Friday, October 26, 2012

Romney's Defense Proposals 'Mostly Bluster'

Romney's Defense Proposals -- More Troops, Bigger Navy -- 'Mostly Bluster'

Governor Romney  wants to spend 4 percent of America's GDP on the Pentagon – but he doesn't seem to know why. The number would be the same regardless of America's economic state or what our enemies are doing.

Meanwhile, Gordon Adams, who oversaw Pentagon budgets at the Office of Management and Budget under Clinton, has warned that spending at that level will further slow our economy by adding to the deficit.

But don't be deceived – there's a trick up the governor's sleeve.

According to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments Romney's desire to match Pentagon spending to 4 percent of our GDP would cost up to $2.3 trillion over eight years. To put that in perspective: last year we invested about $58 billion across all U.S. transportation improvements. Or to compare foreign policy tools: the annual budget for the entire State Department and USAID is about $50 billion. Either cost is about 1/45th the amount Governor Romney wants to invest in the military. And that doesn't count everything we spend on defense since nuclear weapons, for instance, are paid for by the Department of Energy, and war costs are not included in the Pentagon's base budget.

Where would that money go? The governor has been vague, but it appears that he would add about 100,000 troops to our armed forces – though he has not said what they would be used for. Nor has he mentioned any changes to Tricare, the health care system whose costs are eating up a vast portion of the Pentagon's budget.

Romney also wants to add more ships to our navy, building 15 a year instead of our current 9. Some naval expansion may make sense – but as usual, Romney doesn't indicate why he's doing it. If Russia is our main enemy, as he has said, well – their warm-water ports are pretty meager. He may be trying to inhibit China – they did just get their first aircraft carrier. But they currently lack the know-how to land planes on it.

In fact, Governor Romney's proposal is mostly bluster. He's actually likely to preside over the greatest post-Cold War drawdown in our nation's defense. That's because he hasn't had the character to fight his own party as they threaten $500 billion in additional cuts to the Pentagon.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Versatility critical to future Army capabilities

The Army is looking ahead as it prepares for the security challenges of 2020 and beyond.

During the 2012 Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, senior leaders highlighted the value of both adaptability and versatility as the Army focuses on this critical transition period.

"Every now and then someone will ask me about the Army of 2020 and [how it will look]. It's not an end state; it's about transition," said Lt. Gen. Keith Walker, deputy commanding general of Futures and director of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's Army Capabilities Integration Center.

While speaking at an Institute of Land Warfare panel during the first day of the conference, Walker discussed where the Army is headed and the changes coming to how it will "shoot, move and communicate" in the future.

"Without a doubt, the education and training of our force -- especially our leaders -- is pretty darn important," Walker said. "If we want to have an Army that can adapt to the unknown, we need to invest in our young leaders."

During the panel discussion, the ARCIC director explained the complexity of the current operational environment and discussed how the Army plans to conduct training, education and leader development for future forces.

"The Army Campaign of Learning is very importantly linked to how we're going to transition to the future," Walker said, explaining how the Army identifies future training and education requirements. "Through a series of experiments, war games, seminars and studies, we are able to find solutions to the issues facing Soldiers in formations," he added.

The fiscal year 2013 Campaign of Learning, led by ARCIC's Future Warfare Division, builds upon the insights of the fiscal year 2012 campaign that ended in September. One of the highlights from the past campaign was recognition of the value that regionally aligned (theater committed) forces will provide.

"[Regionally aligned forces] are the best means to provide forces that would be better trained and better aware of the operating environment we may put them in," Walker said. "That was a big lesson we learned as we did the war games and seminars over the last year."

Looking ahead, Walker said the lessons learned throughout the past 10 years will also greatly inform the Army on the right direction to meet the future needs of the nation and provide versatile forces across a wide range of military operations.

"Conflict is a human endeavor, and one lesson learned is to adjust our doctrine, training and education," Walker said. "We need to ask ourselves, 'How can we help our Soldiers perform better?' We have to ask ourselves if there is a way to help our Soldiers learn faster and mature faster?"

The ARCIC director noted that by updating Army doctrine, leadership development and education, informed by insights from ongoing Campaign of Learning events, and working with joint partners, the Army will be prepared to adapt to unknown future operations.

"The fundamental characteristic of the Army is operational adaptability," Walker said, highlighting a key point from the Army Capstone Concept. "Operational adaptability requires flexible organizations and flexible institutions."

Walker wrapped up his discussion with his view that the Army of the future will need to be adaptable, flexible and versatile -- noting these were characteristics the Army has always and will always provide to the nation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Abrams Tanks to Get ECP1 Upgrades

Over the past decade the only thing that has been able to slow the Army's premier combat vehicle, hasn't been enemies on the battlefield, but rather the technological advancements added to the platform. While every vehicle is designed to have Space, Weight, and Power, or SWaP, margin for incremental improvements, recent upgrades made to the Abrams M1A2 SEP V2 have left little margin for future improvements.

"The Abrams main battle tank was developed over three decades ago in response to a major Soviet threat. We were fortunate that engineers had the foresight to design in enough SWaP margin to enable us to host new capabilities needed during our recent missions in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Lt. Col. William Brennan, product manager for Abrams.

To help alleviate SWaP constraints, the Army has launched the Abrams Engineering Change Proposal, or ECP, program designed to buy back as much SWaP as possible by redesigning and modernizing many elements of the tank. This ECP is a modification to the system that leaves the essential capability unchanged. The Abrams ECP program will help ensure the Army can seamlessly incorporate other programs of record into the Abrams well into the future, without degrading operational performance.

"Right now the electrical power is in short supply on the tank. The centerpiece of the ECP 1 upgrade will be to restore lost power margin through the integration of a larger generator, improved slip ring, battery management system and a new power generation and distribution system," said Brennan.

Other major Abrams ECP upgrades will focus on communications, data transmission and processing, and survivability. The communications upgrade will integrate the Joint Tactical Radio System, or JTRS, and Handheld, Manpack, & Small Form Fit, or HMS, into the Abrams, replacing the current single-channel ground and airborne radio system, known as SINCGARS.

The ability to incorporate the Army's network is also a vital part of the ECP1 effort. To address network requirements the Abrams will integrate a gigabit Ethernet databus to allow greater data processing and transmission. The modified slip ring on the turret will also provide the ability to transmit larger amounts of data into the turret, in addition to providing more power.

"The ECP1 upgrade will posture the tank to accept the Army network components in the near term, while building the necessary margin to accept future capabilities in the decades to come," added Brennan.

While the Abrams remains the dominate vehicle on the battlefield, the ECP program will make it more formidable by including a new armor solution as well as an updated version of the counter-remote-control improvised explosive device electronic warfare, or CREW, system.

Initial production of tanks with ECP1 upgrades is slated to begin in 2017.

Monday, October 22, 2012

US, Israeli troops start major joint missile drill

US, Israeli troops start major joint missile drill

Israeli and US troops were on Sunday beginning a vast missile defence exercise called Austere Challenge 12, in what was hailed as their largest-ever joint military operation, officials said.  The exercise, which involves 3,500 personnel from the US European Command (US EUCOM) and 1,000 Israeli troops and is expected to last three weeks, is likely to send a clear signal to Tehran over its disputed nuclear drive, which must of the West believes is a weapons drive.  "Austere Challenge 12 is the largest aerial defence exercise to take place between the two militaries," an Israeli military statement said.  The long-planned operation comes as the world grapples with the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme, and as a bloody civil war in Syria threatens to set the region alight, although Israel and US officials have said there is no connection.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

US, Indian Navies to Hold INDIAEX 2012

The U.S. and Indian navies will conduct exercise INDIAEX 2012, a bilateral exercise designed to demonstrate cooperation between the U.S. submarine rescue system and Indian submarines.

The exercise is scheduled from Oct. 19 to Nov. 13, and will take place off the coast of Mumbai, India.

Four Indian navy submarines are scheduled to participate with the U.S. Navy's Undersea Rescue Command (URC) to practice rescue scenarios which demonstrate URC's Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System (SRDRS). The SRDRS will mate with Indian submarines for a transfer of personnel from the simulated distressed submarine to the rescue vessel. The at-sea portion of the exercise is scheduled from Oct. 30 to Nov. 6.

This will be the first time exercising the compatibility of a U.S. Navy SRDRS with Indian navy submarines.

"INDIAEX 2012 is critical to building a strong and sustainable partnership between the United States and India," said Cmdr. Dave Lemly, commanding officer of URC. "Conducting exercises like INDIAEX will allow India and the U.S. to continue to benefit from the military-to-military and security cooperation program."

URC is the only U.S. military command that conducts deep ocean submarine rescue. URC is a hybrid organization consisting of approximately 120 personnel from active duty, Reserve, government civilians and contractors.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Army fields next-generation force protection radar

The Army has begun fielding new radar systems to protect forward-deployed forces.

Several next-generation, mobile Counter Target Acquisition, or CTA radar systems are now able to provide Soldiers with a 360-degree protective envelope or warning capability against incoming enemy rocket, artillery and mortar fire, service officials said Oct. 10, at a Pentagon display.

The radar systems on display, the AN/TPQ-53 truck-mounted mobile radar system, and the Humvee-mounted AN/TPQ-50 Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar, incorporate a series of technological upgrades to prior iterations of deployed radar capability developed through Army and industry science and technology efforts.

The radars work by pulsing electromagnetic signals or radio waves across a particular area in various wavelengths and in various directions; once these radio waves bounce off of or hit an object in their path, they send back a return signal or small amount of electromagnetic energy, allowing radar operators to determine the range, elevation, size and speed of incoming projectiles.

"These radars systems give a lot of capability to commanders in the field, especially since we are not fighting a linear fight anymore,"said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Daniel McDonald, Training and Doctrine Command capability developer and requirements staff officer. "We've got a non-contiguous battlefield where the enemy can pop up anywhere. Commanders love the tactical flexibility that this gives them."

Also, the CTA radar capability is able to predict the point of impact of a given incoming round by calculating or assessing its ballistic trajectory, said Lt. Col. Robert Thomas, product manager for radars. This information, determined with the help of specially engineered computer algorithms, allows radar operators to determine the point of origin and estimated point of impact related to incoming hostile fire.

The technological maturation of both the Q-53 and Q-50 radar systems, described as the cornerstone programs of record for the future, were heavily informed by an S&T effort beginning in 2002, called Multi-Mission Radar Advance Technology Objective, said Kris Gardner, director for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence Portfolio, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Research and Technology.

The goal of this effort, which involved Army and industry scientists and experts, was to develop a single mobile radar system able to simultaneously perform Air Defense Surveillance, Air Defense Fire Control, Counter Target Acquisition and Air Traffic Service missions under all geographical and operational conditions, Gardner explained.

"Many of the hardware, software and processing advances developed and demonstrated in the MMR S&T effort paved the way for the current Q-53 and Q-50 displayed Oct. 10," Gardner added.

The Oct. 10 Pentagon radar display was organized to demonstrate the Army's program of record CTA capability, Thomas said. At the same time, these CTA capabilities with Product Manager Radars are transferring management from Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors to PEO Missiles and Space.

"This alignment presents a lot of opportunities for development because it will organize air defense radars under the same umbrella as the counter-fire radars," said Thomas.

Both the Q-50 and Q-53 radars are configured to integrate with ground-based Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar systems designed to protect forward operating bases. C-RAM provides an integrated system with Fire Control Radar capability engineered to detect, track and destroy incoming hostile fire.

The Q-53 is a C-130 transportable, truck-mounted Counter Target Acquisition radar system configured to provide 360-degree threat detection capability, Thomas and McDonald explained.

The Q-53 Program of Record, which achieved a formal milestone C production decision in February, was informed by earlier or legacy versions of a similar technology called the AN/TPQ-36 and AN/TPQ/37 radar systems.

"We improved the software and improved the overall hardware of the system, incorporating lessons learned from the earlier systems," McDonald explained.

"We developed more robust gears, a rotating platform, an automated leveling system and an improved air cooled system."

In fact, some of these technical improvements to the Q-53 substantially reduce the logistical footprint of the system, lowering the life-cycle costs by millions of dollars and making it easier to operate and transport quickly on a C-130 aircraft, Thomas added.

Previous versions of the capability, such as the AN/TPQ-36, required three trailers, three vehicles and a six-man crew; the Q-53 requires a four or five-man crew and includes a 60-kilowatt transportable generator and one support shelter vehicle, Thomas explained.

"This system is easier to emplace, especially in a high-optempo environment," McDonald said. "Now it is all automated, so it reduces wear and tear on the crew and system. Also, the Q-53 enhances force protection. It uses an encrypted wireless network able to reach up to 1,000 meters away, so I can put myself in a tactical operations center, or TOC, or nearby shelter."

While the Q-53 is configured to perform CTA radar missions locating the origin and impact of incoming fire, the hardware and software are engineered such that they could accommodate technical advances in capability as technology matures, Thomas said.

For instance, it is possible that the Q-53 could, through software upgrades, incorporate the ability to detect larger threats such as UAS, Cruise missiles and rotary or fixed-wing aircraft, Thomas said.

The Q-50 LCMR program of record, which emerged out of a quick reaction capability effort to quickly deploy radar able to protect forward-deployed forces on the move, has greater range capabilities and is more accurate than previous models of the technology, the Q-48 and Q-49 LCMRs. QRCs represent efforts to quickly get capability-enhancing technology to theater while simultaneously harvesting Soldier input and refining requirements for a traditional program of record.

"The Q-50 represents the third iteration of LCMR technology. It is designed so that it can mount multiple versions of the HMMWV or be mounted on a tripod," McDonald added.

The Q-50 radar, now being delivered to the 101st Airborne Division, is effective out to a range of greater than 10 kilometers and a minimum range of 500 meters against rockets, artillery and mortar fire, Thomas explained.

At 500 pounds and 3.6 feet in diameter, the Q-50 is designed to be mobile, lightweight and rapidly deployable in support of early entry operations; it can be powered up by a 5-kilowatt generator or draw power from a Humvee. The cylinder-like radar structure electronically steers electromagnetic pulses across a 360-degree protective envelope, Thomas said.

"We can get this capability on the ground rapidly. Getting Counter-fire capability on a drop zone is very important to secure an area. You want to know where the threats may be," said McDonald.

The Q-50 is engineered to work in tandem with and complement the longer-range, truck-mounted Q-53 radar by filling potential holes in its coverage areas, Thomas explained.

US, Israel prepare for major joint military drill

US, Israel prepare for major joint military drill

US troops and equipment have begun arriving in Israel ahead of what a senior air force officer on Wednesday called "the largest exercise in the history of the longstanding military relationship between the US and Israel." He did not give precise dates, saying only that it would begin towards the end of October or early November and last "about three weeks." Lieutenant General Craig Franklin told journalists in a telephone briefing that the drill, "Austere Challenge 2012" (AC12) was defensive and unrelated to the Iran nuclear crisis, other Middle East developments or elections in the United States and Israel. "While the scenario is driven by the overall situation in the Middle East, AC12 is not related to any specific current event," he said. "AC12 is not related to national elections nor to any perceived tensions in the Middle East."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Home cost of wars

Home cost of wars

by Arnaud De BorchgraveWashington (UPI) Oct 12, 2012

The American Society of Civil Engineers issued a cry of alarm five years ago in the form of three separate report cards on the state of the nation's infrastructure in 15 major categories -- from bridges to rail lines, pipelines, dams, waterways, highways and all other publicly regulated facilities. Steam pipes under Manhattan are almost 100 years old and underground explosions occur with dangerous regularity, sending geysers of hot steam skywards. U.S. infrastructure repairs and new projects have been repeatedly postponed as defense requirements and two wars over the past 11 years took priority.

Friday, October 12, 2012

First female fighter pilot becomes first female wing commander

First female fighter pilot becomes first female wing commander

The woman who became the Air Force's first female fighter pilot in 1993 is adding another first to her list of achievements. Col. Jeannie Leavitt has become the first woman to take command of an Air Force combat fighter wing Friday in North Carolina.
During her 20 years in the Air Force, Leavitt says she's familiar with being in its leading ranks of women, but believes she has earned her position through performance, not favoritism.
"It helped that once we started flying, people began to see that we were there because of our abilities and not our gender," Leavitt said in an exclusive telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I don't see it as a `first' sort of thing. I see it as an incredible opportunity, an incredible honor, to lead a unit with its history and heritage."
Leavitt has logged more than 2,500 hours in the F-15 Strike Eagle, including 300 hours flying in combat primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 45-year-old from St. Louis, Mo., takes over the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, one of only three units of F-15Es, the service's premier fighter jets. Leavitt will be in charge of the wing's 5,000 active duty men and women, with 12,000 civilians in the base population.

Read more:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Raytheon to develop next-generation power technology for naval systems

Raytheon to develop next-generation power technology for naval systems

Raytheon has been awarded two Phase 2 contracts under the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) Compact Power Conversion Technologies (CPCT) program. The program aims to deliver better fuel economy and architectural flexibility for critical mission systems on future surface ships and submarines. "As the U.S. Navy develops the platforms and mission systems that ready our warfighters for requirements of the future, there's an increasing need to provide more efficient and more capable power systems," said Joe Biondi, vice president of Advanced Technology for Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business. "Our continued power technology innovation supports our customers' long-term goals and ensures warfighters can leverage the most advanced technologies possible."

NATO names Allen to succeed Stavridis as supreme commander

NATO names Allen to succeed Stavridis as supreme commander

US General John Allen will take over as NATO supreme commander and be replaced as head of alliance forces in Afghanistan by Joseph Dunford, currently US Marine Corps deputy commander, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday. Allen, who succeeds Admiral James Stavridis in a post traditionally held by a US officer, led the NATO campaign in Afghanistan from July 2011. Panetta made the announcement after a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels. Both nominations by President Barack Obama are subject to US Senate confirmation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

'Vortex surfing' could be revolutionary

 Migrating birds, NASCAR drivers and Tour de France bicyclists already get it. And now the Air Force is thinking about flying gas-guzzling cargo aircraft in formation -- 'dragging' off one another -- on long-haul flights across the oceans.

Flight tests with C-17s "vortex surfing" at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Sept. 6 and Oct. 2, have demonstrated potentially large savings of fuel and money by doing what geese do naturally. Tests show that flying in formation might be smarter than flying alone for Airmen, and not just for birds.

As one effort in the Air Force drive to reduce its overall fuel consumption, vortex surfing may be the wave of the future.

"The concept, formally known as Surfing Aircraft Vortices for Energy, or $AVE, involves two or more aircraft flying together for a reduced drag effect like what you see with a flock of geese," said Dr. Donald Erbschloe, the Air Mobility Command chief scientist.

A series of test flights involving two aircraft at a time, allowed the trailing aircraft to "surf" the vortex of the lead aircraft, positioning itself in the updraft to get additional lift without burning extra fuel.

Early indications from the tests promise a reduction of fuel consumption by up to 10 percent for the duration of a flight. Over long distances and with even a small fraction of Air Mobility Command's average of more than 80,000 flights a year, the fuel and cost savings could reach into the millions of dollars, experts say.

Next up: The Air Force Research Laboratory will analyze the data from for possible applications to other aircraft on a variety of missions.

Dr. Erbschloe said larger air mobility aircraft like the C-17 can fly in formations that are potentially easy to maintain and which do not require the planes to be exceptionally close together.

"The test flights were flown at longitudinal separations of 4,000 or greater," said William Blake, one of the key developers of $AVE at the AFRL.

According to AFRL officials, modified C-17 formation flight system software enabled precise auto-pilot and auto-throttle systems to ensure the trailing aircraft achieved and maintained proper flight position without active assistance from pilots.

"The autopilot held the position extremely well -- even close to the vortex," said Capt. Zachary Schaffer, an aircraft commander on one of the test flights. "The flight conditions were very safe; this was as hands-off as any current formation flying we do."

Other pilots found differing levels of ride quality and discovered some flight test points might be difficult for long-endurance flights.

"The key will be finding the right balance of quality for improving fuel efficiency and ride," said Maj. Eric Bippert, another aircraft commander on one of the test flights.

Bippert said being a part of the test program with so many talented engineers was a remarkable experience, and the concept could eventually impact global air transportation, overall.

"AMC has done really well with fuel efficiency at the operational level," said Erbschloe. "The command has worked to gain efficiencies from the 'low-hanging fruit' such as optimizing flight routing, reducing weight where possible, and by not carrying excess fuel. $AVE offers significant efficiency gains, if employed in concert with these initiatives."

He said early indications show the tests meet AMC criteria of the concept regarding safety and minimization of aircrew and aircraft strain while also being operationally sensible with a viable return on investment.

"AMC consumes 20 percent of the fuel used by the overall federal government, so we're constantly looking for pragmatic ways to improve our fuel efficiency," said Erbschloe.

"Assured energy advantage for our Air Force is only possible through revolutionary energy initiatives like $AVE," said Dr. Mark Maybury, Air Force chief scientist, upon hearing the results of the tests.

The $AVE concept was previously highlighted in the 2011 Energy Horizons study, sponsored by the Secretary of the Air Force and chaired by Maybury.

The tests were the culmination of an ongoing, combined effort between AMC, the AFRL, the 412th Test Wing, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Boeing Company and NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.

Navy Evaluating Second Electromagnetic Railgun Prototype

The Office of Naval Research's (ONR) Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun program is evaluating the second of two industry railgun prototype launchers at a facility in Dahlgren, Va., officials announced Oct 9.

The EM Railgun launcher is a long-range naval weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of traditional gun propellants such as explosive chemicals. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500-5,600 mph.

The Navy is pursuing development of the launcher system through two industry teams -- General Atomics and BAE Systems -- to reduce risk in the program and to foster innovation in next-generation shipboard weapons.

"It's exciting to see how two different teams are both delivering very relevant but unique launcher solutions," said Roger Ellis, EM Railgun program manager.

General Atomics has delivered its prototype launcher to Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division, where engineers have engaged in a series of tests similar to the evaluations conducted on the prototype demonstrator made by BAE Systems that arrived Jan. 30.

"We're evaluating and learning from both prototype designs, and we'll be folding what we learn from the evaluations into the next phase of the program," said Ellis.

Both General Atomics and BAE Systems are commencing work on concept designs for a next-generation prototype EM Railgun capable of increased firing rates. This includes continued development of automatic projectile loading systems and thermal management systems for the barrel. Officials plan to evaluate the concept designs at the end of the year.

The EM Railgun is an Innovative Naval Prototype being managed by ONR's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department. The two prototype demonstrators incorporate advanced composites and improved barrel life performance resulting from development efforts on laboratory railgun systems located at the Naval Research Laboratory and NSWC-Dahlgren Division.

The EM Railgun laboratory demonstrator based at NSWC-Dahlgren Division fired a world record setting 33-megajoule shot in December 2010. One megajoule of energy is equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 miles per hour.

New Carrier Launch and Recovery System Takes UAV Into the Future

A shipboard-capable system designed to support both the launch and recovery of the Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) successfully completed final demonstration flight testing Sept. 27 at a testing range in eastern Oregon, the Navy announced today.

Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Compact Launch and Recovery System (CLRE) will provide a small-scale solution for the unmanned surveillance craft's operations.

"This system's shipboard capability is unique," said John Kinzer, who manages ONR's Air Vehicle Technology Program. "It's more compact than other systems, so you can install it on a small special operations boat-or save additional space on a larger ship, since space is always at a premium on any vessel."

The Scan Eagle is designed to provide the warfighter with advanced capabilities for real-time situational awareness and force protection information.

CLRE uses a compressed-air launcher to shoot the Scan Eagle into the sky. Once airborne, the UAV transmits real-time electro-optic and infrared (IR) imagery to a ground station where it can be recorded for analysis.

To land, small hooks on the UAV's wings catch hold of rope suspended from the system's extendable mast and arms. Once the mission is completed, the whole system can be folded up, like a folding chair or table, for storage.

Developed by Insitu Inc., the system is smaller and lighter than the current SuperWedge launcher and Skyhook recovery systems combined. Its design accommodates all weight classes of the company's Scan Eagle UAV design, including a model equipped with an IR camera, and provides the same air vehicle successful recovery rate.

The system currently is trailer mounted for testing and ease of towing behind ground vehicles, but Insitu is exploring modifications of this version for rapid deployments. Its turntable base allows for mounting to a variety of integration structures.

Today, it is primarily the U.S. Marine Corps that uses Scan Eagle, but other forces - including the U.S. Coast Guard-also could have uses for the unit. Coast Guard officials attended testing last week.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Navy Bets On Arleigh Burkes To Sail Until 2072

Navy Bets On Arleigh Burkes To Sail Until 2072

These destroyers are and will long remain the Navy's mainstay. The Arleigh Burke class to which the Murphy belongs is built to carry the Aegis anti-aircraft system that defends the entire fleet, including the prized aircraft carriers. The Chief of Naval Operations himself, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, has explicitly said that the Navy is building the smaller, cheaper Littoral Combat Ships to take on supporting missions, so the fleet can free up destroyers to face the most dangerous and high-tech foes: submarines, long-range missiles, jet fighter-bombers, and more, all integrated into "anti-access" networks like those being developed by the Chinese. Updating the Arleigh Burkes to keep up with the threat will be a heroic effort.

Central to those upgrades is a radically new radar, the Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR), using a technology already proven in aircraft called an "active phased array" or Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA). The "passive" SPY-1 arrays on current destroyers draw their power from a single transmitter inside the ship; "active" systems have hundreds or thousands of tiny transmitters built into the array's surface, which lets them generate a larger number of more powerful beams, all individually scanning for targets.