has about half the world total because of its large number of heavier transports.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:30
photo USMC

photo USMC

 

7 April 2014 by Jon Hemmerdinger – FG

 

Washington DC - The US military continues talks with potential foreign buyers of Bell Boeing's V-22 Osprey as the service works to decrease the tiltrotor's costs.

 

US Marine Corps Col Daniel Robinson, manager of the V-22 joint programme office, tells reporters that the service is getting closer to securing a contract to sell V-22s to Israel, and says the military has a team of negotiators in that country working on a deal.

 

He adds that up to one dozen other countries have shown significant interest in the aircraft, but declines to specify those nations or say how close the military and Bell Boeing are to securing an order.

 

"Its definitely growing in demand," he says.

 

Robinson's comments, made during a press briefing at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Exposition near Washington, DC, on 7 April, follow an announcement in January that Israel requested permission from the US Defense Department to buy six V-22s.

 

Then, in February, at the Heli-Expo, Bell Helicopter chief executive John Garrison said Israel is now interested in acquiring a total of 12 aircraft, six of which would come from existing orders that are assigned to the Marine Corps.

 

Any order from Israel or another country would help Bell Boeing preserve V-22 sales beyond 2015 and could help keep production alive past 2019.

 

Robinson notes, however, that the production line has enough capacity in the next few years to handle some new aircraft orders.

 

Meanwhile, Robinson says the US military continues a rigorous effort to bring down the expense of V-22s, which currently have a flyaway cost of about $72.1 million, according the US Navy's recently-released fiscal year 2015 budget proposal.

 

Robinson notes that the V-22's cost per flight hour has dropped 25% since 2009 while its readiness has increased 20%.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
USNS Mispillion (T-AO-105) conducting an underway replenishment.

USNS Mispillion (T-AO-105) conducting an underway replenishment.

 

 

07 avril 2014 Romandie.com (AFP)

 

WASHINGTON - Après la voile et la vapeur, la Marine américaine pense avoir la pierre philosophale pour propulser ses navires: ses chercheurs ont réussi à transformer de l'eau de mer en carburant, espérant à terme s'affranchir de la dépendance au pétrole.

 

L'idée de départ est simple: les hydrocarbures sont composés de carbone et d'hydrogène, présents en grande quantité dans l'eau de mer. En capturant le dioxyde de carbone (CO2) et l'hydrogène contenus dans l'océan, il est possible de produire un kérosène de synthèse utilisable dans les moteurs de navires ou d'avions.

 

Les chercheurs du Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) ont démontré la viabilité du concept en parvenant à faire voler un modèle réduit d'avion avec du carburant produit à partir d'eau de mer.

 

C'est une étape énorme, se félicite le vice-amiral Philip Cullom, chef d'état-major adjoint de l'US Navy, qui cherche à se désengager de sa dépendance au pétrole et des variations de son prix.

 

Et la Marine est gourmande: en 2011, la Navy a consommé près de deux millions de tonnes de carburant. La transformation d'eau de mer en kérosène pourrait coûter à terme entre 3 et 6 dollars par gallon (3,8 litres), espère le NRL.

 

Après neuf ans de travail sur le sujet, Heather Willauer, une chimiste du NRL ne cache pas sa joie: pour la première fois, nous avons été capables de mettre au point une technologie pour capturer de façon simultanée le CO2 et l'hydrogène contenue dans l'eau de mer et d'en faire un carburant liquide, c'est une percée importante.

 

- Directement utilisable -

 

Le CO2 -dont la concentration est 140 fois plus importante dans l'océan que dans l'air- et l'hydrogène sont capturés par un processus d'électrolyse et ensuite liquéfiés et transformés en hydrocarbures.

 

Ce carburant a sensiblement la même apparence et la même odeur qu'un kérosène conventionnel, assure Heather Willauer. Surtout, le grand avantage, selon le vice-amiral Cullom, est qu'il est directement utilisable dans les moteurs de navires et d'avions actuels. Pas besoin donc de mettre au point de nouveaux moteurs.

 

La production de ce carburant ne s'effectue pour l'instant qu'en petites quantités en laboratoire. L'unité de production, dont les divers éléments sont disponibles dans le commerce, est installée sur une palette d'environ 1,5 mètre de côté. Pour passer à une quantité industrielle, il suffira de multiplier les unités de production.

 

Mais avant cela, en partenariat avec plusieurs universités, le laboratoire veut améliorer encore la quantité de CO2 et d'hydrogène capturés. Nous avons démontré la faisabilité, nous voulons améliorer l'efficacité, explique Mme Willauer.

 

Les implications de cette innovation sont prometteuses sur le plan stratégique car elles devraient permettre de raccourcir la chaîne logistique, un maillon faible dans chaque armée car plus facile à attaquer.

 

Dans la Marine, on ne va pas nécessairement à la station-service pour se ravitailler, c'est la station-service qui vient à nous par le biais d'un pétrolier ou d'un navire de ravitaillement, explique le vice-amiral Cullom. Les Etats-Unis disposent d'une flotte de 15 pétroliers-ravitailleurs militaires.

 

Seuls les porte-avions sont dotés d'une propulsion nucléaire. Tous les autres navires doivent fréquemment abandonner leur mission pendant quelques heures pour naviguer en parallèle avec le pétrolier le temps de faire le plein, une opération délicate, surtout par gros temps.

 

Mais les chercheurs préviennent: il faut encore compter dix ans au moins avant que les navires américains soient en mesure de produire à bord leur propre carburant.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
Boeing F/A-18E/F Advanced Super Hornet with upper conformal fuel tank.

Boeing F/A-18E/F Advanced Super Hornet with upper conformal fuel tank.

 

Apr.7, 2014– FG

 

The US Navy says it is pleased with results of recent flight tests of a Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet that had been upgraded with conformal fuel tanks and an external weapons pod -- a configuration Boeing calls the "Advanced Super Hornet."

 

Captain Frank Morley, F/A-18 programme manager for the USN, says on 7 April that the tests give lawmakers additional options as they consider whether to add orders for Super Hornets or A/E-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft to the US military's fiscal year 2015 budget.

 

"The measures we were able to get on signature reduction and flying quality were spot on predications," Morley tells reporters during a press briefing at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Exposition near Washington, DC. "It helps better inform decisions made through the budget bills and provides options as needed."

 

Conformal fuel tanks added to the upper fuselage of Super Hornets and belly-mounted external weapons pods are two primary upgrades that Boeing is pitching as its Advanced Super Hornet.

 

The Advanced model can also be improved with better engines, avionics and weapons systems, including an upgraded radar and improved infrared search-and-track abilities, Boeing has said.

 

The Advanced Super Hornet designation will be applied to new aircraft and existing aircraft that have been upgraded, Boeing has said.

 

The US government's fiscal year 2015 budget, which is currently working through Congress, does not include money for more Growlers or Super Hornets, but the USN expressed interest in additional aircraft by adding 22 Growlers to an unfunded list of priorities sent to lawmakers in recent weeks.

 

Morley says Growler's electronic jamming and other capabilities are critical to the "blue kill chain", the process by which friendly military forces identify, track, target and fire upon enemy forces. They are equally effective in disrupting the enemys ability to do the same against US forces, he adds.

 

"Given the environment we are [moving] into, that type of airplane plays a major role," Morley says. "You could use a lot of them. You could continue to [identify] places where they could [be of] benefit."

 

The USN intends to operate Super Hornets through the 2030s, Morley says.

 

Boeing has been seeking additional orders for Growlers or Super Hornets so as to keep its production line in St. Louis running.

 

Unless it receives more orders, the line will run out of aircraft to build by the end of 2016, Boeing has said.

 

If Congress adds 22 Growlers into next fiscal years spending bill, the line would continue running until the end of 2017, Mike Gibbons, Boeing's vice president of the F/A-18 programme, says during the press conference.

 

Gibbons adds that Growlers are the only aircraft that provide a broad spectrum of electronic protection, allowing fighters and other aircraft to penetrate enemy airspace that is guarded by multiple layers of electronic defence.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
Navy to Test F-35C on Carrier This Fall

 

April 7, 2014 by Brendan McGarry defensetech.org
 

The U.S. Navy for the first time will begin testing its version of the F-35 fighter jet from an aircraft carrier this fall, according to the No. 2 official in charge of the program.

Rear Adm. Randy Mahr, deputy director of the Defense Department’s Joint Strike Fighter program, didn’t specify a date or ship for the upcoming evaluations. But he spoke confidently of the planned milestone for the F-35C, the Navy variant designed for taking off from and landing on carriers.

“It’s going to be the year of the F-35C,” he said during a briefing at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference on Monday in National Harbor, Md.

Mahr acknowledged hardware and software problems that have plagued the three versions of the aircraft being developed by Lockheed Martin Corp., from a tailhook that didn’t catch the arresting cable to a bulkhead that cracks to logistics software that improperly grounded jets. In February, the program office discovered that an engine fan blade “came apart” into pieces, he said.

But the issues have either been resolved or are in the process of being fixed and won’t threaten the Marine Corps’ plans to begin in July 2015 operational flights of the F-35B, Mahr said. That version is designed for short takeoffs and vertical landings, meaning it can fly like a plane and land like a helicopter.

Corps leaders last week hinted to lawmakers that the aircraft may not meet that date.

“We are tentatively behind schedule,” Gen. John Paxton, the assistant commandant, told lawmakers during an April 2 hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Seapower. “The IOC is forecasted for July 2015,” Paxton added, referring to the date for initial operational capability. “We have every expectation that could be delayed by several months. It will continue to be conditions based.”

Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, who heads up the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, also said at the hearing that the Corps would not declare IOC until the software is developed to meet the requirements of the service.

The Government Accountability Office, known as the investigative arm of Congress, in a March 24 report cited an assessment made by the Pentagon’s own director of operational test and evaluation that software problems could delay delivery of the aircraft’s most advanced technology by 13 months.

When asked specifically about F-35B operational flights, Mahr said, “the Marines have not expressed any concerns at all about the IOC in 2015.”

The F-35B operational flights will rely on a less robust version of software, known as 2B, designed to provide basic close-air support and fire such weapons as the Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile, or AMRAAM, and Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. Both weapons have been successfully test-fired from the aircraft, Mahr said.

“We expect to be able to show that that software is ready to deploy,” he said, adding that two more software upgrades, or “drops,” are scheduled for the next two months.

Mahr acknowledged “some challenges” with the more robust version of software, known as 3F and designed to provide the full suite of war-fighting technology, which is scheduled for delivery in 2017.

“We think we have four to six months of risk on that end,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to meet that date.”

The program office has also made improvements to the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS (pronounced “Alice”), which determines whether the plane is safe to fly. A recent software upgrade to the system has drastically shortened the time it takes maintainers to load a webpage, to about 30 seconds from about five minutes, Mahr said.

 
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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
USAF Releases Outllook for Remotely-Piloted Aircraft

 

 

April 07, 2014 defense-unmanned.com

(Source: US Air Force; issue April 04, 2014)

 

Future Outlook Released for Remotely Piloted Aircraft

 

WASHINGTON --- Air Force leaders outlined what the next 25 years for remotely piloted aircraft will look like in the RPA Vector, published April 4.

“The RPA Vector is the Air Force’s vision for the next 25 years for remotely-piloted aircraft,” said Col. Kenneth Callahan, the RPA capabilities division director. “It shows the current state of the program, the great advances of where we have been and the vision of where we are going.”

The goal for the vector on the operational side is to continue the legacy Airmen created in the RPA field. The vector is also designed to expand upon leaps in technology and changes the Airmen have made through the early years of the program.

“The Airmen have made it all about supporting the men and women on the ground,” Callahan said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them for their own advances in technology to expand the program, making it a top platform.”

The document gives private corporations an outlook on the capabilities the Air Force wants to have in the future, ranging from creation of new RPAs to possibilities of automated refueling systems.

“There is so much more that can be done with RPAs,” said Col. Sean Harrington, an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance command and control requirements chief. “Their roles (RPAs) within the Air Force are evolving. We have been able to modify RPAs as a plug-and-play capability while looking to expand those opportunities.”

In recent years, RPAs not only supported the warfighter on the ground, they also played a vital role in humanitarian missions around the world. They provided real time imagery and video after the earthquake that led to a tsunami in Japan in 2011 and the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, according to Callahan.

Then, most recently, during the California Rim Fire in August 2013, more than 160,000 acres of land were destroyed. Though this loss was significant, it was substantially decreased by the support of the California Air National Guard’s 163rd Reconnaissance Wing, with support from an MQ-1 Predator, a remotely piloted aircraft.

With this vector, technologies may be created to improve those capabilities while supporting different humanitarian efforts, allowing the Air Force to support natural disaster events more effectively and timely.

The future of the Air Force’s RPA programs will be continuously evolving, to allow the Air Force to be the leader in Air, Space, and Cyberspace.

“We already combine our air, space and cyber forces to maximize these enduring contributions, but the way we execute must continually evolve as we strive to increase our asymmetric advantage,” said Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff. “Our Airmen's ability to rethink the battle while incorporating new technologies will improve the varied ways our Air Force accomplishes its missions.”


For more information and to view the remotely piloted aircraft vector (101 PDF pages) click here.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
US Army Rejects GD's Vehicle Protest; Company Mulls Further Action

General Dynamics will have to decide whether to pursue a more formal protest regarding the fairness of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle program. (US Army)

 

Apr. 7, 2014 - By PAUL MCLEARY – Defense News

 

WASHINGTON — The April 4 rejection by US Army Materiel Command of a General Dynamics Land Systems protest disputing the fairness of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) competition puts the ball squarely back into GD’s court, which has the option of lodging a more formal protest with the Government Accountability Office — a move that would halt all work on the program for weeks or even months.

 

On Feb. 14, GD filed a protest contending “the AMPV solicitation provides a competitive advantage” to competitor BAE Systems, since BAE “has years of Army test and performance data” on the M113 personnel carrier, which the competition has been launched to replace.

 

“In our view, the AMPV procurement process is not consistent with the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984, requiring a “full and open competition,” the company said in a statement.

 

These statements could indicate the company will file a protest with the GAO during the 10-day window that began when the initial protest was denied on April 4.

 

At issue is the fact that the Army wants competitors to incorporate parts from the Bradley fighting vehicle and the M113 in their AMPV designs, both of which are made by BAE. General Dynamics contends that it doesn’t have all of the relevant historical information on those parts to fully compete. The company has long said that it would submit a version of its eight-wheeled Stryker vehicle, of which the Army currently fields nine full brigades and a smaller Special Operations contingent.

 

BAE launched its own salvo on Friday afternoon, saying that it “is pleased” at the decision and that “cost savings, political expediency and business reasons do not justify putting soldiers’ lives at risk. The Army has had this solicitation in the works for two years and has adjusted requirements based on industry feedback to accommodate the broadest number of competitive offerings possible.”

 

On April 3, 10 members of Congress wrote a letter to the Pentagon’s top weapons tester, Frank Kendall, urging the Army to rewrite the five-month-old request for proposals. The lawmakers wrote that the Army should rework the program with a view toward “allowing for a mixed fleet of both track and wheeled vehicles” to meet the requirements for the competition.

 

In other words, the Army should split up the buy for 3,000 AMPVs between Stryker and Bradley variants.

 

The lawmakers also outlined the core reason for GD’s protests: the dearth of new ground vehicle programs in the Army’s near-term future.

 

“Given the intensely restrictive budget requirement the Army faces, the AMPV might be the only new vehicle entering the fleet for decades,” they wrote.

 

Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, who represents the district that houses the Red River Army Depot — and its 4,500 jobs — which performs a great deal of work on Bradleys, issued a statement on Friday applauding the decision.

 

“No current vehicles meet the survivability, mobility, and reliability upgrades outlined in the Army’s competitive bid,” he wrote. The program “cannot be delayed a year or more by rehashing the multi-year bidding process.”

 

On March 4, Hall sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pitching BAE’s AMPV bid as good for the local economy, saying that “if BAE Systems is awarded the contract, jobs will be protected at Red River Army Depot and additional jobs could be added.”

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
 US Army Modernization Focuses on Soldier

 

April 04, 2014 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: U.S Army; issued April 2, 2014)

 

Modernization Strategy Soldier-Focused In Lean Years

 

WASHINGTON --- Research, development and acquisition investments have declined 37 percent since the fiscal year 2012 budget planning cycle, said the G-8.

 

Historically, the research, development and acquisition, or RDA, account averaged about 22 percent of the Army's obligation authority. But for fiscal year 2015, the RDA account is at 17 percent or about $20 billion, Lt. Gen. James O. Barclay III told members of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, today.

 

Yet, despite slashing RDA, "it's essential that the Army ensure every Soldier deployed is equipped to achieve decisive overmatch," he said, outlining the steps being taken.

 

To achieve decisive overmatch without much money, the Army is using incremental improvements to modernize critical systems, he explained. And new systems will be built "only by exception."

 

Additionally, he said the Army is divesting older systems like the Kiowa helicopter and "niche capabilities to decrease sustainment costs and generate more resources to invest in modernization and readiness."

 

In the area of science and technology, the Army is funding research on key areas that commercial corporations are ignoring, while reducing funding where private-sector S&T gains are being seen.

 

And finally, to maximize every dollar, the Army is procuring smaller quantities of systems and components.

 

Barclay admitted to lawmakers that the Army "is taking risks in its near-term modernization program," as it tries to balance that with readiness and modernization.

 

INDUSTRIAL BASE

 

Lawmakers expressed their concern that the organic industrial base would stagnate and lose workers as a result of the Army procuring smaller quantities of materiel, divesting systems and not buying new systems.

 

Addressing their concerns, Maj. Gen. Michael E. Williamson, military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, enumerated steps the Army is taking as lawmakers tighten the purse strings.

 

Foreign military sales could keep some of the assembly lines running and talented professionals employed, he said, but that will only go so far.

 

"Not all sales come through," Williamson said, adding foreign sales can at times be unpredictable.

 

Acquisition reform is another area where improvements could be made, he said, pointing out that there are too many statutes and rules of where money can or cannot go and that adds to overhead costs associated with running facilities within the industrial base.

 

Army Materiel Command and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, are now locating greater efficiencies, identifying "cost drivers," determining overhead and looking for opportunities, Williamson said.

 

Another way to save costs, while procuring in less quantities, he said, would be to team up with other agencies, not just sister services. For example, he said the Army might look at partnering with police and other security forces to procure body armor. Buying in quantity would drive down costs of the research as well as the procurement. Also, with more money in play, competition among vendors would be more likely.

 

Something else that could benefit the Army as well as the industrial base, he said would be using more multi-year programs. Depending on how the contracts are worded, multi-year might allow savings by creating leverage in negotiations.

 

Multi-year programs, of course, would need a predictable funding stream, which is something that hasn't been too predictable in recent years.

 

WEAPONS SYSTEMS

 

Barclay said the Army remains committed to continued funding of its mission-critical systems such as the Paladin Integrated Management System, double-V-hull Strykers, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

 

He added that despite "a rocky start, [the Paladin Integrated Management System] is performing very well now."

 

If WIN-T is so important, why has the Army lowered funding for it and the Joint Tactical Radio System's Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit, asked a lawmaker.

 

Williamson replied that both WIN-T and HMS radio are critical to the warfighter but because of the declining budget, the Army has accepted some risk, "but not excessive risk."

 

Lower funding of those systems, he said, will mean fewer coming off the production lines, but those that do will be fielded first to the "most critical units" that are or could deploy.

 

Besides slowing production, he said some capability in the networks are being delayed, such as the WIN-T Increment 3 package which would have had enhanced bandwidth capability.

 

With respect to the networks, Barclay added that low funding is pushing the dates of procurements and deliveries to the right, but the Army is "not backing away from its commitment to the network and its overall importance."

 

One lawmaker commented that with the removal of the Apache helicopters from the National Guard, the Reserve Component is losing its teeth.

 

Barclay replied that active-component Apaches will still be "aligned with the National Guard" and its combat aviation brigades.

 

Why would the Guard's combat aviation brigades be called "combat" aviation brigades if the Apaches are being removed, the lawmaker pressed?

 

Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, which the Guard has in its fleet, can and do perform combat missions, Barclay replied, adding that the decision to divest all of its Kiowa helicopters and remove Apaches from the Guard was done in consultation and after much analysis and that it's the "best we could do given the dollar amount given."

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
A CH-47F Chinook helicopter of the US Army. Photo army.mil

A CH-47F Chinook helicopter of the US Army. Photo army.mil

 

 

7 April 2014 army-technology.com

 

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has been awarded a multi-million dollar subcontract for the modernisation of the US Army's CH-47F Chinook Avionics Trainers (CAT).

 

The deal, awarded by Usfalcon under the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) SPOTS V contract, requires the company to perform upgrade services to four of the simulators currently located at the army's 128th Aviation Brigade in Fort Eustis, Virginia, US.

 

Specifically, this includes the aircraft product improvement programme one (PIP1), which will ensure concurrency of the simulators to the aircraft, as well as other product lifecycle and functional improvements, such as the networking of simulators to enable trainees to perform more advanced maintenance scenarios.

 

Kratos Training Solutions senior vice-president Jose Diaz said that the maintenance of the CH-47, which is a vital asset for troops, is critical to the army.

 

"Based on our detailed knowledge of these simulators, coupled with the use of our advanced software integration lab capability, device downtime will be minimised and student training will continue during the upgrade period," Diaz said.

 

Manufactured by Kratos, the CH-47F CAT is a high fidelity hands-on training system (HOTS) designed to train soldiers in fault isolation procedures (FIPs), remove and install (R/I) tasks, and system and subsystem familiarisation in a fully immersive physical environment.

 

Additional tasks include servicing and inspection, maintenance operational checks (MOCs), and component identification.

 

It is currently used to support heavy-lift helicopter maintenance training at the US Army's Aviation Logistics School (USAALS) in Fort Eustis.

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