Thursday, September 30, 2010

First Power-On Of New Fire-X Medium-Range Vertical Unmanned System

First Power-On Of New Fire-X Medium-Range Vertical Unmanned System: "Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter have moved a significant step closer to being able to offer military users a vertical unmanned system that can ferry cargo - either internally or externally - over extended distances.
On Sept. 17, the team applied external power for the first time to the main computers and associated subsystems for its new Fire-X medium-range vertical unmanned aerial system (VUAS), currently in final integration and test at Bell Helicopter's Xworx rapid prototyping facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
First flight for the new extended range, cargo-hauling VUAS, which is based on the FAA-certified Bell 407 airframe, is expected by the end of CY2010.
'The Fire-X 'power-on' sequence, which validates the integrity of the electrical system, went exactly as planned,' said George Spongberg, Northrop Grumman's Fire-X program manager.
'It confirmed that the air vehicle's vehicle management system has been configured properly, and that all of the air vehicle's new wire harnesses are delivering power at the right levels to all of the major subsystems.' Fire-X's new wire harnesses were produced, tested and installed by Bell Helicopter, he added."

US ratifies defense pacts with Britain, Australia

US ratifies defense pacts with Britain, Australia: "In a boon to US ties with Australia and Britain, the US Senate has ratified treaties with both allies to streamline military sales by eliminating most export licenses, officials said Thursday.
US President Barack Obama, whose administration had made the pacts a high priority, telephoned British Prime David Cameron to personally share the news, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
'Its passage is evidence of the broad, bipartisan support that undergirds the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom,' added Gibbs, who highlighted the treaty's potential for spurring job growth.
And US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared in a statement that the accords, ratified late Wednesday, 'recognize and support the long-standing special relationship between the United States and two of its closest allies.'"

Northrop Grumman To Increase Efficiency For Next-Gen Military Laser Technology

Northrop Grumman To Increase Efficiency For Next-Gen Military Laser Technology: "Northrop Grumman will leverage its recent high-energy solid-state laser successes to advance electric laser technology by substantially increasing the efficiency of these systems for military uses.
This work will be done under a new U.S. Department of Defense program called the Robust Electric Laser Initiative (RELI), a first step toward developing the next generation of military laser technology for more efficient, lighter and smaller systems.
The Army Space and Missile Defense Command / Army Strategic Forces Command in Huntsville, Ala., awarded Northrop Grumman an initial two-year, $8.8 million contract with options that could extend it to a five-year contract valued at $53.3 million.
The RELI program seeks to increase system efficiency to greater than 30 percent while generating good beam quality, a power level of 25 kilowatts (kW) that is capable of being scaled to 100kW, all of which could be packaged on a military platform. Solid-state laser systems currently are about 20 percent efficient, according to the Defense Department."

Maritime Laser System Shows Higher Lethality At Longer Ranges

Maritime Laser System Shows Higher Lethality At Longer Ranges: "Tests of the U.S. Navy's Maritime Laser Demonstration (MLD) system conducted recently at the Potomac River Test Range confirmed the laser weapon system's readiness to proceed with at-sea testing later this year, according to Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Operating from a fixed site on land, the MLD weapon system fired a laser beam at a number of stationary targets, including representative small boat sections, across the Potomac River, company executives said. The laser burned through small boat sections in these tests, conducted in late August and early September.

"We have shown that the Maritime Laser Demonstrator's design is as lethal at longer ranges as other previously demonstrated approaches," said Steve Hixson, vice president of Advanced Concepts, Space and Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector.

"We have optimized the Maritime Laser Demonstrator's design to make it much more lethal at longer ranges while using less laser power than other approaches."

Russia 'set to supply US airbase' - Telegraph

Russia 'set to supply US airbase' - Telegraph: "The Manas Transit Centre in the Central Asian republic has long been a thorn in the side of Moscow, which resents US military presence in a former Soviet country. Kyrgyzstan is alone in the world in hosting both a US and a Russian airbase. The US relies on Manas heavily for its campaign in Afghanistan.
Muktar Djumaliyev, deputy head of the Kyrgyz presidential administration, said a joint state-run venture would 'create a new area of multilateral co-operation'. He claimed that the US government supported the new venture, adding that the Kyrgyz government would receive $60 million in payments."

BBC News - US and China resume military ties

BBC News - US and China resume military ties: "The United States and China are to resume military contacts after a hiatus of more than six months.
US officials said the two sides would hold maritime talks in Hawaii next month, followed by high-level talks in Washington later in the year.
The announcement follows a visit to Beijing by Michael Schiffer, the US deputy assistant secretary of defence.
China froze military ties in January after the US announced plans for a $6.4bn (£4bn) arms deal with Taiwan."

Pakistan blocks Nato supply route to Afghanistan | World news | The Guardian

Pakistan blocks Nato supply route to Afghanistan | World news | The Guardian: "Pakistan blocked the main Nato supply route into Afghanistan this morning after reports that a Nato helicopter killed three of its soldiers in the second cross-border intrusion in five days.

Border officials said they had orders to block dozens of Nato trucks at the Torkham checkpost on the Khyber pass, hours after the alleged attack in Kurram tribal agency.

According to reports, the Nato aircraft opened fire on a Frontier Corps border post, killing three paramilitary soldiers and wounding at least two others. The corps is charged with guarding the notoriously ill-defined mountain border.

In Kabul a Nato spokesman said it was determining whether the incident was linked to anti-Taliban operations on the Afghan side of the border.

A Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman, Abdul Basit, said Islamabad was also inquiring into the incident. "We will complete our investigation and then formulate our response," he said.

An official with the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency took a harder line, saying such aggressive incursions were a "red line" for the military. "We have for a long time given tacit approval for drone strikes. But this is an escalation we will not tolerate," he said.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Raytheon Unveils Lighter, Faster, Stronger Exoskeleton Robotic Suit

Raytheon Unveils Lighter, Faster, Stronger Exoskeleton Robotic Suit: "Raytheon unveiled its second generation Exoskeleton (XOS 2) at its research facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, during a demonstration with Paramount Home Entertainment. The new robotic suit is lighter, faster and stronger than its predecessor, yet it uses 50 percent less power. Its enhanced design also means that it is more resistant to the environment.

'XOS 1 was essentially a proof of concept,' said Dr. Fraser M. Smith, vice president of operations for Raytheon Sarcos. 'With XOS 2, we targeted power consumption and looked for ways to use the hydraulic energy more efficiently. That's resulted in us being able to add capabilities while significantly reducing power consumption.'

Raytheon is developing the robotic suit to help with the many logistics challenges faced by the military both in and out of theater. Repetitive heavy lifting can lead to injuries, orthopedic injuries in particular.

The XOS 2 does the lifting for its operator, reducing both strain and exertion. It also does the work faster. One operator in an exoskeleton suit can do the work of two to three soldiers. Deploying exoskeletons would allow military personnel to be reassigned to more strategic tasks."

Raytheon GBS Delivers Full-Motion Video To Improve Intelligence Imagery For Warfighters

Raytheon GBS Delivers Full-Motion Video To Improve Intelligence Imagery For Warfighters: "Raytheon has delivered the final phase of expanded Global Broadcast Service full-motion video capabilities to improve intelligence video imagery available to warfighters.
The GBS installation is in direct support of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) operations. Concurrent with the broadcast installation, Raytheon implemented changes on the receive suite production line to ease access to the video data.
GBS augments oversubscribed government communications systems to deliver high- volume, continuous information to multiple users.
GBS transmits high-resolution imagery, video, audio, data and other information files with sizes in the megabyte range to many users over a single communication channel."

MEADS Demonstrates Interoperability With NATO

MEADS Demonstrates Interoperability With NATO: "The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) battle management capability successfully demonstrated interoperability with the NATO Air Command and Control System (ACCS) during a Joint Project Optic Windmill (JPOW) test in July. The interface test was conducted using the Active Layer Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) Integration Test Bed being developed by NATO.
The test proved a key interoperability milestone for the MEADS, ALTBMD and ACCS programs, and is an early maturity demonstration for the MEADS battle management and command, control, computers, communication and intelligence (BMC4I) capability. MEADS is designed to interoperate with a wide range of platforms and command and control structures.
NATO's ALTBMD program is tasked with designing a theater missile defense architecture that will include MEADS as a key component. The NATO Air Command and Control System is the overarching tactical command and control element for NATO theater missile defense."

Mystery airstrike as Somalia collapses

Mystery airstrike as Somalia collapses: "A mysterious helicopter attack on a gathering of Islamist leaders suggests that the United States, using either Special Forces or mercenaries, may be trying to decapitate jihadist forces who are escalating a war to topple the Western-backed government.
The Americans, ever mindful of the casualties the U.S. Army suffered at the hands of Somali militias in Operation Restore Hope in October 1993, are wary of deploying boots on the ground in Somalia to aid the Transitional Federal Government besieged in the seaside capital of Mogadishu.
But they have carried out several attacks using missiles, airstrikes and Special Forces since the Islamist movement known as al-Shabaab, or Youth, emerged in December 2006 after U.S.-backed Ethiopian forces toppled an Islamist regime in Mogadishu and established the TFG."

Pentagon officials: Spending is bloated

Pentagon officials: Spending is bloated: "Top Defense Department officials told Congress Tuesday that Pentagon overspending must be curtailed in order to maintain the current size and strength of the armed forces.

Explaining the reasons for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates's ambitious program to reduce costs, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III told the Senate Armed Services Committee that 'headquarters and support bureaucracies, military and civilian alike . . . have swelled to cumbersome proportions, grown over-reliant on contractors and become accustomed to operating with little consideration of costs.'

Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told the senators that more than $200 billion was being spent annually for contractors that provide information technology, facilities upkeep, weapons system maintenance and transportation.

"Believe it or not," he said, "our practices for buying such services are even less effective than for buying weapons systems."

Carter said one of the fastest-growing contractor areas was for personnel to advise or augment military staffs in areas in which they lacked expertise, such as information operations. These contracts have been handled by Pentagon civilian and military personnel who were experienced in buying ships and airplanes but, as Carter put it, were "amateurs" when it came to contracts for augmentation of military staffs. "

Pakistan threatens to stop protecting NATO supply lines

Pakistan threatens to stop protecting NATO supply lines: "Pakistan has told NATO leaders it will stop protecting U.S. and NATO supply lines to Afghanistan if foreign aircraft stage further cross-border attacks against fleeing militants, security officials said Tuesday.
If carried out, such a threat would have major consequences for the war in Afghanistan as well as for Pakistan's relationship with the United States. Analysts said, however, that there is little or no chance of Islamabad carrying though with it.
The threat was therefore seen as mostly aimed at tamping down criticism inside Pakistan, where anti-American sentiment runs high and where conspiracy theories that the U.S. Army is poised to invade the nation from bases in Afghanistan are rampant.
But it was also a clear sign of Pakistani unease at attacks Saturday and Monday by NATO aircraft against militants in the country's northwestern tribal areas and a reminder of the leverage Islamabad has in its complicated alliance with Washington."

Omega-3 Capsules to Prevent Soldier Suicide?

Nutrient may enhance Soldiers' performance: "An Army doctor serving in Iraq received approval from an Army medical review board, Sept. 28, to study the effects of omega-3 fish oil capsules on deployed Soldiers' mental health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients obtained through food, and research indicates they have strong ties with mental and vascular health. The study will be conducted to determine whether the nutrients may be used to enhance deployed Soldiers' resilience to mood related disorders.
Lt. Col. Daniel Johnston, brigade surgeon for the Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, developed the concept of the study after attending a conference this November entitled "Nutritional Armor for the Warfighter."

The conference was hosted by the Department of Defense and several government and private medical organizations to consider the potential of using omega-3 to supplement Soliers' diets.

The study is in keeping with the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program's efforts to strengthen Soldiers' mental resilience. Johnston officially proposed to conduct the study after his analysis of Soldiers' diets in Iraq indicated significantly low levels of omega-3.

"Low levels of omega-3 fish oil in the diet is linked to mood disorders, and this study is designed to gain data that may help future Soldiers," he said.

Beginning this month, Johnston will provide Soldiers with omega-3 in the form of fish oil capsules. The effects of the capsules will be measured by a set of psychological tests, and the data will be compared to the results of a placebo drug.

Johnston's hypothesis is that Soldiers taking the omega-3 supplements will exhibit higher cognitive performance, better mood state, and fewer combat symptoms.

The drug company GlaxoSmithKline donated 100,000 capsules to the study after conducting an independent review of Johnston's protocol. The Food and Drug Administration approved the fish oil capsules for the study, Johnston said.

The United States Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory is providing around $30,000 for blood analysis of omega-3 levels in the Soldiers.

Around 250 service members from three U.S. bases in Iraq will participate in the study on an all-volunteer basis. Johnston will oversee the study on each site, and two Army psychiatrists will be co-investigators in the study.

After the three month study, Johnston will study the results with Dr. Holden MacRae, a researcher in sports performance and exercise science from Pepperdine University, and Capt. Michael Dretsch from the USAARL, both of whom assisted in designing the study, Johnston said.

"The Army will determine what, if any, applications there are of the research," he said. "It is possible that an agency within the Army would look at supplementing Soldiers with omega-3 fish oil capsules as a type of immunization and resilience technique for mood disorders."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MEADS Life Cycle Costs Significantly Lower Than Fielded Systems

MEADS Life Cycle Costs Significantly Lower Than Fielded Systems: "METhe Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program has presented a required life cycle cost estimate to the three partner nations that proves the MEADS system design will significantly reduce the cost of ownership compared to air and missile defense systems that are currently fielded.
MEADS will especially reduce operation and support (O and S) costs. Ordinarily, over two-thirds of the total cost of ownership is spent in this area, but MEADS O and S costs are about half. Savings result from features of the MEADS design that include high reliability, automated fault detection, prognostics, two-level maintenance and a reduction in the number of system elements.

Additionally, MEADS was shown to defend up to eight times the coverage area with far fewer system assets. This allows for a substantial reduction in deployed personnel and equipment, and demand on airlift. Once in theater, MEADS elements emplace more quickly and can be repositioned dynamically.

Sen. McCain "strongly supports" closure of US Joint Forces Command | 13NEWS / | Hampton Roads Local News, Virginia News & Breaking News | | News for Hampton Roads, Virginia

Sen. McCain "strongly supports" closure of US Joint Forces Command | 13NEWS / | Hampton Roads Local News, Virginia News & Breaking News | | News for Hampton Roads, Virginia: "At the opening of the hearing on the future of U.S. Joint Forces Command, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he strongly supports the proposal to close US Joint Forces Command, noting that the military needs to find efficient ways to operate.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is holding a full committee hearing on the Pentagon's recommendation to shut down the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk and other defense department initiatives to save money.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) requested today's hearing with hopes to save JFCOM. He says nothing should be done until Congress has a chance to fully understand why the Pentagon wants to close it. He also believes that if JFCOM closes, it could pose significant implications for the development of crucial training and war-fighting capabilities.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn says changes in the unified command plan have been forwarded to President Barack Obama and the president has not yet made the decision.

Monday, September 27, 2010

American and Afghan Troops Begin Combat for Kandahar -

American and Afghan Troops Begin Combat for Kandahar - "American and Afghan troops began active combat last week in an offensive to drive the Taliban out of their strongholds surrounding the city of Kandahar, military officials said Sunday.

In the last several days, soldiers shifted from guarding aid workers and sipping tea with village elders to actively hunting down Taliban fighters in marijuana fields and pomegranate orchards laced with booby traps.

Sixteen Americans have died in the push so far, including two killed by a roadside bomb on Sunday.

The combat phase began five or six days ago in the Arghandab, Zhari and Panjwai Districts, Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, a NATO spokesman in Kabul, said, defining the current phase for the first time.

“We expect hard fighting,” he said of the offensive, whose objective is to clear the Taliban from three districts to the west and south of the city.

Winning over Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, is considered crucial to President Obama’s efforts to shift the balance of power in Afghanistan after the militants’ comeback of recent years.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

US seizes chance as China rattles Asia

US seizes chance as China rattles Asia: "For years, US policymakers have watched uneasily as China grew more assertive, fearing that the emerging power would cut into Washington's clout in one of the world's most dynamic regions.

But in recent weeks, China's rise has instead offered a golden opportunity for the United States, which has swiftly rallied behind the growing number of Asian nations that have butted heads with Beijing.

After China piled pressure on Japan to free a captain captured near disputed islands, the United States said it considered the chain -- known as the Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese -- to be under Tokyo's administration, meaning that US forces would be obliged by treaty to defend Japan in an attack.

With Southeast Asian nations voicing alarm over Chinese attempts to exert sovereignty in disputed waters, President Barack Obama and regional leaders in a summit Friday called for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

U.S. Influence in Asia Revives Amid China’s Disputes -

U.S. Influence in Asia Revives Amid China’s Disputes - "For the last several years, one big theme has dominated talk of the future of Asia: As China rises, its neighbors are being inevitably drawn into its orbit, currying favor with the region’s new hegemonic power.

The presumed loser, of course, is the United States, whose wealth and influence are being spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and whose economic troubles have eroded its standing in a more dynamic Asia.

But rising frictions between China and its neighbors in recent weeks over security issues have handed the United States an opportunity to reassert itself — one the Obama administration has been keen to take advantage of.

Washington is leaping into the middle of heated territorial disputes between China and Southeast Asian nations despite stern Chinese warnings that it mind its own business. The United States is carrying out naval exercises with South Korea in order to help Seoul rebuff threats from North Korea even though China is denouncing those exercises, saying that they intrude on areas where the Chinese military operates.

NATO and Russia on 'solid path': alliance chief

NATO and Russia on 'solid path': alliance chief: "NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday the alliance was on a "solid path" to improving ties with Russia, as the United States declared Moscow a partner and not an adversary.
In their latest attempt to repair the rift in post-Cold War relations following Moscow's 2008 war in Georgia, foreign ministers held a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

"I feel that we truly are on a solid path now to improve NATO-Russia relations," Secretary General Rasmussen told reporters after the meeting.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meanwhile made clear the United States did not believe NATO and Russia were adversaries -- and called on Moscow to eventually join the alliance in a combined missile defense "architecture."


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Okinawans rally in support of U.S.-Security Treaty - Japan - Stripes

Okinawans rally in support of U.S.-Security Treaty - Japan - Stripes: "With tension increasing between China and Japan, now is not the time to seek reducing the number of U.S. troops on Okinawa, advocates at a rare pro-base rally here Monday.
Some 250 supporters of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty attended the event, co-sponsored by All Japan Jiritsu Saiken Network and the U.S. Forces Base Network Union, a pro-military labor union for Japanese employees on military bases.
Following speeches by 10 speakers, participants marched along Highway 58 hoisting Japanese and U.S. flags and banners that demanded the Japanese government take a strong stance against China and strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance.
The group also supports the current bilateral agreement to close Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, in urban Ginowan, and move the air units to a new facility to be built on Okinawa’s rural northeast shore."

Navy finalizes plans for U.S. military buildup on Guam - News - Stripes

Navy finalizes plans for U.S. military buildup on Guam - News - Stripes: "The U.S. Navy firmed up plans Tuesday for a military buildup on Guam that could lead to a historic shift in military forces in the Pacific.
The Navy’s record of decision finalizes where facilities will be built for 8,600 Marines scheduled to move from Okinawa by 2014 and identifies the planned pace of the massive construction effort, according to a brief released by the Department of Defense Joint Guam Program Office.
But the Navy delayed decisions on controversial plans to build military training ranges on Guam’s ancestral land and to dredge coral in Guam’s main harbor for an aircraft carrier berth, according to the brief."

U.S. Army Special Operations Force Not Expected To Grow Beyond 2017 - Defense News

U.S. Army Special Operations Force Not Expected To Grow Beyond 2017 - Defense News: "While demand for its elite soldiers is climbing, the U.S. Army does not plan to increase the size of its special operations force (SOF) more than already planned, according to a top commander.
'I'm not particularly interested in growing Army special operations forces any bigger than it is today,' said Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, commanding general of U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Army special operations forces are expected to finish their currently planned growth by 2017 and at that point, 'we'll be pretty well postured,' Mulholland said.
Related Topics
This is partly because growing Army SOF force structure comes at the expense of the larger Army, the three-star told a Sept. 21 conference hosted by the Institute for Defense & Government Advancement.
'I don't think you'll see SOF growth across the force, not just in the Army,' Mulholland said.
If there is growth, it will be in providing more 'enabling capabilities,' such as communications, intelligence, medical and logistics personnel, he said. However, it is possible that Army Special Operations Command will rely on the larger Army to provide more of these capabilities, rather than growing and maintaining the extra resources itself, Mulholland said. His soldiers need engineers, not necessarily SOF-specific ones."

EADS North America celebrates new U.K. Tanker first flight - News

EADS North America celebrates new U.K. Tanker first flight - News: "The Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA), designed and built for the U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF), today completed a successful first flight after being configured for its tanker transport mission.

The aircraft took off from Airbus Military’s facility in Getafe, Spain, at 5:41 a.m. EDT (11:41 a.m. local time) and landed there after a flight of approximately two hours.

The FSTA takes off from the Airbus Military facility in Getafe, Spain, on its first flight after being configured for its tanker transport mission.

The FSTA is the United Kingdom’s configuration of the Airbus Military A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), the tanker that EADS North America is offering to the United States Air Force in the KC-45 configuration. That tanker has been selected by four U.S. allies so far, and has completed hundreds of flight hours and more than a thousand refueling contacts for the Royal Australian Air Force, which will accept its first two deliveries in the fall.

“We now have A330 multi-role tankers in flight for two U.S. allies, with proven refueling systems that form the foundation of the KC-45 configuration,” said EADS North America Chairman Ralph D. Crosby, Jr. “In other words, the tanker we are offering to the United States Air Force isn’t just a concept on paper, it is real and proving itself every day.”

The FSTA configuration includes two digital hose-and-drogue refueling pods under the wings, plus a hose-and-drogue fuselage refueling unit on the centerline. Both of these systems will be on the KC-45, as will be the company’s advanced Aerial Refueling Boom System, which recently demonstrated in flight its ability to meet the U.S. Air Force requirement for high fuel offload at 1,200 gallons a minute.

“Our platform is mature, our systems are proven and there are 48,000 American workers ready to build this superior tanker aircraft for the U.S. Air Force,” Crosby said. The KC-45, as well as A330-based commercial freighter aircraft, will be assembled in a new aerospace center of excellence in Mobile, Alabama, using a nationwide network of more than 200 American suppliers.

Because of the superior capabilities and efficiency of the tanker, the EADS North America KC-45 will also provide the Air Force substantial savings in operating costs compared to the concept aircraft that The Boeing Company is offering.

“In any likely Air Force operational scenario, Boeing’s concept tanker will cost 15% to 44% more, measured on the basis of fuel burned per gallon of fuel delivered,” Crosby said. “We are offering the Air Force real savings from a real airplane – which is a clear distinction with our competitor.”

New computer chip cuts costs, adds efficiency to space systems

New computer chip cuts costs, adds efficiency to space systems: "Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate officials partnered with Xilinx, Inc. five years ago to design new field programmable gate arrays that would reduce costs, increase effectiveness of their satellite circuitry and withstand the damaging effects of radiation in the cosmos.

After performing preliminary investigations at the circuit level and chip testing, Xilinx officials created a flight version in 2009, designated the Virtex-5 QV. It will likely be onboard a test satellite scheduled to launch in November and is 1,000 times less sensitive to space radiation than the commercial equivalent.

"We wanted to do things efficiently and focus on affordability," said Creigh Gordon, the senior electronics engineer at AFRL's Space Vehicles Directorate. "One way to accomplish both is to use field programmable gate arrays as the basis for satellite computers. By doing so, the cost for the non-recurring (research and development) significantly decreases.

"An FPGA has a huge, positive impact on spacecraft project funding as there can be up to an 80 percent savings in electronic hardware expenses," he said. "Military space systems become much more affordable, and U.S. commercial endeavors in the cosmos become much more competitive."

An FPGA is a chip with an array of prebuilt processing blocks, which can be configured and interconnected by the end user to perform very complex processing functions.

"In the past, we've see our radiation-hardened chips go into nearly every military satellite system, and our radiation-hardened microprocessors were also used on NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers on the surface of Mars, " Mr. Gordon said. "We are eager to see where the new radiation-hardened Virtex-5 FPGA chips will go and what new capabilities they will make possible."

In September, several major satellite builders will receive Virtex-5 QV prototypes as part of an early access program. Production units will be available in mid-2011.

"With the Virtex-5 FPGA, the focus is on affordability in digital electronics. Our investment in this project has enabled the Air Force, as well as other government entities such as NASA and commercial space ventures, to benefit from the technology," Mr. Gordon said. "The Virtex-5 QV will have a huge impact on all of the Air Force's space systems."x"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Second Generation Aegis BMD Capability Completes Formal Testing

Second Generation Aegis BMD Capability Completes Formal Testing: "Lockheed Martin recently demonstrated the second generation of its Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) capability in a formal U.S. Navy test event.
This configuration, known as Aegis BMD 4.0.1, enables the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy to defeat more complex ballistic missile threats and also introduces the BMD signal processor, which improves target identification.

Aegis BMD 4.0.1 marks the beginning of the transition to the Navy's open architecture - a transition that will be complete with software upgrades, known as Advanced Capability Build 12, scheduled for 2012.

"This milestone represents the continuing evolution of Aegis that will lead to the merger of Aegis open architecture and Aegis BMD in 2012," said Nick Bucci, Lockheed Martin director of BMD development programs.

"This next-generation signal processor upgrade provides a leap-ahead capability that improves system effectiveness against expanding enemy threats."

Army's future looks a lot like the present - Washington Times

Army's future looks a lot like the present - Washington Times: "Generals are often accused of planning to fight the last war, but the Army is making a virtue of it in the service's latest projections about future needs and capabilities.
'The most effective way to build capabilities for the future, we concluded, was to make a grounded projection based on what we're doing today,' said Lt. Col. Mark Elfendahl of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, referring to the kind of counterinsurgency and humanitarian-relief operations in which the service is currently involved.
At a briefing for reporters Monday, Col. Elfendahl discussed the Army's recently published 'Operating Concept, 2016-2028,' which lays out the service's vision of how it will fight wars in coming years.
But this is a future that looks a lot like the present, and not by accident.
Col. Elfendahl said that, after the expensive failure of the Army's futuristic plans for generation-skipping technologies like the Future Combat System, the service has learned its lesson.
'Rather than trying to play Buck Rogers and jump out way into the future, [the Operating Concept] is, in a sense, bringing the future closer to us, closer to the present,' he said."

Biden: US-China ties must go through Tokyo

Biden: US-China ties must go through Tokyo: "Joe Biden said Monday that American efforts to improve ties with China must "go through Tokyo" in a warm message to key US ally Japan as it faces rising tensions with Beijing.
Three days before US President Barack Obama is set to meet Prime Minister Naoto Kan in New York, Biden stressed the fundamental nature of relations with Japan in US Asia-Pacific policy.

"There is an emerging relationship that we have to get right between the United States and China... frankly, I don't know how that relationship can be made right other than going through Tokyo," Biden said.

"I don't know how it works without our partner in that part of the world."


Rep. Nye introduces bill to block JFCOM closure | |

Rep. Nye introduces bill to block JFCOM closure | | "U.S. Rep. Glenn Nye, D-2nd District, said Wednesday he has introduced a bill to block closure of the Joint Forces Command, and U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., pledged to do the same in the coming days.
Both lawmakers said their legislation - if approved - would not permit Defense Secretary Robert Gates to proceed with closing the command, known as JFCOM, until he provides a detailed analysis of the budgetary and military impact and benefits of the shutdown.
'This legislation is going to force Secretary Gates to do what he should have done from the beginning,' Nye said in a statement."

NATO Air Training Command: More Countries, More Experience, More Solutions

NATO Air Training Command: More Countries, More Experience, More Solutions: "The Combined Air Power Transition Force was created in 2007 with the expressed goal of developing the then named Afghan National Army Air Corps into a legitimate operational force capable of promoting the Afghan governments agenda to its country and its international neighbors. 2010 saw the ANAAC make great strides towards that goal and transition into the now named Afghan Air Force. NATO recognized the strong Afghan efforts and felt it was time for CAPTF to undergo a similar face lift with a new name - NATO Air Training Command - Afghanistan - commemorating a larger commitment from more NATO countries to the AAF's development.

"We are excited about more of our coalition partners becoming part of the NATO Air Training Command - Afghanistan. Each team member brings a unique skill set to the mission here and this diversity is important" explains Lt. Col. Wayne McCaskill, Director of Operations, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, NATC-A.

A variety of NATO countries have been assisting the United States in the development of the AAF over the past few years including Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia, and the United Kingdom.

Beginning as early as this past August and continuing through 2011 more countries are stepping up to the challenge, including Canada, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Latvia, and the Ukraine. The experienced servicemen and women from these countries will go a long way to bolstering the capabilities of the trainers who are already here as well as provide fresh new perspectives and solutions to uniquely Afghan dilemmas.

McCaskill describes it best. "While we are all interoperable we each have a slightly different way of operating and different levels of experience. This provides the Afghan Air Force with the best opportunity to find a method that is right for them, something they cannot get without a coalition team effort."

The trainers from these countries will be sent out to various regions in Afghanistan such as Shindand, Kandahar, Her'at, and Mazar-e Sharif to supplement and form Air Mentor Teams for the various aircraft in the AAF. The aircraft include Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters as well as An-32 and C-27 Spartan fixed wing transport s. The AMT's are responsible for the development of the Afghan units at each location with the goal of achieving effective interoperability with Afghan, Coalition and NATO International Security Assistant Force forces.

While the development of these Afghan units is very important to the overall stability and strength of Afghanistan, McCaskill explains how the assistance of the various NATO countries has another very important advantage.

"These partnerships also provide the foundation to build lasting strategic relations throughout the world which are key to Afghanistan becoming a safe and successful member of the global community.""

Monday, September 20, 2010

USS Mount Whitney Trains with Special Forces from Seven Nations

USS Mount Whitney Trains with Special Forces from Seven Nations: "Special operations forces (SOF) from seven nations worked together to conduct several training exercises aboard USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) Sep. 19.

The training, which focused on building SOF capacity and capabilities of partner nations, is part of exercise Jackal Stone (JS10) 2010.

"As the special operations task group liaison officer (LNO), I want to ensure good communications and effective coordination between the ground forces and the sea component," said Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Spencer, assigned to Naval Special Warfare Unit Two. "Sometimes the various warfighters and sea combatants don't always speak the same language."

Elements from SOF and surface fleet combatants are taking advantage of Mount Whitney's operational capabilities.

"Mount Whitney provides Lithuanian, Polish and U.S. SOF teams the ability to train to insert onto a large moving vessel via fast-roping or hook-and-climb techniques," said Spencer.

Fast-roping is a military insertion technique used to deploy troops from a helicopter using braided nylon descension ropes, and is used by operators during visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations. Hook and climb is a less obvious and stealthier VBSS insertion method that uses rigid hull inflatable boats or combat rubber raiding craft to approach a suspicious vessel and climb aboard.

Communications between the ship's crew and the operating forces is critical in this type of training environment.

"Incorporating the exercise LNOs onto Mount Whitney is critical to the successful planning and execution of this exercise," said Lt. Tiffany Hill, Mount Whitney's operations officer. "The LNO's ability to see and talk to the operators increases the integration between elements that normally do not operate together. This very important and flexible linkage makes each platform or unit more effective."

JS10 is a multinational military special operations exercise organized by Special Operations Command Europe, designed to improve international military partnerships through joint training with special forces subunits from Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and the United States.

Mount Whitney, the flagship for the U.S. 6th Fleet, is homeported in Gaeta, Italy, and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.

Improved weather technology on the way to warfighters

Improved weather technology on the way to warfighters: "Officials at the Electronic Systems Center's Aerospace Management Systems Division Weather Systems Branch here are working to provide Air Force decision makers improved weather sensing and viewing capabilities.

Officials within the branch are working to bring the Portable Doppler Radar system to Air Force weather specialists around the globe, providing three significant capabilities in one system: Doppler radar, transportability and the ability to transmit data over the Global Information Grid.

"There have only been a few major advances in meteorology over the last 25 years - one of which is Doppler radar," said Warren Humphrey, a Joint Environmental Toolkit program management support contractor. "The Doppler radar allows us to see inside a storm and understand its structure more than we could previously. Through connection to the GIG, it also allows weather operators to disseminate data much more rapidly than ever before."

"PDR allows weather operators to better forecast severe local storms and mission-limiting wind conditions," said Capt. Jon Beach, the PDR program manager. "This is a very powerful system for the end user."

As technology has developed, the transportability has improved as well. That transportability is especially important for warfighters working in operations where there may be no radar coverage or weather-sensing technology.

"Previously, only large, fixed radars, such as those which support the TV weather, allowed the radar user to see into a weather system's interior ... to determine factors such as wind shear," said Bill Drury, the PDR deputy program manager. "Now we have a portable system which can be moved around in theater requiring only four people to set up in under 12 hours."

The data can be used in a stand-alone capacity, or transmitted net-centrically as well, over the Global Information Grid.

"The system can be configured so not only can we provide the information locally, but also to military forecasters at regional forecast centers, who can tap into the data and provide it to the decision makers," Mr. Drury said.

The system recently completed government testing and was granted a full-rate production decision. Initial operational capability is currently projected for mid- to late-December, and the system is anticipated to go directly to Southwest Asia to support ongoing operations.

"This system will give commanders in the field a significant weather tool which they don't currently have," said Captain Beach.

Combat Air Force leaders sign new strategic plan

Combat Air Force leaders sign new strategic plan: Top Air Force leaders from the eight commands representing the Combat Air Force released "Securing the High Ground: Agile Combat Airpower," Sept. 15. This strategic plan provides a construct for developing, planning and employing integrated combat capabilities for the nation.

"The CAF is America's asymmetric advantage and the backbone of our nation's security," said Gen. William M. Fraser III, commander of Air Combat Command and Combat Air Force lead. "Partnered with the joint force, our Airmen provide strategic deterrence for our nation, allies, and coalition partners, and, when required, fight and win conflicts with agile combat power."

The strategic plan articulates how the CAF will focus its efforts on winning today's fight while keeping a steady, unwavering commitment to defending the homeland, strengthening nuclear deterrence and meeting tomorrow's challenges.

As highlighted in the 21-page plan, tomorrow's security environment is changing rapidly and is characterized by a growing list of competitors and potential adversaries from across the spectrum of conflict. To counter these challenges, the plan emphasizes the imperative for the CAF to be "properly organized, trained and equipped to deliver agile combat airpower in this environment." Additionally, the plan highlights the importance of "improving warfighter integration" and balancing efforts "in order to execute CAF assigned core functions, within fiscal constraints."

The 2010 CAF Strategic Plan accentuates the role of the CAF to provide agile combat airpower, which "is our air, space, cyberspace, and battlefield Airmen, organizations and capabilities delivering global vigilance and power for the nation."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

ABL Shifts Back To Solid-Fuel Targets | AVIATION WEEK

ABL Shifts Back To Solid-Fuel Targets | AVIATION WEEK: "The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is planning a shootdown attempt by the 747-400F-based Airborne Laser against a solid-fuel target by the end of this month, according to MDA spokesman Rick Lehner.
Officials close to the program say that flight testing will shift back to solid-fueled targets for the time being. The likely target in the upcoming test is a Terrier Black Brant unguided sounding rocket, which was the first target engaged in February by ABL and mimics the early flight phases of a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM).
A planned test in October will attempt a shootdown of a solid-fueled target at three times the range of the February engagement, Lehner says."

Darpa Vulture Goes To Boeing | AVIATION WEEK

Darpa Vulture Goes To Boeing | AVIATION WEEK: "The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) has chosen Boeing’s concept for the second phase of the Vulture long-endurance unmanned aerial system (UAS) program over an offer from Lockheed Martin.
The $89 million contract calls for Boeing, which is teamed with Qinetiq, to develop a heavier-than-air platform capable of keeping 1,000 lb. of payload with 5 kw. of power aloft for five years. Work on this capability, which is described as a “pseudo satellite” system, will run through February 2014.
Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, says the Vulture win, which follows the Navy’s recent selection of the Integrator UAS for ship and Marine use, is a major step for the company and its plans to grow a robust unmanned aircraft business.
Boeing’s vehicle is called the Solar Eagle. It will use solar and fuel cell technologies from Qinetiq, which builds the Zephyr UAS, coupled with a new airframe."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

US, Russian defense chiefs promote deeper ties

US, Russian defense chiefs promote deeper ties: "US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov vowed to expand military cooperation on Wednesday, in a sign of improving relations between Moscow and Washington.
In the first visit to the Pentagon by a Russian defense minister in five years, Serdyukov was greeted with military pomp before heading into a full day of talks with Gates.
The high-profile visit carried important symbolism and reflected a much-touted 'reset' of relations between the former Cold War foes over the past year, with the two sides forging common ground on the war in Afghanistan, arms control and Iran's nuclear program."

STSS Demonstration Satellites Demo Capabilities For Detecting Another Satellite

STSS Demonstration Satellites Demo Capabilities For Detecting Another Satellite: "A Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Demonstration program satellite showed an increased set of capabilities when it detected and tracked a resident space object - another satellite - on July 19.
The missile defense satellite is one of two STSS spacecraft built by Northrop Grumman Corporation and Raytheon.

The STSS Demonstration program accomplished another first by tracking a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather satellite for several minutes using multiple track sensor bands, according to Gabe Watson, vice president of missile defense and missile warning programs for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector.

Payload sensors on the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) STSS satellite look both below the horizon, with Earth in the background behind the tracked target, and above the horizon, with space in the background behind the target.

This allows precision tracking of ballistic missiles through all phases of flight, commonly referred to as "birth-to-death tracking."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Naval Forces Europe, Africa Says Successful Africa Partnership Station Evolving

Naval Forces Europe, Africa Says Successful Africa Partnership Station Evolving: The U.S. Navy's senior commander in Europe and Africa attended a media availability at the National Press Building in Washington, D.C., Sept. 14.

At the event, Adm. Mark P. Fitzgerald, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe; commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa; and commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, said the world's second largest and second most-populous continent is experiencing unparalleled success in enhancing stability, securing freedom of navigation and supporting the Maritime Strategy.

Fitzgerald emphasized the Navy's Africa Partnership Station (APS) initiative as an example of the Navy's holistic approach to enhance maritime security around the world.

"Building partner capacity is a core element of our efforts at Naval Forces Europe and Africa," said Fitzgerald. "When we collaborate with our partners, a wide array of mariners benefit from our actions. We have seen tremendous growth in the capabilities of our partners and allies in understanding maritime safety and security. If we help others build their skills, there is less likelihood we will need to respond with ours."

Fitzgerald added that APS has given rise to a variety of enduring capacity-building activities that are supported by mission-tailored rotational forces, a concept directly supporting the Maritime Strategy.

"We first started using personnel; we started building capacities and people were doing simple things like fixing outboard engines or understanding how to do maritime interception boardings," said Fitzgerald. "We then gradually moved to the point where partner navies are actually patrolling and intercepting."

Fitzgerald stressed that U.S. service members and their allied counterparts actively engaged in combating counter-piracy operations and other irregular and transnational threats during APS.

"The U.S. Coast Guard has taught interception operations and maritime boardings, and we have seen some of the countries now being able to go out and patrol their economic exclusion zone and stop illegal fishing," said Fitzgerald. "We've seen other countries stop some of the drugs coming across from South America. We've seen Nigeria establish a regional maritime awareness center through which they tracked and found a ship that was bringing hazardous waste to be dumped in Nigeria. They actually stopped the ship, ticketed it, got a fine from it and sent it on its way."

Fitzgerald also said APS, now in its fifth iteration, is netting results in all aspects of Maritime Strategy support.

"We are growing in capacity and capability down there and while it won't happen overnight, we're seeing real marked progress in what's happening in the Gulf of Guinea," said Fitzgerald.

The admiral added that the successful APS operations, training evolutions and real-world contingency operations are a direct reflection of the expertise, dedication and significant knowledge base of partner nations, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Energy, the State Department and representatives from several European nations.

Fitzgerald also said navy ships from the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Spain have participated, and while not operating under the APS banner, French vessels cooperate with operations in the Naval Forces Africa Area of Responsibility (AOR).

"It is a real team effort," said Fitzgerald. "The African nations really appreciate it, and they also participate on the staff, giving a very international flavor to the effort and allowing us access to the countries without fear of them thinking this is a colonial kind of endeavor."

Fitzgerald added that countering piracy and ensuring transnational waterways remain safe for merchant vessels transiting the area remains a top priority for APS.

"Piracy is a problem through all of Africa, and APS has done a lot of coalition building," said Fitzgerald. "Countries that participate coordinate their activities in the Gulf of Guinea, and we work with those nations to try to teach them the best practices to help them understand how to deal with this kind of piracy."

The admiral added that while the bulk of APS operations center around ensuring safe water transit through the APS AOR is paramount, the numerous humanitarian outreach, assistance and disaster relief operations in which APS personnel are involved directly represent the willingness, capability and sense of community the partnership strives to employ.

"It is not enough to go down there with the training of the Navy," said Fitzgerald. "You have to also have the professionals supporting ashore. We have helped build a lot of infrastructure and brought medical training. We put doctors ashore at local clinics where they teach [African] doctors and nurses the best practices, and we give them supplies so they have the right medicines to treat people."

Fitzgerald said the initiative continues to grow, and U.S. Sailors and APS partners have forged an evolving alliance.

"It has been a great effort," said Fitzgerald. "I think the countries of the Gulf really have confidence in what we are bringing to them."

APS is an international initiative developed by Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa, aiming to improve maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa.

Retiring Air Force intel chief sounds alarm on American air superiority - News - Stripes

Retiring Air Force intel chief sounds alarm on American air superiority - News - Stripes: "The U.S. Air Force’s former top intelligence officer warned a roomful of generals this week that the U.S. has lost its air power advantages and is dangerously ill-prepared to stop the gap-closing efforts of China and Russia.
Lt. Gen. David Deptula, a former F-15 pilot , challenged Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ fundamental belief that U.S. air power vastly overmatches any foreign military.
“For the first time, our claim to air supremacy is in jeopardy,” Deptula told the Air Force Association’s national convention on Monday."

U.S.: Despite surplus, Iraq can't yet fund its security | Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/15/2010

U.S.: Despite surplus, Iraq can't yet fund its security | Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/15/2010: "Iraq might be running a budget surplus, but that doesn't mean it should spend it, U.S. officials said Tuesday, arguing that the Iraqi government's finances are too fragile for it to pay a greater share of its security costs.
The Obama administration commented in response to a new U.S. government study that found that Iraq had a surplus of $52.1 billion at the end of 2009, including $11.8 billion available to be spent.
The study by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, provided ammunition to lawmakers who have argued that the United States should not run up its own budget deficit to bankroll the Pentagon's military training mission in Iraq.
The study concluded, 'Iraq has the potential to further contribute toward its security needs, even as it addresses other competing priorities.'
The administration, which has asked Congress to approve $2 billion for training and equipping Iraqi military and police in fiscal 2011, said that carrying out the GAO recommendation could put Iraq at financial risk and jeopardize the United States' interests in a country where it has spent, by the report's calculation, $642 billion in military operations since 2003."

Army Tests Roving Digital Command Posts -

Army Tests Roving Digital Command Posts - "U.S. Army is experimenting with gadgetry that may play a key role in the battlefields of the not-too-distant future.

Beer-keg-shaped drones hover over a simulated battlefield, tracking targets of interest. Small, portable robots with an odd resemblance to the computer-animated hero of the movie "WALL-E" peer around corners, relaying sound and digital images. Sensors silently track enemy movements.

Some of these devices are already in service, but the Army wants to link them together on a secure mobile network that gives soldiers a detailed look at the battlefield in real time. The Army has outfitted a number of armored trucks with "network integration kits" that bundle together information from the different sensors, turning the vehicles into roving digital command posts.

Maj. Bill Venable, an Iraq War veteran and Army product manager, likened the new approach to "Web conferencing" on the battlefield. In the past, Maj. Venable said, he had to travel to a combat outpost to receive paper copies of operational orders, get the profile of an insurgent suspect or watch video feeds from a drone. With this new gear, soldiers could sift through military networks without heading back to base.

If all goes according to plan, some of this gadgetry may appear in Afghanistan as early as 2012. But first, the Army needs to see if the new equipment will actually be useful in combat.

That's the job of the Army Evaluation Task Force. Based at Fort Bliss, Texas, the unit is currently putting the equipment through its paces in a seven-week evaluation here. Col. Dan Pinnell, the task force commander, said his job was to provide the Army with a straight report card on the new gear. "My task is to evaluate capabilities—new doctrine, new hardware, new tactics and new organizations—in a realistic environment," he said.

The results of a similar exercise last year, Army officials acknowledge, were less than spectacular. The range of the new digital gear was extremely limited, with operations restricted to a five-kilometer radius, and much of the equipment wasn't tough enough to withstand battlefield conditions.

Observers say a larger issue remains—whether the service will continue funding the effort.

U.S. seeks to head off new Sudan conflict

U.S. seeks to head off new Sudan conflict: "Sudan, torn by five decades of civil war that ended in a precarious 2005 peace deal, seems about to break up into two states in a January referendum on the independence of the south.
The United States is engaged in a major diplomatic effort to head off another conflict between the mainly Christian and animist south and the Muslim Arab-ruled north.
Regional stability is at grave risk if Sudan is indeed plunged back into conflict.
The country has been torn by turmoil since independence from Britain in 1956, when it plunged into civil war in which an estimated 5 million people died from the violence, famine or disease.
The critical element that will determine the fate of Africa's largest state is oil, a resource that is causing political and social upheaval across the continent as major strikes are being made from Angola to Uganda."

US touts Russia ties ahead of talks with defense minister

US touts Russia ties ahead of talks with defense minister: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates hosts his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov on Wednesday for several hours of talks, as US officials touted improving relations between the two countries.
It was the first visit to the Pentagon by a Russian defense minister in five years, and American officials made a point of telling reporters that Gates was devoting most of his day to talks with Serdyukov.
The two planned to sign documents on defense cooperation and hold three formal meetings as well as a working dinner on a navy vessel on the Potomac river, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.
The defense chiefs would be meeting for a total of at least five hours, 'which is an unusually long amount of time to devote to any visiting dignitary,' he told reporters."

US-Russia ties at stake with START vote: diplomat

US-Russia ties at stake with START vote: diplomat: "US-Russia relations could suffer if senators fail to ratify a new arms control treaty, with Moscow possibly refusing to back Washington's policy on Iran, a top US official said Tuesday.

Forging a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) has bolstered cooperation between the former Cold War foes on national security issues, paving the way for Moscow to support new UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, said Rose Gottemoeller, who helped negotiate the accord.

"We have gotten some immediate benefits into the Russian relationship from working so closely together on the START deal. I see an effect particularly on our ability to work with the Russians on Iran," said Gottemoeller, assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance and implementation.


Airborne Multi-Intelligence Lab Demonstrates Intelligence Integration

Airborne Multi-Intelligence Lab Demonstrates Intelligence Integration: "A flying ISR laboratory developed by Lockheed Martin recently demonstrated advanced capabilities to disseminate real-time intelligence data, including streaming video, imagery and communications feeds to a ground station. Lockheed Martin's Airborne Multi-INT Laboratory (AML) flew several flights using previously collected data to demonstrate intelligence collection, analysis, processing and dissemination.
'The AML has proved itself as a test platform for next generation intelligence sensors,' said Jim Quinn, vice president with Lockheed Martin's Information Systems and Global Solutions -Defense.
'Customers are concerned with the speed of solution delivery, reducing the risk of those solutions and delivering differentiated capability affordably. The AML offers customers a highly capable, flexible system that can be used to meet immediate needs and respond to critical challenges.'
During the flight experiments, the AML relayed streaming video as well as previously collected communications and electronic intelligence to a ground station at the Corporation's SWIFT laboratory located in Farnborough, UK. Almost immediately, staff members at the SWIFT Lab were able to view and analyze the data and also update mission plans and tasks."

Pentagon vows to cut waste in contracts

Pentagon vows to cut waste in contracts: "The Pentagon on Tuesday vowed to crack down on the cost of contracts for weapons and services, issuing new rules designed to make the military's vast bureaucracy more efficient.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the guidelines would aim to bolster productivity for contracts that make up about 400 million dollars in the department's roughly 700 billion annual budget.
The rules 'will enable this department to make programs more affordable without sacrificing important capabilities and prevent us from embarking on programs that have to be canceled when they prove unaffordable,' Gates told a news conference.
In describing the new rules, a memorandum sent to Pentagon managers by the undersecretary of defense describes the goal of increasing productivity in blunt terms and in upper case: 'DO MORE WITHOUT MORE.'"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Iran's 'invisible man' runs terror net

Iran's 'invisible man' runs terror net: "If the United States or Israel attacks Iran, a key figure in unleashing the threatened retaliation by Tehran is a general in the Revolutionary Guards who until quite recently was little known, even to Western intelligence services.
Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who commands the Guards Corps' elite and largely clandestine al-Quds Force, has long been the invisible man in Iran's intelligence hierarchy and an enigma to the U.S. intelligence community that is one of his main adversaries.
He's hailed as a national hero in Iran but has rarely been seen in public.
Until recently the Americans and their allies knew little about him.
Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, who spent years operating undercover in the Middle East in the 1980s when Iran was conducting constant 'black operations' across the region, recalls that, although Suleimani was involved in these spying and assassination missions, he was 'pretty much unknown to U.S. intelligence.'
Giraldi said there was a file on the general at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., at that time 'but it was pretty much empty.'
These days, the Americans have come to appreciate how dangerous Suleiman is and how crucial a role he plays in Iran's growing power in the Middle East and its environs."

Iran's 'invisible man' runs terror net

Iran's 'invisible man' runs terror net: "If the United States or Israel attacks Iran, a key figure in unleashing the threatened retaliation by Tehran is a general in the Revolutionary Guards who until quite recently was little known, even to Western intelligence services.
Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who commands the Guards Corps' elite and largely clandestine al-Quds Force, has long been the invisible man in Iran's intelligence hierarchy and an enigma to the U.S. intelligence community that is one of his main adversaries.
He's hailed as a national hero in Iran but has rarely been seen in public.
Until recently the Americans and their allies knew little about him.
Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, who spent years operating undercover in the Middle East in the 1980s when Iran was conducting constant 'black operations' across the region, recalls that, although Suleimani was involved in these spying and assassination missions, he was 'pretty much unknown to U.S. intelligence.'
Giraldi said there was a file on the general at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., at that time 'but it was pretty much empty.'
These days, the Americans have come to appreciate how dangerous Suleiman is and how crucial a role he plays in Iran's growing power in the Middle East and its environs."

Upgraded Aegis Weapon Systems Proven Operational

Upgraded Aegis Weapon Systems Proven Operational: "The U.S. Navy, supported by Lockheed Martin has completed Combat System Ship Qualification Trials for upgraded Aegis Combat Systems installed aboard two Navy ships.
The Navy determined that the Aegis Combat Systems aboard the cruisers USS Mobile Bay and USS Philippine Sea are fully operational.
As part of the cruiser modernization program, the computer suites on these ships were upgraded with enhanced technical data collection capability and radar data display systems, as well as a new digital fire control interface between the anti-submarine warfare control system and the vertical launch system.
During the trials, the ships' Aegis Combat Systems were evaluated for combat-readiness through comprehensive surface, subsurface and anti-air warfare exercises.
These included manned raids and electronic attack scenarios, as well as thorough testing of the systems' tactical data link and air defense capabilities."

Boeing Receives Task Order For Design Of Free Electron Laser Lab Demonstrator

Boeing Receives Task Order For Design Of Free Electron Laser Lab Demonstrator: "Boeing has received an additional task order of $23 million to complete the design of the 100-kilowatt Free Electron Laser (FEL) lab demonstrator. The order is part of a U.S. Navy contract, valued at up to $163 million, which is the result of a competitive downselect based on preliminary designs provided in March.
'The Free Electron Laser program will enable Navy ships to defend themselves against new threats with unprecedented speed, precision and power,' said Greg Hyslop, vice president and general manager of Boeing Strategic Missile and Defense Systems. 'It will transform naval warfare in the next decade by providing an ultra-precise, speed-of-light capability and unlimited magazine depth.'
This critical design review phase will be completed in the fourth quarter of 2011. It will be followed by additional task orders for fabrication and testing in a laboratory environment.
FEL is designed to operate by passing a beam of high-energy electrons through a series of powerful magnetic fields, generating an intense emission of laser light.
'Two unique attributes of FELs are the ability to tune the wavelength to maximize transmission of the laser through the marine atmosphere, and the ability to aim for a single small spot on the target,' said Ed Pogue, FEL program manager for Boeing. 'The combination of these two effects allows the system to destroy the target in the minimum time.'"

Upgraded Aegis Weapon Systems Proven Operational

Upgraded Aegis Weapon Systems Proven Operational: "The U.S. Navy, supported by Lockheed Martin has completed Combat System Ship Qualification Trials for upgraded Aegis Combat Systems installed aboard two Navy ships.
The Navy determined that the Aegis Combat Systems aboard the cruisers USS Mobile Bay and USS Philippine Sea are fully operational.
As part of the cruiser modernization program, the computer suites on these ships were upgraded with enhanced technical data collection capability and radar data display systems, as well as a new digital fire control interface between the anti-submarine warfare control system and the vertical launch system.
During the trials, the ships' Aegis Combat Systems were evaluated for combat-readiness through comprehensive surface, subsurface and anti-air warfare exercises.
These included manned raids and electronic attack scenarios, as well as thorough testing of the systems' tactical data link and air defense capabilities."

US official expects START vote, unsure outcome

US official expects START vote, unsure outcome: "A senior US official on Monday predicted a vote on a landmark arms reduction treaty with Russia before mid-term elections, but refused to predict if it would pass amid Republican opposition.
Rose Gottemoeller, who helped negotiate the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), said the Senate was working 'very hard' and 'I hope actually (to) get a vote on the floor in the next couple of weeks.'
'These are all signs to me of momentum -- and of positive momentum -- but as to the results, I think, well, it's still up in the air,' said Gottemoeller, assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance and implementation.
Gottemoeller said that Senator John Kerry had promised that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chairs, would take up START on Thursday.
'The reason I'm feeling optimistic is that we have a clear signal from Senator Kerry,' said Gottemoeller, who was addressing a forum at Georgetown University.
But senators, who re-entered session on Monday, are expected to adjourn within a month to campaign for November 2 mid-term elections, in which President Barack Obama's Democratic Party is seen at risk.
Richard Lugar, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is the only senator from his party who has come out in support of ratification of the new START treaty."

NSWC Crane Advances Anti-Tamper Technology

NSWC Crane Advances Anti-Tamper Technology: "Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane and Draper Laboratory signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) Aug. 27 to advance anti-tamper technology.

This combined effort facilitates the development of new microelectronics packaging technology that is expected to reduce costs and increase anti-tamper technology performance.

'We will improve on current processes and ultimately come up with new ways to do anti-tamper,' said Dr. Darren J. Crum, U.S. Navy anti-tamper science and technology coordinator. 'Technology used by our warfighters must be protected and NSWC Crane is committed to ensuring that the Navy meets this critical mission requirement.'

NSWC Crane engineers will focus on the laboratory's new advanced packaging technology - integrated Ultra High Density - which has considerable advantages over standard multi-chip module approaches. Among these advantages are the physical protection of critical technology, smaller size, and an ability to incorporate a wide variety of anti-tamper technologies to more precisely target the level of protection.

The warfare center will provide evaluation, guidance and technical feedback expanding on existing Draper technology to produce a high level anti-tamper solution to delay or prevent the unauthorized reverse engineering of electronic equipment, computers, software and other critical technologies that give the U.S. and its allies a military advantage.

'Signing this CRADA gives us the opportunity to gain insight into advanced microelectronics packaging technology,' said Crum. 'We are increasing our ability to develop integration concepts and accelerate them into real world applications for the military.'"

USS McFaul Receives Navy's New Anti-Corrosion Covers

USS McFaul Receives Navy's New Anti-Corrosion Covers: " Representatives from the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and the Surface Ship Life Cycle Management (SSLCM) Activity installed the first full ship set of new anti-corrosion equipment covers on board USS McFaul (DDG 74) at Naval Station Norfolk, Sept. 13.

The new Envelop protective covers are designed to protect weapons and equipment from degradation and corrosion caused by heat, dust, ultraviolet rays, rain and sea water.

Navy trials found the waterproof, breathable covers provide a 90 percent reduction in surface-equipment corrosion. NAVSEA personnel, assisted by the cover supplier, will train the crew on proper use and maintenance of the covers.

"I look forward to the rollout of this important new tool to fight corrosion," said Rear Adm. James McManamon, deputy commander for surface warfare at NAVSEA, as McFaul's installation was completed. "This is an excellent example of how the Navy is leading the effort to install preventative deterrents in the war against corrosion, minimize the use of volatile organic chemical cleanup agents and to save taxpayer dollars."

All new-construction ship programs will utilize the covers, which were developed through a U.S. Navy small business research grant. By the end of FY 2011, every Navy surface ship will be outfitted with the covers.

These efforts are part of a new focus on surface ship readiness. NAVSEA, in coordination with the fleet, has begun a series of initiatives to increase fleet support and improve maintenance practices across ship classes, while also modernizing them to keep pace with mission requirements. These maintenance initiatives are designed to ensure all surface ships are fully mission-ready and able to achieve their expected service life.

Monday, September 13, 2010

SecAF reflects on year's accomplishments, looks ahead in 'State of the Air Force' speech

CORRECTED: SecAF reflects on year's accomplishments, looks ahead in 'State of the Air Force' speech: "Air Force leaders will continue to use technology, efficient resourcing strategies and Airmen to strengthen combat power and meet changing security environment demands, the service's top civilian said during his keynote address at the 2010 Air Force Association Air & Space Conference Sept. 13.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley highlighted the year's total force successes, and pledged to ensure the service remains well-postured for tomorrow's challenges.

"The technology, resource and strategic dynamics in this environment make it imperative that we keep the pressure on ourselves, for we have yet more work to do in the immediate years ahead," Secretary Donley said.

The secretary added that Air Force officials will continue to face challenges such as the need for new missile defense and cyber requirements, greater situational awareness in space, recapitalization of satellites, and modernizing our aging aircraft inventories by bringing on the F-35, trainers, bombers and especially tankers.

Improving internal efficiencies and reallocating resources is not a new concept for the Air Force, the secretary said, citing the perennial task of acquisition improvement.

"Our ongoing tasks are to be better negotiators, know our internal business imperatives, understand contracts ... know our industrial base and respect that every dollar is an Air Force dollar, every dollar is a taxpayer dollar," Secretary Donley said.

The secretary noted "continuing and powerful" examples of Airmen in action such as members of the 100th Maintenance Squadron at RAF Mildenhall, England, who purchased time- and cost-reducing work-assist vehicles in place of bulky B-4 stands currently used for aircraft inspections.

On the subject of long-range strike, Secretary Donley explained the Air Force would continue to work with the Department of Defense on "the next steps to advance the family of systems" -- the weapons, platforms, (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), electronic warfare and communications that make up this critical national capability."

In a review of the last 12 months, the secretary described the Year of the Air Force Family as a "focused assessment" of how the service supports Airmen and their families. He said the program identified successes and areas for improvement in current programs such as Airman resiliency, spouse support, the exceptional family member program, and military dependents' school transitioning among others.

Calling Airmen the "very best hedge we have against the future," Secretary Donley recognized the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year and the thousands of others who "translate their organizations, doctrine, training and equipment into combat power in the air, space and cyber domain."

"For ... the 12 represented as our Outstanding Airmen of the Year here, there are nearly 35,000 Airmen for each of them around the globe providing combat power for America," the secretary said.

Secretary Donley also lauded Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger as the epitome of an outstanding Airman for his heroic achievements and ultimate sacrifice in Laos 42 years ago. President Barack Obama will present a posthumous Medal of Honor to Chief Etchberger's family Sept. 21.

Overall, the secretary emphasized that along with the Air Force's balanced approach to investments, wise application of technologies and strengthened commitment to efficiencies, the service's true strength lies in Airmen who deliver global vigilance, reach and power "upon which our joint and coalition partners depend."

SecAF reflects on year's accomplishments, looks ahead in 'State of the Air Force' speech

SecAF reflects on year's accomplishments, looks ahead in 'State of the Air Force' speech: "More than 1,000 attendees were on hand for the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition on Sept. 13 at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.

During the ceremonies, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Joseph Sutter, Air Force Association chairman of the board, presented numerous awards that recognized significant contributions to the service's joint and global missions.

In his opening remarks, General Schwartz thanked Airmen for their commitment to serve with the utmost integrity and professionalism

"As professionals, we are obligated to make thoughtful and enduring contributions to our profession, and leave it better for our successors who will continue to pursue our proud traditions," General Schwartz said.

Air Force senior leaders presented the following awards during the opening ceremonies:

-- SecAF Safety Award, Category I: Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

-- SecAF Safety Award, Category II: U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.

-- Joan Orr Spouse of the Year Award: Mara Wight, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

-- Gill Robb Wilson Award: Col. John Andreas Olsen, Royal Norwegian Air Force.

-- Citation of Honor: 55th Electronic Combat Group, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.

-- General Curtis E. Lemay Award: Crew of Bone 21, 37th Bomb Squadron, 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth AFB, S.D.

-- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Thomas N. Barnes Award: Staff Sgt. Damon T. Thurman, 56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Luke AFB, Ariz.

-- Outstanding ANG Unit: 176th Operations Group, Kulis Air National Guard Base, Alaska.

-- Air Force Reserve Unit Award: 916th Air Refueling Wing, Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C.

The three-day conference and exposition features more than four-dozen expert panelists and Air Force senior leaders who will address topics of key interest in today's Air Force. The conference is open to all services' active duty, Reserve and Guard enlisted members and officers, as well as civilians, retirees, veterans and industry partners.


DOD to reduce fuel, water consumption

DOD to reduce fuel, water consumption: "Defense Department officials plan to reduce the military's water and fossil fuels consumption by more than 20 percent in the next decade, under an Obama administration plan to make government agencies better stewards of the environment.

Ashton B. Carter, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, wrote in the DOD's portion of the Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan that the DOD's priorities for 2010 and 2011 are to invest in fixed installations, enhance buildings and ensure sustainability concepts in doctrine and policy.

White House officials released the plan Sept. 9. It includes a roadmap submitted from officials in each department, outlining how they will reduce their impact on the environment while meeting mission goals. The plan is the result of an executive order by President Barack Obama.

The department's goals are in line with the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, which highlighted for the first time the importance of having a strategic approach to climate change and energy.

"Our military's heavy reliance on fossil fuels creates significant risks and costs at a tactical, as well as a strategic level," Mr. Carter wrote in the plan. "We measure these costs in lost dollars, in reduced mission effectiveness, and in U.S. Soldiers' lives. Freeing warfighters from the tether of fuel will significantly improve our mission effectiveness, as will reducing our installations' dependence on costly fossil fuels and a potentially fragile power grid."

The DOD's eight overarching goals include:

-- Reducing the use of fossil fuels in facilities and vehicles, while using renewable sources of energy
-- Improving water management
-- Further reducing greenhouse gas emissions to a 34 percent reduction since fiscal 2008
-- Curbing greenhouse gases further through contracted landfill disposal, increased teleworking and less air travel
-- Reducing and better managing solid waste, such as by using less paper
-- Minimizing chemicals released into the environment through better electronics disposal and pesticide applications
-- Promoting sustainability as the norm in procurements and buildings
-- Building sustainability into management systems, and with coordination with local and regional planning boards

The goals apply to all of the department's mission and program areas, with the objective of incorporating sustainability principles into daily operations, officials said.

Making such changes will improve mission effectiveness, while enhancing the environment, said Shannon Cunniff, the DOD's director of chemical and material risk management.

She added that implementation will be challenging.

"Implementing the plan won't be easy, but it will be rewarding," she said. "We'll lower our vulnerabilities associated with reliance on fossil fuels and a fragile power grid, and preserve other assets critical to our readiness and training and, over the long run, we'll save money by doing so. It's a win-win-win (situation)."

The DOD has been recognized in recent years as a leader in environmental sustainability, and Ms. Cunniff said she expects that to continue under the new plan.

The DOD "has the innovative spirit and creativity, as well as the mission benefits, to drive successful implementation of the plan," she said.

"I'll bet that (the Defense Department) can and will lead the nation in making smart investments that protect assets for current and future generations to enjoy and use," she added.

The federal government occupies nearly 500,000 buildings, operates more than 600,000 vehicles, employs more than 1.8 million civilians, and purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services. As the single-largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy, the federal government spent more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008 alone, officials said in a White House news release.

Executive Order 13514, issued Oct. 5, 2009, requires agencies to set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, increase energy efficiency, reduce fleet petroleum consumption, conserve water, reduce waste, support sustainable communities, and leverage federal purchasing power to promote environmentally responsible products and technologies.

To promote accountability, annual progress will be measured by the Office of Management and Budget and be reported online to the public."

Navy Searches for John Paul Jones' Ship

Navy Searches for John Paul Jones' Ship: "The U.S. Navy, in conjunction with the Ocean Technology Foundation (OTF), the British Royal navy and the French navy, is leading participation in a search for the remains of the revolutionary warship Bonhomme Richard off the coast of Flamborough Head, England, the week of Sept. 10.

The search is expected to take approximately 10 days.

The Bonhomme Richard was a frigate given by France to John Paul Jones and the Continental Navy in support of the Revolutionary War. John Paul Jones renamed the ship Bonhomme Richard (Good Man Richard) in honor of his patron Benjamin Franklin, who used the pen name Richard Saunders to publish "Poor Richard's Almanac."

The oceanographic survey ship USNS Henson (T-AGS 63), operated by Military Sealift Command for the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, will be the primary platform for the search. The survey crew is comprised of oceanographers from the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) who planned and coordinated the U.S. Navy's participation in this search.

Representatives from the U.S. Naval Academy, Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Naval History and Heritage Command will also be aboard Henson to assist in the search and identification of found artifacts.

The search planning process included use of a computer program developed by the faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy that integrates historical data, crew actions and last known position to establish where the ship is most likely to be found.

Bonhomme Richard, commanded by John Paul Jones, was lost off the coast of England in 1779 after a decisive battle with HMS Serapis, during which Jones shouted his famous words, "I have not yet begun to fight." Jones and his crew emerged from the battle victorious, seizing HMS Serapis as Bonhomme Richard sustained heavy damage during the battle and sank 36 hours later. The discovery of the Bonhomme Richard would be one of the most important archeological discoveries in U.S. Navy history.

"Over their years of active service, the Navy's oceanographic ships have sailed hundreds of thousands of nautical miles collecting critical oceanographic and hydrographic data that enable decision superiority across the spectrum of naval operations," said Rear Adm. Jonathan W. White, commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMETOC). "I consider it an honor that our cutting edge naval ocean survey technology now will now be used to forge a connection with this historic ship and its commander and U.S. Navy hero, John Paul Jones."

Survey equipment will include Henson's towed side-scan sonar, unmanned underwater vehicles with side-scan and multibeam sonar, as well as ONR's unmanned underwater vehicles equipped with buried mine identification (BMI). The BMI system, consisting of an ultra-sensitive laser scalar gradiometer, a side-scan sonar and electro-optical imager, will employ technology used for identifying mines buried in the ocean bottom to find remnants of the Bonhomme Richard. A French navy mine-hunter with embarked divers will join the search to dive on any artifacts that require closer inspection.

This is the fifth expedition organized by the OTF in which the Navy has participated. This year's effort is the largest collaboration to date and includes the most substantial support by U.S. Navy assets.

NMETOC directs the Navy's meteorology and oceanography programs, maintains the Navy's atomic clock for precise time and tracks the positions of the stars for navigation. The command is comprised of approximately 3,000 officers, enlisted and civilian personnel stationed around the world. Naval oceanography enables the safety, speed and operational effectiveness of the fleet by illuminating the risks and opportunities for naval and joint forces posed by the present and future natural environment. NAVOCEANO is NMETOC's largest subordinate command.

Navy Commissions Newest Anti-Terrorism, Force Protection Unit on 9/11

Navy Commissions Newest Anti-Terrorism, Force Protection Unit on 9/11: "The Navy's newest anti-terrorism and force protection unit, Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron (MSRON) 11, was commissioned Sept. 11 during a ceremony aboard Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif.

MSRON 11, formerly known as a mobile security squadron, is a specialized security unit tasked with providing rapidly deployable anti-terrorism and force protection units to Navy assets in local harbors and foreign ports.

"The name changed from mobile security squadrons to maritime expeditionary security squadrons, and the units have been restructured and they are being refined," said Rear Adm. Michael Shatynski, Vice Commander, Naval Surface Forces. "That is a testament to the adaptability of the forces, the adaptability of what you can do to combat an ever-changing and ever more dangerous foe."

MSRONs were established following terrorist attacks abroad, particularly the bombing of USS Cole (DDG 67) in 2000. MSRON 11 becomes the newest addition to a security force that provides protection to inshore and coastal anchorages, harbors and port facilities.

"This team is made up of highly capable Sailors who are responsible for the protection of our country's most valuable Navy assets," said Capt. Gary Buchanan, MSRON 11 commanding officer. "They provide the highest possible level of protection against sea and land-based threats. In a nutshell, they prevent what happened to USS Cole from happening again."

The commissioning ceremony was held on the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

"This day not only signifies the ceremonial establishment of one of our nation's newest fighting forces, it also allows us all to reflect back on a day we will all remember throughout our lives," Buchanan said.

MSRON 11, comprised of approximately 300 Sailors, will be home ported at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif. and is under the stewardship of U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Loosening of controls on exports draws fire - Washington Times

Loosening of controls on exports draws fire - Washington Times: "The Obama administration's overhaul of regulations aimed at loosening controls on the export of some military technology is drawing fire from groups that monitor arms proliferation but praise from trade groups.
President Obama on Tuesday announced the export-control policies in a video during the Commerce Department's annual conference on updates to export controls.
The policy seeks to streamline and standardize the licensing process for defense-related exports and create a new unified enforcement agency to crack down on violators of the export controls.
Currently, the Commerce and State departments administer controls on the licensing of munitions and sensitive dual-use exports, a long-standing source of concern for the U.S. defense industry that complains of delays and the byzantine nature of the bureaucracy. Dual-use items have both military and civilian applications.
'Going forward, we will have a single, tiered, positive list — one which will allow us to build higher walls around the export of our most sensitive items while allowing the export of less-critical ones under less-restrictive conditions,' Mr. Obama said Tuesday,"

C-17 biofuel flight tests conclude

C-17 biofuel flight tests conclude: "The Air Force's ongoing alternative fuels certification efforts reached a new milestone Aug. 27, 2010, when a C-17 Globemaster III from here flew on all engines using jet fuel blended with a combination of traditional petroleum-based fuel, or JP-8, biofuel derived in part from animal fat, and synthetic fuel derived from coal.

The 418th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards conducted the flight tests Aug. 23 to 27. The flight was a first for any Department of Defense aircraft where a 50 percent mix of traditional petroleum-based JP-8 was blended with 25 percent renewable biofuel and 25 percent fuel derived from the Fischer-Tropsch process, essentially liquefied coal or natural gas. It was also the first time an aircraft from Edwards had used fuel derived from beef tallow, essentially waste animal fat.

"The C-17 fleet is the biggest Air Force consumer of jet fuel annually," said Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford, Military Deputy, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition). "This is a big step forward in achieving the Air Force's energy goal of increasing the available supply of fuel by acquiring half of the Air Force's domestic jet fuel requirement from domestically derived, environmentally friendly alternatives sources by 2016."

For several years the Air Force has been looking at alternate sources of fuel to support their operations, said James Holther, 418 FLTS project engineer for biofuel testing.

"The first thing the Air Force did was look at Fischer-Tropsch fuels that use natural gas or coal as the feedstock and this is just a continuation of that ongoing effort," he said. "The fuel we're testing this time around is a biofuel manufactured with biomass as the feedstock."

The hydro-treated renewable jet fuel used by the C-17 contains biomass that can be made from either animal fats or plant extracts such as camelina, a weed-like plant not used for food. The HRJ is blended with regular JP-8 jet fuel for the testing to gather data to support Air Force transport aircraft certification on alternative fuels from various feedstocks.

The Air Force Fuels Certification Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, has certified more than 85 percent of all Air Force aircraft to use Fischer-Tropsch derived fuels and is now focusing efforts on certifying aircraft to fly on HRJ biofuel blends.

"When the certification effort is completed, it won't matter what feedstock or process was used to make the fuel, we will simply call it 'JP-8,'" said Jeff Braun, director of the Air Force Fuel Certification Office.

Mr. Braun added that his office tests and manages certification of 'drop-in' alternative fuel blends that will require no modification to aircraft or ground equipment. It also would necessarily provide the desired performance and burn as clean or cleaner than current JP-8, as demonstrated during the ground engine emission evaluation conducted as part of the C-17 test program.

"We want maintainers, aircrews and fuels handlers to be able to say they can perceive absolutely no difference between traditional JP-8 and the alternative blends," Mr. Braun said.

The testing process featured the C-17 flying with different combinations of HRJ and JP-8.

Mr. Holther said the testing required the Globemaster III to perform several maneuvers at different altitudes such as decelerating and then accelerating to see how the plane responds with the HRJ mixed in.

The 418 FLTS took precautionary measures to build up to the final test day.

"On Monday three engines had JP-8 and one engine had a blend of 50-50 biofuel and the JP-8 -- it's part of a safety build-up," said Mr. Holther. "We'll build up to putting the fuel in all four engines by verifying the performance differences are insignificant between the blended fuel engine and the regular fuel engines."

On Aug. 24, the test team expanded the evaluation by utilizing the HRJ blended fuel in all four engines, flying the aircraft on 50 percent biofuel.

A successful test is signified when the C-17 performs with little or no difference between the blended fuel and JP-8.

"The C-17 HRJ ground and flight testing went very well," said Patrick Terry, project manager. "The tests were uneventful, as was expected based on the results of previous similar HRJ fuel tested at Eglin AFB this year on other aircraft (the A-10 Thunderbolt II)."

"Preliminary results show very little noticeable difference between the performance of the JP-8 and the bio-fuel blends that were tested. A detailed analysis will be completed in the next few months," said Mr. Terry.

The flight testing culminated Aug. 27 with the C-17 using a blend of 25 percent HRJ, 50 percent JP-8 and 25 percent Fischer-Tropsch fuel mixture.

The potential use of alternative fuel could provide the Air Force with more options and greater flexibility in the future.

"This is an opportunity for us to investigate the possible use of clean, renewable fuel sources," said Lt. Col. Clifton Janney, 418 FLTS commander. "If successful, it can broaden the spectrum of fuels that we can use Air Force-wide."

Mr. Holther said successful testing of the HRJ with the C-17 will be used by the AFCO to support certification of the biofuel in military and commercial transport aircraft.

"This test we are doing with the C-17 and biofuel is considered a 'pathfinder' effort, which means similar aircraft, like the C-5, might be qualified to use this fuel based on the test results we get with the C-17," said Mr. Holther.

Mr. Braun said lessons learned from certifying individual airframes on Fischer-Tropsch fuels has been applied to the HRJ alternative fuel certification process, which will enable accelerated certification using pathfinder aircraft, then certifying other systems by similarity. The F-22 is the planned pathfinder for certifying the fighter fleet, and Global Hawk is being explored for platforms which operate at high-altitude.