V-22s, Other Marine Aircraft Need Battle Networks

When Americans were threatened during the civil war in South Sudan, Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys flew a Marine response force from Spain to Djibouti in a non-stop flight of 3,200 nautical miles – the distance from Alaska to Florida. That’s an extraordinary feat for an aircraft that can take off and land vertically like a helicopter.  But “when they got out of that airplane, it was just like they were flying in a Vietnam CH-46 [helicopter],”…

http://breakingdefense.com/2014/05/marines-geek-out-why-battle-networks-matter-for-expeditionary-force-21-vision/

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The pilots of fifth-generation fighters to wear a new helmet

Tomilino-based Research, Development & Production Enterprise “Zvezda” (NPP Zvezda) is developing a new helmet for pilots of T-50 fifth-generation fighter (PAK FA). NPP Zvezda has vast experience in developing protective gear for military pilots, ITAR-TASS reports with reference to Chief Designer of Su-35 f Igor Demin…

http://www.ruaviation.com/news/2014/4/30/2302/

Northrop Grumman Flies First Production Smart Node Pod

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Smart Node Pod is an aircraft-mounted airborne communications system that allows real-time information to be exchanged among many disparate military and commercial radios and different datalinks, extends the network to the forward edge of the battlefield and relays full-motion video…

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/northrop-grumman-flies-first-production-smart-node-pod-253768391.html

Exelis to Supply Pakistan with More Components for Electronic Warfare Systems

Exelis has received $9 million from the U.S. Air Force to supply spare components for electronic warfare (EW) technology provided to Pakistan under an existing contract. The original contract, awarded in December 2011, granted Exelis $53 million to supply Pakistan with ALQ-211 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS) systems to protect the country’s F-16 fighter aircraft from radio frequency threats. 
The additional funds provide for the manufacture and delivery of a range of spare AIDEWS components, following successful development and integration flight-testing phases.
“The AIDEWS pod offers dependable protection against a range of dynamic electronic threats,” said Joe Rambala, vice president and general manager of the Exelis integrated electronic warfare systems business area. “Working with U.S. and allied customers to stay ahead of emerging threats has helped make Exelis a global electronic warfare leader, and we remain committed to advancing this critical mission.”
The AIDEWS components will be produced at the Exelis Electronic Systems (ES) facility in Clifton, N.J., with deliveries expected to be complete in 2016. ES is the lead division for the company’s electronic warfare strategic growth platform and provides advanced, integrated EW solutions to protect and enable customers to perform their critical missions.

China’s First Homegrown Aircraft Carrier Uses Electromagnetic Catapult

Recently, Jane’s Defence Weekly has exposed a true photo of China’s homegrown aircraft carrier that it claims to have obtained from Google.
US experts have checked the photo and found that the carrier is installed with an electromagnetic catapult, a technology that the US has just gained mastery and only uses it on one of its carriers, the Ford.

There have been reports that the PLA plans to spend $20 billion to get two aircraft carrier combat groups. If so, the PLA will be the most powerful in East Asia and perhaps, the entire Asia.

In addition, China is building lots of other warships. China is building a few 35,000-ton amphibious attack warships, each of which can carry 4 Zubr LCACs and 20 helicopters. China has obtained one Zubr LCAC from Ukraine. It is expected the such amphibious warships will be commissioned in 2015.

Russia’s Air Force to Get New Flight Simulators

The Russian Air Force will receive nearly 20 new flight simulators later this year for training fighter and ground-attack crews, a military spokesperson said Wednesday. Training simulators allow crews to practice maneuvers in conditions as close as possible to actual flight, including group formations and combat exercises.

According to spokesman Colonel Igor Klimov, the trainers are to simulate a number of new types of aircraft now entering service, including new variants of Sukhoi and MiG fighters and ground-attack aircraft, as well as the Mi-8 AMTSh transport and Kamov Ka-52 attack helicopters. The air force plans to equip about 15 air units with the simulators, Klimov said.

Pentagon Budget Request Features Prototype Boost

Advanced Super Hornet with Conformal fuel tanks (CFTs)
The U.S. Defense Department’s upcoming fiscal 2015 budget request and long-term spending blueprint will lay out a unique and significant allocation of funds toward weapons systems prototypes and research and development (R&D) efforts, according to an official.

Elana Broitman, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for manufacturing and industrial base policy, declined to provide details when asked at the Cowen and Co. conference here Feb. 5. But she told the investor conference that there will be a recognizable spurt of pilot programs, prototypes and other efforts that aim to maintain the military’s technological edge and keep industry’s design teams and engineers together.

For the first time in a Pentagon budget-crafting process, the industrial policy office was asked for recommendations by the Deputy’s Management Action Group – the deputy defense secretary’s budget-crafting advisory group – for funding suggestions, and they were approved as part of the Pentagon request.
The recommendations revolved around industrial base issues “where we needed to put funds from some big programs to some very small programs or else we were going to have a real industrial base hole.
“We want to preserve those niche capabilities, and we want to do more to help those companies,” she added. Among technologies of interest she noted were those related to the military’s Asia-Pacific “pivot,” outer space and cyber.
The Pentagon will invest in weapons in the “very beginning” of the average 15-year product development life cycle, and the department wants to motivate companies to pony up their own independent R&D around the same.
“We are doubling down on trying to prototype programs, to experiment with prototypes, and in a couple of cases, keep R&D going so we can follow strategies that have been used in the past,” Broitman said.
Since last year, Broitman and her boss, Pentagon acquisition czar Frank Kendall, have been highlighting the legacy of Defense Secretary Bill Perry, who after the Vietnam War as then-head of defense research and engineering, fenced off funds for numerous R&D efforts that led to today’s weapons, including stealth fighters and unmanned aircraft. Kendall has been saying publicly that defense officials are beginning to become sensitive to China and Russia’s increasing pace of technological development, and that with U.S. systems taking decades to develop and field, they want to take a similar strategy. 
“A lot of our force today rests on those investments,” she said. “We want to be in a position where when budgets go up – and they will eventually – that we are going to have something innovative to purchase, and this [prototype effort] gets us really, directly to the industrial base, which is our other concern,” she said.
Still, Broitman, and Kendall previously, have acknowledged that many or even most of those investments did not make it into production.
Broitman also addressed the Pentagon’s policy regarding industry mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and reiterated that the implicit ban on prime contractors consolidating will continue. But with mid-tier and third-tier companies – many of which provide niche technologies or supplies – showing lower profits, higher debt leverage and “a lot of concern,” the department will look to both using its own funds or allowing M&A to help make sure the goods remain available.
“We’re going to commit to looking at every case on its merits,” Broitman said.
Moreover, while traditional U.S. defense M&A was weighed with an eye toward maintaining enough domestic competition, the Pentagon increasingly will consider global competition in its approval calculations. In other words, more domestic consolidation could occur through the supply chain because the Pentagon feels there is a foreign provider it considers reliable and trusted enough to provide comparison. Also, foreign buyers will not necessarily be turned away. “We’re not against transnational transactions at all,” she said.

Raytheon continues developing ‘persistent close air support’ technology

Raytheon is beginning work on the third phase of a multi-year project to develop a persistent close air support (PCAS) system to give ground troops faster, more accurate air support.
The company announced in a 4 February media release that the US government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has “exercised” an option allowing Raytheon to begin the work, which is worth $25.5 million over 18 months.

The announcement comes many months after the phase three work was actually awarded, which happened in the third quarter of 2013.

Phase three involves conducting a series of flight tests and performing live-fire demonstrations of the technology, which is aimed at allowing ground troops to better coordinate air support from multiple aircraft types, and to greatly reduce strike times, the company says.
“PCAS software could enable ground troops to receive close air support sooner by improving coordination among [ground-based] controllers, airborne sensors and weapons,” says Raytheon’s media release. “PCAS is designed to improve human-machine interfaces for both ground and air personnel by inserting autonomous algorithms in the decision chain, and digitally sending shared situational awareness messages.”
Raytheon, which did not response to a request for more information, is serving as systems integrator for the technology and is working with partners Rockwell Collins, General Electric, BAE Systems and 5-D Systems, Raytheon says.
The PCAS project, launched by DARPA in 2010 with a budget of $82 million over three years, aims to significantly advance the close air support function, which DARPA says has changed little since the First World War.
Today, the process typically involves paper maps and verbal communications between soldiers and pilots in the air, DARPA says. Often, strikes can take one hour to carry out.
PCAS was originally developed to work with the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt combat support aircraft, but DARPA set out to integrate the technology with other manned and unmanned aircraft.
As envisioned, a PCAS system would allow ground soldiers called “joint terminal attack controllers” and airmen to share “real time situational awareness and weapons systems data,” DARPA says.
Ground agents would be able to identify multiple targets simultaneously and, working with air crews, select the most-appropriate precision-guided weapon and authorise a strike.
DARPA’s goal is to decrease response times from up to 60 minutes to no more than 6 minutes.
The system is intended to work in poor weather continues and to allow the military to strike stationary and moving targets using smaller, more precise munitions, DARPA says.
As currently designed, the PCAS system includes a “PCAS-air” component comprised of an internal navigation system and a weapon and engagement management system. Those computers use algorithms to recommend weapons and best routes to targets.
The airborne system is designed to coordinate fire with a “PCAS-ground” system.
DARPA says it has already sent 500 tablet computers with PCAS-ground software to Afghanistan where they were tested by ground units.
Phase one work included a review of technology, demonstration of concepts and development of target-designation technology, says DARPA.
The second phase aimed completing the system’s design, demonstrating the ground system and ensuring the air system could be installed on multiple aircraft types at minimal cost.