24 Oct 14. Ask Northrop Grumman Corporation where employees will come up with ideas for some of the nation’s most critical aerospace technologies, and the answer you’ll likely get is “FabLab,” shorthand for the Fabrication Laboratory, which opened this month at the company’s Space Park facility. Company officials, civic leaders and hundreds of employees were on hand for the grand opening of the 5,500-square-foot laboratory that was inspired and developed by the employees themselves. It promises to give both engineers and non-engineers a space to share concepts, innovate and hatch the next big idea. The creation and launch of FabLab was a labor of love by a group of more than 70 employees who suggested that the company create the space. Tony Long, a radio frequency/microwave design engineer who spearheaded the effort, believes that such innovation spaces are central to new concepts gaining momentum across the aerospace industry. By design, FabLab’s creative energy makes functionality and fun converge. Quotes by innovators such as Einstein and Tesla cover one wall. A collaboration space features comfortable chairs, carpeting and a wall that doubles as a whiteboard for brainstorming. The manufacturing space itself boasts a full complement of tools and equipment. Employees can fabricate metal using jet lathes and a jet milling machine. A large selection of saws enables all manner of woodwork. Electronics work can be accomplished using the optical bench and soldering station, while the 3-D printer allows rapid prototyping of parts and models that could impact existing programs.
24 Oct 14. A new charging system for Service accommodation will mean military families across the UK will get a fairer deal when it comes to their housing. The new Combined Accommodation Assessment System (CAAS) will create a fairer way of grading and charging for accommodation and will also be much simpler. CAAS will take effect from April 2016 and all extra charges will be capped and reinvested into improving Service accommodation. In parallel, new energy efficiency measures for 8,000 homes will save personnel up to £500 per year in bills. CAAS strengthens the government’s commitment to offering military families the best possible value for money while improving the quality of their living accommodation. Tenants renting property in the private sector spend around 40 per cent of their income on rent; in comparison only 10 percent of Service personnel’s income is spent on living accommodation. With over 70 per cent of those living in military quarters listing one of the main benefits as the low cost, we are committed to maintaining this important advantage.
29 Oct 14. Taiwan starts trials of ‘carrier killer’ corvette. Taiwan’s Republic of China Navy (RoCN) began sea trials of an indigenously designed twin-hull missile corvette dubbed a ‘carrier killer’ on 27 October, according to naval sources as cited by local media. The 500-tonne vessel, Tuo Jiang (618), is said to have been towed from Lung Teh Shipbuilding’s facilities in Yilan county to waters south of Guishan Island, where it conducted engine trials at various speeds. Tuo Jiang’s wave-piercing catamaran hull form enables it to attain a maximum speed of 38kt and a standard range of 2,000n miles. The 60m by 14 m corvette features a low radar cross-section (RCS) design and can accommodate a crew of 41. Besides carrying eight Hsiung Feng II (HF-2) and eight ramjet-powered Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) anti-ship missiles, Tuo Jiang is also reported to be armed with an Otobreda 76mm gun, four 12.7mm machine guns for close-range ship defence and a Mk 15 Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) to defeat incoming projectiles and hostile aircraft. Upon completion of its sea trials, the corvette will be fitted with anti-ship missile systems and is expected to be put on a nine-month tactical testing phase by the RoCN. Tuo Jiang is scheduled to enter service in the first half of 2015