Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NATO mulls missile cooperation with Russia

NATO mulls missile cooperation with Russia: "NATO leaders have snubbed suggestions by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to unite his country's missile system with that of the Western alliance.
Although Russian officials denied that Medvedev made a specific proposal, he moved to broach the issue of uniting a missile shield being built by the 28 NATO allies with Russia's own version during a closed-door meeting with NATO leaders in Lisbon over the weekend.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Medvedev had proposed that Russia take "responsibility for shooting down missiles fired towards Europe and which fly over its zone of responsibility."

NATO leaders said the issue should be probed by technical experts who will examine ways the two systems could cooperate. A follow-up on the issue was expected in June when defense ministers from Russia and NATO member countries are set to meet in Brussels.

Commentary: WMD by the numbers

Arnaud de Borchgrave: Russia "Makes Nice" at NATO Summit: "There was much common ground between Russia and the Atlantic alliance on a wide spectrum of global issues -- from transnational terrorism to nuclear proliferation and from piracy to illicit narcotics. Moscow had even enlarged the list of non-lethal items the United States and NATO are allowed to move to Afghanistan through Russia for the war effort against the Taliban insurgency, to include armored vehicles.
Most important of all, Russia has finally decided to sign on to a NATO ballistic-missile defense system designed to deter Iran's growing number of medium range missiles that could in the foreseeable future threaten the Middle East and southern Europe with nuclear weapons.
Unstated in the language of diplomacy: neither Russia nor the NATO allies believe they are a threat to each other.
Unstated, too, is Moscow's wish to be included in NATO's decision-making process. Otherwise, say the Russians, a joint anti-missile system wouldn't make much sense. Russia is closer to Iran than much of Europe is."

Japan PM's plight deepens after Okinawa says 'no' to US base

Japan PM's plight deepens after Okinawa says 'no' to US base: "The re-elected governor of Okinawa stood firm Monday on his demand for the removal of a US military base, hitting the Japanese government's hopes of a breakthrough on an issue that has strained ties with Washington.
Voters on the southern island re-elected Hirokazu Nakaima on Sunday, who promptly reiterated his call for the sprawling Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to leave the prefecture.
Tokyo promised Washington it would honour an accord to move the base to a coastal location in Okinawa, but must deal with local opposition to the base on the island, which has hosted the bulk of the US forces in Japan for decades."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Defense.gov News Article: Schwartz Discusses Korea, Other Issues

Defense.gov News Article: Schwartz Discusses Korea, Other Issues: "Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz today said it is “significant” that the South Korean air force, rather than the United States, is leading its country’s air defenses at a time when North Korea has become increasingly provocative.

Schwartz spoke here at a Defense Writers Group meeting hours after North Korea launched an artillery attack against the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. North Korea reportedly fired dozens of artillery shells at the island, killing two South Korean marines and wounding at least 16 other people.

U.S. Forces Korea is monitoring the situation closely, Schwartz said.

“It is significant that the [South Korean air force] is in the lead” and launched eight F15 fighter jets in response, he said.

The attack came within days of revelations that North Korea has secretly built a large uranium enrichment facility, raising longstanding concerns about its nuclear intentions. And, in March, North Korea torpedoed and sank the South Korean navy ship Cheonan, killing 46 sailors.

South Korea and its allies have considerable air power in the North Pacific region that North Korea should be mindful of, Schwartz said. “Today, at this moment, there is no question that there is very substantial air power in the North Pacific and that is something North Korea needs to be respectful of,” he said.

Schwartz made the comments during a wide-ranging discussion with reporters that included the ongoing Air Force tanker bid, the budget, and the lifespan of the C-17 cargo plane.

The general acknowledged that Air Force personnel inadvertently provided information to competitors Boeing and EADS about each company’s bid on the tanker. But, he said, the information was one page of data that was not proprietary, as some media reported, but rather included technical information related to analysis of the aircraft.

The Air Force reviewed the mistake, Schwartz said, and had two people responsible removed from the service’s program review office.

The mistake does not give either company an advantage on the bid because both companies received the same type of information, the general said.

Addressing the budget, Schwartz said the Air Force has found $28 billion in response to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ directive that the department find $100 billion in savings during the next five years to re-invest in high-priority needs.

The Air Force savings will be redirected to weapons system modernization including improved long-range strike capability, Schwartz said. In other weapons and equipment needs, he said, the Air Force is fitting new engines in 52 of its C-5 transport aircraft. The Air Force, he added, also will eventually need to replace its aging C-17 transport planes.

Turning to Afghanistan, Schwartz said the Air Force fully understands the strategy of Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, to apply effective air power while minimizing civilian casualties.

“We get that,” Schwartz said. “I’m not suggesting we’re perfect, but 80 percent of civilian casualties” are caused by the enemy and confirmed by human rights organizations.

“What we’re doing is, I would argue, is the most precise application of force in history,” he said.

Schwartz also was asked about the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, which forbids gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. The law is under scrutiny by the Obama administration, Congress and the federal appeals courts, which are considering whether to overturn the law.

Schwartz said he has reviewed the draft report that the department has scheduled to be released on Nov. 30, and has offered his edits. He said it is important that the report’s contents and discussions about it remain confidential until its release.

Schwartz called a recent leak of information on the report “unfortunate,” and said it “makes the candid exchange of views more difficult.”

The Joint Chiefs are prepared to give their best military advice to President Barack Obama about the potential impact of the law’s repeal on the military, Schwartz said.

“If the law is changed, the U.S. Air Force will pursue its implementation professionally, thoroughly, and with conviction,” he said.

Clean, low-energy solutions sought for mammoth program

Clean, low-energy solutions sought for mammoth program: "Ongoing technical and cost analyses could lead program officials to seek a mixture of alternative energy sources to fuel the next generation of massive ground-based radars that will track space objects and debris.

Last month, the Electronic Systems Center here released a Request for Proposal announcement for the Space Fence program. Valued at more than $3.5 billion, the program is expected to deliver a system of geographically dispersed ground-based sensors to provide timely assessment of space events.

In this upcoming phase, ESC will award up to two preliminary design review contracts worth up to a total of $214 million. Regardless of the ultimate design, however, officials already know the huge S-band radars that will track mass of objects in space will require a lot of energy.

"That's why it's so important to look at various options for producing that required energy," said Linda Haines, Space Fence program manager. "If there are ways to save money while also lowering our carbon footprint, we have to examine them."

It's too early in the process to know exactly what options will be available. There are simply too many variables, some of which will depend on where the radars are sited. The current plan requires a minimum of two, and a maximum of three, Space Fence sites, with potential locations in Australia, Kwajalein Atoll and Ascension Island.

"The unique characteristics of each potential location play into the possible mix of energy options," said Chris Moulton, Massachussetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory's Space Fence task leader and a member of the lab's committee studying alternative energy solutions for the Defense Department.

On Ascension Island, for instance, persistent trade winds might make wind power a particularly attractive option. The island, which was used in the 1960s as a staging ground for the impending lunar landings, also has certain characteristics that would make geothermal energy harvesting worthy of consideration.

In other areas, geography makes some alternative energy sources more problematic. Another potential site, Exmouth Island just off the western coast of Australia, lies in what's known as 'cyclone alley.'

The exposure to these potentially devastating storms means that heavy dependence on wind farms, for instance, would be impractical. However, even there, retractable wind-collecting units could be part of the energy solution, as could sea-water air conditioning.

"Some potentially promising technologies need further development but could be added in the future to a hybrid plant designed to incorporate what we call intermittent renewable with smart grid technology," said Ted Bloomstein, PhD, a member of the MIT/LL Alternative Energy Committee and research lead for Space Fence alternative energy analyses.

Aside from the environmental benefits, using renewable energy sources could save a lot of money -- over time -- according to Ms. Haines

"While we could incur some relatively small upfront additional investment costs, we see potential annual savings over our diesel fuel baseline of $25 million to $40 million a year, or total lifecycle cost savings of $500 million to $1 billion, with the right mix," she said.

This is primarily driven by reducing or eliminating recurring fuel costs. Another important benefit of renewable technologies is predictable future energy-costs and improved energy surety, according to Mr. Moulton.

All of this analysis fits perfectly with the Defense Department's charge to reduce energy consumption. In 2008, the Defense Science Board Task Force on DOD Energy Strategy issued a report titled "More Fight - Less Fuel." In that and other documents, the services have been urged to look harder at fossil fuel alternatives and to make smarter energy choices wherever possible.

The Air Force has even mandated that most energy reduction projects with a payback period of 10 years or less should be implemented.

"Most of our projections show that we could easily recapture any additional cost we'd take on within 10 years of operation," Ms. Haines said. "In fact, our analyses tend to show cost savings that greatly exceed the initial investment."

She emphasizes that no particular solution is being mandated; however, program officials are considering mechanisms with the acquisition process that would provide incentives for smart, energy-conscious designs.

"I can tell you that we are very serious about doing this in the most environmentally and cost-efficient way possible," Ms. Haines said.


U.S. Army Unveils 'Revolutionary' XM25 Rifle in Afghanistan - FoxNews.com

U.S. Army Unveils 'Revolutionary' XM25 Rifle in Afghanistan - FoxNews.com: "Since the dawn of modern warfare, the best way to stay alive in the face of incoming fire has been to take cover behind a wall. But thanks to a game-changing 'revolutionary' rifle, the U.S. Army has made that tactic dead on arrival. Now the enemy can run, but he can't hide.
After years of development, the U.S. Army has unleashed a new weapon in Afghanistan -- the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System, a high-tech rifle that can be programmed so that its 25-mm. ammunition does not necessarily explode on impact. Instead, it can be set to detonate either in front of or behind a target, meaning it literally will go through a wall before it explodes and kills the enemy.
It also has a range of roughly 2,300 feet -- nearly the length of eight football fields -- making it possible to fire at targets well past the range of the rifles and carbines that most soldiers carry today."

U.S. engagement on Iran must be realistic: military chief | Reuters

U.S. engagement on Iran must be realistic: military chief | Reuters: "The United States needs to be realistic about its efforts to engage Iran, whose leaders are lying about Tehran's nuclear program and are on a path to building nuclear weapons, the top U.S. military officer said.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in comments released on Friday that the U.S. military has been thinking about military options on Iran 'for a significant period of time' but added that diplomacy remained the focus of U.S. efforts.
'I still think it's important we focus on the dialogue, we focus on the engagement, but also do it in a realistic way that looks at whether Iran is actually going to tell the truth, actually engage and actually do anything,' Mullen said in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS due to air on Sunday."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Robots, the Military’s Newest Forces - NYTimes.com

Robots, the Military’s Newest Forces - NYTimes.com: "while smart machines are already very much a part of modern warfare, the Army and its contractors are eager to add more. New robots — none of them particularly human-looking — are being designed to handle a broader range of tasks, from picking off snipers to serving as indefatigable night sentries.
In a mock city here used by Army Rangers for urban combat training, a 15-inch robot with a video camera scuttles around a bomb factory on a spying mission. Overhead an almost silent drone aircraft with a four-foot wingspan transmits images of the buildings below. Onto the scene rolls a sinister-looking vehicle on tank treads, about the size of a riding lawn mower, equipped with a machine gun and a grenade launcher.
Three backpack-clad technicians, standing out of the line of fire, operate the three robots with wireless video-game-style controllers. One swivels the video camera on the armed robot until it spots a sniper on a rooftop. The machine gun pirouettes, points and fires in two rapid bursts. Had the bullets been real, the target would have been destroyed.
The machines, viewed at a “Robotics Rodeo” last month at the Army’s training school here, not only protect soldiers, but also are never distracted, using an unblinking digital eye, or “persistent stare,” that automatically detects even the smallest motion. Nor do they ever panic under fire.
“One of the great arguments for armed robots is they can fire second,” said Joseph W. Dyer, a former vice admiral and the chief operating officer of iRobot"

Senator Lugar Charts His Course Against the Winds - NYTimes.com

Senator Lugar Charts His Course Against the Winds - NYTimes.com: "Senator Richard G. Lugar, an Indiana Republican who played that role long before it had a brand name, is standing against his party on a number of significant issues at a politically dangerous time to do so.
A reliable conservative for decades on every issue, he nonetheless fought President Ronald Reagan — and prevailed — on apartheid penalties and over the Philippine presidential election. He went head to head with Senator Jesse Helms in the 1990s over the nomination of William F. Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, as ambassador to Mexico.
Now, in the heat of the post-primary lame-duck Congressional session, he is defying his party on an earmark ban, a bill that would create a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, a military spending authorization bill and an arms control treaty with Russia.
He even declined to sign a brief supporting state lawsuits against President Obama’s health care law because he saw it as political posturing.
Now Mr. Lugar’s willingness to buck his party is leading to talk that he will face a primary challenge from a Tea Party candidate when he runs for re-election in 2012."

In South Korea, New Stirrings for Revenge - NYTimes.com

In South Korea, New Stirrings for Revenge - NYTimes.com: "The ferocity of the attack and the deaths of the civilians appear to have started a shift in South Koreans’ conflicted emotions about their countrymen in the North, and not just among those who were shot at.
After years of backing food aid and other help for the North despite a series of provocations that included two nuclear tests, many South Koreans now say they feel betrayed and angry.
“I think we should respond strongly toward North Korea for once instead of being dragged by them,” said Cho Jong-gu, 44, a salesman in Seoul. “This time, it wasn’t just the soldiers. The North mercilessly hurt the civilians.”
That is not to say that he or other South Koreans will really push for a South Korean strike; people south of the border are well aware that the North could devastate Seoul with its weapons.
But the sentiments reflect a change of mood in a country where people have willed themselves to believe that their brotherly ties to the North would override the ideological chasm between the impoverished Communist North and the thriving capitalist South."

Kiowa Warrior Fact File United States Army

Kiowa Warrior Fact File United States Army: OH-58 KIOWA WARRIOR


Conduct armed reconnaissance, security, target acquisition and designation, command and control, light attack and defensive air combat missions in support of combat and contingency operations. Replaces AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters (those that function as scouts in air cavalry troops and light attack companies) and OH-58A and C Kiowas in air cavalry troops.

Entered Army Service


Description and Specifications

A single engine, four-bladed helicopter with advanced visionics, navigation, communication, and weapons and cockpit integration systems. The mast-mounted sight (MMS) houses a thermal imaging system, low-light television, laser rangefinder/designator, and an optical boresight system. These systems enable the Kiowa Warrior to operate by day and night and allow target acquisition and engagement at stand-off ranges and in adverse weather conditions. The Kiowa Warrior's highly accurate navigation system provides precise target location that can be sent digitally to other aircraft or artillery via its advanced digital communications system. Battlefield imagery can be transmitted to provide near-real-time situational awareness to command and control elements. The Laser Designator can provide autonomous designation for the Laser HELLFIRE or remote designation for other laser-guided precision weapons.

The Kiowa Warrior is equipped with two universal quick-change weapons pylons. Each pylon can be armed with two HELLFIRE missiles, seven HYDRA 70 rockets, two air-to-air Stinger missiles, or one .50 caliber fixed forward machine gun. The armament systems combine to provide anti-armor, anti-personnel, and anti-aircraft capabilities at standoff ranges.

The Kiowa Warrior is rapidly deployable by air and can be fully operational within minutes of arrival. Two Kiowa aircraft can be transported in a C-130 aircraft. For air transportation the vertical tail fin pivots, the main rotor blades and the horizontal stabilizer are folded, and the mast mounted site, the IFF antenna and the lower wire cutter are removed. The landing gear can kneel to decrease the height.

Although Kiowa Warrior fielding is complete, the Army is currently installing a series of safety and performance modifications to keep the aircraft safe and mission effective until it is retired.

Crew: 2
Max Gross Weight: 5,500 lbs (armed)
Empty Weight: 3,289 lbs
Height: 12 ft, 10.6 in
Width: 6 ft, 5.4 in
Length: 33 ft, 4 in
Rotor Diameter: 35 ft
Max Cruise Speed: 128 mph
Range: 299 miles (sea level, no weapons, 10% reserve)
Ceiling: 19,000 ft
Armament: Air-to-air Stinger (ATAS) (2 round launcher); .50 caliber machine gun (500 rounds); HYDRA 70 (2.75 in) rockets (7-shot pod); HELLFIRE missiles (2-round launcher)
Rolls Royce/Allison Engines (Indianapolis, IN); Honeywell (Albuquerque, NM); Bell Helicopter, Textron (Fort Worth, TX); Boeing (Anaheim, CA); Simula (Tempe, AZ); Edwards (Bristol, TN)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Navy watches clock on littoral ship plan (11/22/10) -- GovExec.com

Navy watches clock on littoral ship plan (11/22/10) -- GovExec.com

The chief of naval operations says he's confident he has support on Capitol Hill for plans to buy two versions of the service's Littoral Combat Ship, but he acknowledged that it will be a challenge to obtain congressional authorization to do so by mid-December.

The Navy announced on Nov. 3 that it wants to abandon its winner-take-all approach for the next 10 shallow-water warships and instead award a contract for 10 vessels apiece to the two competitors, Lockheed Martin and Austal USA.

But the Navy needs Congress to give it the go-ahead by Dec. 14, when the firms' current proposals for the lucrative shipbuilding contract expire.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Boeing Offers New Surveillance Detection System

Boeing Offers New Surveillance Detection System: "Boeing has announced it has begun offering a Surveillance Detection System (SDS) capable of near real-time, 360-degree detection of optical threats.
The system identifies when friendly forces are being monitored or targeted by cameras, binoculars, sniper scopes or other optical means.
Using internal funds, Boeing Directed Energy Systems developed and demonstrated the new capability on a U.S. government test range within two months of the release of initial customer requirements, and successfully completed field testing over the past year.
The company validated the system's performance through tactically relevant scenarios."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Obama vows 'unshakeable' support for S.Korea after attack

Obama vows 'unshakeable' support for S.Korea after attack: "US President Barack Obama described North Korea as a pressing threat and pledged 'unshakeable' support for South Korea after the communist state rained a deadly artillery barrage on a border island.
Washington and Seoul agreed to 'coordinate' any response to North Korea after Tuesday's attack, which killed two South Korean marines and sent panicked civilians fleeing the flashpoint Yellow Sea island of Yeonpyeong.
In an interview with ABCNews, Obama would not speculate on military actions that the United States may take in response to the artillery deluge, which has incited global condemnation and depressed financial markets around the world."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

McCain: 'Waste no time' on missile shield

McCain: 'Waste no time' on missile shield: "The United States and its NATO allies must move forward with developing and deploying a missile shield to protect Europe, with or without Russian cooperation, senior US Senator John McCain said Monday.
'The United States and NATO should waste no time in continuing to develop and deploy the missile defense systems in Europe necessary for our common security -- with Russian cooperation if possible but without it if necessary,' he said in a statement.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged after a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Portugal to work with the alliance on a missile defense system for Europe but insisted Moscow must be an 'absolutely equal' partner."

Medvedev wants missile defence carve-up of Europe: reports

Medvedev wants missile defence carve-up of Europe: reports: "Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed to NATO leaders that Europe be divided into sectors of military responsibility to better protect the continent from missile attack, reports said Monday.
Medvedev did not go into details over the plan at the NATO summit at the weekend but Russian newspapers quoted officials as saying it would see Russia taking responsibility for one sector and NATO the other.
But analysts cast doubt on the plan, saying that although Russia could help shield Europe by deflecting potential missile threats from Iran and North Korea, the scheme was hardly workable in practice."

Robots to rescue wounded on battlefield

Robots to rescue wounded on battlefield: "A robot being tested now may soon have the ability to rescue wounded Soldiers under fire without risking additional lives.

The Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot, or BEAR, has been tested over the past year by Soldiers at the U.S. Army Infantry Center Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Benning, Ga.

The BEAR can be controlled remotely by a motion-capture glove or specially-equipped rifle grip. A warfighter could use the equipment to guide the robot to recover a wounded Soldier and bring him or her back to where a combat medic could safely conduct an initial assessment.

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) has helped fund the development of Vecna Technologies' humanoid BEAR, and has funded integration of AnthroTronix's iGlove and M-4 rifle grip controller into the Fort Benning testing.

Gary Gilbert, who manages TATRC's medical robotics portfolio, said the assessments from the Battle Lab provide a key link between research and actual robots that can be used in the field.

"Our goal with the Battle Lab testing is to get the technology in the hands of the Soldiers, either through simulations or live exercises, and derive from their feedback what tactics, techniques and procedures are appropriate for deploying it," Gilbert said.

"These [Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures] can then serve as the basis for developing real-world operational capability needs and requirements," he said. "It's only once we know how we'll successfully use these technologies that you'll see them put into the field."

A computer simulation of the BEAR was created in 2009 for use in the Battle Lab's One Semi-Autonomous Forces (OneSAF) combat operations simulator. An initial series of platoon-level assaults and clearing operations in both wooded and urban terrain were executed in OneSAF, including casualty extractions using both conventional litter rescues and rescues with the BEAR.

The AnthroTronix remote control systems were integrated with the simulation in December of 2009. In June of this year, the BEAR and AnthroTronix controllers underwent live characterization studies with Soldiers observing their capabilities in both urban and wooded terrain.

The BEAR is a multi-modal, high-degree-of-freedom robot that can reach out with its hydraulic arms to lift and carry up to 500 pounds; complete fine motor tasks with its hands and fingers; maneuver with a dual-track system; stand up and balance; and use cameras and sensors.

The robot gained national media attention when it was featured in Time Magazine's Best Inventions of 2006. Successive versions have increased its capabilities.

While the initial control of the BEAR is via a remote human operator, work is underway for more complicated semi-autonomous behaviors in which the robot understands and carries out increasingly higher-level commands.

AnthroTronix's iGlove gesture-recognition device can control robots remotely through simple hand signals.

The iGlove is a low-cost, universally compatible control device that has been available commercially since 2009 as the AcceleGlove. The company plans to develop a new version with more accelerometers and a digital compass so the user could instruct a robot to disable an improvised explosive device or travel exactly 300 yards west, for example, using signals from the glove alone.

The Mounted Force Controller is another robot-controller device that can be mounted on an M-4 rifle so a Soldier does not have to put down his or her weapon to use the device.

Noted AnthroTronix Chief Technology Officer Jack Vice, a former Force Recon Marine, said, "One of the most promising outcomes of the Battle Lab simulations and live testing was the fact that warfighters only required minimal training to learn to operate both the iGlove and MFC. Additionally, in comparing the iGlove to traditional controllers, warfighters favored the simplicity of the iGlove mode switching, in which they simply reached out and touched the human joint to control the corresponding robotic joint."

Vice added that "TATRC support has enabled us to fully integrate the controllers with Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems software, gain invaluable feedback from Soldiers, and develop new control methodologies as we integrate the controllers with high-degree-of-freedom robots such as the BEAR."

For these projects, TATRC has leveraged funding from the Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Command, the Joint Ground Robotics Enterprise, the Robotics Systems Joint Project Office, the Army Research Lab, the Small Business Innovative Research Program and Congressionally Directed Research funds.

"The Battle Lab testing process has great potential for overcoming the numerous barriers to transitioning research prototypes or new and emerging technologies to operational systems," Gilbert said. "Even our initial simulation and live operational assessments point to significant research challenges ahead in developing and fielding unmanned systems for combat casualty care. But this is the technology of the future."

"If robots could be used in the face of threats such as urban combat, booby-trapped IEDs, and chemical and biological weapons, it could save medics' and fellow Soldiers' lives," he said.


GOP senator cites new intel, won't back New START - Washington Times

GOP senator cites new intel, won't back New START - Washington Times: "A second leading Republican is opposing Senate ratification of the New START treaty based on classified intelligence that the arms pact cannot be verified and that Moscow is manipulating the treaty to prevent the U.S. from expanding missile defenses.

"New START suffers from fundamental flaws that no amount of tinkering around the edges can fix. I believe the better course for our nation, and for global stability, is to put this treaty aside and replace it with a better one," Sen. Christopher S. Bond, Missouri Republican, said in a little-noticed floor statement last week.

Mr. Bond, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said he outlined the problems with the treaty in a classified letter to senators and then presented several comments based on the secret intelligence explaining why, as he put it, "I cannot in good conscience support this treaty."


Monday, November 22, 2010

Nuclear treaty row could harm US foreign policy: analysts

Nuclear treaty row could harm US foreign policy: analysts: "Uncertainty over ratifying a landmark nuclear treaty not only throws into doubt the "reset" in US-Russia ties but also broader US policies on Iran, Afghanistan and arms control, analysts say.

James Collins, a former US ambassador to Russia who now heads the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Russia and Eurasia program, said it's too early to predict what will happen to the treaty.

"But I do think that there's no question that a failure to ratify START in the (current) lame-duck session is going to be seen as a setback for US-Russia relations," Collins said.

In Moscow, it will strengthen "the hands of those who have questioned the reset from the beginning, those who are probably critical of what the Russian government has been doing with us on Iran, on Afghanistan and so forth," he said.

"It will just be harder to have the trust that seems to have been building between the Americans and the Russians that has made it much easier to get common ground on some of these other issues," he said.


Army testing new FMTVs

Army testing new FMTVs: "The U.S. Army is vigorously conducting reliability, durability and performance testing of its new Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., as part of an effort to add thousands of new trucks to the fleet, service officials said.

The Army plans to build and deliver at least 10,000 new FMTVs as part of its requirements contract with Oshkosh Defense signed last August.

"Testing is going very well. The process involves 20,000 miles of reliability and durability testing - plus performance testing which is everything from [performance on] slopes to speed, endurance and payload capability," said Lt. Col. Shane Fullmer, the Army's product manager for medium tactical vehicles.

"Given what we've seen to date, we are in good shape to easily meet our reliability requirements," Fullmer said.

Additionally, performance testing and live-fire blast testing place the trucks in a range of different combat-relevant scenarios, he said.

"We have to demonstrate a fording capability, a capability to put the truck up-hill with certain grades with certain payloads," said Mike Ivy, vice president and general manager for Army programs, Oshkosh Defense.

"If it is a tractor, it has to demonstrate a pull capability," Ivy said. "There are 17 different variants to the truck and each variant has different performance requirements, and so they test those trucks against those requirements."

Testing is expected to conclude in the spring of 2011.

The new trucks are being built in accordance with the Army's Technical Data Package, specifications that include modular, replaceable armor and a built-in ring mount to place a weapon and gunners' protective kit on the roof of the cab, Fullmer said.

The modular armor approach means that the truck's cab is built with a small amount of built-on integrated armor designed with the ability to accept bolt-on armor plates to improve protection as missions dictate.

"You can take out the windows and put in new transparent armor, and you can put on armor panels that protect the truck from direct fire and IEDs," said Fullmer. "That is the truck that goes into the war zone. When you are done you can take the armor off for use in peacetime operations. We have more than 1,000 of those trucks in theater already."

The TDP, along with the forces of a full and open competition, allowed the Army to achieve significant savings.

The Army is essentially getting the same truck with the same performance at a reduced price, Fullmer said.

"The FMTV design is already protecting Soldiers in Afghanistan, and we are continuing to provide trucks to Soldiers in theater with the protection needed in combat and the performance capabilities needed during peacetime operations," said Fullmer.

At this time there are no specific plans for further improvements to the FMTV, but the program continues to review the state of current technology.

"As technology becomes available that is low-risk and is an improvement, we will look at incorporating that into our truck over time," added Fullmer.

The Product Manager for Medium Tactical Vehicles operates under the leadership of the Project Manger for Tactical Vehicles, which falls under the Army's Program Executive Officer, Combat Support and Combat Service Support's portfolio, headquartered in Warren, Mich."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Remote device to monitor health on battlefield

Remote device to monitor health on battlefield: "Pararescuemen and other medical technicians will be able to remotely determine a warfighter's health status on the battlefield with sensors designed to be worn and ingested.

The Battlefield Automatic Life Status Monitor, or BALSM, is being developed by QinetiQ North America's Technology Solutions Group in coordination with the Air Force Research Laboratory, 711th Human Performance Wing, Human Effectiveness Directorate. The device provides remote physiologic life status monitoring for triage, rescue or recovery, and provides a health status history over time for each person being monitored.

The primary sensor is a wireless pulse oximetry unit that measures the amount of oxygen in the blood and estimates heart rate and respiration. The other sensor is a wireless capsule that when ingested, measures core body temperature. The information is sent to the pararescuemen or medic through a radio receiver and monitoring software to a computer.

"The key was to make monitoring devices that were small enough, rugged enough and able to perform remotely," said Dr. Dianne Popik, the program manager with the Human Effectiveness Directorate, Warfighter Interface Division, Battlespace Acoustics Branch.

"By working closely with the Human Effectiveness Directorate, we were able to tailor the BALSM system to the particular needs of the battlefield Airman," said Peter Neumann, senior scientist with QinetiQ North America's Technology Solutions Group. "This type of physiological monitoring can serve as another tool the Air Force can use to protect the warfighter."

The pulse oximetry sensor is worn against the forehead. The sensor emits both visible and infrared light that reflects off the skull to obtain the pulse oximetry.

"Normally pulse oximetry is read through the finger," Dr. Popik said. "We wanted to find a location for the sensor where it would not interfere with someone's arms or hands. The BALSM pulse oximetry sensor can be worn as a headband or can be integrated into a helmet."

The pulse oximetry sensor also contains an accelerometer that determines if a person is standing, sitting, lying down or moving.

"The accelerometer gives the (pararescueman) or medic some valuable information," Dr. Popik said. "If a warfighter is moving really fast, and their heart rate and respiration are really high, the person is probably running uphill, which makes sense, so the (pararescueman) or medic does not have to be concerned that the warfighter's health is in jeopardy -- he or she is just on the move. If the warfighter has an elevated heart rate and respiration rate and seems to be inactive or prone, this paints a different picture for the (pararescueman) or medic and may indicate the warfighter is injured."

The capsule that measures core body temperature is the other part of the remote monitoring system. It is an ingestible, medical-grade, FDA approved sensor that reports a person's core body temperature shortly after being swallowed.

"Your core body temperature is an important measurement because when it trends either too high or too low, it is hard to stop that trend," Dr. Popik explained.

Dr. Popik said BALSM provides medical technicians with lifesaving information about warfighters in harm's way.

"A (pararescueman) or medic cannot see if a person has been shot or if they are hypothermic and need immediate help," Dr. Popik said. "With BALSM they can understand a warfighter's health status right away. Also, a warfighter may not be aware that he or she is suffering from a condition such as dehydration, hypothermia or hyperthermia."

The device is especially advantageous for special operations forces, who may be in an area where they cannot communicate out loud. It can help commanders decide if they have enough healthy troops to continue a mission, or if they need to change their plans. BALSM also would assist in determining rescue versus recovery efforts.

"If you know someone has been injured and you cannot get to them right away, it is essential to know if that person is still alive, as that drives when and how the person gets pulled out of his or her location," Dr. Popik said.

BALSM also has commercial applications.

"Remotely measuring core body temperature would be ideal for people who are running triathlons and other athletes," Dr. Popik said. "BALSM could be beneficial to firefighters -- persons in extreme situations where you would want to know their health status. The device could also assist in field triaging situations where a single medic monitors multiple patients and needs to be alerted to a change in health status of any of these patients."

US fears defense cuts in Europe could weaken NATO

US fears defense cuts in Europe could weaken NATO: "US officials are increasingly concerned that dramatic cuts in European defense budgets could gut the NATO alliance and leave Washington without effective military partners in Europe.
The growing transatlantic gap in military spending and technology will be looming over this week's NATO summit in Lisbon, raising tough questions about how the alliance will operate in the future, analysts and former officials said.
'In terms of having a viable alliance, this is clearly troubling,' Robert Hunter, former US ambassador to NATO, said of the budget cuts.
In Lisbon, 'it's going be in the back of everyone's minds -- how do we keep up the capabilities?'"

Testing Begins Of DHS BioWatch Gen-3 Biological Detection Program

Testing Begins Of DHS BioWatch Gen-3 Biological Detection Program: "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to begin field testing a new generation of autonomous biodetection instruments as part of the BioWatch Gen-3 program.
Northrop Grumman was awarded the $8.4 million task order under the BioWatch Gen-3 System Performance Demonstration Contract. The total potential value of the contract is $37 million over three years.
Northrop Grumman will test 12 of the Next Gen Automated Detection System (NG-ADS) units in outdoor and indoor locations in a major U.S. city for several months to determine the readiness of the systems for future deployment. The company will provide autonomous biodetection equipment and technical support, including the operation and maintenance of the units during the course of the field test."

JASSM-ER Test Flights Highlight Outstanding Development Effort

JASSM-ER Test Flights Highlight Outstanding Development Effort: "Lockheed Martin's Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile - Extended Range (JASSM-ER) recently flew two successful test flights at White Sands Missile Range, NM, increasing the program's success rate to 91 percent in 11 flights. The live 2,000-pound class missiles, released from B-1B bombers, effectively navigated to and destroyed their intended targets.
The primary flight test objectives were to demonstrate end-to-end system performance while exercising the missile's alternate terminal engagement profile and Time-on-Target (TOT) mode: the ability to control time of flight to engage time critical targets. During the TOT first-time event for JASSM-ER, the missile adjusted its cruising speed throughout the flight profile based on winds and other atmospheric data.
The first JASSM-ER missile was released from an altitude of 13,000 feet and a speed of 0.72 Mach, while the second missile was released from 30,000 feet at 0.88 Mach."

Poland to host US F-16 fighter jets from 2013: minister

Poland to host US F-16 fighter jets from 2013: minister: "US F-16 fighter jets and Hercules transport aircraft will be deployed in Poland on a rotating basis as of 2013, Poland's Defence Minister Bogdan Klich said Thursday.
'Poland has decided to accept the US proposal of hosting rotations of F-16 and Hercules aircraft and their crews' on its territory, Klich told Poland's TOK FM commercial radio station. 'I hope this will begin in 2013,' he added.
'The Americans will come, conduct exercises with Poles and return home. Then, they will return periodically to Polish soil,' the minister said."

New MRAP ambulance prototypes many improvements

New MRAP ambulance prototypes many improvemments":

A Pentagon team is working with the Army Medical Command and BAE Systems to build a new Caiman Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected Ambulance that offers a host of technological innovations.

The new MRAP ambulance will have more space to treat patients, more on-board electrical power for medical equipment and additional protection for patients and crew members, officials from the Pentagon's Joint Program Office MRAP said.

"As we get more data and experience with MRAPs, the medical community looks to bring more medical assets to the fight, in new ways," said David Hansen, deputy program manager, JPO MRAP.

The new prototype Caiman Ambulance, built on a Caiman MRAP chassis with a protective armor capsule and V-shaped hull, includes space for four litters and an attendant along with additional technologies, ventilation and on-board power to treat patients.

"The Caiman Ambulance has the ability to transport four litter casualties or six ambulatory casualties or two litter casualties and three ambulatory casualties. It is the only MRAP variant that can transport this many litter patients," said Kerry Riese, assistant program manager for the Caiman Vehicle Team, MRAP Joint Program Office.

"It provides a robust quality of casualty en-route care and delivery while providing enhanced survivability," Riese said. "The vehicle's versatility provides life-saving treatment or management procedures, vital-sign-monitoring and airway management with continuous oxygen delivery."

Built by BAE Systems in close coordination with JPO MRAP and Army Medical Command, the Caiman MRAP Ambulance prototype is a reconfigured Caiman vehicle.

"You have interior comfort, you've got space, and you've got a very effective prototype. This has been going through user trials and user juries. We've been working hand in hand with AMEDD to get this absolutely right," said Chris Chambers, line leader, BAE Systems Global Tactical Systems.

The Caiman MRAP is intended to be fielded to Ground Ambulance and Area Support Medical Companies, Riese said. The vehicle will have the role of evacuating and transporting casualties between medical facilities, combat support hospitals and air terminals.

The prototype vehicle is designed with the latest in medical technologies.

"The Caiman has the Vital Sign Monitor, On-Board Suction, O2 Concentrator (produces it own oxygen), Blood/Fluid Warmer, Pulse Oximeter and the MRAP Medical Equipment Set (MES). This medical set has been used in both Iraq and Afghanistan and has improved the medic's ability to treat, stabilize and maintain a casualty when treatment facilities are far from the point of injury," said Riese.

The interior of the Caiman vehicle from the driver's/commander's compartment to the rear underwent a total redesign, Riese explained.

"The vehicle was completely gutted and rebuilt with an internal design that incorporates a new digi-rack to hold communications equipment, an attendant's seat, upgraded HVAC system with an additional fresh air handler, a litter lift system, and mounting provisions for medical equipment," he said.

The redesign also includes an ambulance-unique lighting system, integrated floor that allows for low-level disinfection, and an AC-power supply for on-board medical equipment. The Caiman is built with two 570-amp alternators and as many as 36 AC power outlets.

Equipping the vehicle with an additional alternator, two more batteries and multiple AC outlets provides the power to support the Special Medical Emergency Evacuation Device, or SMEED, which is a device used to support the care of critical patients being transported from a Combat Support Hospital to air transport back to U.S.-based hospitals, Riese explained.

The SMEED has multiple items including a Ventilator/Portable Oxygen Tank, Patient Monitor/Defibrillator, suction device, and two to four infusion pumps, all of which require AC power to run, Riese said.

"The additional alternator and AC power outlets were integrated to ensure the capability to operate all integrated electric equipment and recharge various battery-powered medical devices that may be used on the vehicle while the ambulance is performing its operational responsibilities. The ambulance has additional electric requirements beyond the standard Caiman," said Riese.

Other adjustments to the Caiman Ambulance include blast-attenuated seats, localized lighting displays and a slightly wider, 48-inch rear door designed to facilitate rapid entry and egress, Riese explained.

"The vehicle has a Caterpillar C9, 450 HP engine, integrated to a Caterpillar CX28 transmission, and a two-speed Caterpillar Transfer case. The vehicle's fully independent suspension is made up of three Arvin Meritor 50 Series HMIS [High Mobility Independent Suspension] Caiman Suspension Modules," Riese said.

Overall, the Caiman MRAP Ambulance is the result of a long-standing collaborative process between the JPO MRAP, Army Medical Command and BAE Systems.

"The medical community looks at all of our variants and continues to challenge us to bring more medical capability to the fight in a protected fashion. During one of our conversations with the medical community, they asked us to look and see if we could develop a Caiman ambulance to go with all of the other MRAP ambulances we have," said Hansen.

There are roughly 700 MRAP ambulances already in service, including Navistar's MaxxPro Ambulance and BAE's Heavy Armored Ground Ambulance, or HAGA RG33, Hansen said.

"The MRAP ambulance has been around since the beginning, as it was part of our original requirement. It basically stems from the idea that if we can protect medical people as well as our other servicemembers, we can bring medical people closer to the fight and allow them to care for and save lives faster," said Hansen.

FayObserver.com - General says more troops need African language skills

FayObserver.com - General says more troops need African language skills: "The Pentagon needs more troops trained in the cultures and languages of Africa in order to better confront the increasing terror threat from the continent, a top general said Thursday.
Army Gen. Carter Ham, who has been nominated to head U.S. Africa Command, told a Senate committee that the threat of terror from Somalia and other areas of East Africa is one of the command's greatest challenges.
And he said that while a number of special operations forces are trained in African languages and cultures, the military is not moving fast enough to provide similar training to other troops."

Army showcases newest version of Lakota

Army showcases newest version of Lakota: "As part of upgrading the Army's air fleet, 140 of 345 planned UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters have been delivered and are currently being broken-in throughout the force.

Aiding homeland security, search and rescue missions, medical evacuations, and security and support, Lakotas are smaller, more affordable and more technologically advanced than older counterparts such as the UH-1 "Huey" Iroquois.

The latest version of the Lakota, the security and support model, was on display at the Pentagon Nov. 18 so senior Army leaders could take a look at the newest member of the Army's air fleet.

The security and support Lakota comes equipped with day and night cameras which can track targets at up to nine miles away, a large search light, a navigation system which can locate a street address rather than only a grid coordinate, and a communications system that can be synched with first responders on the ground.

Col. Neil Thurgood, project manager for Utility Helicopters at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., explained that Lakotas are well-suited for disaster response scenarios such as Hurricane Katrina. For this reason, Thurgood explained, the Lakota aircraft are almost exclusively being used by the National Guard in support of homeland security.

"From an Army aviation perspective, this is the next evolution of replacing older airframes with newer airframes," Thurgood said.

Fielded since 2007, the Army has also ordered the Lakota in mission-equipment packages for medical purposes and for VIPs.

"The expense of running this aircraft is significantly lower than our aging aircraft. The older an aircraft gets, the more expensive it is to maintain it," Thurgood said.

While the Lakota can be flown anywhere the Army deems permissible, Thurgood said there are no current plans to send the helicopter into combat. However, the addition of more Lakota aircraft to troops in the U.S. will free up other helicopters such as UH-60 BlackHawks to go overseas.

"I hear back from the commanders and pilots, and they just applaud it," said Lt. Col. Dave Bristol, product manager for Lakota helicopters, adding that it's easy to fly.

Bristol said the most beneficial aspect of the aircraft is its versatility.

"At the end of the day there is a Soldier flying that aircraft, and our responsibility is to give them a safe, flyable aircraft that they can do their mission with, and that's our number one priority," said Thurgood.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

In 'safe' Afghan province, few want NATO forces to depart | McClatchy

In 'safe' Afghan province, few want NATO forces to depart | McClatchy: "Poverty is endemic in Bamiyan and the infrastructure barely past medieval, but this peaceful province is about as good as it gets in Afghanistan today.
The road to the pristine Band-e-Amir lakes is being paved. September's parliamentary elections were violence-free here, and business isn't bad at Hassan Ali's craft shop on Bamiyan's single, bustling thoroughfare.
Yet word that the province could be among the first to be 'transitioned' away from NATO's security blanket and turned over to Afghan forces has sent tremors of unease through Afghanistan's central highlands.
'As soon as they leave, these different ethnic groups will start fighting each other,' said Ali, whose one-room shop stocks scarves, rugs and carpets made by a women's cooperative. 'We're Afghans, and we know our people very well. We cannot coexist with each other.'"

US faces 'huge' cyber threat in the future: Gates

US faces 'huge' cyber threat in the future: Gates: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Tuesday that potential cyber attacks posed a 'huge' future threat that had to be tackled through joint efforts by US military and civilian agencies.

Gates said the challenge for cyber security efforts inside the United States is that resources and expertise are concentrated in the military and the National Security Agency (NSA), which raises thorny legal questions about civil liberties.

"The only defense the United States has I think against nation states and other potential threats in the cyber world is the National Security Agency," said Gates, referring to the secretive surveillance agency.

"You cannot replicate the NSA for domestic affairs, there isn't enough money, there isn't enough time and there isn't enough human talent.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Afghanistan could face 'eye-watering violence' after troops leave | World news | The Guardian

Afghanistan could face 'eye-watering violence' after troops leave | World news | The Guardian: "Afghanistan could experience 'eye-watering' levels of violence after foreign combat troops withdraw from Afghanistan in four years' time, the Nato representative in Kabul warned today.
Mark Sedwill, the civilian counterpart to US commander General David Petraeus, also said that the target of handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan army and police by the end of 2014 might not be met.
The alliance's plan for the 'transition' of responsibilities from Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the still embryonic Afghan army and police will be high on the agenda at this week's Nato summit in Lisbon.
Many European countries that contribute troops see the plan as their ticket out of an unpopular war, but Sedwill warned that success was not guaranteed and the 2014 date was merely an 'inflection point' in a campaign that would continue for a long time. In some areas of the country transition could run 'to 2015 and beyond' he said."

G.O.P. Opposition Dims Hope for Arms Treaty With Russia - NYTimes.com

G.O.P. Opposition Dims Hope for Arms Treaty With Russia - NYTimes.com: "President Obama’s hopes of ratifying a new arms control treaty with Russia by the end of the year appeared to come undone on Tuesday as the chief Senate Republican negotiator moved to block a vote on the pact, one of the White House’s top foreign policy goals, in the lame-duck session of Congress.

Winning approval of the treaty will only become harder for the White House next year, when Democrats will have six fewer seats in the Senate, forcing the administration to rely on additional Republican votes to reach the 67 needed for ratification.

The treaty, which would force both countries to pare back nuclear arsenals and resume mutual inspections that lapsed last year for the first time since the cold war, is the centerpiece of two of Mr. Obama’s signature goals: restoring friendly relations with Russia and putting the world on a path toward eventually eliminating nuclear arms. A failure to ratify the treaty could freeze both efforts and, some analysts said, undermine Mr. Obama’s credibility on the world stage.

“Failure to pass the New Start treaty this year would endanger our national security,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has led negotiations with Mr. Kyl, said in a statement. It would mean “no verification regime to track Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal,” Mr. Biden said, and would sour a relationship that has helped open a new supply route to troops in Afghanistan and increase pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Japan eyes procuring F-35 fighters; gives up on more F-2 jets › Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion

Japan eyes procuring F-35 fighters; gives up on more F-2 jets › Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion: "The Defense Ministry has set its sights on procuring the F-35 fighter as Japan’s main next-generation fighter aircraft for the Air Self-Defense Force, giving up on an earlier plan to buy more F-2 fighters, ministry and Self-Defense Forces sources said Sunday.
The ministry plans to seek procurement costs for the F-35 in its budget request for fiscal 2012 and is slated to begin full-fledged arrangements for the procurement plan early next year through a selection committee to prepare for the budget request deadline next summer, the sources said.
The ministry was planning to retool its current main F-15 fighters and buy more F-2 jets as a stopgap measure, given the delay in the development of the fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter capable of flying at supersonic speeds as well as its price increase.
But the ministry has determined that procuring the less functional F-2 aircraft additionally would not be expedient from the standpoint of deterrence and cost, the sources said.
Also considering that China has been mass-producing its own fighter planes that are comparable to the F-15 jets and is seeking to develop a next-generation aircraft, the ministry is eyeing the deployment of about 40 units of the F-35 or other fifth-generation fighters, they said."

Obama offers Israel more F-35 fighters

Obama offers Israel more F-35 fighters: "The U.S. administration's offer to Israel of more Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters and other military equipment in return for a 90-day settlement freeze is an offer that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 'cannot refuse,' the Haaretz daily said Monday.
According to media reports, U.S. President Barack Obama offered to add 20 F-35s to the 20 Israel ordered in October under a $2.75 billion contract.
The additional F-35s would give the Israeli air force a formidable strike capability unmatched in the region, and indeed the world, that could deliver massive blows against an adversary, such as Iran."

Navy Celebrates First Flight Centennial

Navy Celebrates First Flight Centennial: "Naval Station (NS) Norfolk hosted a ceremony Nov. 12 to celebrate the centennial of naval aviation and the Navy's first flight which took place Nov. 14, 1910, nearly 100 years ago.

That's when "an act of daring by Eugene Ely set the stage for a revolution in naval warfare, and changed the face of the United States Navy forever," said Rear Adm. Richard J. O'Hanlon, commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic.

Ely flew a rudimentary one-seater Curtis Pusher Biplane off the deck of the light cruiser USS Birmingham, thus ushering in the beginning of naval aviation. His flight was the first launch of an airplane from a ship; and the Navy hasn't looked back since, O'Hanlon said.

"Flash forward 100 years and we can see - through the lens of history - just what an incredible change this daring flight set in motion," O'Hanlon said. "The spirit of innovation, daring and foresight that were displayed in 1910 have become part of the fabric of naval aviation."

The ceremony is the first of a series of events the Navy will sponsor next year to commemorate the importance of naval aviation, during its 100th anniversary year.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner spoke at the event, and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell issued a proclamation commending the Navy for its historic achievements in flight.

"Naval aviation… has evolved into a force that supports the national strategy across the full spectrum of operations, ranging from preventing conflict to direct combat," McDonnell said.

Keynote speaker Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander, U.S. Pacific Command, said naval aviation has helped to transform the U.S. military into the world's pre-eminent military force.

"Naval aviation gives our military a decisive asymmetric advantage in counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency warfare," Willard said. "Without question, the quality of our Sailors is our greatest asymmetric advantage."

A replica of the Curtis Pusher Biplane was flown during the ceremony, outside the hangar and alongside the flight line. Strong winds had threatened to ground the aircraft; however, Bob Coolbaugh, a pilot and retired naval aviator, was determined to brave the wind and make the flight, just as Ely had braved more difficult weather conditions a century ago.

Attendees also had the opportunity to see current and recent vintage Navy aircraft - the MH-53E, MH-60S, T-28T, E-2C Hawkeye, and F/A-18 Hornet - fly overhead and in formation.

The pilots and aircrews flying these aircraft are "the next generation [of naval aviators], who are carrying on naval aviation's legacy every day," O'Hanlon said. "Our forces are doing amazing work every day and around the world, and I assure you we are making a difference."

Naval aviation plays an integral role in supporting America's maritime strategy and is branching out into new mission areas including irregular and special warfare, humanitarian missions, and disaster relief, O'Hanlon said.


Internet traffic was routed via Chinese servers - Washington Times

Internet traffic was routed via Chinese servers - Washington Times: "Nearly 15 percent of the world's Internet traffic, including that of many U.S. government and military sites, was briefly redirected through computer servers in China in April, according to a congressional commission report due out this week.

It is not clear whether the incident was deliberate, but the capability could enable severe malicious activities including the diversion of data and the interception of supposedly secure encrypted Internet traffic, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states in a report to Congress.

A draft copy of the report, which is to be released Wednesday but viewed by The Washington Times, reports for the first time that .gov and .mil websites were affected by the 18-minute-long April 8 redirection, including those for the Senate, all four military services, the office of the secretary of defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration "and many others," as well as commercial websites including those of Dell, Yahoo, Microsoft and IBM.

The redirection, though brief, could have enabled 'surveillance of specific users or sites [and] ... could even allow a diversion of data to somewhere that the user did not intend,' the report states. The huge volume of traffic redirected could have been intended to cover a targeted attack on a single website or user."

GIs testing 'smart' weapons that leave nowhere to hide - News - Stripes

GIs testing 'smart' weapons that leave nowhere to hide - News - Stripes: "The combat zone just got a little more high-tech as soldiers in Afghanistan began testing and training on five prototype weapons that fire smart bullets.
Army officials are calling the XM25 Counter Defilade Targeting Engagement System revolutionary since it is the first time soldiers will have a smart weapon in their hands. Smart weapons have some form of a processing unit that allows them to be self-guided or, in this case, have self-adjusting sights and programmable rounds.
The XM25 — which is not much bigger than a standard service rifle — fires 25 mm rounds that can be programmed to explode on impact, in front of or behind an object. The weapon allows soldiers to kill enemies hiding behind walls or other cover by firing above, or to the side, of the wall from up to 700 meters away."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Petraeus warns Afghans about Karzai's criticism of U.S. war strategy

Petraeus warns Afghans about Karzai's criticism of U.S. war strategy: "Gen. David H. Petraeus, the coalition military commander in Afghanistan, warned Afghan officials Sunday that President Hamid Karzai's latest public criticism of U.S. strategy threatens to seriously undermine progress in the war and risks making Petraeus's own position 'untenable,' according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
Officials said Petraeus expressed 'astonishment and disappointment' with Karzai's call, in a Saturday interview with The Washington Post, to 'reduce military operations' and end U.S. Special Operations raids in southern Afghanistan that coalition officials said have killed or captured hundreds of Taliban commanders in recent months.
In a meeting Sunday morning with Ashraf Ghani, who leads the Afghan government's planning on transition, Petraeus made what several officials described as 'hypothetical' references to an inability to continue U.S. operations in the face of Karzai's remarks.
The night raids are at the heart of Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy and are key to his hopes of being able to show significant progress when the White House reviews the situation in Afghanistan next month."

U.S. Plan Envisions Path to Ending Afghan Combat - NYTimes.com

U.S. Plan Envisions Path to Ending Afghan Combat - NYTimes.com: "The Obama administration has developed a plan to begin transferring security duties in select areas of Afghanistan to that country’s forces over the next 18 to 24 months, with an eye toward ending the American combat mission there by 2014, officials said Sunday.

The phased four-year plan to wind down American and allied fighting in Afghanistan will be presented at a NATO summit meeting in Lisbon later this week, the officials said. It will reflect the most concrete vision for transition in Afghanistan assembled by civilian and military officials since President Obama took office last year.

In many respects, the concept follows the precedent set in Iraq, where a similar troop surge and strategy shift under President George W. Bush in 2007 enabled American-led coalition forces to eventually hand over security duties to the Iraqis region by region. By last summer, Mr. Obama was able to pull out two-thirds of United States forces from Iraq and declare America’s combat mission there over.

“Iraq is a pretty decent blueprint for how to transition in Afghanistan,” one American official said Sunday, insisting like others on anonymity to discuss the strategy before its presentation. “But the key will be constructing an Afghan force that is truly capable of taking the lead.”


U.S. Tries to End Flow of Bomb Item to Afghanistan - NYTimes.com

U.S. Tries to End Flow of Bomb Item to Afghanistan - NYTimes.com: "With roadside bombs by far the leading killer of American troops in Afghanistan, the Obama administration has started a worldwide effort to stop the flow of ammonium nitrate, the fertilizer that is their basic ingredient, into the war ravaged country.

But the campaign, dubbed Operation Global Shield, is running up against stubborn hurdles in neighboring Pakistan, where the police routinely wave tons of ammonium nitrate shipments across the border into Afghanistan despite that country’s ban on imports of the chemical. It is unclear whether the border guards are fooled by clever attempts to disguise the shipments as benign or are paid to turn a blind eye, or both.

The problem is compounded by lax enforcement in Afghanistan. While the Afghan government has at least passed a law banning the chemical, Pakistan has not yet done so.

Ammonium nitrate is commonly used in agriculture as a fertilizer. But most Pakistani farmers use urea, an organic chemical, to fertilize their crops, and there is only one factory in Pakistan that manufactures ammonium nitrate. That suggests, American officials said, that some of the caravans of trucks rumbling over the border into Afghanistan are carrying shipments imported into Pakistan, usually under false pretenses.


PEO GCS Weapon Systems Modernization

PEO GCS Weapon Systems Modernization: "Scott Davis, Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems, and his management team led the PEO GCS panel discussion for industry leaders Tuesday at the 2010 NDIA Combat Vehicle Conference.

Davis recognized the valuable contributions of the industrial base and invited leaders to accept the challenge of developing effective, efficient, and affordable systems with integrated and interoperable capabilities for the future.

"In an era of persistent conflict and uncertainty, it is essential that we leverage business processes to drive a commonality among the platforms," Davis said.

Davis also addressed the concerns associated with modernizing systems.

"We are faced with the challenge of balancing resources and requirements within the Defense Acquisition System," Davis said. "Headquarters is aware of these challenges and is committed to working them out."

The Heavy Brigade Combat Team modernization efforts, to include the Abrams main battle tank, the Bradley fighting vehicle, and the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM), were addressed by Col. William Sheehy, project manager HBCT, who reinforced the message that platforms must be robust for future capabilities.

"We recognize the value of the industrial base in providing for our nation's jobs, and we rely on you (industry leaders) to support future efforts, as with the Ground Combat Vehicle," Sheehy said.

The production of the Abrams and Bradley IFV are currently scheduled to cease by 2014.

Concentrated efforts remain essential for the Abrams to regain the space, weight, power and cooling (SWaP-C) and enable future ammunition and the emerging digitized network.

"The Bradley IFV will be replaced by the Ground Combat Vehicle," Sheehy said. "It is currently our sole modernization effort."

As for the PIM program, Sheehy confirmed the need for a self-propelled howitzer to satisfy the Army's need for full-spectrum capabilities.

"The Army is fully committed to the PIM," Sheehy said. "The program is on schedule with 80% of our time dedicated to its success." Sheehy clarified that PIM is a life-extension program, not a modernization effort.

Lt. Col. Jim Schirmer, product manager for fleet management of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team reviewed Stryker modernization efforts which include a larger suspension, bigger tires for traffic ability, mine-blast seats, double V-hull, a 450 horsepower engine, a larger electrical generator, and Ethernet digitization.

"Although the Stryker has proven to be a lethal, survivable and supportable system in Iraq and Afghanistan, SWaP-C is a challenge across the board and we are looking for innovative solutions," Schirmer said.

Preparing industry leaders for possible competitive initiatives, Keith Gooding, project manager for Joint Lightweight Howitzer revealed that the M777 and M119 have the potential to be digitally modernized within the next two years, whereas the IPADS and Legacy will have minimal opportunities.

Lt. Col. Dave Thompson, project manager for Robotic Systems Joint Project Office, described the vast potential for industry engagement with unmanned ground systems for the Army and Marine Corps.

"We have seven thousand robots, with three thousand in Iraq and Afghanistan," Thompson said. "We are reaching out to industry and academia to help us further develop modularity and commonality among the systems."

The panel discussion included questions from the audience, with one query addressing the imminent release for the Ground Combat Vehicle Request for Proposal.

"GCV is paving the way for a faster turn-around for future RFPs," Davis said. "We want to make sure we have the right foundation from the start."

Davis concluded by thanking industry leaders for their time, dedication, hard work and good ideas.

"It is essential to maintain a skilled industrial base to take us into the future as we move forward with our modernization efforts," Davis said. "We are trying to get key implications on the road so you can help us develop effective, efficient and affordable systems."


Thursday, November 11, 2010

U.S. Troops Expected to Be in Afghanistan in 2014 - NYTimes.com

U.S. Troops Expected to Be in Afghanistan in 2014 - NYTimes.com: "The Obama administration is increasingly emphasizing the idea that the United States will have forces in Afghanistan until at least the end of 2014, a change in tone aimed at persuading the Afghans and the Taliban that there will be no significant American troop withdrawals next summer.

In a move away from President Obama’s deadline of July 2011 for the start of an American drawdown from Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all cited 2014 this week as the key date for handing over the defense of Afghanistan to the Afghans themselves. Implicit in their message, delivered at a security and diplomatic conference in Australia, was that the United States would be fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for at least four more years.

Administration officials said the three had made loosely coordinated comments at the conference, in Melbourne, to try to convince Afghans that the United States was not walking away next summer and to warn the Taliban that aggressive operations against them would continue.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Greenfleet Online: Navy Unveils Energy, Environment, Climate Change Website

Greenfleet Online: Navy Unveils Energy, Environment, Climate Change Website: "The Department of the Navy unveiled a new Energy, Environment and Climate Change website in November 2010.

The website, located at http://greenfleet.dodlive.mil, provides news and information about Navy programs to achieve energy security, practice environmental stewardship and understand the potential challenges presented by a changing climate.

These programs serve to increase combat capability and ensure mission readiness in the decades to come.

Content on the site focuses on the Navy's successes and initiatives in the following three areas:

Energy Security
The Navy's energy programs focus on having an adequate, reliable and sustainable energy supply sufficient to meet the demands of the Navy's mission. As part of this effort, the Navy aims to reduce energy demand and increase alternative and renewable energy supply. The recent testing of the experimental RCB-X riverine command boat using a 50-50 blend of an algae-based biofuel and petroleum was a step toward accomplishing these goals.

Environmental Stewardship
Environmental stewardship enables Sailors to carry out their missions while minimizing impacts on the environment, both afloat and ashore. The Navy is committed to continuing its strong track record of environmental stewardship. This includes efforts to assess and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, protect marine life during training and testing at sea and implement technologies and processes to safely manage waste without compromising core mission capabilities.

Climate Change
In May 2009, the Chief of Naval Operations created Task Force Climate Change to make recommendations to Navy leadership regarding policy, strategy, force structure and investments relating to the Arctic and global climate change.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Defense.gov News Article: U.S., Australia Agree to Cooperation Initiatives

Defense.gov News Article: U.S., Australia Agree to Cooperation Initiatives: "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today announced the establishment of a new bilateral working group to develop options for enhanced U.S.-Australian cooperation on Australian soil, and signed a new partnership agreement with his Australian counterpart that will provide improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defense Minister Stephen Smith following the Australian-U.S. Ministerial Consultations, Gates cited these developments as evidence of a close alliance shaping itself for the future.

The new working group, expected to begin work next month, will “look at the array of enhanced, joint activities we might be able to undertake” with the Australians, Gates said.

The group will explore areas such as greater U.S. naval presence and port visits in the region, more military-to-military training opportunities and the pre-positioning of U.S. humanitarian assistance and disaster relief equipment in Australia. The group also will look into opportunities to base U.S. military members in Australia to work directly with their Australian counterparts.

“I expect that the joint working group will put a number of things on the table,” Gates said during a roundtable session with reporters following the news conference. “The first thing that we have to see is … ‘What is useful to both countries from a military standpoint and a standpoint of preparedness, especially for natural disasters?’”

Gates said that it’s far too soon to predict what recommendations the group may make.

“The truth is, we are right at the beginning of this process, and not only has nothing been decided, nothing formal has even been put on paper between the two countries, as far as I know,” he said.

Any force posture decisions would be made within the context of the ongoing Defense Department evaluation of its force posture and global presence. Gates said he has yet to decide what recommendations he will make to the National Security Council and the president, but he made clear he sees a greater U.S. presence in Asia and the Pacific.

“We have no interest in any new bases in the region, but rather, looking at how we can make better use, enhanced use of what we have,” he said.

Also today, Gates and Smith signed a Space Situational Awareness Partnership statement of principles that will expand defense space cooperation between the United States and Australia.

Under the partnership agreement, the two countries will establish ground-based radar and optical stations to track satellites and other orbital objects passing over the Asia-Pacific region. This will enable Australia to support the U.S. Space Surveillance Network in providing more accurate warning of potential collisions between manned spacecraft, the international space station, satellites and other space debris and to track objects falling to Earth over Australia or the region.

The sensors also will provide information on whether certain actions in space are deliberate or accidental, and trace the source of those actions, according to a ministerial consultations fact sheet.

"Australia and the United States shared a deep concern about the increasingly interdependent, congested, and contested nature of outer space and acknowledged that preventing behaviors that could result in mishaps, misperceptions or mistrust was a high priority " a joint communique issued after the session noted.

In addition, representatives at the consultations agreed to step up their collaboration to promote their shared national interests in cyberspace. This includes a commitment to work together to advance the development of international norms for cyberspace.

Gates praised the solid U.S.-Australia alliance and how it is transforming to new challenges and threats. “In the defense arena, our ties are longstanding and deep,” he said.

Noting the long history of U.S. engagement in Asia and the Pacific, Gates said the United States remains committed to the region.

“We are a Pacific power,” he said. “We have reengaged in a major way, and now we are looking at the next steps.”

Clinton called the ministerial consultations a valuable session and thanked Australia for its helping the United States strengthen its regional architecture.

"We are not doing anything differently to any significant degree,” she said. “We are merely taking stock of what we're going to be needing to do in the future, so that we are well-prepared and working closely with our friends and allies.”

Obama Supports U.N. Seat for India - NYTimes.com

Obama Supports U.N. Seat for India - NYTimes.com: "By endorsing India for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, President Obama on Monday signaled the United States’ intention to create a deeper partnership of the world’s two largest democracies that would expand commercial ties and check the influence of an increasingly assertive China.

Mr. Obama’s announcement, made during a nationally televised address to the Indian Parliament, came at the end of a three-day visit to India that won high marks from an Indian political establishment once uncertain of the president’s commitment to the relationship. Even as stark differences remained between the countries on a range of tough issues, including Pakistan, trade policy, climate change and, to some degree, Iran, Mr. Obama spoke of India as an “indispensable” partner for the coming century.

“In Asia and around the world, India is not simply emerging,” he said during his speech in Parliament. “India has emerged.”

Mr. Obama’s closer embrace of India prompted a sharp warning from Pakistan, India’s rival and an uncertain ally of the United States in the war in Afghanistan, which criticized the two countries for engaging in “power politics” that lacked a moral foundation.

It is also likely to set off fresh concerns in Beijing, which has had a contentious relationship with India and has expressed alarm at American efforts to tighten alliances with Asian nations wary of China’s rising power.


In Melbourne, Mullen keeps US sights on China, Iran - CSMonitor.com

In Melbourne, Mullen keeps US sights on China, Iran - CSMonitor.com: "When America’s top military officer gets together with his counterparts from other countries, he generally asks for their advice about China.

China’s capabilities include considerable cyberespionage expertise and a robust Navy, fruits of a growing defense budget in a country that largely escaped the impact of the global financial crisis.

These trends are troubling to US military officials, who are seeking to expand American military presence in the Pacific.

“We’re very anxious to make sure that no one thinks we’re walking away from here – because we’re not,” Admiral Mullen says.

China’s efforts to flex its muscle in recent years have at times sent shockwaves through the Pentagon, including the successful ballistic missile shoot-down of one of its own orbiting satellites in 2007, a feat widely seen as an ominous move toward the militarization of space. “I’m increasingly concerned about where China seems to be heading with that,” Mullen says.

It’s a topic that was under discussion at this week’s annual Australia-United States ministerial security meeting, in wide-ranging talks that included condemnation of Iran’s nuclear program and how best to fend off cyberattacks.


Hillary Clinton affirms the Australia-United States alliance

Hillary Clinton affirms the Australia-United States alliance: "HILLARY CLINTON has strongly affirmed the Australia-US alliance as "the core partnership", relegating China to a lower status despite its extraordinary growth.

The US Secretary of State said that while Australia and the US shared core values, China was not yet a responsible power and faced an unstable future.

"China has a long way to go" to show it could be a "responsible stakeholder" in the region, she said in an exclusive interview with the Herald.

Advertisement: Story continues below The US and Australia agreed yesterday to work together to increase the American military presence in Australia and in the Asia-Pacific region, as part of the annual AUSMIN ministerial talks.

Mrs Clinton said that in recent years "we know there was a feeling here in the region that the US was abdicating its presence and leadership".

She said the US was now strengthening its existing alliances and creating better relations with "burgeoning" powers such as Indonesia and Vietnam: "It's a full court press," she said.


Monday, November 8, 2010

US urges growing China to be 'responsible player'

US urges growing China to be 'responsible player': "The United States Monday urged China to be a 'responsible player' as its global influence grows and stressed its commitment to Asia after security talks with Australia during a regional diplomatic push.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the comment after meeting Australian officials alongside US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, in talks which produced an agreement to cooperate on security surveillance in outer space.
Clinton, who is nearing the end of a comprehensive Asian tour, said the United States had a 'very robust dialogue with China', calling for the emerging giant to use its newfound power responsibly."

US military ready to bolster Yemeni forces: Gates

US military ready to bolster Yemeni forces: Gates: "Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the US military is looking at how to bolster Yemen's security forces amid growing concern over Al-Qaeda's foothold in the country.
'I think in terms of training and so on there are things that we can do to help the Yemenis and strengthen their capabilities,' Gates told reporters on his plane Saturday before flying into Melbourne.
'I think it's fair to say we're exploring with them a variety of possibilities along those lines,' he said.
Gates offered no details about what kind of assistance was on the horizon, but said: 'The primary focus would be on training.'"

US military seeks to expand presence in Asia: Gates

US military seeks to expand presence in Asia: Gates: "The US military plans to bolster its presence across Asia and is looking at an expansion of ties with Australia's armed forces, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said.
Building up defence cooperation with Australia would reinforce a broader effort to extend the US military's role across the Asia-Pacific region, Gates told reporters aboard his plane Saturday, before landing in Melbourne.
'We're looking at ways to strengthen and perhaps make more robust our presence in Asia,' Gates said, referring to a Pentagon review of how American forces are deployed around the world."

U.S. Army To Navy: Take Our Boats - Defense News

U.S. Army To Navy: Take Our Boats - Defense News: "U.S. Army operates a fleet of watercraft to move around cargo and vehicles. But now, under Defense Department pressure to save money and reduce redundancies, the service is in talks with the U.S. Navy over the potential transfer of the Army's watercraft mission and its vessels.
'We're in discussions with the Navy to sort of really look through the missions and functions of Army watercraft,' said Kevin Fahey, the Army's program executive officer for combat support and combat service support. 'No decision has been made pertaining to it.'
The talks are taking place at the highest levels of both services, Fahey said, with the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (G-4) in the lead for the Army."

Obama backs India bid for UN Security Council seat

Obama backs India bid for UN Security Council seat: "President Barack Obama on Monday backed India for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, a dramatic diplomatic gesture to his hosts at the end of his first visit to this booming nation.
Obama made the announcement in a speech to India's parliament on the third and final day of his stay. In doing so, he fulfilled what was perhaps India's dearest wish for Obama's trip here. India has sought permanent Security Council membership for years.
'The just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate,' Obama said. 'That is why I can say today - in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.'
The announcement brought the loudest applause of Obama's speech. But it does not mean that India will join the five permanent Security Council members anytime soon. The U.S. is backing India's membership only in the context of unspecified reforms to the council that could take years to bring about.
That makes Obama's announcement more of a diplomatic gesture than a concrete step. Nonetheless, it underscores the importance the U.S. places on fostering ties with this nation of 1.2 billion people, something Obama has been seeking to accomplish throughout his time here.
Obama said repeatedly throughout his three days in India - first in the financial center of Mumbai and then in the capital of New Delhi - that he views the relationship between the two countries as one of the 'defining partnerships' of the 21st century."

Turkey's Goal to Become "Key Empire" says Russian Analyst

NATO Defense Shield In Turkey May Threaten Iran, Russia: "Possible deployment of the elements of NATO missile defense shield in Turkey is targeted against Iran and may pose a threat to Russia's security, Russian experts said on Saturday.

Earlier on Saturday Turkish media said Ankara would agree to deploy a missile-defense system on its territory if its three conditions were accepted.

"Turkey wants to be equally respected both in the West and in the East...Turkey wants to entrench itself as a key empire of the entire continent," Sergei Demidenko of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis said.


Developing Rapid, Integrated Biodefense Response Capability

Developing Rapid, Integrated Biodefense Response Capability: "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to develop a new bio-defense system capable of rapidly determining if a person has been exposed to a biological threat. The award was made under BARDA's Innovative Platform Technologies program.

BioCHAMP-RSP (Confirmation of Harmful Agents by MassTag PCR - Rapid Screening Platform) will provide an innovative system capability to simultaneously identify over 30 pathogens, bacterial and viral, in human samples.

Under the one-year $9.6 million contract, Northrop Grumman will design, assemble and test two BioCHAMP-RSP prototypes. The system will allow first responders the ability to rapidly provide triage to people who were exposed to biological threats and appropriately allocate medical resources.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Northrop Grumman To Start Production Of Littoral Combat Ship Mission Packages

Northrop Grumman To Start Production Of Littoral Combat Ship Mission Packages: "The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a $29 million contract to put Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mission Packages into production. The company will deliver three mission module packages - one for mine countermeasures and two for surface warfare missions - under this contract.
The production site will be announced in the near future. Delivery of the first surface warfare package is scheduled for early 2012; the other two packages will be delivered later that year. The Navy will accept the completed packages at its Mission Package Support Facility in Port Hueneme, Calif."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Video Captures ABM Capabilities Of Distributed Aperture System For F-35

Video Captures ABM Capabilities Of Distributed Aperture System For F-35: "Northrop Grumman has released a video showing the successful detection and tracking of a two-stage rocket launch at a distance exceeding 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) with the company's AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System (DAS). The demonstration took place this summer during a routine flight test of DAS conducted aboard the company's BAC 1-11 test bed aircraft.
'DAS is an omni-directional infrared system that can simultaneously detect and track aircraft and missiles in every direction, with no practical limit on the number of targets it can track."

DARPA's Blue Angel to Surge Pandemic Response

DARPA effort speeds bio-threat response: "Spurred by the 21st century's first flu pandemic, the Defense Department has developed new, faster ways to make vaccines that could save lives around the world.

New vaccine technologies not only will speed the U.S. government response to infectious diseases, but also will give officials better options for fighting bio-terror attacks, a DoD scientist said.

A month before the World Health Organization declared H1N1 a pandemic virus in June 2009, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) had a plan to address the crisis. The DARPA effort, called Blue Angel, has been working since May 2009 to develop a surge capacity for flu viruses.

Although the swine-origin H1N1 virus turned out to be fatal only for a small percentage of those infected, "the need to demonstrate a response to an urgent situation hasn't changed," Army Col. (Dr.) Alan Magill, a program manager in DARPA's defense sciences office, told American Forces Press Service.

"We've used H1 as an example, a proof of concept," he said. "We hope these technologies that are established will move on to address other issues besides influenza."

Eighteen months and $100 million later, Blue Angel and the companies it funds have created new technologies for developing, testing and quickly mass-producing new vaccines.

For the largest program, called AMP for Accelerated Manufacture of Pharmaceuticals, companies in four states are building facilities where they can quickly produce vaccine-grade proteins grown in the cells of tobacco plants. Once they produce the proteins, the goal is for each company to scale up its process to produce 100 million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine per month. Existing vaccine manufacturers worldwide produce a fraction of that -- about 300 million doses of vaccine in six months, Magill said.

Vaccines are produced in steps, beginning with getting a sample of the active virus. From the original virus, "seeds" are used to grow the virus in hundreds of millions of chicken eggs -- a time-consuming process developed more than 50 years ago. After the virus particles are grown, they're purified to make vaccine.

AMP set out to speed up the process by looking at a range of animals and plants whose cells could produce high-quality proteins that would work well in people, Magill said. What emerged from the first round of experiments were tobacco plants.

"Think about walking through the woods on a rainy day. You walk through on Tuesday and there's nothing there, and you take the same walk on Wednesday and suddenly there's a mushroom that's a foot high and it grew overnight," Magill said.

"Anything in nature that produces a tremendous amplification of biomass was of interest," he added. "Clearly these weeds, that's really what tobacco plants are, grow very fast, and that's what we captured."

Plants with the fastest-growing cells will be able to produce more proteins in a shorter time for vaccines, he explained.

Four companies are working to transform protein-producing tobacco plants from a proof of concept to a demonstration of the capability. The next step will be to develop full industrial processes for producing the proteins.

The companies are Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology in Delaware, Kentucky Bioprocessing in Owensboro, a consortium called Project GreenVax, whose partners are the Texas A&M University system and a Texas company called G-Con, and Medicago USA in North Carolina.

"They're all using tobacco plants, and there's a little variation on the theme," Magill said. "But the approaches -- what do you put in the plants, how do you infect the plant cells, what kind of vectors [carriers] do you use, what is the nature of the protein, how is it purified -- all of these are actually quite different."

The companies all are making progress, he said. One of them, Fraunhofer, already has a product in Phase 1 clinical trials, the first stage of testing in people.

"The final trial will go on for six months, because we have to do safety monitoring," Magill said. "But we'll know whether the technology worked probably about the end of January."

Another Blue Angel project is a technology called Modular Immune In Vitro Constructs, or MIMIC, which Magill calls "an immune system in a test tube." DARPA created MIMIC to quickly test new vaccines for safety and effectiveness.

Pharmaceutical companies that produce candidate vaccines initially don't actually know if the drug will improve a person's immunity or will be safe when administered. That's why in the United States the Food and Drug Administration requires companies to hold a series of clinical trials before drugs are approved for market.

As a pharmaceutical company with a candidate vaccine, Magill said, "all I can do is commit to a Phase 3 [effectiveness] study in which I will have to enroll 10,000 people over the course of about three years in order to show that my new vaccine in this case would be as good as the traditional egg-based vaccine.

"So 10,000 people, three years, $100 million [are needed]," he said.

An alternative may be MIMIC, a DARPA technology developed by Florida-based biotechnology company VaxDesign Corp.

Each of MIMIC's 128--by-85-millimeter plastic plates contains 96 tiny wells filled with mixtures of human immune cells and biological molecules. Each well represents a human immune system.

The system can predict the effectiveness of vaccine additives called adjuvants and molecules that the immune system recognizes called antigens, VaxDesign officials said, adding that it can predict dosing, dose timing and cross-protection against other viral strains; determine the potency of stockpiled vaccines; and compare the effects of different manufacturing methods on vaccine potency.

"It's a very clever technology," Magill said. "I can look at the immune responses in the MIMIC system and tell you that this is going to work, this is going to protect patients, they're not going to get sick and it's going to be really safe."

In September, Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine division of the Lyon, France-based Sanofi-Aventis Group, signed a binding agreement to buy VaxDesign for $60 million.

The full potential of MIMIC, to take the place of clinical trials, could take years to realize. But Magill said he has confidence in the technology.

"Where this will be useful is in what we call the downselect -- when you're in the business and you've got five vaccine candidates and you're not sure which one is going to work," he said. Today, to downselect the best candidate a company would have to do a year-long Phase 1 study for each candidate that would cost $5 million to $7 million per trial. "But what if I can just replace all that by going into MIMIC up front?" Magill said.

"Let's say I spend $1 million in MIMIC, but I get the answer in two months and that predicts the vaccine that I need to take into humans," he said. "That's huge. And I think the likelihood of that occurring is pretty high."

MIMIC will work in parallel with AMP to test candidate H1N1 vaccines, Magill said, and both will complement other projects that also are part of Blue Angel.

Technologies developed for Blue Angel eventually will apply to a range of flu viruses and other diseases, Magill added.

"Blue Angel's vaccine portfolio alone has generated four facilities, four [technical] approaches, two clinical trials, two [FDA investigational new drug applications], the MIMIC and a variety of other spin-off technologies," he said, adding that it could take a decade to commercialize the technology.

Such an outcome for plant-based vaccines would be amazing, he said.

"We don't see very often that a response like this essentially creates a new industry. But we'll see," Magill said. "You still have to go through clinical trials, and work through all the issues. But I would say initially things are quite pleasing and somewhat promising."