Friday, October 30, 2009

Ellsworth officials launch digital airport surveillance radar

Ellsworth officials launch digital airport surveillance radar: "Ellsworth Air Force Base officials recently completed the installation of a digital airport surveillance radar system to be used with the Dakota Air Traffic Control Facility here.

This modern, digital radar replaces traditional airport-surveillance radar used by air traffic controllers, eliminates ground distractions and displays multiple levels of precipitation.

The new system also helps address maintenance and parts challenges, while increasing Ellsworth AFB capabilities to control more airspace in Rapid City and other locations in South Dakota, said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Lavoie, the 28th Operations Support Squadron radar approach control facilities chief controller.

'This is the first Air Force DASR to be located outside of the military installation,' Chief Lavoie said. 'This location provides us with line of sight to the runways at both airports and provides us with a clearer digital presentation which reduces our maintenance team's workload on a daily basis.'

The system does this by automatically transmitting digital radar to the standard terminal automation replacement system. This process eliminates the electronic conversion that was necessary when using traditional airport surveillance radar signals, and decreases the amount of time used to convert an electronic signal into a digital signal."

US, Australian Boarding Teams Conduct Joint Training for Deep Sabre II

US, Australian Boarding Teams Conduct Joint Training for Deep Sabre II: "U.S. and Australian forces conducted a joint training exercise in the South China Sea Oct. 29 to sharpen their ship-boarding skills and enhance the two countries' interoperability.

Boarding teams from the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and the Australian patrol boat HMAS Bundaberg (ACPB 91) joined a maritime law enforcement/force protection team from U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team San Diego (91109) to conduct a sweep of a suspect vessel.

Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO 193) served as the staging vessel for the exercise.

The Fitzgerald visit, board, search and seizure team and the Coast Guard team disembarked a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB), boarded Diehl and began conducting a security sweep of the weather decks and the bridge.

The Australians disembarked a second RHIB and joined their U.S. counterparts on deck. The joint team swept the engineering spaces and located mock weapons and hazardous materials found in topside connex boxes.

The exercise concluded with the two countries' teams comparing notes and reviewing the day's events."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Key US panel approves new Iran sanctions

Key US panel approves new Iran sanctions: "Iran's main gasoline suppliers, including British, French, Swiss and Indian firms, may face tough US sanctions under a bill that sailed through a key House of Representatives panel Wednesday.
By a voice vote, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislation aimed at tightening the economic vise on the Islamic republic over its suspect nuclear program, which the West charges hides an effort to get atomic weapons.
The measure would empower US President Barack Obama to effectively block firms that supply Iran with refined petroleum products, or the ability to import or produce them at home, from doing business in the United States."

Afghan strategy emerges ahead of Obama troop decision

.Afghan strategy emerges ahead of Obama troop decision: "US officials are settling on a new-look Afghan strategy to secure 10 major population centers, a media report said Wednesday, as President Barack Obama neared a decision on whether to hurl thousands more troops into the fray.
Obama's advisers, after weeks of in-depth meetings, are coalescing around a strategy aimed at protecting about 10 top population centers in Afghanistan, The New York Times said.
The strategy would fall short of a full counter-insurgency strategy against the Taliban and other elements"....

US drone strikes may break international law: UN official

US drone strikes may break international law: UN official: "US drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be breaking international laws against summary executions, the UN's top investigator of such crimes said Tuesday."

Insatiable Demand Fuels Boom In UAV Market

Insatiable Demand Fuels Boom In UAV Market: "The UAV market has seen unprecedented growth since 2001, with its current projected value over the next 10 years estimated at $17.9 billion.
'An insatiable demand for unmanned air vehicles is fueling massive growth within this market,' said Larry Dickerson, senior unmanned systems analyst for Forecast International. 'No matter how many UAVs are built, military agencies want more.'"

Proper Planning Key to Success During JC10

Proper Planning Key to Success During JC10: "More than 1,000 service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are working together alongside Israeli troops during Juniper Cobra 2010 (JC10).

'This exercise is utilizing hundreds of people from different branches, all working together to maximize the outcome and continue to build on the relations with the Israeli military,' said Navy Capt Donna Joyal, joint task force manpower director.

Such a large scale exercise requires an equally massive amount of planning, Joyal continued to say. She credits much of the smoothness of the arrival due to the months of work completed prior to departing the respective home bases.

'Training and preparedness truly equates to success.'

Everything had to be considered for any situation that may arise. From living quarters and work spaces, to recreation and transportation, all were essential to make the exercise the most productive experience possible.

'Planning something like this can be one of the hardest parts of the exercise,' said Army 1st Lt. Matthew Hitchler, vice mayor of Camp Cobra. 'Once everything is set up and ready to go, the exercise can start and hopefully run smoothly.'"

Kris Regan (NNS)

Lecture Focuses on Technology Opportunities Between India, U.S.

Lecture Focuses on Technology Opportunities Between India, U.S.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

C-27J aka "C-130 Light"

Air Force plans to include the C-27J Spartan, the latest propeller-driven airlifter planned for the Air Force inventory, are steadily progressing.

In April, through Resource Management Decision 802, Defense Secretary Robert Gates moved the C-27J program and its related direct support mission from the Army to the Air Force. Since April, the Air Force and Air Mobility Command have taken a serious approach to building the program, officials said.

Currently, the C-27J program office at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is standing up while at the same time the Joint Program Office at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., is staying open through approximately the end of fiscal 2010 (Sept. 30, 2010) to promote a smooth transition.

"The program is in transition from an Army-led joint program to a sole Air Force program," said Lt. Col. Gene Capone, AMC's C-27J test manager at the Joint Program Office. "Making a switch like this is no small affair, especially at this phase in the acquisition process. Because the Army lost all fiscal year 2010 C-27J funding due to RMD 802, the Air Force is funding the Army to continue leading the program through completion of Multi-Service Operational Test and Evaluation."

The Air Force will field 38 C-27Js, operated by the Air National Guard. Two of the 38 programmed C-27Js are currently going through qualification and operational testing with a final basing plan forthcoming.

In the development of the C-27J for use by the U.S. military, officials have been putting the C-27J through rigorous evaluation. Through this effort, they validate key performance parameters, prove airdrop capabilities, determine defensive systems effectiveness, certify communications interoperability and ascertain aeromedical compatibility of the aircraft. Additionally, they hold live-fire testing and evaluation of key system components during this thorough production qualification testing.

"Then the aircraft goes into Multi-Service Operational Test and Evaluation to determine its capabilities in an operationally relevant environment," Colonel Capone said.

The C-27J is an "extremely rugged" aircraft, designed for austere environments. Although it has yet to complete its testing, officials say it should thrive in the "dirt."

"Think of the C-27J as a 'mini-Herc' -- it looks like and acts like a C-130, but it is about half the size (3.5 pallet positions versus 6 to 8 pallets for the C-130)," Colonel Capone said. "This smaller size brings efficiency of scale to the Air Force's portfolio of airlifters."

Pilots testing the plane at Redstone Arsenal are waiting until testing is completed before they talk more about the plane's capability, but Colonel Capone did say "it is very powerful and agile."

"It flies a lot like a C-130, but with a bit more power for its weight," he said. "Of course, as with most airplanes the pilots who fly the aircraft love it -- myself included."

Headquarters AMC officials at Scott AFB, to include Maj. Gen. Brooks Bash, Director of the Air, Space and Information Operations Directorate, say the work to build the C-27J's capability to fully support the Army's needs in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility is also continuously progressing.

"The Secretary of Defense gave us the C-27J and its mission to the Air Force and we are 100 percent committed to making this work," General Bash said.

Col. Bobby Fowler, also from AMC's Air, Space and Information Operations Directorate, said the command is developing the C-27J's Concept of Employment, or CONEMP, for the Air Force's plans to support the Army's direct support mission program.

A formal test is taking place from October through December in Iraq to gather information on this new Air Force mission. The test's purpose is to validate the CONEMP and to ensure the Air Force is ready to implement this mission in 2010, Colonel Fowler said. "This test will help us work out the command and control structure of the direct support mission and help us to validate requirements."

Officials note that even with the on-going direct delivery CONEMP test, the Air Force is firmly meeting the mission of directly supporting the warfighter. An example of that support, especially in Afghanistan where U.S. and coalition forces operate in a land-locked country with austere terrain, is through airdrops -- a record amount of airdrops.

In June, a record 2.8 million pounds of cargo was airdropped, only to be beaten in July with 2.9 million, in August with 3.6 million, and again in September with 3.6 million pounds. That's more than 12.9 million pounds of much-needed combat supplies directly delivered to ground forces during the recent surge into Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. 

The record number of pounds delivered also means record numbers of airdrop bundles delivered. As an example, in 2007, the Air Force airdropped 5,675 cargo bundles to troops in Afghanistan. In 2009, with an average of about 1,300 bundles a month, the Air Force is on pace to airdrop more than 18,500 bundles this year -- more than tripling the pace of two years ago. This is accomplished with C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules aircraft. 

In 2009, mobility Airmen have also fulfilled other quick-response, direct support requirements within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. In the first seven months of 2009, the Air Force met more than 750 distinguished visitor movements and more than 250 urgent aeromedical evacuation movements from both Iraq and Afghanistan.

That support is also highlighted in the intra-theater airlift for Iraq and Afghanistan by the Air Force. Through August, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, AMC aircraft have moved more than 815,000 passengers. In August alone, AMC aircraft moved more than 73,000 passengers in Iraq -- many of those Army Soldiers. In the same month for Afghanistan, AMC aircraft moved more than 27,000 passengers with many of them being Army Soldiers as well.

Army Sgt. Angel Quiles Ramos, from Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery deployed to an undisclosed base in Southwest Asia, said the support he receives from the Air Force at his deployed base is "critical."

"They provide food, security and water," Sergeant Ramos said. "We don't have to get water because they bring it to us. If anything breaks, we call them and they come to fix it. This is critical because the Air Force provides everything so we can do the mission."

In receiving the C-27J program and its mission, officials say there is a lot to do as more and more C-27s come into the inventory. However, they say the foundation of this is to build trust and responsiveness.

A concept like this will take time and effort, but most importantly it will also require feedback from the forces, Colonel Fowler said. AMC and Air Force officials plan to continuously review and update the C-27J and the direct support processes using inputs from field commanders until it is incorporated into joint doctrine.
S.T. Sturkol (AMC)

Navy Explains Key Guam Mission

Providing dual-oceanic communication support, multiple networks, and high frequency support for the fleet and joint military components makes U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station (NCTS) Guam paramount for mission success in and around the region of Guam.

"Ensuring ships, subs and shore commands are able to communicate messages from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific is just one of the things we do here," said Cmdr. Willis Arnold, executive officer of NCTS Guam. "NCTS — because of its location on Guam — is very strategic because it's situated so that we can hit two oceans, Pacific and Indian, from this location. So as a result of this, you can relay information between two ships or between a ship and a land command in two different oceans — that's a very unique ability and that makes us a very valuable commodity."

The command has about 200 personnel — a mix of military service members, civilians and contractors.

"We are a small command with a very large job and the scope of our communications is bigger than Guam," said Chief Information Technician (SW) Eric Purcell information assurance officer.

NCTS Guam is one of seven Navy computer and telecommunications stations that provides assured communications services to shore and afloat units worldwide. NCTS Guam is a round-the-clock operation that has three primary mission areas:

• Multispectral connectivity to the warfighter. This is the traditional role people think of when they think of an NCTS, such as the antennae that send communications to ships, submarines and airplanes.

• NCTS Guam provides critical communication lines to Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, joint and coalition operations to include search and rescue. Base Communications Office. This function is the telephone service and island-wide transport of communication services on Guam. NCTS provides the telephone services for all Navy and many other customers on Guam.

• NET Ops and Information Assurance. NCTS Guam provides the local help desk and support for 24 Navy units as the local ONE-NET enterprise network service provider. NCTS provides touch labor and help desk support to over 3,000 ONE-NET computers on Guam. In addition, NCTS Guam is the cryptographic service provider for 29 units on Guam, providing electronic cryptographic material support.

The primary facility consists of a group of buildings and satellites tucked just beneath Andersen Air Force Base in the northern end of Guam. Yet, the command has offices around the island, including Radio Barrigada, a centrally located village of Guam, which has what looks like a dozen antennae sticking up above the surrounding roads and fields. In addition, NCTS employees and contractors attached to the command have an office on U.S. Naval Base Guam.

Arnold said two of the primary goals he and Cmdr. William Chase, NCTS commanding officer, have set for the command are to revitalize the "operational focus of the command" and to implement strict information assurance practices at the command in accordance with Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) standards.

"One challenge with implementing strict information assurance practices is the need for full cooperation from all of our customer units," Arnold said. "This goal was realized in the development of the Navy Region Guam Security Counsel, which met weekly preparing for the Defense Information Systems Agency command computer readiness inspection."

Arnold noted the cooperative efforts of all Navy units utilizing ONE-NET computer assets, resulted in a highly successful 2009 DISA inspection, with the lead inspector stating "this is the best network security posture we have seen in 16 years. Outstanding team effort by Navy Region Guam."

Arnold also noted that a large percentage of NCTS personnel are civilians and contractors, which provide continuity.

"NCTS Guam [contractors and civilians have] had and continue to have a very positive impact on operations," Arnold said. "While it does take the entire team of military, federal employees, and contractors to get the mission accomplished, the civilian and contract employees provide the continuity of operations to effect a more efficient organization."

In addition, many members of the civilian and contractor work force bring with them years of military experience. Terry Morgan is one example. Morgan was an electronics technician in the Navy for 20 years and is now one of the civilians working alongside uniformed service members.

"We didn't even have e-mail when I first started doing this," Morgan said. "Now we've got different levels of e-mails that comes through here."

Robert Laanan, a sergeant major in the Guam Army National Guard, is now NCTS' DISN services manager who takes a lot of pride in the work he does to keep the island's and region's Navy commands connected to each other and to the world.

"We were the first Guam telephone authority," he said. "It was the Navy that built the telephone systems that we were all using, and eventually all of that went to government of Guam, and now of course it's private. But this is where it all started — how Guam was able to talk to the rest of the world — and here is where we keep it going for the present and hopefully into the future."

Arnold noted that in addition to the benefits of having experienced civilian personnel that provide continuity, the mix of military, civilian and contractor helps to ensure quality work is completed efficiently and economically.

"The great thing is as the Navy strives to economize while maintaining professionalism and technological expertise, we can say we've been doing that here," Arnold said.

Echoing Laanan, Arnold said the men and women of NCTS Guam have "extreme pride in the work they do every day to support missions on Guam."

"There is a tremendous amount of loyalty and dedication to NCTS and the United States Navy by the team of military, Department of Navy employees, and contract personnel who support NCTS Guam," he said.
Oyaol Ngirairikl (NNS)

NATO's Joint Warrior Exercise Prepares for Littoral Warfare

Ships led by Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 24 along with a host of allied navies, wrapped up the multinational, multiwarfare Exercise Joint Warrior 09-2 Oct. 16.

The guided-missile frigate USS John L. Hall (FFG 32) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Cole (DDG 67) and USS Ramage (DDG 61) participated in the exercise.

Joint Warrior is designed and led by the United Kingdom's Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff and is a multiwarfare exercise designed to improve interoperability between allied navies and prepare participating crews to conduct combined operations during deployments.

The exercise incorporates both conventional warfare exercises and fleet irregular warfare training (FIWT). FIWT is a valuable means for Sailors to address and overcome emerging threats.

"This is a high speed exercise," said DESRON 24's Commodore John Kersh. "What makes it challenging is that it is around-the-clock and includes many events running simultaneously all in the very confined waters of the Scottish littorals."

This littoral training environment can't be found near most of the U.S. Navy operating areas on the East Coast and provides tactical challenges for ships that can not be replicated in the United States.

"I think one of the best things about Joint Warrior is that it is conducted in a geographically constrained environment," said Cole's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Edward Devinney. "We have to work our tactics around some complex geography, which really made the situation a lot more challenging."

Ramage's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Pete Galluch said Joint Warrior was a high operational tempo and tactically challenging exercise.

"The exercise presents a realistic scenario in a difficult littoral environment with significant 'real life' shipping that, while not part of the exercise, must be deconflicted," said Galluch. "It was one of the most intense and realistic trainings I have experienced."

The exercise focused heavily on a broad spectrum of non-traditional warfare areas such as counterpiracy and maritime security operations, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and air defense. These events ran concurrently with traditional training evolutions.
The comprehensive training focused on preparing the allies for combined operations in future global assignments. Participating navies included Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

"Joint Warrior puts a ship's commanding officer through every conceivable iteration of operations that he or she may encounter overseas, in particular, their ability to operate with other navies," Kersh said. "One of the key points of the Maritime Strategy is that you cannot surge trust. All of the friends we make over here by working with different navies are friendships that we can draw upon once we get to the areas of responsibility for 5th Fleet, 6th Fleet and 7th Fleet."

"Joint Warrior focused on multiship operations in a multinational environment," said John L. Hall's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Derek Lavan. "We operated exclusively using NATO messages, publications and guidance, which is not often done during U.S. Navy-only training."

Lavan said the exercise helped his ship become more accustomed to working alongside allied warships and aircraft.

"This training was excellent familiarization for our deployment, which will be predominantly in the area of responsibility for Commander, United States European Command, where we will have numerous opportunities to interact with our NATO allies," Lavan said.

Devinney said he was very pleased with how his crew performed during the exercise.

"I think Joint Warrior is the best training for any ship about to go on deployment," Devinney said. "It was a great opportunity to bring all of our skills to the test. A lot of the events we went through were above and beyond anything we are normally taught in a training cycle. This was a high level event that our crew excelled at in each warfare area."

Joint Warrior ran from Oct. 3-16 and served as a certifying event for ships that will deploy with coalition forces in the future.

John L. Hall, Ramage and Cole worked alongside the Royal Navy's HMS Illustrious (R 06), Northumberland (F 238), Portland (F 79), Bangor (M 109), Penzance (M 106) and Shoreham (M 112); the Canadian Forces's ships HMCS Halifax (FFH 330), Montreal (FFH 336), Athabaskan (DDH 282) and Preserver (AOR 510); the Royal Danish Navy's HDMS Abaslon (L 16); the Brazilian Navy's BNS Defensora (F 41); and the Turkish Navy's TCG Orucreis (F 245).
Katrina Parker (NNS)

US Navy, Israel Join For Juniper Cobra 2010

Approximately 70 Sailors from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa/ 6th Fleet arrived at Hatzor Israeli Air Force Base Oct. 25 in support of exercise Juniper Cobra 2010 (JC10).

The Juniper Cobra exercises have been held every two years since 2001. JC10 is the fifth iteration of this exercise with this year's focus on testing the active missile-defense capabilities of both U.S. and Israeli armed forces.

"Each exercise varies in focus and scope, and this year we are concentrating on combined air defense," said Capt. Mike Martin, U.S. 6th Fleet's chief of staff.

The exercise will be divided into three phases: the first phase will be the deployment of U.S. forces, the second phase will be a simulation of attacks and the third phase will be a live-fire testing of the Patriot system. More than 1,000 U.S. servicemembers from four branches of the military will participate in this year's exercise. In addition to the service members operating around Israel, USS Higgins (DDG 76) will be operating in and around the port of Haifa, Israel.

"Israel is a strong ally of the United States, and I look forward to the next several weeks of working together with our Israeli friends," said Rear Adm. John M. Richardson, commander of JC10's joint task force and deputy commander of U.S. 6th Fleet. "We will advance both the art and science of ballistic missile defense between our two forces and in the end, I am confident we will have a safe and successful Juniper Cobra exercise."
Kris Regan (NNS)

US Navy F/A-18 Hornet Could Fly on BioFuel

The Navy is one step closer to flying the "Green Hornet." Members of the NAVAIR Fuels team recently made a small, but very vital step toward changing the source of jet fuel the U.S. Navy uses.

The team tested an F404 F/A-18 engine to determine if it could run on a jet fuel (JP-5) derived from a weed.

"This engine run was our first shot at certifying a JP-5 fuel derived from a renewable source," said Tony Cifone, director for the Propulsion & Power Department at the Naval Air Systems Command. "This is the first step on the road to the 'Green Hornet'."

The "Green Hornet" encompasses more than just a new source for jet fuel. It will eventually include upgrades and new technology to create a more fuel efficient F/A-18 Super Hornet. More tests will occur in the December-January timeframe on the F414, the engine for the Super Hornet. This test could be conducted either at NAS Patuxent River or at the General Electric facility in Lynn, Mass.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus pointed out during the Navy's Energy Forum held last week, that the "Green Hornet" is an important element in accomplishing his five Green Goals, which center around reducing the use of petroleum derived fuels and increasing the use of energy from renewable sources. The intent is to have the alternative fuels in operational use in the Hornet within three years of certification.

This first test on the F/A-18 Hornet engine proved that a renewable source of JP-5 can be used as a "drop-in" replacement for the current petroleum-based jet fuel.

"The engine reacted the way we had expected," said NAVAIR's Rick Kamin, who is the Navy's Fuel Team Lead. "It did not know the difference."

Likewise, the operators in the fleet will not know the difference, Kamin said as he emphasized the importance of the "drop-in" aspect of an alternative fuel.

Cifone said he anticipates the first actual flight of a Super Hornet fueled with a renewable fuel blended with the current JP-5 will occur next spring.

"The eventual goal for the Navy is to be able to use fuels produced from non-petroleum sources without having to blend them with petroleum derived fuels," Kamin explained. "The 50/50 blend is a stepping stone on the path. We are using a walk before you run philosophy.

"Aircraft, since their inception, have been developed around petroleum based fuels. Although renewable fuels currently being tested have many similar properties to petroleum based fuels, they are not 100 percent the same. Blending is the near term solution to allow use of these fuels until on-going research provides a complete solution."

The tests the fuels team conducts to ultimately certify alternative fuels are the same for all fuels. The tests encompass standard chemistry, component and engine testing. The certification process is the same regardless of the source of the fuel. One of the unknown aspects of using a fuel derived from a non-petroleum source is how it would affect seals in the various systems.

Standard petroleum-based jet fuel contains aromatics, a class of ring-shaped hydrocarbon molecules that includes benzene and related solvents. Aromatics soak into the seals and make them swell, and ensure a tight fit against the metal.

"Self-sealing fuel bladders, for example," Kamin said, "need aromatics to work properly."

The fuel used in the recent run of tests was created from the camelina plant, which is in the same family of plants as the mustard seed and rapeseed. It needs little water or nitrogen to flourish and can be grown on marginal agricultural soil. An important aspect of using camelina as a renewable source for fuel is that it does not compete with food crops.

Kamin said the Navy's goal is to certify as many alternative fuels derived from renewable sources as possible.
B.R. Brown (NNS)

Monday, October 26, 2009

'Mini Herc' set to join Air Force fleet

Air Force plans to include the C-27J Spartan, the latest propeller-driven airlifter planned for the Air Force inventory, are steadily progressing.

In April, through Resource Management Decision 802, Defense Secretary Robert Gates moved the C-27J program and its related direct support mission from the Army to the Air Force. Since April, the Air Force and Air Mobility Command have taken a serious approach to building the program, officials said.

"The program is in transition from an Army-led joint program to a sole Air Force program," said Lt. Col. Gene Capone, AMC's C-27J test manager at the Joint Program Office. "Making a switch like this is no small affair, especially at this phase in the acquisition process. Because the Army lost all fiscal year 2010 C-27J funding due to RMD 802, the Air Force is funding the Army to continue leading the program through completion of Multi-Service Operational Test and Evaluation."

The Air Force will field 38 C-27Js, operated by the Air National Guard. Two are currently going through qualification and operational testing.

According to Air Force officials, the C-27J is an "extremely rugged" aircraft, designed for austere environments. And, although it has yet to complete its testing, they say it should thrive in the "dirt."

"Think of the C-27J as a 'mini-Herc' -- it looks like and acts like a C-130, but it is about half the size (3.5 pallet positions versus 6 to 8 pallets for the C-130)," Colonel Capone said. "This smaller size brings efficiency of scale to the Air Force's portfolio of airlifters." 

The colonel also said the aircraft is very powerful and agile. 

"It flies a lot like a C-130, but with a bit more power for its weight," he said. "Of course, as with most airplanes the pilots who fly the aircraft love it -- myself included."

AMC officials here say work to make the C-27J capable of fully supporting the Army's needs in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility is also continuously progressing.

"The Secretary of Defense gave the C-27J and its mission to the Air Force and we are 100 percent committed to making this work," said Maj. Gen. Brooks Bash, director of AMC's Air, Space and Information Operations Directorate.

A formal test is taking place from October through December in Iraq to gather information on this new Air Force mission. 

"This test will help us work out the command and control structure of the direct support mission and help us to validate requirements," said Col. Bobby Fowler, also with the Air, Space and Information Operations Directorate.

Air Force officials say there is still a lot to do as more and more C-27s come into the inventory. 

"A concept like this will take time and effort, but most importantly it will also require feedback from the forces," Colonel Fowler said. 

AMC and Air Force officials plan to continuously review and update the C-27J using input from field commanders until it is incorporated into joint doctrine.
S.T. Sturkol (AFNS)

XBOX Goes to War in Afghanistan

Airmen are using off-the-shelf commercial gaming equipment on the battlefield, and according to one Airman operating at an Afghan base still littered with Soviet-era landmines, they're a great fit.

When Senior Airman James Dobrynski, a St. Louis native, straps on his individual body armor, fire-resistant uniform and nine-millimeter handgun, he also grabs the half-inch camera-monitor fixed to his Oakley shades which are wired to a small backpack. Connected to that backpack is his Microsoft Xbox 360 game controller.

Operating remotely from the end of that controller isn't a game though, it's a $200,000 robot designed to diffuse the deadliest of improvised explosive devices the enemy can throw at coalition forces in Afghanistan, and he's using these tools to save lives.

"I'm absolutely used to this controller," Airman Dobrynski said, joking that he's always been an Xbox player and the transition from gaming to working was easy. "It's easy to go from a game you play off duty to work, and use the same exact controller," just for a much more serious situation he said.

Deployed from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., to an explosive ordnance disposal flight here, Airman Dobrynski said using the game-controller is easy for younger Airmen.

"This is new technology," said the 25-year-old Airman as he looked through the multi-color display of the eyepiece. "The process is adaptive; if there's something you need because a current tool or process doesn't work, you fix it and use it," said the Airman, relating that their job is evolutionary and that having the right tool is critical to their mission success.

Older robot systems were double the weight.  Now even the batteries are 75 percent smaller, which are invaluable now that Airman Dobrynski carries them in his rucksack, a must he says while on dismounted patrol. The robot being used is the fourth generation for Airman Dobrynski. His previous model was controlled with a Playstation II controller.

His supervisor, Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Spradley, an EOD team chief deployed from Spangdhalem Air Base, Germany, said it's smart for the government and private companies to develop tools that younger Airmen can relate with.

The development of the equipment has changed from being a "huge, clunky switchboard to an adaptable controller younger Airmen can relate to," said Sergeant Spradley, a native of Albuquerque, N.M. "Most of the Airmen operating these systems are younger so this makes sense. The development of these tools are a direct result from more Airmen being on foot patrols outside the wire when space and weight are a premium."
David Faggard (AFNS)

Army Phasing in Tan Stryker Combat Vehicles

More than six years after sending the first Stryker armored vehicles into desert combat, the Army has decided that it's probably a good idea to start painting them tan so they will blend in with the environments in Afghanistan and Iraq, reports the Stars & Stripes newspaper.



Lighter MRAPS for Afghanistan

The first mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles designated for southern Afghanistan arrived in Kandahar on Oct. 22 by air transport, reports the US Army.

After months of government testing, the Defense Department awarded a contract in June to Oshkosh Corp. to supply an initial order valued at $1.05 billion for more than 2,000 of the vehicles, known as M-ATVs.

"This is a very different environment than Iraq, so as we came in and continued to fight the fight in Afghanistan, we realized it requires a little bit different equipment or modification than what we have," said Lt. Col. Richard Haggerty, the Regional Command South deputy director for acquisitions, logistics and technology.

With an independent suspension system designed for off-road mobility, the M-ATV is built specifically to navigate Afghanistan's rugged landscape, the Army said in a press release.

"The M-ATV really answers some of the challenges of the terrain, high altitudes and the real unevenness of a lot of the terrain out there," Haggerty said.

The M-ATV seats four passengers and one gunner, and features an armor system with a "V" shaped hull engineered to protect occupants from enemy attack.

"It looks like a modified, huge, heavy-duty Jeep," said Anthony Deluca, the Kandahar site lead for the mine-resistant, ambush-protected, or MRAP, program. "It's got very good suspension systems, and everyone raves about how well it functions in the field."

While some original MRAP vehicles may weigh nearly 60,000 pounds, the M-ATV weighs about 25,000 pounds, including standard equipment and fuel.

"We're trying to get the soldier exactly what he needs to be successful in the battlefield," Haggerty said.

The initial eight vehicles will be used to train drivers and mechanics with units selected to receive M-ATVs

US Army Introduces New Parachute

The Army's new T-11 parachute is radically different from the current T-10, reports Army Times

Friday, October 23, 2009

US Army Unites Infantry, Armor Under One Command at Fort Benning

The Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning (GA) made it official Thursday afternoon.

In a largely symbolic event - since the MCOE officially cranked up operations Oct. 1 - the command's flag was unfurled and its leaders' new roles highlighted during an activation ceremony in the courtyard behind the Ridgway Hall headquarters building.

"It's a great day, any way you look at it," said Maj. Gen. Michael Ferriter, Fort Benning's commander, who became the inaugural MCOE commander on the first day of the fiscal year. "It's a great day to be a Soldier serving in the greatest Army in the world. It's a great day to serve at the greatest Army installation in the world - an installation that's making history here today."

"Collocating Infantry and Armor will allow us to capitalize on the strengths of the two greatest military forces in the world. They will train as they fight - together. One force, one fight. Separately, they are formidable. Together, they will make a maneuver force unlike anything this world has ever seen."

The U.S. Army Infantry Center was formally shut down Thursday and its flag cased as Ferriter's deputy, Col. Bryan Owens, supplanted him as the Infantry School commandant.

Maj. Gen. James Milano retains his title as commanding general of the U.S. Army Armor Center and Fort Knox, Ky. He presented the Armor School flag to Col. Mike Wadsworth on behalf of Col. David Teeples, the school's new commandant.

Fort Knox has been Armor's home since 1940. It'll be another 18 months before the Armor School's final elements pull out for Fort Benning.

"Do we have regrets leaving Fort Knox after seven decades? Absolutely," Milano said. "But we have orders and we're moving out with our heads held high ... There's a ton of work to do, but we look forward to the challenges."

The MCOE transformation began in 2005 after the Base Realignment and Closure committee's decision to relocate the Armor Center and School from Fort Knox to Fort Benning. Under the reorganization, all Infantry and Armor second lieutenants, captains and noncommissioned officers will train at Fort Benning - along with 52 percent of all new Soldiers.

Ferriter said the Infantry and Armor relationship is "long and colorful" as the two have collaborated for decades. Now, they're aiming to reshape the Army by creating a more agile, adaptive, lethal and leaner force.

"Experience tells us we win wars when we adopt a partnership and a policy of coherent operations," he said. "Transforming Fort Benning to the (MCOE) postures our Army for success. A successful Army bodes well for freedom at home and around the world. Together, we will focus on our number one priority - training great American Soldiers. In that respect, it will be business as usual at Fort Benning."

Although Armor has consolidated with the Infantry Center and School, both branches will maintain their own identities.

Milano said Thursday's ceremony was a "critical event" in Army history that transcends Cavalry and Infantry lines.

"It's bigger than either of the individual branches, and what we do from this day forward will have far-reaching effects on the United States Army," he said.

Fourteen Soldiers and 29 civilians are assigned to the MCOE but those figures will climb to 450 and 1,200, respectively, in the next two years.

"You get a sense that around the Army, folks have not yet grasped how profound, or important, this is," said Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's commanding general. "Physically, we can move flags around like we did today, but it's the teamwork and leadership who will manage this transition and reach its potential."

Dempsey said the Infantry-Armor unification at Fort Benning "makes perfect sense" in a global climate ripe with complex threats and challenges facing the United States.

"We'll find places where we can integrate our activities and find the best outcomes for the nation," he said.

During the next four years, the post is scheduled to complete $3.5 billion in construction, much of it aimed at developing Harmony Church to accommodate Armor and Cavalry Soldiers and hardware in 2011. The area also will be home to an Armed Forces Reserve and Equipment Concentration Site, scheduled for construction next year, as about 1,200 of equipment are relocated from Fort Gillem, Ga., under BRAC.

Building 4, formerly known as Infantry Hall, is being renovated and expanded to house MCOE headquarters at a future date. Construction on an Armor museum is expected to begin in two years.

Dempsey called Ferriter and Milano the "linchpins" for successfully bringing the entire package together. "I'm very confident that in the next 18 months ... these two great enthusiasts will lead the way," he said.

Fort Benning supports more than 120,000 Soldiers, family members, civilians and retirees on a daily basis. That number is forecast to grow by approximately 30,000 before 2011 as the move leads to about 11,000 new jobs on the installation for Soldiers, civilians and contractors, according to projections.

The post's financial impact on the tri-community already exceeds $2 billion annually, and the MCOE startup ultimately will bring 4,200 new families to the area, with the largest influx taking place in March 2011.
Vince Little (ANS)

Army TARDEC Developing Energy-Efficient Technologies

As the nation observes National Energy Awareness Month in October, the Army continues research on energy security, fuel efficiency and alternate power capabilities for its fleet of ground vehicles.

The U.S. Army Tank Automotive, Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren, Mich., is developing technologies such as advanced batteries, hybrid electric powertrains, fuel cells, lightweight materials, clean fuels, streamlined designs, microgrids and robotics.

"The Army owns and operates the largest fleet of ground vehicles in the world - totaling almost half a million vehicles," said TARDEC Director Dr. Grace M. Bochenek. "It is, therefore, crystal clear why ground vehicles are and should be a critical focus area for Army power and energy research and development."

TARDEC makes sure the government maximizes engineering, technology and program management benefits, Bochenek said. She said the command takes a systems-of-systems approach to look at the whole spectrum to see where value can be added or technology can be better integrated.

Partnerships key in research

TARDEC has formed partnerships with industry and academia that focus on development of dual-use technologies.

In January, TARDEC partnered with government, academia and industry researchers in the development of advanced vehicle batteries. This resulted in the Advanced Automotive Battery Initiative, which pursues development of cost competitive, flexible, lightweight, reliable and domestically-sourced battery components and materials for application in military and commercial vehicles by 2015.

The Initiative helped the organizations involved in the project receive $2.4 billion in federal battery and electric vehicle research grants earlier this year.

"We are leading development and integration of component technologies, both on our own and through leveraging our relationships in the scientific and automotive research communities," Bochenek said.

New laboratory to allow further research

In August, the organization broke ground on a 30,000-square-foot laboratory complex, the Ground System Power and Energy Laboratory, or GSPEL, which will house vehicle research and development operations in eight independent facilities housed within the same building.

Facilities in the GSPEL are the Power and Energy Vehicle Environment Lab, the Power (Electrochemical) Lab, the Electrical Power and Architecture Systems Integration Lab, the Hybrid-Electric Lab, the Fuel Cell lab, the Pulse Power and Directed Energy lab, the Thermal Management Lab and the Air Filtration Lab.

In the laboratory, TARDEC scientists and engineers will develop new ground fuels and lubricants, lightweight materials and structures, robotics, laser and imaging technologies, thermal and power management capabilities, alternate energy sources, reconfigurable vehicle platforms, advanced simulation and testing operations, energy storage systems and vehicle electronics, among other areas.

Once fully operational, the GSPEL will allow TARDEC to conduct research and development that will help meet U.S. Army energy security goals, Bochenek said.

"We have to think about our power and energy needs in a holistic manner because it's the only way to derive the most value," Bochenek said. "Our energy solutions are designed to solve problems, and some of them will be game changers over time."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Maritime Operations Center: State of the Art Capability for U.S. Fleet Forces

U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF), along with U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), celebrated the opening of the new Maritime Operations Center and Joint Deployment Center in a ribbon cutting ceremony at Naval Support Activity, Norfolk Oct. 21.

The new facility houses a state-of-the-art command center to direct maritime operations and collaborate with Joint, interagency and multinational partners. Both commands will share this space, but will have separate areas for their specific mission requirements. Should the need arise, a movable wall that separates USFF's spaces from JFCOM's can be raised to create one large, joint working environment.

For USFF, the new space will be home to the Maritime Operations Center. The MOC provides critical support in the execution of the nation's Maritime Strategy, giving commanders the processes, enabled by interoperable, networked systems, to enhance maritime capabilities.

"Here, our MOC team can perform the full set of mission essential tasks necessary to command and control all of our forces across a full spectrum of operations – from day to day issues all the way up to full crisis response," said Rear Adm. Gerald Beaman, deputy chief of staff for Global Force Management and Joint Operations.

Eight MOCs across the globe together form a network for the integration of maritime forces in any theater and across traditional combatant commander boundaries. Information linked from these MOCs support leadership decision making through greater global maritime domain awareness.

Retired Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, guest speaker for the ceremony, served as JFCOM commander during the planning phase of the building renovation.

"This new facility, and its automation and connectivity, will greatly assist Joint Forces Command and its components in further improving its effectiveness and transparency," said Giambastiani.

For USFF, the facility offers the commander improved access to timely and accurate command and control at the operational level, as well as the ability to work along side JFCOM in times of crisis.

"This space will allow our most important resource, our people, to work more effectively together, and will ensure both U.S. Joint Forces Command and U.S. Fleet Forces Command can continue to take operational warfighting far into the future," said Beaman.


Navy to Commission Amphibious Assault Ship LHD-8 USS Makin Island

The Navy will commission the amphibious assault ship Makin Island Oct. 24, during a 10 a.m. PDT ceremony at North Island Naval Air Station, Coronado, Calif.

Makin Island is named for the daring raid carried out by Marine Corps Companies Alpha and Bravo, Second Raider Battalion, on the Japanese-held Makin Island, in the Gilbert Islands, on Aug. 17-18, 1942. The raid was launched from the submarines USS Nautilus and USS Argonaut and succeeded in routing the enemy forces based there, gaining valuable intelligence. Twenty-three Navy Crosses were awarded for actions during the raid, including to the raid's leader, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Evans Carlson, and executive officer, Marine Corps Maj. James Roosevelt (son of President Franklin Roosevelt). Marine Corps Sgt. Clyde Thomason was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroism during the raid and was the first enlisted Marine to be so honored during World War II. One previous ship, a Casablanca-class escort aircraft carrier (1944-1946), has borne the name Makin Island, and received five battle stars for World War II service.

Adm. Patrick Walsh, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Silke Hagee, wife of former commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael Hagee, will serve as ship's sponsor. In the time honored Navy tradition, she will give the first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

Makin Island is the eighth Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. Second only to an aircraft carrier in size, LHDs embark, transport, deploy, command and fully support an expeditionary unit of 2,000 Marines. Makin Island can accommodate three landing craft air cushion, a squadron of AV-8B Harrier II aircraft, and a full range of Navy/Marine Corps helicopters and amphibious vehicles to perform sea control and limited power projection missions.

Makin Island is the first Navy amphibious assault ship to replace steam boilers with gas turbines, and the first Navy surface ship to be equipped with both gas turbines and an auxiliary propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, further demonstrating the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.

Makin Island is fully equipped with command, control, communication, computers and intelligence systems for flagship command duty. The afloat capability of Makin Island's medical facility is second only to the Navy's hospital ships. The ship is armed with two NATO Sea Sparrow surface missile systems for anti-air warfare protection, two rolling airframe missile systems and two Phalanx close-in-weapons systems mounts to counter threats from low flying aircraft. Six missile decoy launchers augment the anti-ship missile defenses.

Capt. Robert Kopas, born in Cleveland and raised in Phoenix, is the ship's commanding officer. Built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, Miss., the ship is 844 feet in length with a 106-foot beam, and has living areas for nearly 3,200 crewmembers and embarked forces.

Upon commissioning, the ship becomes a member of U.S. Pacific Fleet as part of Expeditionary Strike Group 3 and will be homeported in San Diego.


USAF Hospital in Iraq Provides Blood for Afghanistan

The Air Force Theater Hospital platelet
apheresis lab at Joint Base Balad (Iraq) began dispatching blood platelets to Afghanistan Oct. 14,

The AFTH functions as the sole platelet provider in Iraq. Now, it is the
first in-theater medical facility to send platelets collected in one
operational area to another, said Lt. Col. Thomas Jordan, 332nd
Expeditionary Medical Group apheresis chief.

"When I first arrived, I noticed there was a need (for platelets) in
Afghanistan," Colonel Jordan said. "Sometimes we collect more platelets then
we need to meet the demand in Iraq. Right now we're at 56 to 62 units a
week. Since some of those units don't get applied -- and inevitably must be
destroyed if not used within their shelf life -- we wanted to figure out a
place we could utilize the excess."

Master Sgt. Philip Monk, platelet apheresis laboratory flight chief, said
while injuries requiring platelet transfusions have decreased in Iraq, there
is still a need for the condensed clotting agent in Afghanistan.

"Our sole purpose here is to provide platelets where they're needed,"
Sergeant Monk said. "So, we targeted (Afghanistan), and we weren't gonna be
stopped. We made sure we got them there."

Colonel Jordan and his team ran into a series of challenges getting the
platelets to the OEF theater.

"(Platelets) don't like to be above 73 degrees Fahrenheit or they die off,"
Colonel Jordan said. "So we have to keep them at a certain temperature for
the entire life of the platelet. This proved to be a difficulty during

The lab found a way to combat this, using a special cooler called a
'Golden-Hour Box that maintains the correct temperature throughout the
flight, which is about four to six hours, the colonel added.

The blood products, which he describes as "persnickety," depend on special
appliances to maintain them once they arrive at the Role 3 Multinational
Hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Initially, that equipment was not on hand

"Right from the beginning, we noticed that even if we got the platelets
there, the medical facility in Afghanistan wouldn't be able to sustain them
because they didn't have an incubator," Colonel Jordan said. "I looked
around here and found that we had an (extra) one. So, we figured out a way
to get it to Kandahar. They validated the effectiveness of that instrument
and then put it into use."

The process has been a joint effort between the Air Force, Army and Navy.
While the platelets are collected by the Air Force, the Navy runs the
Kandahar hospital and the Army handles the weekly shipments.

Army Sgt. Jason Westlund, a Charlie Company, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation
Regiment flight medic who helps transport the boxes of blood products, was
excited about the new mission.

"We're here to support warfighters on the front lines," the sergeant said.
"And the thought that we may be a part of the process that saves someone's
life makes me feel very good about what we're doing here."

A.J. Allmond (AFNS)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

German Air Force Training in US - Factsheet

The German Air Force has been training its aircrews in the United
States since 1958. This training took place on various bases throughout
the states before it was moved to Holloman Air Force Base, NM, in 1992.

German Air Force pilot candidates learn to fly in Texas at U.S. Air
Force undergraduate pilot training. The future Weapon System Officers
(WSO) attend undergraduate navigator training at Pensacola NAS, Fl.

The U.S. Air Force's 20th Fighter Squadron at Holloman trained German
pilots and WSOs to fly the F-4F PHANTOM. In addition, the 20th
conducted the Flight Instructor (IP) and the Fighter Weapons Instructor
Course (FWIC). The German government paid the full cost of this
program. The 20th Fighter Squadron was inactivated on December 20,

The German Air Force Tactical Training Center (GAF TTC) was activated
as a tenant unit at Holloman AFB May 1, 1996. This program, based on a
memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two governments and
financed by the German Federal Ministry of Defence (FMOD), is unique by
the way that it allows the German Air Force to deploy and station their
TORNADO A/C permanently at Holloman AFB, NM. With the activation, 300
German military personnel and 12 Tornado aircraft joined Team Holloman.
The mission was to conduct a Fighter Weapons Instructor Course (FWIC)
for the TORNADO and advanced tactical training in preparation for

The Tactical Training Center was redesignated the German Air Force
Flying Training Center (GAF FTC) July 1, 1999 in conjunction with their
growing mission. In addition, German Air Force pilots and WSOs are now
learning to fly the TORNADO at Holloman AFB and instructor aircrews are
being trained as well. As of July 2007 there are 600 German military
personnel and 21 Tornado aircraft assigned to Holloman AFB, NM. These
numbers may increase up to 900 personnel and 42 A/C, depending on the
actual training needs.

There are numerous reasons the German Air Force trains here. The area
offers great flying weather and has suitable air space. Other reasons
are the proximity of Holloman AFB to the German Air Force Air Defense
Center (GAF ADC) at Ft. Bliss, TX and the centralizing of German
aircrew training for the TORNADO at a single location.

The GAF FTC consists of two Groups, the Training Group and the Support
Group. The Training Group holds the administrative staff which is
necessary to plan and support the flying courses. Within the Training
Group the Training Squadron is home of all the instructors and the

The Support Group consists of three squadrons witch are the First Line
Maintenance Squadron, the Second Line Maintenance and Electronic
Squadron and the Supply Squadron.

Factsheet courtesy US Air Force


German Air Force Training Center in US Logs 55,555 Tornado Flight Hours

With the landing of a freshly painted Tornado, the German air force
Flying Training Center at Holloman AFB (NM) completed 55,555 Tornado
flight hours Oct. 13, and a reception commemorating the accomplishment
shortly followed.

German air force members shared the momentous occasion with the 49th
Fighter Wing by inviting the wing commander to accompany the GAF FTC
commander in the flight.

"It's a real honor for me to have been invited to be a part of this
ceremony," said Col. Jeff Harrigian, 49th FW commander. "Fundamentally,
this is in appreciation of all the hard work that the German Flying
Training Center has undergone for the last several years for this
accomplishment to occur and for them to allow me to be a part of it is
really an honor."

The sharing of the flight was a gesture that exemplified the continued
friendship between the two nations.

"[The 55,555th flight hour] is based on friendship with the community,
friendship with Holloman and a lot of dedication and professionalism of
our men and women of the flying training center," said Col. Peter
Klement, GAF FTC commander. "Certainly this occasion could not be
possible no matter how hard we worked, no matter how dedicated we are,
if it wasn't for our friends at Holloman Air Force Base and our friends
in the community of Alamogordo."

The German Tornado that the two commanders made the historic feat in
received a unique paint job before the flight and everyone who attended
the reception got to witness it up close as they taxied in front of the

"The commander held a competition to choose the best art design
concept," said Tina McClain, artist for the 55,555 ceremonial Tornado
and painter for the GAF Tornado aircraft.

Senior Airman Kiro Pinter of the GAF FTC won with his plan of an
animated picture of a cartoon-like blue clock running through the side
of the Tornado, representing the continuance of the mission -- "to keep
it going."

Ms. McClain said it took five weeks to paint the aircraft.

The underside of the aircraft was painted with the New Mexico flag
design. On the left side of the tail is a landscape of Sierra Blanca,
and the Organ Mountains are depicted on the right side of the tail.
These are representative of the major landmarks around the Tularosa

"Flying in this airplane which is painted up in this spectacular
fashion was very cool," Colonel Harrigian said after the flight.

All in all, the new paint job, the flight and the celebration marked an
accomplishment that was more than 13 years in the making, and Colonel
Klement said he hopes that the 55,555th flight hour is only the midway
mark of the GAF FTC's flight hours here.

"For the next years to come, we hope to be guests here on base with the
same friendship we see from the community and the base," he said.

On behalf of the 49th FW, Colonel Harrigian congratulated the Germans
on a job well done.

"It really goes to show you that together we have put together a team
that accomplishes a tremendous variety of missions that are important
to our nation," the wing commander said. "I thank them for allowing us
to be a part of this."

Sondra Escutia (AFNS)

USAF's Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft Gets X-Plane Designation

Air Force officials have approved X-55A as the new designation for the
Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft.

The X-55A is a technology demonstrator for the design and manufacturing
of future aircraft using advanced composite materials. The X-55A is a
modified Dornier 328J aircraft with the fuselage aft of the crew
station and the vertical tail removed and replaced with completely new
structural designs. These designs are made from composites using new
out-of-autoclave curing techniques. The test platform contains some 600
accelerometers and stress gauges.

The aircraft's first flight was June 2, 2009, at Air Force Plant 42 in
Palmdale, Calif.

"We're extremely proud to have been awarded X-designation," said Barth
Shenk, X-55A program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory's
Air Vehicle Directorate. "We hope to take this testing to the next
phase to further mature our understanding of composite materials, how
they behave in flight and how they age. This effort may drastically
change the way we manufacture future military and civilian aircraft."

The strength, light weight, ease of manufacture and corrosion
resistance are just some of the composite materials characteristics Air
Force officials want to use the X-55A to explore, Mr. Shenk said.

The X-55A was made possible by a 10-year AFRL-led research and
development investment called the Composite Affordability Initiative.
Government labs including NASA worked collaboratively with industry to
develop advanced materials and manufacturing technologies, Mr. Shenk

The ACCA was conceived by AFRL as a fast-track, low-cost development
effort. Working with Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works, it was designed in
5 months, then built and flown 20 months after the go-ahead. The
aircraft was built at half the estimated cost of a conventional design
of the same size, according to Mr. Shenk.

Test flights on July 13 and August 8 expanded the aircraft's maneuver
envelope and recorded external aerodynamic flow data.

Phase III of the program was awarded to Lockheed Martin Sept. 17 and
plans to fully expand the flight envelope and characterize the
structure, examine reliability and longevity of the design and baseline
the X-55A as a test-bed for other technologies.

According to Mr. Shenk, the X-55A program has already demonstrated the
feasibility of designing and manufacturing large, bonded unitized
structures featuring low-temperature, out-of-autoclave curing. The
fuselage was constructed in two large half-sections (upper-lower)
featuring sandwich construction with MTM-45 skins and Nomex core,
bonded together with adhesive and ply overlays along the longitudinal
seam rather than numerous frames, stiffeners and metal fasteners used
commonly in traditional aircraft. The vertical tail was designed using
tailored stiffness technology. These were joined with an existing
Dornier 328J cockpit, wing, engines and horizontal tail.

Compared to the original metallic components, the composite structure
uses approximately 300 structural parts versus 3,000 metallic parts for
the original components and approximately 4,000 mechanical fasteners
compared to 40,000.

Derek Kaufman (AFNS)

Joint Deployment Center/Maritime Operations Center Inaugurated

U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) and Fleet Forces Command (FFC)
officials cut the ribbon on a new building that will streamline the
deployment process for the commands' personnel at Norfolk Naval Base
(Virginia) today.

Air Force Maj. Gen. David Edgington, USJFCOM chief of staff, and Navy
Rear Adm. Gerald Beaman, FFC Global Force Management and Joint
Operations deputy chief of staff, along with gathered military and
civilian personnel, opened the Joint Deployment Center (JDC) and
Maritime Operations Center (MOC).

Sharing the facility was the most cost-efficient and operationally
effective option for the two commands, said USJFCOM Deputy Chief of
Staff Marine Corps Col Gary Kling in a memo. The combined facility
improves connectivity between USJFCOM and USFFC and improves the state
of deployment resources.

"This is very exciting for us to bring to culmination, the opening of
this building behind us," Edgington said. "We've gotten a service
command, Fleet Forces Command, and the Joint Forces Command, a joint
command, which live on the same installation, to collaborate, to fund
and to see through to completion a single building for a dual, but
combined purpose.

"That is not something insignificant in today's military," he added.

Retired Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr., who commanded USJFCOM
from October 2002 to August 2005, spoke about the combined facility's
importance at the ceremony.

"It's very important to have this (facility)," said Giambastiani, who
retired in 2007 as the seventh vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff. "This new facility and its attendant automation and
connectivity will greatly assist Joint Forces Command and the
components, in my view, in further improving its effectiveness and
transparency amongst all these different staffs."

All deploying USJFCOM personnel will report to the JDC and complete
necessary training and preparations prior to leaving the U.S.

According to Beaman, there are eight MOCs across the globe forming a
valuable interface for the integration of maritime forces in any
theatre. Together, these MOCs provide total global maritime awareness.
This facility will help optimize maritime forces, streamlining them to
where they can best be served.

"What you see in front of you today is a vast improvement over the
previously used space. This is a state-of-the-art technological
facility from which we are able to direct maritime operations and
collaborate with our joint interagency and multinational partners,"
Beaman said.

The facility covers 49,000 square feet and has a state-of-the-art data,
communication and audio-visual collaborative network supported by more
than 110 miles of cable. A centralized server and secured hard drives
eliminate the need for desktop personal computers, optimizing work
space and network security. It contains a conference center,
operational areas and a crisis response center.

The facility is flexible to accommodate future mission requirements and
demands, including furniture designed to be reconfigurable.

Josh LeCapellain

Empire Challenge 2009 Demonstration Results Promising

U.S. Joint Forces Command's (USJFCOM) Empire Challenge 09 (EC09) was a
successful multinational collaboration in resolving interoperability
issues among intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)
capabilities, according to the demonstration's director for
intelligence operations.

EC09 - the sixth demonstration in the Empire Challenge series and the
first to be run by USJFCOM - allowed the command to test sensors,
concepts of operations, tactics, techniques, procedures, processes, and
software at a variety of sites throughout the world, said Air Force
Col. George "Skip" Krakie, EC09's director for intelligence operations.

USJFCOM, along with partners from NATO, Great Britain, Australia,
Canada and New Zealand, assessed 38 ISR capabilities and how they could
be shared with allies during the Undersecretary of Defense for
Intelligence-directed demonstration in July.

"We used the High-Speed Guard (HSG) that allowed us to electronically
pass full-motion video from a U.S.-only network to a coalition
network," Krakie said.

HSG is a system that allows U.S. assets to transfer data from their
networks to those of allied militaries, Krakie said. EC09 participants
at China Lake, Calif., flew an unmanned aerial system (UAS) and
captured video to send to imagery analysts in the joint operations
center, Krakie said. Once the imagery was in the network, it was passed
through HSG to imagery exploiters in the United Kingdom.

"That was very successful as far as the ability to share our data with
our multinational partners, which was a key objective to the event," he

Krakie said USJFCOM and the Joint Deployable Intelligence Support
System Joint Program Office developed an interface between U.S. and
NATO collection management systems to enable the two to communicate
with each other.

"This is what allows us to task ISR assets to collect certain things,"
he said. "During EC09, we built an interface between the two and we
were able to test it and it worked very well."

Another promising demonstration involved an aircraft's ability to
encrypt full-motion video as it was filmed Krakie said. Ground forces
using a remotely operated, video-enhanced receiver (rover) system were
able to see what an aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicle saw in real
time. The warfighters received images acquired by the aircraft's
sensors on a laptop on the ground. Krakie said participants were then
able to decrypt the video they received.

"We are making sure the warfighter - whether he has a laptop or a rover
- is getting the information he needs; not just dumping the data on
him, but getting him the tailored data that he needs," he said.

EC09 focused on distributing mission-critical intelligence to the
warfighter. Events included specific scenarios to address joint
capability needs including irregular warfare, joint ISR management,
multi-domain awareness, and ISR-strike integration.

With this year's event finished, concept development plans for next
year's demonstration have begun.

Krakie said Empire Challenge 2010 will move beyond "getting the ones
and zeros to cross through the networks" - making the systems
interoperable - and focus on building a systematic means of providing
solutions to the warfighter.

"This year, we're really focusing on near-term capabilities that could
be delivered to Afghanistan in short order," he said. "That doesn't
mean that we're not going to continue to look at some far-reaching,
game-changing-type ISR capabilities, but the focus will be on things
that are either going to Afghanistan or could go Afghanistan and
[whether we] can get the interoperability piece working so they won't
have to figure it out there."

Nikki Carter

Friday, October 16, 2009

Naval Research Lab Looks to Sea, Sun for Energy Solutions

The services could more effectively power unmanned vehicles, underwater
monitoring sensors, ships and aircraft if Naval Research Laboratory
scientists achieve their goals of harnessing solar and sea power to
fuel the military for years to come, a top NRL scientist said.

"A worldwide peak of fuel production is expected in five to 15 years,
and increased demand will likely create large swings in price and
availability," Barry Spargo, head of NRL's chemical dynamics and
diagnostics branch, said in an Oct. 14 interview on Pentagon Web
Radio's audio webcast "Armed with Science: Research and Applications
for the Modern Military."

"The bottom line is that we need to develop alternative power and
energy because conservation and efficiency alone will fall short of
meeting future needs," he explained.

The quest for alternative fuel technologies is a top priority for the
Navy, Spargo said, adding that energy research at NRL is diverse,
allowing them to bring together a wide array of disciplines to address
unique problems confronting alternate energy research.

"We're conducting research in a number of areas that look really
promising; however it's unlikely that a single research area will solve
the energy problems that we are facing," Spargo said. "NRL is currently
investing in synthetic fuel production at sea, enhancing fuel energy
density, exploration of methane hydrates in the ocean, energy
harvesting from the sea, fuel cells and batteries, power electronics
and superconductors, and inertial fusion.

"Each of these research areas has significant challenges," he added,
"but certainly promising potential to help solve some of the Navy and
[Defense Department's] future power and energy needs for force

One area of research that NRL is pursuing is the feasibility of
sea-based production of hydrocarbon fuels. According to Spargo, the
goal is to produce fuel in the same location where it is being
consumed, specifically to support surface ships and aircraft operations
from carriers at sea.

"This would give battle groups independence from fleet oilers which
provide refueling needs," Spargo explained. It also would cushion naval
forces from future fuel shortfalls, he added, providing energy
independence to the Navy.

Fuel synthesis would be accomplished by a catalytic conversion of
hydrogen produced directly from sea water by the electrolysis of water
and carbon dioxide. "It's a complex process, but we believe that
emerging scientific technology supports the development of synthetic
logistic fuels," he noted.

"There are significant research and technological challenges, but the
potential payoff is really high," he added.

Spargo noted that producing energy from sea water would be carbon
dioxide neutral, thus not adding to the world's carbon footprint. "This
technology would be a great candidate for dual use in the civilian
sector if it actually comes to fruition," he said.

Spargo described another promising avenue of research that is
investigating the potential for tapping the thermal energy stored in
tropical waters.

"The energy stored in tropical waters is 300 times that of the world
energy consumption. This makes the ocean the largest solar collector on
Earth," he noted.

Ocean thermal energy conversion is a potentially efficient method to
convert the energy stored in tropical oceans into electricity.

"You take the surface water, which is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and
[use it to] heat a working liquid, something like propylene, which has
a vapor point below 80 degrees," Spargo explained. "That converts the
propylene liquid into a gas which drives a turbine that produces
electricity. We then bring cold water up from about 3,000 feet below
the surface, cool that vapor back into liquid and essentially create a
cyclic process."

Taking a more direct approach to harnessing the energy of the sun, the
lab is working on flexible photovoltaic panels about four times as
efficient as current solar panels. According to Spargo, the panels can
be easily folded and transported, or even integrated into materials
like tents and uniform covers to provide a local power source in
support of expeditionary forces.

"Additionally, NRL has prototyped a photovoltaic coating that can be
sprayed on surfaces, like a rock, to create on-the-fly energy sources,"
he said. "You can imagine a small force spraying a rock and using it to
generate electricity to power some device that they are using in the

A more unusual approach to energy production is the use of certain
marine microorganisms that consume carbon dioxide in the ocean and
convert it into energy that can be harvested. "As part of their
biochemistry, these organisms produce electricity," he explained.

NRL has developed a number of devices that use microorganisms to power
small sensors, like bottom-moored acoustic hydrophones for monitoring
ship traffic, Spargo said.

"If we can produce enough energy with these devices, they could also
power unmanned underwater vehicles, or at least provide a docking
station where they could regenerate their batteries using electricity
produced by these microbes," he said.

The lab has expended considerable research and development into
developing hydrogen fuel cells as an energy source, Spargo said. "Fuel
cells are used to create electricity, and they do this by converting
hydrogen and oxygen into water," he explained.

Hydrogen fuel cells can deliver about twice the efficiency of a
conventional combustion engine and when used to fuel unmanned aerial
vehicles, or UAVs, they can support heavier payloads than the earlier
battery-powered models.

A recent test of the prototype Ion Tiger UAV, powered exclusively by a
hydrogen fuel cell, sustained continuous flight for 23 hours and 17

"Also, they can operate in stealth because they're not a combustion
engine, which has a considerable heat signature, as well as a noise
signature," he said.

Spargo also described efforts to harvest methane hydrates from the sea
floor. "They have the potential of being double the amount of
recoverable and nonrecoverable fossil fuels," he said.

Spargo admitted that there are many challenges to harvesting methane
hydrates, including locating them and accessing them at such great
depths, but it would be worth the effort.

"If we're able to actually extract these from the ocean floor, there's
a potential to meet our national natural gas needs for about a hundred
years," he said.

"Energy research is a key priority for the Navy and, for that matter,
all of us," Spargo said. "I'm certain that there many exciting
discoveries ahead that will help us achieve this goal of energy
independence, as well as being good stewards of the environment as we
operate and live in it," he said.

Bob Freeman (AFPS)

SECNAV Outlines Five 'Ambitious' Energy Goals

Saying he was committing "the Navy and Marine Corps to meet bold,
ambitious goals," Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced five energy
targets to the audience of more than 750 gathered Oct. 14-15 at the
Naval Energy Forum in McLean, Va.

Those targets, the Navy secretary said on day one of the two-day
conference, include changing the way the Navy and Marine Corps award
contracts during the acquisition process to consider the lifetime
energy cost of the system; by 2012, creating a "Green Strike Group"
composed of nuclear vessels and ships powered by biofuels and deploying
that fleet by 2016; by 2015, reducing petroleum use in its 50,000
commercial vehicle fleet by 50 percent by phasing in hybrid fuel and
electric vehicles; producing at least half the shore-based energy
requirements from renewable sources, such as solar, wind and ocean
generated by the base; and by 2020, ensuring at least 40 percent of the
Navy's total energy consumption comes from alternative sources.

"Leading change is not new for the Department of the Navy," said Mabus.
"We are a better Navy and a better Marine Corps for innovation. We have
led the world in the adoption of new energy strategies in the past.
This is our legacy."

The forum, hosted by the Office of Naval Research and the Navy's Task
Force Energy, was organized to introduce the Department of Navy
emerging energy strategy and initiatives, and gain insight from
dialogues with participants, event organizers said. It was focused
around three key themes tied to energy--security, efficiency and
environmental stewardship.

With multiple opportunities to exchange information and dialogue, the
main event was a plenary room that featured senior keynote presenters
and interactive panel discussions around the key themes. Breakout rooms
showcased energy-related Navy programs, hybrid and alternative fuel
technologies and opportunities for one-on-one collaborations.

In addition to Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead also
shared his vision of the Navy's energy strategy with the cross-section
of representatives from federal government agencies, academic
institutions, small business and the defense industry.

The Department of Defense is the largest government and individual
petroleum user in the United States, guzzling about 330,000 barrels of
oil per day, according to military officials. The Department of the
Navy is the second largest fuel user in the DoD, consuming about
100,000 barrels a day. About 75 percent of all fuel products are
transported by sea, much of it passing through vulnerable points
protected by U.S. naval forces, officials said.

"For all of you in here, it comes as no surprise that energy powers our
way of life," Roughead said during his speech. "I also think that as we
go forward, the Navy can continue to be a great steward of our
environment. The initiatives that we are going to explore here, and
things that we are doing with Task Force Energy and Task Force Climate
Change, allow us to be able to continue that reputation of stewardship."

Highlighting the importance of science and technology as the Navy plots
its energy strategy, Roughead said, "Everything doesn't have to be
game-changing technology, even though I've challenged (the Office of
Naval Research) to find 'the next big thing.'"

The Navy and Marine Corps' science and technology provider, the Office
of Naval Research (ONR) invests in a wide range of energy science and
technology projects. Dr. Larry Schuette, ONR's director of innovation,
participated in the "Pitch a Principal" program where interested
parties discussed funding opportunities with ONR. He said the forum was
a great platform to exchange ideas.

"This was the perfect opportunity for industry and our warfighter
partners to meet a broad range of subject matter experts one-on-one,"
Schuette said.

Other participants also praised the forum.

Jeff Voth, president of Herron Associates, an engineering and
management consulting company, called the event "very impressive. By
the show of senior leadership attendance and the delivery of an
aggressive naval energy strategy, the Navy is taking the lead and
raising the bar for industry to achieve more."

Paula Paige (NNS)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

USAF F-15's and the Battle of Camp Keating

"I won't forget them as long as I live."

Those are the words of Capt. Gordon Olde, an F-15E Strike Eagle weapon
system officer following a battle at a remote military base about 10
miles from Pakistan that erupted on the morning of Oct. 3 that
highlighted the unbreakable bond between Airmen and Soldiers.

In a steep valley in the Nuristan Province in Northeast Afghanistan,
combat outposts Keating and Fritsche were attacked by hundreds of
militants from multiple firing positions, according to an International
Security Assistance Force statement.

Within minutes, Air Force aircraft were on scene and engaging the
enemy, said Army 1st Lt. Cason Shrode, COP Keating's fires support

"We received a heavy volley of fire," the lieutenant said referring to
the initial wave of enemies. However, "we had so many different assets
up in the air ... they were stacked on so many different levels ... we
had everything we needed."

Lieutenant Shrode, working from his secondary tactical operations
center because his primary location was on fire from the attack, was in
contact with Senior Airman Angel Montes, a joint terminal attack
controller from San Diego, and Airman 1st Class Stephen Kellams, a
native of Tampa, Fla., serving as a radio operator maintenance and
driver, or ROMAD for short. Both Airmen are deployed from the 13th Air
Support Operations Squadron, Fort Carson, Colo. and were at a forward
operating base about 20 miles away.

With buildings already on fire, a formation of two F-15Es rolled in
overhead and immediately saw the enemy.

"(Tthe enemy) were on the surrounding ridges," said Captain Olde,
flying in an F-15E over the area referring to the combat outpost
surrounded by steep mountain-peaks on three sides. "A major attack was
apparent to us from the moment we showed up. I knew something big was
unfolding before our eyes; all I could think about were the guys on the

The first F-15Es on the scene were helmed by Capt. Isaac Bell, an F-15E
pilot, and Captain Olde, as well as Capt. Dave Nierenberg, an F-15E
pilot, and British Flight Lt. James Siwicki, a weapon system officer.
All aircrew were part of the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron
deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.

Capt. Mike Polidor and 1st Lt. Aaron Dove arrived later over the combat
outpost and assumed the roles of tactical air controller airborne.

"That's something we don't often train for, but they executed it
perfectly by funneling all the JTAC's information to the other jets
that showed up," Captain Olde said. "They did an incredible job and
no-doubt saved numerous lives on the ground due to their organized and
methodical employment of airpower."

Communication on the ground was scarce initially due to the very harsh
terrain, according to the F-15E aircrew. However, they quickly
developed a way around this by splitting up their typical two-ship
formation and placed one aircraft over a nearby forward operating base
some 20 miles away. At this forward operating base, the JTAC teams were
linked to Lieutenant Shrode, the fires support officer via F-15E

"We were in disbelief as to what was going on," said Staff Sgt. Adam
Burns, the JTAC NCO in charge and native of San Antonio. "We had every
air asset we could imagine. We pushed so many aircraft that we never
really worried about ammo conservation."

Sergeant Burns and his ROMAD, Staff Sgt. Sean Quinn a native of
Memphis, Tenn., would later find themselves infiltrating into Combat
Outpost Keating as part of American reinforcements.

"We were able to get comms with the (AH-64) Apaches supporting Keating
and we relayed for them to the JTAC that (insurgents) were inside the
wire," Captain Olde, a WSO with four years in the Air Force said about
the Army's AH-64s.

After a successful bomb run, Captain Olde and Captain Bell went back in
with their cannon and employed a "single strafe pass, then had to head
back to refuel," Captain Olde said handing the fight over to fellow
squadron members.

"I cued the Sniper pod to the burning COP and it hit me how serious
things were," said 1st Lt. Aaron Dove, a weapon system officer and
native of Hudson, Wisc. "The main thing in my mind was to do my job
well because this was a time when the guys on the ground needed us

Lieutenant Dove and Captain Polidor were two that set themselves over
the nearby forward operating base acting as a radio relay and
coordinated airstrikes of a B-1B Lancer bomber and F-15Es all while
coordinating between two bases and Army Apache helicopters with a
thunderstorm rapidly approaching.

"We coordinated and relayed many airstrikes with various aircraft,"
Lieutenant Dove said. "By the time we got home, we had been airborne
for eight hours, strafed mountainous terrain in dangerous weather, and
integrated more than 30 bombs on targets around Keating; none of which
caused any friendly injuries or fatalities or civilian casualties."

Despite claims from the Taliban, both outposts were in the process of a
scheduled repositioning as part of a security strategy to focus more on
populated areas, according to Combined Joint Task Force-82 officials

"Despite what the Taliban say, the COP was not overrun," said Lt. Col.
Clarence Counts, the Combined Joint Task Force-82 public affairs
officer. "Our American and Afghan forces fought valiantly and defeated
a highly coordinated attack inflicting heavy casualties."

"The biggest thing I gained from this whole ordeal is that the real
heroes out here in Afghanistan are the guys on the ground, especially
those who gave their lives so that their friends could go home to their
families," Lieutenant Dove said.

Nearly 100 militants were killed by the combined response that included
Afghan soldiers as well as U.S. air and ground units. Eight Americans
and three Afghans were killed, while nine Americans and 11 Afghans were
wounded, according to CJTF-82 officials.

"There is no doubt that without the incredible air support we received,
it would have been a much worse day," said Army Lt. Col. Robert Brown,
3-61 Cavalry commander from the 4th Infantry Division of Fort Carson,
Colo. "Your ability to keep a steady flow of aircraft and ordnance on
the enemy turned what could have been a terrible defeat into a hard
fought victory."

"My hat goes off to those Americans on the ground who fought so
bravely, especially those who gave their lives serving their country,"
Captain Olde said. "I won't forget them for as long as I live."

David Faggard (AFPS)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hummingbird UAV Shines With FORESTER Recce Radar

The Boeing A160T Hummingbird unmanned helicopter successfully completed
20 test flights from Aug. 31 to Oct. 8 with the Foliage Penetration
Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Tracking and Engagement Radar (FORESTER).
The tests, conducted at Fort Stewart, Ga., validated the radar-carrying
A160T's flight characteristics with more than 50 hours of flying time.

FORESTER is being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Army to provide enhanced coverage of moving
vehicles and dismounted troops under foliage, filling the current
surveillance gap. The Fort Stewart tests were conducted under a
contract with DARPA.

"The success of these test flights points to the operational readiness
of this important capability," said Vic Sweberg, director of Unmanned
Airborne Systems (UAS) for Boeing. "The FORESTER is a unique radar, and
the A160T is a unique helicopter. Together, they make a formidable

The 53 flight hours at Fort Stewart pushed the total flight hours for
the A160T past the 220-hour mark. The helicopter's longest flight at
Fort Stewart was 5.8 hours and its average flight time was 4.2 hours.

The A160T is a turbine-powered unmanned helicopter that can perform
numerous missions, including intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance, communications, and precision resupply. It holds the
world record for endurance for its class (more than 18 hours
unrefueled), can hover at 20,000 feet and can carry up to 2,500 pounds
of cargo.

The Hummingbird recently was selected to participate in the U.S. Marine
Corps Warfighting Laboratory's Immediate Cargo Unmanned Aerial System
Demonstration Program. Boeing will demonstrate that the A160T can
deliver at least 2,500 pounds of cargo from one simulated
forward-operating base to another in fewer than six hours per day for
three consecutive days.,


LCS 1 USS Freedom to Deploy 2 Years Early

The Navy announced Oct. 13 the decision to deploy the USS Freedom (LCS
1) in early 2010 to the Southern Command and Pacific Command areas
ahead of her originally scheduled 2012 maiden deployment.

According to Navy leaders, littoral combat ships (LCS) are needed now
to close urgent warfighting gaps.

"Deploying LCS now is a big step forward in getting this ship where it
needs to be – operating in the increasingly important littoral
regions," said Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations. "We must
deliver this critical capability to the warfighter now."

The Freedom will have an immediate impact on fleet readiness and global
reach as an asset with unique combat capabilities and the ability to
meet littoral tasking not previously seen in the modern cruiser or
destroyer fleet.

"The Navy plans to build a considerable number of littoral combat ships
which will form the backbone of our future fleet," said Adm J. C.
Harvey, Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, charged with executing the
early deployment. "The sooner we integrate them into our fleet, the
sooner we can incorporate them in the order of battle. This deployment
offers a golden opportunity to learn by doing. Employing the USS
Freedom in theater two years ahead of a normal timeline allows us to
incorporate lessons that can only be learned in a deployment setting
more quickly and effectively in the LCS fleet integration process."

In evaluating options for deploying the Freedom earlier than originally
scheduled, the Navy took into consideration several key factors
including combat systems testing, shakedown of the ship systems and
overseas sustainment with a new concept of operations and crew
training. To facilitate the early deployment, the Navy adjusted the
Freedom testing schedule, prioritized testing events needed for
deployment and deferred others not required for the missions envisioned
during this deployment. The Freedom recently completed Industrial Post
Delivery Availability 2, which also supported an early deployment.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ONR's Ion Tiger Fuel Cell UAV Completes 23-Hour Flight

The Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL's) Ion Tiger, a hydrogen-powered
fuel cell unmanned air vehicle (UAV), flew 23 hours and 17 minutes,
setting an unofficial flight endurance record for a fuel-cell powered
flight during a test Oct. 9-10 at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

The Ion Tiger fuel cell system development team is led by NRL and
includes Protonex Technology Corporation, the University of Hawaii, and
HyperComp Engineering. The program is sponsored by the Office of Naval
Research (ONR).

"The long endurance flight was made possible by the team's research on
high power, efficient fuel cell systems, lightweight hydrogen-gas
storage tanks, improved thermal management, and the effective
integration of these systems," said NRL researcher Karen Swider-Lyons.

The electric fuel cell propulsion system on board the Ion Tiger has the
low noise and signature of a battery-powered UAV, while taking
advantage of hydrogen, a high-energy fuel. Fuel cells create an
electrical current when they convert hydrogen and oxygen into water,
with only water and heat as byproducts. The 550-watt (0.75 horsepower)
fuel cell on board the Ion Tiger has about four times the efficiency of
a comparable internal combustion engine and the system provides seven
times the energy in the equivalent weight of batteries. The Ion Tiger
weighs approximately 37 pounds and carries a four to five pound payload.

Small UAVs are growing in importance for naval missions, as they
provide capabilities ranging from surveillance collection to
communication links. Electric UAVs have the additional feature of being
nearly undetectable from the ground. Due to the high energy in the fuel
cell system on board the Ion Tiger, it is now possible to do long
endurance missions with an electric UAV, thus allowing a larger cruise
range and reducing the number of daily launches and landings. This
provides more capability while saving time and effort for the crew.

In 2005, NRL backed initial research in fuel cell technologies for

Fuel cell technology is being developed to impact the operational
spectrum of technologies including ground, air and undersea vehicles
and man-portable power for Marine expeditionary missions.

"The Ion Tiger successfully demonstrates ONR's vision to show how
efficient, clean technology can be used to improve the warfighter's
capabilities," said ONR Program Manager Michele Anderson.

Donna McKinney (NNS)