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14 Jul 16. Farnborough 2016: Airbus releases Zephyr T details, outlines CONOPS for systems. Airbus Defence & Space has released further details of its Zephyr T unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and outlined concepts of operations envisaged for it and the smaller Zephyr S (otherwise known as the Zephyr 8). The solar-powered platforms are designed to operate at extremely high altitudes (in excess of 65,000 ft) for extended periods, with a current endurance goal of at least 30 days. The Zephyr S holds the world endurance record. The Zephyr T – the T designation referring to its twin-tail configuration, as opposed to the Zephyr S’ single tail – is still in in development and is a larger platform with a wingspan of 33 m, versus the S model’s 25 m. The T model is also heavier, weighing a maximum of 140 kg with payload capacity of 20 kg. The S model weighs 62 kg with a payload of up to 5 kg. Initial flight testing of a sub-scale Zephyr T has taken place and a full-scale build and first flight is scheduled for 2018; the aircraft is expected to be operational in 2019. According to Airbus, the Zephyr T is intended to be equipped with a maritime radar and support high capacity communications operations, while the Zephyr S will provide electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) surveillance and communications relay capabilities. In a maritime surveillance role, Airbus has outlined a concept of operations that sees a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) on board the Zephyr T used to collect radar signals from surface contacts. That data is then transmitted to a maritime headquarters component where it is analysed and if deemed to be suspicious EO/IR analysis is conducted. Ultimately, if the vessel is hostile, interception via naval vessel or aircraft is carried out. Offering a border security capability, Airbus envisages a Zephyr S equipped with an EO/IR payload being used to detect and track individuals undertaking illegal border crossings, disseminating this image data for interrogation. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Jul 16. Defense Firm Banks on ‘Chemputer’ to Spit Out Aircraft Parts. Forget 3-D printing. BAE Systems is working with a UK scientist on an advanced computer it hopes may one day be able to grow aircraft molecule by molecule.
The “Chemputer,” developed by University of Glasgow scientist Lee Cronin, looks a lot like a 3-D printer, but builds objects through a very different process, said Nick Colosimo, a BAE Systems global engineering fellow and futurist, during a Wednesday briefing at Farnborough International Airshow.
Instead of depositing a material layer by layer via robotics to gradually build up a structure — the process used for 3-D printing — the Chemputer operates at a molecular level, combining a variety of molecules together and then using that chemical reaction to synthesize the object.
“This is really an idea that you use a machine which has access to a number of different chemicals, and you effectively enact chemistry,” he said. “You provide a data file to the machine and say, ‘I want ibuprofen,’ and the machine will produce ibuprofen or a range of other pharmaceuticals. Because in principle you can produce molecules in different shapes and different size.”
Through a UK government-funded program called Digital Synthesis, Cronin has used the Chemputer to produce tiny metal objects, such as small gold pyramids or rods. Colosimo, who works as Cronin’s industrial adviser, compared the computer’s process to a robotic lab assistant who is constantly running millions of experiments.
“The machine will mix some chemicals together and see what happens in terms of the reaction, and look at the reaction products. But it will do this very, very quickly,” he said. “What the machine will do is use an algorithm in order to conduct these directed trial and error experiments. So the experiments that don’t work, th