Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Video Games Actually Make You A Better Soldier

The debate about whether or not video games improve your cognitive abilities is over. It turns out they can make you quicker and more decisive. And as a result, the military has begun testing and using virtual reality programs to train soldiers. And while you may think that video games or simulations don’t compare to actual field training, experts within the military community suggest that you’d be wrong.

“We have somewhat solid data to support the notion that playing video games in fact actually improves your cognitive processes and your visual processes,” said Dr. Ray Perez, program manager at the Office of Naval Research’s Cognitive Science of Learning Program, in an interview with Task & Purpose.  

“Video game players are far superior to non-video game players in the ability to process things like field of vision, being able to hold digital objects in your memory. They can process information faster,” he added.  more

Abrams Tank Upgrades Will Give Marines ‘Killer Edge’

The Marine Corps is modernizing one of its most reliable battle platforms: the M1A1 Abrams tank.

A trio of upgrades to the tank commander’s weapon station will give tank commanders and gunners a “hunter-killer edge” over the enemy, according to an announcement from Marine Corps Systems Command. The improvements include better sights on the Abrams integrated display and targeting system [AIDATS], simplified handling with a single set of controls, and a “slew to cue” button that repositions the turret with a single command, officials said.

The display improvements will replace a black-and-white camera view with a color one and add thermal sights that can be used day or night. The color display is a particularly significant gain, said Michael Kreiner, AIDATS project officer in SYSCOM’s Armor and Fire Support Systems division.

Taken together, these systems could be a significant boon for the tank commander. Officials said preliminary testing showed use of the upgrades reduced target engagement time from six seconds to three by allowing the commander and the gunner to work more closely and collaborate better on target acquisition.  more

Lockheed’s F-35 Still Falls Short, Pentagon’s Chief Tester Says

A week after the Air Force declared its version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet ready for limited combat operations, the Pentagon’s top tester warned that the U.S. military’s costliest weapons program is still riddled with deficiencies.

“In fact the program is actually not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver” the aircraft’s full capabilities, “for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion by the scheduled end” of its development in 2018, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational testing, said in an Aug. 9 memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

“Achieving full combat capability with the Joint Strike Fighter is at substantial risk” of not occurring before development is supposed to end and realistic combat testing begins, he said of the F-35.

The memo provides a timely reminder of an issue that the next president and defense secretary will inherit. They are scheduled to decide in 2019 whether to let the fighter jet move into full production, the most lucrative phase for Lockheed, the biggest U.S. defense contractor.

The Air Force made its declaration of initial combat capability on Aug. 2, but “most of the limitations” previously identified with software, data fusion, electronic warfare and weapons employment continue, Gilmore wrote.  more

Naval Aviators Describe How the F-35’s Brains Will Change Air Warfare

Naval aviators say guiding the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter onto the flight deck of U.S. aircraft carriers is almost like flying a plane that flies itself. The new plane’s software is meant to allow the military to train pilots faster and, in war, fly more sorties against the enemy. Pilots would spend less time throttling and figuring for flight conditions and more time coordinating with other aircraft, working with huge volumes of data, and managing complex missions against ever-more sophisticated adversaries.

“The aircraft does a lot of stuff that, before, I would have to fight the aircraft,” said Marine Maj. Eric Northam with the VX-23 test squadron. The jet’s Delta Flight Path software, created by F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin has changed all that. “If I want to capture the barrier altitude that I’m climbing to … I dial in the altitude; it will climb up and capture it. If I want to capture the heading I can just use the pedals to dial in a new heading. I can keep my hands on the controls where I need to and then redirect the aircraft as required.”

But questions about the software remain. more

What Will Replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler?

The U.S. Navy’s analysis of alternatives (AOA) for its next generation replacement for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet is well underway. The AOA will be roughly a year-and-a-half long, but the process is in its infancy. While the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program will aim to fill the gap in the carrier air wing when the Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack aircraft retire, the service does not yet have any concepts emerging from that on-going analysis.

The Navy’s AOA is looking at a broad range of concepts that would fill the void left by the Super Hornet and Growler in the 2030s using “set-based design methodology,” RA DeWolfe Miller said. The Navy and the Air Force will conduct two separate AOAs for their respective sixth-generation fighter efforts that will likely develop two separate solutions for their respective missions. That being said, the two jets could share technology and they will be able to operate together seamlessly. “We will leverage each other on the technology and we’ll leverage each other on the interoperability,” Miller said. “So we’ll be informed of what each others’ efforts are doing.”

The process that the Navy is using essentially projects the carrier air wing out to the future using its current design. To examine the gap left by the F/A-18-series airframe, the Super Hornet and Growler would be removed from the air wing and substituted with a range of new concepts, Miller explained. “What they’ll do is take our air wing of that timeframe and they’ll remove the Super Hornets and they’ll remove the Growler, and they’ll say: ‘OK, what are the capabilities that we need to provide. That’s when they’ll start to come up with various options that they’ll bring forward to us.” more

Navy F-35C Landed So Precisely, It Tore Up a Runway

Before seven of the Navy’s carrier-variant F-35 Joint Strike Fighters embarked aboard the carrier USS George Washington for a third and final round of developmental testing, they completed a required ashore training period, practicing landings at Choctaw Naval Outlying Field near Pensacola, Florida.

The landings went well — maybe a little too well.

“They were landing in the same spot on the runway every time, tearing up where the hook touches down,” Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, head of Naval Air Forces, told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. “So we quickly realized, we needed to either fix the runway or adjust, put some variants in the system. So that’s how precise this new system is.”  more

Friday, August 19, 2016

America’s Awesome Military: And How to Make It Even Better

The United States has the best military in the world today, by far. U.S. forces have few, if any, weaknesses, and in many areas—from naval warfare to precision-strike capabilities, to airpower, to intelligence and reconnaissance, to special operations—they play in a totally different league from the militaries of other countries. Nor is this situation likely to change anytime soon, as U.S. defense spending is almost three times as large as that of the United States’ closest competitor, China, and accounts for about one-third of all global military expenditures—with another third coming from U.S. allies and partners.

Nevertheless, 15 years of war and five years of budget cuts and Washington dysfunction have taken their toll. The military is certainly neither broken nor unready for combat, but its size and resource levels are less than is advisable given the range of contemporary threats and the missions for which it has to prepare. No radical changes or major buildups are needed. But the trend of budget cuts should stop and indeed be modestly reversed, and defense appropriations should be handled more rationally and professionally than has been the case in recent years.

Most major elements of U.S. defense policy are on reasonably solid ground, despite innumerable squabbles among experts over many of the details. Through­out the post–Cold War era, some variant of a two-war planning framework (with caveats) has enjoyed bipartisan support and should continue to do so for many years to come. Forward presence and engagement in East Asia, Europe, and the Middle East remain compelling pillars of U.S. national security strategy. Robust research-and-development programs continue to be supported, as does an unparalleled intelligence com­munity. more