Friday, March 30, 2012

Air Force Discusses F-22 Raptor Life Support Problem

Air Force leaders provided an update on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board study into the F-22 Raptor life support systems and flight operations during a briefing in the Pentagon March 29.

Retired Gen. Gregory Martin, an aviator and a former commander of two major commands, chaired the nine member SAB team which studied the aircrafts' on-board oxygen generation systems and briefed its findings and recommendations in trying to determine a root cause for pilots experiencing unexplained physiological events with the F-22 Raptor.

"From April 2008 until May 2011, the Air Force experienced 14 physiological incidents with the fleet of F-22s," Martin said. "Each incident was investigated, and of those incidents, 10 did not reveal a root cause."

It was the unexplained nature of those incidents that gave the Air Force concern and led the Secretary of the Air Force to ask for a broad area review which the SAB conducted, he added.

"We were unable to determine a root cause, but we were able to put in place the proper safety measures and risk mitigation techniques that would allow the F-22 fleet to return to ensure the integrity of the life support system," Martin said. "We went from ground test to flight test to a return to fly phase, and moving into a transition phase."

The advisory board made nine findings and 14 recommendations based on a seven-month study of the F-22's evolution - from conception and acquisition through current flight operations - which the Air Force can use to move forward.

Martin said the findings and recommendations fall into three main areas; the acquisition processes and policies, the organizational structure recommendations and equipment recommendations to not only protect the pilots and crew members today but also for the future.

"Some of the things we recommended give us a much better understating of the pilots' performance in those environments that we have not operated in before," Martin said. "It will further our understanding of the aviation physiology of operating in that environment."

Air Force leaders remain steadfast that the F-22 is a fully combat capable aircraft and they have every confidence in its current and future performance.

"Since September of last year we've flown over 10,000 sorties," said Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, Air Combat Command Director of Operations. "We've had a 99.9 percent effective flying rate relative to physiological incidents, but that is not good enough. We will not rest; we will not stop; we will not end this journey we are on until we carry that 99 percent decimal point to the farthest right that we can."

The Air Force is well into the implementation phase of the recommendations from the SAB team and continues to aggressively pursue the root cause of these unexplained incidents, he said.

"Let there be no doubt that safety is paramount to the men and women who operate (the F-22) and the commander's who command them," Lyon said. "When we wear this uniform there is risk, there is risk inherent in aviation and risk inherently in conducting military operations.

Pilot safety has and always will remain a priority for ACC, Lyon added.

"We have taken a 9-1-1 call approach" Lyon said. "We have instructed and talked to our members in the field; whenever you get any indication that something may not be right, knock it off, the flying equivalent of calling 9-1-1 and terminate the flight. All eyes are focused on you and the safe recovery of your aircraft."

When a physiological event occurs, the pilot is met by a medical team to care for the pilot and take additional tests and send the tests to the lab, and so far nothing remarkable has come back from the lab tests we've analyzed, he said.

"When it comes to safety, no one second guesses the pilot," Lyon said.

The F-22 is a fifth generation fighter and one that is needed for the United States to establish air superiority in today's and tomorrow's conflict's, said Maj. Gen. Noel "Tom" Jones, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements.

"This aircraft is the world's most advanced aircraft and does air superiority mission unlike any other aircraft in the world," Jones said. "This is the leading edge of technology, and if our nation needs a capability to enter contested airspace to deal with air forces that are trying to deny our forces the ability to maneuver without prejudice on the ground; it will be the F-22 that takes on that mission."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Panetta tells Canada that U.S. committs to F-35 program

Cyber Defense

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta yesterday reaffirmed the Defense Department's commitment to the F-35 joint strike fighter program and to ensuring it remains within the defense strategy's budget.

The secretary spoke at a news conference following a meeting with Mexican and Canadian defense leaders here.

"As part of the defense strategy that the United States went through and has put in place, we have made very clear that we are 100 percent committed to the development of the F-35," he said. "It's a fifth-generation fighter, [and] we absolutely need it for the future."

Acknowledging that the Defense Department has to be vigilant and provide as much oversight as possible as the aircraft continues to be developed, Panetta said Pentagon officials are confident that "this plane can do everything that it's being asked to do in terms of performance.

"We've been testing it, and we continue to evaluate it as we proceed," he continued. "And we've made very clear to the industries involved in its production that they have to keep it within the cross-confinements that we've provided with regards to this plane."

Panetta noted the price of each aircraft varies from variant to variant, with three types involved in the program's development. Canada signed on for the project's production, sustainment and follow-on development phase on Dec. 11, 2006, along with Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay called the F-35 an example of interoperability as his country faces similar challenges with the joint strike fighter program.

"In addition, I would add that this is the aircraft that the Royal Canadian Air Force, after an extensive internal examination of capabilities and what was on the market, came to us and said, 'This the plane we need. This is the plane we want for a whole number of reasons.'"

MacKay said "due diligence and analysis" are necessary to ensure taxpayers are well-served and their best interests are considered.

"On the aspect of budgets as we go forward, every department of government -- every defense department, certainly all of our NATO partners, our Mexican colleagues [and] our friends around the globe -- are looking to prioritize their defense spending," he said. "It [should] come as no surprise to anyone here that Canada is going through that exact same process in determining what our defense needs are at home."

First Air Force female four-star general confirmed

Cyber Defense

The Senate confirmed Air Force Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger for promotion March 26, making her the first female four-star general in Air Force history.

Wolfenbarger currently serves as the military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition here and she is one of 4 lieutenant generals in the Air force.

"This is an historic occasion for the Air Force," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley. "General Wolfenbarger's 32 years of service, highlighted by extraordinary leadership and devotion to duty, make her exceptionally qualified for this senior position and to serve as the next commander of Air Force Materiel Command."

"I am honored to have been confirmed by the Senate for promotion to the rank of General and to serve as commander of Air Force Materiel Command. Until I take command of AFMC, I will continue to focus on the important Air Force acquisition work here at the Pentagon," said Wolfenbarger.

Wolfenbarger, a native of Beavercreek, Ohio, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1980 after graduating in the first class with female cadets at the Air Force Academy.

She also holds a graduate degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.

The general has held several positions in the F-22 System Program Office at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; served as the F-22 lead program element monitor at the Pentagon, and was the B-2 System program director for the Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB.

She commanded ASC's C-17 Systems Group, Mobility Systems Wing and was the service's director of the Air Force Acquisition Center of Excellence at the Pentagon, then served as director of the Headquarters AFMC Intelligence and Requirements Directorate, Wright-Patterson AFB. Prior to her current assignment, Wolfenbarger was the vice commander of Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB.

She has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the National Defense Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Medal.

Wolfenbarger received her third star in December 2009 and became the Air Force's highest-ranking woman in January 2010.

Women currently make up 9.1 percent of the Air Force's general officer ranks. In addition to the 4 female lieutenant generals, there are 12 major generals and 11 brigadier generals.

"This is an exciting time that pays homage to the generations of female Airmen, whose dedication, commitment and sacrifice helped open the doors for General Wolfenbarger and other female Airmen who will follow," said Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz.

Gen. Wolfenbarger's change of command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is scheduled for June 5.

New TPS-75 radar helps defend Arabian Gulf

Cyber Defense

Airmen defending the Arabian Gulf have another arrow in their quiver thanks to a new radar system installed at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing here March 18.

The TPS-75, or "Tipsy-75" as the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron calls it, is a powerful air surveillance radar capable of providing long-range, real-time radar coverage.

Airmen assigned to the 727th EACS use the TPS-75 to provide 24-hour air defense and surveillance for unknown threats over the entire Arabian Gulf region. The new system gives the radar operators both a bigger and more detailed picture as they monitor all aerial activity in the area.

"Our job is to constantly watch the skies," said Lt. Col. Steven A. Breitfelder, the 727th EACS commander. "Our operators defend the Arabian Gulf and its surrounding countries by monitoring the area for enemy aircraft."

The 727th EACS set a goal for increased radar coverage to improve their current mission capabilities. Airmen began looking and coordinating with the host nation in January to find a suitable site able to support the TPS-75.

"This was a major goal of ours, and it's a really great feeling to get it accomplished," said Breitfelder, who is deployed from Blue Ash Air National Guard Station, Ohio. "The maintenance folks finally get to see the results of all their hard work, and that is very rewarding."

Radar maintenance craftsman Staff Sgt. Ron Applegate, also deployed from Blue Ash ANG Station, was thrilled to have the opportunity to set up the radar.

"We've been chomping at the bit since January to set her up," Applegate said. "I'm just happy we finally get the chance to set up and work on the radar. I love the sense of pride that I get as a radar maintenance technician, knowing that our job is going toward the successful execution of the mission."

Once they received the orders, the entire squadron's maintenance section formed a team and got to work. Comprised of radar, computer, radio, and satellite and generator maintenance experts, the team combined their talents to set up an operational radar site in less than two days.

General Dynamics Delivers MK19 Grenade Machine Guns to U.S. Army

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, a business unit of General Dynamics, recently delivered 85 MK19 40mm grenade machine guns to the U.S. Army under the company's latest contract award for the weapon.

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products was awarded an $8.7 million order for more than 650 MK19 weapons in September 2011 . The September award extended an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for MK19 weapons that was initially awarded to General Dynamics in 2008. The latest order brings the total contract value to date to more than $90 million . General Dynamics has delivered more than 40,000 MK19 guns since 1987.

"Over the past quarter century, the MK19 has been the single most-highly fielded 40mm grenade machine gun in the world," said Steve Elgin , vice president and general manager of armament systems for General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products. "The weapon's popularity is the result of its high reliability and the vast logistical support as the U.S. Government 's standard issue grenade machine gun."

The MK19 is primarily used by dismounted infantry personnel or is mounted on light armored vehicles. The weapon is capable of firing up to 400 rounds per minute and has a maximum range of more than 2,200 yards.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

US Army To Launch JMR Mission-System Studies

Bids are due April 1 for trade studies to define the mission-system capabilities and technologies for the U.S. Army’s planned Joint Multi Role (JMR) rotorcraft.

The Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) is planning a two-phase JMR technology demonstration, beginning in fiscal 2013 with air-vehicle development and flight testing.

Mission-system development and testing are planned to begin two years later, in fiscal 2015, in recognition that electronics advance faster than airframes, rotors, engines and drive systems.

Phase 2 will kick off with the award of multiple contracts for mission-system effectiveness trades and analyses — equivalent to the air-vehicle configuration studies already under way at AVX Aircraft, Boeing, Bell-Boeing and Sikorsky.

As with the air-vehicle studies, mission-system bidders are being asked to identify those “game-changing” technologies that need maturing through flight demonstration to be ready for JMR full-scale development beginning early in the next decade. There are several supporting technology-development efforts under way this year. “We are having to do some things in parallel, which is not ideal,” says Keith Arnold, team lead for teaming and intelligence within AATD’s systems integration division.

Army lab developing gas 'plume' detection system to protect Soldiers, first responders

A wind monitoring and modeling system being developed by the Army Research Laboratory's, or ARL, White Sands Missile Range, or WSMR, division could one day protect Soldiers and civilians alike from weapons of mass destruction.

The Local-Rapid Evaluation of Atmospheric Conditions, or L-REAC, system is a computerized weather sensor system under development at ARL intended to help predict the flow of gasses and fumes, or "plumes," produced by things such as gas leaks and chemical weapons.

Being able to identify how an airborne hazard will behave is a vital ability for first responders to have in order for them to know how to approach or evacuate an affected area.

"If you are a dispatch person and you have to direct first responders to the site, you can look at the wind field and see what the safest approach would be," said Gail Vaucher, a research meteorologist with ARL at WSMR.

There are other systems available that can predict the plume with some accuracy. Such systems use things like wind speed, air pressure, temperature, and humidity in their calculations. But L-REAC system adds a new layer that previous systems didn't have. Using terrain data, building plans and dimensions, L-REAC can model and display not only the plume, but the actual airflow around buildings and terrain features.

"We decided to utilize the 3D wind field model developed by Doctor Yansen Wang at ARL Headquarters in Adelphi (Md.) because it had the capability to not only render very quickly, but it can look at many different scales," said Donald Hoock, chief of the Atmospheric Dynamics Branch of ARL at WSMR.

Thanks to this wind flow model, L-REAC can model how wind will flow when it encounters everything from trees and boulders, to buildings and other structures. While not real-time, the model will update regularly depending on the size of the area being observed.

As air flows around things like buildings, pockets of slower moving or even circular flowing air can be generated on the downwind side, while other formations like alleyways can form wind tunnels. Using L-REAC's modeling capability, a first responder can predict how these wind effects will alter a plume.

Additionally, L-REAC is a scalable system. The system allows a first responder to monitor large areas, or focus in on a specific incident site. The system uses information about weather and terrain to help build its model.

"The models themselves, in order to be appropriate for an area, need to know about the area, what is the terrain and what is the morphology," said Vaucher.

For urban areas, Vaucher said, this also includes the shape and size of buildings. In the case of established areas, exact data can be input for detailed results. If detailed information isn't available, the system will accept less-detailed information if the operator is willing to accept less-detailed results.

"The more details you have, the better the results," said Vaucher. "If you have a generic description, you'll get a generic result."

The L-REAC system collects data from a series of weather monitoring stations that evaluate things like air pressure, temperature, humidity, wind speed, and wind direction. These stations can be the transportable kind like several that ARL has placed around WSMR, or they can be permanent stations like those found at airports or similar facilities.

Since the weather stations and computer systems are largely autonomous, ARL sees military installations and similar facilities as prime examples of where L-REAC could be implemented as part of a force protection plan. On an installation, L-REAC could be installed as a continuously running system, ready for use at a moment's notice by operation center operators or dispatchers.

"We want to have the capability for them to immediately pull up on their computer screen a picture of what the wind fields are across the post without having to go in and physically start anything running. It would always be running 24-hours a day," said Hoock.

L-REAC, while still in development, has already seen real-world action. It was used to track and predict smoke and airflow during the Abrams wildfire that threatened WSMR last year.

Ultimately, ARL hopes to have the system integrated with compact mobile weather monitoring systems so first responders and service members can always have a weather station as close to an area of interest as possible.

"The current Army is focusing on short, quick missions, so we want to build a tool that they can use," said Vaucher.

To make this final mobile component of L-REAC a reality, ARL will need the help of new partners to help fund the integration of mobile sensors into the system. ARL is hoping for partners within the Army and the Department of Defense for integration into force protection plans.

"I think our ultimate goal is to team first on the Army side, and them more on the DOD side, looking for putting L-REAC in at installation levels to begin with," said Hoock.

Other government organizations and agencies could also easily become partners on the program. Commercial partners would be welcome as well, though the process of establishing a commercial partnership would be more complex.

Army top modernization priorities

The Army G-8 addressed the status of the service's top modernization portfolios, ground combat vehicle, aviation and the network and reiterated the number-one priority would remain Soldier protection.

Speaking to members of the Association of the U.S. Army at its March Institute of Land Warfare breakfast, Lt. Gen. Robert P. Lennox first grabbed the audience's attention by debunking what he called some of the myths of Army modernization.


The biggest myth, Lennox said, was the perception the Army had lived "high on the hog and now it's time to do something else with your money."

"I just want to remind folks that it wasn't long ago that we were living in the Army of 2001," he said. "And, in that Army we had a $56 billion shortfall or 2001 holes in the yard. Life wasn't good in the Guard and the Reserve and it wasn't so good in the active force.

"It's taken Congress, industry and Army leadership to get where we are today and that's something important not to forget," he continued, adding that leadership responded to the needs of Soldiers in a flexible way, in an inflexible situation.

The second myth is the belief that the Army can't acquire anything. He cited a number of successes, including the Stryker Double-V Hull which just two years ago didn't exist. It was a concept of industry that brought the idea to service leadership because of the number of casualties the Army was taking, Lennox said.

"We took the idea to Army leadership and to the Hill and got support everywhere we went and today, Soldiers are driving the Stryker Double-V Hull in combat," he said. "There have been 40 times, as of about a week ago, that Soldiers have been hit resulting in three significant casualties. Before that, every vehicle, every hit was catastrophic.

"It's an example of what can happen when industry, leadership, Congress and the Office of the Secretary of Defense all come together and make those things happen with our Soldiers in mind," Lennox added.

Lennox said the final myth is that America's whole strategy has shifted to anti-access/aerial denial and that there's no role for the Army in that; let's just invest in the Navy and Air Force.

"It's not to say we don't need to invest in the Navy and Air Force, there are a lot of reasons to do that, but I'm here to talk about what if we get it wrong (by not investing in the Army)," he said, reminding the audience that after World War II, the country focused on nuclear war with the Soviet Union where the U.S. wouldn't need a ground Army anymore.

"What did we get but a conventional war in Korea and after Korea we still had the threat of a strategic nuclear war with tactical nukes, and what did we get but protracted counter-insurgency in Vietnam," Lennox said.

"After Vietnam we had to be posed for the big fight in the central European plains against Warsaw Pact forces, but what did we get but Desert Storm," he continued. "Thankfully, the work and preparation we did for that fight in Europe helped us in Desert Storm and we were successful. Then after the Gulf War, we were going to fight conventional wars with rogue states; we were going to fight two wars at the same time. We did get that, one major unconventional war in Afghanistan and a protracted counter-insurgency fight in Iraq."

"The bottom line is we always get it wrong. We predict the future to give us an idea, guidance in our decision-making and investments, but we get it wrong," he added. "We can't afford to get it wrong. We have to make sure that at least in the area of modernization, we cannot afford to be wrong."


In research, development and acquisition accounts the Army has gone from a fiscal year 2012 budget of $26 billion down to a fiscal year 2013 budget of $24.3 billion, which effectively canceled eight programs. The Army went from lowest priority and worked up, delaying or restructuring 89 other programs while protecting 10 priority programs.

"We built our priorities, we funded our priorities and we've stuck with our priorities," said Lennox. "Protecting Soldiers as they fight is the number-one priority."

The general again cited the Stryker Double-V, the latest improved mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, nine changes to body armor, three new sniper weapons, the M4A1, which is about to be fielded and has three additional improvements over the M4, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, light-weight crew-served weapons, precision munitions and up-armored, medium and heavy trucks.


Presently the Army's number-one motorized priority remains the Ground Combat Vehicle, or GCV, which leadership continues to evaluate. Aside from cost, current requirements are that it have growth potential, be capable of carrying a squad of nine and be built within seven years.

Lennox said the Army's search for a GCV includes assessing developmental vehicles as well as non-developmental vehicles, or those already in use by other countries such as Sweden, Israel and Germany.

The GCVs are intended to replace the fleet of M113 tracked armored personnel carriers which were first introduced in Vietnam in 1962. Lennox said the M113 had played an enormous role in a number of different formations, mostly in the heavy brigade combat team as a command and control vehicle. The Army expects analysis complete by summer, he said.

"We have a number of possible replacements, turret-less Bradley, take the turret off and you get some exciting aspects," he said. "I've given the PM (program manager) a target of about a million a copy. That's our goal, to keep the price of this vehicle down and give us the best you can at that price."

He added that the Abrams M1A2 and the Bradley non-IFV are the "best two tanks in the world, but need upgrading. Lennox said both will receive upgrades that include network integration as well as improved electronics, armor and suspensions.

The Stryker will also be upgraded as will the Paladin PIM which is on-track to replace the M109A6 howitzers.


Moving to the aviation portfolio, Lennox said the Army would be "touching every single aviation platform" which includes cockpit and sensor upgrades to the Kiowa Warrior OH-58.

Every aspect from providing the LUH (light utility helicopter) for Guard and Reserve use in a homeland defense role to improvements in the Apache AH-64 Block III Longbow and the CH-47F Chinook will be touched, Lennox said.

Lennox said the Army was also improving on each of the unmanned aerial systems.

"The Shadow workhorse is a huge contributor on the battlefield today," he said. "When you talk to any brigade commander, he'll tell you they love the Shadow -- just need five or 10 more of that capability so there's a constant demand for them."

Gray Eagle will also be rolling out, Lennox said, and will serve as an update to the highly regarded Predator. It can cover everything from wide-area intelligence reconnaissance to convoy and improvised-explosive-device detection and defeat, close air support, communications and weapons delivery.


With regard to the network, Lennox said the Army has converged onto a single path that's more affordable than what was to be the "revolutionary" Future Combat Systems network back in 2008 and 2009.

The Warfighter Information Network Tactical serves as the backbone to the network and brings command and control down to the company level. Lennox said increment two gives the Army the first battle command on-the-move capability. A spring Network Integration Evaluation to test the system will be conducted at Fort Bliss, Texas, he said.

The Joint Tactical Radio System, or JTRS, is already in use by the 75th Rangers, said Lennox, adding that he's hearing good things about the system. JTRS includes a man-packable system, the rifleman radio, NET Warrior systems and serves as a replacement for the Ground Mobile Radio, or GMR. The new JTRS system is now termed the Mid-Tier Networking Vehicle Radio or MNVR.

Lennox concluded that most changes will be "incremental improvements that the Army was not looking for revolutionary change."

Lennox has been nominated to serve as the DOD principal deputy director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

First New-production Patriot System Debuts in Flight Test

Raytheon has successfully completed a system-level guided flight test of the new-production Patriot at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The modernized Patriot provides an affordable, low-risk and rapid path to meet the warfighter's current and future air and missile defense requirements.

"The system's flawless performance using all newly-built major end items is a significant milestone for global air and missile defense. It also highlights the capability of the combat-proven Patriot and the viability of the global Patriot supply base," said Sanjay Kapoor, vice president for Integrated Air and Missile Defense at Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business.

Monday, March 26, 2012

US still fixated by nuclear terror

Views among scientists differ on whether a terror group like Al-Qaeda could build and detonate a primitive nuclear bomb on a US city.

But no president will take the threat lightly after seeing the impact of mass terrorism wreaked by the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Obama said while hosting the first nuclear summit in Washington two years ago that a nuclear strike on a major populated area could change the global security landscape for years to come.

"The ramifications economically, politically and from a security perspective would be devastating," he said.

Analysts say that Obama's concern is justified.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Budget constraints to delay Army aircraft modernization

Some modernization programs may be delayed, but not reduced or cancelled due to a tightening of the budget, senior Army leaders told senators Wednesday.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno testified Wednesday morning to the Senate Appropriations Committee, subcommittee on Defense regarding the service's fiscal year 2013 budget request.

"We had to slip some of the procurement programs to the right," McHugh told lawmakers about the Army's rotary-wing aircraft fleet.

Modernization of Apache helicopters is down to 48 per year, Odierno said. Some CH-47 Chinook performance upgrades will be reduced, he told senators.

UH-60 Black Hawk modernization will be delayed in all components. the active force, Army Reserve and National Guard, Odierno said. The procurement of 72 UH-60M helicopters will be moved at least six years, outside the current Procurement Objective Memorandum or POM, he said.

Upgrades to the Kiowa Warrior have been funded, Odierno said, but added that may change later this year when a decision is made on whether to procure the Armed Aerial Scout helicopter.

No final decision has been made on the C-23 Sherpa program, Odierno said. But he said the Army has some issues with the older aircraft that doesn't quite fill the Army's requirement for intra-theater transport.

Modernization of the C-23 is projected to cost $800,000 to $1 million per aircraft, McHugh said.

"That program has some real dollars attached to it," he told senators.

McHugh explained that the Army had identified a requirement for intra-theater airlift. The C-27 Joint Cargo Aircraft program was one of the solutions, he said. The Army had initially planned that program jointly with the Air Force. Then the Air Force assumed full responsibility for the program before deciding that the intra-theater airlift could be accomplished using C-130s. Odierno said the Army is working with the Air Force on the requirement.

Other technologies will be integrated into the force incrementally, McHugh said. The Army is moving ahead with development of the Ground Combat Vehicle, which will replace the Infantry Fighting Vehicle, he said.

In developing the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV, the Army saved $400 million by reducing the cycle from 48 to 33 months, he said.

McHugh added that one of the most important modernizations underway is the integration of tactical networks. Exercises at White Sand Missile Range are testing equipment in a series of Network Integration Evaluations.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

US Marines set to arrive in Australia next month

US Marines are set to arrive in Australia's tropical north next month as Washington increases its military presence as part of a renewed emphasis on the Asia-Pacific, reports said Tuesday.

State radio said about 250 Marines were set to deploy to Darwin from early April as part of a process that will see about 2,500 in Australia by about 2016, according to a plan announced by President Barack Obama last year.

"This first year, of course, we start pretty small," the commander of Australia's First Brigade, Brigadier General Gus McLachlan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We have got about 250 arriving in early April. This first year is almost just a foot in the door, proof of concept, and obviously it will build up in a pretty measured pace in the next few years."

Merchant Vessel Defense Against Pirates

Preemptive Measures Can Prevent Boarding and Hostage Taking

Too often, ship operators fail to take proper anti-piracy security measures, effectively turning their merchant vessels into “Golden Geese” ripe for the taking, writes the author. He goes on to discuss proven methods of hardening commercial ships and training their crews to prevent pirates – whether from Somalia or elsewhere – from boarding vessels and taking crews hostage.

AFSOC MC-130J Combat Shadow II Becomes Commando II

Officials announced a popular name change for the MC130J here March 9 that honors the Air Commando legacy and capitalizes on the versatility of the aircraft.

"Air Force Special Operation Command MC-130Js will be equipped to fly various missions and will be called Commando II," said Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, the AFSOC commander, in the memorandum requesting the change. "This name best reflects the multi-mission role of the aircraft and the units that will fly them."

The Commando II flies low-visibility, low-level air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft, and infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces by airdrop or airland, intruding politically sensitive or hostile territories, according to the official Air Force factsheet.

The aircraft's popular name previously was Combat Shadow II. Alternate names considered included Combat Knife and Combat Arrow. A popular name, according to the joint service Air Force Instruction 16-401(I), "characterize aerospace vehicle missions and aid communications and media references."

The process for requesting the popular name change began in September 2011, said Don Purvis, an AFSOC logistics management specialist. The memorandum from the AFSOC commander was sent to the asset identification flight at Air Force Material Command headquarters. From that point, a review was conducted by several agencies, including the Air Force Judge Advocate General and Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs.

"This is one of the first name changes we approved," said Keven Corbeil, a Defense Department popular name control point in the flight. "I think 'Commando' had historical (significance for AFSOC)."

In addition to reflecting the current missions of AFSOC, the name change honors the legacy of the C-46, the original Commando. According to the AFSOC commander's memorandum, the new name "embodies the broader linage of special operations force aircraft."

The C-46 was used extensively during the Cold War and Korean War by various government agencies, said Herb Mason, the AFSOC historian. It doubled the payload and range of the C-47, which it replaced.

Just like its descendent, the original Commando performed a variety of missions. The C-46 was most famous for its operations in the Far East. The Commando was a workhorse in 'flying the hump' over the Himalayan Mountains, transporting desperately needed supplies from bases in India and Burma to troops in China. A variety of transports had been employed in the effort, but only the C-46 was able to handle the adverse conditions, according to an executive staff summary sheet for the popular name change request.

Commando II replaces the aging special operations forces fleet of 37 MC-130E and P tankers. The first aircraft arrived at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Sept. 29, 2011.

Pentagon war game forecasts U.S. would be pulled into a new war if Israel strikes Iran

A classified Pentagon war game this month forecast that an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would likely draw the United States into a wider regional war in which hundreds of American forces could be killed, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The war games' results have "raised fears among top American planners that it may be impossible to preclude American involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran," the Times Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker wrote.

Defense experts said the reported war games results are another attempted warning signal to Israel not to go it alone or risk harming relations with the United States.

"The apparent results of the war game reported by the Times suggest that it will be much more difficult than Israeli leaders assume to keep the United States out of the conflict," former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Colin Kahl told Yahoo News by email. "In the retaliatory spasm following an Israeli strike, the odds that Iranian actions and miscalculations could drag the United States military are substantial."

Monday, March 19, 2012

US expert advocates destruction of Lashkar-e-Taiba

Describing Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as the most dangerous terrorist group operating in South Asia after Al Qaeda, a US expert has advocated its destruction by the US with or without Pakistan's help.

"Though India and Kashmir have been LeT's primary area of operations so far, the group has an unsettling presence internationally," Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate South Asia Programme at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank, wrote.

An attack could even reach US soil," warned Tellis, who specialises in international security, defence, and Asian strategic issues and was intimately involved in the negotiations associated with the US-India civil nuclear agreement.

"The only reasonable objective for the United States is the permanent evisceration of LeT and other vicious South Asian terrorist groups-with Pakistani cooperation if possible, but without it if necessary," he wrote.

Friday, March 16, 2012

NRL Opens Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) celebrated the opening of its Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR), during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Washington March 16.

The LASR facility will integrate science and technology components into research prototype systems and will become the nerve center for basic research that supports autonomous systems research for the Navy and Marine Corps.

Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, introduced guest speaker, Dr. John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The LASR capitalizes on the broad multidisciplinary character of NRL, bringing together scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds to tackle common challenges in autonomy research at the intersection of their respective fields. Research in unmanned and autonomous systems research is not new - NRL has been conducting innovative work in these fields since 1923. The objective of the LASR is to enable continued Navy and Department of Defense scientific leadership in autonomy and to identify opportunities for advances in future defense technology.

NRL broke ground on the LASR facility April 8, 2010. This one-of-a-kind laboratory provides specialized facilities to support highly innovative research in intelligent autonomy, sensor systems, power and energy systems, human-system interaction, networking and communications, and platforms. LASR will support a broad range of research related to autonomous systems, from basic, to applied, and for integration across different disciplines. Some of its unique features include:

* Prototyping High Bay, which can be used for small autonomous air and ground vehicles, and the people who work with them. This space contains the world's largest real-time motion capture volume, allowing scientists to get extremely accurate ground truth of the motion of vehicles and people, as well as allowing closed loop control of systems.

* Littoral High Bay, which features a 45-foot by 25-foot by 5.5-foot deep pool with a wave generator capable of producing directional waves, and a slope that allows littoral environments to be recreated.

* Desert High Bay, which contains a 40-foot by 14-foot area of sand 2.5-feet deep, and contains 18-foot-high rock walls that allow testing of robots and sensors in a desert-like environment.

* Tropical High Bay, which is a 60-foot by 40-foot greenhouse that contains a re-creation of a southeast Asian rain forest.

* Outdoor test range, which is a 1/3rd acre highland forest with a waterfall, stream and pond, and terrain of differing difficulty including large boulder structures and earthen berms.

* Electrical and machine shops, which allow prototypes to be constructed. The facility includes several types of 3D prototyping machines allowing parts to be directly created from CAD drawings. LASR also has a dedicated sensor lab that includes large environmental and altitude chambers and an anechoic chamber, as well as a power and energy lab.

Alan Schultz, director of NRL's Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence, has been selected as the first director of NRL's LASR.

Darrell King, who has previously worked as the facilities manager at NRL's Institute for Nanoscience, is the facilities manager at the LASR.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Indonesia says 'no problem' with US Marines plan

Indonesia said Thursday it had no problem with US plans to station Marines in northern Australia as Canberra flagged the possibility of four-nation military drills with China.

The plan to bring some 2,500 Marines to remote Darwin by 2016-17 initially raised some "questions" when it was unveiled by US President Barack Obama in Australia last November, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said.

But "those questions have been provided answers" and it was now recognised as a valuable opportunity to boost humanitarian and disaster response, Natelegawa said following bilateral defence and diplomacy talks in Canberra.

NRL Designs Robot for Shipboard Firefighting

In both war and peacetime scenarios, fire in the shipboard environment is serious and frequently results in excessive damage and high repair costs because the fire is not detected or controlled adequately.

To help further improve future shipboard firefighting capability, scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory have formed an interdisciplinary team to develop a humanoid robot that could fight fires on the next generation of combatants.

A humanoid-type robot was chosen because it was deemed best suited to operate within the confines of an environment that was deigned for human mobility and offered opportunity for other potential warfighting applications within the Navy and Marine Corps.

The firefighting robot, called the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR), is being designed to move autonomously throughout the ship, interact with people, and fight fires,

Friday, March 9, 2012

New Army focus on Pacific doesn't mean abandoning Middle East

While the Army has a new emphasis on the Asia and Pacific region, it doesn't mean the service will be unable to meet obligations in the Middle East -- if need be, said the Army's chief of staff.

Earlier this year, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said the Army will put an increased emphasis on the Asia and Pacific region and a renewed emphasis on its partnerships there with allies, including a "trilateral" partnership between the United States, Korea and Japan.

But that renewed emphasis doesn't mean the Army will abandon its roles elsewhere, he said.

"I don't see us necessarily rebalancing from the Middle East to Asia/Pacific," Odierno told lawmakers, March 8, during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Based on the priorities we've established, Asia/Pacific is first, closely followed behind by the Middle East. But I don't think that is causing us to have less attention and capability available to use in the Middle East."

The general said in other parts of the world the Army may be diminishing its "potential to influence" -- but that's not true in the Middle East.

"I have confidence that we will be able to do what we need to do if necessary, in the Middle East, even though we have now provided some focus in the Pacific region," he said.


The Army recently pulled out of Iraq -- today, there are about 150 Soldiers in country there, who now work in support of the Department of State. But al-Qaeda continues to be active there, though Odierno said he has confidence the Iraqi security forces, originally trained by Americans, can defend themselves.

"There are reports that there has been some increase, especially in Anbar providence, of al-Queda, and also in Baghdad," Odierno said. "I am still confident that Iraqi security forces can handle the violence. The issue becomes that we need the people of Iraq to continue to reject al-Queda and not allow them to get back in and form groups."

The general also said that unrest, in places like Syria, could be exploited by al-Qaeda.

But in the Middle East, the Army still has Soldiers who can react in Iraq, if called on to do so, Odierno told lawmakers.

"We have a brigade combat team that came out of Iraq and is now inside of Kuwait, we have some aviation elements that are also inside of Kuwait," he said. "We have people in Kuwait that also support Afghanistan. The current number is somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000. It will come down over time, probably to something less than 10,000 in Kuwait."

Those Soldiers, he said allow the Army to "react with ground forces if necessary, if it was in our best national interest."


As part of budget cuts, the withdrawal from Iraq and the coming drawdown from Afghanistan -- the Army will cut about 80,000 Soldiers from the active force end strength. The service will go from about 570,000 to 490,000. The drawdown will last about six years, Odierno said, and will begin this year.

"We have developed this ramp, which we believe can be accomplished mostly through attrition," Odierno said. "And with the rate that we're reducing the ramp, we believe that we can continue to meet our commitments in Afghanistan and our other deployable commitments with rotational forces."

Secretary of the Army John McHugh told lawmakers that nearly half of the Army budget goes to personnel. He told lawmakers that making cuts to the Army budget means balancing personnel needs against other needs, "the modernization, the equipping, the family programs, the things that, if you don't support them, you're on a quick path to a hollow Army."

McHugh said the Army will try to make the cuts as "humanly as possible."

"We're working as hard as we can to try to manage both our discharges and our accessions in a way so that we don't have to have forced outs," McHugh said. "They're not something anyone likes to go through, but the reality is, at the end of the day, we're probably going to have to ask some Soldiers who have served honorably and who meet at least minimum criteria, to perhaps think about a next challenge in their lives."

Aircraft Carrier Transits on Alternative Fuel Blend

USS Ford (FFG 54) successfully transited from the ship's homeport in Everett, Wash., to San Diego, March 2, using 25,000 gallons of a 50/50 algae-derived, hydro-processed algal oil and petroleum F-76 blend in the ships LM 2500 gas turbines.

USS Ford's transit on the algal blend marks the first demonstration of the alternative fuel blend in an operational fleet ship.

"We've done basically every range of research vessel we could test: the experimental riverine command boat; the Naval Academy's yard patrol; a landing craft utility, a landing craft air cushion amphibious, and self defense test ship," said Richard Leung, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Navy Fuels engineering manager. "Each test has brought us a little closer to the upcoming Green Strike Group demonstration set for later this year."

Meeting the secretary of the Navy's call for a drop-in fuel replacement, no changes were required to the infrastructure of the ship or fueling pier for the test. The blended fuel was stationed on a barge in Puget Sound off Bremerton, Wash., and immediately available to the Ford for testing.

"We didn't embark any personnel or instrumentation for the transit because we wanted to minimize impact to the ship's normal operations and because we weren't conducting the same quantitative tests and analysis we've done previously," said Leung. "Instead, we provided the ship's engineers a list of fuel and engine performance system questions and parameters, so they could provide feedback on how the ship performed using the blend as compared to its typical fuel."

The ship burned all 25,000 gallons during the transit, and according to Leung, feedback from the ship's engineers was favorable.

"The crew reported no change in their typical procedures when receiving, handling, or processing the biofuel, and said operational performance of the fuel system and gas turbine engines on the blend was almost identical to operations on traditional F-76," said Leung.

"Having feedback from the Ford's engineers is extremely useful as we move forward with validating the algal oil blend, and as we prepare for the upcoming Green Strike Group demonstration later this year," said Greg Toms, NAVSEA technical warrant holder for Fuels and Lubricants. "We'll again be limited on the data we can collect during that event and will ask similar questions to continue measuring operational user feedback."

NAVSEA's alternative fuels efforts help the Navy increase energy security, safeguard the environment, and support the secretary of the Navy's goals to demonstrate a green strike group by 2012, deploy the "Great Green Fleet" in 2016, and obtain 50 percent of the Fleet's liquid fuel from alternative sources by 2020.

6-Pound Charger Flexes Muscle in Halls of Power

Battery charger takes center stage during Senate budget hearing.

It’s not often that objects as small as battery chargers and solar blankets become the center of attention at a U.S. Senate budget hearing where multibillion-dollar programs are discussed, but for a few minutes of the March 8 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, U.S. Army officials touted the need for such items to take a load off of the backs of soldiers.

John McHugh, secretary of the Army, estimated that one platoon on a 72-hour mission requires 400 pounds of batteries. He compared the Modular Universal Battery Charger to a predecessor system, which would require four chargers to do the work of one Modular Universal Battery Charger. Those four chargers weigh a combined 85 pounds and must be plugged into a wall for power. “This little 6-pound recharger is able to work off of just about any available source of energy,” McHugh said. Possible energy sources include a solar blanket, tactical vehicles or residual power from used batteries. The chargers, he said, “take enormous weight off the backs of our soldiers, provide them greater operational flexibility and allow us to reduce convoys bringing in fuel, where every fourth convoy results in a casualty. These are important things for soldier safety as well.”

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who chairs the committee, called the device a “four-point success story,” because it improves troop safety and mobility, reduces costs and improves security for energy sources.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

China cyber warfare skills a risk to US military: report

China's cyber warfare capabilities have reached a point where they would pose a danger to the US military in the event of a conflict, according to a report prepared for the US Congress released on Thursday.

The report by defense contractor Northrop Grumman for the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has placed great emphasis on what is known as "information confrontation."

"(PLA) leaders have embraced the idea that successful warfighting is based on the ability to exert control over an adversary's information and information systems," the report said.

Cyber Threat from China, Russia and Iran on US Military and Civilian Networks Drive Cyber Warfare Spending

The global spending on cyber warfare systems is expected to remain robust over the forecast period due primarily to the increased importance of such systems in modern warfare. The formation of the US Cyber Command or USCybercom, the highest defense spender globally, highlights the importance of cyber warfare in today's world.

The rise in new technologies such as social networks, mobile devices and cloud computing, combined with the economic downturn is driving the pace of innovation in the field of cyber warfare. Consumer driven IT has resulted in organizations losing control over their ability to manage their data by defining a perimeter. Weak economic conditions have meant that companies are striving to find ways and means to remain competitive.

This is where innovation is seen to be sustaining the cyber warfare industry with sub-sectors such as identity and access management, data security and network security expected to record significant growth over the forecast period.

North America is expected to account for the largest share of the total global cyber warfare market, representing a 46% share over the forecast period. Regional demand is primarily driven by the growing threat from Chinese, Russian and Iranian cyber attacks on US military and civilian networks


Cyber Defense

The US military is preparing for 21st Century electronic warfare and cyber terrorism. A joint US Cyber Command and four service cyber commands have been set up.

Their mission is to defend American military networks and civilian American infrastructure from cyber terrorism and from foreign government hackers.

The officers leading these cyber commands explain how they are organized, how they operate, and how they will protect the United States from foreign military hackers, intelligence agencies, and cyber terrorists.

Lockheed Martin Completes Delivery of All Components of First THAAD Battery to US Army

Lockheed Martin has completed delivery of all hardware and components associated with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system's first U.S. Army Battery.

In December, THAAD delivered its 24th interceptor, completing the first THAAD Battery (A-4 ADA). Two THAAD batteries have been activated at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The first THAAD Battery (A-4 ADA Battery) was activated in May 2008. The second THAAD Battery (A-2 ADA Battery) was activated in October 2009. The Army anticipates activating a third Battery in late 2012.

"The Lockheed Martin THAAD team is proud to deliver this important capability to the warfighter," said Mat Joyce, vice president and program manager for the THAAD weapon system at Lockheed Martin.

Raytheon Awarded US Army Contract to Counter Rockets

The U.S. Army awarded Raytheon a $79.2 million contract to develop a system that will detect and destroy incoming rockets. The solution is called the Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative (AI3). Development will culminate in a demonstration in 18 months, followed by low rate initial production.

"Rocket attacks have cost many U.S. and allied warfighters their lives, which is why Raytheon is committed to getting this system developed and fielded as soon as possible," said Dr. Thomas R. Bussing, vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems' Advanced Missiles and Unmanned Systems product line.


NATO Missile Defense for Europe

NATO has agreed to provide ballistic missile defense or BMD for all of Europe. This NATO BMD will protect NATO (European and American) military forces in Europe. It will also – for the very first time – protect the civilian population throughout Europe from ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction launched from the Middle East.

Much of this NATO missile defense for Europe – known as the European Phased Adaptive Approach – will actually be provided by the United States armed forces. This will include seaborne AEGIS missile defense on board US Navy ships in the Mediterranean, as well as land based radars and interceptor missiles.

This e-book describes how NATO missile defense for Europe will be organized and implemented.

U.S. Army Africa Forward Command Post Mission Ready

For the past 18 months, U.S. Army Africa Soldiers have worked toward developing flexible mobile communications command center that can function as the unit's headquarters anywhere in the world to respond to deployment requests from U.S. Africa Command.

Known as U.S. Army Africa's Forward Command Post, or FCP, it's similar to many Army tactical operations centers in appearance. However, its unique characteristics allow the FCP to provide vast variety of sophisticated radio, internet and video teleconference capabilities.

U.S. Army Africa, or USARAF, Contingency Command Post director Lt. Col. Tim Williams describes FCP features.

"Depending on the configuration of the command post, it can support anywhere from five to 200 users. We have radio communications, internet access to include classified networks and video teleconferencing ability. USARAF Commander Maj. Gen. [David A.] Hogg can be on the continent of Africa and talk face-to-face with anyone in the national command structure. The FCP provides the USARAF commander a communications capability that historically required us to rely on other organizations," Williams said.

During a recent tour of the FCP, Hogg commented on its distinctive capabilities.

"It's a uniquely configured Army system, plus it's self-sustainable. We don't need additional vehicles or equipment to load it, and we can drive on and off aircraft -- it's completely mobile," Hogg said.

"This system has enough capability to use Army and other systems to work in a joint, coalition and international environment. FCP fits our needs perfectly by providing us with better ability to support our component command, U.S. Africa Command," Hogg said.

According to Williams, the FCP allows USARAF to support a variety of missions.

"The primary mission sets are non-combatant evacuation operations, foreign humanitarian, disaster relief and peace missions as required. Additionally, we can support training exercises anywhere on the African continent," Williams said.

Up to 30 USARAF Contingency Command Soldiers staff the FCP.

Sgt. Major Aaron Miller, noncommissioned officer in charge of the USARAF Contingency Command Post, reinforced the scope of operations that USARAF can tackle with the FCP.

"The FCP allows USARAF to have the capability to be the nucleus of a joint task force organization.," Miller said. "We have integrated the Army's battle command systems with our information systems and a robust communications package as well. We can communicate worldwide," he said.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

SOCOM Commander Discusses Progress in Afghanistan

Afghan forces now are leading all of the night raids U.S. special operations forces conduct with them in Afghanistan, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command told senators today.

Navy Adm. William McRaven said operations in Afghanistan remain his near-term focus and highest priority. McRaven testified alongside Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command commander, before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The special operations leader and Navy SEAL said his forces bring two key capabilities to the transition effort in Afghanistan: the lethal and precise direct approach epitomized in night raids, and the indirect effort to build Afghan security and governance through village stability operations with Afghan forces.

Night raids target high-value insurgents, often after coalition and Afghan troops have tracked them for days or weeks, McRaven said.

Those individuals “generally bed down” and are much more targetable at night, McRaven said, calling the night operations an essential tactic.

The admiral acknowledged the raids’ unpopularity among the Afghan people, but said ensuring Afghan troops are “the first forces through the door” as they lead the raids has helped allay people’s anxiety.

Such raids often are safer than daytime operations, he said, because fewer people are out in the villages.

Meanwhile, McRaven said, special operations forces also work to strengthen programs such as the Afghan local police, which includes about 11,000 Afghans and is set to grow to 30,000 over the next few years. The village-based forces are starting to link together in mutual defense for the first time, he said.

“One village is actually coming to the aid of another village when they're being attacked or harassed,” he said.

A single road connecting villages makes that cooperation possible, the admiral noted.

“That's why it's very important to continue with [infrastructure projects] so they can get from Point A to Point B, see what the other village is doing, create trade with that village … [and] be the safety and security for that village, and vice versa,” McRaven added.

The admiral noted that no International Security Assistance Force special operations troops have been targeted in any of the “green-on-blue” incidents involving Afghan army and police members killing coalition troops.

“We have built these partnerships over many years,” McRaven said. “They're very strong partnerships. We have great respect for our Afghan partners, and we think this strategy of partnering with the Afghans is absolutely essential to victory in Afghanistan.”

When your ship comes in

Every day, thousands of cargo containers from around the world pass through our nation's sea ports carrying items we need, and possibly some that are not so welcome: drugs, explosives, chemical, biological, or radiological weapons - even human cargo.

The possible concealment of such items in containers led lawmakers to call for the screening of all ocean cargo containers-thousands per port per day. The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is charged with the critical task of securing the country from terrorists and their weapons while facilitating legitimate trade and travel, including the monitoring of what's in thousands of sea cargo containers as they pass through CBP screening. These containers must be inspected quickly and accurately, and without the business at each port grinding to a halt when they do so.

When your ship comes in

Every day, thousands of cargo containers from around the world pass through our nation's sea ports carrying items we need, and possibly some that are not so welcome: drugs, explosives, chemical, biological, or radiological weapons - even human cargo.

The possible concealment of such items in containers led lawmakers to call for the screening of all ocean cargo containers-thousands per port per day. The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is charged with the critical task of securing the country from terrorists and their weapons while facilitating legitimate trade and travel, including the monitoring of what's in thousands of sea cargo containers as they pass through CBP screening. These containers must be inspected quickly and accurately, and without the business at each port grinding to a halt when they do so.

Monday, March 5, 2012

China must increase ability to win 'local wars': Wen

China must enhance the ability of its military to win "local wars", Premier Wen Jiabao said Monday, as Beijing grows increasingly assertive about its territorial claims in Asia.

Beijing lays claim to large swathes of the South China Sea which are also claimed by its smaller neighbours, and must also secure supply routes and new sources of raw materials to fuel its booming economy.

Wen's made his comments at the opening of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, a day after the government announced military spending would top $100 billion in 2012 -- an 11.2 percent increase on last year.

"We will enhance the armed forces' capacity to accomplish a wide range of military tasks, the most important of which is to win local wars under information age conditions," Wen said in his "state of the nation" speech.

China's territorial disputes with countries including Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam have grown rockier in recent years and its neighbours have accused it of behaving aggressively.

The Asian giant already has the world's largest armed forces and its defence budget has seen double-digit increases every year for much of the last decade, which is forging ahead with plans to expand its own military power in Asia.

Japan 'concerned' over China military budget boost

Japan on Monday voiced disquiet over China's double-digit boost to its military budget, as newspapers expressed scepticism over whether Beijing was telling the truth.

Tokyo's top government spokesman urged China's leaders to greater transparency on military issues and pledged Japan would be closely watching what happened across the water.

"We are concerned about the double-digit increase in this year's Chinese defence budget and will pay attention to future developments," Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a news conference in Tokyo.

"Some details of China's defence budget are still opaque," Fujimura said. "Our country will continue asking China to boost transparency through an exchange of dialogue in the field of security."

Fujimura was speaking as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao urged his military to boost its capacity to win "local wars" amid a ramping up of tensions with neighbours -- including Japan -- over a series of territorial disputes.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Raytheon And DARPA to Help Friendly Forces Communicate While Conducting Electronic Warfare

Raytheon has been awarded a $3.8 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to allow armed forces to conduct jamming operations with minimal communication and control interference to friendly forces.

The High-Power Efficient Rf Digital-to-Analog Converter (HiPERDAC) program seeks to enable tactical platforms, such as maritime craft, ground vehicles, tactical aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as well as individual soldiers, to conduct battlefield jamming operations while minimizing frequency interference with friendly forces.

By generating signals that are both linear (that is, the ability of a signal to remain within a certain frequency) and efficient, HiPERDAC allows jamming across the frequency spectrum while providing precise gaps for communication frequencies used by friendly forces.

Raytheon Demonstrates Enhanced Capabilities for TOW

Raytheon has tested a new propulsion system for the Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wireless (TOW) missile. Developed by ATK, the enhanced system doubles TOW's range and reduces the missile's flight time by one-third.

During the test, the developmental propulsion system flew the missile more than seven kilometers (4.35 miles), reaching four kilometers (2.5 miles) in significantly less time.

Raytheon and ATK's Missile Products Group worked closely to develop a propulsion system that improves the performance of the TOW missile.

The launch, boost, sustain (LBS) propulsion system also incorporates a rocket motor designed with Insensitive Munitions (IM) features to provide added safety: IM compliant systems are less likely to react explosively when subjected to bullet and fragment impacts, external fire or other hazardous events.

Efficient Unmanned Aircraft Jetting Toward Commercialization

Propulsion by a novel jet engine is the crux of the innovation behind a University of Colorado Boulder-developed aircraft that's accelerating toward commercialization.

Jet engine technology can be small, fuel-efficient and cost-effective, at least with Assistant Professor Ryan Starkey's design. The CU-Boulder aerospace engineer, with a team of students, has developed a first-of-its-kind supersonic unmanned aircraft vehicle, or UAV. The UAV, which is currently in a prototype state, is expected to fly farther and faster - using less fuel - than anything remotely similar to date.

The fuel efficiency of the engine that powers the 50-kilogram UAV is already double that of similar-scale engines, and Starkey says he hopes to double that efficiency again through further engineering.

Starkey says his UAV could be used for everything from penetrating and analyzing storms to military reconnaissance missions - both expeditions that can require the long-distance, high-speed travel his UAV will deliver - without placing human pilots in danger.

Navy Seabees Celebrate on 70-Year Legacy

Preemptive Measures Can Prevent Boarding and Hostage Taking

Too often, ship operators fail to take proper anti-piracy security measures, effectively turning their merchant vessels into “Golden Geese” ripe for the taking, writes the author. He goes on to discuss proven methods of hardening commercial ships and training their crews to prevent pirates – whether from Somalia or elsewhere – from boarding vessels and taking crews hostage.
The U.S. Navy Seabees, the Navy's deployable Engineer Force, will celebrate its 70th anniversary March 5.

With the motto, "We Build, We Fight," Seabees provide a wide range of responsive military construction in support of operating forces, including roads, bridges, bunkers, airfields and logistics bases.

"As we enter our 70th Year, the Seabees' vital work continues around the world in support of the Global Maritime Strategy. Today we have nearly 2,400 Seabees deployed to more than 30 major detail sites in support of five combatant commanders. Seabees remain in high demand as we continue to write new chapters in our 'Can Do' legacy," said Rear Adm. Mark Handley, commander 1st Naval Construction Division.

Today, the Navy Seabees play a critical role in the world in both humanitarian and military missions. Whether building facilities for our troops in Afghanistan, helping residents recover from natural disasters, or building clinics and schools or drilling water wells in underdeveloped areas, Seabees are key players in the Navy's global force for good.

Currently, a Naval Construction Regiment and two Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCBs) are deployed to Afghanistan to build and expand camps and outposts for troops. Other recent projects there have included water wells, helicopter landing zones, roads, and a low-water crossing to help local Afghans.

In addition to the two battalions in Afghanistan, two more battalions are providing engineering and construction support while promoting regional stability through humanitarian projects in Africa, Europe, South America and the Pacific.

"This anniversary is one of change and getting back to what made Seabees great from the beginning, our ability to construct high quality products in an extremely dynamic environment," said Builder 2nd Class (BU2) Grabiel J. Marrero, currently deployed to Africa with NMCB 3.

While their organization and mission has changed over the years, today's Seabees embody the same "can-do" spirit as their World War II predecessors.

It is a story that began 70 years ago after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. There was a need for massive military construction, and Rear Adm. Ben Moreell, chief of the Navy's Bureau of Yards and Docks, established the first construction battalions. Seabees got their name from the abbreviation "CB" for construction battalion.

These early Seabees were recruited from the civilian construction trades and were placed under the leadership of Civil Engineer Corps officers. Because experience and skill was more important than physical standards, the average age of Seabees at that time was 37. More than 325,000 men served with the Seabees in World War II, fighting and building on six continents and more than 300 islands. During the war, the Seabees built 111 major airstrips, 700 square blocks of warehouses, hospitals for 70,000 patients, storage tanks for 100 million gallons of gasoline and housing for 1.5 million men. In nearly every major invasion in the Pacific, including Normandy and Iwo Jima, Marines were followed by Seabees to support the invasion and provide long-term facilities for the troops.

Due to their effectiveness in World War II, the Seabees became a permanent part of the Navy. They continued to serve in Korea, where they participated in both the Inchon and Wonsan landings and built advance bases in the Pacific.

In 1965, the Seabees made their first deployment to Vietnam and built an expeditionary airfield at Chu Lai. As the demand for Seabees grew, they constructed roads, bridges, airfields and hospitals, and helped in many civic action projects.

In the 1970s, they resumed peacetime deployments including construction at the strategic Diego Garcia base in the Indian Ocean.

More than 5,000 active duty and Reserve Seabees served in the Middle East during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. They built 10 camps for more than 42,000 personnel, three galleys, 10 aircraft parking aprons, three ammunition supply points, a 500-bed hospital, two runways, two hangars, a prisoner of war camp to hold 40,000, and a 200-mile, four-lane road.

Twenty-six Seabee units deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in support of the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Seabees constructed aircraft parking areas, roads, munitions storage areas, a 1,200-person camp, and erected bridges over the Diyala River and Saddam Canal. Seabees returned to Iraq in March 2004 to provide force protection, troop housing, border outposts, expeditionary camps, community outreach centers, medical clinics, community cleanup and camp improvements.

Beginning with their deployment to Camp Rhino, Afghanistan to repair the runway at Kandahar shortly after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Seabees have had a presence in Afghanistan for 10 years. When President Barack Obama announced the deployment of 30,000 more U.S. troops to the region in December 2009, the Seabees were called upon to provide an additional two battalions to the two that were already deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Seabees were sent forward to build combat outposts, forward operating bases, and provide force protection improvements such as guard towers and bunkers in support of the Army and Marine Corps.

In addition to their wartime mission, Seabees are also known for their worldwide humanitarian efforts. Seabees have aided the victims of hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters around the world. In the 1990s, Seabees deployed to Somalia and Haiti to support humanitarian efforts there and constructed tent camps for more than 40,000 Haitian and Cuban migrants in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Seabees deployed to Indonesia, Thailand and Sri-Lanka to provide humanitarian support in the wake of a massive tsunami in 2004. They deployed to Pakistan to help clear roads and remove debris to help relief workers get to isolated areas following a major earthquake in 2005.

In addition to disasters overseas, the Seabees are also first responders when tragedy strikes in the U.S. Nearly 800 active duty and Reserve Seabees deployed to southern Florida to assist in disaster recovery efforts following Hurricane Andrew in September 1992. They repaired 46 public schools, removing 12,000 cubic yards of debris.

More than 3,300 Navy Seabees participated in Hurricane Katrina recovery operations on the Gulf Coast in 2005. Seabees cleared 750 miles of roads, removed more than 20,000 tons of debris and supported search and rescue operations. Seabees repaired 85 schools affecting 47,208 students and repaired and constructed more than 30 temporary public buildings.

During times or war, peace, disaster and human suffering, the Navy Seabees have been the construction force of choice whenever the nation has needed them. For 70 years they have answered the call with one simple reply - "Can Do!"

Friday, March 2, 2012

U.S. Army Unveils Newest U.A.V.

The United States Army has a new tool in their arsenal. A UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) named the A-160 Hummingbird....The Hummingbird is designed to fly 2,500 nautical miles with endurance in excess of 24 hours and a payload of more than 300 pounds. The autonomously-flown A160 is 35 feet long with a 36-foot rotor diameter. It will fly at an estimated top speed of 140 knots at ceilings up to 30,000 feet, which is about 10,000 feet higher than conventional helicopters can fly today. Future missions for the A160 include reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, communications relay and precision re-supply. The UAV uses the ARGUS-IS system which recently passed tests after being used on the UH-60 Blackhawk.

The ARGUS-IS (Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System) sensor is the most potent in the Army’s arsenal.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

DOD wants in on protecting civilian infrastructure

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter told the security industry at the RSA Conference that protecting cyberspace is a cooperative effort between the government and the private sector, and that the Defense Department is preparing to play an active role in both military and civilian systems.

The top threat to the DOD is assaults on its military networks. “That’s our problem,” he said. “We know how to deal with that.” But a second serious threat is to the critical civilian infrastructure on which the DOD depends. “We want to play a role in defending that as well,” Carter said.

Carter did not spell out the details of the military’s role in defending civilian systems, but he urged the industry to support pending cybersecurity legislation that would encourage and enable greater information sharing between government and the private sector.


Cyber Defense

The US military is preparing for 21st Century electronic warfare and cyber terrorism. A joint US Cyber Command and four service cyber commands have been set up.

Their mission is to defend American military networks and civilian American infrastructure from cyber terrorism and from foreign government hackers.

The officers leading these cyber commands explain how they are organized, how they operate, and how they will protect the United States from foreign military hackers, intelligence agencies, and cyber terrorists.

Top US general for Africa says 3 main terror groups there seeking to coordinate efforts

Terrorist groups in Somalia, North Africa and Nigeria are eyeing ways to coordinate their training, funding and terror activities, triggering increased U.S. national security worries, the top American commander for Africa told Congress on Wednesday.

Army Gen. Carter Ham said terror leaders from al-Shabab, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram in Nigeria want to more closely synchronize their efforts. If they are able to better share their training and funding, “that presents a real challenge for us,” he told the House Armed Services Committee.

The three groups represent the greatest threats to security in the region, and all three have strong ties to al-Qaida. And Ham laid out ongoing efforts by the U.S. to provide training, equipment and support to a number of nations across northern and east Africa where militants have launched a range of dramatic attacks over the past year or more.

Increased U.S.-backed operations around Mogadishu, largely by Ugandan and Burundian troops as part of an African Union force, have weakened al-Shabab. And Ham said the recent announcement of al-Qaida’s formal alliance with al-Shabab suggests the Somalia-based insurgency has been weakened and is looking for greater international support.

Merchant Vessel Defense Against Pirates

Preemptive Measures Can Prevent Boarding and Hostage Taking

Too often, ship operators fail to take proper anti-piracy security measures, effectively turning their merchant vessels into “Golden Geese” ripe for the taking, writes the author. He goes on to discuss proven methods of hardening commercial ships and training their crews to prevent pirates – whether from Somalia or elsewhere – from boarding vessels and taking crews hostage.