Thursday, October 20, 2016

Troubled System on Carrier Ford Passes Key Test |

Troubled System on Carrier Ford Passes Key Test | A critical system on the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford that has symbolized the ship's struggles has taken "a big step forward," the Navy has reported.

The advanced arresting gear (AAG), designed to safely land aircraft on the flight deck, recently recovered a "fly-in" of an F/A-18E Super Hornet at a land-based site in New Jersey.

Prior to that, the Navy had trapped more than 200 aircraft in a "roll-in" type of land-based test.

"This milestone test event demonstrates AAG's capability and signifies a big step forward in getting the system ready for duty on board the Navy's newest aircraft carrier," said Capt. Stephen Tedford, program manager for aircraft launch and recovery equipment.

Built by General Atomics, the advanced arresting gear combines energy-absorbing water turbines and an induction motor to bring aircraft to a controlled stop. It is currently installed on the Ford, which continues to undergo testing at Newport News Shipbuilding.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) completed more than 1,300 "traps" using dead loads before switching to manned aircraft. The tests are being conducted at sites in Lakehurst, N.J.

The AAG system recognizes roll-in and fly-in landings as essentially the same, but the different approaches allow the Navy to test variable conditions the system will face, according to NAVAIR.

Air Force Chief Sees Decades of More War Operations |

Air Force Chief Sees Decades of More War Operations | The U.S. Air Force's top officer said he expects the high pace of war-related operations to continue for decades to come.

"We've been deploying now for 15 years," Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said. "We've probably got 15, 20 years to go."

His comments came Wednesday at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, during a spouse and family forum hosted by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.

While fewer airmen are deploying, the time they spend away is increasing -- driven in part by missions related to the air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, a resurgent Russia and China's increased military activity in the Pacific.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

SST, Space Surveillance Telescope, DARPA |

SST, Space Surveillance Telescope, DARPA | The Air Force has acquired a high-tech Space Surveillance Telescope, or SST, capable of speedily discovering and tracking previously unseen or hard-to-find small objects that could threaten satellites.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, on Tuesday transferred ownership of the telescope to Air Force Space Command during a ceremony at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The Space Surveillance Telescope, currently located in White Sands, will be moved to Australia and jointly operated by the Air Force and the Australian government, with the U.S. as its primary owner, according to an announcement from DARPA.

In 2013, then-U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Australian Defence Minister David Johnston signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to move the telescope to the Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Station in Western Australia. At the time, Johnston had to rebut speculation that the telescope would be used to spy on other countries.

“Australia offers a uniquely beneficial vantage point for operational testing and demonstration of SST’s enhanced algorithms and camera,” according to DARPA’s SST page.

After the move, the telescope will be a dedicated sensor in the U.S. Space Surveillance Network.

“This optical telescope is poised to revolutionize space situational awareness and help prevent potential collisions with satellites or the Earth itself,” said Lindsay Millard, DARPA program manager for the telescope.

Report proposes canceling U.S. aircraft carriers, investing in lasers to combat Russia and China

The U.S. military is at an inflection point. Unable to remove itself completely from two protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has been forced to respond to a resurgent Russia and a rising China, while remaining ready to combat myriad terrorist threats around the world.

The Pentagon’s $582.7 billion 2017 budget has attempted to put in place an architecture for these new challenges, but, according to a group of experts from the Center for New American Security, a Washington-based think tank, the Pentagon will have to make some hard decisions if it wants to effectively combat the threats of the future.

[Report: U.S. aircraft carriers’ ‘unchallenged primacy may be coming to a close’]

The three experts, Jerry Hendrix, Paul Scharre and Elbridge Colby, have instead put together a report that uses a notional budget that implements a 2 percent increase over the 2017 budget to shape the U.S. military for the next 10 years.

“We have a military that’s in great shape to defeat Saddam Hussein’s army from the first Gulf War,” Colby said, adding that the Pentagon has focused on smaller numbers but invested in more high-tech pieces of equipment with mixed success. Under the proposed budget, the Navy would increase from 272 to 345 ships over 10 years, and the Air Force would gain more than 120 aircraft.

“Numbers matter,” Colby added.

To fix the current balance, Hendrix, Scharre and Colby’s report suggests that the Pentagon invest in what they call a “high-low mix.” This means that the Pentagon invests in both high-tech pieces of equipment, such as the yet-to-be built B-21 long-range bomber, but also buys low-cost single-engine prop planes such as the A-29 Super Tucano to deal with threats in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

To pay for this rebalancing, the report proposes canceling the Gerald Ford-class aircraft carrie

Monday, October 17, 2016

Marines May Base 300-Man Rotational Force in Norway |

Marines May Base 300-Man Rotational Force in Norway | As European allies watch Russian aggression in Europe with concern, the Norwegian government is considering allowing a small contingent of U.S. Marines to be based in the country to facilitate better military cooperation and be at the ready in the event of a crisis, has learned.

The force under consideration is small, about 300 Marines, a defense official said.

Pending the approval of the Norwegian government, the Marines would deploy in a six-month rotation, with additional rotations to follow if approved, the official said.

It's too early to say whether the rotation would be similar to the Marines' crisis response task forces for Africa and the Middle East, or more like the Corps' unit deployment program, which sends Marines forward to Japan for six-month rotations, primarily for training and partnership exercises.

The Norwegian newspaper Adresseavisen reported that the Vaernes air station in Stjordal, Norway, is being considered to house the Marines. The air station also serves as part of Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway, a program that allows the Corps to store thousands of vehicles and other major pieces of gear in temperature-controlled caves, at the ready for joint exercises or a major European combat contingency.

The base, located in central Norway, is about 1,000 miles away from Russia, with which Norway shares a border about 120 miles long at its northeastern limit.

DARPA Do-It-All Drone Among New VTOLs Nearing Flight « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

DARPA Do-It-All Drone Among New VTOLs Nearing Flight « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: A bevy of new vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft conceived to take the military beyond the speed, range and altitude limits of helicopters are scheduled to fly over the next two years. None looks more like science fiction becoming science fact than a sort of flying candy crane formerly known as “Transformer.”

What is now called the Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) is being built by prime contractor Lockheed Martin’s famed Skunk Works with Piasecki Aircraft of Essington, Penn., under a $77 million DARPA contract. Lockheed is providing the software, Piasecki the hardware.

The hardware is a 41-foot span, unmanned flying wing in a tiltrotor configuration. Two ducted proprotors about eight feet in diameter, embedded near a stubby fuselage, will swivel up to let ARES take off and land like a helicopter and tilt forward to let it fly like an airplane.

The fuselage will be able to carry various plug-and-play payload modules – cargo, sensors, life support gear, even remote-control ground attack weapons are among the ideas — and deliver them to troops on austere battlefields or let those troops employ them.

Navy's New Destroyer Rides like 'a Really Souped-Up' SUV |

Navy's New Destroyer Rides like 'a Really Souped-Up' SUV | What's a ride like in the Navy's largest and most sophisticated new destroyer? Capt. James Kirk compares it to "a really souped-up sport utility vehicle."

"It's not like a Ferrari, but it's like a very big SUV that is made to go very fast," says Kirk, commanding officer of the futuristic USS Zumwalt that's being commissioned Saturday in Baltimore.

With a price tag of at least $4.4 billion, the guided missile destroyer is perhaps more like a stealthy Rolls-Royce. The company manufactured the ship's propellers and generator sets. The Zumwalt also features an unconventional wave-piercing hull.

"Very smooth," is how Lt. Cmdr. Nate Chase described the ride. "You had no fear of having an open cup of coffee and getting jerked around, like some of these other ships."