Thursday, December 30, 2010

Littoral Combat Ship Contract Award Announced

Littoral Combat Ship Contract Award Announced: "The Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. and Austal USA each a fixed-price incentive contract for the design and construction of a 10 ship block-buy, for a total of 20 littoral combat ships from fiscal 2010 through fiscal 2015.

The amount awarded to Lockheed Martin Corp. for fiscal 2010 littoral combat ships is $436,852,639. The amount awarded to Austal USA for the fiscal 2010 littoral combat ships is $432,069,883.

Both contracts also include line items for nine additional ships, subject to Congressional appropriation of each year's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program requirements. When all 10 ships of each block buy are awarded, the value of the ship construction portion of the two contracts would be $3,620,625,192 for Lockheed Martin Corp., and $3,518,156,851 for Austal USA. The average cost of both variants including government-furnished equipment and margin for potential cost growth across the five year period is $440 million per ship. The pricing for these ships falls well below the escalated average Congressional cost cap of $538 million.

"The awards represent a unique and valuable opportunity to lock in the benefits of competition and provide needed ships to our fleet in a timely and extraordinarily cost effective manner," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

This award is a unique opportunity to maximize the buying power on the LCS Program by leveraging the highly effective competition between the bidders. Each contractor's 10-ship bids reflect mature designs, investments made to improve performance, stable production, and continuous labor learning at their respective shipyards. The award was based on limited competition between teams led by Lockheed Martin and Austal USA. Under these contracts, both shipbuilders will also deliver a technical data package as part of the dual award, allowing the government a wide range of viable alternatives for effective future competition.

This approach, which is self-financed within the program by adding a year to the procurement and utilizing a portion of the greater than $2 billion total savings (throughout the Future Years Defense Program), enables the Navy to efficiently produce these ships at an increased rate and meet operational requirements sooner.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead praised the Navy's plan to add both ship designs to the fleet: "The LCS is uniquely designed to win against 21st century threats in coastal waters posed by increasingly capable submarines, mines and swarming small craft. Both designs provide the capabilities our Navy needs, and each offers unique features that will provide fleet commanders with a high level of flexibility in employing these ships."

The innovation and willingness to seize opportunities displayed in this LCS competition reflect exactly the improvements to 'the way we do business' in order to deliver better value to the taxpayer and greater capability to the warfighter. Moreover, the Navy's LCS acquisition strategy meets the spirit and intent of the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 and reflects the Navy's commitment to affordability. The benefits of competition, serial production, employment of mature technologies, design stability, fixed-price contracting, commonality, and economies of scale will provide a highly affordable ship construction program.

"The rigor and diligence of the source selection process has resulted in the acquisition of quality, capable ships at fair prices," said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition Sean Stackley. "This dual award strategy exemplifies the Navy's compliance with Secretary Gates' and Under Secretary Carter's direction to improve the buying power of the Defense Department. Both teams have shown cost control on their second ships, and we look forward to the delivery of these capable fleet assets in the future."

The Navy remains committed to a 55-ship program and the LCS is needed to fill critical, urgent warfighting requirements gaps that exist today. The LCS Program is required to establish and maintain U.S. Navy dominance in the littorals and sea lanes of communication choke points around the world. The LCS Program operational requirements have been virtually unchanged since the program's inception in 2002 and the both hull forms will meet the Navy's operational warfighting requirements.

"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Insurgents Set Aside Rivalries on Afghan Border - NYTimes.com

Insurgents Set Aside Rivalries on Afghan Border - NYTimes.com: "Rival militant organizations on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border have increasingly been teaming up in deadly raids, in what military and intelligence officials say is the insurgents’ latest attempt to regain the initiative after months of withering attacks from American and allied forces.

New intelligence assessments from the region assert that insurgent factions now are setting aside their historic rivalries to behave like “a syndicate,” joining forces in ways not seen before. After one recent attack on a remote base in eastern Afghanistan, a check of the dead insurgents found evidence that the fighters were from three different factions, military officials said.

In the past, these insurgent groups have been seen as sharing ideology and inspiration, but less often plans for specific missions.

Now the intelligence assessments offer evidence of a worrisome new trend in which extremist commanders and their insurgent organizations are coordinating attacks and even combining their foot soldiers into patchwork patrols sent to carry out specific raids.

"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mark Helprin: America's Dangerous Rush to Shrink Its Military Power - WSJ.com

Mark Helprin: America's Dangerous Rush to Shrink Its Military Power - WSJ.com: "Just as in the 1930s, the economy is the supposedly humanitarian excuse for reducing the military—although the endless miseries of the world will not be alleviated if, due to an imbalance of power, great and little wars rage across it.

From the president on down through his secretary of defense, the service secretaries, and a cast of generals whose decorations would choke an alpine meadow with color, we are told that further reductions in American military power are warranted and unavoidable. This view is supported by the left, the right that unwisely fears accounting more than war, by most of the press, the academy, and perhaps a majority of Americans, and it is demonstrably and dangerously wrong.

Based upon nothing and ignoring the cautionary example of World War II, we are told that we will never face two major enemies ...

"

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Arms Control Talks Now Turn to Short-Range Weapons - NYTimes.com

Arms Control Talks Now Turn to Short-Range Weapons - NYTimes.com: "Fresh from winning Senate approval for a new strategic arms treaty, President Obama plans to return to the negotiating table with Russia next year in hopes of securing the first legal limits ever imposed on the smaller, battlefield nuclear weapons viewed as most vulnerable to theft or diversion.

This time around, though, Mr. Obama may have an easier time with the Senate Republicans who tried to block ratification of the new treaty, known as New Start, than he will with the Russians who were his partners in writing it.

As part of their case against the treaty, Senate Republicans complained vociferously that it did not cover tactical nuclear weapons, short-range bombs that have never been addressed by a Russian-American treaty. To press their point, Republicans pushed through a side resolution calling on Mr. Obama to open new talks with Russia on such weapons within a year.

"

Friday, December 24, 2010

U.S. Has Approved Billions in Business With Blacklisted Nations - NYTimes.com

U.S. Has Approved Billions in Business With Blacklisted Nations - NYTimes.com: "Despite sanctions and trade embargoes, over the past decade the United States government has allowed American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism, an examination by The New York Times has found.

At the behest of a host of companies — from Kraft Food and Pepsi to some of the nation’s largest banks — a little-known office of the Treasury Department has granted nearly 10,000 licenses for deals involving countries that have been cast into economic purgatory, beyond the reach of American business.

Most of the licenses were approved under a decade-old law mandating that agricultural and medical humanitarian aid be exempted from sanctions. But the law, pushed by the farm lobby and other industry groups, was written so broadly that allowable humanitarian aid has included cigarettes, Wrigley’s gum, Louisiana hot sauce, weight-loss remedies, body-building supplements and sports rehabilitation equipment sold to the institute that trains Iran’s Olympic athletes.

Hundreds of other licenses were approved because they passed a litmus test: They were deemed to serve American foreign policy goals. And many clearly do, among them deals to provide famine relief in North Korea or to improve Internet connections — and nurture democracy — in Iran. But the examination also found cases in which the foreign-policy benefits were considerably less clear.

"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chip Sized Sensore to Detect Dangerous Chemicals

Robotics systems 'sniff out' chemicals: "The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is leading research in robotic systems that can sniff out chemical agents.

ARL's robust research with the University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania is developing a portable micro gas chromatograph as a system on a chip no larger than a dime.

The system, integrated onto a mobile robot capable of doing autonomous searches, acts like an electronic nose and is able to detect chemical agents and identify the threat.

Weapons and materials engineers, along with sensors and electronics experts, are creating technology that can do more than detect chemical signatures associated with explosives and chemical and biological weapons.

Researchers hope their research could become part of a system of small robots to locate people, explosives and chemical and biological weapons. It could also map a building or other structure like a cave and communicate back to Soldiers before they enter a potential fatal hazardous environment.

Army researchers say the technology is small enough to be integrated into Soldiers' uniforms or vehicles to advance the portable network of chemical and biological systems. It also has implications for early-warning systems to support homeland defense in subways, airlines and buses.

ARL's work is focused on the Orion, the next-generation system that builds on the gas chromatograph Mercury. The Mercury can provide the selectivity, sensitivity and rate of analysis at a small size, weight and low power, enabling tactical deployment. Army scientists say integrating this capability into a mobile, autonomous platform has not been done before.

"Gas sensing systems with this degree of sensitivity and specificity have typically been large, stationary monitoring devices," said William D. Nothwang, material scientist and ARL lead for the Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology-Microelectronics Center. "The chemical bouquet that the Soldier is exposed to is exceptionally crowded, and many of these chemical scents are potentially dangerous, toxic, or hazardous.

"Having the ability to detect these chemicals at very minute concentration amid a crowded background enables a new level of sensory awareness," explained Nothwang.

The gas chromatograph takes a gas sample, separates it into constituent components and identifies the chemicals. The work is being directed as part of the University of Michigan's Microelectronics Center under ARL's Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology Collaborative Technology Agreement, which aims to perform enabling research and transition technology that will enhance the warfighters' tactical situational awareness in urban and complex terrain by enabling the autonomous operation of a collaborative ensemble of multifunctional, mobile microsystems.

The University of Michigan developed the Mercury under the National Science Foundation Wireless Integrated Microsystems Engineering Research Center from 2000 to 2010. ARL is lending its expertise to the University of Michigan in the follow-on technology project, Orion, which is focused on taking the sensing capabilities of Mercury and scaling it to significantly smaller devices and applying the technology to Army-relevant applications.

Earlier this year, the collaborative team began prototyping an integration of the Mercury with the Scarab, which is a fully autonomous robot about the size of the Roomba, the iRobot vacuum cleaner. It was designed and developed by the University of Pennsylvania for use as a research tool investigating autonomous behavior.

"The University of Michigan integrated the Mercury gas sensing system onto a Scarab platform, and the University of Pennsylvania designed a series of autonomous behaviors to enable it to enter a room to search for explosives, identify its agent characteristics and communicate back the exact location and nature of the agent," Nothwang said.

Nothwang said the Mercury and the Scarab are two incredibly complex systems.

"Individually there were a number of technological obstacles that were overcome," he said.

During the integration, challenges faced included the development of a common interface and communication protocols; designing an efficient search strategy based on the sensor input; developing a control language and analysis software that could be completely autonomous from user inputs; and designing realistic bounds on the behavior that would result from the sensor output.


"

CBRN Stryker Variant to Detect WMD and Toxins

Soldiers train on new Stryker variant: "For Soldiers entering into a combat zone, there is always the fear of the unknown. An enemy could have employed dangerous chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) weapons on the battlefield, and Soldiers might not find out until it's too late.

To help alleviate some of this worry, Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are training on the new Stryker Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance vehicle, fielded to the unit this year.

"This gives commanders freedom of movement in a CBRN environment," explained Sgt 1st Class Carlos Gomez, reconnaissance platoon sergeant for the 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd BCT.

The new platform will replace older units and allow trained Soldiers to detect chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents from the safety of the sealed and pressurized vehicle.

During the nearly 16-week training course, Soldiers spent 10 weeks learning about every component inside the vehicle, and another six weeks focusing on how to use the vehicle's capabilities to support mission essential tasks as set forth by a commander.

"They crammed a lot of information into the course," said Pfc. Matthew McCorkle, chemical operations specialist with 2nd BCT. "It's pretty high speed."

During the training, McCorkle learned about each of the four positions inside the Stryker, which include a driver, surveyor, assistant surveyor and a vehicle commander.

Surveyors are primarily responsible for analyzing and collecting samples, while assistant surveyors keep records of what is found, according to Gomez.

After graduating from the course, McCorkle will be one of only about 100 Soldiers in the Army who are fully trained on the Stryker NBCRV, and will earn an additional skill identifier, ensuring he continues to work with this type of vehicle even if he moves to a new post.

For Soldiers and commanders, there are more benefits to this vehicle than just its keen ability to detect CBRN threats.

The chassis of this vehicle is nearly identical to all nine of the other Stryker variants, which not only makes parts easier to obtain, but also allows mechanics who might have trained on one of the other variants to easily adapt to this one, according to Bruce Baldwin, a new systems training technical adviser with the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence out of Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

"The vehicle also does a lot more than the first generation," he explained. "It has a much greater lethality, a much greater survivability and much greater maneuver and maintainability."

"This enhances units and allows for a full spectrum of operations," said Sonny Fanning, a joint product manager. "It provides commanders with the ability to maneuver his troopers around CBRN threats."

By using this vehicle, commanders have ability to more effectively and safely conduct route reconnaissance, so they can plan troop movements in CBRN-free environments, he continued.

Although the 16-week course may be nearly over, the reconnaissance Soldiers who took part in it will continue to train on regular basis to ensure they maintain what they've learned.

"This is a very perishable skill," said Gomez. "The equipment is very advanced, and if you don't regularly keep up with how to use it, you won't be able to do it for long."

With a new crew of expertly trained Soldiers and brand new vehicle, commanders within the Black Jack brigade can rest assured that their troops will have the freedom of movement they need in a combat zone without having to worry they might be walking in to a CBRN environment.


"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Euro Hawk UAV Shows Stamina With 30-Hour Flight

Euro Hawk UAV Shows Stamina With 30-Hour Flight: "Euro Hawk has successfully proved its long endurance capability with a 30.3-hour flight over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Built by Northrop Grumman and EADS Deutschland, operating through Cassidian, the defence and security division of EADS, the high-flying UAS took off Dec. 1 at 4:47 p.m. PST and landed Dec. 2 at approximately 10:59 p.m. PST.
'Soaring up to 60,000 feet, the Euro Hawk performed beautifully and has logged nearly 100 total flight hours since its maiden flight approximately five months ago,' said Duke Dufresne, sector vice president and general manager of the Strike and Surveillance Systems Division for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector."

BAE Systems Wins US Navy Minehunting Sonar Contract

BAE Systems Wins US Navy Minehunting Sonar Contract: "BAE Systems will deliver an upgraded minehunting sonar system to the U.S. Navy for the detection and classification of bottom and moored sea mines. BAE Systems will provide four systems under a $14 million contract.
The AN/SQQ-32(V)4 minehunting sonar set with the high frequency wide band upgrade replaces the existing SQQ-32(V)3 detection sonar currently employed aboard the MCM-1 Avenger Class mine countermeasures ships. This upgrade improves detection performance in the littoral environment and against stealth mines."

Carrier Aviation Enters the Electromagnetic Age

Navy Launches First Aircraft Using Electromagnetic System: "The Navy made history Dec. 18 when it launched the first aircraft from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Lakehurst, N.J., test site using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, technology.

The Navy has been using steam for more than 50 years to launch aircraft from carriers.

The Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) program launched an F/A-18E Super Hornet Dec. 18 using the EMALS technology that will replace steam catapults on future aircraft carriers.

"This is a tremendous achievement not just for the ALRE team, but for the entire Navy," said Capt. James Donnelly, ALRE program manager. "Saturday's EMALS launch demonstrates an evolution in carrier flight deck operations using advanced computer control, system monitoring and automation for tomorrow's carrier air wings."

EMALS is a complete carrier-based launch system designed for Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and future Ford-
class carriers.

"I thought the launch went great," said Lt. Daniel Radocaj, the test pilot from Air Test and Evaluation
Squadron 23 (VX 23) who made the first EMALS manned launch. "I got excited once I was on the
catapult, but I went through the same procedures as on a steam catapult. The catapult stroke felt similar
to a steam catapult and EMALS met all of the expectations I had."

The current aircraft launch system for Navy aircraft carriers is the steam catapult. Newer, heavier and
faster aircraft will result in launch energy requirements approaching the limits of the steam catapult system.

The mission and function of EMALS remains the same as the steam catapult; however, EMALS employs
entirely different technologies. EMALS will deliver the necessary higher launch energy capacity as well as
substantial improvements in system weight, maintenance, increased efficiency and more accurate end-
speed control.

"I felt honored to be chosen as the shooter to help launch the first live aircraft tested on the new EMALS
track at Lakehurst," said Chief Petty Officer Brandon Barr, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division
Test Department, Lakehurst. "It was very exciting to knowingly be a part of naval aviation history. Petty
Officers 1st Class Hunsaker and Robinson, Petty Officers 2nd Class Williams, Wong and Simmons, were
the Sailors on my team who worked together to help make this test a success. We all look forward to
seeing this cutting edge technology deployed on the Gerald R. Ford."

"I'm excited about the improvement EMALS will bring to the fleet from a capability and reliability perspective," said Cmdr. Russ McCormack, ALRE, PMA-251, deputy program manager for future systems. "EMALS was designed for just that purpose, and the team is delivering that requirement."

The system's technology allows for a smooth acceleration at both high and low speeds, increasing the
carrier's ability to launch aircraft in support of the warfighter.

The system will provide the capability for launching all current and future carrier air wing platforms – lightweight unmanned to heavy strike fighters.
Engineers will continue system functional demonstration testing at NAVAIR Lakehurst. The team will
expand aircraft launches with the addition of T-45 and C-2 aircraft in 2011.

"

Navy Reserve Pilots Keep Active Fighter Squadrons Sharp

'River Rattlers' End a Year of Adversary Missions: "Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 204 wrapped up a mission with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group during the group's composite training unit exercise off the coast of California Dec. 20.

The "River Rattlers" of VFA 204 have had many deployments in 2010 lending their assistance to the fleet.

VFA 204 is an adversary squadron that flies the FA-18/A Hornet aircraft. The entire squadron, from the pilots to the mechanics who provide maintenance for the planes, are full time support (FTS) and selected Reserve (SELRES) Sailors. Their primary mission is to act as the enemy in the sky so other squadrons and strike groups can receive the requisite training to be combat-ready. With air combat training a constant necessity and with numerous squadrons to be trained, the New Orleans-based "River Rattlers" keep busy. They deploy numerous times a year to support the active component in training evolutions all around the world.

"We deploy roughly every other month, to support about six to eight detachments a year. We're mission ready. Our Sailors are ready to deploy and provide training to fleet squadrons," said VFA 204 Executive Officer Cmdr. Greg Rielly.

The deployment schedule provides the 40 SELRES in the squadron plenty of opportunity to get annual training and active duty training (ADT). This ensures the "River Rattlers" are highly skilled, regardless of whether they are full or part-time Sailors.

"The integration between our FTS and SELRES is seamless," said VFA 204 Command Master Chief (AW) John Harlin. "That's the way it should be. Our Reservists bring a lot to the table. For example, we have a (SELRES) chief who works as a defense contractor in his civilian job. He's able to bring that experience to his Reserve position making us a stronger squadron."

Many of the SELRES in VFA 204 go above and beyond the required training to support the River Rattler's mission. Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 2nd Class (AW) Emily Seal from Gulfport, Miss., is one of them.

"Last year, I went on three deployments with the squadron," said Seal. "I was almost on constant ADT orders. I feel really strongly about committing myself to the mission and being with this command helps with advancement. The learning curve is fast, and there's so much to do, it's impossible not to learn."

The Navy Reserve prides itself on being "Ready Now. Anytime, Anywhere." With the "River Rattlers," this not only applies to them – it applies to the fleet they continue to serve in their adversary role. With assistance from VFA 204, Naval Air Forces will continue to receive necessary training, preparing them for any assigned mission.
"

U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan - NYTimes.com

U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan - NYTimes.com: "Senior American military commanders in Afghanistan are pushing for an expanded campaign of Special Operations ground raids across the border into Pakistan’s tribal areas, a risky strategy reflecting the growing frustration with Pakistan’s efforts to root out militants there.
The proposal, described by American officials in Washington and Afghanistan, would escalate military activities inside Pakistan, where the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited because of fears of provoking a backlash.
The plan has not yet been approved, but military and political leaders say a renewed sense of urgency has taken hold, as the deadline approaches for the Obama administration to begin withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan. Even with the risks, military commanders say that using American Special Operations troops could bring an intelligence windfall, if militants were captured, brought back across the border into Afghanistan and interrogated.
The Americans are known to have made no more than a handful of forays across the border into Pakistan, in operations that have infuriated Pakistani officials. Now, American military officers appear confident that a shift in policy could allow for more routine incursions."

Gauging the price tag for Afghanistan's security

Gauging the price tag for Afghanistan's security: "As the United States begins to look closely at reducing future spending, it may be time to put a dollar figure on President Obama's commitment, restated last week, to the long-term security of Afghanistan.
Let's start with the cost of maintaining Afghan security forces after they reach their planned goal by October - 171,000 in the military and 134,000 police. John Ferrari, deputy commander for programs for the NATO training mission in Afghanistan, told reporters last week that the estimate is that $6 billion per year would be needed to sustain that overall force.
According to the latest figures published by the CIA, the Afghan government takes in revenues of $1 billion a year and has expenditures of $3.3 billion. Today, that deficit is made up through contributions by other nations. But that figure does not include the costs of Afghanistan's military and police units. As Ferrari put it, 'We procure all of their equipment. We sustain them. We pay for a lot of their training.'"

Army outlines Ground Combat Vehicle RFP

Army outlines Ground Combat Vehicle RFP: "The Army plans to build a versatile, highly capable Ground Combat Vehicle in seven years that can deliver a nine-man squad under armor, across a full spectrum of military operations and protect against mines, Improvised Explosive Devices, Rocket-Propelled Grenades and a host of other threats, service leaders told members of industry Dec. 18, at a GCV pre-proposal conference in Dearborn, Mich.

"The Ground Combat Vehicle represents the centerpiece of the Army's long-term combat vehicle modernization strategy," said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli.

"In the Request for Proposal, we clearly define our big four priorities: force protection, capacity, full-spectrum operations, timing - all based on the immediate need of size, weight and power," he said.

A key rationale for the conference was to afford an open dialogue between Army developers and their industry partners in order to answer questions and clearly define the parameters of the RFP.

"We must ensure we deliver a vehicle that provides a much-needed capability on time and on budget. Your (industry partners) input is critical to our success. We want to make sure we address any outstanding requests you have regarding the RFP," Chiarelli said.

Industry bidders have until Jan. 21 to submit proposals. The Army plans to award up to three 24-month Technology Demonstration contracts.

The TD phase will include three major reviews, according to the RFP: a System Requirements Review, System Functional Review and a Preliminary Design Review.

The RFP outlines the need for mature technology and clear cost goals. The RFP states that the government intends to hit a target unit manufacturing cost of $9-10.5 million per vehicle with operational sustainment costs of $200 per mile, Chiarelli said.

"All of this should be achieved without exceeding a contract ceiling of $450 million dollars," he added.

"Let me be clear, this is not to reduce contractor profitability, but rather to reduce costs and improve performance. We want to encourage creativity and innovation in today's environment," Chiarelli added.

The RFP calls for a "tiering" of requirements designed to provide industry with trade space or technological flexibility.

"Tiering supports trade space so that industry can balance cost schedule and technical risk in order to achieve the goal of delivering a vehicle in seven years" said Col. Andrew DiMarco, program manager, Ground Combat Vehicle.

During the conference, Army experts and program mangers provided industry-specific and detailed answers to a range of questions regarding the RFP. In total, Army experts provided answers to more than 200 questions.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the proposals come in January," DiMarco said.

"

Monday, December 20, 2010

DARPA goal for cybersecurity: change the game

DARPA goal for cybersecurity: change the game: "Self-proclaimed "technogeeks" at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, after determining the nature of the cybersecurity threat, have devised programs to tackle the problem and, most importantly, surprise their adversaries, DARPA's deputy director said.

Kaigham Gabriel spoke here at the Dec. 16 Cyber Security Forum and said the agency's sole mission since its inception in 1958 has been to prevent and create technology surprises.

Two of the agency's recent cybersecurity programs, called CRASH and PROCEED, were created for that purpose.

CRASH, the Clean-slate Design of Resilient, Adaptive, Secure Hosts program, seeks to build new computer systems that resist cyberattacks. After successful attacks they would adapt, learn from the attack and repair themselves, Mr. Gabriel said.

CRASH evolved from a workshop DARPA held earlier this year where they pulled together cybersecurity and operating-system experts and infectious-disease biologists, he said.

"The first couple of hours, someone who was there described it as being like a junior high school dance," he added. "All the biologists were on one side of the room, the computer scientists on the other. Finally one of them walked over and began talking, and they all started mixing."

Some interesting ideas came out of the workshop, Mr. Gabriel said. One was that biology starts from the supposition that attackers -- bacteria or viruses -- will get through the body's defenses. The body doesn't even try to stop them; biology just deals with it.

The body doesn't care how many times things get in, he added. And bodies are genetically diverse; viruses or bacteria that infect one body won't necessarily infect all the others, or infect them in the same way.

This concept applies to computer vulnerabilities because most computer hardware is built the same way, Mr. Gabriel said.

"The idea is to look at the structure of computers, which are identical and have no security in the hardware ... because performance was king 15 or 20 years ago," he said. "Transistors and computer performance were precious, and you didn't give up any of it to security. Now, the world is different."

Today, security could be added to computer hardware, giving computers a sort of genetic diversity that would make them less vulnerable to cyber infections.

Getting such new, more robust hardware architecture into the market will take some time, Mr. Gabriel said, noting that the reason for programs like CRASH is to create something he calls convergence between cyberthreats and cybersecurity.

To analyze the problem of convergence, DARPA engineers compared the number of lines of source code written over 20 years in security software and the number of lines of code in malware written over the same period.

Over 20 years, he said, the lines of code in security software increased from about 10,000 to 10 million lines. The number of lines of code in malware was surprisingly constant at about 125 lines.

This analysis and others "led us to understand that many of the things we're doing are useful, but they're not convergent with the problem," Mr. Gabriel said. "We're never going to catch up [with malware], so how do we change the game? How do we essentially create surprise for our adversaries in this challenge area?"

Along with CRASH, another way is PROCEED, or Programming Computation on Encrypted Data, he said.

"Encryption is one way of protecting things, but if you want to operate on encrypted data -- process it, do something with it -- you have to decrypt it first. You operate on it while it's in a decrypted state, then take your result, encrypt that again, and send it on," Gabriel said.

For the past several years, people have been debating about whether it's possible to do operations on encrypted data without decrypting it first.

"It was considered to be such a difficult problem that people were mathematically trying to prove it couldn't be done," he said. "Then, about a year and a half ago, someone proved that it could be done. That's the good news. The bad news is, it's very inefficient right now -- 12 orders of magnitude less efficient than it needs to be."

PROCEED is working to improve that efficiency, he said.

"If we were able to do relevant sorts of operations without ever having to decrypt, that would be a tremendous gain because ... whenever you decrypt into the open, you create vulnerability," Mr. Gabriel said.

Convergence is the objective of both programs, he added. "They are aggressive programs; they may or may not be successful. That's the nature of DARPA. But we have high hopes."
"

WikiLeaks cables: How US 'second line of defence' tackles nuclear threat | World news | The Guardian

WikiLeaks cables: How US 'second line of defence' tackles nuclear threat | World news | The Guardian: "As part of what the US government calls its 'second line of defence', it is America's diplomatic corps who are called out in the middle of the night when radiation detectors goes off on a border crossing or smugglers turn up with fissile or radioactive materials in his pocket.
Each time that happens, and UN data suggests it has happened about 500 times in the past 15 years, it means the 'first line of defence' has already been breached. The fissile material (the fuel for a nuclear warhead) or radioactive isotopes (which emit harmful radiation), have already been stolen from their source.
Three months after taking office, Barack Obama vowed to secure all the world's vulnerable nuclear stocks within four years in a global drive to pre-empt nuclear terrorism. But a cash-strapped Congress has yet to do approve any increase in funding for the ambitious project and Obama's deadline looks almost certain to be missed. Meanwhile, from Africa to the former Soviet Union, there are signs it may already be too late."

Afghan War Raises Questions of Coverage in U.S. - NYTimes.com

Afghan War Raises Questions of Coverage in U.S. - NYTimes.com: "Afghan war, and of the news coverage.
The grueling war there, where a day rarely goes by without an allied casualty, is like a faint heartbeat, accounting for just 4 percent of the nation’s news coverage in major outlets through early December, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, an arm of the Pew Research Center.
That is down slightly from last year, when the war accounted for 5 percent.
“It’s never passed the threshold to be a big story week in, week out for Americans,” said Mark Jurkowitz, the associate director of the project.

The low levels of coverage reflect the limitations on news-gathering budgets and, some say, low levels of interest in the war among the public. About a quarter of Americans follow news about Afghanistan closely, according to recent surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

“Inside the United States, you’ve got audiences that are beginning to suffer from war fatigue,” said Tony Maddox, who oversees international coverage for CNN.

Mr. Maddox said CNN had “worked very hard” to make the war resonate with viewers, sometimes through human interest stories. “It’s always the eternal challenge in terms of international coverage: making the important interesting,” he said.

"

Europe complains of losing favour in US eyes

Europe complains of losing favour in US eyes: "As Washington turns its sights away from its old European partners, the EU could reconnect with the United States in "triangular cooperation" with titans such as Brazil, China or Russia, the bloc's foreign policy chief said Friday.

The European Union's top diplomat Catherine Ashton told a summit of the 27-nation bloc that "Europe is no longer the main strategic preoccupation of foreign policy."

"The US is increasingly looking to new partners to address old and new problems," Ashton said as a summit turned to diplomatic issues Friday after addressing the trials faced by struggling euro-nations the previous day.

Europe, she said, needed to work out a new kind of partnership "fit for a new era" based on economics and global security aims.

"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Politics in Iraq Casts Doubt on a U.S. Presence After 2011 - NYTimes.com

Politics in Iraq Casts Doubt on a U.S. Presence After 2011 - NYTimes.com: "The protracted political turmoil that saw the resurgence of a fiercely anti-American political bloc here is casting new doubt on establishing any enduring American military role in Iraq after the last of nearly 50,000 troops are scheduled to withdraw in the next 12 months, military and administration officials say.

Given Iraq’s military shortcomings, especially in air power, intelligence coordination and logistics, American and Iraqi officials had long expected that some American military presence, even if only in an advisory role, would continue beyond 2011. That is the deadline for a troop withdrawal negotiated under President George W. Bush more than three years ago and adhered to, so far, by President Obama.

Even as contingency planning for any lasting American mission has quietly continued in Baghdad and at the Pentagon, however, the shifting political landscape in both countries has made it increasingly possible that the 2011 withdrawal could truly be total, the officials said. Both Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq and Mr. Obama, struggling to retain the support of their political bases, have repeated their public vows to adhere to the deadline.

"

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cause of missile defense test failure unclear: US

Cause of missile defense test failure unclear: US: "top US general said Thursday it was unclear why an interceptor meant to knock out incoming ballistic missiles failed in a test for the second time in a row.
General James Cartwright, the military's second highest ranking officer, said he had no doubts that the country's missile defense system could fend off potential threats, despite Wednesday's failed test.
'I'm not the least bit concerned that we don't have a capability to defeat, should we need to, that rogue threat that the system's been designed against,' Cartwright told reporters.
In the test on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, an interceptor rocket launched from a base in California failed to intercept its target, an intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Missile Defense Agency said."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Force Multiplier Capability Of Aegis Demonstrated

Force Multiplier Capability Of Aegis Demonstrated: "The Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Demonstration satellites recently showed the ability of the space-based sensors to maximize defended areas through earlier tracking of missiles, thus allowing quicker launches by interceptors, known as a "force multiplier" capability.
The two missile defense satellites, built by Northrop Grumman as the prime contractor and Raytheon as the sensor payload provider, observed an Aegis test Oct. 6 involving two missile launches within hours of each other from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Hawaii.

This Aegis test event showed the ability of STSS to view a dim medium-range missile, observe the target with both tracking sensors through booster burnout, and continue to observe the spent booster well into the post-boost midcourse phase.

Both STSS satellites transmitted tracking data to the Enterprise Sensors Lab (ESL) at the Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., where the information was processed and fused with data from other sensor assets, to form a stereo track of the target vehicle.

"

New Advice for Nuclear Strike - Don’t Flee, Get Inside - NYTimes.com

New Advice for Nuclear Strike - Don’t Flee, Get Inside - NYTimes.com: "Suppose the unthinkable happened, and terrorists struck New York or another big city with an atom bomb. What should people there do? The government has a surprising new message: Do not flee. Get inside any stable building and don’t come out till officials say it’s safe.

The advice is based on recent scientific analyses showing that a nuclear attack is much more survivable if you immediately shield yourself from the lethal radiation that follows a blast, a simple tactic seen as saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Even staying in a car, the studies show, would reduce casualties by more than 50 percent; hunkering down in a basement would be better by far.

"

Taliban Extend Their Reach to North - NYTimes.com

Taliban Extend Their Reach to North - NYTimes.com: "KUNDUZ, Afghanistan — This city, once a crossroads in the country’s northeast, is increasingly besieged. The airport closed months ago to commercial flights. The roads heading south to Kabul and east to Tajikistan as well as north and west are no longer safe for Afghans, let alone Westerners.

Although the numbers of American and German troops in the north have more than doubled since last year, insecurity has spread, the Taliban are expanding their reach, and armed groups that purportedly support the government are terrorizing local people and hampering aid organizations, according to international aid workers, Afghan government officials, local residents and diplomats.

The growing fragility of the north highlights the limitations of the American effort here, hampered by waning political support at home and a fixed number of troops. The Pentagon’s year-end review will emphasize hard-won progress in the south, the heartland of the insurgency, where the military has concentrated most troops. But those advances have come at the expense of security in the north and east, with some questioning the wisdom of the focus on the south and whether the coalition can control the entire country.

"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle Stirs Confusion In Industry

Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle Stirs Confusion In Industry: "The Army plans to spend more than $1 billion over the next several years on the design of a new “infantry fighting vehicle.” With new big-ticket military programs becoming increasingly scarce, this would normally qualify as great news for contractors.

But the Army’s recent request for industry bids for the IFV — the first phase of a larger “ground combat vehicle” program — is creating confusion, rather than excitement, sources said.

“Industry still doesn’t get what the Army is looking for,” said an insider.

The problem is that many of the technical specifications that contractors expect the Army to spell out are left open-ended. It will be up to industry to propose many of the technologies and features that the vehicle should have in order to satisfy the Army’s overall requirement: A mobile, lethal, survivable troop carrier that can transport a nine-soldier squad and its equipment. Beyond that, there is a long list of “tradable requirements,” including tracks versus wheels, weight and armor kits. It will be left to contractors to propose the best solutions.

The ground combat vehicle program follows the Army’s beleaguered Future Combat Systems, which was canceled in 2009 after nearly a decade and billions of dollars worth of effort. The IFV is intended to replace the 30-year-old Bradley fighting vehicle and potentially the 50-year-old M113 armored personnel carrier."

DARPA Awards Contract To Produce Laser Enhanced Sniper Systems

DARPA Awards Contract To Produce Laser Enhanced Sniper Systems: "Lockheed Martin was awarded a $6.9 million contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for multiple One Shot laser-based sniper systems that improve accuracy and reduce the possibility of detection.
Existing sniper scopes cannot measure wind at long distances. One Shot utilizes a laser and camera to gauge wind speed and direction within 1500 meters, while employing sensors to account for atmospheric conditions and direct-view optics for enhanced night vision capability.
This combination enables snipers to identify targets more accurately whether in day or night situations."

Monday, December 13, 2010

LockMart Successfully Tests First GMLRS+ Rocket

LockMart Successfully Tests First GMLRS+ Rocket: "Lockheed Martin has successfully launched a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Plus (GMLRS+) rocket recently in a test at White Sands Missile Range, NM.
The GMLRS+ rocket, which is equipped with a Semi-Active Laser (SAL) seeker, was fired from the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher. The rocket flew approximately 40 kilometers downrange, acquired the laser designated target and diverted over 150 meters to the target.
The GMLRS+ rocket is a Lockheed Martin internal research and development program to incrementally improve the combat-proven GMLRS Unitary program. GMLRS+ is anticipated to address operational needs including increased range, scalable effects and fleeting targets."

Raytheon's SLAMRAAM Completes Second Test Firing from New Platform

Raytheon's SLAMRAAM Completes Second Test Firing from New Platform: "Raytheon's SLAMRAAM (Surface Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) system successfully participated in a second ballistic test vehicle firing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. This is the second test firing of AMRAAM missiles from the new Family of Medium Tactical Vehicle (FMTV) platform.
'Completion of this second test firing in such a short span of time demonstrates the maturity of the design and readiness to enter the next phase of critical tests,' said Dave Gulla, vice president, National and Theater Security Programs for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems.
'SLAMRAAM is the most cost-effective system in development to combat the increasing cruise missile threat to our deployed forces, high-value fixed assets and population centers.'"

Military weighs reusing damaged equipment

Military weighs reusing damaged equipment: "The U.S. military establishment is considering the feasibility of refurbishing military equipment damaged on the battlefields of Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere under a high-tech program.
Details of an innovative scheme to reuse equipment and save costs would be considered when military leaders, industry experts and analysts meet at a conference in the Washington area next year.
The military is constantly retrieving or shipping back impaired equipment, including weapons, from battle zones and the plan offers a way out where much of the damaged inventory could have little immediate chance of redeployment."

Identifying friendly forces to become easier for AWACS

Identifying friendly forces to become easier for AWACS: "The Electronic Systems Center has achieved the next step in bringing an improved Identification Friend or Foe, or IFF, system capability to Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.

Currently AWACS provides situational awareness of friendly, neutral and hostile activity, along with early warning of enemy actions during joint, allied and coalition operations.

"The next generation IFF Mode 5 will allow for earlier detection of friendly targets and works to minimize fratricide," said Tricia Hill, Next Generation IFF program manager. "Interrogators provide identification of cooperative platforms, and Mode 5 improves upon that for the E-3 fleet."

Mode 5 allows for dramatically improved detection of "maneuvering" targets at a maximum range, while improving detection of all targets at all ranges. It also increases the confidence in identification and data replies.

A combined development and operation test was recently held at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wash. Numerous test flights were completed with AWACS Block 30/35 aircraft that included jamming, interrogation and interoperability works with F-15s.

"The capabilities leveraged from the Next Generation Identification Friend Foe system will dramatically increase our abilities to tell the good guys from the bad and greatly reduce the chances of accidental fratricide which will save lives in the future," said Maj. David Drass, 552nd Air Control Wing Mission Systems Requirements chief.

"The preliminary results have all been positive," said Ms. Hill. "Everyone in the test community was satisfied. Although we don't yet have full data analysis completed we are working on moving to Milestone C - a production decision - this spring.

U.S. government personnel from ESC's French Mid-Life Upgrade and NATO programs were also involved in the testing events to see first-hand the capabilities provided and how Mode 5 will transition to their AWACS platforms.

Another opportunity for evaluating the capability will come later this spring when the Navy performs a technical evaluation for all Mode 5 platforms that are ready to test.

"We'll be a key player in this evaluation, with AWACS providing an airborne interrogator," said Ms. Hill. "It will give us a chance to demonstrate interoperability between services."

Additional future work will include a civilian equivalent to Mode 5, Mode S, which will be developed as part of the French mid-life upgrade.

"We've been successful because of the teamwork we have," said Ms. Hill. "Without support from the 552 ACW at Tinker, the JTF/605 Test and Evaluation Squadron, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, the FAA, China Lake, the F-15s out of Nellis Air Force Base, and our NGIFF IPT team here, we couldn't have gotten to this point."

"

New Protection Against Six-Legged Threats

New Protection Against Six-Legged Threats: "Soldiers are issued gear such as body armor, protective eyewear, and helmets to protect them from threats on the battlefield, but now they will get protection against a common enemy from the most basic piece of equipment - their uniforms. The Army is now issuing Flame-Resistant Army Combat Uniforms (FR ACUs) that have been factory-treated with the insect repellent, permethrin, to help protect Soldiers against the annoyance and dangers of biting insects and insect-borne diseases.

Permethrin is a synthetic insect repellent that mimics natural compounds found in chrysanthemum flowers. FR ACUs receiving factory treatments of permethrin will be given the designation FRACU-P. Permethrin factory treatment began in 2010 and will initially only be available to Soldiers deploying overseas. Factory treatment for all FR ACUs will start in 2012.

FR ACUs are just one of the many items we have been developing to improve Soldier survivability, effectiveness, and comfort. As PEO Soldier, we are the Army acquisition agency responsible for developing, procuring, and fielding nearly everything Soldiers wear or carry. Enhancing defenses against biting insects and the spread of dangerous diseases is one example of the Army's commitment to Soldiers.

"Over the history of warfare, disease and non-battle injury has been one of our biggest sources of casualties and degradation of our combat power," said COL Peter Benson, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Command Surgeon. "By protecting Soldiers from these diseases, it keeps more Soldiers in the fight and decreases the burden on the medical care system when deployed."

Permethrin provides peerless protection from many of the insect-borne illnesses that pose a threat to Soldiers, such as malaria and dengue fever, which are difficult to treat and can be fatal.

"Since the 1990s, the Army has been using various permethrin treated uniforms," explained LTC Michael Sloane, Product Manager, Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment. "Now, we actually get the uniform and it already has not only the fire resistant treatment in it, but the additional protection against bugs."

The pre-treatment of uniforms means one less task for Soldiers as they prepare to deploy and, unlike previous versions, the factory-treated uniforms do not have an unpleasant smell. While permethrin does not provide a 100 percent guarantee that a Soldier won't be bitten (Soldiers will still need to take precautions, such as maintaining good hygiene and using the insect repellent DEET on their skin), factory treatment of uniforms will provide 70 percent bite protection for up to 50 washes, with a decreasing (but still extremely high) percentage of bite protection thereafter.

Permethrin has the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is used by civilian companies to make insect-repelling clothing for outdoor enthusiasts. The Army will not be the first to use clothing that is factory-treated with permethrin. The U. S. Marine Corps currently fields uniforms that are factory-treated with permethrin, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has a contract with a commercial company that makes clothing and gear with built-in insect repellent.

Soldiers will be required to take certain steps to ensure their uniforms provide the highest level of protection from biting insects. They should not dry-clean their factory-treated permethrin uniforms, since dry-cleaning will greatly reduce the uniform's bite protection. Soldiers will also need to launder their uniforms separately from civilian clothing. Further care and handling instructions will be on the uniform's tags.

"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lesser Known Nuclear Pact With Russia Wins Clearance - NYTimes.com

Lesser Known Nuclear Pact With Russia Wins Clearance - NYTimes.com: "While President Obama presses the Senate to embrace a new arms control treaty with Russia, another nuclear pact with Moscow cleared its final hurdle on Thursday after more than four years with virtually no notice but potentially significant impact.
An agreement opening the door to greater civilian nuclear cooperation between the two countries cleared its final hurdle in Congress and will now take force in what Mr. Obama hopes will be another step toward strengthening the Russian-American rapprochement that has been one of his signature foreign policy goals.
The civilian nuclear agreement lifts longstanding limitations to allow extensive commercial nuclear trade, technology transfers and joint research between Russia and the United States. It does not permit the transfer of restricted data, but it eliminates a significant barrier to Russia’s importing, storing and possibly reprocessing spent nuclear fuel from American-supplied reactors around the world.
The agreement was a top priority of Mr. Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush, who sealed a deal with the Kremlin in May 2008. But he withdrew it from Congress four months later in protest of Russia’s war with its tiny neighbor, Georgia. Mr. Obama resubmitted it last May, saying that Georgia “need no longer be considered an obstacle” and citing recent Russian cooperation in trying to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon."

Russia warns Poland against hosting US fighter jets

Russia warns Poland against hosting US fighter jets: "Russia on Thursday warned Poland against hosting US F-16 fighter jets, possibly from 2013, saying it would work to counter the move.

A statement issued by the Russian defence ministry said Thursday Moscow would "take into account the American-Polish plans and carry out [its] own armed forces development projects".

It did not elaborate but added: "We believe that different decisions would be better in the interest of European security."

"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Army evaluating transportable solar-powered tents

Army evaluating transportable solar-powered tents: "The U.S. Army is evaluating a host of flexible, portable, lightweight solar-powered shades and tent-like technologies.

The products are designed to allow expeditionary units to deploy with transferrable, exportable electrical power that can charge batteries, computers and other essential gear without needing fuel or a generator, service officials said.

Using a fast-evolving technology known as Flexible Photovoltaics (PV), the solar-powered tent structures convert light energy into electricity, thus removing the need to haul generators and large amounts fuel.

“They are ideal for charging up batteries, making sure your (communications), night vision goggles and computers are powered up. You don’t want a generator on top of a mountain, and you don’t want to have to bring fuel to a generator or haul batteries,” said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment.

Technological advances in the area of photovoltaics have made it possible to build lightweight, portable materials which are flexible and can easily travel with dismounted units.

In fact, the Army has already deployed some of these technologies to forward locations around the world for additional evaluation, sending some to places such as Afghanistan, said Steven Tucker, a senior engineer in the Shelters Technology, Engineering and Fabrication Directorate at the Natick Soldier Research Design and Engineering Center.

In addition, Hammack said the Army is hoping to deploy more of the solar-powered tents in the near future.

“The technology has reached the point where the testing has shown they [solar-powered tents] are proven. Our teams have worked on the inverters and the durability of the systems. The durability of the tent covers has evolved to a point where we would like to see more of them deployed,” Hammack said.

Some of the Flexible PV products being evaluated are called: Power Shade, TEMPER Fly and QUADrant – military shelter items of various sizes and configurations which use flexible solar panels to harness light energy and convert it into transferable electricity.

“The technology we are using is called amorphous silicon. It’s been around since the early 80s. It takes the energy from the sun – photons. They [photons] go into the PV materials and they essentially knock loose electrons. Those electrons are then gathered and utilized for power, converting solar power to electrical power,” Tucker explained.

The TEMPER Fly is a roughly 16-by-20-foot tent structure able to generate 800 watts of electricity. A QUADrant is a smaller variant of the TEMPER Fly, able to generate 200 watts of power, and the Power Shades range in size and are capable of generating up to 3 kilowatts of exportable electrical power, Tucker said. The PV integrated military shelter items use a lamination process to combine the PV materials into the textile substrate, Tucker explained.

“Alternative energy sources are really going to shine in mission scenarios where you don’t want to use a generator because you don’t want the noise or heat signature that goes along with it, or where re-supplying that generator with fuel doesn’t make sense,” said Tucker.

New rifles give Army snipers in Afghanistan needed range - USATODAY.com

New rifles give Army snipers in Afghanistan needed range - USATODAY.com: "The Army is shipping powerful new rifles to its snipers in Afghanistan to kill insurgents who are firing from greater distances and shooting at troops more frequently than in the early years of the war.
The XM2010 sniper rifle can hit a target 3,937 feet away, which is a quarter-mile farther than the current Army sniper rifle shoots.
The added distance is important because insurgents have been shooting down from ridges and mountaintops where gravity helps their bullets travel farther and beyond the range of Army snipers."

U.S. Plans to Boost Afghan Firepower - WSJ.com

U.S. Plans to Boost Afghan Firepower - WSJ.com: "The Afghan army is likely to be supplied with light armored personnel carriers next year, a major upgrade of its capabilities, a senior coalition official said. There are also plans to provide the Afghans with more artillery firepower, and with limited air surveillance and reconnaissance capacity.
Afghan requests for heavy weapons were previously brushed off as impracticable and unsuitable to the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy here.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, at a news conference Wednesday with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said he was recently told by U.S. officials that Washington will provide 'thousands of armored vehicles and personnel carriers' to the Afghan army, but complained that this wasn't enough."

Javelin Fired From Stryker Remote Weapon Station

Javelin Fired From Stryker Remote Weapon Station: "The Raytheon-Lockheed Martin Javelin Joint Venture reached a major milestone with the first Javelin missile firings from a Common Remote Operations Weapon Station II. The station was mounted on a Stryker Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) in a near-tactical configuration.
Three missiles impacted their targets at 500 and 1,000 meters (1,640 and 3,280 feet) downrange, confirming the successful integration of the Javelin into the CROWS II."

Joint High Power Solid State Laser Keeps Lasing And Lasing

Joint High Power Solid State Laser Keeps Lasing And Lasing: "Since becoming the first to reach the 100-kilowatt power level threshold for a solid-state laser in 2009, Northrop Grumman has continued to push the performance parameters of the Joint High Power Solid State Laser (JHPSSL).
Company engineers and technicians have logged more than six hours of operating time - all at power levels greater than 100kW - with the JHPSSL system as they prepare to integrate it with a pointing and tracking system for field testing.
'We don't know of another 100kW solid-state laser anywhere that has operated continuously for more than a few seconds,' said Steve Hixson, vice president of Advanced Concepts - Space and Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. The six hours of run time for JHPSSL doesn't include low-power operations used for routine maintenance, he added."

ASTAMIDS Proves It Can Detect IEDs From The Air In Near-Real Time

ASTAMIDS Proves It Can Detect IEDs From The Air In Near-Real Time: "Airborne Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Minefield Detection System (ASTAMIDS) demonstrated it can detect simulated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in a recently completed U.S. Army evaluation of the end to end system. The system was flown on the Northrop Grumman-owned MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned air system.
ASTAMIDS' laser also demonstrated its capability as a target designator for Hellfire missiles: in three missile firings, all missiles made direct hits on their targets.

In addition to detecting simulated IEDS, ASTAMIDS streaming telemetry data was collected, analyzed and processed on the ground using the new ASTAMIDS Ground Exploitation Station (AGES) processing equipment and software. AGES operators were able to identify target locations in near real-time.

"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

US seeks access to key Australian military bases

US seeks access to key Australian military bases: "INCREASING the number of American military personnel in Australia through more naval visits and training exercises will be the subject of a meeting between defence bureaucrats from the United States and Australia in Canberra next week.
The meeting was confirmed by one of the US's most powerful military commanders, the head of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Bob Willard.
The Pacific Command, which covers 36 countries and about half of the world from the US west coast, comprises about 330,000 troops and civilian staff.
Advertisement: Story continues below Admiral Willard is in Australia this week to tour defence bases that US forces could be given access to, including the Bradshaw Field Training Area in the Northern Territory and HMAS Stirling naval base on Garden Island in Western Australia."

Army Hosts 2010 DoD Space Experiments Review Board

Army Hosts 2010 DoD Space Experiments Review Board: "For the first time in the history of the Department of Defense's annual gathering of the Space Experiments Review Board (SERB), the U.S. Army served as the host for the event.

Under the leadership of the Technology Center of the Space and Missile Defense Command / Army Force Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT), the Army served as the logistical host for the 2010 SERB, whose membership consists of 16 board members from the Air Force, Army, Navy, NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and DoD staff agencies.

SMDC/ARSTRAT supported the DoD's Executive Agent for the Space Test Program (STP) and chair of the DoD SERB, Maj. Gen. John Hyten and his staff from the Directorate of Space Acquisition under the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition.

"SMDC/ARSTRAT's hosting of the SERB reflects our emphasis on increasing the effectiveness of evolving space-based technologies to support the tactical fight," said Steve Cayson, deputy director of Space and Cyberspace Technology at SMDC/ARSTRAT and SERB board member.

The SERB provides a means of evaluating and ranking space experiments from across the DoD that are requesting STP launch and/or on-orbit support services.

Through the Department of Defense's Space Test Program, administered by the Air Force Space Development & Test Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, space experiments are selected for an STP-arranged launch to space based on criteria such as the military relevance, mission requirements, technology transition plans, and experiment quality.

Due to the large number of participants across the R&D space community, SERB evaluation is a highly competitive process. The Space Test Program allocates their resources to acquire space flight opportunities for R&D payloads based upon the rankings established by the SERB.

This is a significant cost savings for many of the research facilities that cannot support the budget required for acquiring their own space launch capability, and it is usually the only means for getting important experiments into the space environment.

The 2010 SERB met in Huntsville, Ala., Nov. 1-5, 2010, at the Dynetics office facility in Research Park. It was attended by 160 people during the week.

This year's SERB was very well received by all of the board members due to several improvements initiated by SMDC/ARSTRAT and developed in coordination with Hyten's staff. The most significant improvement for the 2010 Board was to implement a paperless process which not only streamlined the multitude of administrative tasks from registration to experiment scoring, but also saved more than 24,000 pieces of paper that would have been printed using the previous evaluation system.

The paperless process, called the Collaborative Environment for Paperless SERB (CEPS), featured components such as electronic registration, presentation compilation and viewing, and automated scoring and data review. Hyten previewed the CEPS tool in August and was excited about the prospect of applying it for the SERB.

"Beyond saving all the paper, it will also save a lot of long nights by my staff that had to manually tally all the scores," Hyten said.

Hyten attended the week-long SERB, which demonstrated senior leader commitment to ensure the SERB and the space experiments maintain a degree of relevancy for the DoD and eventually transition some technology or process to improve DoD capabilities for the warfighter.

This year's board evaluated 77 experiments, under the following categories: Space Weather; Space Control/Space Situational Awareness; Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance Experiments; Spacecraft Subsystems/Technology Demo Experiments; and Other.

The Army sponsored six experiments from organizations such as SMDC/ARSTRAT, Walter Reed Research Institute and the United States Military Academy. Experiments included topics such as small-satellite imaging, power, control, and computing systems, wound healing, and soil moisture monitoring.

Hyten complemented SMDC/ARSTRAT for its excellent support for this year's SERB, stating that "the implementation of the new paperless process and the dedication of the entire SMDC team made this year's SERB a complete success."

"I'm very proud of the team we assembled," Cayson said. "It is first-class events like this SERB that continue to demonstrate the Army's engagement with the space community to bring relevant capabilities to our Soldiers."
"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Air Force's X-37B historical landing advances space vehicle technologies

Air Force's X-37B historical landing advances space vehicle technologies: "After 244 days in space since its launch April 22 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., the X-37B orbital test vehicle landing marks the Air Force's latest step in experimental test missions to improve the service's space capabilities, officials said here Dec. 6.

The 11,000-pound OTV made an autonomous landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Dec. 3 at 1:16 a.m., allowing the Air Force to begin evaluation of its functions as a satellite communications, weather and material technology asset, said Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space Programs Richard McKinney.

"We're in a very serious and important business of providing national security space capabilities for our nation," Mr. McKinney said. "Some of those capabilities are state-of-the-art, highly complex and very technical, ... and for its first flight, we're extremely pleased with the outcome of the X-37B."

Mr. McKinney said the ability to examine such high-tech technologies as space situational awareness, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and satellite development before they're made operational is a long-sought-after capability that the X-37B provides.

"Now we can test those capabilities long in advance of putting them in operational space," he said.

He added that the X-37B functions like other satellites with operators on Earth monitoring its travels -- with one fundamental difference.

"The vehicle was commanded to re-enter, and there's a pre-determined routine to fold up the solar array and then do its re-entry burn to reorient to the right position to survive the heat during re-entry," said Lt. Col. Troy Giese, the X-37B program manager for the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.

Lt. Col. Giese explained that there is no way to "take over" the vehicle upon landing, but 30th Space Wing range controllers at Vandenberg AFB could terminate the end of the flight had the X-37B broken any of the pre-determined safety boundaries.

"The ability to bring a small vehicle that's able to launch, operate and land autonomously is really quite an achievement," Mr. McKinney said. "Hopefully we'll be able to provide a new way for us to develop experiments and technologies for our national security."

Slated to launch in spring 2011, the X-37B OTV-2 orbit will incorporate lessons learned from OTV-1, Mr. McKinney said.

"The vehicle performed everything it was asked to do this particular flight, so now we need to see how the materials operated in this long duration and examine the vehicle, since it was designed to operate for long periods of time," he added."

Army unmanned aircraft soar in battle

Army unmanned aircraft soar in battle: "REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.-
Milestones seem to be all in a day's work for the employees who develop and sustain the Army's unmanned aircraft fleet.

First, there was a celebration last spring with Army and congressional officials at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., to commemorate reaching 1 million flight hours of unmanned aerial vehicles. Of those hours, about 89 percent were combat flight hours.

Then, in October, the 400-plus employees of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office, which is part of the Program Executive Office for Aviation, and its contractors and subcontractors topped that milestone by providing the development, technical, acquisition and maintenance support needed to reach 1 million combat flight hours for the Army's unmanned aircraft fleet. Of those 1 million hours, 900,000 were flown in the last three years.

"These systems continue to be in demand and reach worthwhile milestones. It won't be long and we will be averaging 25,000 hours a month of combat flight hours," said Col. Gregory Gonzalez, project manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Since 9/11, that unmanned aerial fleet - including the Shadow, which was flown for about 505,000 combat flight hours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn (Iraq) - has provided big dividends for the Amy's troops, reducing risk and increasing lethality.

"Before 9/11 there were very few systems," said Tim Owings, deputy project manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. "This milestone signifies for the unmanned aircraft systems industry that for the first time we are seeing complete acceptance of these systems."

"Vietnam and Korea were the helicopter wars," Owings explained. "The Middle East has largely been the unmanned system wars. We've gone from eight to 10 systems, to thousands of systems, and we've reached an unprecedented level of understanding of what these systems can do."

But when unmanned aerial vehicles were first introduced to the war fighter "there was a lack of confidence in unmanned aircraft, a lack of enthusiasm," Gonzalez said. "Today, there is a huge demand for the aircraft and what they can do."

"Unmanned aircraft systems have changed the way we fight and we won't ever fight without them again," he continued. "We are developing and providing what the warfighter needs. The demand for unmanned systems is created by the warfighter."

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office, headquartered at the Sparkman Center, is responsible for development, acquisition, production, fielding, training, product improvements and sustainment of the Army's Shadow, Raven, Hunter, Gray Eagle and other unmanned aerial vehicles.

"Reaching 1 million combat flying hours is not just a significant milestone for this project office, it's also a significant milestone for the Army. The significance of combat flight hours is not in the numbers, it's in what those numbers represent," Gonzalez said.

"Army forces have confidence in unmanned aircraft systems. They demand the use of these systems. They use them and they fly them to save lives and to overcome the enemy."

The Army has deployed 337 unmanned aircraft systems that have included more than 1,000 unmanned aircraft. Unmanned aircraft are used to provide Soldiers with a tactical view of the battlefield, allowing for visual contact of objects hidden by buildings, landscape features and other obstacles.

They are used for route reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. They help Soldiers search for improvised explosive devices, enhance situational awareness of enemy positions, identify and laser designate targets for a variety of weapons, provide knowledge of specific areas of combat and track the enemy.

The mission for unmanned aerial vehicles is growing to include weaponization, communications relay, specialty payloads and the linkage to manned aircraft.

"There are a number of ways unmanned systems protect and defend our Soldiers. They provide direct support to Soldiers on the ground and they can command where, when and how they want to use that support," Gonzalez said.

The colonel, who began his Army career in the light infantry, said Soldiers on route reconnaissance often face serious disadvantages that can be overcome with unmanned systems.

"First, they are put in great danger. Second, the information they do gather is dated by the time they come back. And, third, the words and sketches they use to describe what they've seen" might not reflect what is there once troops arrive, Gonzalez said.

"Now, at the brigade level, you can take the Ranger or Shadow, and at the division level the Gray Eagle, and they will give you up-to-the-minute pictures of the area," Gonzalez said. "They will stay on station, and they will be there during the attack and afterward. It's a night and day difference on how you operate and the effectiveness you have."

Unmanned aerial vehicles range from the small Raven to the Gray Eagle, and everything in between. The Raven is 4.2 pounds in weight, battery operated and hand launched and "can fly up to 90 minutes and provides capabilities to Soldiers at the lowest tactical level," Gonzalez said. The Gray Eagle weights 3,600 pounds and has a wing span of 60 feet "can fly for 30 hours at a time, and has numerous sensors, communications relay and four Hellfire missiles."

In addition, the Hunter, which is used heavily for intelligence gathering, is 1,950 pounds with a wing span of 34.5 feet. It has a flight time of 25 hours and can land on unimproved runways.

But the star of the Army's unmanned aircraft fleet is the Shadow, a 380-pound aircraft with a wing span of 14 feet, which can fly for five hours at a time. It has an automatic landing and takeoff system. Currently, there are about 100 Shadows fielded in brigade platoons, representing 90 percent of the requirement.

"The Shadow is our workhorse. It's the first program of record to be fielded to a brigade command and used 24 hours a day," Gonzalez said. "Every time an infantry brigade deploys, they take a Shadow platoon. At any one time, we probably have in excess of 25 Shadow systems in theater."

The Army assigns unmanned aircraft directly to tactical commanders at the squad, platoon, company, brigade and division levels. The systems are at the control of ground commanders and enlisted Soldiers who undergo about 25 weeks of training "to be the best in the world to operate unmanned systems," Owings said.

Unmanned aerial vehicles are also used to augment manned aviation systems. Currently, Apache helicopters can receive direct feedback of video taken by unmanned aircraft, Gonzalez said.

The systems are used to fly ahead of Apaches and provide video that helps to identify targets. That capability will be added to Kiowa helicopters in 2011.

"The video feeds into the cockpit and can be used to see the battle area while the helicopter stays out of range of enemy eyes," Gonzalez said. "It gives our aviators a huge advantage and is one of a number of ways we are learning to work together to be more effective."

In the future, unmanned aerial vehicles will be used to provide supplies, ammunition and food by air to ground troops. New technologies will include wide area surveillance.

New platforms call for unmanned rotary wing systems and a Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle that will guide other unmanned systems from the air. Plans call for being able to network several unmanned systems together in support of ground troops and aviators on the battlefield.

"We don't just develop systems referred to as 'stove piped' because they work in one specific area," Gonzalez said.

"We are developing an unmanned aircraft systems architecture that is completely interoperable and that limits the number of ground stations needed," he continued. "We want to be able to fly all the unmanned aircraft, Shadow, Hunter, and Gray Eagle, from one system. And we want to have a system that allows us to train our Soldiers to use one type of equipment to fly all these unmanned aircraft. We have an overarching and holistic view of building architecture."

The Army is also focused on improving the performance of its unmanned aerial vehicles.

"We will continue to make improvements to make them more reliable and to identify problems in flight that allow crews to return them and fix them before they crash so they can get them back up flying," Gonzalez said.

The popularity of unmanned aircraft systems has presented a few challenges. The demand for using the systems has required additional support from the project office and from the hardware itself.

"They have stretched our limit, and required us to sustain and provide maintenance to ensure availability 24 hours a day," Gonzalez said.

In addition, securing the manpower to operate the systems has been a challenge, Owings said.

"The single biggest factor limiting even more use of the systems is the lack of availability of Soldiers," Owings said. "We want to make the individual systems more efficient and the operators more efficient, and do more with fewer people with the next generation. We want a system where one operator can monitor missions of multiple aircraft."

The different conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to adaptations in the missions of unmanned aerial vehicles, Gonzalez said.

"Afghanistan is more of a challenge, particularly for smaller aircraft, because of the elevation they have to fly at. The payloads that work well in desert and open areas differ from the payloads that can be flown in triple canopy jungle. We want to develop systems that can work in every environment, or that we know how to adjust for different environments," he said.

Through the evolution of unmanned aerial vehicles, the Army has worked closely with its industry partners to push new technologies.

"The relationship with government and industry is really unique. We set the vision for what the Army needs to be successful. We gather information, integrate technology, keep the architecture open and we find the best of the breed to bring to our Soldiers," Owings said. "We want to make our systems more effective, more efficient, more lethal and, most importantly, more survivable."

Besides the Army's demand for unmanned aircraft systems, relationships with other government agencies interested in using unmanned aerial systems, such as the FBI and the U.S. Border Patrol, as well as allied nations will grow demand.

Owings said unmanned aircraft systems have been an Army success story that is continually evolving to address the threat and to continue the U.S. tradition of providing the best equipped and best trained Soldiers in the world.

"We will continue to see flight hours build based on what we're doing," Owings said. "The first generation of unmanned aircraft systems was focused on building the core of the program and increasing reliability. The second generation was focused on mission acceptance and expansion."

"The third generation is about autonomy and smart machines, and network capabilities where machines provide the information and humans make the life and death decisions on what to do," he said.

Though flight milestones are impressive, both Gonzalez and Owings see the value of unmanned aerial systems in the untold number of Soldier lives they have protected and saved.

"It's countless. You can't put a price on any life," Owings said. "But there are stories of manned pilot systems that have depended on our unmanned systems, of Soldiers on the ground warned of improvised explosive devices by an unmanned aerial vehicle, of Soldiers who averted an ambush because of what an unmanned aerial vehicle saw.

"It's unbelievably rewarding to be a part of that. But, at the same time, we wish there was even more we could do."


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Cameron eyes 2011 Afghan pullout - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

Cameron eyes 2011 Afghan pullout - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English: "The UK prime minister, visiting Afghanistan on an unannounced trip, has said British troops could start withdrawing from the country as early as next year.
David Cameron said improving conditions made him optimistic about the withdrawal.
'In terms of next year I think that it is possible. We have to deliver on the ground what's necessary. What I have seen today gives me cause of cautious optimism,' Cameron said on Tuesday.
Cameron has earlier made clear he hopes all British troops will be out of Afghanistan by 2015."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Boeing: Boeing to Provide A160T Unmanned Aircraft for US Marine Corps

Boeing: Boeing to Provide A160T Unmanned Aircraft for US Marine Corps: "Boeing announced that U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has awarded the company a $29.9 million contract for Cargo Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Services to support the U.S. Marine Corps. Boeing will provide two A160T Hummingbird unmanned vehicles, three ground control stations, spares, training and support.

The A160T aircraft designated for the contract are near completion on the Boeing production line that started up in March at the company's Mesa, Ariz., facility.

This government-owned, contractor-operated contract is the first for Hummingbirds from the company-funded production line. It calls for a period of predeployment operations at a military facility in the continental United States, followed by options for a six-month deployment to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

"We look forward to working with NAVAIR and the Marines to provide this important capability to warfighters on the front lines," said Vic Sweberg, Unmanned Airborne Systems director for Boeing. "The A160T has proven its ability to autonomously deliver cargo to forward operating bases in austere conditions in a demonstration setting, and we are confident in its ability to do the same in battlefield conditions."

This past March, under contract from the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, Boeing demonstrated the A160T's ability to deliver at least 2,500 pounds of cargo from one simulated forward-operating base to another base 75 nautical miles away in less than the required six hours. The simulated mission delivered 1,250-pound sling loads over two 150-nautical-mile round trips, with the A160T operating autonomously on a preprogrammed mission.

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Boeing: Boeing Receives US Army Contract for Tactical Intelligence Aircraft

Boeing: Boeing Receives US Army Contract for Tactical Intelligence Aircraft: "Boeing today announced that it has received a two-year engineering and manufacturing development contract for the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) from the U.S. Army. EMARSS is a manned, airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system. It will provide a persistent capability to detect, locate, classify/identify and track surface targets in nearly all weather conditions, day or night, with a high degree of timeliness and accuracy.
The initial contract covers the engineering and manufacturing development of four aircraft, with options for two additional aircraft, six low rate initial production aircraft, and interim contractor logistics support. The total performance of the contract, if all options are exercised, is 42 months.
Boeing’s EMARSS will consist of a commercial derivative aircraft, the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350. The aircraft will be equipped with an electro-optic and infrared full-motion video sensor; a communications intelligence collection system; an aerial precision guidance system; line-of-sight tactical and beyond line-of-sight communications suites; two operator workstations, and a self-protection suite."

My Way News - Unmanned US spacecraft returns after 7-month trip

My Way News - Unmanned US spacecraft returns after 7-month trip: "The U.S. Air Force's secrecy-shrouded X-37B unmanned spaceplane returned to Earth early Friday after more than seven months in orbit on a classified mission, officials said.
The winged craft autonomously landed at at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Vandenburg spokesman Jeremy Eggers said.
'It's very exciting,' Eggers said of the 1:16 a.m. PST landing.
The X-37B was launched by an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on April 22, 2010, with a maximum mission duration of 270 days.
Also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, the Boeing-built spacecraft was originally a NASA project before being taken over by the military.
The Air Force has not said whether it carried anything in its cargo bay, but insists the primary purpose of the mission was to test the craft itself."

Keen Sword exercise sharpens US-Japan alliance

Keen Sword exercise sharpens US-Japan alliance: "About 10,500 U.S. servicemembers and their Japan Self Defense Force counterparts are participating in exercise Keen Sword 2011, Dec. 3 through 10, on military installations throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa and in the water surrounding Japan.

Keen Sword is a regularly-scheduled exercise designed to strengthen U.S. and Japanese military interoperability and meet mutual defense objectives, according to exercise planners.

"Keen Sword will cap the 50th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. alliance as an 'alliance of equals,'" said Maj. William Vause, the chief of operational plans, training and exercises. "It is the largest bilateral exercise between the United States and Japan military forces. (The exercise) will better enhance both of our countries' readiness to respond to varied crisis situations."

Training events include integrated air and missile defense, base security and force protection, close-air support, live-fire training, maritime defense and interdiction, and search and rescue.

"Guardian Angel rescue specialists delivering combat medical care under extreme duress, have very unique ground focused rescue techniques," said Capt. Robert L. Wilson, the 31st Rescue Squadron team commander. "Throughout Keen Sword, the 31st (RS) and 33rd (RS) will be employing and sharing techniques with our JSDF partners. Focused mission sets will be maritime rescue, high-angle procedures, and extrication from vehicles."

Keen Sword is also designed to allow Japanese and U.S. servicemembers to practice and evaluate their coordination procedures and interoperability requirements.

"We hope to increase both U.S. and Japanese understanding of our mutual capabilities and rescue limitations," Captain Wilson said. "An exercise like Keen Sword is invaluable for presenting opportunities to establish closer host nation friendships and practicing interoperability for the future."

Keen Sword is not designed to respond to, or mirror, any actual world events, nor is it directed at any nation. This training between Japan and the U.S. has been a routine, recurring event for many years, Major Vause said.

"The goal of Keen Sword is to increase and improve our bilateral relationship to further enhance the Japan and U.S. alliance, and to provide a realistic training environment that allows JSDF and U.S. forces to respond to a wide range of situations," he said.
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Phalanx Weapon System Completes Live-Fire Demonstration

Phalanx Weapon System Completes Live-Fire Demonstration:

'The system successfully tracked, engaged and destroyed nine inert mortars. MLPWS also maneuvered more than 28 miles on paved and off-road conditions without any damage to the system. All MLPWS functions were integrated with the HEMTT platform and performed flawlessly.'
In the MLPWS configuration, Phalanx uses a 20 mm M61A1 Gatling gun that fires M-940 self-destruct rounds at a rate of 4,500 shots per minute."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Education & Opinion

Education & Opinion: "If North Korea were an island, it would now be under a strict blockade—minimum punishment for sinking a South Korean warship and killing 46 sailors in March, for building an illegal nuclear enrichment plant, and for killing South Korean soldiers and civilians with last week's sudden artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong island.
But North Korea isn't an island. It shares a long border with China and a short one with Russia. The so-called China-North Korea Friendship Bridge connects, by road and rail, Dandong on the Chinese side and SinĊ­iju on the North Korean side. Without the traffic it carries—everything from coal, petroleum products and fancy foods to the Chinese-built locomotives that pull North Korean trains—the dictatorship of the Kim dynasty could not long endure."

X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle lands at Vandenberg AFB

X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle lands at Vandenberg AFB: "The U.S. Air Force's first unmanned re-entry spacecraft landed at Vandenberg AFB (CA) Dec. 3 at 1:16 a.m.

The X-37B, named Orbital Test Vehicle 1, which launched April 22 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., conducted on-orbit experiments for more than 220 days during its maiden voyage. It fired its orbital maneuver engine in low-earth orbit to perform an autonomous reentry before landing.

The X-37B is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft. Managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the X-37B program performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies.

"Today's landing culminates a successful mission based on close teamwork between the 30th Space Wing, Boeing and the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office," said Lt. Col. Troy Giese, the X-37B program manager from the AFRCO. "We are very pleased that the program completed all the on-orbit objectives for the first mission."

OTV-1's de-orbit and landing mark the transition from the on-orbit demonstration phase to a refurbishment phase for the program.

An Air Force launch team is preparing to launch the next X-37B, OTV-2, in Spring 2011 aboard an Atlas V booster."

Friday, December 3, 2010

What Russia’s Stealth Fighter Developments Mean for America | The Heritage Foundation

What Russia’s Stealth Fighter Developments Mean for America | The Heritage Foundation: "Russia’s development of the PAK FA fifth-generation stealth fighter could challenge American air supremacy, especially if Russia sells the PAK FA to its usual buyers of military equipment. In the U.S., closure of the F-22 production line has severely limited America’s ability to respond to PAK FA proliferation by building more F-22s and potentially selling them to U.S. allies. The U.S. needs to revise its assessment of U.S. air superiority needs and then explore ways to modernize and strengthen the U.S. tactical fighter force."